Doing Life Together at Journey

Christmas 1968

The first Christmas that I can remember well was in 1968. I was six years old and had just started the 1st grade. There are a few flash memories that I have of the times before that Christmas, like my sisters wedding when I was 4 years old and then the times I was picking strawberries in my dads fields and playing with my cousins in the woods around our house. But the Christmas of 1968 stands out clearly in mind. Mom and Dad loaded us up with gifts to open and among them my most prized gift was the Cowboy and Indian dress up clothes. (This was long before the time of every body getting offended about everything.)  There was no cultural appropriation present, just kids free to imagine themselves in another place and time. My brother Ronnie Bruce and I played with our bow and arrows and six shooters for hours on end. We would fight over who got to be the Indian. So we took turns. My sister Mary was the oldest of the five kids and I was the youngest. She was already married to her husband Cornelius and he was like another brother to our family. Cornelius would later be drafted into the Marine Corp and he taught me the words to the Marine Corp Hymn. Well, in 1968 Mary and Cornelius bought me and my brother the Alvin & the Chipmonks Christmas album and we played it non stop on the record player. We loved that record even though Alvin was a major jerk to Dave and the other Chipmonks. Every time I hear those songs it feels like 1968 again. Christmas is still special to me to this day. It’s the music, the gifts, the food and time with family.

    Little did we know nor suspect that after the Christmas of 1968 our lives would change forever. In early 1969 our little farm house burned to the ground. My parents woke us up in the middle of the night and got all 4 of the boys safely out of the burning house. They brought us outside and put us safely away from the fire in my dads old car. I remember sitting in the front seat with my brothers watching my dad and the volunteer fireman fighting the flames. The battle raged on through the night but it was a total loss. The little house burned to the ground. The front seat of the old car started to get cold and the firemen were losing the battle with the fire and it occurred to me that all of my Christmas toys were in the house. All I could think of was - I will never get to be an Indian again. It’s funny what your value system looks like when you’re six years old. My most valuable possession then was my bow and arrows and now they were gone. It seemed like such a great loss from my perspective. But as I grew up my value system changed and the lessons that I learned that night came into focus and they still shape my character and define my values.

    Now that I look back at the last 50 years I see that what was really important survived the fire. My family walked away intact. Together. That fire and the loss of that Christmas created in me a deep love of family and a strong desire to protect the people that I love. How is it that complete loss and utter desperation always clarifies what’s really important. They teach values and principles that you’ll learn no where else. I remember Momma yelling to wake us in a burning house and my dad carrying me to safety and then huddling together with my brothers in the front seat of that old car. I remember watching the firemen battle the blazes and I remember the feeling in my gut of losing all the things that I loved. Now I know it’s not what I lost that night but it’s what I discovered that matters most. People. Events. Values. The people and the events on that cold night in 1969 left a deep impression on my life. It still shapes my values to this day. From the perspective of my six year old self I suffered a great loss But ironically every thing I needed in my life either survived or was born in the fire.

Family. Faith. Love of Christmas. 

Betwen you and me I’m still six years old and love to pretend that I’m an Indian tracking my brother through the woods near my childhood home. 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours. Whatever fire that you’re battling this year hold on tight to your faith in Jesus, love your family and listen to the music. 

Doing Life Together

Mountains are magical!

Rachel and I took our first trip to the Smoky Mountains in November of 1981. It was our first family vacation together and we traveled that year with her Mom and Dad to Gatlinburg, TN. Just the sight of the mountains brought us great joy and the culture was laid back and easy. We were hooked. We have traveled back to those mountains many times since that first trip, many years ago. It became our annual family vacation destination. Our kids count those hills as our second home. We are making plans for our 2018 Summer vacation so the mountains are on my mind today. Now, our kids are all grown up and some of them are married so this next summer vacation we will enter a new era of life. In 2018 three generations of us will make the trek together, with sons and daughters in law in tow along with our first grand child. We are looking forward to making new memories in our mountains. There’s nothing on the earth quite like family. 

Psalms 121:1-2

1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

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The Smoky Mountains

Doing Life Together

Christmas music, hot coffee and cold weather

     The day before Halloween was cold and perfect for the start of the holiday season. Well, it was 45 degrees F which in Louisiana is considered the dead of winter. This most recent cold snap only lasted two days but it was amazing. Today the temperature is in the 70’s again but we take what we can get in the South. Our house did have an unusual amount of Trick or Treaters this year.  Maybe it was because of the cold weather but something brought a steady stream of kids for several hours. We gave out individually wrapped pretzels and mini-packs of Skittles to some scary ghost, zombies and some cowboys and princesses. It was a fun night. I did take advantage of the cooler weather and opened the fireplace this week. With the cool mornings and iHeart Radio we were jamming to Christmas music every morning this week. We normally kick off the Christmas season at our house on November 1st but this year we started a few days early. So now on this Thursday afternoon I’m working hard at the Journey Cafe bar to put the finishing touch on this weeks sermon and listening to Christmas music. I wish you could hear Frank Sinatra sing “I’ll be home for Christmas”, he’s killing it. Im about to pour you a cup of coffee.... Merry Christmas. Here’s to cold weather and hot coffee and the best Music known to humanity. 

Doing Life Together

The little girl becomes a lady...

    This time next week my little girl will be a married woman. These last 26 years have gone by faster than I ever believed possible. Yesterday she was rocking baby dolls and climbing trees, she was dreaming of traveling to far away places and marrying a blue eyed prince. She used to dance with her little feet standing on top of mine and say “twirl me daddy”. Dance with me Poppa! And now this weekend I’m going to give her away to her blue-eyed prince. We prayed for this day to come for Christian that she would find a man that she loved and that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with and we prayed for her husband before she ever met him. It may be the first prayer that I remember praying over her while she was still in her mommy’s tummy. We prayed that she would always follow Jesus and that she would find a husband to love, build a family with and grow old together. But I have experienced something that was unexpected, along with her engagement and all the wedding plans, I wasn’t ready for the emotional waves that washed over my soul and I was a little surprised that they tasted a lot like pain. But the days pass and the seasons change and we find that joy is new every morning. Today, I’m so happy for her because she has chosen an amazing man that Rachel and I love like a son already. (And we are thrilled about the prospect of more grandchildren, but no pressure.) Now I’ve spent the last few months swallowing this lump in my throat and processing the change that’s about to happen in our lives. It’s all good news and there is so much to be thankful for during this season of our lives but in the quiet moments of my days I hear her giggles from days long gone and I can see in my minds eye her Momma putting her long hair in a pony tail for the day. Now those bed time stories that I read to her so many years ago seem like the most important work I’ve ever done. This week we celebrate our daughter Christian and her mate for life Ryan. I knew this day would come and that I would give her away but I must say Mr Rhoto I am grateful that I’m giving her away to a man like you. May your days be filled with joy and the years go slowly by as you take this Journey together. Mom and I are so proud of you and we are grateful that Jesus let you grow up in our house. We love you, Christian Elyse. Always. Welcome to the family Ryan. We’ve been expecting you. 

#rhotoputaringonit

TheRhotos.com

Me and Christian 1991

Me and Christian 1991

Rachel and Christian 2016

Rachel and Christian 2016

Doing Life Together

$7 for a day in the country...

    Rachel and I took four of our “big kids” and our granddaughter, Hailey Grace to spend a day in the country last Friday. When the seasons change here in the South, it’s hard to tell by the temperature, but you can tell by the appearance of the pumpkins. The weather in Louisiana in the Fall is usually still as warm as it was in the Summer. It’s just plain hot. There is a local joke here about the seasons; “There are only two seasons in Louisiana, Summer and hunting”. So with that in mind we packed the family for a day trip into the country, to visit Miss Heather’s Pumpkin Patch. 

    The Pumpkin Patch is located in rural Tangipohoa Parish, just a few miles from Hammond, LA. We used the GPS to locate Miss Heather’s farm and when we arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find out the farm was only a few miles from where I spent some of my childhood days, riding horses and chasing lighting bugs. It did bring back some wonderful memories and now here I am, four decades later with my wife, four of our kids and our only granddaughter. We were about to spend the day in the same area that I played in as a boy. 

    The Parish Fair weekend in Tangipahoa always begins on the first Friday in October. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. So as usual this  first Friday of October was again Parish Fair Day and all of the local schools were out, which meant many of the kids and their families were looking for something to do. When we pulled into the field to park it seemed like those families, all came to Miss Heather’s Pumpkin Patch. The parking area was at one time a cow pasture and may well still be used for that purpose. But on this day the pasture was filled with cars, trucks and SUVs. We unloaded the family and began walking towards the farm. When we got to the main gate there was a small tent with two teenagers taking admission and answering questions. There was a sign on the fence post that said, “Admission $7 for children 15 years and under. Everyone else free”. Apparently the $7 covered he cost of the pumpkin that each child received during the visit. There was lots of other free things on the farm for the kids to do. There were swing sets, jumping pads, a corn field, old barns and even a bathroom that looked like an out-house. We found a picnic table to sit at with the family and took turns exploring the country side. 

    As we walked through the farm and played in the woods I remembered doing those same things many years ago as a little boy in the country. Though no one charged my Mom $7 admission for a day on the farm, it was just what we did and how we lived. Riding horses, swinging, wading in the creek and picking pumpkins. And now fast forward 40 years and here is a cow pasture full of city vehicles carrying families willing to spend a few bucks for a day in the country. My how times have changed and stayed the same. The only real difference now is that it cost $7 for a day in the country. Country living is still the best bargain on the planet. 

Miss Heather’s Pumpkin Patch 2017

Miss Heather’s Pumpkin Patch 2017

Doing Life Together

Louisana Weather

We are so grateful for the Journey family here in New Orleans and on the North Shore. What a week we had with all the preparation for our annual Church birthday celebration, Party On which was held on Thursday night followed by hurricane prep on Friday and Saturday. Thanks to all the staff and leaders who Lead Out every week. You guys are amazing! After an inspirational Thursday night experience at Party On with Pastor Choco and all three Journey campuses together, our attention turned to the approaching storm.

    We are grateful that Hurricane Nate spared New Orleans and the Northshore on Sunday. We scrambled throughout the weekend to adjust our worship times and locations but the Journey leaders and family were solid as ever. Thankful today for the Grace of Jesus. Our prayers turn today toward those who were not as fortunate.

 

Party On Thursday night October 5, 2017

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Doing Life Together

Great Men born in October

   President Rutherford B Hayes was born on October 4, 1822 in Ohio and grew up to become the 19th president of the USA. President Hayes led the country through the end of Reconstruction and was a champion of freedom and civil liberties. He isn’t remembered very much by the modern generation, often coming in on the bottom half of popular presidents. But he was a decent fellow and I say that not just because he and I share the same birthday. Well that may be the MAIN reason I am saying it, but October 4 is a great day to be born!  

    Rutherford was born in 1822 and I was born in 1962. 140 years apart. Why it’s almost like that weird connection between Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy. You know which one I’m talking about?

Lincoln was elected in 1860 and Kennedy was elected in 1960.

Lincoln had an assistant named Kennedy while Kennedy had an assistant named Lincoln.  

There are a bunch more examples but you get the picture?! Right?!

Hayes was born in 1822 and McAllister was born in 1962. 

Rutherford B Hayes has three names and I, Douglas D McAllister also have three names. 

THIS IS UNCANNY!  

There are some more similarities but you get the picture, Right? 

The main thing that we have in common is our birthday. October 4th. I was born in the Town of Amite City on a Thursday night during the Parish Fair. My dad used to joke when I was kid and tell me that he was on the Ferris Wheel at the Fair when I was born. That was back in the day when Father’s were not allowed in the delivery room. I’m glad all that changed because I was with Rachel when all 5 of our kids were born. Watching a child being born is magical and a little bit terrifying,, especially when the nurse hands you the baby for the first time and you realize that this little human being is going home with you for the next several decades. Birthdays are like that. Magical and terrifying. 

   I will be 55 on October 4th and you know what that mans? Free coffee at McDonlads! That doesn’t seem like an adequate reward for surviving for more than a half century, does it? But you’ll be surprised how little that you really need when you are 55 years old. A cup of coffee will be just right. So here is my Happy Birthday wish to my favorite President, Rutherford B Hayes. He would have been 195 years old this year. I will be only 55. If he were here I would take him to McDonalds for coffee.

My treat. 

 

 

Doing Life Together

21 Principles of Leadership

 

21 Principles of Leadership


This is a list of leadership principles that we have learned through the years that helps us lead in the church.


The kingdom of God is built on relationships.

Dream big dreams and take risks.

The message is sacred, the methods are not.

Paint your church fire engine red.

Be relevant.

Be authentic.

Tell the story.

Celebrate wins.

Do everything with excellence.

Change is coming. You'll either initiate or react to it.

You can't choose who visits your church but you can determine who stays.

Church should be the most exciting place on the planet.

Exploit the Internet.

Believe the best about others.

Walk by faith.

Do the paperwork.

Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.

Location. Location. Location.

Don't let anyone tell you who you are. Be yourself.

Say the other 10%

May he who serves the most people WIN!

Doing Life Together

10 Things That I Like About Autumn

Labor Day weekend signals the end of summer and the start of a new season. Autumn. I like calling it Autumn more than I like to call it Fall, because it sounds fancy. Autumn. It's a fun word to say. (Go ahead say it out loud you know that you want to.) Just feels right?! Yeah, The official beginning of Autumn is on Friday September 22, 2017 at precisely 3:02 PM Central Time. That's the Fall Equinox. (I used Fall because Autumnal sounds snooty.) I know that the seasons are changing because of the stuff that's for sale in the Old Country Store portion of the local Cracker Barrel. There's an LSU table marked down for clearance even though college football season just started. By the way, LSU won last night. Geaux Tigers! Also Cracker Barrel has a huge Halloween display, and various Thanksgiving products but the biggest surprise at least to me was the Christmas Tree that's in the mix already. Really Cracker Barrel? But the times are a changing. Autumn is in the air or at least will be real soon and we are getting ready for some of my favorite things. The list is too long to write it all here but let's start with a few of my favorite things about Autumn:

 

1. Sitting around a campfire at night telling scary stories.

2. Hot chocolate with whipped cream.

3. Cool night air blowing in the trees. 

4. Early morning fishing trips that start before the sun comes up.

5. Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin Spice Coffee. Pumpkin Pie and Jack- O- Lanterns.

6. The season premiere of The Middle.  

7. Eric Church CD on repeat in my truck.  (That's a year round thing but I still like it.)

8. Sitting on the back porch and watching the Sun come up over the Smoky Mountains.  

9. Thanksgiving dinner with the people I love. 

10. Holding Rachel's hand. Still makes my heart beat fast...  (Also year round..)

Autumn is near... 

Autumn is near... 

Doing Life Together

The Church ignores the critics and stays on her mission.

The local church responds to human suffering each and every day. She is there  for people from all walks of life, of every tribe, of every language and every color. She gives of herself sacrificially, including her time, talents and treasure. She is usually the first one there and the last one to leave. Most of her service will go unnoticed and it will be done outside the shot of the camera. . She will live and serve in places few dare to travel and yet she is fearless! This incredible community of faithful foot soldiers will be jeered, mocked and persecuted by those who judge her from a loft of self righteousness and some that belittle her with their wearisome virtue signaling. But yet she remains steadfast in her assignment and dedicated to her cause. For you see her cause is not her own but it's that of her Savior. The church rises to the occasion as she has for thousands of years in response to a love she knows firsthand. You see, she serves hurting people, for that is the cause of Christ. She shows her love for Jesus by the way she serves the unlovely and those who could never repay her. She believes. She prays. She serves. She gives. That's why her eyes sparkle and great joy fills her soul and so she ignores her critics and stays on mission. The local church is the only hope of the world. 

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Doing Life Together