It's almost midnight and I have to be up at 4:45 in the morning to get ready and go to Charlotte, North Carolina for an event with the Panthers. But a brief blog entry about tonight's banquet just couldn't wait until I return. The Family First banquet is one of the bitter sweet things about Tampa for yours truly. While I love this banquet and have attended since long before I became staff (this was my rookie staff year) - I attended with my own family.
One of the draws of Tampa for me I believe, was that this is the last place my family lived together all 5 of us. When we moved to Indiana, we left Rachel. Soon after I was gone. Now Ruthie. I love that I now live where we were last all under one roof, enjoying a chaotic life together.
Tonight's banquet did make me miss my family and wish that they could be here to celebrate with me the incredible year Family First has had. The Challenges and Champions evening feels like a family dinner to me for many reasons. I laugh and cry in one sitting (and sometimes laugh until I cry). It is full of family, friends, and family friends. Most of all, God is at the center.
This years 'make me cry' award (and Family First's - Wilbur L. Dungy award) goes to Matt Mooney, father to sweet Eliot. This is his video and the story of how he came to inspire so many fathers, mothers, and people through his journey and through YouTube. Warning, you will most likely cry too.
My Dad & Coach Tony Dungy were co-winners of the Family First Ambassador award in 1998. Dad has since been joined by great company such as Michael W. Smith, Jeremy Camp, and this year's winner - the gentlemen from Sherwood Pictures. They've produced Fireproof and Facing the Giants. Like my Dad and Coach Dungy, they are pioneering an industry that rarely boasts of Christian morals or values - with a solid stance and bold words of their faith! How inspiring to find great Christian leaders who are uncompromising in their 'workplace'.
As always, it was extra special to hear both Coach Tony and Mrs. Lauren Dungy speak this evening. They are generous with their times and talents to further our ministry. I love to hear them talk about their sweet family and it's a joy to watch God use them here in Tampa. I'm glad we all ended up back here after so many years.
It was an incredible blessing to be challenged by Max Lucado on the subject of fear. 'Fearless' is the title of his most recent of 75 books he's authored. I received an autographed copy of said book and look forward to reading more of his challenge that we are not to let our fears get the best of us. He did an incredible job and brought both humor and inspiration to the evening. It was a delight to hear him speak.
In the brief conversations I was able to have while trying my best to serve our guests, several people mentioned that they read my blog. So, thank you to anyone reading who attended tonight's banquet. Your support is in fact, providing us the opportunity to help further families.
In short, tonight was a beautiful, blessed evening.
Signing off to rest up to serve Dad's and their kids in NC at our Father/Kid's Experience Saturday.