Saturday, January 31, 2009

January 31 – “UK Gal”

We got started today by heading out to clean the church.  That's our Saturday morning date lately.  Didn't take all that long, though.  Then we decided to grab a quick lunch at the Bluewater Grill, a local restaurant in Jamaica Beach.  The food wasn't bad.  Chris had a burger and I had a chicken fried steak sandwich.  The best part, though came after we finished.  Some folks from church showed up.  Melissa and her daughter Allie came in first.  Then Teri and her boys Will and Matthew.  Chris and Melissa got to talking.  And Melissa is a lot of fun to listen to.  Anyway, they spent over an hour sharing personal family histories.  Sounded like they have a lot more in common than they ever dreamed.  There's nothing quite like families. 


We went from lunch to our house.  There is still a lot of stuff in the back yard, but that's not what we did today.  Didn't really have time.  We did see a lot of work going on in the neighborhood, though.  And there are still workers stopping by all the time looking for work.  We even had an entire sheetrock crew stop by the other day – five guys jumped out of a van and all of them came in the house.  Kind of scary at first.  Today kind of took the cake, though.  A car stopped out front to ask the usual question – "Do you need a contractor or any work done at all?  We're doing some work down the street."  It's the same line from everybody.  We've heard it with a New York accent and an Alabama accent and a Louisiana accent.  But this one was the most distinctive of all.  Her vanity license plate was "UK Gal."  Her accent was definitely English.  That's the farthest I've seen someone come so far to get work in Post-Ike Galveston.


We had a meeting with our contractor this afternoon.  He gave us some good news.  The plumber has been officially hired.  He will begin work on our house as soon as it's our turn.  That means replacing all the plumbing.  He said the fireplace lady came by, too.  She wanted to know if we were really old guys.  I guess if we're really decrepit there's no way we'd want to try to fix it up on our own.  She will let us know how much it would cost for her company to refurbish our Franklin stove.  The contractor went over the plans we got from our Amish cabinet guys.  He and Chris walked the house and compared the pictures and noticed details that I never saw.  It is amazing how they can both see what is not yet there.  To make a long story short, he gave us the "Trusted Contractor Seal of Approval"


Reminded me of Hebrews 11:1 – "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."


Father, help me see with your eyes.  Amen.


Friday, January 30, 2009

January 30 – “Neil the Angel”

We finally got back to the house to do some work with the stuff in the back yard.  It seems like I've been pacing back and forth, waiting for the chance to get back at doing something.  It's been too cold for almost a week.  Now that's a very strange thing to say about life in Galveston, Texas.  And it seems like more and more other pressing matters have wormed their way into our life.  There have been some days where we couldn't have gone even if it was perfect weather.  Well, today was a great day and we made it.


It was afternoon before we got there, though.  This morning we drew up some sketches of where we wanted electrical outlets and light fixtures to be.  We were hoping our contractor would call and want to meet with us about windows or doors or plumbing or something.  No call.  But we did get that picture drawn.  Then after lunch we headed on down.  Finally.  Finally.


So why did I have such a feeling of malaise?  This was my chance to get some stuff cleaned and moved across the street to storage.  It was all I could do to decide where to start.  I finally settled on the remnants of our cedar chest.  It fell apart in the flood, but we saved the pieces of cedar.  For some reason it repelled mold.  I started to just move it over, but Chris reminded me it hadn't been cleaned yet.  So I set up one cleaning shop and she set up one of her own.  She opened a storage bin with our Easter decorations.  I noticed she threw away a lot of stuff.  Then she said she was going to wash all the plastic Easter eggs.  To me, that just seemed like a task that would never end.  I asked her if it wouldn't be easier to just buy new ones.  Not the right thing to say.  I had forgotten how hard it was to lose "our" things.  In the first place, replacing them with all new stuff is probably not going to happen for us.  We are using our insurance money to pay off our mortgage and get the house fixed up to live in again.  There's not going to be enough for brand new everything, so it gets frustrating to hear people say, "At least you get a brand new (fill in the blanks)."  Also, brand new things, or things donated by good friends, as great as they are and as much as we appreciate them, are never going to be the same as what had become "ours" over our 33 years of marriage.


As we sat in the house and "contemplated" the situation from our dual positions of depression, an angel walked in the door.  Oh, he looked remarkably like our neighbor Neil, but there's no doubt about it.  He was a messenger of God.  An angel.  He walked in and started on a tirade of encouragement like I haven't heard in years.  He pointed out how far we had come.  And how much work we have done.  And how fast the rest of our house was going to go.  By the time he took a breath I just wanted to hug him.


Reminds me of Hebrews 13:2-3: "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."


Father, thank you for sending us Angel Neil.  Amen.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

January 29 – “Molehills”

I talked to our youth pastor today about this summer's camp in Glorieta, New Mexico.  He told me we have 29 signed up for camp.  That's a pretty incredible number for our little post-Ike Galveston Body.  Now we face the rather daunting task of fund-raising for transportation, counselors, and scholarships.  Then Mike told me he heard from the group that has become our sister youth group – kids from storm ravaged Port Bolivar, High Island, and Crystal Beach.  They plan to go with us to camp.  But now it looks like they might have as many as 16 students wanting to go.  They found out that there are spots available for them.  And this will be a great chance for that group to become a group.  Creative missions.  God is at work.


Today was my day to teach at Seaside Christian Academy.  The lesson was on creation.  I gave them each two minutes to create and draw a new species of animal.  They came up with some pretty wild things.  After class I joined them in picking up trash from under the new school building.  I didn't get to do anything at house other than pick up the mail.  Felt good to be doing something.


While doing it I realized something about the sense of humor of God.  The church has one of those signs outside that we put cute sayings on.  The one I chose for this last week was, "To make a mountain out of a molehill, just add dirt."  Now I understand the intended meaning. When you start spreading rumors and talking bad about someone it just causes a bad situation to get worse.  But the thing that hit me was, right after I put that sign up, one of the school Dads arranged for truckload after truckload of soil to be delivered to our site.  We could never have afforded to add that much dirt.  All of a sudden the molehill that was our school building site had become a mountain of fresh soil.  Never again would our vacant lot be called Lake Seaside.  And in the process, with the sign, God turned a negative proverb into a resounding proclamation of his power.  Once again, God is at work.


Seaside is in the process of trying to figure out where we are going now – now that the storm is over and the people are well into their reconstruction or retreat.  We are making a concerted effort to look for where God is at work around us so we can join him. 


Romans 8:28-29 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."


Father, come on.  Make mountains out of our molehills.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January 28 – “One for the Money …”

It was pretty cold today, so no work on the house on our end.  We did talk to our contractor, though.  He said the next thing that needs to happen is the plumbing and electricity, followed by the air conditioning and heating.  The roof can't get done until after everybody else finishes poking hole in the roof.  We are supposed to meet with him tomorrow or the next day to go over the specifics of the windows and door order.  We also got the initial bid for the Amish cabinets in an email.  It was pretty impressive to see a picture of what we have been trying to visualize for so long.  Chris is way better at that than me, so I guess I was more impressed than she was.  She had already seen it in her head.  The bid was close to what Chris expected, but I don't know if we can afford it or not yet.  Chris is playing with the numbers.


This morning w spent a few hours with Micah and Jachin.  Their Mommy had a doctor's appointment.  When we got there they were in the middle of a very important video about dinosaurs helping each other out against the evil velociraptors.  Needless to say we couldn't do anything until that crisis was resolved. 


We did finally get into some exciting games of chase and "lock Nana in the bedroom."  My favorite, though, was when they brought out the baseball bat and tee and squealed, "Now it's baseball time!"  Got my attention.  We set up in the hall.  The batter stood at one end and all the non-batters sat on the steps and watched.  Jachin went first … and second … and I think he was third, too, before Micah realized that this might be kind of fun and demanded a turn.  Nana and DadDad even got into the rotation.  When it got to my turn, I set up as a left-hander – didn't want to show off too much, you know.  Jachin is obviously left-handed, and he was hitting pretty well.  Micah hasn't quite decided which side is best for him.  He pretty much smacked the tee and took off running.  When he got to the end of the hall he would carefully lie down on his back in a rendition of a slide.  Safe, as far as I could see.  Jachin made  the run down and back, and his slide looked pretty good – bent leg, arms up.  I was impressed. 


That made it even more important for old DadDad to make a good showing at bat.  So I took careful aim.  Went into that time-honored traditional chant, "One for the money.  Two for the show.  Three to get ready.  And four to go."  On "go" I let loose with the swing of all swings.  And missed.  Hey, it was a little bat.  So I tried again, same chant, same grunt.  Same result.  That made my determination level increase to the max.  I got the chant going.  I squatted as low as I could get.  And I swung as carefully as I could.  Finally.  I finally made contact.  And the cheers began.   And when Jachin had his next time at bat, guess what came out of his mouth?  "One for the money.  Two for the show.  Three to get ready.  Four to go."


 Colossians 1:15 says "Jesus is the image of the invisible God." 


Father, I want to be like you.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January 27 – “Slav-ation”

Not much action on the house today.  No workers.  No us.  We just stopped by to check the mail on our way to take Mom out to lunch at Luby's.  After all, it is Tuesday.  I got the last fried shrimp dinner available before they ran out.  Kind of tasted like it.


Most of my day today I spent working on the computer.  I got started on the teaching for Sunday.  I chuckled at one of my many typos.  I was writing about becoming a believer in Jesus, and the word came out SLAvation instead of SALvation.  The more I thought about it, though, the more it made sense.  1 Corinthians 7:22 says, "he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave."


I read through what I want to teach on Thursday at Seaside Christian Academy.  I fixed up a printout for the baby dedication on Sunday.  Had to spend some extra time on that one.  It was for Cailyn, after all. 


I took a break for supper.  Nathan made a great pot of shrimp gumbo.  The best part of the meal was … I "had to" hold Cailyn while we ate.  Then we sat around and talked while Chris took her turn being Nana.


Speaking of Nathan, he and I spent a lot of time this evening on the phone with his computer savvy friend.  We were attempting to get our desktop computer to talk to our laptop.  I heard it was not that difficult a task.   We ran everything we could think of on both computers.  The problem was compounded by the fact that our cable internet here has been on the fritz lately, so we couldn't get online.  Well … still doesn't work.  They just don't want to communicate with each other.  And if they don't, how can they share files?  How can they increase their capacity two-fold?  Why don't they just do what they are told?  Things would be so much better for them. 


Romans 6:23 says, "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  But we're all just like my computers.  Romans 3:23 says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  Why can't we all just communicate with each other, with God?


Father, forgive me when I don't listen.  To you.  To Chris.  To my heart.  Amen.

Monday, January 26, 2009

January 26 – “Laugh a Lot”

We headed out of the house fairly early this morning.  We had some fruit and clothes to deliver to two families.  We connected on one count.  Guess we'll try again on the other. 


We also spent quite awhile at our house.  We cleared off another of the card tables in the back yard.  Added a few boxes to the stash over in Mom's garage.  We also threw some more stuff away.  Every time we do that it's as if Chris is experiencing our first days back home all over again.  She did really well this time, though.  When we started getting bored with wiping and packing, we went next door (our friends who left town and said we should go through and take whatever we need from their house).  Chris wanted some of the landscape timbers they still had in their back yard.  That ended up with us also carrying over a bunch of concrete bricks.  With what little strength I had left, I decided to get out of their garage a rolling cart that would be a pretty good substitution for a workbench until I can get one for our garage.  It turned into a little bigger project than I thought.  There were some rusty, still damp things in it that we had to get out.  Then we cleaned it up as well as we could.  It still has some rust spots, and some more rust is hiding underneath the paint in some areas, but it'll work for what we need for the time being.  I'm happy to have it.


We just got back from a really nice supper.  We were invited to join April's Grandmother and Grandfather and her Aunt and Uncle and Nathan and April and of course Cailyn at Gringos.  They were coming to see her for the first time.  All four of them seem to be good, down-home folks.  Grandma and Grandpa live in Corpus Christi and are about to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary.  Aunt and Uncle live in Manvel.  That is in Texas, by the way.  They have a lot of fun together.  We had a lot of fun together tonight.  We laughed a lot.  It's always good to laugh.


Proverbs  17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."


Father, I've had enough of the crushed spirit thing.  Grant me a cheerful heart.  Amen.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

January 25 – “Mom’s Address Book”

Church was pretty interesting today.  We had a good group there, and today was the kickoff for our big three week discernment meeting.  For three weeks we're going to brainstorm ways we can see God at work around Seaside.  He has begun to trust us with some large amounts of money from out of the blue, so we need to figure out how he best wants us to use it for his glory.  We're hoping this will be a catalyst to get some of our Seasiders who are back in town, back in.


When we got home I went downstairs to clean up some of the storm "souvenirs" we are trying to save.  I finished up the notebook we developed detailing the history of my neck and shoulder surgeries.  Had to get it out of the three ring binder and wrap it in a file folder with some rubber bands.  Guess it'll find its place in one of our future storage boxes of medical records.  Right now it's kind of lonely.


The second thing I cleaned up was Mom's old address book.  It was one of those things that Chris knew Mom would want back when we were emptying out the house.  It managed to stay hidden for several days, though.  It made its way to the front door under a huge pile of stuff that didn't look like it would make it.  Most of it didn't.  Chris saved this book, though.


And what a book it was.  It didn't just have phone numbers in it.  It was a historical record of at least ten years of Mom's relationships.  There were phone numbers and addresses of neighbors, friends, and family.  It had a Christmas card list for each year.  Who she sent a card to.  Who she received one from.  I turned another page and there was a list of everything she gave as a Christmas gift and who she gave it to.  Across the page from it was what she received that year and who from.  It had a page for anniversaries, one for birthdays, and even a place to record when people died.  I felt like I was like reading through one of those old family Bibles with the genealogies in them.  I was going to put in here one of those Old Testament genealogies out of Numbers.  You know, who begat who begat who.  But for some reason I kept going back to these two verses.  Don't know why.


Psalm 1:1 – "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers."


Jeremiah 17:7-8 - "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."


Father, I want to be like one of those trees with green leaves and strong roots and no worries.  Help me to trust you.  Amen.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

January 24 – “Volunteers”

Want to know a good way to drive yourself more than a little batty?  Gather together all your receipts in preparation for doing your taxes.  Enough?  Add the fact that more than half of them aren't there anymore.  They now live under some landfill.  Then try to put together your medical records.  From a year when you are still paying off four major surgeries.  Then add a fifth surgery to take care of a cataract.  And the records of those are roommates of the receipts.  Then contemplate whatever you are supposed to do to itemize – again – everything you lost in the flood.  Then subtract what you have replaced with insurance money.  Then … then … then thank God you have a good accountant, because there's no way you can even come close to dealing with all this.


Add in there that we're still wondering what will happen with our insurance money.  And how much we'll end up needing to finish out the house.  And whether / when the outside groups that have said they want to help will be able to get here.  That's been my day. 


I have also been having some more trouble with my lower back.  By early afternoon it gets really stiff and sore.  There are some movements that set off some pretty sharp pains as well.  And I've been a real "guy" about the whole thing.  I've been keeping it to myself as much as I can.  It's the old classic, "I don't want to appear weak" scenario.  Doesn't work too well when you really are weak, though. 


I was thankful, though, that the students at SCA unstacked the pews for us.  That meant all we had to do today to get the church ready was sweep, mop, and clean the bathrooms.  It didn't feel any different cleaning the church as volunteers since Chris resigned as janitor.  Especially for her.  She has a real pride in her work, and wants it to look as good as she can make it every week. 


Check out these three scriptures:            

1 Corinthians 10:31 – "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."   

Colossians 3:17 – "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."   

Colossians 3:23-25 – "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."


Father, thank you for letting me see your word in Chris's deeds.  It encourages me when I get down.  Amen.


Friday, January 23, 2009

January 23 – “Nothing can tear us apart”

Have you ever had a day where you end up extremely tired and you realize that you really haven't done much of anything?  That was today.  Chris' Mom and Dad came over this morning to bring a pink slip she made for Cailyn to wear when she is dedicated next week.  She already made the dress years ago.  In fact, Jachin and Micah and Zakary all had to wear it for pictures.  At least they had a blue slip underneath it.  Actually the whole point of their visit was so Great Granny could hold Cailyn for as long as she wanted.  The rest of us got to sit around and talk and watch her hold the baby.  Kind of like watching grass grow.


As they left, our friends David and Mona arrived.  They are going on a cruise tomorrow, so they came in early to hang out for awhile.  They also brought steaks for supper and something for a big breakfast as well.  They even called ahead and had us invite Kel and Christina and the boys to join us for supper.  It was quite an evening.  All the guys went outside to grill the steaks.  I ended up making sure Jachin and Micah didn't fall into the water as they threw rocks and seeds and anything else they could find into the water.  I also had to keep an eye on Scooter.  He thought every rock thrown into the water was a ball intended for him to fetch. 


After Kel and Christina left, we sat around talking fire department stuff and taking turns holding Cailyn.  Nathan and David are both fire fighters, so they have a lot in common.  All the women in the room were mothers, so they had a lot in common as well.  I did a lot of listening.  I finally snuck over here to the computer to get this entry in before it gets too late.


I think the funniest thing I heard (out of quite a few funny reminisces) was when Jachin (the 5 year-old) came up to me, pointed his finger in my face, and said, "DadDad, let me tell you something.  Me and Hannah (a 5 year-old girl in his class) are in love."  Well, I have heard about Hannah several times before, so it wasn't completely news to me, but he didn't stop there.  He continued, "That means nobody can ever tear us apart." 


Made me think of Romans 8:37-39: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."



Father, thank you that no one can tear us apart from you.  Amen.

January 22 – “Hooking Up”

I started back teaching at Seaside Christian Academy today.  It was the first time since the hurricane.  Part of the problem was that I didn't have any of my teaching notebooks.  They were all lost at sea, as it were.  The other problem was I have been spending the better part of each week's "spare time" working on the house.  That, along with the time it takes to be a pastor has just left no time for me to prepare new lessons.  Our headmaster has been great.  The kids have been super.  They have been on to me to come back for quite a while now.  It is good to feel wanted.  I finally found a really good overview of the Bible textbook.  I'm planning to use it as a base for the class.  I imagine I'll make up some "different" lesson plans as we go along.  Gotta make it fun, you know. 


I guess the session itself went well.  The kids were pretty wound up.  I like it that way.  They all stayed awake.  They even got into the "response" times.  I gave them an opportunity to learn about the consensus of the early Jews and Christians in accepting books into general usage.  Told them the headmaster was going to take us all out to lunch if we could only agree on one place.  They came up with all kinds of ideas, from Olive Garden to Wendy's to Saltgrass Steakhouse.  They even tried to vote on it.  They eventually settled on Olive Garden.  That's when I said I didn't want to leave the island.  I preferred Luby's.  That threw a kink in the works.  They had to revisit all their choices.  None of them wanted to go to Luby's, though.  We were at an impasse.  And so, since consensus wasn't reached, Mr. Collins was off the hook for lunch.  That consensus is not an easy thing.


We did do some work at the house this morning.  The workers were not there, so we had access to the power.  We decided to powerwash the storage compartment in the backyard, along with a few other things in the back.  I spread out the hose and hooked it up to the faucet.  Got the cord all plugged in, aimed the nozzle and … nothing.  I couldn't believe it.  This faucet was in the line of pipe that was cut off during work inside.  I unhooked the hose and walked out to the other faucet in the yard.  Chris stopped me before I got it hooked up, though, and put just enough doubt in my mind to make me go check.  Sure enough, that faucet came directly off the other one.  No water at all in the back yard.  We ended up having to drag everything out to the front yard faucet.  That one worked.  We were hooked up.


It made me think of when Jesus stood before Pilate.  Pilate said, "Don't you realize that I have the power to free you or crucify you?"  Jesus answered in John 19:11, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above."


Father, you sure knew where to hook up to your source of power.  Forgive me when I try to do stuff on my own.  I need to stay hooked up with you and you alone.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January 21 – “Mode to Be Mended”

I woke up today determined to do something at the house.  My plan was to make a path to the back door so the workers could get to it to change it out when the time came.  When we got there, though, the framers were already hard at work.  At least it sounded like they were.  Lots of hammering and sawing and loud music.  As it turned out, they have pretty much framed out the changes in the kitchen walls, except for the steel pole that will be the main support point.  They did a lot of extra stuff around all the door frames.  I guess to get them ready to hold on to some doors.  They also did the expansion of the shower and closing in one of the old doors to the master bathroom.  There are anchor bolts everywhere around the outside of the house.  I don't think it's going anywhere for a long time.  They even got the frame ready for the attic stairs and the crawl hole into the attic in the garage.  I know we have coming up electric, AC and heating, plumbing, and windows and doors.  I keep forgetting to ask if they can run cable and telephone wires at the same time as electric.  And we thought today about asking if we can put some plywood flooring in the attic to make it easier to store stuff.    There's always something in this rebuilding nightmare.


Instead of going right in, we decided to clean out the minivan, which is now parked across the street at Mom's.  We have decided to give the van to our friends Dennis and Anna, who pastor in Port Bolivar.  They need something they can carry teenagers around in over there, so it will be used well for what little time may be left in it.  And what better place for a 1997 Chevy Venture to spend one's last days than in the care of two mechanics?


When we finished emptying it out, Chris left for a WalMart run and I decided to get a little done in the back yard.  As it turned out, I got very little done.  I didn't even empty off the one card table right in front of the door.  I did move the rocking horse out of the way, though.  WooHoo.  The problem was that I started out trying to brush clean some of the old Bibles and scrapbooks we set out on the spa to dry.  None of them are in very good shape, but they are somewhat drier than when they first got there. And they smell a lot better.  But they are never going to reach their full potential unless we can get them inside – into the right environment.  Otherwise they will stay constantly damp – never in the right mode to be mended.  Kind of like us when we get into some bad habit or stupid situation.  Unless we stay away from that stuff, or get out of it as soon as we realize where we are, we'll just get further and further into it until it's no longer an easy matter to get out.


1 John 1:6-7 says, "If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."


Father, keep me in your light.  It's so much more refreshing to be clean.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20 – “My Thoughts”

I have to be honest today. Even though I got to talk to Wayne, an old friend from way back who is now a pastor in California, my thoughts were on little things all day. I got to see two of them at lunch – Jachin and Micah. I can't wait to see Zak again. And then there are those two very little things. It struck me that I haven't done very well at putting my thoughts about them into words, so here's a picture or two:

Caleb Braden Vaughan

Cailyn Sevela Vaughan

Proverbs 10:1 says, "A wise son brings joy to his father …"

Father, I guess you have given me some wise sons. Amen

Monday, January 19, 2009

January 19 – “Amish Cabinet Maker Guys”

Today was "Meet the Amish Cabinet Maker Guys" Day.  Seriously.  Everything we did up until around one o'clock was tempered by the thought in the back of our minds that "Pretty soon we meet the Amish guys."  We went to WalMart to order some pictures of our two little new additions.  We also had a few things that we were going to buy while there.  Problem was, the lines were kind of long.  And it was almost time for the Amish Cabinet Maker Guys to be at the house.  So we did what any other typical, Galveston-based, WalMart shopper would do.  We took our spiral notebook and mini-photo albums and hid them behind the "Make a necklace out of beads" kits in the crafts section.  The plan was to return after our meeting and pick them up then.  We did.


Now.  We got to the house ahead of the Amish Cabinet Maker Guys.  Our framing crews were there on their lunch break.  I was rather jealous.  They had set up their little griddle again and were making some soft tacos or tamales or something.  Sure smelled good.  Oh, did I mention we hadn't eaten yet either?  Didn't want to get caught waiting for food at Sonic when "The Call" came through.  It was interesting to do a quick walk-through and try to figure out what all had been done.  The wall adjustments were obvious.  It was the replacing of bad studs and hidden stuff like that that was hard to discover. 


Finally, the Amish Cabinet Maker Guys arrived.  Two young guys with a soft briefcase and a tape measure.  One had a little bit of facial hair and the other was clean-shaven.  That one looked like a teenager.  They asked if we had a drawing.  Of course, Chris did.  I volunteered to go to the car to retrieve it.  Meanwhile they started drawing and measuring and asking questions and using "Amish Cabinet Maker Guy" words that I had never heard before.  I must say I was impressed with my wife.  She was right with them most of the time.  She had done her homework and then some, so all those obscure carpenter/cabinetry details were second nature to her.  They left with their own sketches and notes and assurances that we would get some drawings in an email by Monday or Wednesday of next week.  After that we could come to their showroom in Houston and pick out wood and stain and make changes and make a deposit if we liked what we saw.  To be honest I was so lost and hungry by the time they left, all I wanted was a large cherry limeade slush and something – anything - on the Sonic menu. 


I have no idea if we can afford what these guys will come up with as a price for our cabinets, but it was sure worth meeting them.  They were fun to be around.  The beard guy was so passionate about the project that his brain was operating about three steps ahead of his mouth, which put him five or six steps ahead of me.  The other guy was very quiet until it became obvious that his cohort was racing past us.  Then he stepped in and calmly bridged the communication gap.  They were an amazing team. 


In John 17:11 Jesus prays for believers: "I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name — the name you gave me — so that they may be one as we are one."


Father, most of time I would settle for just being as in sync with you as the Amish Cabinet Maker Guys were with each other.  I can't even imagine all that's really involved in being one with you.  Wow.  Amen.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

January 18 – “Getting a handle on it”

I admit it.  I was a little bit jealous of Chris today.  Cailyn was up most of the night, and so were her Mommy and Daddy.  That meant it was time for Nana to step up and volunteer to "sacrifice" her morning so they could get some sleep.  That meant she "had to" rock and bounce and walk and cuddle with Cailyn for several hours.  Tough life for a grandmother.  They all seem to have come through it pretty well, though.


It was great to see everybody for the gathering of the Church this morning.  It always is.  We had some new folks.  Several of them now live in Galveston and plan to come back. God is moving in Galveston again.  It's just kind of hard to see it when you're right in the middle of it.


Mom and I went by the house on our way home.  It sure doesn't look the same with some of the new studs up for the different wall structure.  I think it's getting close to time for the electrical wiring to be run.  We have to rewire the whole house.  And plumbing.  It's been recommended that we replace all the galvanized pipes with pvc, so that means starting from scratch there, too.  Don't know if we can afford that one or not.  And while all that is going on we need to replace the roof before too much longer.  We might have some help with the roof.  A group from Brownwood was to have a meeting last week about that.  Hopefully we'll hear from them soon.  Some time in there we have to decide if we're keeping the fireplace.  That'll mean sandblasting and repainting it at least.  Then we need to move it to the corner, which means the roof will be affected at two points – closing up a hole and cutting a new one.  We have had some offers of possible help with some of the other projects, too.  I know for sure Josh's church in Arlington is going to put up the sheetrock and probably the insulation.  We still have to buy it all, though.  We have a meeting with the Amish Cabinet makers tomorrow to see if we can afford them.  Chris sure hopes so.  They are supposed to be quite a bit less expensive than other custom cabinet makers.  The bid for the new windows came in a little less than we thought.  (It sounds so weird to me to be saying something that costs $9600 is less than we thought).  The central air and heat looks like it's going to be around $6100.  Gotta have that.  We might get some help with the interior doors and trim work.  Still not sure on that one.  Should cost around $6500.  Looks to me like the flooring is going to be the biggest expense of all.  Part of the house is wood floors and the rest is ceramic tile.  Chris and I helped Josh lay tile in his house, so I think we can be involved in that one.  On top of all these decisions, we're still waiting to hear from our mortgage company about how they want to handle the insurance money.


It's all been pretty overwhelming since Day One.  I remember when we first got back to town.  I couldn't even answer the "What do you need?" question.   At least now I'm beginning to get a handle on what we need.  And I know God has in his hands how we're going to end up getting it. 


Psalms 95:3-5 says, "For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.  In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.   The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land."


Father, I do trust you.  My mind is not strong enough to handle this whole rebuilding thing.  Please hang on to it for me.  Amen.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

January 17 – “The Safety Thing”

The call came in last night, actually.  "April has been discharged.  They are supposed to do a blood test on Cailyn in the morning and we can come home.  Can you come help us?"  There it was.  Our granddaughter was coming home.  Now that meant she was coming to the same house where we are staying.  Not exactly the same thing as home, but "with us" is the operative point.  We made our way back to St. Luke's one more time.  It still took awhile for the final papers to come through, the doctor to give his final blessing, and the nurse to go over all the fine print.  Finally, though, it was time to head out.  Nathan and April were excited, scared, tired, overwhelmed, and overjoyed all at the same time.  Nana and DadDad were busting at the seams proud of our gorgeous little one. 


We loaded up the cars and started to buckle Cailyn into her car seat.  Suddenly Nathan jumped up and hollered, "Ma'am, wait!" at the aide who pushed the wheelchair full of April downstairs.  She came back and I heard Nathan say, "She still has on her security tag."  See, when they did their first check of the baby, they put a tiny little leg band on her.  Attached to the band was a security device designed to cause all sorts of ruckus when it passes through the scanners back up on the 25th floor.  It's supposed to prevent the wrong person from walking away with a baby.  In our case?  No ruckus.  No loud noises.  No WalMart quality warnings ("You are a criminal.  Stop and let us look in your bag.").  If Nathan and April hadn't noticed it in the car, they would have had an interesting souvenir, to say the least.


The aide ran in and called the charge nurse, who immediately came down and cut the tag off.  As soon as she left, the nurse who had been caring for Cailyn and April came drawn with her scissors drawn, too.  Both offered profuse apologies.  I asked why the scanner never went off.  She said that she had turned the scanner itself off back up on the floor and just forgot to cut off Cailyn's tag.  Not the best way in the world to inspire peace and confidence in the system.


The "safety thing" didn't go off.  When you think you are safe, you might not be.  What are you putting your trust in?  Is it the things of the world, like money or power or position or popularity? 


Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."


Father, thank you for protecting Cailyn today.  We trust her to your care, not the "safety thing."  Amen