Sunday, February 28, 2010

February 28 – “Wise Mom. Awesome God”


For those who are checking for the service times for Josh Stone's funeral, the visitation and viewing will be Wednesday evening from 5 to 8 at Carnes Funeral Home in Texas City.  The celebration service will be Thursday afternoon at 4:00, also at the Carnes Funeral Home.


Chris and I realized that our family has quite a connection to the Stone Family through Josh in three very unusual ways.  He was born on my son Nathan's birthday.  He served as the ring bearer at my son Josh's wedding.  And he died on my son Kel's birthday.


We took up an offering for the family today at Seaside.  Looks like we got enough to cover all of the funeral expenses.  They don't know how much of the medical side their insurance will cover, so there may be quite a bit more to come later on. 


It was quite a day at Seaside.  Our attendance was back up almost to pre-Ike standards, with several visitors and some folks who haven't been in awhile who came back.  Two of those "returnees" joined back up today.  And three other adults indicated that they have become Christians and want to be baptized.  One of them was a Mom, and her son was also interested, but she wanted to make sure he knew what he was doing first.  Wise Mom.  Awesome God.


Hebrews 12:28-29 says, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire."


Father, you are awesome.  Yeah.  Amen.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

February 27 – “A Tribute to Joshua Stone”


We had a very sad day yesterday.  A 13 year old boy from our church died in an accident at his family's home.  Josh Stone was one of those lively, try anything, know no fear, a lot like Nathan Vaughan kind of guys.  He was the ring bearer for Josh and Christi at their wedding.  He always had a smile either on his face already or lurking back behind whatever scheme he was concocting at the time.  He was a budding Master of Mischief, and none of us ever knew what would be coming next when Josh was around.  He was fun. 


OK.  I have to admit it.  This is really going to be a tough one to walk through.  Josh was the second child born after we came to Seaside (about a month after Travis), so we have literally watched him grow up.  We got to hold him shortly after Mom and Dad and Big Sister.  He's been to our home and we've been to his.  He has shown us his animals and I have shown him my baseball cards.  He asked some of the best questions I ever encountered, and that includes when I was teaching master's level students.  He is truly one of our "Seaside Kids."


We should find out some more this afternoon about a timeline for a memorial service.  I'll try to add postings when I can.


Philippians 4:8-9 says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."


Father, peace is elusive right now.  Help us capture it and hold on, for in doing so we hold on to you.  Amen.

Friday, February 26, 2010

February 26 – “Masterpiece”


The tool of her art swirled majestically, exploding onto the dingy drabness, sweeping first the length of the canvas, then returning but a hair's breadth away, occasionally slashing into the lines of the first stroke.  As the small boy strains to place his tiny feet into the in the giant footprints of his father before him, so the brush seems to ache to return to the exact spot of origin.  Then, suddenly, the brush leaps from side to side in frantic lunges, driving, digging as if dodging a never-ending barrage of projectiles.  And just as suddenly, it rests, silent for a brief moment, gathering its resources within for the coming rush.  And so it comes, flitting merrily across the canvas, first this way, then that, barely touching yet leaving its telltale mark nonetheless, broken only by trips to the source, with its accompanying squeals of wonder and delight.  Soon the mood changes.  The strokes become forced and heavy, as weariness overwhelms the previous excitement.  A dab here.  A splash there.  A heavy heart.  A sadness.  Yet still the strokes continue, over and over, revisiting prior swipes with the new intensity, until the end.  Completion.  A step back to admire.  A discernable sigh escapes.  A tiny wisp of movement at the corner of the artist's mouth.  Could it be a smile?  Could it signal satisfaction?  Does it say, "Masterpiece"?  Indeed, it does.  Yet who will know?  Who will ever express appreciation or even acknowledge the final product?  Only those who see the flaws, those whose mantra rarely rises above, "You missed a spot."  For the purpose of this task is that it not be noticed at all.  So the artist, drained of all energy, perspiration accenting the inner glow of fulfillment, with the purposeful movements of one who is satisfied with her work, content with her effort, returns her mop to the bucket and pushes it on to her next canvas, her next challenge, her next assignment, the next room.


OK.  I know it sounds a little dramatic, but we sure had a good time watching one of the high school girls get through her first attempt at mopping the floor.  The story above is to honor her efforts, and to encourage taking such risks in the future.  May she, may we all, make whatever we do into a true masterpiece  worthy of a smile.


Colossians 3:17 says, "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."


Father, you have made some masterpieces out of dirty floors and a mopbucket.  Thank you for letting me know some of them  Amen.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 25 – “THAT wedding”


Chris and I drove to Lufkin today.  Not for a leisurely, three hour, fun filled excursion away from home.  I was asked to do a funeral there.  Interesting story.


About ten years ago I did a wedding on the beach right near the church that turned into the biggest debacle of all time.  Well, at least of any wedding I have ever done before or since.  And I have done quite a few since then.   The wedding was supposed to start at 7:00.  Not a bad time.  Just before sunset on the beach at Galveston.  Very romantic.  But the groom called and asked if they could move it to 8:00.  That would be 8:00 after the before-mentioned sunset had already occurred.  I told him about the way darkness works here on the island.  We negotiated briefly and settled on 7:30. 


The groom arrived at 7:40.  Alone.  Everyone else finally drove up around 8:10.  It was dark.  No problem.  I rummaged through my desk and found one of those little penlight flashlights that I had for emergencies.  I was good to go in the dark. 


Against my advice, we headed over to the beach in cars.  As I feared, the lead truck – mine – got stuck in the sand when a small child ran right in front of me at just the accelerate-or-get-stuck point.  The entire caravan was blocked.


About that time the Jamaica Beach Police came and found out it was a wedding, so they turned on their flashing lights and kept all other cars out of the way so we could continue on and rescue the stuck truck after the wedding.  We set up in the glow of the headlights of the stuck truck and called for the bride to come on.  She was waiting with her father about five cars back.


As she approached, a car came from the beach side behind us, whipped in back of the stuck truck, and started to hook up a line to pull it out. The groom said, "Time out! Wait until we get done here!  We're trying to have a wedding!"  Thinking us ungrateful, our Good Samaritans left in a huff.


The bride and he Dad again began her long-awaited walk down the aisle of sand.  But now said sand had accumulated on her train.  And it fell off.  Dad and several ladies rushed to her aid, shook off the sand, hooked the train back on, and the bride and her dad began yet again.  We all breathed a sigh of relief as they got almost to the headlights.  This was going to work!  At that point, however, a tiny little old lady I later found out was Granny snuck around to the front from the other side of the crowd.  She winked and gave me the shush sign as she passed by  with one of those huge boom boxes on her shoulder playing the wedding march.  She jumped out in front of them.  It was her little surprise for the bride.  For us all!


Finally we began. After a few pages, my penlight's batteries died.  I didn't have the service memorized, so I turned sideways so I could use the headlights to see.  That was fine but not ideal for a phrase or two.  Just then a guy walked up out of the crowd with one of those old original cameras that you hold on your shoulder.  The kind that has a big light on the front.  I told him we had a special spot for him to video – right behind me.  I could see!


Well, until his light started going out at random during the reading of the Scripture.  1 Corinthians 13 will never be quite the same for me.

"If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but did not love, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I had the gift of prophecy" The light went out.  As I said, I don't have the service memorized, so I ad-libbed:                                                                 ­

"And could memorize large portions of scripture, and remember every detail of marriage ceremonies, but did not love, it would mean nothing." <The light came back on>

"And if I knew all the mysteries about everything. . ."  <I paused.  It was working!  I continued …

"Love never gives up ..." <Lights out!>

"... and neither will we"  <Lights back on>

"... Love never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." <At this point I looked directly at the light.  It stayed on, so I turned back to the book>  

"So..." <The light went out!  This time I didn't say anything.  I just stared at the camera and shook my head.  And the light came back on.>

"These three remain, faith, hope, and love." <Lights out>

<In the dark I said:>  "This part I do know!  The greatest of these is love!"


We got the couple married, and they were just as happy as they could be. I think the word of the night was... Memorable.


The funeral was for that bride's Dad.  He had requested that the pastor who did that wedding be the one who presided at his funeral.  So we went to Lufkin.


John 14:1-3 says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God a; trust also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."


Father, send your comfort to that sweet couple.  Give them another fun decade.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

February 24 – “The Challenge”


We were supposed to babysit Cailyn again today, but her Dad took off so he could hang out with her.  Gave me a chance to get some extra work done.  Also caused me to reflect on yesterday.  Interesting day.


I went by to visit a couple who was at Seaside Sunday morning.  They live in an apartment complex, and that is always a challenging adventure.  I guessed right on the numbering system this time, though.  I did have to walk a long way, and I didn't find the elevator, so five flights of stairs added a final touch to my workout.  Great couple.  They were among the very first to start Seaside as a mission back in the early nineties.  They traveled all over the world, and finally came back home to Galveston.  He was a coach and high school administrator.  She was a reading specialist.  They are pretty interested in Seaside Christian Academy.  Hope they feel called to plug in there at some level.  It'll be great to have them.


Cailyn came over while her Mom was in school and her Dad was at the eye doctor.  We played awhile, she ate a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, then she fell asleep in my arms.  Now the last time she did that I tried to put her in the pac-n-play crib thing.  She woke up.  Not this time.  I decided to do a "don't wake up Cailyn" challenge.  Mom stayed in the other room.  I sat down at my desk, checked the clock, and began timing how long she slept.  She's getting big, so I needed both hands.  That meant I couldn't check email or play solitaire or even read a book.  All I could do was sit there.  I prayed some, for Cailyn and her Mom and Dad.  For Seaside.  I dozed some.  No, I didn't drop her or anything.  She was hooked into the chair.  But most of all I was quiet.  Just quiet.  It's been awhile since I was quiet before God.  I didn't hear any profound answers to the problems of the universe.  Or the problems of Galveston, or of Seaside, or of the Vaughan's.  But I heard the one thing that resonates in the world of quiet.  I heard peace.  And I needed that.


John 14:27 says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."


Father, thank you for that touch of your peace in the arms of my granddaughter.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February 23 – “The throw down camera”


My break from work this morning was to try to set up the "throw down camera" I got for Chris for Valentine's Day.  You know, since we had to put our camera in the shop, Chris has been having picture taking withdrawal pains.  So I got her a replacement.  One we could have around and pull it out when we needed it.  Kind of like the TV cops and their throw down weapon. 


The package had no instruction booklet.  Well, none except  the infamous "quick start guide."  That basically said, "Put the battery in and turn it on.  Push the big button on top.  You have just taken a picture."  OK.  I got that much.  But there are all kinds of little icons on it that have no meaning to me whatsoever.  Finally I realized that hidden in between the folds of the packaging was a CD that I was supposed to have loaded on the computer before I tried the quick start method. 


OK.  So I turned it off.  I took out the battery.  And I loaded the software.  Sure enough, there in the corner of the screen after it loaded was the little option icon – download user's manual.  45 adobe viewer pages later I was finally able to see how to get the thing to work.  I hooked up the battery charger, played with the controls a little bit, and skimmed through the book.  That's when I realized there was something missing.  "SD card not included.  Purchase separately."  I had not purchased an SD card separately.  And nowhere on the outside packaging did it say I would have to purchase an SD card separately.  At least I knew what an SD card was.  Well, I knew what a memory card was.  I was hoping there wouldn't be too many choices beyond the letters SD.


So I went to WalMart.  Where else?  They had an SD card.  Simple enough.  But there was another, and another.  Oh, wait those are the same thing, just with more space.  I settled on a 2 gig card.  Throw downs shouldn't need more than that.  But wait.  There was a whole other row of SD cards.  With more letters after the SD.  Not fair.  I anguished for a good two minutes before grabbing the first plain old SD card I had seen.  With great fear and trembling I stuck the card in … upside down.  Then I noticed the tiny picture of an SD card showing that it has to go in the other way.  Got it.  At last I turned it on and saw the picture in the back.  I pushed the button to turn the flash on.  And it told me I was in macro mode.  So.  I just wanted to see if it would take a picture.  Fortunately I had copied the user's manual (a.k.a. Dummy Book).  The macro mode switch was on the side of the camera.  Don't know what it means, but I changed its position and the flash came on and all's right in my throw down camera world.


Luke 4:29-30 says, "They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way."


Father, sometimes I want to walk right through the crowd, too.  Help me when I can't.  Amen.

Monday, February 22, 2010

February 22 – “Good Samaritan”


I remembered another fun story about our great preschoolers at Seaside.  Sunday during church, the children in the nursery had a story of their own, The Good Samaritan.  Chris was careful not to focus on the robbers too much, though, with five boys.  To make it come alive for them, Chris had them act out the story, as she often does.  The oldest boy got the part of the hurt guy.  He wasn't all that excited about it, but he assumed his position on the floor.  Then came the first person who walked by.  A volunteer!  It was the oldest guy's little brother.  He casually walked past his brother and said, "I'm not gonna help you."  That apparently felt pretty good, so he turned and passed by him again.  And repeated, "I'm not gonna help you."  Now that must have been exhilarating.  Then he started marching around his brother in a circle , chanting, "I'm not gonna help you!"


Finally, Chris stepped in.  It was, after all, time for the next character.  This time it was one of the other younger brothers in the room.  Younger brothers seemed to enjoy "not helping" their older brothers.  I wonder why?  Anyway, he began his slow trek across the carpet.  He paused at the maimed older brother guy on the floor.  He spoke, "I'm not helping you either."


Chris was quick to jump in this time.  We need a Good Samaritan now.  Who wants to take care of the hurt guy?"  It was a bit of a struggle, but finally a four year old said, "I'll do it.  I'll be the Good Samaritan."  Chris encouraged him.  "OK. Good.  Go take care the poor man on the ground."  At that point the youngster took stock of his situation.  Slowly shaking his head side to side he began to move, but not in the direction of the poor injured man on the floor.  "No,"  he said.  "I'm not gonna take care of them."  Pointing to the other two boys who had been his predecessors in dramatic production, he repeated, "I'm gonna take care of them.  They should have helped.  I'm gonna beat them up for not helping."


Micah 7:7 says. "But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."


Father, give me your heart the times I feel like beating somebody up for not helping.  Amen.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

February 21 – “Jesus Book”


Little four year old Winston was the star of the show again today.  One of the things we do to help memorize scripture is called Visual Verses.  I create crazy pictures that make up memory jogs for key portions of the passage.  All the pictures somehow relate to each other, so when you get the hang of it, remembering the words associated with the pictures is much easier.  We had started today's Visual Verse, John 3:16-17.  Suddenly I looked down and there was Winston.  He held out his Children's Bible to me and said, "Here.  This is Jesus' book."  I told him thank you and mentioned that maybe we should read the verse from his book, since some folks didn't seem to be following as well as they should.  Later on, during one of his trips into the children's room where Chris was the teacher (that's how I got the info), he told her about it.  He said, "I gave Pastor Kelley my Jesus Book."  Chris replied, "Well, thank you, Winston.  I'm sure he appreciated that."  Winston answered, "Yeah.  He needed it."  Well, OK.


We had a great group in worship today.  I talked about how God has been leading me to pray for impossible stuff like people becoming believers and having baptisms every week.  I even "suggested" to God that bringing us some trained leaders to show up and say, "Hey, what can I do?" would be great.  The point was actually to not limit God to stuff we can think up.. Let him be God. His ideas are lots better than ours. 


I got stopped by one lady I have been witnessing to.  She told me she prayed last night.  She was also planning to start reading her Bible that she had recently rediscovered.  I suggested she start in John, mainly since the teaching today was from John 3.  Then she said she was ready to get baptized.


I noticed during the teaching segments that the two older couples sitting near her were going out of their way to show her things in her Bible.  That's when I realized that one of the couples had been here several times before.  They actually came down and helped out at our house after the storm.  He was on staff of a church in the Dallas area, but they were wanting to move down here full time.  Chris talked to them for awhile.  Sounds like that may be happening soon.


One couple was there who were among the very first to start Seaside as a mission back in the early 90's.  Doug and Joan have just moved back to Galveston.  They said they have done their world traveling and are ready to settle down for awhile, so they chose to move back home.  They are both retired teachers, and they couldn't get enough information about the school.  Sounds like they are very interested in helping out there, maybe teaching, definitely subbing.  He even has a doctorate and is eminently qualified to be the headmaster.  She is a reading specialist, so she would be invaluable to have with the lower grades.  It'll be interesting to see how the funds go for next semester, or sooner. 


That counts, right?  Answers to prayer.  Oh, yeah.


Ephesians 3:20-21 says, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen."


Father, do something that is possible only for you around Seaside.  And you choose.  Amen.



Saturday, February 20, 2010

February 20 – “Two hours”


This morning was definitely one for the books.  I did a memorial service on the beach.  That's not so unusual.  It was designed for scattering ashes in the ocean.  Also, something I have done before.  It was the people who made this one special.  The lady who died had been a mother and grandmother and fought cancer for a year.  Her son was, to put it mildly, "rough around the edges."  He lives in San Antonio, but grew up in Jamaica Beach.  His language and lifestyle both sounded crude, but his heart was huge.  When he arrived at the church he told me he had had a really rough spell earlier in the morning.  He didn't get much sleep last night either.  They borrowed some chairs, and we headed over to the beach. 


He had set up an easel with a collage of pictures of his Mom.  There was a circle spray of flowers.  And there was a small table.  That table held the large box with the ashes and three small boxes he had made so each of his children could keep some of the ashes.  An orange blanket draped the table and hung over the front, proudly displaying the University of Texas logo.  And sitting top of the blanket were fifteen or twenty bottles of beer.  The son said he put a notice about the ceremony on his Facebook page.  He told everyone beer would be served, but only locals were welcome.  As far as I could tell he didn't have any uninvited guests show up for the libations.  The wind was cold and blowing, so they had used a very pretty metal cross with a crown of thorns around it as a stake to hold everything in place.  Hmm.  The cross held everything in place.  There must be a spiritual lesson in there somewhere.


As part of the service I asked if anyone would like to share a memory or a word of encouragement.  The son was to go first since he had prepared a poem.   So he did.  And he talked for a long time before he ever got around to sharing his poem.  His speech was laced with very crude language, and so was the poem, but every bit of what he said was a tribute to his mother, his family, and his friends.  When he finished his oldest son rose to speak.  Now, the oldest son looked to be around 14 or 15.  Come to find out, the dad just found out about him about five months ago.  Don't know that story.  It was that kid's brief speech that touched everyone.  He began by choking through tears, "I only knew my Granny for about two hours before she died …"  He ended with, "I wish I could have known her longer."  Now how can you not get caught up in that?


After the ceremony I was able to get in on the last few minutes of the Saturday morning prayer meeting at the church.  I was encouraged when we left.  If we can only see with God's eyes – with the eyes of hope – and in Hutch's words, "stick to the basics of the cross," we'll be able to see what he is doing around us.  That's one of the basics of Experiencing God: God is always at work around us.  If we say we can't see him, then something is wrong with our eyes - our hope - our faith.


Psalms 147:11 says, "the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love."


Father, awaken our hope.  Inspire our faith.  Do something that can only be described as happening because you did it.  Amen.

Friday, February 19, 2010

February 19 – “Which way?”

Have you ever had a totally random thought hit you from nowhere?  The kind that has nothing to do with where you thought your thoughts were, but it forces its way to the surface and demands the right to be had.  This morning as I was leaving for Seaside Christian Academy I had one.  As I rounded the corner and approached the entrance to our subdivision (Gulf Village), there it was.  The thought from left field.  "I wonder which of the entrances to Gulf Village my Dad used to take when he went to work."  I wasn't thinking of my Dad.  I was thinking about which of the myriad of things on my to do list I would start with when I got to the school.  But there it was.  Now, why would I ever even care which entrance he used?  What difference does it make?  Maybe my inner self was wanting to "be like Daddy" again.  I wouldn't mind being like my Dad.  Or like my Father.


I tried to focus on the way home on what I would tell the joint doc as of now.  I'm cutting back on the steroids, but the aching is coming back pretty strong.  My left elbow is once again the primary culprit.  My finger joints are swelling again, and the general aching is back in my wrists, knuckles and knees. Chris said if it keeps up I have to call the doctor next week when she gets back from Bay City.


The water was turned off briefly at the school today.  It wouldn't have been a big deal, but the kindergarteners had been outside playing in the big pile of sand.  Their hands were really dirty.  But they were four and five years old.  They barely noticed.  They just wanted to talk about the mountain.


We're off to make a Sam's run for the church again.  This Sunday is Third Sunday Dinner on the Grounds, so we need to pick up some supplies.


Psalms 91:1-2 says, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  2 I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'"


Father, thanks for reminding me about my Dad this morning.  It was a WRM - warm random moment.  Amen.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 18 – “Back Yard Strongman”


The day began quiet enough.  I went to the school to meet with a lady from Houston who wants to bring some families down to help do some work around Seaside.  She and her husband have come to Seaside for years when they are at their Jamaica Beach house.  Great family.  Their children behave perfectly in church.  Not a sound.  They all look sharp all the time.  And they are a lot of fun to be around.  Their church small group in Houston wanted to know everything I could think of that might need to be done.  They were particularly interested in the existing building, but she wanted a tour of the new building as well.  She is determined to get us some new blinds.  They even asked about doing some landscaping.  She is supposed to come back tomorrow and take some pictures.  The plan is for them to drive down on some Sundays, worship with us, and do some work in the afternoon.


When I got home I found out that Nathan was coming over to finish cutting down the dead magnolia tree in the back yard.  He trimmed some branches awhile back, but stopped when he felt insecure up in the tree.  Today he brought his harness.  And he was determined to get that thing down.  He got the chain saw out and we gassed it up and oiled it up and headed for the back yard.  I grabbed the ladder to give him a bit of a boost.  He harnessed up and scrambled into the tree with the chain saw tied to his belt.  He cut off four or five pretty big branches up there.  One of them smacked into the deck on the way down.  Didn't seem to do any damage, though.  Then he tied a rope to the very top section and started his cut.  I was down in the yard with the other end of the rope, pulling it away from the deck.  Didn't take long before it snapped loose and crashed to the ground.  Nathan breathed a sigh of relief.  For him that was the worst part of the whole ordeal.  At least the scariest.  He could just picture himself riding to the ground on said treetop.  But he held on. 


Then came the backyard strong man portion of the afternoon – cutting down the main trunk of the tree.  He carefully figured where the angle cut needed to be and where the corresponding straight cut would have to go.  He fired up the chain saw and let 'er rip.  And whenever Chris went back inside, I got a turn at the chain saw as well.  I even picked up the ax one time, but Nathan wouldn't go that far.  He refused my good intentions to hack at the tree.  Sad it wouldn't be good for my back.  He was right.  But my elbow already hurt, so I figured it wouldn't make that much difference.  To make a long afternoon into a short story, that tree didn't want to fall.  We got the cuts made, and every law of gravity said the tree should fall, but it steadfastly refused.  Nathan finally climbed back into the tree and tied our rope at the new top.  Then we would saw awhile, chop awhile, and pull and push awhile.  We didn't thnk the tree would ever give up and fall.  Finally, though, when I was on rope pull duty and he was pushing, we heard a crack.  That was it.  A few more good tugs and it eased toward me just a bit.  And stopped.  It was at an unusual angle of descent, but it stopped.  That didn't stop us, though.  I tugged and Nathan pushed until finally, with sheer brute force, we got the tree down.  Nathan immediately said, "We can cut it up another day, right?"  He had to be at work tonight at 6:30, and it was around 4.  Needless  to say, after cleaning the tools that project was over.


Romans 13:11 says, "And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed."


Father, thank you for showing that you are still at work around Seaside.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February 17 – “Tax guy”


Our tax guy called today.  I was at the church getting ready for Ash Wednesday.  Actually I was talking to Chris on the phone when he called.  She was on her way home from Bay City. Her Mom was having some shortness of breath issues, but other than that she seemed to be doing okay.  As t turned out she was not quite as okay as Chris hoped.  One of the doctor's offices had called to tell her about some added medications that another doctor has said not to take, so she was confused.  So was I.  Chris took over, though.  She called and requested that the two doctors please have a conversation.  Then she had to calm her Mom down and convince her not to buy the extra meds until the doctors had their powwow.  Quite a welcome home.


Actually, the welcome home wasn't too bad.  Cailyn came over for a visit, just because she hasn't been here in a few days.  When I got home from the school she saw me, smiled, started waving and saying, "Hi!"  Captured.  But as she ran towards me, from out of nowhere Fritz leapt between us and started licking her face.  Everybody hollered at him.  Then she turned around and tripped over the hose.  That started her crying.  Best I could do was hand her over to Mommy.  They said she needed a nap anyway.


Back to the tax guy.  He got all our information and had done a preliminary run with it.  Looks like we have to pay, but only a hundred dollars or so.  It could have been a lot worse.  And has been.  But we are still dealing with losses from the flood and expenses from rebuilding the house, so that ate away all our taxable income.  We didn't even have to use the energy credit we earned from putting in all new energy efficient windows.  Having to pay social security as self employed really takes a lot, though.   


Back to Ash Wednesday.  I tried everything I could think of to get the computer to project a powerpoint presentation of the service and song lyrics on our big screen.  It did fine on the computer screen at the sound table.  But when I tried to switch it over, you could still see the computer stuff instead of it covering the whole screen.  So we went with that.  Worked OK until we got to a responsive reading.  Both parts were up at the same time – overlapping each other.  I finally just gave everyone the response.  It worked out OK.  Seasiders are flexible.  I love 'em.


Romans 15:5-6 says, "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."


Father, I can sure use that endurance and encouragement.  We can sure use that unity.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February 16 – “OK. No problem. But, why?”

I finally got to meet Sophia, the famous substitute teacher at Seaside Christian Academy.  She was preparing to give a vocabulary test.  The interactions I saw between her and the students seemed to indicate that she has been accepted and is fairly well-liked.  I like her, too.  She's bubbly.  Bubbly is good.


Chris called around 9 to tell me they had moved up her Mom's procedure to 12:30.  They discovered some blood clots in her legs yesterday, so today they went in and installed a filter between the clots and her heart.  That sounded serious to me.  Chris said in the grand scheme of heart procedures, this was the least serious.  Encouraging.  Unless the patient has about half of the capacity she's supposed to.  Even with her reassuring, I felt an overwhelming pull that I needed to meet them up in Houston.  I got there shortly before they called her back, so I didn't get to pray with her directly, but I did lift her up for the next hour or so.  Finally, the doctor came out to let us know that everything went well.  In fact she stayed awake and watched the whole thing on a monitor.  She told us later that afterwards she entertained the nurses.  That could mean anything from talking their ears off to dancing on the table.  They released her after about two hours, and we even stopped at Cracker Barrel on the way home.  This was one of those ministry moments that I don't really understand yet, and might not ever.  Why the strong urge to be there?  I talked to Josh on my way home to wish him a happy 29th birthday.  He said he had a similar feeling about today, so he'd been praying, too.  It's one of those things that you do because you promised to obey no matter what, and then trust God to do his thing.


Speaking of Josh, after their record snowfall (10 plus inches), both boys came up sick.  Zakary is fine now, but Caleb has been running a high fever and has been listless and whiney.  They got him an appointment today.  Double ear infection.  The antibiotics should start in on him soon.  I asked Josh how it felt for it to be your birthday and the only thing you can think about is how sick your kid is.  He said he felt most definitely inducted into the Fatherhood Club.


I only got one call while at the hospital.  It was to ask where to put the census people.  They are using Seaside as a site where you can come get help on how to fill out the form.  Don't know how much action they will get in Jamaica Beach, but maybe the school kids can learn something.


Romans 15:13 says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."


Father, I'm trying to obey, even when I don't understand the why.  Amen.