Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 31 – “Outsourcing”


I had an experience with corporate outsourcing today.  Actually it's been going on for several weeks.  Seaside ordered some books to give away at our Easter services.  Four hundred of them.  It was a special offer sent to us in the mail.  We thought it was from Thomas Nelson Publishers.  And indirectly it was, I guess.  But unbeknownst to us … they outsourced.  This particular offer was given to some telephone marketing company. 


So.  We placed the order back on the eighth of March.  You would think that would be plenty of time to get us the stuff at least a week before Easter, right?  That didn't happen.  So last week I called.  The guy said it had been back ordered and we would receive it early this week.  That didn't happen.  So I called them back on Tuesday.  Twice.  This time all I could get was someone telling me that they had no say in when it was shipped.  I didn't care when.  I just wanted to know if.  Because if not, then we would have to start from scratch on our Easter giveaways.  Not to mention the fact that the whole service is themed to match it.  They assured me that someone from Thomas Nelson would call me within 48 hours.  That would be Thursday at best.  That's cutting it very close.  I decided I would call back.


So this afternoon I called again.  I got the same runaround again.  The guy very patiently explained to me that they couldn't tell me when or if the order was shipped.  All they did was take orders.  OK.  I can understand that.  So I asked for the phone number of Thomas Nelson Publishing so I could call them.  So sorry.  "We can't give out that information.  We don't have the number you would need to call."  Honestly, I thought I was talking to the telemarketer I saw on Underground Boss a few weeks ago.  She almost got fired on the spot and caused the guy to blow his cover. 


I finally hung up and googled Thomas Nelson Publishing to get their phone number.  The guy who answered there was very nice.  He found the UPS tracking number and found out that it was due to be delivered today.  I let him know that his company was not being represented very well.  He's the one who told me that product had been outsourced.  He also told me that company's phone number is now in "the circular file."  They have had numerous complaints, and according to him, they have been dealt with.  I thanked him and hung up.


The delivery came a few hours later.  That's all I wanted to know.  Now that pressure's off for Easter.  I can move on to the next one.  That would be … printing and stapling the sunrise service bulletins.  Office Depot here I come.


Psalms 4:6-8 says, "Many are asking, 'Who can show us any good?'  Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.  7 You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.  8 I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."


Father, thanks again for the little things like the delivery today.  It helps.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 30 – “A bad penny”


Have you ever heard someone say, "That keeps showing up like a bad penny"?  What does that mean, anyway?  I even looked it up.  I found the history.  It supposedly was originally a bad shilling in England.  A Scottish guy named Sir Walter Scott write that "the bad shilling is sure enough to come back again."  It means that something distasteful is sure to keep recurring.  OK.  Shilling.  Penny.  Both are money, right?  So what is inherently bad about having a penny show up now and then?


Speaking of bad pennies, the mystery bike disappeared from the front porch where the police officers put it yesterday.  And no one saw it leave.  Perhaps it waits until we sleep before it continues on its eerie journeys. 


Our friendly neighborhood police officer came by when we were out in the front yard with Cailyn.  He had the code enforcement lady with him at the house next door.  They both even went inside.  She took pictures in there, and added a few more of the outside as well.  Said she would send off a letter giving whoever owns it ten days to clean up.  I have to admit, this is the only time in my personal history that a police officer has taken this great an interest in a neighborhood.  Maybe he'll win some kind of award or something.  Well, maybe he'll at least catch the bike.


And that bad penny or bike or alien ground transport vehicle might just have floated by shortly after the police left.  I am almost positive we saw the bike.  It slowly eased by our house carrying a little old man with a cool Indiana Jones looking hat and a backpack.  He didn't stop.  He did wave and smile.  He rode on down to the end of the street before disappearing again into the teeming hordes of Galveston's tourist industry.  Maybe the bike found a new home.  Or maybe we saw the scandalous interloper and failed to report him to the authorities.  Or maybe we didn't see anything at all.  Maybe it was a vision.  A wisp of sea foam.  A passing cloud of dust from someone still working on their home.  Hmmm.


2 John 3 says, "Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love."


Father, once again I'm looking for peace.  I sense myself drifting off again and again into worry – most recently about whether I'll get everything done for the Easter services.  But it's Easter.  Resurrection Day.  You can handle it.  Help me trust that.  Amen.

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 29 – “Opportunity”


I have a lot to get done this week before the Easter services Sunday.  Today I was going to get a good start on that, because I'd kind of like to change some things around.  I had just about finished all my preliminary preparations for work – filing stuff from yesterday's service, checking email, typing a wedding service (yep.  I have a wedding this Saturday as part of our weekend), when Chris came up behind me and said, "OK.  It's time to go for a walk."  For one brief, tiny moment I thought about challenging her and saying I had too much to do.  Then sanity won out and I got up. 


We walked around the neighborhood once - a mile.  It really looks different than it did before all the trees began disappearing.  It almost feels like we moved into a new development.  We talked to a few neighbors.  Even met one guy who has lived here on Sycamore for 35 years. 


Oh, and the mystery bicycle was back again.  I emailed our officer before we left, and later on this afternoon a few of them showed up to check it out.  No one was inside, but this time they decided to put the bike on the front porch and see if any of the neighbors  could catch the guy when he comes back to get it. 


And now to the opportunity.  I was on my way to firing up the computer when Chris came in again.  She said, "Well, I'm going out in the back yard.  I don't know if I'll be overwhelmed or if I'll be able to actually do anything."  Suddenly I was alert, guardedly optimistic.  I responded, "Do you mean you are going to go through the stuff ;left over from the storm?"  "I'm gonna try," she replied.  That was enough for me.  This was one opportunity I have been wanting for over year.  I decided that I needed to join her in the backyard. 


I kicked into clean out and throw away mode.  She was not so sure.  So I had to slow way down.  Instead I did some cleaning of things that I knew we would be keeping in the garage.  Finally it came.  She actually said, "Look.  I emptied a box.  I'm done."  Well, I wasn't near done, but she did throw away some stuff.  And she let me throw away even more stuff.  It still doesn't look like we made much of a dent in the pile, but we know.  And we'll be back.


James 4:7-10 says, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."


Father, as much as this old body of mine hurts, it's yours.  Amen.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28 – “Soft Soap”


Our big event of today was getting to spend a few hours with Micah.  He was not feeling well, his Mom had to go to Houston to a baby shower, and his Dad had to go to church.  So we went over and hung out with him.  He was definitely mellow compared to his usual fun-loving self.


I figured something out this week.  The secret of the soft soap dispenser.  I always thought that soap you got out of a bottle was all alike.  You know, wet hands, lather, rinse, repeat as necessary.  Not so with the soft soap dispenser however.  Those little bottles of stuff that looks like dishwashing liquid just don't behave the same way as dishwashing liquid.  Don't get me wrong.  I am by no means claiming to be an expert on dishwashing liquid.  Except I do really like to wash my hands with that stuff that comes out already foamy.  The stuff that is marketed as soft soap, though, is not the same. 


With soft soap, when you wet your hands and push down on the squirter, the soap comes out fine, but with it comes a long, stringy spaghetti-looking soap mess that gets all over everything.  It cleans up easily enough.  It is, after all, soap.  But it should be neater than that.


Well, I found out that it is.  Or rather it can be, if you know the secret.  You have to think outside the box.  Don't follow instructions.  It's so simple.  All you have to do is push the squirter down so the soap goes onto a dry hand.  It pinches right off.  I did some research.  I watched Chris.  She always uses the dry hand technique.  How come no one ever told me about this?  Why isn't it printed on the label?  Such an easy answer to a perplexing dilemma. 


James 3:17 says, "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."


Father, thank you for a great Palm Sunday.  Please give us a pretty day for Easter, as well.  Amen.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 27 – “Squatters”


We have squatters on Sycamore.  There are two abandoned houses on our street.  The one next door, and the one a few houses down and across the street. 


Now several days ago a neighbor told us he had been seeing a bicycle parked behind the house next door.  We had never seen it, but we vowed to be on the lookout.  Yesterday afternoon we saw the elusive mystery bike.  It was leaning up against the back of the house.  Mom said she had seen it that morning, too, but it was pointing the other direction then. 


When we met him the other day our friendly neighborhood Gulf Village-assigned police officer gave us his phone number and email.  He had also heard about a mystery bike, so he told us to let him know if we ever saw it.  So after supper, and after a personal reconnaissance mission of our own to see the B.I.Q. (bike in question) up close, I emailed our officer and told him "I thought someone should know."


About three minutes after I pushed "send," a patrol car pulled up in front of the house next door.  Chris came and got me, and I went out front to see what I could find out.  The officer called out to me, "I'm waiting for another car to get here."  Ah, yes.  Backup.  I watch TV.


Soon another car did indeed pull up, but it was some kind of small sedan, not a patrol car.  And the guy who got out was wearing some jams.  At least that's what we used to call them back in the day.  Loud, flowery shorts.  I thought it might be a nosey neighbor.  But then he turned around.  He was wearing a black t-shirt with "Galveston Police" printed on the back.  And not only that, he had his holster around his waist with his gin at the ready.  The two of them disappeared through the already open front door, calling, "Galveston PD."


They didn't come out for quite awhile.  In fact, a third car pulled up – another patrol car, and the new, fully uniformed officer joined his cohorts inside.  I guess that got their attention, because they finally came out together – about the same time that yet another patrol car pulled up.  Must have been a slow news day in Galveston.  That's when I started watching for a Galveston Daily News reporter to show up.  The four officers pow-wowed in the driveway long enough for one of our neighbors to walk over to our house to see what was happening.  We filled her in, and finally the summit meeting broke up.  One of the officers came over and told us that someone has been staying inside, but they were not there right then.  He said, "They're probably out walking around trying to get people to give them money.  They will come back when it gets dark.  And so will we.  We'll get them then."  Our neighbor was so excited that she asked them to come check the house next door to her (the other abandoned one).  She said she had screwed the front door shut and someone kicked it in.  So two of the patrol cars pulled over in front of that house and started their search protocol all over again.


We were gone for awhile in the evening.  When we got home the bicycle was gone.  An email from our friendly neighborhood officer said that they had red flagged the house and would be watching it closely over the next few weeks.


Squatters in the house next door.  And we were worried about varmints from the jungle back yard and trees falling on our house.


James 3:18 says, "Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."


Father, protect these guys we call our paid peacemakers.  Amen.

Friday, March 26, 2010

March 26 – “Prayer time”


Chris looked up rheumatoid arthritis on good ol' WebMD last night.  I need to go back and read it again, but it sounded to me like walking might be the best I could hope for right now.  No street jogging.  And if I do something that hurts, stop.  Hey.  Thinking hurts.  Can I stop?  The biggest thing – and it was not negotiable – was to reduce your stress.  Period.  Now what's that going to look like?  What can I give up?  What am I doing that I can stop doing?  Am I even asking the right questions?


We do have a packed weekend ahead.  I go to school today.  Friday is my day to be on site Headmaster.  Then we help the kids clean and set up for church.  Then I get set up for the Solemn Assembly of Prayer tonight.  Nine prayer stations all around the room.  After that is the Prayer Vigil.  I have two slots right now – 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.  It's not on site prayer, though.  Tomorrow morning is the Prayer walk, then the Stone memorial in Hitchcock, then back home for a neighborhood street party.  Somewhere in there I need to cut some palm branches from our trees so I can make the palm crosses for Sunday.  And Sunday is Palm Sunday. Really big worship day centered on prayer and praise.  Which brings us to Easter prep for next week.  OK.  I'm tired now.  But all I have to do is one thing at a time, so … here goes.


2 Chronicles 7:13-14 says, "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."


Father, we're going to be talking to you a lot this weekend.  Remind us to spend some time listening, too.  Amen.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 25 – “The gas truck”


Tonight at our house we begin a new study called Christianity Explained.  I invited anyone who wants to attend, but I honestly don't expect anyone other than our home group regulars.  Speaking of home group, there is one couple I have been kind of worried about.  The wife has had a rash of outrageous medical problems and has been in and out of the hospital.  I really like these guys, and I have been praying that they would come back around again.  Some weeks I try texting them, others I don't. 


This week, with the start of the new study, I really wanted to call them and see if they could come.  In the midst of preparation for tonight and Palm Sunday weekend and our doctor trip to Bay City and Houston and Micah showing up to play this afternoon because his brother had a doctor's appointment for a possible ear infection, I had not made the call.  When Micah arrived we went outside to say hi to Jachin, when a public utility gas truck pulled up.  Who should stick his head out?  Brian, the husband I mentioned earlier.  We talked for a few minutes, and he said he was going to call his wife and get her to come on over tonight.  I sure hope so.  It's amazing how God does things in his time. 


Time.  Oh, I forgot to mention.  I was supposed to start the study last Thursday, but that's when I got so sick.  I understand now that we needed to wait a week, but couldn't there have been a better way?  I would have been happy to just postpone.


It also just hit me that Chris wanted to go walking today.  I was willing to give it a try, but I got wrapped up in work at the computer all day.  Yesterday I Facebooked (what a crazy new verb to add to our vocabulary) a friend in Arlington who has rheumatoid arthritis.  I asked him a question I should have asked the doctor, but forgot when he "confirmed" his diagnosis.  I just wanted to know if I should or shouldn't try to work through the pain of exercising.  Is it going to do more harm than good?  I can just hear my jr. high school football coach screaming in one ear and my high school basketball coach hollering in the other, "Suck it up.  No pain, no gain."  I'll do it if it won't make it worse.  He hasn't answered yet.  I haven't started exercising yet.


2 Samuel 22:47 says, "The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!"


Father, give me an answer about this exercising stuff.  I'd really like to know.  Amen.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 24 – “Sulfa-whatsit”

Five a.m. to 8:30 p.m.  Now that's quite a day. 


Today was the day that I had an eye doctor appointment in Houston with the same ophthalmologist on the same day and within the same hour as both of my in-laws.  As a result we got up at 5 a.m. and drove to Bay City.  We arrived there right at eight, made a quick pit stop, switched to their car, and took off for Houston.  Chris was the chauffeur, as usual. 


On the way there I actually got a lot done on the Palm Sunday worship service.  I still need to get on the computer and type it up, though.  Most of the rest of the way I listened to the conversations going on and, of course, slept.  We joked about which of them would get called back first, since they were both new patients.  My appointment time was right after theirs, so I wasn't considered in that bit of banter.  But guess who was called back first?  Me.  I assumed it was because I was a returning patient.  I couldn't resist a tiny little woohoo on my way past.


The medical assistant or whatever her official title was went through all the usual "read the letters on the wall chart" tests.  She updated my chart.  That meant I had to come up with the names of all the medications I was taking.  I did fine on all except the new rheumatoid arthritis one.  I couldn't come up with it.  She finally typed in something like "takes something for arthritis."  I was reading over her shoulder, and it suddenly hit me.  I remembered that it began with "sulfa."  That seemed weird the first time I heard it because I thought sulfa drugs were all just for antibiotic kinds of stuff.  She typed in "sulfa" and ran a search.  Hundreds of drugs came up, but amazingly, just a few down from the top, I saw it.  Sulfasalazine. (OK.  I confess.  I forgot again while I was typing just now and had to go look at the bottle).  But I felt proud of myself then.  She put the eye drops in and stuck the machine in my eye, and got me all set for the real doctor to come in and do his high dollar inspection. 


When he came in, the doc sat down, swung his machine around, looked in each of my eyes in turn, while asking me what I did for a living.  I said I was a pastor in Jamaica Beach in Galveston.  He pushed the machine out of the way and started talking about  fishing.  He goes out to San Luis Pass all the time to fish, so he knew just where Jamaica Beach was – "The Speed Trap," he called it.  He has been through Jamaica Beach.  He even pulled out his cell phone and showed me the pictures he took from his last trip down there.  Caught some nice specs and a few good keeper reds.  After about five minutes or so of fish stories, he said, "Oh, about your eyes.  They haven't changed all that much, and the other cataract hasn't showed up yet.  It will, but it may take ten years.  But I wouldn't get any new glasses if I were you."  With that he shook my hand and left.  OK.  So much for stressing about an eye exam.


Now Chris' mom was fine, too, but she decided to get some new glasses just because she wanted some.  Her Dad, on the other hand, needed cataract surgery.  They set up the first eye for a few weeks off.  There's another trip in Chris' future.


On the way home we took the beach road through Freeport.  It was the first time we have been that way since Ike.  Our only comments were, "It looks so clean now," and "There are no dunes."


We got to the church just as they were getting started with youth group.  It was our youth pastor's first day back since spending ten weeks in Tennessee and CSI school.  He was glad to be home, and the kids seemed happy to have him back.  He said he learned a lot while he was gone, and not all of it related to dead bodies.  He wants to simplify his life again – work, home, church.  I'm praying he is successful.


1 Thessalonians 1:3 says, "We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."


Father, I want to be remembered like that.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 23 – “Clearing the fenceline”


So what are the top ten prayers of all time?  I saw a website that claimed to have that very list, so I decided to take a look.  The idea would fit in perfectly with what we have planned for this Sunday's worship service.  They did have a list.  Some of them I agreed with – had to be on there.  Others I never heard of.  One wasn't even really a prayer.  I decided to use the idea, though, so I came up with my own top ten prayers based on, well, not based on anything really.  I either just liked them or they have been around a long time.  Can't say what they are until after Sunday, though.  I have to keep some of the mystery and drama alive.


I mowed the grass.  Our front yard and the neighbor's front yard.  I was working on a piece of their back yard when Chris came over and told me to turn around.  One of the other neighbors was leaning on the back fence watching me.  "Are you the homeowner?" he asked.  "No way," was my reply.  "I'm the next door neighbor.  I'm just trying to work my way over to the fence so I can knock down a section of jungle next to our property."  Come to find out, he was the one who called the police and reported a possible trespasser the other day.  We talked for awhile about what our options might be with the city.  Always good to meet a new neighbor.  I finally gave up on trying to reach the fence by going through the yard.  Chris recommended that I just hop the fence and start chopping weeds right there.  That's the idea that won out.  I only got halfway through, though, before it was time for some lunch.  Cailyn and April were over, so I also had to hold my little girl for awhile.  Never got back out there.


The main reason I didn't go back to the job was that I found out one of the girls in our school and youth group was in the hospital with one of those MSRA nasty big infections.  She was bitten by a spider and the infection set in.  We heard through Facebook connections that she was going to have surgery today.  Chris and I went up to the hospital to check on her and pray with her.  She was in good spirits.  Her teacher texted her while we were there and said she was coming up with the test she missed.  Our girls texted back that she had notified security to taser her when she entered the building.  I sure like teenagers.


1 Peter 1:3-5 says "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."


Father, heal Kassi quickly, and grant her and her family patience in the meantime.  Amen.

Monday, March 22, 2010

March 22 – “Hoping”


This morning I worked for several hours on the Palm Sunday events coming up.  None of the cool outside stuff I could have done, like cutting palm branches and making palm crosses.  I'll get to that later in the week.  Especially that palm tree in the back yard.  I can't tell if the whole thing is dead or if there are just numerous branches that need cutting.  Some of them are draped over the cable wires in the back of the house, though.  At least I think they are for cable.  I think the power lines are much higher up.  Hope so.  Guess I'll find out later this week. 


When I finally heard from the secretary of the Galveston Baptist Association, I loaded up in the truck and headed to LaMarque.  WooHoo.  I knew that office was only open four days a week, but I can't ever remember if it is Monday or Friday they take off.  I needed a signature from someone in authority at that office to prove that Seaside is really a member of the association.  It was one of the requirements for a grant we are applying for.  The executive director was there, so they ushered me back to his office.  I have met him several times before, but this was my first time to sit down and chat.  An hour and a half later I emerged with the signature.  He was a fun guy to get to know, but we spent a lot of time talking about Galveston's demon of hopelessness.  He's getting together some teams to be trained in prayer walking so they can all converge on Galveston at once and inundate the city with prayer one Saturday morning.  Sounds like some spiritual warfare is about to hit the fan on the island.  I sure hope everybody gets prayed up.


I got a text from Chris around noon.  She was with her Mom in Houston.  They did a chemo treatment, but the doc was not happy that the cat scan she ordered had not been done.  She set it up for this afternoon.  She also ordered a hospital bed to be set up at her Mom's house for whenever she might need it in the days or weeks to come.  Good luck getting her Mom to make that phone call.  She is still fiercely independent, and to have a hospital bed in her house seems to make her feel like she's giving up hope.


1 Peter 1:21 says, "Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God."


Father, help Chris' Mom remember where to put her faith and hope.  Amen.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 21 – “You are the man”


Nathan and April were at church today.  Chris was excited because that meant Cailyn would be in church.  And of course that meant that she got to keep her in the nursery.  I was excited because the teaching today was on Nathan's favorite passage of scripture.  It was out of 2 Samuel when Nathan the prophet says to King David, "You are the man!"  He has loved that verse since he first heard it in family worship years ago.  I think it had something to do with him being the youngest child.  He could really relate when his namesake got to point his finger at the big cheese and call him out. 


God is doing some very interesting things around Seaside.  Today one guy talked to me about wanting to get involved in a local church so he could in turn be involved with the Gideons.  He works in marketing and is even running for a political office in Jamaica Breach.  He wanted to get together and talk about what my vision for Seaside is.  I think he wants us to grow like crazy, and he seemed willing to market like crazy to see it happen. 


Someone else took me aside and talked about Seaside as a family.  She really understood a lot of the ins and outs of what pastors go through.  She was interested in how I felt about several things, but she said her calling was to be an encourager.  She wanted to do what she could to get more of the organizational stuff off my plate so I can concentrate on being a pastor and being involved in people's lives.


I even talked to a possible teacher for next year.  She is certified to teach 1st – 8th grade.  Just what we need.  She is very creative.  Also what we need with the way we are set up.  We really need to get our salary up closer to $19,000, though.  That's what they pay at Galveston Catholic School.


There are two things happening this week with great possibilities.  One is the study of Christianity we're doing at home group.  It's designed for people who aren't even Christians to show up, so I've been encouraging our folks to invite friends.  We'll see.  The second one is the Palm Sunday Prayer Weekend.  We're having a Kickoff prayer service Friday at seven.  Then we have a 12 hour prayer vigil.  Then at nine Saturday morning we're doing a prayer walk.  Then we're going over to a benefit for the family of the young man who died a few weeks ago.  Then Sunday morning we'll do a service of Prayer and Praise, with palm crosses somehow involved.  Big week.  Lots of prep time.


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, I am waiting on you.  It feels like something is about to happen.  Amen.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March 20 – “Making Room”


I got started this morning on the preparation for our Palm Sunday prayer weekend.  It's one of those times when I know what I'd like to see happen, but it's going to take awhile to find all the pieces and put them together.


I was still fighting that stomach thing this morning, too.  It seems to have finally run its course , but now I feel really weak.


This afternoon Chris started working on cleaning out the storeroom.  I was going to try to do some stuff outside, but it started raining so I went to the garage.  It didn't take long for Chris and I both to realize that we needed a place to put stuff before we could even  begin to reorganize it.  So we headed to WalMart for some plastic containers.  She wanted some of the big boxed so we could store things in the attic.  That was good news.  I got the small kind with dividers inside so I could get all the loose screws and nails out of the baggies they were stored in.  The idea is to make it possible to see what I have.  Just doing that much freed up a lot of room in my big old wooden cabinet out there, so I started going through some of the milk crates we had in the garage.  They had a multitude of random things in them: quite a few more screws and nails, some really nice looking glass vases as well as some green glass containers, the Budweiser light fixture that was in the house when we moved in (of course that survived the storm unscathed.  And speaking of beer, I also found an old bottle opener with Pearl Beer written on it.  That's probably worth some money to a collector of beer memorabilia.), a  microscope set, some carpentry and home improvement books from my more adventurous days, a handful of travel games, a lot of trash, and some garage sale goodies.


Chris did so well that she offered me the big shelf from the store room.  I can sure use it out there, but now I have to make room for it.  That means we have to cut the plywood to fit our windows in case a storm comes.  As it is, the sheets of plywood take up too much room for the shelf to fit where I'd like it to be.  And since we're going to be cutting plywood, I suggested to Chris that this would be a good time to get rid of some of the old bed frame pieces.  My idea didn't go over so well.  Must not be time yet.  Oh, well, I know there's a lot more in the back yard and over at Teri's that we still have to go through.  I sure hope this new arthritis medicine kicks in before we have to carry heavy stuff.


Psalms 121:7-8 says, "7 The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."


Father, it's so good to know you are watching, and you care.  Amen.

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 19 – “Neighborhood Cop”


Chris and I were in the front yard today when a police officer stopped at the house across the street.  Two men were standing around their car.  Actually one of them was the son of the lady who lives there.  He talked to them for a few minutes, then drove away.  Or so we thought.  Actually he just turned his car around and parked by the house next door.  He asked us if anyone was home, and Chris walked over and told him it was abandoned.  They ended up talking for twenty or thirty minutes.  He said he had been inside that house several times, just checking on things.  Someone from the house behind it had noticed a new bicycle in the back yard, so he was checking on that.  I don't know how they could have seen it of there was one.  It would be covered by the jungle grass back there. 


The officer then told us that Gulf Village was "his" neighborhood.  He has great plans for us, it seems.  He wants to get us organized for a neighborhood association that tells people to mow their grass.  That one's not going to happen here, I don't think.  People here don't want to be told what to do with their own property.  Now a Neighborhood Watch program would work, because we already do that. 


His plans included speed bumps to slow down traffic, getting brand new stop signs and other traffic signs up to show speed limits and such, and having a big homeowners meeting so he and some other guys could tell us that we need to lock our doors and windows.  One other thing he mentioned I don't have a good feeling about.  He said he would push for the homeowners to give the police power of attorney to stop people they see on our property and ask them what they are doing.  Without the power of attorney they have to have probable cause that a crime is being committed before they could stop someone.  The idea sound really noble.  I'm just not all that sure I want to give any government entity power of attorney over anything more than they already have.  If it's a piece of paper that very specifically limits them to stopping someone outside my house and talking to them, I might consider it.  But even that somehow just doesn't feel right.  We'll see.  In the meantime we asked him to see what he could do about the state of the house next door.  He promised he would call the code enforcement officer.  We are being watched.


Psalms 32:8 says, "8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."


Father, I trust you to watch us.  Amen.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 18 – “Not a good day”

Today was beautiful.  Cool and sunny.  Perfect day to be outside.  But I had an appointment with my rheumatologist up in Houston.  I've been off the steroids for awhile now, and this is the checkup to see how things are going since then.  The answer in a word is not so good.  OK.  That's three words.  My fingers and toes have been aching and sore.  My left elbow is in a class all its own.  My knees snap, crackle and pop, and usually throb after just a little bit of walking.  And the newest guests at the party are my hips.  I even have a new nerve pain spot – the tops of my feet feel like they are sunburned – but that's another day, another doctor. 


This guy is really a lot of fun.  He is a teacher, so he always has students doing rotations.  Today was a resident just starting a month there.  The guy took a complete history again.  He tried to be assured but it came off as if he was trying to be arrogant and wasn't doing a good job.  He seemed pretty sharp, though.  And the doc really put him through the wringer with question after question.  He finally made him come up with a "hypothesis" and what he would do about it.  Then he totally disagreed with him.  It was fun to watch them spar back and forth while talking about me in the third person and I was right there.  Anyway, the conclusion for today was that because of how I responded to the steroids, what I have has to be a smoldering rheumatoid arthritis.  They took some more blood, but last time nothing showed up.  He said 40% of people with RA don't show anything in one particular test, and 20% of people don't show anything at all.  He's pretty sure that's me.  So he prescribed one of the specific RA medicines.  It's kind of scary.  I take one a day for a week, then two a day for a week, then three a day for a week and finally four a day for a week.  He said I had to work up to the dose slowly.  And they had to watch my liver function and be careful to not get infections.  And I had to take some kind of vaccination against 15 or 20 kinds of pneumonia.  Scary.


We stopped at Olive Garden on the way home.  It was already 2:30 after an 11:30 appointment, by far the longest time ever there.  I tried something different, seafood something or other.  It had five shrimp and five scallops mixed in with a boatload of noodles and white juicy stuff on it.  I know.  I should be a waiter there, right?


We had to go to Sam's for some kitchen supplies for dinner on the grounds at church this Sunday.  The church credit card was denied.  I talked to everybody there, and they even called the billing office.  I finally just paid cash and I'll get the financial secretary and treasurer to work it out.


Now here's the PG part for today.  We watched an episode of House the other day that we had taped.  It was about a blogger with some kind of mystery disease who sits in bed and posts blogs constantly.  She talks to her blog audience about everything.  Well, everything that is, except – as House discovers - everything but bowel movements.  And therein was the clue he needed to treat her mysterious malady.


As we were leaving Sam's I had an attack of my own personal bowel malady, one the doctors finally called a spastic colon.  I can sometimes go for several days without a bowel movement.  Then I begin to have severe stomach cramps.  They continue until that spastic colon decides to open up the gates, as it were.  It is an exhausting experience that lasts for hours.  It hasn't happened lately, but it is supposedly aggravated by stress, so I guess today qualified.  After it finally eased up a bit, I fell asleep for a couple of hours.  When I woke up it was 10:30.  And the world had continued to spin while I was gone.  Amazing how that works.


Psalms 118:24 says, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."


Father, thank you for today, too.  Amen.