Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31 – “The Project”


After I worked on the sermon all morning, I was really feeling exhausted.  First, I did something I probably shouldn't have.   Then I did something that I should have started with. 


The first thing was to look up rheumatoid arthritis on the computer again.  I have never really read through all the options for information on Web MD.  So I did.  And it was depressing.  Sounds like the "hope" for this stuff is to catch it early and "arrest the development."  You can go into "remission" for random periods of time, then it can return for random periods.  I did find the answer to my specific question, though.  The lack of energy is definitely a symptom. 


After lunch I had to choose between two options.  Take a nap.  Or attempt one of the projects in the garage.  I chose the project.  The number one thing on the list is trying to get more stuff up in the attic so we can have more room in the garage itself.  But after Nathan helped cut the wood for the windows, he suggested that we finish decking the entire attic.  I really like that idea.  I have always wanted to have an attic that I could walk around in.  The roof isn't tall enough to do that here, but it would sure make it easier to crawl around if the whole floor was, well, a floor.  But that was not something I felt capable of accomplishing without help.  So I turned to the pile of other projects.


The one I chose was the stool that I use to sit on when I teach at church.  Several of the wooden pegs were broken, so the legs were very wobbly.  I had a dowel in the cabinet, so that looked like the best place to start.  Taking it apart was easy.  Only two of the existing pegs were still in place, so it was being held together by a few screws.  And to think I trusted that thing to hold me up week after week. 


Cutting the new pegs was no problem, but I had to dig through the salvaged drill bits bucket to find one the right size for the holes I needed to drill.  Unexpectedly, the perfect size bit fell out.  I set to work drilling holes and trimming pegs and gluing and re-screwing.  Three sides fit together perfectly.  And then I picked up the final leg.  And I realized that I had installed the crossbar backwards.  It didn't match the rest.  That meant breaking off the new peg, cutting another one, and re-drilling the two holes.  It finally fit together, so I left it to dry.


Chris was ready to leave for Bay City.  We made a quick trip to Randall's to get some gas and pick up a prescription for Mom.  But the time for departure finally came.  It has been nice having her here for almost a whole week.  Her Mom has two appointments tomorrow, cancer and heart docs.  The plan is for Chris to come home tomorrow afternoon, and we leave for Mansfield on Wednesday.  Does it count as a 35th wedding anniversary trip if you get to go see your grandkids?  Actually the plan is to not make a plan until we find out what the two doctors say.  So we'll see.


Song of Solomon 2:12 says, "Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land."


Father, thank you for the growth all around us: grass, the pecan tree, the flowers Chris planted and those that "just  showed up" after Ike.  Amen.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

May 30 – “Livin’ on Galveston Island … in the Summer”


Many things vary according to the seasons.  They say romantic love is like that.  Wildly passionate one moment and tragically cool the next.  And the seasons of man were the source of the most famous riddle known to man, the Riddle of the Sphinx.  But not much can compare to the vastly different seasons experienced by those of us who live on Galveston Island. 


Some say they can be narrowed down to two, rainy and dry.  But honestly, unless there is a hurricane in the Gulf, it really doesn't rain all that much here.  And speaking of hurricanes, that is one season we prefer not to dwell on.  It begins in June and doesn't end until November, so we live under that cloud of uncertainty for half the year.  I would certainly agree with those who list Mosquito Season as one of the big ones.  When it does finally rain, those little tiny eggs are just waiting in the grass to hatch and attack.  There are local legends about small dogs being carried away by Galveston mosquitoes. 


This is Memorial Day weekend, and for Galveston Island, it is the "official" start of the Summer Tourist Season.  I know that weather people say summer doesn't begin until sometime after June is half over, but that just doesn't make sense here.  The beach is free, so as soon as people can work up an excuse - and Memorial Day Weekend is the first and best one - then they start the yearly inundation that doesn't really stop until school starts back in August or September.  And Galveston as a whole is thankful that they come.  We don't really have any industry here, unless you can count American National Insurance Company or maybe the "new" University of Texas Medical Branch.  The island survives on tourism.  So if most locals were honest, they would have to say, "Bring 'em on."  And so I stand with the locals.  Bring 'em on.  But does everyone have to be here all at once? 


Today we had to go to Tiki Island, which is a little subdivision just on the Texas side of the causeway.  My niece just graduated from college and is getting ready to head to Virginia for her new job with the justice department (whatever that really means).  So her parents threw her an open house.  So thoughtful.  But right in the middle of Sunday afternoon of Memorial Day Weekend.  As we drove off the island we looked over at the incoming traffic and gasped.  It hasn't looked so packed since several years ago when that fraternity had a national party here.  The difference, though was that people today seemed to be a lot more patient than they were back then.  And cleaner.  Cars trying to take the exit to the beach via 61st Street were stacked up all the way back over the causeway and beyond somewhere into Texas.  My brother said that a friend of theirs had already called from South Houston and said they had been sitting in traffic for 45 minutes, and they were still in South Houston.  So they were not coming.  We could look out the window of my brother's house and see cars for miles and miles.  Welcome to Galveston.  Bring 'em on.  Glad I'm inside and not in my car. 


We stayed until around five, and when we left the traffic seemed to have gotten a lot better.  Until we actually got close to the exit.  It was better, but still not great.  Not an easy enough path for a local who just wanted to get home.  We decided to pull an old native Galvestonian trick and bypass the first exit.  Then we crisscrossed through some neighborhoods until we go back on the road to our house.  We managed to miss virtually all of the 61st Street traffic.  But when we got to our neighborhood and flicked on our blinker to turn left, the traffic was backed up probably to Schlitterbahn.  Thankfully, though a few kind souls kept their brakes on until we could pull through the two lanes of traffic and get home.  Ah, adventure.  Come see us any time.  But try to come when you're not in a hurry.  It's Summer on the Island.


In Genesis 8:22, God told Noah, "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."


Father, thank you for summer time in Galveston.  Send us some folks who need you, and let us have the privilege of bumping into them to show them the next step in their journey toward you.  Amen.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

May 29 – “Grill Day”


Today was our family grill day.  Nathan has to work on Memorial Day, so we decided to do our welcome to the summer chicken and sausage cookout today.  Nathan is actually working the firemen's fill the boot thing for muscular dystrophy, but he still came over for lunch.  Then April had to leave early for an event of significant proportions.  I think it was a bachelorette party for a friend.  Kel and Christina and their boys came, too, so it was as close to a family reunion as we can get with Josh and Christi living up North.


I did get to use our new barbecue pit.  One side is for cooking with charcoal.  The other is for propane.  The best of both worlds.  The propane is a lot quicker and cleaner, but there is just something about the taste of a charcoal grilled … well, anything.  I thought it would take a lot longer to set up and do the initial burn recommended by the instructions.  And yes, I did read the instructions.  Thankfully, though, the guys at Academy had already put it together when we bought it.  I only had to tighten one wing nut, hang the grease drip cups, and turn around one piece that was installed backwards.  It was the one that holds the propane tank steady.  I thought that would be helpful.  Then I had to put in some charcoal and fire up the gas so the "manufacturer smells" could burn off.  And the instructions really said that … "manufacturer smells."  It took awhile, but all was done and ready by 9:45.  Too early to begin cooking according to Chris.  She wanted the chicken to marinade a little while longer. 


I finally got started around 10:15.  Everything was ready by 11:30 or 11:45.  Great reviews about the new pit.  And the chicken.  I guess it's a keeper.  It was great to have our kids and grandkids together and watch the little guys interact.  I just wish Josh and Christi could have been here, too, with Zak and Caleb.  Maybe we'll just have to go up there next week.  Of course we won't have Cailyn and Jachin and Micah and Josiah with us.  I guess I'll have to act like a kid.  Wonder of I remember how?


Proverbs 26:21 says, "As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife."


Father, after seeing the charcoal smolder today, I have to ask, please keep me from being quarrelsome.  Amen.

Friday, May 28, 2010

May 28 – “Fences”


Fences.  So different.  So many different reasons.  Our neighbor behind us contacted a realtor to sell their house.  The realtor said they "had" to have a wood fence.  So they built one about eight or so inches away from our chain link fence.  And now.  Now there is that strip of no-man's land between wood and chain link that is free to grow all sorts of evil demon devil weeds.  Should we use Round-up? (That's a possibility, but will it affect Chris' flower bed which is right there at the fence line?)  Maybe we could change the oil in our car and pour some of the old stuff in there? (Well, it would definitely work, but it is, well, illegal)  So should we tear down the chain link? That's what our neighbor suggested.  (No, because when a storm blows over the wood fence, the chain link will still keep our dogs in the yard)


On one side of our back yard we used to have one of those roll-up wooden fences that you wire to the chain link.  It was carried away by the flood.  Now Chris says she wants to replace it so people who are walking on the road that goes past the neighbor's house won't be able to see into our back yard and scope out possible theft opportunities (Hah.  Wrong house)


And the other side?  Well, that's the one with the abandoned house.  The neighbors on the other side of it have already put up a wood privacy fence.  But it's the only side where Chris says she doesn't really want a fence.  She is holding out hope that by some miracle we can buy that property, tear down the house and the fence, and have a really big back yard.  If that happens, we really will need some mission trip groups to come down and help us clear it out.  It'll be just like after the storm again.  What memories.


Speaking of that yard.  One of the dead trees back there has officially begun its fall, and it is headed right toward the power lines and our cable lines.  The only thing holding it up right now is one of the other dead trees.  Can you say … domino?


Psalms 122:7 says, "May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels."


Father, all we really want is peace within our walls – the real walls we build inside, not the fences out back.  Amen.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May 27 – “Window wood”


Hurricane season officially arrives here in Galveston on Tuesday.  And it lasts until November.  I sure pray we get another reprieve last we did last summer.  Although the excuse for a trip to visit Josh and Christi and Zak and Caleb is always nice.  As long we have a house to come back to.   Yesterday Nathan came over and helped me get the wood for protecting our windows cut.  It's one of those wonderful, I-live-on-an-island-sand-bar-off-the-coast-of-Texas things you have to do.  In fact we had to have the wood purchased and on site before we could technically get an occupancy permit for our rebuild after the storm.  What Nathan and I did was cut the sheets of plywood to fit the windows and doors.  One more thing to check off our list.  The best part of the whole thing, though, was the chance to hang out with Nathan and play with power tools.  Not to mention the fact that April and Cailyn were here, too.


Speaking of Cailyn, her thing yesterday was to walk around holding one of those little plastic Easter eggs in one hand and a double decker coat hanger in the other.  I wonder what was going on in her mind.  Every so often she would bring the egg to her Daddy and hand it to him.  He would "crack it open," and her mouth would fly open and her face would express total surprise.  Every time.  And there was never anything in there.  But, hey … you never know.  New things happen from minute to minute when you are 16 months old. 


This afternoon we go across the street to a neighborhood get-together.  The lady on our corner has invited our end of the street to come down for hot dogs and getting to know each other.  Great idea.  The timing works, too.  Our home group starts around seven.  The party is from 5:30 to 7. 


Leviticus 9:24 says, "Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown."


Father, help me to regain and maintain the joy and surprise of a 16 month old opening up each new minute you give.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 26 – “On Weeds”


OK.  So who gets to name weeds?  And who decides if a plant is a weed, anyway? 


Our yard has been a mass of one thing or the other for two years now.  Chris has decided that it is time for our yard to come into its own, whatever that will end up looking like.  We did the pull-up-extraneous-stuff routine in the front yard already.  Now we're working on the back.  And it has already been an adventure. 


Now I can see broad categories of weeds.  In fact I came up with three easy ones just today.  Category one is what I would call the "allegedly pretty weeds."  Two of our neighbors have had these all over their front yard for years.  And they say they want it that way.  These weeds have little yellow flowers.  I guess the good thing about them is that it's OK for the grandkids to pick all they want and give them to Mommy or Nana.  It's also pretty easy to rip them up by the roots.  But Chris said people pay to put these things in their gardens.  Come on over and take some for free.


Category two I would call "nuisance weeds."  I know all weeds are a nuisance, but these have a particular quirk that makes them stand out.  The best example in our yard was creeping in from the abandoned house next door.  Chris said the name of it was potato vine.  I asked her if we could eat the potatoes, but she said it didn't really make potatoes.  So why call it that?  Another imponderable question for the ages.  This particular potato vine, like others in this category, was quite prolific.  It had taken over one whole section of the fence, and it was well on its way to making a move on the rest.  I tore it down.  I never saw any roots, though, so it will be back.


My final category is the worst of all.  It is the "evil demon devil weed weeds."  And we have been hosting the top three in this category for way too long.  Number one on the list always has to be the Galveston sticker bur.  I've been fighting these things since I was a little kid wanting to run through the grass barefoot.  They hurt.  Second has to our green monster root ball weeds.  They grow anywhere, and they have thorns.  There are no flowers, just green, fern-looking stuff.   If they are near a fence, they wrap around it.  If they are in the middle of the yard, they pop straight up.  And when I tried to dig them out by the roots, I found out that the root system if a massive, twisted never-ending ball.  The third one I would include here is another one that people pay to have in their yard, the "spiny, wicked bougainvillea."  This plant has huge two or three inch spikes all over it, and it is totally indiscriminate as to who it choose to stab.  All the women in our family think they are gorgeous.  And I guess the flower by itself is very pretty.  But I can do without the tradeoff.  Chris keeps hers in a hanging basket.  Good place for it.  Keeps it contained.


2 Corinthians 12:7-9 says, "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."


Father, thank you for your incredible grace.  And for those thorny plants you created, too.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May 25 – “A Pacifier”


Stress, stress, stress.  Today was one of "those" kind of days.  At least to start out.  It began innocently enough.  I did the next lesson in my Experiencing God notebook.  Good stuff.  Chris started watering the grass and wanted to know what my plans were for the day.  I actually had one.  I needed to work on the sermon, because I would need Thursday to work on the Home group Bible study and Friday to be up at the school and Saturday for the rummage sale, part two at the church as well as our family cookout for Memorial Day.  It takes me long enough to prepare on an easy week, so I knew I would need every minute I could get. 


Then I got some phone calls about Seaside Christian Academy.  Some last week of school issues had come up and needed some immediate attention.  So I had to put on my Interim Headmaster hat and come up with some ideas for solving those problems. 


Then I remembered that we had some bills to be paid this week, so I had to stop and write those. That meant making sure the checkbook was balanced (which it was, by the way).  Minor frustration that comes up once or twice a month.


While I was back working on the Visual Verse for Sunday the doorbell rang.  It was our grandsons Jachin, Micah, and Josiah and their mother.  They have been receiving food from folks at their church since Josiah was born, so they decided to share some of their bounty with us.  Of course that meant I had to horse around with the guys for awhile.  And then I even got to hold little Josiah while we all ate.  I got pretty good at eating with my left hand. 


I accomplished quite a bit on the sermon, and by late afternoon I was about as done as I could get for today.  I could feel myself slipping away in my concentration.  So I decided I needed a bit of a stress pacifier.  I went to the garage and broke out a power tool.  It was time to cut the shelves for the new shed.  I set up in the back yard, measured a few times, and powered up.  Didn't take long enough.  I was looking around for something else to cut when Chris came out.  And she reminded me that she wanted to refit the landscape timbers that Hurricane Ike floated from the back yard to the front.  And that meant we would have to cut them to fit.  Power tool.  Of course it also meant we had to dig in the dirt and cut back grass before we could actually get them placed.  By the time we finished those cuts, I was drenched with sweat and pretty well spent.  We sat down outside to cool off, and Mom came out to join us.  It was nice in the shade with the Galveston breeze blowing.  A sense of accomplishment, a cool breeze, a cup of water, and the prospects of watching the Biggest Loser season finale.  It's amazing what a simple power tool pacifier can do for one's stress level.


Psalms 62:1-2 says, "My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.  2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken."


Father, thank you for being my rest.  You are a so much better pacifier than power tools, as awesome as they are.  Amen.

Monday, May 24, 2010

May 24 – “Dirt”


Question: When is dirt not dirt? 

Answer: When you buy it in a bag.

We went to WalMart today to get some dirt.  That's all we wanted, just dirt to level out some of the ruts in the backyard we caused by not actually planting the grass squares we bought.  I guess they are technically rectangles.  They seemed to be taking root, but they stuck up so much that it was hard to roll the wheelbarrow through that area.  So we just wanted to fill in the area around and in between the squares.  We went with the cheaper bag, four of them to get us started.  How can you mess up dirt?  Dirt's dirt, isn't it? 


Apparently not.  We got what was labeled "topsoil."  That sounded like what we wanted.  Dirt to put on top of already existing soil.  Fine.  Why spend $1.98 per bag when you can get it for $1.38?  Oh, and we also got a monster-size bag of stuff that Chris wanted.  Potting soil.  Soil.  That's dirt, too, right?  They're sure proud of that kind of dirt, though.  Ten bucks for two cubic yards (whatever that means).


When we got home Chris started in on rearranging plants again, so I went to work spreading dirt.  The first bag did fine, but I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of wood chips.  The second and third bags were almost totally wood chips.  The fourth was more like the first.  The wood chips bags kind of frustrated me.  I guess they did their job.  It just didn't look right to me.   And we ran out of dirt before we got everything filled in.  And Chris filled up two or three big old pots, so we had to get another one of those mega-bags of her special dirt.  That meant another trip to  WalMart.  This time we selected the more expensive brand of topsoil dirt, and it looked like, well, dirt.  It spread much easier, and definitely looks more like what I expected … dirt.


Dirt.  Huh.  You get what you pay for.  Even with dirt.


1 Peter 4:7 says, "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray."


Father, help me see more of what your mind is like.  It sure is hard to clear the junk out of mine.  Amen.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May 23 – “The Baptism”


This morning for the teaching I did an introduction to the Apostle's Creed.  I know some of the people there have never heard it before, but others were really excited to hear something they remembered from either their childhood or from somewhere in their past.  The crowd wasn't very large but they really got into worship.  The songs were particularly upbeat, and even though it was long, everyone seemed to get a kick out of the visual verse for the day.


And then we went to the beach.  One of the kids who grew up at Seaside recently moved back to Galveston with his Mom.  They came to home group Thursday and he asked if I would baptize him Sunday.  I talked to him briefly then, and again this morning before the service.  He knew what he was doing.  In fact, when we got to the beach I asked him to say "Jesus is Lord" to show why he was being baptized.  He ducked his head at first, then he very quietly said, "Jesus is Lord and …"  I was just about to move on when I heard the "and," so I hesitated and looked at him.  He was obviously carefully formulating what he was going to say next.  Everybody noticed it, too, so we all waited.  And finally he finished his thought, "and I believe he died on the cross for my sins."  Wow.  What a confession of faith for a kid to make on his own in front of not just a bunch of church people, but also the people who were just hanging out at the beach.


He and I and his Mom headed out into the water.  Now his Mom had informed me earlier that he was very afraid of being laid backwards into the water.  I told him that after I said, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," all he had to do was kneel down.  That way the waves would break over his head, and God would complete the baptism.  All went well until he started down.  Instead of kneeling in the water, he squatted down - a lot lower that I could have, mind you – and stuck his own face under the water.  That would have been fine, except he wasn't quite low enough for the water to completely cover him.  His back got wet, and his arms and legs, obviously.  But the back of his head stayed just out of the water.  I glanced back to see when another wave would arrive.  Gamely, he was keeping his head under the water.  Finally, I just splashed some water over his head and helped him stand back up.  As far as he was concerned he had stayed under for a long time.  I'm sure it was long enough to "take."


Matthew 3:11 says, "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."


Father, thank you for the fire your Spirit brings.  I felt it this morning.  Amen.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May 22 – “Released”


A day all planned out that actually works out.  Now that would be an interesting occurrence.  I can't remember when that has ever happened, but it would be interesting.  Chris wanted to work in the yard today.  She told her Mom that unless something changed she would not come up to the hospital today.  That done, she planned out the day.


She started out by walking up on the deck and staring at the back yard for awhile.  She told me that was the only way she could visualize where she wanted to put plants and pots and stuff.  I was finishing up the sermon while she did that.  When she came back inside she sat in the rocking chair near my desk and said, "OK.  What's on your agenda for today?"  See, that's the loaded question we always ask each other.  The one who asks it first gets to sit back and decide if they want to follow what they hear, or if they want to create a new one.  I have learned to be careful to make agendas that are extremely flexible.


After a little negotiating, we decided that we both wanted to hit WalMart and Home Depot.  The WalMart list included chocolate milk (that's from my agenda), so we went there first, with the plan to drop off the milk at home before we went to Home Depot.  And the big purchase there was dirt.  That's right.  Just dirt.  The grass we put out in the back yard was taking root pretty well, but it also stuck up a few inches and made it feel like you were walking through a bunch of ruts.  The dirt was to fill in between the squares of grass.  I also was looking for something to use to determine what size a drill bit was.  I have a bucketful of drill bits with no way to tell what size they are.  All the cases were destroyed by Ike.  I found something that would work, but to get it I would have to but a whole other set of drill bits.  Not something I needed.  I did find out what it was called, though: a bit bar organizer.  Now I at least know what to ask for or look for online.


At Home Depot we got some shelving to use in our new shed and some plants.  Now that's where Chris' mind was.  They were having a sale on high biscuits, or something like that.  We came home with four of them, three yellow for the back   and one pink for the front.  We went right out to plant them when we got home, and no sooner had I dug the second hole than Mom came out and said Chris' mother was on the phone.  We both jump every time that happens.  This one was good news, though.  She had been released from the hospital after having both lungs drained of fluid. Of course that meant we had to drive up to Houston so Chris could drive them to Bay City and then drive our car back home.  Fast showers and a quick trip later we walked into her room, and there sat Kel and Christina and their boys, all three of them.  Chris' Mom was holding Baby Josiah and Micah and Jachin were climbing the walls.  It was a good sight.  We were hoping she would be able to see the baby soon.


Ecclesiastes 3:11-12 says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."


Father, your time is always the best time.  Help me focus on the beautiful and leave time in your hands.  Amen.

Friday, May 21, 2010

May 21 – “I thought about my Dad”


I thought about my Dad today.  It was in an unusual situation to do that.  No one asked me about him, and I wasn't looking at pictures or anything.  I was in the back yard. 


When I got back from the school this morning, I expected to get ready and head for Houston to see Chris' Mom.  But Chris was working in the front flower bed.  The first thing she said to me was, "I couldn't get the lawn mower started."  That combination told me that she wanted to get the yard mowed before she went to Houston.  So I changed clothes and … mowed the grass.  She was still hard at work, so I went into the back yard and started back laying the concrete blocks down the side of the house.  After about an hour of leveling ground, picking up one block at a time, knocking off the old mortar and dirt so the sides were straight again (which led to breaking the garden tool I was using.  I had to track down a replacement.  Much fun, though.  I found a hatchet.), laying the block in place, stepping back to see if it was passably level in relationship to the ones around it, and then doing the whole thing over again, I began to get frustrated at how long it was taking.  I immediately figured out that the reason it took so long was that I could only carry one block at a time.  If I could get three at once, I could move a lot faster.  I tried it.  I couldn't pick up three.  Or two.  So I went back to one.  Slow and as steady as I could in the Galveston heat. 


And that's when I thought about Dad.  I remembered watching him do yard work and outdoor projects when I was a kid.  And I remembered him always moving slowly.  Very slowly.  And steady.  He could go on and on for hours at a time.  He never seemed rushed or out of sorts.  And he never carried anything really big or heavy by himself.  At least not that I remembered seeing.  I saw a very clear picture of him in my mind.  Carrying concrete blocks.  One at a time.  And it finally dawned on me.  I understood.  I have become my Father.  And it's not so bad.


1 John 3:1 says, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"


Father, thanks for the memory of my Dad today.  I miss him.  Amen.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 20 – “The Shed”


This morning we did one of those fun, let's-do-it-together, marriage-builder kinds of things.  We put together the Rubbermaid outdoor shed that we bought to hold some of the salvaged stuff we now have piled in the backyard, the garage, and at our friend's house. 


Before we ever bought it we carefully determined the size we wanted.  There is a five foot wide area between our side fence and the house that refuses to grow anything and has never been  any good for much of anything.  We have tried planting grass of several different varieties.  We tried miscellaneous groundcover plants.  We have covered it with those white landscaping rocks.  Aside from the occasional weeds, nothing has been right.  So we decided to use the area for storage.  And that meant finding a shed with just the right dimensions to fit the area and still hold enough junk to make it worth our while.  We searched online and at all the local joints.  All two of them – WalMart and Home Depot.  I finally found one with almost the exact dimensions we wanted at Lowe's.  So yesterday we stopped on our way home from the hospital and picked it up.


The box was really heavy.  A guy helped us get it into the truck, but we faced a dilemma when we got home.  Chris and I couldn't lift it out of the truck, much less carry it to the back yard.  But I had a plan.  Chris backed the truck into the driveway.  I shoved the box until it eased out of the bed.  Then we opened it and carried the individual pieces into the house one at a time.  Problem solved.


This morning we attacked.  Our first problem came when we realized it fit too well into our space.  There was no way we could assemble it in place without one of us getting stuck.  So we went ahead with it out in the open.  We figured we could just shove it back into our selected spot after it was all together.


Putting it together was actually fun.  That's one of our secrets to almost 35 happy years of marriage (come June 6th).  Do some productive project together every so often.  And it didn't take us all that long.  We finished in an hour or so, and Chris returned to getting the house ready for home group.  That gave me time to ponder how we would get it pushed into place.


The first order of business was to move out of the way the stacks of concrete blocks we put back there when we redid the patio area.  We were going to need every square inch of that space.  Once that was done Chris came back out for an inspection.  We decided to lay the blocks out all along that area to provide not just a floor for the shed, but also a walkway to get to it.  I figured it would also make it easier to slide the thing into place.  Just got about halfway done when we had to stop and get ready to go to see Chris' Mom in the hospital.  She's some better today, but they still have to drain fluid from her lungs, so she'll be there awhile.  And meanwhile our car is parked in their driveway in Bay City.  We'll get it someday.


2 Timothy 2:3 says, "Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus."


Father, thank you for the endurance you have given Chris thus far.  Don't let up.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 19 – “Grandfather Revelations”


Chris' Mom is still in the hospital, and it looks like she will be there for a few more days.  That means their trip to Lubbock is off for the foreseeable future.  Actually, I found out the trip was to be to a place called Ralls just outside of Lubbock. 


The treatment plan is to slowly dry up the fluid around her heart.  Meanwhile they are also going to do some x-rays and kidney tests.  Chris came home tonight.  But I have to take her back up to the hospital tomorrow.  She wants to be there as much as she can. 


My job today was to drive to Houston and go with Chris's Dad to run some errands in Lake Jackson.  He just had cataract surgery in one of his eyes, and Chris usually drives him to appointments, too.  So I thought I would be driving.  So did Chris.  And her Mom.  But no one told him that.  I offered, but he would have none of it, so I crawled in the passenger seat and texted Chris.  Her comment was, "Keep your eyes open."  I did.  He did OK except for the times there was a white line right in front of where I was sitting.  That was a bit frightening. 


I did manage to get him talking about his past.  I knew he was full of stories, and it really didn't take much prodding.  And while he was reminiscing, his driving was much better, so I had to come with question after question to keep him going.  I wish I had had a tape recorder.  I'm sure his grandchildren would love to hear some of the revelations I did.  Maybe not right now.  But when they are teenagers and are pushing their parents' limits.  He even admitted that his grandmother once told him he was too much like his father, who was also quite the wild man.


He told me he "wrecked more cars than any human should."  I thought the answer to that would be one or less.  But he had quite a string of them.  After one particularly destructive occasion, his Mom told him, "God must have something left for you to do." 


He talked for awhile about his trips to Alaska and Canada and the Arctic Circle.  I've heard those stories before, because they happened after he married Chris' Mom.  I was interested in his earlier years, so he obliged me.


When he was 18, he drove to California with a friend and stayed three months.  He used to hitchhike out to West Texas to work in the fields for $10 a day.  He just knew he was a wealthy kid.  Especially when his aunt wouldn't let him hitchhike back home with all the money he earned.  She gave him a few dollars for food and wired the rest to his parents.


He worked for the light company when he was 19.  His job was to climb poles with those spikey boots.  He remembered one winter when they had a terrible freeze.  Every power line in two counties was down.  They worked hour after hour for days out in the cold.  As soon as he could he went to the Phillips 66 plant and applied for a job.  They told him he had to be 21.  He said, "I'll be back."  And as soon as he turned 21 he did go back.  He retired from Phillips 35 years later.


He used to smuggle cigarettes in from Mexico and sell them to his friends.  On one of those trips the lady who ran the hotel on the Texas side warned him that they were cracking down on that sort of thing "in case he was ever thinking of doing it."  He took her advice and never did it again. 


The stories went on and on.  He stopped long enough to take care of his business in Lake Jackson, eat some lunch, and take a shower in Bay City.  I managed to stay awake and interested until just before we reached Houston.  That's when I suddenly realized he had started another story and I jerked awake.  I apparently didn't miss too much, because I was able to follow the whole thing. 


We made it back to St. Luke's.  He stuck around to spend the night.  Chris and I headed back to Galveston. 


2 Timothy 2:22 says, "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."


Father, thanks for the time with my father-in-law today.  Draw him close to you as his wife nears death.  Amen.