Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31 – “Photo shoot”

We made it through what so far looks to be the most trying day of this holiday set.  Not that it was bad.  Just long.  Really long.  It was Christmas morning again at the Vaughan house.  All the cousins were coming over to open presents.  What kid could stand that kind of pressure?  Caleb and Christi went into their bedroom at one point.  Caleb, in all of his almost-three-year-old exuberance, was dancing around on the bed.  Christ, being the wise Mom that she is, asked him, "What are you doing?  Are you excited about the presents?"  "No, Mom," he answered, "I'm just doing my moves."  Of course.
The cousins finally arrived and presents opening went well.  Everyone was excited about something.  I think I heard Caleb say three times, "It's just what I wanted."  Always music to the gift giver's ears.  I'm pretty sure Zak got some pajamas that he already had, but he was quite gracious and said his thank you's anyway.  We had a big roast in the crockpot, so lunch was taken care of.  Uncle Jerry even stopped by and joined us to eat.  After the younger kids were settled in and playing with their toys, I presented the older kids with my Dad gifts.  That's always a fun time when I get to give them each something to "show that they were thought of" during the year.  Amid the awards for sack racing and tasting new coffee flavors, it seemed that the bottle of one-a-day pictures was the crowd favorite.  I ran off 366 tiny little pictures of events throughout the year and put them a bottle for Chris.  Next year is a leap year, so she can pick out one a day and never see the same one twice. 
After we all rested up a bit we left to drive into Texas.  Chris's present from all the kids was a grandchildren photo shoot.  The boys wore blue jeans and matching shirts.  Cailyn wore a blue jean dress.  All were very cute.  Now, understand.  Jachin the oldest is 8.  Josiah the youngest is around 18 months.  Quite an age span for any photographer to deal with.  And when their name is Vaughan, the genes seem to make it even more of a challenge.  Josiah lost it for a while.  He just didn't get the whole pose for the picture thing when there were lego houses to be built (well, lego blocks to toss around the room would be a bit more accurate).  The others took their places.  A spot for Josiah was carved out.  But when we set him down, Josiah wailed.  Not just a wimpering cry, mind you.  He was upset.  And barely consolable.  They tried to get in a few shots, but it was getting tough.  Then someone remembered Pavlov.  Bring out the M&M's.  It took a few tries and more than a few M&M's, but suddenly he was the most cooperative of them all.  Then Caleb decided it was time to bust a few more moves.  They got some of them on camera.  Wish we had had a movie camera going.  As a matter of fact, we did snap a few of our own shots, but one of the workers sternly warned us not to take pictures with our cell phones.  I heard, "Copyright infringement."  Too late.  But the two pics we did take were of: Josh and the other three moms helping the photographer get the kids set, and Christina hiding behind the kids to get Josiah to stay still. 
Jachin was the consummate big guy.  He knew his job and stuck to it.  Zak was obviously familiar with getting his pic taken.  He came up with some great poses.  Micah did his best to establish himself as a middle child.  You know, "Don't forget about me."  He came up with some the most sullen looks I have ever seen.  But he sure responded well to those M&M's.  Cailyn was gorgeous as usual in her blue jean dress.  She is incredibly photogenic anyway, but she came up with some poses worthy of the supermodel that she is.  And the ultimate reward for the whole experience?  A trip to the nearby Chuck E Cheese establishment.
After we got the kids settled with some pizza and token, Josh and I went back to pick up the photos.  We are just a couple of guys, so when we looked at the pictures, they seemed fine.  But when we got back, Chris immediately noticed that there were splotches on the white background.  "Absolutely not acceptable" was the verdict, so Chris and Christi took them back.  They agreed to redo them, gave us a 10% discount and added three more pictures free.  So they came back to Chuck E. Chees to wait.  When they returned to pick them up, they forgot to give us the cd of the pics.  Now we have to go back again when they open on Tuesday.  What fun.
When we got home and got the boys to bed, I watched Captain America with Josh.  Of course it was hard to stay awake.  I gave in and dozed a bit, but I wanted to see the exciting part again, so I got a glass of tea and some candy corn.  Winglesnop.  Wide awake.  We finally got to bed by 12:30 or 1:00.  The promise of nothing pressing to accomplish today made for a somewhat more restful night.  Today we play.
Isaiah 43:11-13 says, "'I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.  I have revealed and saved and proclaimed — I, and not some foreign god among you.  You are my witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'that I am God.  Yes, and from ancient days I am he.  No one can deliver out of my hand.  When I act, who can reverse it?'"
Father, thank you for the memories.  Those captured on film and those embedded in my brain.  Thank you.  Amen.

Friday, December 30, 2011

December 30 – “Timeless”

I did another wedding yesterday at the San Luis Hotel.  Outdoors in their gazebo.  The Galveston weather cooperated beautifully.  We started somewhere near 10:30 in the morning.  Cool breeze.  Around 65 degrees.  Very nice.
Then last night we all went to the Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens.  I mean all of us.  It's become kind of a family tradition.  Josh and Christi and Zak and Caleb got here around noon.  Kel and Christina and Jachin and Micah and Josiah.  Came over.  So did Nathan and April and Cailyn.  Everybody.  There were lots of people on hand at Moody Gardens, too.  Very crowded.  It' shard to keep up with six very active little ones.  Well, make that five.  Josiah stayed in his stroller most of the time.  And at least we didn't have to worry about Mom straying off.  We got her a wheelchair.
The lights were fine.  I don't see that they have changed it much over the years.  They move the sled photo op thing to different places, though.  This year it was near where they had the live music going on.  I think that's probably to get people to actually stop long enough to listen to the music.  It was Ok last night.  A guy and girl were singing Christmas carols and some Louisiana music.  At least that's how they described it.  They were also set up right near one of the gift shops. 
Kel went into the shop to let some of the kids walk around.  He came out with some kind of device in his mouth that made his teeth flash in a multi-colored light display.  Quite impressive.  Cailyn and Nathan went in and she bought something just for me.  A Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer nose.  Yep.  You put it on with a strap around your head and the pressure makes it flash red.  What's that question?  Of course I wore it.
This morning we will have another Christmas Day.  We made special arrangements for Santa to visit again last night, so when the kids get up and get back over here there will be more stockings to look through and more presents to open.  We'll read the Christmas Story again.  Timeless.  Let's do this again in August.
Isaiah 42:10 says, "Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them."
Father, there it is.  Your call to Galveston to sing praises to you.  Amen.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 29 – “A Star find”

I cleaned out the garage again the other day.  You know the routine, right?  Drag everything out.  Sweep the floor.  Drag everything back in, perhaps in a somewhat different order.  This time I did throw away some boxes and stuff. 
Oh, and I found one of those plastic tubs that we had stored for about three years after Hurricane Ike.  It's been sitting at the bottom of the pile for that whole time, I guess.  It was full of Christmas stuff.  I knew it was untouched since Ike because the stuff inside was wrapped in newspaper dated September 2008.  I casually moved the stuff around to see if there was anything I could sneak into the trash can before Chris saw it.  And what should I find but the elusive star carving from way back in our married career?  Just tossed casually in there, waiting to be rediscovered.  The infamous star carving.  The inspiration for the one I did this year.  The star of the Christmas story that I wrote for Christmas Eve.  Guess I spent all that time on a new one for nothing. 
We went to the post office was open on Monday to mail the IRS audit stuff.  They were closed, but we did get to visit for a moment with a friend from church.  She even encouraged me to get my Christmas stories published.  Guess if I ever do I'll sell at least one copy.  I sure hope that IRS thing goes through without a hitch. 
It took me two tries and two different Red Boxes to find a movie to watch for last night.  Not a single one on our list was available the first time we were at WalMart.  I went back by on my way home from a wedding rehearsal and got The Zookeeper.  Pretty fun movie.  Talking animals helping the guy with his love life.  Kind of predictable, but fun nevertheless.
The wedding that goes with that rehearsal is this morning at 10:30.  Very unusual time for a ceremony, I know.  But it's a second marriage for them both.  Their children are the attendants.  In fact all of them – bride and groom and four children – will be involved in doing the sand ceremony.  That's a version of the unity candle where jars of two different colors of sand are emptied into a third jar, forming a design.  In this case each family member will have a turn at pouring some sand, so it will be a great representation of a blended family.  Should be fun.  And it give me something to do while we wait for Josh and Christi and Zak and Caleb to get here.  More grandkids.  Another Christmas tomorrow morning.  Bring them on!
Isaiah 42:1-4 says, "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.  He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.  A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.  In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth.  In his law the islands will put their hope."
Father, thank you for insignificant discoveries and marriages and visits from grandkids.  Great pictures of hope, all.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 28 – “A Granddog extravaganza”

The granddogs are all here.  Nathan and April arte in Corpus Christi to see her Dad, and Kel and Christina are in San Antonio.  They surprised their kids with a quick trip to Sea World as an extra Christmas present.  They didn't tell them where they were headed until they were in the car on the way.  I think the surprise is better than the trip itself.  So Good Ol' Nani and DadDad get to dog sit for a few days.
To start out, we have two dogs of our own.  Heidi is the grande dame of them all.  She's the dachshund we rescued from the pound who was supposed to be a present for Christi back when they got married, but they couldn't have a dog in their apartment, so we are still keeping her on a temporary basis.  That makes her at least nine years old.  So she's 63 in human years?  Hmm.  Acts like an old woman sometimes.
Fritz was intended to be Mom's dog.  About five years ago he came to stay with her, but he was such a handful we were afraid he would knock her over.  He's still a handful and then some.  He's part Boston Bull Terrier and part something else.  Chris always says he needs ridalin.  Wild dog, but lots of fun and very smart.
Lucy is the oldest of the granddogs.  She live sat Kel and Christina's house.  And she is, well neurotic.  At least when one of her family sets something down on the floor and walks away.  She plops down next to it and guards it with vehemence.  Don't even walk near it or she will threaten to take your head off.  And when it comes feeding time, she is even fiercer about protecting her food.  We have to figure out a way to separate the others from her so they can all eat in peace.  Other than that, Lucy is actually quite affectionate.  She doesn't jump up on you at all.  She just walks over and lays her head on your lap with one of those forlorn looks in her eyes.
Nathan and April have two dogs (and a guinea pig named Moe and a fish named Purple, who we also have.  It took Moe a while, but once he warmed up to us, he lets us know.  That little rat can make a lot of racket when he's huyngry).  Their oldest is Scooter.  He is a pure bred Boston Bull Terrier that Nathan has had since before they were married.  Good dog as far as humans are concerned.  Nathan spent a lot of time training him, so he responds to commands instantly (well, almost instantly when there are cousin-ly distractions around).  He doesn't bark much, either.  His forte is driving his cousin Fritz absolutely crazy.  When he comes to visit the two of them run almost constantly, and when Fritz stops to rest, Scooter is all over his back, "encouraging him" to keep playing. 
The new kid on the block is the puppy, Abby.  Thing is, although she is only three months old, Abby is bigger than any two of the other put together.  She is a pure bred boxer, so she isn't even half-way to her full size yet.  But she is all puppy, so she bounces around and clumsily barrels into the other dogs and the walls and whatever else happens to be in her way.  She is a lot of fun to watch.
When you put them all together the dynamics are a riot.  Heidi pretty much gets her way about anything.  She's the matriarch of the clan, and they respect her.  Yesterday Abby got a little rambunctious for her, so the huge boxer wound up on her back with the little dachshund standing over her neck.  Quite a picture.  Lucy tries to be territorial, but the others kind of ignore her and keep doing whatever it is they are doing.  Scooter harasses Fritz.  Abby crashes through the dog door that was built for terriers.  And at night they switch out beds.  Heidi chooses where she wants to sleep and the other clamor for whatever is left.  The whole thing kind of mirrors when our grandchildren are all over at the same time.  But then, the granddogs had to learn somewhere, right?
Isaiah 41:13 says, "For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."
Father, thank you for the joy these animals bring to their little "owners."  Amen.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 27 – “Sometimes you need some just-for-fun action”

We watched a movie last night.  Actually, Chris and Mom and I watched one movie.  Then Chris left to do some online shopping after a few minutes into the second one.  Then Mom dozed off.  So I watched two movies.  I went over to Red Box and started my plan to catch up on some of the movies we didn't go see when they were at the theater.  It was a surprisingly long list, too. 
First we watched X-Men, First Class.  It was enjoyable, considering I never read X-Men comics.  I stuck with comics that reflected a real world … DC.  Not that I was never exposed to the fanciful world of Marvel (see, even the name suggested its imaginary status).  Kel was big on Marvel when he was a kid.  Wait.  He's still big on Marvel.  But then he never really grew up, did he?  Having him around made it handy when all the new Avenger superhero movies started coming out.  Thor I knew about from mythology class in high school.  Not so much Iron Man, though.  And I wasn't old enough to appreciate Captain America.  I did like his movie, though.  Anyway, it would have been helpful to have a synopsis of the characters in hand before the movie began.  I remembered Professor X as the only bald guy in a wheelchair action figure I have ever seen.  That helped me understand some of the bald jokes that came up.  I knew there was a magnet guy of some kind, and the blue chameleon girl was vaguely familiar as well.  The guy who screamed really loud was the only other one I seemed to recall, probably because his name came up in one of the word origin studies I have done in the past.  Banshee, I think? Couldn't place the devil-looking red guy with the tail at all.  I asked Kel about the guy with the circle thing on his chest and got a lecture about Cyclops being his brother and the two of them being separated as children and each of them thinking the other had been killed in plane crash.  It was dizzying the amount of back story he had filed away in his brain, just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
The second movie was a lot more light-hearted.  Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides.  I'm not sure where it was supposed to fit in the time line of the Pirates movies, but after seeing it I don't think it mattered.  I got particularly interested in this one when they introduced a character who was supposed to be a missionary.  It's always interesting to see if they ever put people like that in a positive light.  It's rare, but it does happen.  And actually I think they did OK with this one.  He stayed consistently in character, even after he fell in love with a mermaid.  Other than that, there wasn't much deep philosophical stuff involved.  Oh, I'm sure there was some stuff I could use as sermon illustrations in the future, but I'll have to watch it again some time to draw those out.  Last night was just for fun.  Sometimes you need some just-for-fun action in your life.  Helps keep you sane.
Isaiah 41:10 says, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Father, thank you for the just-for-fun chances to enjoy life that you give us every day.  Amen.

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26 – “Recovery”

"So have you recovered from Christmas yet?"  What an odd thing to ask after what should be one of the most relaxing, exciting, freeing times of year.  Humans are weird creatures, though.  The stress of good times has almost the same effect as the stress of hard times. 
We still have one more "Christmas experience" to go.  Josh and his family won't arrive until sometime Thursday, when Nathan and April and Cailyn also get back from visiting her Dad in Corpus Christi.  The plan is to go to Moody Gardens Festival of Lights that evening, then have our family Christmas time Friday morning.  We'll see how that all works out.
Mom didn't make for church yesterday morning.  I guess she was just too worn out from the Christmas Eve activities.  Chris took me out to the church and then came back to help her get ready, as is our usual custom.  But there was no moving her this time.  She had a headache on top of her usual morning aches and pains, so Chris didn't really press the issue too much.  She knew that all the people coming in the afternoon would be challenging enough. 
My older brother Jay and his wife Fran came over for a while in the afternoon.  And shortly after they left, Kel and his family descended.  Now the fun begins.  April and Cailyn came, too.  And Nathan even took his two hours of Christmas Day family time to come over for supper as well.  It was wild and crazy, as usual.  We played some Pokemon card game that Jachin got.  I still had no idea how to play, but he walked me through it.  And I won the game.  He was amazed because he beat his Dad three games in a row.  Don't ask me what my secret was.  I still have no idea how to play.  I never even heard of the creatures whose pictures were on the cards.  Jachin had already developed a scenario, though, where I could become the champion of my family and he would be the champion of his family.  Then he would defeat me one last time and become the all-star.  You got it, Jachin.  You are already the all-star in my book.
We also continued our ongoing game of family tag.  I have no idea where that originally started – sometime when we were babysitting, I guess.  But now anytime we get together the game automatically resumes.  Sometimes it's difficult to get the more subdued family members to join in, but we finally got Aunt April going yesterday.  One of these days she'll loosen up, and when that happens, Jachin you better run for cover.
Isaiah 40:28-31 says, "Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
Father, grant some of that flying energy to those who are particularly stressed out this Christmas.  Amen.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 25 – “Christmas Day”

It has arrived.  Or better, He has arrived.  Happy birthday, Jesus.
It was a dreary Christmas Eve in Galveston.  It hovered around 45 degrees all day with torrents of rain working through the area off and on all day.  It would have been fun to see the temperature drop just enough for a repeat of the Christmas Eve snowstorm we had a few years ago, but alas, it was just not to be.  We didn't really have any serious shopping to do.  What we have left will be taken care of sometime Monday or Tuesday.  Not a bad idea, I guess, what with the after-Christmas sales and all.  Chris is already making out her list for gift bags and wrapping paper and all the half price stuff that usually abounds. 
We headed out to the Stone's house in Santa Fe around two.  Didn't get there until after three, though.  The wind was howling and the rain was whipping.  One good thing, though.  We discovered that our car has a warning feature on it we didn't know about.  Chris was driving, knuckles clenched on the wheel, eyes peering into the falling rain.  All of a sudden she kind of jumped, just enough to draw my attention from the Youtube videos I was watching of flash mobs.  She asked me if I knew what a certain symbol meant on the console, but it had disappeared by the time I looked.  She kept trying to show it to me for several miles, but I kept missing it.  When I finally saw it I realized right away what it had to be.  I said, "that's a warning that the car is hydroplaning."  Didn't take her long to answer, rather testily I might add, "I know it's hydroplaning.  I can feel it."  Hmm.  Not even a thank you to the car's computer brain for figuring it out and letting her know.  You'd think she was stressed out. 
We went straight from the Stone's party to the church for the Christmas Eve service.  It was still raining and cold, so I really didn't expect too many people.  As it turned out, and as has happened many times over the years on Christmas Eve, one family walked in with about twenty people.  They filled up a good two rows.  We knew part of the group from Arlington.  They came down after Hurricane Ike and helped us in the early stages of rebuilding.  Then their college aged son came down in the summer with some friends and stayed here at the house.  They had Grandma and Grandpa and I guess some aunts and uncles with them.  Chris invited them to come by the house and see the results of their labor.  They may stop by before they return home. 
It was just eerily quiet around the house when we got home.  Mom went to bed around nine, so Chris and I watched It's a Wonderful Life on TV.  My brother and his wife are supposed to come over later today.  The Kel family and April and Cailyn may be coming tonight for some taco soup.  Nathan is working at the fire station.  For now I guess I should get ready for church.  It is a work day for pastors as well as fire fighters.
Isaiah 40:25-26 says, "'To whom will you compare me?  Or who is my equal?' says the Holy One.  Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?  He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.  Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."
Father, you brought us some special people last night.  Bring those you want to be in worship today as well.  Amen.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 24 – “One. On gifts and shopping in a two-year-old world”

One day until Christmas Day. 
Cailyn came over to play for a few hours last night.  The thing is, Nathan has to work at the fire department on Sunday – Christmas Day – and he wanted to be a part of what is looming to be his daughter's first Christmas as an uncontrollably excited almost-three-year-old.  So instead of waiting until tomorrow and missing the big event, somehow Santa will make an exception to his usual schedule and make an appearance at their house this morning.  I really don't think Cailyn will mind terribly.  She matter-of-factly told me yesterday that Santa was coming to her house "On Tuesday."  Why not make today Tuesday instead of Saturday and not worry about waiting until Sunday for today to be Christmas Day?  I think.
Cailyn was in rare form last night when she wasn't talking about Santa coming to visit.  She saw some packages under our tree.  I wondered if she would want to unwrap them.  No.  She was disappointed, though.  She said, "I wanted to wrap some presents."  How unselfish can you get?  So I found her something to wrap – the little angry bird doll I scored in the last white elephant party we went to.  And Chris set her up with wrapping paper and scissors and tape.  Lots of tape.  And when she was done, Chris suggested she put it under the tree.  Again, I thought she would balk and tear it open to discover the wonderful gift inside.  She did balk, but not to tear it open.  She simply wasn't finished with her wrapping job.  "It needs a bow, Nani," was her concern.  So, of course, Nani found her a bow.  And she taped it on.  And happily placed it under the tree.  Now who do you suppose should get to open that particular unnamed gift?
Later in the evening she was playing in the bedroom with Chris.  She came across the purse Chris provided for her to play with when she is here.  So she decided to go shopping.  In full Mommy mode now, she instructed Chris that she had to stay at home with the door closed while she was gone.  That's what caught my attention.  Chris started whining about not closing the door and she didn't want to stay at home.  I started down the hall, since my curiosity was beyond piqued by this time.  Cailyn met me and immediately incorporated me into her world.  "We going shopping, DadDad.  Come on."  Giving me little choice in the matter, she grabbed my hand and we went … shopping.  I learned early on in the trip that we were looking for a pillow.  A Princess pillow.  Apparently she had seen one on an earlier shopping trip when she wasn't the Mommy and it didn't make its way into her shopping cart.  That was about to change. 
We stopped at several stores – the one by the bookcases near the front door didn't have any.  "You have pillows?  No?  OK."  Then another in the kitchen near the cow chair – "You have pillows?  Princess ones?  No?  OK."  Finally we made our way into the den.  I figured we must have the right place this time.  In fact I couldn't understand why we didn't come here first anyway.  But I am a guy who doesn't understand the nuances of a female on a shopping trip.  Apparently it's not about searching for what you want and getting it and getting out of there.  It's about the experience.  It's about seeing all the pretty things and talking to the sales clerks.  And the evidence seems to indicate that the shopping experience is yet another of those oddities that are hard-wired into a girl's genes.  Lots of luck, Nathan.
We did find a pillow in the den, though.  She carried it around looking for something that I never did understand.  It sounded the same every time, so I know she knew what it was, so I followed dutifully like a good husband.  Finally she reached my desk, plopped the pillow onto my chair, and said, "Here it is.  How much is that?  50?  OK."  Obviously the word I was missing had something to do with check out stands.  But we were good.  All paid for.  She announced, "OK, DadDad.  Now time to go home.  Here, hold that, please."  And like a good husband, I took her purse.  She turned to head back down the hall toward the bedroom, but as an afterthought she turned back to me.  "You put it on your arm like this.  See?"  Oh, how foolish of me.  Of course I see.  So I put it across my shoulder as instructed, and we headed for home.
Isaiah 40:21-22 says, "Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  Has it not been told you from the beginning?  Have you not understood since the earth was founded?  He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.  He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in."
Father, it's a lot easier to say, "Come quickly," when we know tomorrow is Christmas Day, when we know it's going to happen.  The assurance of the past helps with that.  Help me have that same assurance to say "Come quickly, Lord Jesus."  Really.  Amen.

Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23 – “Two. Who won?”

Yesterday we went to one of the most unusual Christmas parties we have attended thus far.  It was at Kel's house.  Supposed to be their "Pastor's Christmas Open House Event."  I have to say up front that there were quite a few folks there, and everyone seemed to have a good time, so I suppose it would be deemed a success.  One guy even invited everyone to his house on New Year's Eve. 
What made it unusual was the theme.  The email/Facebook invitation we got (Kel is Mr. Stay-on-top-of-technology) described it as a Merry Texans party.  I saw through that one right away.  Thursday was the only night they could host the affair.  Kel knew good and well he was going to watch the Texas football game on TV.  So why not simply combine the two and play it up big?  Serve nachos.  Have everyone bring sweets.  Great idea.  Many of the people came dressed in their Texans regalia.  One guy even had his wife paint his face.  The best part of evening, though, was that Jachin rounded up all the little kids and convinced them to root for the Colts.  See, that's the name of his flag football team, and he wanted to wear his jersey.  He even made signs to put up on the walls saying "Go Colts."  He at least got through to Micah.  Micah kept coming up to me and asking which team I was rooting for.  I tried to stay consistent to my heart.  I told him it didn't matter who they were playing, I would always have to be true to my team and root for the Astros.  It worked the first time, but then he figured out the Astros weren't playing, so he joined Jachin in outright lobbying for the Colts.  Of course neither of them actually watched the game.  They were too busy playing with the other kids and making gingerbread house manger scenes out of graham crackers and marshmallows and pretzels and tootsie rolls and Ramen noodles (yep.  I think they were the straw in the mangers).
The face-painted guy kept saying that when he watches the game at home he loses his voice by halftime.  He screams at the TV screen and the refs and the opposition and the Texans' coach and his wife.  I was looking forward to that, but he was quite calm throughout the whole first half.  He did seem to be winding up early in the third quarter, though.  He was not all that excited about some of the pass interference calls that were going against the Texans.  When we left the Texans were in the lead and all was right with the world. 
Who won?
Isaiah 40:18-20 says, "To whom, then, will you compare God?   What image will you compare him to?  As for an idol, a craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it.  A man too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot.  He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not topple."
Father, Thank you for being … well … real.  Amen.