Monday, February 28, 2011

February 28 – “Synchronized driving”


Chris stayed home with Mom yesterday, so I went on to church on my own.  On the way there I was listening to the Christian music station (an unusual event in itself.  Chris doesn't like stations that have a lot of banter between the deejays, and this one definitely has that.  At least they are talking about Christian stuff).  I noticed that up ahead there was somewhat of a bottleneck of cars, about six of them – not stopped, just traveling considerably slower than the speed limit.  As I approached the crowd I saw the reason. 


About three cars ahead of me in the right lane was a police car.  That explained the slow-down.  But as I took my place in line (There was no passing him.  Cars in the "fast" lane wouldn't even come up next to him), I began to notice something.  The pace of our collection of cars was changing.  The speed limit was 50.  When I got there the group was going 45.  Then we gradually went down to 40.  Then we all sped up to about 48 or so.  It was like an Olympic Synchronized Swimming event.  It struck me as funny.  The policeman appeared to be toying with the group by constantly changing his speed, holding it for a mile or so, and changing it again. 


After the assurances of a speed limit sign, one of the cars finally made a break for daylight, albeit slowly – careful never to exceed the speed limit.  I took my turn in the passing lane and chuckled again as I passed the officer.  But the fun was not over yet.  I watched in my rear view mirror as the next batch of potential speeders slowed to his snail's pace, not daring to pass the symbol of peace, justice and the American way.  Little did they know that the next speed limit sign was not one of reassurance.  It was the one in tiny Jamaica Beach.  The one that drastically drops the limit from 50 to 35.  Hope they maintained that good citizenship when they got there.


We had a good day at Seaside.  The spirit was one of unity and a desire to look to the future.  We did have one down note.  Our finances for the month of February were not going to be quite enough to cover everything until next week.  March should be much better with the adjustments we made in the school staffing.  So looks like we'll just have to wait a week for our checks.  No problem.  We've done it before, just not in awhile.  And I'll trade that positive spirit and our being out of debt for waiting a week to get paid any day.  God's in control.


Isaiah 45:9-10 says, "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground.  Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?'  Does your work say, 'He has no hands'?  Woe to him who says to his father, 'What have you begotten?' or to his mother, 'What have you brought to birth?'"


Father, forgive our feeble attempts to argue with you.  No matter what, you are God.  I trust you.  Amen.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 27 – “Mardi Gras Garage Sale”


Yesterday was the big garage sale at Kel and Christina's old house, which is now Nathan and April's new house.  That's going to be hard to get used to.  Jachin and Micah spent the night with us the night before, and Kel and Christina and Josiah stayed with Nathan and April so they could get an early start. 


We weren't really sure if anybody would show up at all.  This is the first weekend of Mardi Gras in Galveston.  There were parades scheduled all day yesterday, so we were afraid everybody would be there.  And we thought the ones who weren't at the parade would stay close to home because of the street closings and general traffic nightmares that come with one of these kinds of weekends.


Of course Chris found several things that we had to have.  I'm not complaining too much, though.  She picked out some really nice shirts for me.  Also among her stash was a kids' riding toy to go with the two we already have in the back yard.  All we need is three more and there will be one for each grandkid.  We also got some kind of canopy.  The idea for that is to set it up in the back yard as a patio cover.  Sound like a good plan if I can figure out a way to keep it from blowing away.


Around 10:30 I had a meeting with a couple who are getting married in July.  They wanted to meet at the San Luis (where their reception will be held) or at Fisherman's Wharf (the site of their rehearsal dinner).  Instead I suggested the lobby of the Hampton Inn over by WalMart (where they are reserving a block of rooms).  Much quieter.  Way less traffic.  The parade convinced them to stay off the seawall.  They still planned to go to Fisherman's Wharf, though.  I told them to stick to Harborside or they would hit blocked off streets for sure.  They seemed like a great couple.  They brought Mom and Dad of the bride and Mom of the groom with them.  They are getting married in the Lyceum.  That will be a new place for me.  It's a restored old Lutheran Church in the East End somewhere.  That also means working with a new wedding coordinator.  Always an interesting experience.  They can be great, but they can also be mean and snippy and highly territorial and convinced that their way is the only way to do things.  We'll see.


By the time I got back to the garage sale, they were boxing everything up.  Old men's clothes went to Mission Galveston.  Everything elose to Goodwill.  Kel got to play powerful when he took the remnants to Goodwill.  They were charging people to park in their lot because it is close to the seawall parade route.  They tried to turn him away because the lot was full, but he played the delivery of donations card and they let him right in.  He and I then loaded up one final truckload of attic stuff for them to take to their LaMarque house.  We still have about that much more to go to be finished. 


Last night around 8:00 we noticed some unusual activity traveling down Jones Drive.  It was a string of parade floats.  I guess the last parade of the day had ended and they were on their way back to wherever parade floats come from.  Wish we had known.  We could have walked around the corner with the kids.


Isaiah 44:8 says, "Do not tremble, do not be afraid.  Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?  You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?  No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."


Father, lead the ones who are so passionate about revelry during Mardi Gras to be just as passionate about returning to you during Lent.  Amen.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February 26 – “An unfoggy day”


Happy birthday, Kel.


Yesterday was a gorgeous day here on Gilligan's Island.  We actually saw some sun instead of fog for the first time in almost a week.  It was my scheduled day off (whatever that's supposed to look like), so we decided to begin our attack on the yard.  Chris began with flower beds in the back yard.  I drug out the lawn mower, confident that my earlier rescue from the evil enwrapping panty hose had fixed the sputtering, intermittent cough that had plagued the machine much of last season.  Alas.  There must be more going on, for the cough returned with a vengeance.  I took out the spark plug and cleaned it, but that didn't do the trick, so once again the sputtering, choking engine struggled to complete its task.  I  did finally finish, after having to fill up with gas again.  Boy that's some bad gas mileage. 


My next job involved the weedeater.  Chris continued plugging away at flowerbeds.  Why is it that weeds don't ever die out when it freezes?  They seem to multiply no matter what we do.  I got the front edged with not much problem, and headed to the back.  This first time of the season getting weeds under control is quite the pain in the neck.  Oh, wait.  I think that might be a little sunburn I picked up.  Our yard, honestly, was not really all that bad.  But I was also determined to  get a handle on that four foot wide strip of jungle on the abandoned house side of our back yard.  It had also grown back in spite of the weed spray last year.  I was out of that precious poison, so I had to personally jump the fence and attack the interloper weeds with aid of that tiny weedeater.  And the first thing that happened was the protection guide fell off.  Didn't stop me, though.  Just meant I got a lot dirtier than I had hoped.  But, hey.  Getting dirty is one thing I have done fairly well since I was a little kid.  At least that's what Mom tells me. 


Yard work behind us (for the day, anyway.  That stuff never ends), we got cleaned up and I had an appointment with a baseball game.  Jachin had his first scrimmage of the season way over on  the East End of the island.  Started out pretty well.  Jachin even got a hit.  And then we watched as the fog slowly crept toward us from the Gulf.  Before the game ended we were totally engulfed in the wet, cold, nastiness.  Baseball was just not meant to be played in February.


Isaiah 44:6-8 says, "This is what the Lord says — Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.  Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.  Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come — yes, let him foretell what will come.  Do not tremble, do not be afraid.  Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?  You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?  No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."


Father, thank you for Spring and the sunshine and the new growth and the fog and even February baseball.  Amen.

Friday, February 25, 2011

February 25 – “A series of unfortunate events”


Yesterday was spattered with a collection of mini-catastrophes.  At least for me.  I guess catastrophe may be a little strong in  the grand scheme of things, but they were certainly annoyances that I for one would have been happy to do without. 


First, Chris was heating up some water in the microwave to steep some tea.  That sweet tea she makes is awesome.  Ask Cory.  Or Allen.  Legendary.  So I decided to help out by taking the glass, two-cup, measuring cup full of nearly boiling water out of the microwave for Chris.  What a great helper I am, huh?  As I set the cup down on the grate of the stove top, it toppled a bit.  Not a problem.  I jumped to the rescue to straighten it out, which in turn caused it to tip the other direction, spilling a few drops onto my hand.  Like any good human being with reflexes not yet tainted by age or disease, I felt it right awy.  And reacted.  And my ensuing jump caused the whole thing to spill, some on my hand and the rest onto the stove.  Seeing I had no hope of rescuing the precious liquid, I did what any other semi-normal human being would have done.  I danced a jig and shook my poor affected hand as hard as I could to generate coolness from the breeze.  As Chris realized what I had done, she stepped in as the incredible nurse that she is and calmly ordered through clenched teeth (not clenched in anger or worry, mind you.  That was definitely an effort to maintain composure and keep from laughing out loud), "Go stick it under some cold water."  I finally complied and a burn crisis was narrowly averted. 


Chris then determined to get my mind off the horror-that-could-have-been by suggesting we have some supper.  I selected leftover bean soup.  She makes the world's best of that, too.  I got a bowl and scooped some of the prized delicacy into it.  And I approached the scene of the earlier debacle.  Carefully, I raised the full receptacle into position.  The microwave sits on a shelf about chest high over our counter.  Upon achieving adequate height, I began the forward motion that would place it into the heating mechanism.  Unfortunately, I miscalculated.  The bottom of the bowl hit against the bottom of the microweave and tipped, spilling the contents everywhere.  Was it me or that evil microwave?  But it could have been worse.  At least I didn't drop the bowl and break it.  And at least the soup was still cold.  Chris heard my muttering and turned to see what was the problem.  Now to her immense credit, she didn't explode with laughter (which, by the way is almost certainly what I would have done).  Instead she joined me in my efforts to eradicate all evidence of the mishap and restore the kitchen to its cleaned and pristine state (that state, by the way had only just been accomplished by an afternoon of Chris' house cleaning).  When the cleaning was completed, she stood at the sink, and in a voice choked with emotion (OK, but that sounds better than saying she was about to spew with laughter), she suggested, "How about we order pizza?"  Great idea.  PapaJohn's it is.


The pizza finally arrived, but something wasn't right.  The tags on the boxes read correctly: meat lovers on one and pepperoni and sausage on the other.  We always order two at a time and freeze what is left for future consumption.  We do have six grandchildren, five of whom are boys.  When I opened the first box, labeled pepperoni and sausage, I found myself staring at an array of … vegetables, most notable of which were bell peppers (not that bad) and black olives (Chris' all-time least favorite).  I hastened to check the other box, the one marked meat lovers, and was relieved to find the pepperoni and sausage pizza intact.  We could eat.  I called Papa John and he promised to send us out the right one. 


My final catastrophe came when I was putting ice into cups for supper.  Great husband, right?  Helping out with setting the table, right?  Great points for the old marriage account, right?  Until I knocked over one of the cups full of ice.  At least it stayed on the counter.  And no one else saw it except maybe Cailyn, and she wasn't talking.  We have an agreement about things like that.  She lets me get away with stuff and I do the same.  Kind of a mutual admiration and spoiling society.  I scooped it quietly back into the cup (my cup, OK?) and – carefully – placed the cups on the table.  The pizza tasted great.  I even tried one of the offending pieces.  Not too bad.  We freezed it up with the rest of the leftovers for another day. 


Isaiah 44:3-4 says, "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.  They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams."


Fatehr, thank you for protecting us from ourselves.  Amen.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

February 24 – “Food Fight”


Well, now.  Yesterday we had quite an interesting event at the Vaughan house.  I came home from the school early because Chris said Mom was complaining of being dizzy.  I actually got a lot of work done there in my home office getting ready for our big discernment meeting Sunday.  I sure hope everybody else can sense the excitement about this kind of planning for Seaside.  There are all kinds of possibilities.


And then the children arrived.  Nathan had to work and April was studying, so Cailyn came over to take her nap and play.  Her latest game involves car keys.  And the car.  She knows that the keys are required to get inside, so she grabs the keys and bolts out the front door, which she, by the way, has figured out how to unlock.  She puts the key into the door lock and expects it to magically open.  Once it does (well, once I open it for her), she crawls right into the driver's seat, puts the key into the proper place, and tries to turn it.  She even attempts to put on her seat belt.  Then she grabs the steering wheel and takes off.  It's quite a creative leap for a two year old.  I don't think Chris was very happy that I let her do it, though.


Kel and Christina were gathering the last of their things from their old house and cleaning, so we also had all three of their boys.  That made for a houseful of loudness.  And activity.  And a certain degree of craziness.  It was great. 


Now to the event of the day.  I was sitting in a rocking chair in the office.  Chris and all the kids were horsing around on the floor.  I think April may even have been back by then.  Mom was awake and was on the couch in the other room.  Cailyn was having a snack – a banana.  She showed it to me, then slowly unpeeled it, one strip at a time.  And the strips, of course, ended up in my hand.  She took a few more bites of the now naked fruit, and was done.  So the remains joined the spent peels in my hand.  About that time Jachin, who is 6, crawled into my lap.  For some unknown reason he thought it would be fun to pick on the old man, even encouraging his younger brother to join him.  Now what was I to do?  I had him in my lap, antagonizing me.  I held a handful of soggy banana.  How could I do anything else?  Totally beyond my control, my arm began to slowly rise into the air.  It inched closer and closer toward Jachin's face.  He realized what was happening soon enough, and fought back mightily, calling out for help from Micah and giggling uncontrollably.  The mass of mess touched him only slightly.  I could have nailed him good, but the whole time Chris was wagging her finger and saying, "No food fights."


Finally he slithered out of my grasp, and he and Micah disappeared into the kitchen, only to return seconds later, each holding a partially peeled banana of his own.  They were on the attack.  I took a few hits to the nose and cheek, and I was able to fend off one attack by taking a bite of the missile itself.  The admonishments of Field General Chris were too much for all of us to ignore, however, so the hilarity soon wound down.  Jachin ate the rest of his weapon.  Micah set the half-eaten remnants of his down, so I picked it up and took it to the kitchen.


Now Mom had heard the commotion, and when she saw me in the kitchen, she demanded, "Tell me what all that racket was about."  Her words stopped me in my tracks.  All sorts of responses flooded into my head as I glanced down at the banana in my hand.  Of course I wanted to be the obedient son, so I attempted clarification.  "Are you sure you want to know?"  "Well, yes, I want to know," was her impatient reply.  I began the slow walk over to the couch.  As I eased closer I called out to Jachin and Micah, "Hey, boys, MeeMaw wants to know what we were doing in there.  Want to show her with me?"  That brought an instantaneous, "Yes," from them as they raced into the room.  Mom sat on her perch, quizzically looking from me to Jachin, to Micah.  They were both laughing by now, for they could see the banana behind my back, and their little boy mischief minds had connected with mine.  When would we ever have this opportunity again?  I asked one more time, "Just to be sure, do you really want to know what we were doing in there?"  She again replied in the affirmative, so I shrugged my shoulders at the boys, whipped the banana from behind my back, and rubbed it (gently of course) into Mom's nose.  The boys squealed with delight and raced off into the other room to make their report to the Field General.  I joined them to make sure they got the details correct, ditching the evidence on my way. 


We laughed for a few minutes under the stern gaze and wagging finger of the General.  And then we heard it.  The tell-tale "Click-shuffle, click-shuffle" that told us Mom had risen from the couch and was on the move.  A hush came over the room as we all turned in expectation in the direction of the sound.  She slowly made her way through the doorway, "Click-shuffle, Click-shuffle," until there she was.  With a handful of grapes, poised to throw at the first sign of her enemy.  Fortunately, I was on the floor already, so I ducked under my desk and gave the warning cry, "She's gonna throw the grapes.  Watch out."  The boys squealed.  Her arm started back.  And through the din came the final cry from the Field General herself, accompanied by the tell-tale finger wagging, "Meemaw.  No food fights."


Pslams 85:6 says, "Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?"


Father, awaken in us the childlike spirit of play that Mom showed.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February 23 – “Legit”


I actually got invited to go fishing today.  In a boat.  It has been a long time since I have had that honor.  I checked out one of my reels.  I set out my tackle box and my tackle vest and my floppy fishing hat.  And when I woke up this morning I checked the Weather Bug.  Actually I walked outside first.  That was my first clue.  It was pretty foggy here, so that meant the fog over the water would be much worse.  I checked my email, and sure enough, my host said it was an official "fog-out."  He graciously offered the use of his dock so we could cast into the canal by his house. 


That's when it hit me that I hadn't checked my fishing license lately.  Well, that and the fact that I forgot to get our truck inspected for several months until yesterday.  I never got stopped or anything.  Just happened to notice it.  Sure enough, my fishing license was expired.  Shows how long since the last time I went.


I finally went on up to the school to check in on things there.  Once again, things were going smoothly and the intangible atmosphere (vibes?) was calm.  I got some more work done to prepare for the discernment meeting Sunday.  I wanted to make some copies of a handout, but the color printer at my desk was out of toner.  I'll do it later on with my home printer.


I talked to Chris around 10:00, she told me Mom was dizzy and light-headed again.  She said we were out of the juice that Mom likes (cran-apple … yuk), as well as milk and fruit.  So I went by WalMart to pick up that stuff.  And while I was there I picked up a fishing license, too.  Feels good to be legit. 


I'll stick around and start back to work again here at my home office so I can be available to help Mom get around the house.  It'll be a lot more "interesting" later on.  Chris is keeping the grandkids (all but 2 of them, which should make 4 that will be here.  But then I was never all that great at Math) for the afternoon.  Cailyn's "older Brother" Scooter is even coming over to play with Fritz and Heidi.  That's give Mom something else to think about rather than her dizziness.  And we'll just have to zig zag through the inevitable obstacle course that will be created throughout the house.  Ah, the joys of intergenerational living.  I really do love it.  Never a dull moment.  I still have to prep for Life Group (home group's "official" descriptive name) and for the teaching for Sunday, so with  apologies to Blake (or whichever poet that was) I have miles to go and much to do before I sleep. 


Psalms 9:11 says, "Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done."


Father, thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience life with four generations all together.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 22 – “God’s got it covered”


Happy real birthday, George Washington.  


One of the students who had to drop out of Seaside Christian Academy because of monetary reasons should be getting an exciting phone call tonight.  An anonymous Seasider has taken on that tuition as a ministry and will continue to pay for the student to finish out this year.  God's got it covered.


Just heard that Seaside needs offerings of around $8,000 this Sunday or payroll gets put off for a week or so.  Oh, well.  Happened before.  Besides, I just got a royalty check from the publisher of my book.  That'll cover $1.79 of it.  God's got it covered. 


We took Mom to the doctor this morning.  She got to see the nurse practitioner first, then the doc stopped in on her way to the next "official" patient.  Just as we were getting her out of the car, Mom decided to sit down on the concrete driveway.  She didn't fall.  She just slowly sat down.  And she was able to stand right back up again.  It was weird.  We got her inside fine, but they ended up bringing her a wheelchair.  They did the exam – just the basics – and talked to her for a long time.  The final decision was to have her cut back on one of the medications and to go see her neurologist.  That appointment is officially sometime in May.  But she is on the waiting list for when someone cancels, so it will probably be sooner.  After we got home she slept off and on sitting on the couch all afternoon.  Now the list of those who officially don't know what's going on has grown beyond just me and Chris.  God's got it covered.


Nahum 1:7 says, "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him"


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


Father, we trust you.  And we count on your care.  The hope and joy and peace and power are some great icing.  Thanks.  Amen.

Monday, February 21, 2011

February 21 – “Already mowed”


I found out yesterday that April has already mowed and edged the grass at their new house, and they haven't even moved in.  The neighbors were apparently quite impressed.  Word was that last guy who owned it never did mow.  I agree.  Pretty impressive, April. 


I understand they have also started painting already.  Or at least choosing paint colors and cleaning up to make it paint ready.  We haven't been over there yet since Kel and Christina moved out, but I can't wait to see it.  Of course April has already changed her mind about the color for the kitchen.  Once as far as I know.


Nathan got chewed out a bit by his Mom for working too much.  He did have the whole day off yesterday, but he went in to his other job this afternoon.  Problem was, that also made her think about how much time I have been spending working on the computer doing work stuff.  Which meant I got a one of "The Looks," while she casually mentioned to April that I needed to take more breaks, too.


We have been waiting all day for the doctor to call back about what to do next for Mom.  She seems some better.  At least some of the time.  She was able to make it onto the couch (with our help), and she seemed to really perk up at different times.  Like when her friend Mildred called from Arkansas.  And when Cailyn came over to play.  And when some friends from church stopped by.  She has been eating pretty well, but she was nauseated for awhile today.  And today she has had a bad headache and some leg and foot cramps.  She still seems to buckle at the knees at random times when she walks, so we have been sticking close by her side.  Chris has talked to the nurse and the nurse practitioner a few times, but Mom's doctor is not in clinic today.  They are trying to reach the doctor to see if we need to admit her to the hospital or just take her for a CT scan.  At least that's what I heard from this end of the conversation.  We'll see.


Isaiah 43:18-19 says, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."


Father, point us in the right direction – toward you.  Amen.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 20 – “Word Day”


This week I had one of those "change the message at the last minute" experiences.  At least it happened on Friday so I had a few days to get into it.  The result was "Welcome to Word Day" at Seaside today.  I told the people that today they wouldn't hear what I think the Bible means.  They wouldn't hear a collection of interpretations from scholars down through history.  Instead I let the Word of God speak for itself.  There were several chances to respond – in prayer, or in singing, or in repenting, or in reconciliation or for taking some simple action as an expression of our faith in Jesus. 


I shared the location of each passage so they could jot it down and look it up later to get the whole context.  Some of them tried to keep up with me, though, and look the verses up as we went along.  It was an unusual and humbling experience for me.  Massive amounts of Scripture always are humbling.  I'm sure it taxed some of the more traditional folks that were there, though.  But all of the feedback I received was good.  Guess I'll list the verses again in my website article.


Mom has really been a handful the last few days.  The doctor said the only thing that was showing up was a urinary tract infection, but her dementia seemed to escalate dramatically.  She was obviously in some pain and felt like something was wrong, but she wasn't able to verbalize it very well.  She said sometimes her knees feel like they are going to buckle.  Other times she feels like she can't hold her head up.  But then at other times she seems fine.  April heard in a nursing class that urinary tract infections often trigger dementia signs in elderly patients.  Sure sounds like what's happening.  But what do I know?  We are trying to keep her focused on the basic stuff.  Keep your head up and eyes open when you walk.  Use your words when you speak and call someone by name if you want to get their attention.  Chris may take her back to the doctor again tomorrow to see if there is something else we should be doing, or if we just have to wait for the antibiotic to take care of the problem.


Psalms 146:5-10 says, "Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them — the Lord, who remains faithful forever.  He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.  The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.  The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.  The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations."


Father, take care of Mom.  Give her assurance that we care and so do you, if that's what she needs.  Amen.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 19 – “Moving Day 001”


We had guests for supper last night.  Kel and Christina and their boys came over because today was moving day and they had just packed up their kitchen.  Chris made a big pot of spaghetti.  Quite a big hit all the way around.  Jachin and Micah ended up spending the night here with us so Kel and Christina could finish up some last minute packing.  The plan was for them to stay here until their Aunt Becca and Uncle Marshall came down to pick them up.  Christina told me they were taking them to see that new animated movie, Gnomeio and Juliet.  That one looks funny.  Wonder how long I could stay awake.


I went over to Kel's house right at 8:00 this morning.  He was just getting back with the Uhaul.  At least he was just then backing it into the driveway. I found out later that he really doesn't like to back up big trucks like that.  In fact when he went to back into his new driveway in LaMarque he almost ended up in the ditch at least twice that I saw.  And he held up traffic going both ways while he was doing it.  Quite entertaining.  He said no one would talk to him and tell him when to stop.  I remember that kind of problem well.  One time I was working as a trash man on the beaches of Galveston.  What a romantic position, I know.  We had stopped to collect the garbage from a beer joint down on the sand somewhere out East.  Before I backed up I asked the guy riding with me to check behind us and see if it was clear.  He looked and assured me it was.  I wasn't sure if I should trust him at the time, because several hours earlier a guy sleeping on the beach had given him a bottle of some kind of liquor.  But alas, I was young and foolish, so I backed up.  Right into the pickup truck parked behind us.  I never saw it, but I was only going about 2 miles per hour, so the damage wasn't too bad.  I remember my boss got the ticket fixed so I wouldn't have to pay it.  So … I understand the not enjoying backing up a big truck.  When he finally convinced the guys that he really did need some help, they guided him masterfully across the ditch and down the driveway. 


Kel had asked me to hang out on the truck and make sure it was packed tightly.  I started to do that, but one of the other four guys kind of stepped up and seemed to know what he was doing, so I went on in and started taking apart the beds.  That was a big enough task for this old man.  Especially when I ended up being the one who put them back together at the new house.  But, hey, my grandkids needed a place to sleep tonight amid all the clutter. 


After we had pretty much loaded up the Uhaul and several trucks, someone remembered that Josiah was asleep upstairs.  In his crib.  Kel went and woke him up so we could get the last bits of furniture.  They decided to not take apart the crib, but it wouldn't fit down the stairs.  So they took it out the balcony door and dropped it over the side.  The guys underneath did a great job of catching it. 


By the time we left we had loaded the biggest Uhaul, 3 pickup trucks, one trailer, 2 SUV's, the mini-van, and Kel's car.  Plenty of room.  Didn't take near as long to unload, though.  Somebody up there showed up with pizza and soft drinks and a  tray of marshmallows dipped in chocolate with toothpicks in them.  That was an unexpected treat.  I'm glad I don't have to help unpack.  At least not yet.  I think there are some more things in their attic that we have to move next week, though.  And then Nathan and April and Cailyn move next week.  Come to the rescue, fire department.


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


Father, thank you for all the help today.  Place your blessing on that new house.  Amen.

Friday, February 18, 2011

February 18 – “Gideon”


Chris and I went to a gathering of pastors and their wives and local businessmen and their wives last night.  It was a pastor's appreciation banquet given by the Gideons.  


I used to have a really difficult time whenever someone introduced himself as a Gideon.  I knew who the Gideons were, of course.  They are the ones who give away Bibles and put them in hotel rooms all over the world.  The problem was, the very first dog Chris and I ever got after we were married was named Gideon.  He was a little tiny toy fox terrier – a rat terrier.  That made him our first child, if you can understand those kinds of relationships that young married couples have with their pets before they ever have kids.  So … every time I heard the word I thought of our Gideon.  He even took precedence over the guy in the Bible.  I still think about him sometimes, but not as often.  Sorry, Gideons.


Now he wasn't our first pet.  That honor fell to a bird.  We got a parakeet not long after we got married.  We named him Noah, because his first act upon entering his cage was to knock over his water trough and cause a flood.  Noah and I became great friends.  When I would lie on the floor to study, he would jump down and bury his head in the crook of my arm and take a nap.  Inspirational.  We found out later that there was a good possibility that Noah was actually a girl.  Crisis of the decade.  But we never changed his name or anything.  


Back to the banquet.  It is quite the event every year, and we look forward to it.  There is always a program that includes testimonies of how the ministry has affected some specific people.  That is always my favorite part.  I even liked the keynote speaker this year, because he told five or six stories about people who became believers because of Gideon Bibles.  My favorite story was about the guy who was a fisherman in Siberia.  He couldn't find any food for his family, so as he stood alone in the snow in the middle of nowhere he prayed to the Creator (didn't know his name, just knew that somebody had to make all the stuff) for help.  Soon after a book fell from the sky and landed nearby.  It was a Gideon Bible.  He took it into town and asked a local pastor about it, and became a Christian as a result.  Come to find out, some organization had sent food and supplies as a relief effort, and a box of Bibles was included.  As the helicopter of atheistic communists flew over the area where the man was hunting, they decided that no one needed the books, so they threw them out the window.  Ha.  Way to go, God.  He also said they give away an average of two Bibles every second.  Said he felt good about that until he found out that three children are born every second.  They have a ways to go.


We met one of the new pastors in town.  He started at West Isle Presbyterian Church several months ago.  Great couple.  We hope to get to know them better.  He said he had heard of Seaside right after they arrived.  He said we were known for two things.  One was that we were very creative in our approach to ministry.  I wasn't sure if that was good or bad, but they assured me it was good.  The other thing was that we ministered to kids.  Apparently they don't have any in their church.  I was excited to hear that they had a women's prayer group going that was regularly praying for Galveston.  Keep that up.  We need it.  It also sounded like I am now among the top three or four elder statesmen as far as length of tenure among pastors in the city go.  Scary thought.  I am officially an old guy.  WooHoo.


Isaiah 26:3 says, "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you."


Father, thanks for those Gideon guys and the work they do.  Make them successful.  Amen.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 17 – “Look ahead”


I got word of yet another death yesterday.  Our good friend and former Seasider Ken called and told me his mother died.  She apparently had a stroke last week and never recovered.  There will not be a funeral service, though.  The family plans to gather at the graveside in a private ceremony. 


Today I spent the day at Seaside Christian Academy.  The council decided to cut back to just one teacher and the administrative assistant because of the financial crisis and the loss of students.  I will spend as much time as I can on site so we can make sure there will always be several adults around.  This is a tough one.  We were sure God was in the start of the school.  We have seen him work in the lives of a lot of students over the course of the years we have been open.  Now we have to discern what is next in his plan. 


Honestly, I am beginning to get excited again about the church, in spite of the conflict.  God has been sending us a whole different type of person over the last few months.  We have been a place historically where people have come who have little or no church background.  We have had very few leaders willing to take the risk of stepping out and responding to God's call in their lives.  That has begun to change.  And that means we have a chance to reboot our system - maybe make some changes to the way we present the message (that never changes).  We get to ask questions like "How can God best use these new leaders he is sending us?  What could it look like?  A  Sunday morning Bible study for all ages (i.e Sunday School)?  A Saturday evening off campus worship time?  Open up the exercise room for use by the community?"  That's the kind of thing we need to emphasize right now.  Look ahead.  Follow God's lead whatever it might look like. 


I couldn't get to sleep last night.  This is where the Lord led me to give me peace.  What really matters?


Psalms 15:1-5 says, "Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?  Who may live on your holy hill?  He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.  He who does these things will never be shaken."


Father, keep us on track.  In focus.  On what really matters.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February 16 – “Patients”


Happy Birthday, Josh.


It felt like that funeral mode struck with a vengeance yesterday.  Well, something struck about 12:30 in the morning and didn't let go until sometime last night.  It was one of those "coming out of both ends" experiences.  Miserable, you can be sure.  I was glad I had already written the blog post for yesterday before I went to bed.  All I had to do was push send on one of my trips back to bed.  I slept most of the time I wasn't in the bathroom, so when I started feeling some better last night, it was already after 10:30.  Then I wasn't sleepy.  So I stayed in the living room and worked crossword puzzles.  Then I got hungry.  All I could handle was about half an apple, but it was good.  Then I realized I couldn't remember the last time I had something to drink.  I finally dozed off and on until around 7:30 or so.  A shower felt great, but now I have a headache.  That reminded me that I haven't had any of my medication for two days, so the pills are here on the desk in front of me.  Not much is more unappetizing than a handful of pills after a day or two like these.  Onward and upward.  Or, to be more appropriate, down the hatch.


Chris took Mom to the doctor yesterday.  She had been complaining of being dizzy and having a bad headache.  The doctor gave her a clean bill of health except for a urinary tract infection.  This morning, though, she said she feels dizzy and like she is going to fall, even when she is sitting down


God bless my wife.  She handles her patients masterfully.


Psalms 145:4-7 says, "One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.  They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.  They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds.  They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness."

 Father, please take care of Mom.  I don't know what she needs, but I know you do.  And keep Chris strong.  Amen.