Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29 – “Happy Leap Year Day”

Slow news day yesterday.  I went online and found out some fun stuff about the extra day we have this year.  Leap day. 
Pretty easy one first.  You can figure out which year will be a leap year by dividing the year by 4.  If it comes out evenly, it's a leap year.  If it's the year that begins a new century, it will never be a leap year unless the year itself is divisible by 400.  That's getting a bit too math-involved for me.  Basically, since 2000 was a leap year, there won't be another one until the year 2400.  That means I won't have to worry it anyway.
Adding a day every four years probably came at the request of an Alexandrian astronomer named Sosigenes.  He rightly believed that the intermittent addition of extra time to the yearly calendar would better synchronize the seasons with Earth's orbit around sun.
Apparently Leap Day is the original Sadie Hawkins Day.  So women can propose to men.  That started because the day has no legal status, especially in the Old English Law.  If legal stuff didn't count on that day, then why should traditions?  So women began taking advantage of this and proposing to men they wanted to marry.  Go for it, Ladies.
Leap Day is also St. Oswald's Day.  St. Oswald was an archbishop of York who died on February 29, 992 A.D.  His memorial is celebrated on February 29 during Leap Years and on February 28 during common years.  I never thought about the other three years being "common."  The chances of being born on a Leap Year are 1 in 1,461, so it seems kind of sad for those of us born in common years.  Does that mean we'll never be truly special?
How about some famous people born on February 29th?
1976 - Ja Rule (American rapper and actor) – Known for several top 20 hits and selling over 30 million records world-wide.
1972 – Antonio Sab├áto Jr. (Italian-born actor) - best known for his role on the soap opera General Hospital
1960 – Anthony (Tony) Robbins, American motivational speaker and author
1916 - Dinah Shore – Popular American singer and actress, she was voted #16 in TV Guide's list of the top 50 tv stars of all time
1468 – Pope Paul III – Pope from 1534 to 1549
1924 – Al Rosen – (American baseball player) - Cleveland Indians 3rd Baseman
1792 – Gioacchino Rossini, Italian composer (William Tell, The Barber of Seville)
Jimmy Dorsey – Well-known big band leader
Dennis Farina – Actor, most known for Law & Order, Get Shorty, and Luck.
Saul Williams – Poet and actor, known for his leading role in the 1998 film Slam
Richard Ramirez – Convicted serial killer was known as the "Night Stalker"
Aileen Wuornos – Convicted serial killer and subject of the 2003 film, Monster
Great company, birthday kids.  Enjoy your day.
Jeremiah 2:19 says, "'Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you.  Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me,' declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty."
Father, thank you for quirky days like today.  Makes me appreciate "common" day even more.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February 28 – “Batting helmet of God”

Hey.  It is possible to get good news in a letter from the Internal Revenue Service.  Of course this particular good news followed some particularly bad news several weeks ago that we were being audited.  I had to put together a stack of documenting materials about what we filed back in 2009.  Good thing they didn't ask about 2008 or before.  All that was washed away in the hurricane.  Anyway, they sent us a letter saying that they have reviewed all the documentation we sent (sure, they did), and have decided not to change anything in our taxes for that year.  Well, thank you very much, IRS.
Kel asked me to help him coach Jachin's Little League baseball team.  Last night was the first practice.  Eleven little kids are on the team, with two girls.  Four or five of them have never played before.  Only one of the girls was there, pink glove in hand.  She told me she had been practicing with her Dad.  It showed.  Not that she was incredible or anything.  She just didn't throw like a girl.  I had three who had never played before in the warmup time.  They started tossing a ball back and forth.  Spent more time chasing the ones they missed than throwing.  So I had the start again on one knee fairly close together.  They tossed gently to each other for a while, then spread farther and farther apart.  Seemed to work for them as long as they mimicked the motion of when they were on one knee.  Kel then had them run some sprints to first base.  That turned onto races.  The kids didn't want to stop.  It got dark pretty quickly, so that was about all we had time for.  He moved practice time up thirty minutes earlier, so maybe we'll get a few more drills in tonight. 
Josiah was at practice, too.  He was wearing an oversized batting helmet and a batting glove extended from one hand with the fingers all flopping over.  Very cute.  He wandered all over the playing field trying to get near me, often walking right between those playing catch.  Totally oblivious to any sense of danger.  He was just focused on getting over to see DadDad.  Great spiritual lesson there.  As long as we are walking toward Jesus, wearing the batting helmet of God's protection, we can walk through just about anything without fear.  I want to do that with this rheumatoid arthritis pain.  I want Chris to do that as we walk through all the family drama that promises to unfold during and after her Dad's funeral.  I'm encouraged.  Thanks, Josiah.
Jeremiah 1:7-8 says, "But the Lord said to me, 'Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,' declares the Lord."
Father, thank you for speaking through Josiah.  And he didn't have to say a word.  Amen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27 – “Life and Death”

Chris was in the shower.  Mom was still, of course, in bed.  Micah was playing in the den with Josiah.  Jachin and I were playing Words with Friends near the computer.  Suddenly it hit me.  I told Jachin that it was too quiet in the other room.  We decided to go on a reconnaissance mission to see what was up with his brothers.  Our first stop was the den, and Micah was still hard at work, arranging G.I. Joes for an attack on each other.  But Josiah was not in there.  Now understand Josiah is not yet two years old, so how hard could it be to find him?  Micah had no idea where he had disappeared to.  The back door was locked, and the front door was within view of where Jachin and I had been stationed.  So, with our numbers now three, we went on a search for Josiah.  We called his name.  We opened closets (strangely, they have become fun places to play as long as a flashlight is available).  We quietly checked out into MeeMaw's room.  We looked into the room where their stuff was kept.  And finally we started calling out his name.  And then we heard a faint squeal.  Hard to determine if it was a squeal of pain or fear at first.  But there it was again, louder this time.  Not pain.  Not fear.  This was a different.  Perhaps surprise?  Certainly delight.  Definitely Josiah.  We followed the sound to the hall bathroom and carefully opened the door to discover … Josiah standing in the middle of the floor, hands to his sides, mouth agape, eyes wide.  Oh, and dripping wet from head to toe.  The entire room was covered in water.  Cabinets, toilet, walls, floor.  And the water was running from the flexible bathtub hose connection we installed to make it easier for Mom to bathe.  Struggling for all I was worth to hold back the laughter, I waded over to Josiah to make sure he was OK.  He heard my approach and turned to greet me.  And his whole countenance lit up with a smile.  "DadDad, bath.  DadDad, bath."  That did it.  I gave up all pretense that any punishment might be forthcoming.  I laughed longer and louder than I have in a long time, and his brothers were quick to join me.  I grabbed a towel and cleaned up most of the mess, then got the little culprit a change of clothes.  I mentioned during the cleanup process that it was a good thing Nana didn't see this.  Jachin decided that he wasn't interested in telling her face to face, so he wrote her a quick note about the episode and quietly slipped it under the bathroom door where she was.  Didn't take long.  She burst through that door and wanted to know what was going on.  You know, it was one of those, "I can't leave you alone for fifteen minutes" kind of tirades.  She wasn't angry, though.  Josiah just looked up at her with those big ol' blue eyes, and she melted.  And it was funny.
On a sadder note, Chris got a call yesterday afternoon that her biological Dad had died.  Yes, she was adopted.  That's a very long story involving numerous twists and turns that make soap opera scripts seem like child's play.  Her Dad has been in a nursing facility for several weeks after a serious stroke.  Her half-sister called to let her know.  Funeral arrangements are being worked out in Bay City today.  So now the waiting begins to see if we are notified about the funeral.  Family drama.  It's very, very sad.
Isaiah 66:23 says, "'From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,' says the Lord."
Father, give comfort to Chris today.  She has been through an awful lot over the last two years.  And work a miracle of reconciliation among that family.  Draw them toward you.  Amen.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

February 26 – “The Benefit Update”

Happy birthday, Son Kel.
April sent us a text the other day with a photo of their first medical bill – the one where they say "this is what you owe, but don't pay yet because we are waiting for the insurance company to pay first."  The total came to well over $95,000.  On the "You may owe this much" line?  $1.57.  All right.  We can handle that much.  She was giddy.  "Think we can hold them to this?" she asked through stifled chuckles.  Sure, April.  Don't hold your breath until that happens.
Actually we will be able to handle a bit more than that dollar and a half.  And it's all because of some unbelievable friends and family.  The benefit for April went great yesterday in spite of the rain.  I haven't counted how many people came out, but I hope they all signed the guest book.  Marisa and Nicole and their Team April crew pulled off one of the most amazing expressions of love that I have ever seen outside of the bonds of blood within a family and the spiritual bonds within a church.  The Firefighter Union Hall was packed with people for most of the afternoon.  So many came that they actually ran out of chicken.  But Mario's on 61st Street responded with some of their great pasta to cover the rest of the plates. 
One of my favorite sights of the day was watching as Nathan mowed the grass before everyone started arriving.  He was desperate to do something.  He does not like to sit around and have things done for him.  So he arranged to borrow a friend's riding mower.  Now, the guy warned him that he had removed the throw guard.  "Not a problem," was Nathan's response.  He just wanted to get on board and get moving.  A few of us were standing by the back door watching him and laughing at the array of grass he had just sprayed onto a truck parked in the yard.  It hit me that his current course would place us right in the path of a similar spray event in the very near future, so a few of us quietly chose a different viewing position.  Sadly, a few didn't.  And as Nathan chugged past, the grass spewed.  It took those brave few who remained behind a few minutes to clear their clothing of all the green spatter pattern. 
The rain kind of hindered everyone's appreciation of the mechanical bull.  Apparently it's hard enough to stay on one of those when it's dry.  It must be impossible when it gets wet.  I did see Cailyn give it a go.  Held on the whole time.  What a cowgirl.  Rain didn't stop the kids form enjoying the bouncy house.  A steady stream of more than just water made its way inside to take a turn bouncing around.  Bay far, the most popular attraction outside was the dunking booth.
Mayoral candidate Beau Rawlins was the first one in the dunking booth.  Not long after his stint, Mayor Jaworski arrived and got dunked numerous times.  Later on Nathan agreed to sit in the tank, and a literal swarm of people flocked to the ticket booth for the chance to dunk him.  His nephews each took a shot at him.  April even stepped up for one throw.  Cailyn talked April's Mom into giving her a close up and personal chance.  She punched the target and sent him into the water.  Firefighters tried their hand.  As they were wrapping up, one of Nathan's buddies came up to me and asked why I hadn't tried my hand at dunking Nathan.  "My Dad would have already spent forty or fifty bucks at least for an opportunity to nail his son.  I know you want to get Nathan."  I tried to politely decline, of course, but when he returned with a strip of tickets and forced them into my hand, what could I do?  I couldn't let him waste all that money.  So I forced myself to give it a try.  I haven't thrown a ball since before Hurricane Ike nearly four years ago, except in the front yard with Jachin and Micah a time or two.  So it was truly a surprise to me when I discovered that you didn't really have to hit the actual target to make the thing work.  All it took was a well-placed toss just to the left and slightly above.  That's where the bar was located that operated the apparatus.  And that's what I hit.  And he did go under.  Not that it gave me any special sense of satisfaction or anything.  Oh, and did I mention that it was chilly outside yesterday?  Those guys must have been freezing.  Thanks for being such good sports. 
In spite of the rainy setbacks, people kept coming.  I understand that a girl who was in the youth group of the very first church I ever worked at (back when I was 18 years old.  What were they thinking?) showed up with a basket for the silent auction.  I was sorry I missed her.  I did get to see a guy I knew as kid back when we went to Grace Episcopal Church.  I saw church people and family and firefighters and friends of friends of friends.  The money raised was substantial – more than five thousand dollars.  But the expression of love was so much more valuable.  I don't think Nathan and April will soon forget it.  I sure won't. 
Matthew 22:37-40 says, "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'   All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Father, once again I thank you for surrounding our kids with people who love them.  Amen.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

February 25 – “Play imitates life”

Four of our six grandkids were here with us yesterday.  No parents.  Just the kids. Ah, wildness.  It was pretty much nonstop chaos when Cailyn was here with Kel's three boys.  Kel and Christina went to a conference in Austin.  Nathan had worked all night at the big fire here in Galveston, so he was sleeping.  April had a big haircut appointment.  They screamed and ran through the house and played with Nathan's old G.I. Joe stuff.  At one point Cailyn took up residence in our bedroom under the guise of "putting the babies to sleep."  Everyone who entered got the "shhh" treatment as she tried unsuccessfully to keep three dolls and one stuffed monkey asleep in their respective cribs.  Ah, how play imitates life.  She was quite the frustrated little mother.
After she went home and Chris left with Josiah to pick up Mom from Libbies Place, Jachin and Micah and I headed outside to do some serious preseason conditioning.  That consisted of tossing a rubber baseball onto the roof and seeing who could be the first to grab it when it came rolling back down.  I used to play that by myself for hours when I was growing up.  Multiple players provided opportunities for a significantly greater number of complaints and collisions, but also provided the competition so desperately desired by first-born Jachin.  Add to that the fact that the wind was blowing 20 or 30 miles per hour.  That meant on numerous occasions the ball didn't come back down.  Instead it blew completely over the top of the house.  Also, not a problem, though, for two active boys and a somewhat less-active grandfather.  I think Jachin's favorite activity opportunity, though, came when the ball got stuck in the gutter.  I got out the ladder and let him crawl up top get it out.  He was pretty careful.  Told me he was afraid of really big heights; this wasn't so bad, though.  Micah, on the other hand, got to the top of the ladder on his turn, but wouldn't let go to look in the gutter.  I helped him back down.  Jachin then informed me that Micah was very afraid of heights.  Micah confirmed that informational tidbit, so I encouraged him for getting clear up to the top.  Quite an encouragement for someone who knew going in what his fears were.  Kind of like Chris getting through an MRI with her claustrophobia.  Nice job, Micah.
Last night I went to a meeting of the organizers of the big benefit for Nathan and April.  Those girls who put this thing together are amazing.  They were gathering together all the stuff donated for the silent auction and raffle.  That meant placing a value on everything and developing a minimum bid, as well as packaging some of the things.  Then they had to print up some bid sheets.  Setup for the whole affair begins around 8 this morning, and the event starts at 2:00.  Barbeque chicken and fixings.  Mechanical bull.  Bouncy house for the kids.  DJ with music.  Dunking booth with, among others in the wet seat, Mayor Joe Jaworski, mayoral candidate Beau Rawlins, and …. Nathan.  He wanted to do something to be involved.  Please come on out and have some fun and help us raise some money to help Nathan and April cover some of their medical bills.  2 – 9 p.m. at the Firemen's Union Hall, 7401 Heards Lane in Galveston.
Isaiah 66:2 says, "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word."
Father, help me to be one who trembles at your word.  Amen.

Friday, February 24, 2012

February 24 – “The Munchkins are Coming”

I had a pre-wedding meeting yesterday with a couple who will be getting married in April.  It's another of the destination weddings I get to do from time to time at the San Luis Hotel.  This couple lives in Santa Fe, though, so they are not all that far from home.  He grew up in Santa Fe, so he knew a lot about Galveston from frequent trips to the beach.  I was curious about their spiritual backgrounds.  She grew up Baptist, and he was raised in a non-denominational church until it split into two.  Sounded like one of those nasty things that leaves a bad taste in a lot of folks' mouths.  Didn't do him any good, that's for sure.  He was burned by the experience.  They seemed to really like what I told them about Seaside.  Maybe if they lived closer they would come see us.  That wedding will be a fun one.  The ring bearer is two years old.  Can't wait.
We heard last night during Bible Study that there was a big fire over on Harborside here in Galveston.  Some fuel tanks exploded near a sulphur plant.  All the off-duty guys were called in to either help fight it or cover the stations.  I think Nathan was in that batch.  He is doing a month-long class in Houston during the day, so he's off every night.  Texas City even sent over some guys to help cover stations.  We did hear on the ten o'clock news that they had the fire out already.  Way to go, guys.
Also heard yesterday that the guys doing the music for the benefit tomorrow canceled.  Looking for a DJ or some kind of music two days before the event is challenging, to say the least.  Yikes.  We did get a basket of lotions and soap donated from Bearded Lady Soap Factory (a.k.a. Jim and Laura Stone).  Already had someone express interest in "trying out goat lotion."  I also started getting more calls about tickets.  I'm planning to give April a text this morning to see if they have some more.  Keep those calls coming in.  We'll find you a ticket.
And now to prepare for today.  I woke up at 5:00 this morning.  Guess I was so excited for all the little munchkins who are coming over this morning.  Kel and Christina are going to a conference in Austin, so we'll have Jachin, Micah, and Josiah for two days.  April has a haircut appointment, so we have Cailyn for a while as well.  Wish we could figure a way to get Zakary and Caleb down and make it a full house.
Isaiah 65:25 says, "The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent's food.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord."
Father, I know some wolves and lambs who need to learn the kind of peace you are offering.  Bring it soon.  Amen.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

February 23 – “Ash Wednesday connection”

I would have been facing a bit of pressure last night if I had known something before we started the Ash Wednesday service.  Seems we had a guest there.  Now she has been to worship services before, and she even joined us for our Christmas caroling over the holidays.  But I had never heard until after the service last night that she was from England.  OK, so why is that such a big deal?  We have had people visit Seaside literally from all over the world.  What's the big deal about England?
Well, it has to do with the service itself.  To make it a bit more palatable for people who didn't grow up with that style of worship – litanies and formalities and the like – I took the Episcopal prayer book of my own youth and updated the Ash Wednesday service.  I took out the "thee's and thou's," added some references to hurricanes and air travel, and introduced the whole thing with a teaching on the history of Lent and the origins of Mardi Gras, all surrounding an experience of receiving communion together. 
When I was a kid and an Episcopalian acolyte at Grace Church here in Galveston, there were a lot of things that went on in the church that I just never "got."  Oh, I memorized them all and recited all the appropriate things at just the appropriate times.  But I never really understood why we did things, other than just because we have always done them.  I guess the underlying point of having an Ash Wednesday service that explained things was to make an appeal for unity instead of diversity among denominations.  I figure if we can understand the "why's" behind some of the rituals in Christianity, then we can come closer together in worshipping Jesus as one Body, instead of spending so much time and energy quibbling over insignificant things like worship styles or organizational government. 
So, have you figured out the potential pressure point?  The Episcopalian church is an offshoot of the Church of England.  There was somebody present who knew what was going on.  I know.  It's kind of silly to even think about.  She seemed very much into what was going on.  And on top of that, one of our kids who attends the local Catholic high school asked me after the service if there was some kind of baseline service that we all worked with for Ash Wednesday.  She recognized the format from the chapel service at school that morning.  Eureka.  Connection.  Yes, Sydney, there is some similarity there.  Just get back to the roots.  It's all about Jesus.  Love God.  Love people. 
Isaiah 65:24 says, "Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear."
Father, bring unity among your people.   Amen.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February 22 – “On the radio”

I had an interesting phone call yesterday.  Actually it started with a call from Cindy at the church.  We had a message on the answering machine there that I needed to return a call.  Not unusual and not a problem.  I made the call and, as often happens was told they would call me back.  Also not unusual.  We finally made contact later that afternoon.
The voice on the other end of the line was quite distinctive.  He could have been clearly successful in one of two occupations.  He would have been a great TV preacher.  By that I don't reference anything theological.  He just had that voice.  That voice that would boom from a pulpit.  That voice that would command a hearing.  That voice that would come across so clearly on the airwaves.  And speaking of airwaves, that's the other vocation that would suit him perfectly.  And as it turned out, he had indeed found his niche in the realm of … radio.
He was from KTRH, an AM radio station in Houston.  I knew it well, actually.  They are the ones who broadcast the Astros games during baseball season.  They have one of the two preset knobs on my truck.  The other one is for the Christian station.  And it's the station that plays on our bedside alarm clock.  Of course that one only goes off on Sunday mornings to make sure Chris is awake. 
So the guy explained that they had been informed of a benefit scheduled for this weekend for April Vaughan.  Somehow the connection was made with Seaside and me as pastor.  I guess even something like this requires a little investigative journalism.  They were interested in providing some positive news to kind of balance out all the usual negative stuff, so he wanted to know some things about the benefit.  I told his that would be no problem, and started telling him some of the details.  He quickly interrupted me and asked if it would be OK for him to tape the interview.  Wait.  Interview?  Guess I missed that part of the request for information.  It wasn't a problem, just unexpected.  He asked some key questions here and there to prompt me along, but we walked through the situation with April's health that led to the benefit, as well as the details of the benefit.  He even commented that the whole situation must have been tough for me as a Dad.  Insightful.
Well, as I was typing this I just heard the blurb on the radio.  Sounds like they run it just after the half hour on their news update.  Not much of the so-called interview made it, but at least they mentioned the benefit.  By the way, it's Saturday from 2 – 9 pm at the Firemen's Union Hall, 7401 Heard's Lane.  Barbeque chicken dinner, silent auction, mayoral candidates in the dunking booth, bouncy houses, mechanical bull.  Fun stuff.
Isaiah 65:20 says, "Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach  a hundred will be considered accursed."
Father, could you use this benefit in some way to bring glory to your name as well as help to Nathan and April?  Amen.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February 21 – “Curus George and a long night”

 We had a real mixed bag of a day yesterday.  Started out kind of tough.  Mom had another of her "just-can't-get-out-of–bed" days.  She responds much better to Chris than to me, but even Chris couldn't make much headway.  We started at 7:30 and finally got her up around 10.  Chris has to jump start her to get her to eat breakfast.  She first put a spoonful of cereal into Mom's mouth, then put the spoon into Mom's hand and guided it.  It took around 45 minutes for her to eat a bowl of cereal.  We finally got her to Libbie's Place around 11.  The goal is to be there by 9.  Tough start to the day.
And then Cailyn came over.  She was excited that the day was warm and the sun was out.  That meant she could spend time outside.  And when she got that idea into her head, there was no stopping her.  She did invite me to go along, though.  She informed me that we were going to a parade.  She had been to one of the Mardi Gras parades the day before, so she knew how to do it up right.  She tossed her purse over her shoulder, put on a string of beads (and made sure I was wearing the biggest ones), and even accessorized with an antique pillbox hat Chris found for her.  Gorgeous.  A bit sassy-looking, perhaps, but gorgeous.  We walked to the edge of the street where I was quickly informed that I was not allowed to step off the sidewalk.  If I did, "the mean man will come by and tell you the cars will run over your toes."  Needless to say, I stayed well back.  She waved and smiled as the make-believe floats passed by.  Suddenly, he head whipped around and she said, "Did you see that, DadDad?"  Inspired by the moments, I gave it my best shot, "You mean the float that just went by or the clown over there?"  Momentarily taken aback, she turned back toward the street just to make sure she hadn't missed something.  Satisfied, she continued, "No, DadDad.  Look out there in the street."  I looked. And she turned toward the offender and began quite a little tirade.  Hands on her hips, she fussed, "Curus George.  You get out of that street right now.  You could get hurt out there, Curus George.  You get over here to me right now."  I guess the little monkey finally listened and got out of the street.  He can be a mischievous one, you know.
Then came last night.  We were watching TV, and around 9:00 Mom got up and left the room.  We assumed she had gone to the bathroom, but when she didn't come right back Chris went to check on her.  She was in bed, sound asleep.  That wasn't a bad thing.  Just meant she didn't get her nightly eye drops or her evening medication.  Both are fixable situations.  Later, as we were getting settled into bed ourselves, Chris heard an unusual noise.  I didn't have my hearing aids in, so I missed it.  She rushed into Mom's bathroom.  I was close behind, but I waited outside the door for my cue that it was OK to enter.  Sure enough, Mom had fallen and was propped against the bathtub.  Chris called me in and we got her seated so she could regain her sense of balance.  It took both of us and her walker to get her back into bed, though.  Kind of scary.  But the night was still young.  I couldn't fall asleep after all the excitement, so I was working on my fourth crossword puzzle.  Around 1 a.m. I heard Mom enter the bathroom again.  I listened intently, willing myself to hear if she fell again.  I heard the door open again (it has a quite distinct squeak), so I kind of relaxed my vigil.  But about fifteen minutes later Chris jumped up and once again left the room.  Instead of going back to bed, this time Mom had gone into the kitchen and was fixing her a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  Chris let her know what time it was and stopped her from taken her morning round of medications.  It took some doing, but she finally talked her into returning to bed.  Of course by then I was even more wide awake than before.  I remember seeing 2:30, then 3:30, before I was finally able to get to sleep.  Now that's the kind of thing I remember Dad doing when he was fighting Alzheimer's.  He wasn't a fall risk, though.  Chris said she was going to call Mom's doctor today and get an appointment.  Just to make sure it's not something else causing this particular tank in behavior.  Of course I woke up, wide awake, at 6:15 this morning.  I guess my body was just reminding me that "though the sorrow may last for the night, joy comes with the morning."  Great song.  Great Scripture.  Great God.
Psalms 30:5 says, "For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."
Father, thanks again for that reminder.  No matter what happens, you will always be there in the morning.  Keep walking with Mom through this season of her life.  Amen.

Monday, February 20, 2012

February 20 – “Great Day. Great God”

We had a really great service yesterday at Seaside.  It was all about testimonies.  Started out by asking some silly, forced choice questions that everyone had to respond to by standing or sitting.  Things like: which do you prefer, chocolate decadence dessert or a poker party?  A long lunch with your significant other or splurging on a new suit?  Pretty much every man in the house chose the lunch.  Smart move, guys.  Then I asked what they might have been voted "most likely to …" in high school.  That sparked some good responses.  I offered some options: Most likely end up in jail.  Most likely to run for political office.  Mpost likely to run for political office and then end up in jail.  Next was a trip back in time as we remembered where we were when President Kennedy was shot, when the Columbine tragedy occurred, and when Hurricane Ike hit.  The last intro question had to do with who you would want for a neighbor out of list of famous TV neighbors.  Everyone wanted Mister Rogers.  One lady said Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace already was her neighbor.  The most popular response to that one, though, was Fred and Ethyl Mertz from I Love Lucy. 
After that sequence the comfort level was much higher among the folks.  We sang a song and worked through a visual Verse together.  Then we talked about what food would be the hardest to give up if you were to fast and where in nature you have gone to feel close to God.  It got a bit more difficult when we moved to how you would feel if you had a direct, face-to-face encounter with God, but the group did really well.  Then I asked what had happened in their life that God may be using top get their attention.  That shifted gears completely to the idea of giving a real testimony – sharing something that would en courage others in their walk with Jesus.  And following that up, we had a guest share her testimony about her personal struggles with bulimia and the death of her sister.  Dale did an amazing job.  The next few opportunities to share didn't take nearly as much "coaching." 
The result was some of the best singing by the congregation that we have had in a long time.  And how can you beat following all that up with dinner on the grounds?  Great day.  Great God.
Isaiah 65:17 says, "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind."
Father, thank you for showing up at Seaside yesterday.  You made our day.  Amen.