Thursday, May 31, 2012

"A Victory"

I had to teach the youth group last night at church, so I couldn't be at Jachin and Micah's next playoff baseball game.  I did receive a text in the middle of the meeting advising about the time of the next game.  Next game?  That meant we won.  I wondered about the circumstances of the victory.  Come from behind in the bottom of the last inning?  A complete blowout from start to finish?  A close one all the way?  My questions were finally answered when Kel called later that night.  The score was 7 to 5 against us when the third inning ended.  At that moment the umpire raised his hands and declared, "That's the ball game."  He made it official that the Rangers were the winners.  Now.  "How?" you may ask.  It's like this.  There is an obscure rule in their Little League system that says a team may begin the game with as few as eight players, as long as they have at least nine by the end of the third inning.  You guessed it.  The other team's ninth player never arrived, so we won.  How significant is that?  It means that we officially did not come in last place.  That is one little piece of encouragement for this group of ragtag kids who were just starting to realize some of the more basic rules of the game.  Like when to swing the bat and that it's OK to pick up the ball if it is hit near you in the field.  They have another game tonight, but I have to go to a high school graduation, so I'll have to miss it.  Doesn't matter how they do, though.  They're a great group of kids.  I'm really proud of them. 
I had our resident youth group artist act as a police sketch artist last night.  I think she is planning to major in art when she goes off to college.  Lora drew a very quick image of every person there as part of the teaching.  The sketches became wanted posters for everyone – Wanted by Jesus.  She did an amazing job.  Even did one of Mom that was eerily accurate.  I plan to hang onto ours in case I forget what I look like.
1 John 4:19-21 says, "We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."
Father, bless our artist.  Give her opportunity to use her talent to bring glory to you and your kingdom.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 30 – “Gotta be tough”

Yesterday was a big workday for me.  That meant spending a great deal of time at the computer typing.  Whenever I don't have Monday for a work I have to really double up to get in enough time for all the "regular" stuff I have every week: sermon, home Bible Study teaching, youth Bible study teaching, whatever meetings I have scheduled for the week.  Some weeks come easier than others, but all of them have their moments. 
We did make a quick trip to the bank in the afternoon.  And when we got back some friends from church were over.  They brought us "the firstfruits of our garden."  Green beans, peppers, and tomatoes.  Looks like good stuff.  And when they started comparing recipes with Chris, it was enough to make your mouth water.  Of course when they left I had to quickly change clothes and head out to Bacliff for Jachin and Micah's baseball game.  That meant grabbing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some Cheetos for the road.  Not exactly the gourmet meal I had been hearing about, but it served its purpose, I guess.
The game was at a park about as close to Galveston Bay on that side of the world as you can get and not get wet.  It seemed to take forever to get there.  The field itself was not in bad condition, though.  Our little guys did experience more than a few bad hops on the infield, but it was way better than the LaMarque field.  This was the first game of the end-of-the-season playoffs, so for the first time since the first game of the season we were back to a .500 record – 0 and 0.  Of course that meant we were scheduled to play against the number two team in the league because of seedings.  The number one team drew a bye.  On top of all that, our best player sprained his ankle at a school field day.  Kel and the boy's Mom asked if I would use my college sports trainer training and tape it up so he could play.  I was hesitant at first, but after talking to the boy and looking at the ankle, it didn't look bad at all.  I think he just tweaked it.  Come to find out he has an older brother who plays football and gets his ankles taped all the time.  Maybe he just wanted to be like him.  I went ahead and taped it up, and he did fine during the game.  We did have a few other bumps and bruises.  The team we played was considered Bayshore's "stacked" team.  All the boys were pretty big and had obviously been around baseball for a while.  That meant they could hit hard.  As a result our third baseman made some great stops – with his body.  Our shortstop (the taped ankle guy) took a bad hop bounce that knocked off his hat and his glasses.  And Jachin took a foul tip hard enough on his arm (he was catching) that it left the imprint of the laces.  You gotta be tough to survive in this game, especially when you're just eight years old and it really, really hurts.  There were more than a few tears.  The game ended early because of the ten-run mercy rule.  We are scheduled again tonight, but the team we are scheduled to play didn't show up for their game last night.  Maybe we'll have a playoff win by forfeit.  That would be encouraging. 
1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
Father, please heal all the bumps and bruises and help the little guys remember the fun instead.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29 – “Baseball and a fish fry”

Thank you to all who sent encouraging words our way after the post about the school yesterday.  We'll be in the "take a deep breath" stage for a while, and then we'll forge ahead with whatever is next.  It's great to know lots of folks are praying for God to keep on working is whatever form he chooses.
I didn't have much time to process anything or even relax on Sunday afternoon.  Jachin and Micah and Josiah came over to spend the night.  And anyone who has spent time with three little boys knows that we had some work to do – an agenda to fill – a sleepover to revel in.  I kind of expected a drive for playing baseball out in the front yard.  That is usually the first thing the older ones want to do.  However, this time Jachin had saved up his money and purchased a new video game for the Wii.  So of course we just had to try it out.  He had to show us how it worked.  And how good he was at it.  And Micah had to have his turns as well.  Oh, did I mention what the game was?  Baseball.  Well, as close to baseball as the characters from the Mario Brothers universe can muster.  The general game appeared to be the same.  Three bases.  Pitcher, catcher, fielders, batter.  Three outs.  There were some places where what appeared on the screen somewhat deviated from the norm.  That hill in centerfield at the Astros stadium looked like a flat strip of the beach compared to some of the obstacles added to make the game more interesting.  One field choice was entirely ice.  On another the infield was paved with bricks.  Another one had what looked like drain covers to the sewer all over the field, and they intermittently overflowed with water shooting to the sky.  Still another had a train running through the outfield that strangely only seemed to show up when an outfielder was chasing down a ball.  And the characters themselves had some unique throwing and batting styles.  Donkey Kong (at least I think that's who it was) used a huge boxing glove instead of a bat.  Some wizard-looking guy had the ability to suck the ball into his magic wand and spit it out.  Most of the little creatures I didn't recognize at all, since I am not much of a video gamer.  There were little tricks of the game that the operator had to know about ahead of time.  Jachin had pretty much all of those down pat.  He was also pretty good at not revealing those secrets to his unsuspecting opponents.  Little things like how to steal a base or how to throw the ball to a specific base.  Or how to give the character some secret super power.  Kind of tough to compete under those conditions.  Needless to say, Jachin did pretty well.  Micah was good, too.  The funny thing was watching Chris try to stay in the game with either of them.  Every thing she did – or tried to do - was funny to the boys.  I think she was trying to use her ignorance of the game to her advantage, though.  If they were laughing, they couldn't think of all the little tricks that they could have been using, which gave her the chance to get up to speed on the game basics.  She's a smart lady.  Jachin was the undisputed champion of the day, though.
The weird baseball games returned yesterday when Uncle Nathan, Aunt April and Cailyn arrived.  Fresh blood, you might say, for Jachin's prowess.  Nathan did pretty well, though.  I guess it's a generational thing.  Josh called in the afternoon, so we even got to do some facetime with Zakary and Caleb.  We did a big family fish fry to celebrate the holiday.  Our immediate family representatives to the Memorial Day honors included my Dad, who was in World War II, my granddad - World War I, and Chris's Dad – the Korean War.  We joined quite a few others in our neighborhood in flying our American flag. 
 1 John 4:13-16 says, "We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us."
Father, thank you for the love within our family.  Closest picture I know of the love you have for us.  Amen.

Monday, May 28, 2012

May 28 – “A sad day”

We had a sad day at Seaside yesterday.  We had to come to grips with a tough decision.  Seaside Christian Academy will be closing up shop for more than just the summer when the school year ends Wednesday.  Financial constraints have become more than we can handle at this time and still provide the quality of education we know must happen. 
Honestly, it has been a tough, uphill trek the whole way with the school ministry.  Some of our roughest patches as a community of faith over the years have come because of it, from the beginning stages of raising money, to the incredibly difficult decisions about continuing to build after Hurricane Ike, to the typical squabbles and disagreements over how to arrange the inside walls, to our struggles with trying to minister to high school students, to identity confusion over whether the school should be a completely separate entity or a ministry of the church.  It becomes a scary thing when the unity of the body is placed at risk for any reason, but particularly when the issue is something like a building.  It's like when Jesus got onto the Jews for trusting in their temple rather than their God.  He wanted them to see that the relationship with God and with each other is more important than physical structures that pass away.  You know, "Love God.  Love your neighbor."  So since God is pretty fierce about maintaining unity, it's important that we follow his lead and make sure we are moving forward together in carrying out the purposes of the church: fellowship (developing intimacy), ministry (serving one another and the community around us), discipleship, and worship.  And as we do those things, God will invade the situation with his work of evangelism.
Our mission is loving God and loving people in Community (by developing intimacy and a sense of family) and Direction (by providing small group and on-to-one growth opportunities to help believers move from new believer to disciple-maker).  Our commitment has always been to look for where God is at work and join him there.  He has done some great things in touching the lives of children through the school - and he's not done with them yet - but as we look around us at Seaside it looks like our focus must shift to a different form of ministry.  So what will that look like?  The retreat center ministry is taking off this summer.  We already have around ten different groups scheduled to stay at our facility.  We are working on a plan for following up resort ministry events by connecting people touched while on vacation in Galveston with believers in their home towns.  We have some contacts with folks who have done ministry on foreign mission fields.  Perhaps we can arrange for some hands-on ministry overseas.  Our high school students spent several hours yesterday cleaning and rearranging our nursery area.  Maybe we could follow their lead get the worship building into excellent shape.  It's amazing how many possibilities open up when we are forced to step back and take another look around.  Remember, doing nothing is not an option.
On another note, we also accepted a reworking of our church bylaws.  Years ago a group was tasked with the job of trying to clarify the distinction between the Church as the Body of Christ and the church as an administrative organization here in America.  That document was approved yesterday.  Interestingly enough, that approval marked the last of the long-range vision points I felt God gave me back when I first came to Seaside.  I'm not sure what that is supposed to mean.  I'm revisioning stuff all the time, and Loving God and Loving people is a never-ending task.  But as they say on FaceBook, "Just saying." 
1 John 4:11-12 says, "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."
Father, please make our next steps clear to us.  I'm anxious to see what you have on tap next.  Amen.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 27 – “Candy bar bar”

I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday in the garage.  Makes me sound all home-owner-ish, doesn't it?  Actually I was working on a carving for Chris.  I know it's not Christmas, but I had an idea for something and I knew nothing in my head would last for seven months.  How's it going?  Well, I think I got it down to the point where you can almost tell what it is supposed to be.  I'm certainly not satisfied with it yet, though.  I'll just have to wait until my elbows recuperate some and give it another whirl.
We went to a wedding at the big Methodist church in the afternoon.  Marcus, the groom has gone to camp with us many times as a camper and later as a counselor.  I got to baptize him years ago, so I wanted to be there when he took this next plunge.  He told me he was disappointed that he had to use one of the pastors at the Methodist church.  He wanted me and the guy who is pastor where he plays in the praise band now to be involved.  Gotta play by the rules if you want to use their building, though.  And the place really is beautiful.  We were especially impressed by the way they did the reception.  It was a huge nachos bar setup.  Chips and the works to put on top of them – meat, refried beans, cheese, several of those Mexican sauces, olives, sour cream, and several things that I couldn't identify.  There were some vegies and fruits for dietary-minded folks.  The star attraction of the day, though was the candy bar.  I don't mean like a Nestle's Crunch bar or a Hershey's chocolate bar.  I mean a bar bar.  An entire table was dedicated to a vast assortment of candies, from jelly beans of all colors and flavors to packages of chewy sweet tarts to tootsie rolls to those little boxes of Dots.  Needless to say that table was a huge favorite with the children … all of us.  People were stuffing their pockets with their favorites, and still there was more.  Sweet way to start a marriage.
1 John 4:10 says, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
Father, stay with Marcus and Kristine as they journey together toward you.  Amen.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 26 – “Graduation Two: High Island”

I went to the second of our high school graduation array last night.  This one was in High Island over on the peninsula.  That meant a ferry ride.  On Memorial Day weekend.  I have to say I was not looking forward to the inevitable lines.  Before I left the house Chris "encouraged" me by saying, "Maybe you'll drive up and drive right onto the ferry which will depart right after you get on and then you'll end up having to twiddle your thumbs waiting for the graduates to show up."  Thanks, Babe.  I decided to pack a sandwich and leave at 4:30 for the 7:00 start time.  And I decided to stay off the seawall.  Yesterday was the big first day for the New Galveston Island Pleasure Pier.  Traffic there promised to be a nightmare, so I stayed on what the locals affectionately call "the one-ways." 
I texted Chris when I got on the ferry.  It went like this: "Remember that improbable situation you posited?  I'm already on the ferry.  No cars in line."  Yep.  I drove right onto the boat.  Not a single car in the waiting area.  It was very strange.  Almost eerie.  And I was the third one to arrive at the graduation.  Literally the third one.  I pulled out my sandwich and had some supper.
The ceremony itself was pretty basic.  Just sixteen graduates.  They sat on one side of the stage and the dignitaries sat on the other.  They had the usual valedictory and salutatory addresses.  No guest speaker, though.  They went through all the scholarships everyone got.  They even announced which ones were blood donors.  That was different.  Cody got a scholarship from the Bolivar Ministerial Alliance.  Way to go, Cody.  The whole thing didn't even last an hour.  I diodn't expect to get home until around midnight, but I made it just after nine. 
The "almost eerie" from earlier became "actually eerie" when I returned home.  There were just two rows of cars on the ferry, one on each side of the cabin.  You could have played a game of soccer there was so much room.  I was glad our grandkids weren't there.  That would have made for some nervous mommies and nani's.  I drove by the Pleasure Pier just to see if the lights looked cool.  The ones on the ferris wheel sure did.  There were cars and people everywhere.  That's going to be a real hot spot until the newness wears off. 
The Astros were playing in Los Angeles, so we watched through the seventh inning.  They were ahead 3-0 when we gave up and went on to bed.  I'll have to check their website to see if they won.  Go Astros.
1 John 4:9 says, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him."
Father, walk with Cody through his next chapter.  Amen.

Friday, May 25, 2012

May 25 – “Old friends”

I worked on a sermon most of the day yesterday.  We are wading through the Book of Esther.  This week Haman gets to lead his arch-nemesis Mordecai through the streets of Susa proclaiming him as a friend of the king.  Not exactly the scenario he had hoped for when the day began.  Should be a lot of fun.  I have one unusual presentation point up my sleeve.  Needs two volunteers … Hope I can figure out a way to make it work.
I also received an invitation yesterday that was too good to turn down.  No, it wasn't to one of the myriad of graduations going on around here.  I've done one of those and still have another tonight, then Thursday, then Friday.  Not sure if I'll be able to get to all of them, but I'd like to try.  The invitation I'm talking about, though, didn't even come in the mail.  It was hand-delivered.  Well, it was delivered by mouth.  In person.  Chris asked me to join her for a good, old-fashioned trip to WalMart to buy groceries.  It was time to get the goodies for our Memorial Day family fish fry.  By goodies I mean other than the fish.  I've been working on that one already.  But we did need the other stuff that goes with it.  Plenty of ketchup.  Tartar sauce.  Potatoes.  Corn on the cob.  Green beans.  Chris' all-time favorite – a watermelon.  What we got was really of secondary importance, however.  All through our married career, our favorite place to hang out together and talk has been walking through the aisles of the grocery store, so it was like another flashback, a blast from the past, a return to simpler times, a … a date. 
Only one person ended up coming to our home Bible study last night.  Most of the others called to let us know what was happening in their lives for the evening.  It was good to spend some time with Betty, though.  She's Mom's best friend and has been for years. 
I guess today was the day for old friends.  We had a knock on the door at one point in the afternoon.  Who should be standing there, but Marvin, an old friend from our basketball days with CHSA (Christian Home School Athletics).  He had taken his son over to the old airplane museum at the airport and stopped by to chat.  He has always been one of my favorite people.  He always has a smile and an encouraging word.  Great to see him. 
1 John 4:7-8 says, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."
Father, thanks for friends who stand the test of time (read here "old").  Amen.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 24 – “Food fights and friends”

I did the teaching at the youth group meeting again last night.  They really had fun with the intro activity.  I taped the name of a classic book on each of their backs.  They had to figure out what their book was by asking yes or no questions.  They ended up doing it one at a time, with the questioner in the "hot seat" in front of everyone.  It was a good thing that they were all high schoolers.  I don't know many junior high kids who have read Wuthering Heights or War and Peace.  That one may find its way back into some teaching in the future.  Maybe camp?  The study itself was on the Bible and what made it stand out in a way that made it more significant than the books they guessed.  Worked out pretty well. 
The meeting then morphed into a surprise birthday party for one of the girls.  Her Mom had set up a scavenger / clue hunt for her.  Each clue was somewhere in a Bible verse, which then led to the location of the next verse.  The final verse led her to one of the showers, where her Mom had put a birthday cake.  It took so long for her to figure all the clues, though, that by the time she found the cake, all the candles had burned to the nub and the icing was turning into hot fudge.  Didn't affect the taste.  And it certainly didn't affect the food fight that occurred when someone "helped" the birthday girl get up close and personal with her piece of cake.  If you just looked at her and hadn't seen what occurred, you would think at first that she had a black eye.  Then, as the frolicking peaked and began to wind down, it appeared that she had been on a raucous romp in a mud puddle.  Great fun.  Memories of an eighteenth birthday that I hope she won't soon forget.
1 John 4:1-3 says, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world."
Father, thank you for food fights and friends.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 23 – “Playing with the big guys”

Jachin and Micah both had a baseball game last night.  Makes it much easier since they are both on the same team right now.  That sort of thing can happen when your Dad is the coach.  And when the team is short of players.  And when some of the players that are on the team don't show up for practice or games very often.  A five year old playing with eight year olds must be kind of intimidating for Micah.  He's supposed to be playing t-ball, and there he is facing The Machine.  The mechanical arm that whips the tiny orb toward him at 41 miles per hour.  At least that's what I heard the opposing team's coach say when he put his radar gun on one of the warm-up pitches.  Yes.  He had a radar gun.  Sigh.  What's this world coming to?  But Micah valiantly took his turns against the mechanical monster.  He also did a great job playing left field.  He had several fielding attempts.  He moved into position, put his glove to the ground, made the pickup, and threw on a line to the cutoff man.  His throws went just about the right distance for a five year old in a bigger man's world. 
The game was particularly exciting last night.  Our little guys all played the best I have seen them play all year.  They made some great defensive gems.  One guy on the opposition hit a rocket to center field.  Our youngster ran it down and tossed it to the shortstop, who turned and heaved a throw from the outfield all the way to the catcher, who just happened to be Jachin.  Jachin grabbed the throw and leapt over to make the tag at the plate.  Out.  Very nice glovework.  Even our right fielder took a break from creating a hovel out of a pile of dead grass just in time to field a base hit with his face and hold the runner to a single.  First time that has happened all year. 
On the offensive side of the game our two heavy hitters both came through with some strong punches beyond the outfielders.  One in particular would have been a home run for sure, but he had to slow down because our tiny girl was on base in front of him for the first time all year.  She was safe at first on catcher's interference after actually fouling off a few pitches.  Amy is about Micah's size and played an admirable third base as well, I might add.  She fielded three or four grounders and flipped the ball to the shortstop to deal with any throws that were needed.  Jachin's highlight was his drag bunt that went for a homerun.  The throwing error that got past the first baseman was all he needed to keep on running.  Micah made his attempt to get into the highlight reel when we had a runner on third base with two out in the top of the last inning.  The score was tied.  He hit a shot down the first base line that barely squeaked foul at the bag.  His Dad the coach argued the call to no avail, but it was kind of a funny argument.  "How can you call that foul?" he complained.  "He's just five years old.  And besides, he's my kid."  Great logic, coach.  We lost by one run in the bottom half of that inning.  But it was a great game.  On to the playoffs, Rangers.
1 John 3:24 says, "Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us."
Father, thank you for the development we have seen in those little kids this year.  Help us old kids develop at least as much in our spiritual lives.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 22 – “Dreams are dreams”

We had to drive into Bay City again yesterday to get some more paperwork from one of the banks.  Still trying to accumulate all the paperwork Chris is responsible for as executor of her Mom's estate.  It's looking more and more like there will be quite a few areas of frustration remaining when all of this plays out.  The legal system just isn't made to restore the effects of broken relationships.  Takes God to do that effectively. 
I've been struggling with more pain lately.  I guess I got used to having sore knees, but trying to do much of anything with pain in both elbows is extremely distracting at best.  I'm not finding much that I can do while I'm awake that doesn't involve one or both of my elbows at some point.  Pick up a cup of coffee?  Yep.  Driving?  Also involved.  Typing?  Not so much during the process.  I found a spot where I can rest my arms on my desk.  But when I stop and straighten my arms out … ouch.  Read or do a crossword puzzle?  Gotta hold the book and the pencil.  Roll over in bed?  Uh-huh – gotta push off.  That doesn't even begin to include mowing the grass or carving something or even fishing.  I started taking the pain medication my doc prescribed to help me sleep at night.  It seems to do the job, but leaves me kind of sluggish when I first wake up.  That's not good, because I do most of my work in the early morning before the early afternoon weariness hits.  Kind of a catch-22. 
Wow.  Sounds pretty bleak when I read back over that.  I'm not dead yet, actually.  Although I have been longing for a break.  You know, the typical dreaming of a vacation.  A long vacation.  Knowing Mom is taken care of.  Knowing the bills are covered.  Knowing April is doing OK.  Not having anything in particular to prepare for.  Chris by my side (well, practically speaking, she'd probably be driving).  Maybe we could make a visit to every friend we have in the United States.  That alone would take us to … let's see … Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, New Jersey, Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma, Colorado, Oregon, California, Utah, Louisiana, Alaska, South Carolina, North Carolina, New York, and of course all over Texas.  Did I miss anyone?  Now that would be a trip.  I could even take one sermon along with me and preach it in everyone's church.  Then they could take up a love offering for us to get us to the next spot.  Of course that would probably mean I'd have to take along my marryin' and buryin' suit for some of those churches.  Ah, well.  Dreams are dreams. 
1 John 3:23 says, "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us."
Father, thank you for placing friends of ours in all those places.  Makes dreming a lot more fun.  Amen.

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21 – “Online predators”

We had a great dinner the other night with some new friends.  I got a call from the half-brother of my niece who lives in Lubbock.  We get to see her every year when we pass through going to Glorieta, New Mexico.  I vaguely remember meeting her brother at her wedding seven years ago, but I certainly haven't seen him since then.  Now he is getting married and wanted me to perform the ceremony.  He and his fiancĂ© were coming to Houston to visit an uncle, so he wanted to get together and talk. 
I loved the story of how they met.  They were both playing the Facebook game Farmville.  I have never played it, so I'm not sure of the details, but apparently he needed someone to help him pick pumpkins.  He posted the position and she responded that she was available.  They continued their online "business" relationship until they finally decided to meet.  Sounds romantic, huh?  Not so much to her seventh grade son.  He laughed and told us that he warned his Mom about online predators.  "What if he is a 300 pound motorcycle gang member?"  Well, he was half right.  Scott is pretty thin.  We ate at Shrimp & Stuff, and they even came back for worship at Seaside yesterday morning.  Scott wasn't raised in church at all, so I've been praying for him a lot the last few days.  He seemed pretty interested when we talked about the gospel, and he didn't fall asleep at church, so that's always a good sign. 
The wedding will be in Jacksonville, Texas, wherever that is.  He said it was near Tyler.  Don't think I have ever been there, either, but at least I have heard of it.  And it's scheduled for the weekend before we leave for camp.  That will be a hectic one.  We'll go to Jacksonville on Friday for the wedding, spend the night there, then get up Saturday and drive to Victoria to pick up our niece who is going to camp with us.  We'll get home Saturday evening in time to pack so we can leave first thing Sunday morning for New Mexico.  And yes, we will be helping with that drive as well.  Glad Chris loves to drive. 
1 John 3:19-20 says, "This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything."
Father, keep drawing Scott closer to you.  Amen.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May 20 – “How I do that?”

Josiah spent the night with us.  Our first time with just him and without his Mommy.  His two big brothers and Mom and Dad went to the Astros game to see Jachin's favorite player, Josh Hamilton.  That's right.  Not even an Astro, but at least it's baseball.  And Josh Hamilton is really good.  I guess we haven't had enough time around Josiah to understand all the things he says.  There were two things that struck us as quite comical, mainly because they were so random.  The first one he said numerous times over the course of the evening.  Not sure how it got started, but once he realized that we liked it, we heard it again and again.  For some reason he stopped, looked down, and declared, "I got big foot."  OK.  We laughed and engaged him in a brief discussion of that medical malady.  The second one also reappeared a time or two and in different forms.  It was actually much funnier than the other one, because he used it appropriately every time.  When we talked to him about his big foot, he responded, "How I do that?"  And later, in the middle of one of his jabber sessions where he obviously knew exactly what he was saying while we didn't have a clue, he blurted out, "How you do that?"  Challenging question.  How I do that, indeed?
I went to one of the local high school's graduation ceremonies.  I heard some very interesting things in the two and a half hours we stood there.  Yep.  Stood.  The venue was packed out.  It was a beautiful room at the Tremont Hotel, but there were people standing two deep in places.  Here's a sampling of some of the advice .
In one of the prayers: "May they consume themselves until they finally reach their heavenly home and hear from the Lord, 'you were a good and faithful servant.'"  Great sentiment … at a funeral.
From the guest speaker, a former NFL player: "When trials come in life it's a matter of reflect and respond vs. react and reject.  That's a really good point.  Maybe I can work it into a sermon somehow.
From one of the presenters (a teacher, I think): "We feed them ungodly information."  I'm sure she meant to say "ungodly amounts of information," but that slip of the tongue struck me as really funny.  No one else laughed, though.
From the valedictorian: "Hurricane Ike illuminated our inner resilience."  That I could relate to.  And then, "Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment."  I'm not sure who he was quoting there.  It just seemed to stand out from the string of clichĂ©s he came out with at the end of his speech.  Don't get me wrong, though.  The speech he gave was entertaining and well-put-together.  Nice job by the guy who was offered full scholarships from at least four different major colleges.  Speaking of scholarships, that's why it lasted so long.  There were only 31 graduates, but they announced and presented every scholarship received by the students.  Two pages worth.  Way to go kids, but figure out a different way to do it next year.  I was proud of the two Seaside girls who graduated, though.  They even gave me a yellow rose.  That's part of the school's tradition.  The kids give a rose to the people who meant something to them.  I assumed it was meant for parents, so it was quite a surprise when I got one.  Humbling, actually.  Maybe she was just being nice to the old guy. 
1 John 3:18 says, "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
Father, walk with those students through the next part of their life.  There's so much more to come.  Amen.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 19 – “The Big Three”

I finally took a few hours to do some fishing yesterday.  Problem was my usual bait supplier didn't have any live shrimp.  He said they should be available in 45 minutes or so.  Not good.  I tried my second choice and he didn't have any either.  Not looking good.  My third choice did have some.  In fact he was bragging about his huge tanks and how he could keep more than anyone else.  I got some there, but they were so small I had to put two on the hook just to get any fish's attention.  All in all it turned out to be a good day for someone fishing to get some food for his family.  Chris had already planned a family fish fry for Memorial Day.  Most people do barbeque, but, hey, we live in Galveston.  So we needed to get enough fillets to handle four families.  Not a bad start.  I ended up keeping thirty whiting.  Caught quite a few more than that, but those tiny shrimp seemed to entice tiny whiting.    
I had a wedding on the beach last night.  It was supposed to start around 6:30.  The bride's Dad and a few others were there at that time.  The others straggled in over the next thirty minutes or so.  The bride's son came, I think with some cousins or maybe his aunt.  I think he's about eight or nine years old, so I was pretty cautious when he held out his hand to give me something.  Turned out that it was the rings.  I showed him how to put them on his fingers and asked him to hand them to me during the ceremony.  He seemed excited at the prospect of being involved.  At least until the other kids decided they wanted to run up to the water and do some playing.  He ran off to join them, so I let the groom know that he had the rings.  Loved his response.  "Oh, well, we can always get a metal detector." 
The bride finally got there around 7:15.  Good thing it was daylight savings time.  The wedding itself was very small, with just family and a friend or two present.  We just took up our places next to the water and everyone gathered in close so they could hear.  There must have been fifteen photographers.  Actually they didn't hire anyone, it was just phone cameras and at least one video camera vying for the best possible angle.  The bride should have plenty of pictures to choose from.  I think in general the ceremony went well.  I have three big indicators, from my perspective, of a successful wedding ceremony.  I don't count not starting on time.  That's pretty much a given no matter where the ceremony is.  First, no one broke down crying.  Not that that is a negative thing.  It just inevitably leads to others joining them.  Second, everyone stayed awake.  Of course, they were standing up.  And they were at the beach.  All they had to do was watch the waves or the seagulls or the children playing or the guy fishing (who didn't seem to be catching anything.  Not that I was watching him or anything).  And the final of the big three indicators of a successful wedding?  The bride was happy.  That trumps everything else. 
1 John 3:16 says, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."
Father, give that bride and groom a great start to their life together.  Amen.

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 18 – “Can’t beat a good comic book”

I had one of those very early mornings again.  Didn't sleep all that well because I decided to not take a pain pill before going to bed.  I guess in the grand scheme of things it didn't go all that badly.  I only woke up three times that I remember.  It has certainly been much worse. 
Mom asked about her finances again yesterday.  Said she just wanted to be sure someone was paying her bills.  I saw that as a positive step, although she still wasn't clear about where she lives.  She asked Chris to get her a little notebook so she could resume her long-time practice of journaling.  Wow.  Now it has really been a good while since she has done that.  She asked me who my sons were and then who my grandkids were.  Three times.  She wanted to hear their names.  She was also watching the computer screensaver that scrolls through all the pictures I have saved.  Every now and then she would ask about one of them.  After a while she came up with an idea.  She asked me to make her a picture album with everyone's name under their picture.  My favorite part of the request, though, was, "That way I can check it out when I see someone and know who it is I'm talking to."  Now that is thinking through a problem and coming up with a viable solution.  Way to go, Mom.  I got her book done.  Of course, then our home group people started arriving and she wanted a picture of each of them in her book as well.  Guess we need to start another book.  Or see fewer people.
I heard a great challenge when I taught at youth group the other night.  Rita suggested to the kids that every night for one week they thank God for one thing they have never thanked him for before.  Great idea.  I think I'm going to give it a try.  So first … thank you, Father, for the creativity of the guys who put together the Action Bible I got for Christmas.  It has been a lot of fun reading through it during my quiet time.  Can't beat a good comic book.  Amen.
1 John 3:14 says, "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death."