Friday, August 31, 2012

August 31 – “Sears Saga”

Many years ago we lived in Colorady.  Oops.  Yes, that was a typo, but it sounded kind of fun, so I decided to leave it.  Anyway, when we were there we had some friends who had just installed in their home an amazing invention that I had no idea even existed.  It was a miniature ice-maker.  I don’t mean the kind that’s built into the refrigerator.  I mean all it did was make ice and dump it into a bin built like an average ice chest.  It was great.  Plenty of ice and it was even the smaller kind that fits well into the mouth for chomping.  I decided then that some day we would have one of those in our house.

That day finally came after we purchased our home in Galveston.  We found out Sears sold them, so that became one of our initial renovation purchases.  And it was great.  Well, until it broke down five times in less than a year.  Of course that meant it qualified as a lemon under Texas law.  Sears had to give us a brand new one.  The new one worked really well for us.  After all, we had family gatherings all the time here, and our weekly home Bible study.  It was great.  Until Hurricane Ike.  Of course it went out the door and onto the street with everything else in the house.  Really.  Everything else.  Including the walls, the ceiling, the flooring.  That was a sad, sad day. 

But we got a new icemaker with the remodel after the storm.  We made sure to keep up the maintenance agreement, though.  Didn’t want to take any chances.  A few weeks ago our most recent model suddenly stopped producing ice.  Still ran and made all the right noises, but no ice.  We called the repair guy and a week later he showed up.  They only get to Galveston once a week.  It’s a big ordeal for them to leave Texas.  He did his investigation, and proclaimed, “It’s broke.”  Thank you very much.  I knew that.  But he meant it was really broke.  It needed a new compressor, evaporator, and some kind of valve.  Of course those have to be ordered.  He promised to do that and “see you next week.” 

One heavy box arrived by UPS.  Then two days before the appointment we received a call from Sears to let us know that the rest of the parts “may not arrive in time for the technician to install them on Thursday, so we need to reschedule for the next available appointment.  Let me see when that might be.”  I interrupted at that point and told them the next available time wouldn’t be for another week.  I didn’t want to reschedule.  I asked them to keep us on the list for this week in case the parts did get here, and put us on the schedule for next week as well.  After a long pause I was informed that they couldn’t do that.  Hm.  Didn’t seem so hard to me.  I suggested several scenarios that she could use to make it happen: Schedule the compressor for this week and the rest for next week.  Nope.  Schedule me for a preop visit this week and the real surgery next week.  Not gonna happen.  Schedule me for the repair guy’s lunch break and we’ll just visit for a few minutes while he eats a sandwich.  Uh, no.  None of them seemed to work for her.  She finally agreed to leave us on the schedule for yesterday and just hope the rest of the parts arrived. 

Then came yesterday.  And the repair man never came.  Never called.  So I called back.  Interesting conversation.  Seems I was “supposed to call when the parts arrived.”  Well, that was news to me.  Since I hadn’t called, I had been “removed from the list for today, but I can reschedule you for the next available appointment.  Let me see when that might be.”  OK.  I’d heard that one before.  Next Thursday when they decide to leave Texas again.  I took the appointment and said, “So since I have been waiting three weeks for this repair, I’m sure I can expect him to be at my door at 8 a.m. next Thursday, right.”  Another long pause.  “Well, sir, the next available appointment would be between the hours of one and five.”  Of course it would.  I bantered a bit with him just for fun, knowing that it was hopeless.  Next Thursday afternoon.  Guess we’ll have to rely on the fridge icemaker another week.  Which reminds me, every time we use that thing a mysterious puddle appears from under the fridge.  Same exact place every time.  Wonder how long it would take to get someone out of Texas to look at that? 

Psalms 25:16-18 says, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.  The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.  Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.”

Father, thank you for little blessings like ice makers service technicians, and telephone representatives.  Give them a good week, free from complainers.  Amen.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 30 – “The pastor thing”

I spent the day yesterday doing the pastor thing.  Jennifer, a friend and Seasider, was having surgery in Houston to reconstruct her ankle.  I drove up to pray with her and to hang out with her husband while she was being rebuilt.  I loved the doctor’s description of the surgery.  He said he was going to add a centimeter of cadaver bone to her fibula, then reset it and tighten up her ligaments so that the ankle would be oriented back to the front instead of off to the side.  Her husband Bryan jumped all over that description, and from that point on it became, “She’s having a front end alignment.”  Sounded right to me.  

We tested out one of the grill areas in the hospital for lunch.  I have a cheeseburger and Bryan had a Philly cheesesteak.  He’s from Wisconsin, so the Yankee cuisine was just what the doctor ordered for him.  A friend of Jennifer’s joined us.  Actually she didn’t really intend to.  She works there and was just stopping by for some lunch of her own when Bryan spotted her.  She ended up taking us on a tour of the hospital.  Interesting.

Jennifer came through the surgery with flying colors.  I was going to head home when they called Bryan back to the recovery room, but the nurse who came out to get him informed me that if I was the pastor, “Jennifer is expecting to see you.”  Well, then.  I went on back and said hello.  Jen said she wanted to see us both to make sure she was still alive.  You did just fine, Jennifer. 

I left the hospital at exactly 4:00.  Great.  Now I faced rush hour traffic all the way home.  However, there was a wreck right at Interstate 45 and Loop 610.  Pretty much all of Houston was bottled up behind it.  For some reason I decided to wait “just one more entrance” to try to enter the freeway.  As a result, I managed to pass by two fire trucks blocking all but one lane of the freeway.  That was a close one.  Coming to Galveston there was not much traffic.  In fact I was keeping up with the guy on a motorcycle who was the only vehicle in the carpool lane.  Hmm.

Psalms 25:12-14 says, “Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord?  He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.  He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land.  The Lord confides in those who fear him.”

Father, thank you for standing with Jennifer through her surgery.  Walk with her now through recovery.  And give Bryan patience and peace.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 29 – “Rest our eyes”

I woke up quite sore yesterday.  I imagine it was from all that bending and squatting I had to do to bait my hook and get fish off the line the day before.  I’m just not used to fishing from the bank.  In wade fishing everything just floats right up to your chest level.  I went for a walk to try to loosen things up a bit.  I guess it seemed to work OK.  The soreness never really left, but I was able to get around with considerably less of a limp.  And the soreness was clearly muscle-related rather than arthritis, so that was a plus.

Later on, after watching a few hurricane updates, I decided I better trim the tree in the back yard away from our cable line.  Can’t have cable go out in the middle of a storm, right?  There were some really hard to reach limbs, so by the time I was finished I was, well, finished.  Now not only were my legs sore, but my elbows and knees had decided to join the club. 

Didn’t have too much time to grovel in my pain and self-pity, though.  Cailyn came over for a visit while her Mom and Dad went to work out.  It was her nap time by then, so of course she chose DadDad to hang out with.  She almost dozed off in my lap while we sat at my desk, but she forced herself awake with the declaration that she wanted to go “take a rest time in the bed.”  Should have known that was another ruse.  We did get through five or six Bible stories in her kid’s Bible, but the next step was to “rest our eyes,” and that just didn’t happen.  Well, for her it didn’t happen.  It’s amazing just how creative a three-year-old can get when she has absolutely no interest in taking a nap.  She showed me her ballet moves.  Actually she showed them to herself in our full length mirror.  She showed me a few tumbling moves in the bed.  She tried on my sandals.  She put on my tennis shoes and asked me to show her how to tie them.  About that time Nani opened the door to check on us and we both got into trouble for being out of the bed.  Believe me, I was longing for the bed, but alas, it was not to be on this fine day. 

Not long after we gave up on our nap, Kel and Christina and their boys arrived to pick up their dog.  We had been dogsitting for a few days while they went to an out of town wedding and then on a brief vacation.  Texas Rangers baseball game in Arlington (Jachin’s favorite team) and the Legoland museum.  Exciting stuff.  We ordered pizza and talked and played Legos.  By the time they left I was really sore.  My knee and my elbows were throbbing to their own music, and it wasn’t in harmony with the muscle aches.  Ah, well.  My next shot is coming up in a few days.  Maybe that will once again bring relief.  I’m optimistic.

Psalms 25:10 says, “All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.”

Father, you have been loving and faithful even when we don’t keep the demands of the covenant.  Forgive us.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August 28 – “My Fishing Buddy”

I went fishing yesterday.  I started out trying to wade fish like I usually do, but it became apparent rather quickly that was not going to work.  I texted Chris that I was headed out west to look for a canal on the bay to fish from.  She answered rather quickly, “Figured it would be rough.  There’s a storm in the Gulf!”  OK.  Thanks for that.  She was right, you know.

I ended up in Jamaica Beach near the boat ramp.  Everything was typically quiet, so I settled in for some expected hardheads and maybe a few croakers.  After a while, I happened to glance behind me.  There, standing on one of the little piers, was a heron.  It was kind of a bluish gray color.  Very pretty and surprisingly close, so I stopped and, moving oh, so carefully, took a picture. 

So, done with my nature appreciation for the day, I went back to fishing.  I soon had a strange feeling, though.  You know the kind you get when it feels like someone is watching you?  Slowly I turned to my right.  And there he stood.  The heron was within 4 or 5 feet of me.  Standing right there on the bulkhead with me.  He didn’t move much.  He just watched me fish, looking at me out of one big old eye.  Unnerving, to say the least.  Those “little birdies” are huge animals.  I welcomed him and carried on a brief, one-sided conversation with him until I was distracted by a tug on the line, so I focused on reeling in my latest catch.  There was a school of sand trout out there.  And like most of my catch up to that point, this one was no exception.  I removed the hook and glanced at my buddy.  He had inched even closer, wanting to celebrate with me, I’m sure.  I appreciated his company, so I decided to share the wealth a bit.  I tossed him the fish. 

Instantly he sprang into action.  His wings spread out and flapped menacingly.  His head reared back like a peacock in full pose.  He jumped from where he was standing toward the flopping fish, now just about a foot away from me.  He missed on the first stab.  Yes, stab.  He wasn’t trying to pick it up.  That beak of his was now a lethal weapon.  He took more careful aim the second time and lunged forward with the knife that was his nose.  Strike.  The fish was impaled on the beak.  Victorious, the wings folded back in.  He calmly strolled to the other end of the bulkhead and enjoyed his meal.  Frightening, that beak. 

And I thought that was that.  But he came back, just ambling along the bulkhead at a casual pace.  No hurries.  I grabbed my phone and videoed his approach.  He stopped at his usual spot next to me and took up his vigil again.  I asked if he enjoyed the whole fish I gave him last time.  Didn’t want to encourage wastefulness, you know.  No answer, just that silent stare.  I soon caught another small sand trout.  This time I got the phone camera ready and rolling before I tossed it his way.  He was smoother this time.  Not quite the urgency as before.  Guess he wasn’t quite as hungry.  And he didn’t stab.  This time he just picked it up.  The familiar ambling departure was still there, though. 

We sent a copy of the video to Josh, since he has a history with herons.  Kind of a love-hate relationship.  They love to land on his head.  He hates to be within a mile of them.  Yes, that’s another story.  Very funny one, too.  He showed the video to Caleb who remarked, “That goose ate the fish!”  I think he was a little closer to avian accuracy than Cailyn.  She said it was a pigeon.  Goose.  Pigeon.  Whoever it was, he was a fine fishing buddy.

Psalms 25:8-9 says, “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.  He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

Father, thank you for that close encounter with one of your creatures.  Beautiful work.  Amen.

Monday, August 27, 2012

August 27 – “Every day, all day, for all the time”

We had a great visit yesterday with some good friends and ex-Seasiders who live in Austin now.  They were in town in preparation for leaving on a cruise today.  I sure hope they stay plenty far south of the hurricane’s track, though.  I’m sure Carnival Cruise Lines is not foolish enough to put passengers in harm’s way, but, hey, this is family we’re talking about here. 

Lauren texted us while we were eating lunch with Nathan and April.  Cailyn chose Salsas as our destination, so off to Salsas we went, of course.  I let Lauren know that we would be heading home right after we ate and took a brief horsie ride.  Salsas has some wooden horses in the lobby that they obviously took off an old carrousel.  They don’t move except in our imagination, but Cailyn and I have to take a quick spin every time we go. 

Lauren and Kenny and their two girls met us at our house.  I don’t know if Sydnie and Valorie really did remember us (they are 4 and 5 years old, I think), but they must have talked about us in the car, because we got a big greeting and a thank you for the quilts Chris made each of them.  The girls don’t get to see their grandparents very often.  One set lives in Colorado and the other lives in New York.  That became evident when the youngest one crawled up in my lap and looked up at me and flashed some of those flittery eyelids at me that little girls must have imprinted in their genes.  She asked, “Are you my Grandpa?”  And so began the melting process of this old guy’s heart.  Good thing I never had a daughter, that’s all I can say.  I told her, “I will be your Grandpa every time you come to Galveston and every time I go to Austin.”  How’s that for a magnanimous answer?  I figured she would be happy with that and I could get another little-girl hug.  But she had other ideas.  “No,” she replied definitively.  Wait, no?  I thought she wanted me to be her Grandpa.  Did I get rejected?  Ah, but she continued, “I want you to be my Grandpa every day, all day, for all the time.”  Well, OK, then.  It has been settled.  Guess I’ll be Sydnie and Valorie’s Grandpa.  Every day, all day, for all the time.  Sydnie’s sure got a head start on understanding what it means to be adopted into God’s family.  Every day, all day, for all the time. 

Ephesians 1:3-6 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he  predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

Father … yes, Father.  That’s enough.  Amen.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

August 26 – “Kudos to the American champs”

I went for a walk yesterday, early in the morning.  Since one of us has to be in the house pretty much all the time with Mom now, I’ve been going as soon as I get up, around 6 or 6:30.  Chris then goes later on.  I have been feeling pretty good lately, as far as the rheumatoid arthritis goes.  Kind of afraid to say that out loud, though.  It can change from one day to the next.  But on yesterday’s walk I even tried a few spurts of jogging.  It’s been a long time.  I held back enough energy to get the grass mowed when I got back home.  And just minutes after I came inside it started raining.  Guess that’s a good thing as far as the grass and plants are concerned.  Helps as well that we don’t have to water. 

We watched the American championship game of the Little League World Series.  The international championship game was just ending when I remembered to turn it on.  There was little doubt who would win that one.  Japan has been untouchable this year.  I think they have a lock on the world championship.  They are at least the huge favorite to win it all.  Especially after that American championship game.

Wow.  Tennessee was ahead 15 – 5 going into the bottom of the last inning.  California appeared to be on the ropes.  One of the Tennessee kids had already hit three 3-run home runs.  That’s 9 runs batted in.  New record.  But California was not to be denied so easily.  They scored ten runs to come back and tie the game.  Talk about exciting.  Both teams were low on pitching and it showed.  Tennessee came to bat first in the extra inning and proceeded to score seven more runs to go ahead 22 – 15.  Sadly, California had used up all its magic in the comeback to tie.  They couldn’t muster up any more runs and Tennessee took the American title.  Fun game to watch, but I don‘t think Tennessee stands a chance against Japan this afternoon.  Still, kudos to the American champs.
Psalms 25:7 says, “Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.”

Father, it’s Sunday again.  Started to call it “your day,” but every day is yours, isn’t it?  Thanks for one more.  Do something remarkable today.  Again.  Amen.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

August 25 – “Must be Saturday”

We had to make a Sam’s run yesterday.  The church was getting very low on several kitchen and cleaning supplies and we needed some of the more basic ones at home (read here “toilet paper”).  We haven’t been on a Big Sam’s run pretty much all summer, plus we were picking up a few extra things so we could have cleaning supplies in both buildings, so we were expecting a hefty bill.  It actually wasn’t as bad as I expected – less than $200.  Well worth a trip clear into Texas, I guess.  And that trip is going to take even longer before much longer.  I understand they are moving the Sam’s store to a location a little further down the freeway, closer to the insane development going on between here and Baybrook.  Can’t someone build closer to the island?  How about on the island?  Come on.  Be brave.  Be a part of tropical paradise, sand and surf, fishing and water play, hurricanes once every hundred years or so lifestyle.

On our way back home we decided to stop for lunch at Shrimp and Stuff.  Absolutely my favorite choice.  And boy were we ever hit with a surprise.  As we were finishing up our popcorn shrimp, who should walk through the door but Katie Hightower and her sister Bernie.  What a surprise.  Katie moved in with Bernie up in Huntsville several years ago.  She is one of the sweetest ladies I know, or in fact, I have ever met.  They just decided to take a drive down to Galveston and enjoy the sights.  I’m sure glad I got to be one the “sights.”  Great to see her again.

We took the supplies on out to the church with great plans to get them all stored away in plenty of time to pick up Mom at Libbie’s Place.  Little did we know until we pulled up and I got out of the car that I had forgotten to pick up my church keys.  We had no way to get inside.  Fortunately, though, the church secretary, Cindy, was at home and she lives just around the corner.  Unfortunately she was at home because her asthma was acting up.  Sounded like she was having some of the same problems Alexandra was having at home group the other night.  And that Josiah was having.  So what is it that’s in the air?  We did get everything unloaded in plenty of time to get Mom, and Chris has the kitchen organized to the point that I think I’ll make some tags to put on the cabinets so we can see at a glance what is in each one.  Let me add that to my list.  Right after “mow the grass” and “review the sermon.”  Must be Saturday.

Psalms 25:6 says, “Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.”

Father, thank you for the chance to see Katie yesterday.  Keep her healthy and happy.  Amen.

Friday, August 24, 2012

August 24 – “I don’t get it”

We got to rejoice with a pretty proud Mama last night at our home group.  Seems that our resident little one, Joy, graduated from her gymnastics class for toddlers.  Mama Alexandra was showing off the gold medal she was awarded.  And hey, who am I kidding?  I was pretty proud myself.  I sure wouldn’t have excelled in a gymnastics class before I even turned two years old.  I was lucky to find my mouth with food back then.  Not that I remember much of that time in my life.  It has been a while. 

Speaking of proud Mamas, April posted a few videos that she took of Cailyn’s first dance class yesterday.  There she was, all decked out in her ballerina, tutu garb (Cailyn, not April), flitting about the room with the other twenty or so little girls.  I was especially impressed with the pre-balance beam apparatus.  They walked across a board about six inches wide, stepped onto one of those little trampoline things and bounced a few minutes, then hopped onto a mat at the end and turned a somersault.  Cailyn held her arms out to the side in a highly graceful manner as she maneuvered across the board, and held her position even while hopping.  Very impressive.  Just like the Olympics.

There was one move I didn’t understand, though.  The girls all got in a single file line with hands on the shoulder of the person in front of them.  Then they walked around in circles.  Occasionally they would pass under the arms of the instructors who had formed a sort of “London Bridge is falling down” pose.  They were moving around, too.  Very strange.  Kind of made me glad our boys went for things like baseball and basketball and soccer.  You know, sports.  Games that I can understand.  Well, as I recall I never did really understand much about soccer.  But at least it made sense.  The boys were running (always a plus), and there was an expressed purpose – make a goal.  But following each other in circles and walking under bridges?  I don’t get it.

Psalms 25:4-5 says, “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Father, I think I’ll focus on learning your ways.  I don’t think I can master the whole ballerina thing.  Amen.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August 23 – “Looking for a nap”

Chris and I decided to do some serious cleaning yesterday.  At the church.  It’s been a long time since we did more than the cursory sweeping and damp mopping, so here was our shot at getting some things looking spiffy.  We did get the sweeping done, but we discovered there was no pine-o-pine or whatever that stuff is called to mop the floors with.  Add it to the list for a Sam’s run.  I did mop with just water to get up some of the coffee droppings around the room.  Chris spent a lot of time cleaning and straightening up in the kitchen before she moved to the bathrooms.  The Sam’s list grew.  I was also taking notes for the next all-church work day.  We really need to get the paneling in the nursery and bathroom area replaced.  It looks like it got wet and has started that curling up process.  Not a great thing for holding a coat of paint.  I’d also like to see us carpet the floor in the worship center building with the same stuff we used in the retreat center.  Hey, it could happen.

Mom had another, shall we say, active night last night.  I didn’t count the number of time she was up.  In fact I probably missed a few.  Three or four times I didn’t wake up until Chris was already getting back into bed.  Just like last time she was on the move, there wasn’t really anything in particular.  She usually ended up in the bathroom (with Chris direction) and then went on back to bed.  There were no runs like the other night when Chris looked all over the house for her, only to find her in her own bedroom standing with her back up against the closet.  Chris asked if she was all right and Mom said she was just heading to bed.  And once, Chris woke with a start because she was dreaming about someone chasing her and breathing heavily.  As she opened her eyes, there stood Mom at the foot of the bed, breathing heavily.  She had missed the door to the bathroom and was in search mode.  None of those particularly exciting moments last night.  Just a lot of “normal” ones.  Hope we can work in a naptime for Chris today.  But we also have to keep Mom awake as much as we can so she’ll rediscover nighttime sleeping. 

Psalms 25:4-5 says, “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Father, thank you for the relationship Chris has with Mom.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 22 – “Fish story”

I finally got a chance to go wade fishing for a few hours yesterday.  I knew it was going to be a good day when I got a strike on the first cast as soon as the line hit the water.  That usually means speckled trout.  And it was.  Nice sized one, too.  Not long after that I glanced up to see the fins of two dolphins swimming nearby.  That has always been a good sign for me as well. 

That first speck wasn’t the only one, either.  I ended up with seven keepers.  I threw one back and lost another one because I was too impatient.  I tried to muscle him into the net.  He took off for one last run and broke the line at the hook.  That would have been a nice sized one, too, but I always have to have a story about “the one that got away.”  I also kept the two whiting I caught.  Didn’t keep the two catfish, though.  Nasty beasts. 

Speaking of fish stories, I actually stopped fishing because I got tired, not because I ran out of bait.  And I got tired because of the last catch of the day.  Took me fifteen minutes to finally land him, and by the time I reeled him onto the shore I was spent.  It was one of those bull red fish you hear about.  Chris measured him to be about 34 inches long and a good 15 to 18 pounds.  The little old man and the two little boys who watched me fight him and get him to shore were really excited.  That’s one thing about getting a good catch here in the Gulf.  By the time you’re done, more often than not you have an audience.  Anyway, that was two out of the Big Three Gulf Grand Slam (speck, red and flounder).  I never have caught a flounder at the beach, so it was time to shut it down.  The only thing missing that would have made this my “complete” fishing day would have been finding a pelican feather to go in my collection.  But I found one of those in the WalMart parking lot the other day, so I guess it was covered already.

Of course the whole experience had somewhat of a down side as well.  The rest of the afternoon I was sorer than I had been in quite a while.  Made it really difficult to concentrate when I tried to get some work done.  I did manage to get the better part of the teaching for Sunday “down on paper.”  That should actually read “down inside the hard drive of the computer,” I guess.  Welcome to the twenty-first century.

Psalms 25:1-2 says, “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.”

Father, thank you for a really good day at the beach.  Can’t wait to taste the catch.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 21 – “Leeveetards and a horse ride”

Mom woke up yesterday and was apparently feeling much better.  She had her breakfast without incident and responded well when Chris helped her get dressed.  She even went on to Libbie’s Place.  We decided that it would be better to get her back on her routine rather than keep her out another day, even though it was her birthday.  And when we picked her up, they assured us she had had a good day.  She even played dominoes.  I didn’t even know she knew how to play dominoes.  Never mentioned it to me before.  Not that it ever came up in discussion.  I never saw her play, either.  Hope she smoked ‘em.  We did have a little birthday celebration when Mom came home from Libbie’s Place.  We got her some flowers and some brand new earrings.  Kept it low-key, though, because she didn’t believe it was really her birthday.  We did finally settle on her age.  Somewhere around 40.  That’s work.

We went to lunch with Nathan and April and Cailyn at Salsa’s.  Nathan and I were responsible for the location.  Well, indirectly Chris was responsible.  He asked me where she would prefer.  Not difficult.  She’s gonna pick Mexican food any day of the week.  The food there is pretty good, and I did mention Cailyn was there.  Can’t beat time with a grandkid.  She is counting down the days until she gets to go to her first dance class.  I was kind of surprised she wasn’t wearing her “leeveetard.”  She didn’t want to take it off the day she got it.  We rode horses after lunch.  In the lobby.  They have three horses that look like they retired from a carrousel somewhere.  The one I had was a bit feisty, but Cailyn taught me how to do it properly.  And of course it’s all on Facebook.  April took a picture.

Chris and I both took a nap when we got home.  I was tired.  She was exhausted.  Mine didn’t last very long, though.  I still had to get some work done before the neighborhood association meeting last night.  That was quite the event, too.  Must have been 75 or 80 people there.  Among them were the chief of police, the assistant city manager, our district city council representative, the director of public works, and the police lieutenant in charge of our neighborhood.  The rest were residents of Gulf Village.  They talked about potholes and crime and abandoned houses and finally got around to National Night Out.  That was the one I wanted to hear about.  I figured it would be the best chance to meet the neighbors who have moved here since Hurricane Ike.  It is scheduled for October 2nd.  I understand that’s a Texas thing.  The rest of the country does it in August, but Texans said that was too hot, so they switched it to October.  Nice choice, I’d say.  The temperature has been in the 90’s with humidity in the 60’s and above.  That does make for a rather warm evening.  The plan is for each street to host its own event this year.  If that goes well, we may shoot for a neighborhood-wide thing next year.  So October 2nd is now taken.  That’s a Tuesday if you want to come meet my neighbors.

Psalms 24:7-10 says, “Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.  Who is this King of glory?  The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.  Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.  Who is he, this King of glory?  The Lord Almighty — he is the King of glory.”

Father, thank you for Mom’s good day yesterday on her birthday.  Amen.

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 20 – “Happy Birthday, Mom”

Today is my Mom’s birthday.  She is 86 years old.  We don’t have a lot planned for her at this point.  We just weren’t sure how much she was going to be able to do.  The last few weeks in general, and the last few days in particular, have been really tough ones for her.  She hasn’t slept much in her bed at night.  She has dozed while sitting up on the couch or at the table or in the bathroom, though.  There just seemed to be something about getting into bed that caused her anxiety level to skyrocket.  We decide to switch out the bed in our spare room with hers.  The one in there wasn’t as high off the ground, so we’re hoping she can maneuver herself in and out of it better.  She did fall again yesterday while I was at church.  She was making her way to the back door looking for the bathroom, and lost her balance.  Chris couldn’t hold her up, so down she slumped.  Nathan came over and helped get her into the wheelchair.  She didn’t eat much yesterday, and Chris had to almost force her to drink some water and some milk.  I’m praying she’ll have a good day today.  I’d like to get her some flowers.

A pretty good crowd stuck around after church for dinner on the grounds.  Great food, of course.  I hope the sermon made sense to someone.  I was pretty tired, so I sure wasn’t following it very well.  Seasiders are good folks, though.  They assured me all was well.  They also asked about Mom and Chris and sent their love. 

We spent the afternoon watching TV and Mom.  Chris and I both did some rather fitful dozing.  Somewhere in there I saw some of the Little League World Series game.  The team from San Antonio won their game.  Go Texas.  We watched (well, I watched and Chris slept) the international pool game between Japan and Taiwan (or whatever they call it nowadays).  They are the two favorites to win the whole tournament.  Incredible.  Best Little League game I have ever seen.  It went into extra innings and Japan finally won on a walk-off home run by its number nine hitter.  That little guy will never forget that hit, I’m sure. 

Well, now it’s time to see if I can focus enough to get some work done.  I did my best to let Chris sleep last night, so I anticipate trouble in the concentration department.  Deep breath.  Here goes …

Psalms 24:3-4 says, “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.”

Father, help Chris sleep in for a little while this morning.  And give Mom some peace to rest as well.  Amen.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19 – “Football and a wedding”

Another very long night, especially for Chris.  For some reason Mom made the decision that she could not go to bed.  Literally.  Chris followed the usual routine to get her situated for sleep, but before Chris could even get back to our bedroom, Mom was up and moving.  It was almost as if her stress level would leap as soon as she touched the bed.  We are most concerned about her falling, because she does this roaming without her walker most of the time.  And often with just one house shoe on.  Chris wanted me to get some sleep since I have to teach this morning, so after three or four trips, she finally closed our door and stayed with Mom.  For most of the night they made jaunts between the couch and the bathroom.  And to top it all off, it started thunderstorming and continued for most of the night.  Won’t be seeing them in church this morning.  I just hope I can stay awake through the sermon.  Hope that preacher isn’t too boring.  Oh, wait.  That would be me. 

I went to two full-blown, tackle football games yesterday.  The first was to see Matt and Will from church.  They are in the neighborhood of 7 years old.  It was lots of fun, but I couldn’t tell who was who.  The team’s numbered jerseys handed arrived yet.  The little guys lost big, but I was really proud of both of them.  As I left I saw a grandpa who used to come to Seaside.  He was ready to watch his grandson in the next game.  It was good to see Mark again, but I couldn’t stay for that one.  I forged ahead toward the car and saw another Seaside kid, a fellow named Aidan who I baptized recently, all dressed for his game.  Now, I had to make a WalMart run and go home to eat, but I came back and caught much of his game as well.  They won big.  Evened out the organization’s record, I guess.

I had plans to check out a baseball all-star game later.  Those first two little guys were playing, but Chris needed some shoes, so I pulled some MeeMaw duty.  Besides, I was past my quota of hot for the day.  This medication I take that warns against too much sun apparently magnifies its effects.  It took all afternoon for me to cool down.  As it turned out it started thundering lots anyway.  The baseball game was called with our guys losing by 14 runs.  And the thunder caused me to wonder about the outdoor wedding I had scheduled for 6:30. 

As often happens here on our tropical island paradise, the clouds parted with no significant rainfall, so we made it through the wedding OK.  But it was really hot again.  And excessively humid.  We were all sweating like pigs.  Well, except the bride.  She didn’t sweat.  Really.  After the ceremony the groom stopped me and promised me over and over that this was the only wedding he would ever go through.  It was going to take.  He was going to see to it.  He came across as being really passionate about it.  He was a little drunk, and I’m sure that had something to do with his fervor, but then he said his parents were going through a divorce right then.  Wow.  I hope he remembers and carries through on that pledge. 

Psalms 22:27-28 says, “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.”

Father, walk with that groom and his bride in their life to come.  Draw then toward you.  Amen.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 18 – “Happy birthday, Chris”

Yesterday was Chris’ birthday.  The celebration involved a day of grandkids – most assuredly a key element for her dream day.  They brought her cards they had made.  Zak and Caleb even sent in cards with their own signatures on them.  Caleb added drawings of flowers for her, so that was a great present right there.  The second key component came when Nathan grilled the chicken and April and Christina fixed the rest of the food.  Chris didn’t have to cook.  She didn’t even have to clean up the kitchen.  They took care of that, too.  Part three came when Jachin presented her with a McAllister’s Deli gift card and Kel told her they would come over and sit with MeeMaw while we went out somewhere.  That’s some sweet kids we have there.

Now it is not an easy thing to get my wife a present that she really wants.  The main reason is she doesn’t want much.  Oh, she does talk about a cabinet to display her Precious Moments collection in, but the only ones she has seen that will fit the spot she has picked out for it are pretty expensive.  And I would never pick out something like that for her. That is one of those “she has to pick it out to get just what she has pictured in her head” items.  I did come up with something, though.  And I got the grandchildren to deliver them to add to their charm.

First I have to say that three of the gifts were ordered from Amazon and didn’t arrive when we hoped they would.  They were sent to Kel’s house.  Miraculously, though, Kel checked out his UPS tracking number, and it came while we were eating lunch.  He and I made a quick trip to LaMarque to pick it up (Josiah rode along with us so he could get in a nap.  Sure enough, he was out like a light before we hit the causeway).  We got the package and returned, only to find that Cailyn and Nathan were now fast asleep.  That gave me time to transfer the presents into gift bags and write out my explanatory notes.  I hid them all in the closet and waited until everyone was awake.

The first delivery was made by Josiah and Cailyn.  One carried a new broom and the other had a dustpan.  I know, sounds very romantic.  Someone even made a crack about it.  But you have to understand that Chris uses a broom until it is worn down to the nub.  That was bad enough with straw brooms, but we still have two brooms that survived Hurricane Ike.  The plastic straw is still fine, but the handles are all rusty.  And we have one dustpan in the back yard with a handle that literally folds in half.  Not a very sturdy implement.  My hope is that at least one of those can be retired.  The last three gifts came in a flurry.  Jachin and Micah and Cailyn made those deliveries.  One was a nail gun.  Yes, I am ever the romantic one.  But hey, she has been asking for a nail gun for years now.  Seriously.  Now maybe she can build her own cabinet.  My wife is so awesome.  Likes power tools. 

The final two gifts were identical.  They were stuffed deer.  Female deer (that was important).  One was named Sandra and the other was Misty.  As often happens in life, they both have acquired nicknames.  Sandra likes to go by Sandy.  Misty is a much simpler type.  She likes Tee.  Now before I go any further, you have to understand something.  Chris did mention one thing she really wanted for her birthday.  It was one of those fleeting moments (kind of like last night) when Mom had been up a lot wandering around the house without her walker and things had been generally crazy.  She was frustrated and tired, pretty much at the end of her rope, when she mentioned the one thing that she would really like.  OK.  So she opened the gifts (with a lot of help from the little guys who were so excited they couldn’t wait for her to do it).  Aww.  So very sweet.  Two little stuffed deer.  Now are you getting the romantic vibe?  Chris smiled sweetly and glanced up with a puzzled look on her face.  Perfect set up.  Time to move in for the coup de grace (always wanted to say that).  I made my way over to the couch where she sat and handed her a note entitled “The rest of the story.”  It explained the names of the two stuffed female deer, the does.  It ended with a statement along the lines of: so here it is: “your does of Sandy, Tee.”  Yep.  That’s just what she asked for, a dose of sanity.  Happy birthday, Chris.

Psalms 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

Father, bless my wife with some of that “everything.”  Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

August 17 – “Talking with Michael”

We had a great surprise at our home Bible Study group last night.  Anne and Eric brought a young man with them.  Not just any young man.  And not that unusual for Anne and Eric to bring someone with them.  They do that often.  This young man was someone we knew back about six years ago when he was just nine or ten years old. 

Michael was one of the early foster children of Kenny and Lauren, one of the families at Seaside.  They were notified that they were receiving Michael and his little sister one Thursday evening at our home group.  We all jumped into action.  Some went to their house to help get it cleaned and ready.  Some went to WalMart to get diapers and clothes and food.  So from the start Michael was part of our group. 

He had a great memory.  He noticed that there were some structural differences in our house.  He was pointing out details of the house as it was before Hurricane Ike.  He remembered how the church was set up as well.  There were some people he remembered, but he couldn’t come up with names.  And the details about those people really surprised me.  For example, “That one guy who discovered he had a brother he never knew about,” brought to mind Dennis.  I frantically searched through pour photo database and finally discovered some pictures from back in 2006.  There he was, dressed as Mr. Potato Head for our Halloween party.  There were a few others that we got a kick out of.  We especially enjoyed the progression of his hair styles.  He now sports a spiked Mohawk. 

After the Bible study he asked if I could spend a few minutes talking to him.  He wanted some guidance on how to grow as a Christian.  The first thing he said was that he didn’t have a Bible.  The people he lives with now are Jehovah’s Witnesses, so he didn’t really trust what they told him.  He wanted to see for himself.  That wasn’t a problem.  I reached up on the shelf and gave him one of the modern language versions we had.  He wasn’t sure where to begin, so I jotted down a reading plane for him.  And while I did that he talked about how he had always been fascinated by the stories in the Bible and how they all fit together.  He remembered stories that Lauren had read to him about “that one really strong guy who was chained to the wall with all the bad guys and he pushed really hard and knocked the whole place down on them.  I can’t remember his name, though.”  That would be Samson, Michael.  I know, you’re thinking that’s a classic story.  Everyone has heard that one.  Well, he kept going.  “And that one story about the guy who shot the arrow and his friend knew if it fell here he was supposed to keep running and if it fell there he could come back be friends again.”  Good one.  That would be David and Jonathan.  Not so well-known.

Michael and I talked for a good thirty minutes or so.  He wants to come back every week and talk about what he learns.  He said he does so much better with a “one-on-one mentor thing.”  We went through what it meant to be a Christian.  He was sure about that, but he was sad that he never got to be baptized.  We’re looking at a time to get that done.  It was incredibly refreshing to spend time with someone that hungry for Jesus.  Way to go Mama Lauren.  I think one is on you and Kenny.  You only had him for a short time, but you did the right thing while you did. 

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Father, thank you for watching over Michael for the last six years.  And thanks for bringing him back so we can see how he’s doing.  Guide us as we guide him.  And give some blessing-type kudos to Kenny and Lauren.  They done good.  Amen.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

August 16 – “MeeMaw is on the floor”

We had an interesting morning with all the kids still here.  Mom wasn’t quite as active through the night as she was the night before, but she made an entrance into the crazy scheme of things as well.  Christina was here to pick up the boys, and she went back to the yellow bedroom to check on things.  Shortly thereafter she returned with a message, “MeeMaw is on the floor.”  It took a second or two for that picture to develop in my mind.  She couldn't have meant something like, "Elvis is in the building" could she?  Chris and I hurried back and sure enough, she was doing her best to get into snooze position.  Chris was there first and was trying to keep her sitting up.  When I got there we each took an arm and began the raising process.  Chris had a thought, though, and told me to go get the wheelchair.  It would be easier to get her around in the chair than to assume she could use her walker.   We ran into a bit of a snag, though.  As we leaned her against the bed so we could readjust our grip, the bed started sliding away across the room.  Chris called for Christina to come help, though, and between the three of us we got her into her wheelchair.  The rest of the day she was really off.  Virtually no verbal contact.  She wouldn’t eat.  She slept most of the time, even when she was sitting up on the couch. 

I left for an afternoon meeting with her like that, and she was still there when I returned.  We did pray for her at the meeting, though.  Chris had to leave soon after I got back to take Taylor and Cheyenne back home.  That was another tough decision.  Chris loves to drive, but she was pretty tired after the long nights with Mom.  I don’t like driving much at all, especially since several of my RA medicines warn that they will make me sleepy, but I volunteered to take the girls.  She assured me she was fine, though.  She was more worried about whether I could handle taking care of Mom.  I’ve been taking notes watching the best do it for several years now, so I assured her I would be fine. 

An hour or two after she left Mom woke up.  Literally.  It was as if the alarm clock had just gone off, and she was rolling over in bed to greet the new day.  Now she was still quite shaky, but she ate what I offered and even drank a glass of milk.  She still didn’t say much as I wheeled her to the bathroom, but when we got back to the couch she stood up and started walking around the house, rummaging through everything she could find on the counters.  She even spent some time checking out the box of paints Chris had sitting out.  I wondered if she had plans to adorn the walls with some modern art, but apparently no inspiration was immediately forthcoming, so she moved on.  She uncovered the pan with the rest of my birthday cake in it two or three times, but I told her she had to eat some real food first.  She insisted she wasn’t hungry, though.  I took that as a positive.  At least she was communicating.  We made it through the evening together without any serious damage to either of us.  Chris made it back safely from Bay City.  Once again affirming that …

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Father, thank you for one more day with Mom.  Amen.