Sunday, September 30, 2012

September 30 – “Brown suspenders”

We had a visit yesterday from the entire Kel Family.  Well, I guess that would be the Vaughan Family if you want to get technical.  Jachin and Micah’s football games had been rained out, so they decided to make a trip to the library here in town.  It was around lunchtime, so they stuck around for some sandwiches. 

Then while they were here we had a visit from the Vaughan Family.  OK.  Wait a minute.  I knew there was a reason I started the way I did.  This time it was Nathan and April and Cailyn.  Cailyn was coming over to take an afternoon nap with us while her Mom and Dad went on a search for some brown suspenders.  Nathan is going to be in a wedding, and that’s one of the required groomsman garb items.  Better than renting a full tuxedo, I guess.  Except that they haven’t been able to find any brown suspenders anywhere.  They have tried all the usual places: J.C. Penney, Men’s Warehouse, all those clothing-type stores.  He even called all the tuxedo rental places he could think of.  They just had the kind with buttonholes that required the pants to have built-in buttons rather than the alligator teeth that could grab anything and hang on.  And what stock of that button kind they did have did not come in brown.  I used to have a pair of suspenders.  They weren’t brown, though.  As I recall they were kind of green.  Lime green.  With bright yellow highlights.  Sadly, they were flooded away with Hurricane Ike.

Several places told them that an army-navy surplus store might have some, so they were going to check out Colonel Bubie’s on the Strand.  I’m not sure why a military surplus store would have suspenders.  Is that required fare for soldiers these days?  I don’t think they found any, so if anyone out there has brown suspenders, let me know.  Nathan would like to borrow them. 

Come to think of it, I’m the officiant for that wedding, but they didn’t say I had to have brown suspenders.  They did say I didn’t have to wear a suit and tie, though.  Maybe I could surprise everybody and show up with brown suspenders, too.  Let’s see.  I have a brown magic marker and a white shirt, though.  Maybe we could work something out.

Psalms 33:4-5 says, “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.  The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”

Father, thanks for that love we can count on.  Help Nathan find what he needs for that wedding, and take care of his other needs as well.  Amen.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 29 – “Remembering”

We took our car into the shop yesterday to get it inspected.  Last minute to get it done in September.  I know you’re supposed to be able to wait and do it the next month, but that has always seemed kind of, not right, to me.  So we raced down there when Mom fell asleep on the couch (that’s her usual morning routine).  We really don’t like leaving her alone, so the idea was to drop the car off and get back as quickly as possible.  We’d figure out the pickup schedule later.  When we got to the shop, it looked like they were having an extremely slow day.  In fact Dennis (the mechanic who is also a preacher sent out from Seaside) said he could get it done in about twenty minutes.  So Chris took the truck on home and I just stuck around.  She texted me when she arrived that Mom was still in the exact same position she was when we left.  That was a relief.

I spent most of the afternoon scanning more pictures from our albums into digital format.  The plan is to make everything easier for us to evacuate next time the need arises.  It will also make them more readily available for viewing.  With them on the computer we won’t have to pull them down from their flood-safety perch on the custom-built top shelf of Chris’ walk-in closet in our bedroom.  So far I’m up to 1985.  Nathan gets born, with all the accompanying baby showers.  We live in Mansfield.  I’m one of those strange creatures called a Minister of Education.  He’s the guy who pretty much does everything the pastor doesn’t want to do.  Along with whatever other specific jobs the church can come up with, like coordinating Sunday Schools or administering a church office or supervising employees or running children’s camps.  I had some great times as a Minister of Education.  Got to work with some great people.  Scanning photographs is a strange way to review memories, I guess.  But, hey, it helps me remember how little I do remember.

Speaking of remembering, we went to the Gideon’s pastor’s banquet last night. They treat the local pastors once a year to a great meal to say thanks for what we do all year in “an often thankless position.”  It’s usually pretty good food and we get an update on their world-wide ministry.  And, hey, who doesn’t like to feel appreciated?  The lady who sang right before the guest speaker was a member of the local Baptist church youth group … when I became a Christian as a high school senior back in 1971.  She could really sing back then, too. 

Psalms 33:1-3 says, “Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.  Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.  Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”

Father, thank you for the remembering I did yesterday.  Amen.

Friday, September 28, 2012

September 28 – “When Momma’s happy …”

Well, apparently April saw what her darling little girl Cailyn said about future pregnancy plans … while she was in class.  She said she actually laughed out loud.  She didn’t say if she got in trouble, though.  That is always a fertile field for possible pedagogical involvement in a student’s life.  Just ask our son Josh about that one. 

One time when he was still in college we hadn’t heard from him in a while, so being the wonderful mother that she is, Chris decided to give him a call.  The problem was, she forgot to check his schedule.  His phone rang right in the middle of class.  And his teacher, being the wonderful purveyor of knowledge and life skills that he was, asked Josh to hand him the phone.  Not that he was going to take it away from him – that would be immature.  After all, this was a college classroom.  No, this professor was in full-on communication mode.  He had a message to communicate to a roomful of students.  It just so happened that this particular message had nothing to do with the academic structure in place at the moment.  No.  This message was more of the practical application kind.  So he answered Josh’s phone. 

Needless to say, Chris was a bit shocked at first, but when he identified himself as Josh’s professor, she realized rather quickly what was happening.  Remember, Chris had been the one to do the vast majority of teaching in Josh’s home school career, so she was instantly on board with the whole “teaching for life” concept, which the professor was obviously going for.  And much to her credit she took it in stride and immediately played right along.  She responded along the lines of “This is his mother, and I haven’t heard from him in a while.  I was just calling to see if he had fallen off the face of the earth or something.” 

Now it was the professor’s turn to be a bit shocked.  After a brief pause he politely informed her that the message would be delivered.  Before he pushed the “end” button, however, he turned toward the now-slumping-into-his-chair-in-abject-embarrassment Josh.  And in a voice loud enough for everyone in the class – as well as his mother - to hear, he pronounced, “Joshua … call your mother.” 

Now if that doesn’t change your life, not much will.  As far as we could determine, Josh never forgot to put his phone on silent during class after that.  In fact, even now I think he leaves his phone on silent all the time.  If you call him, don’t expect him to answer right away.  He’ll check his messages later … after class.  Oh, and he calls his mother on a fairly regular basis now, too.  Except maybe this week.  I don't think she's heard from him this week.  Hey, in the indomitable words of that well-intentioned college professor, "Call your mother."  Make her happy.  And when Momma’s happy, everyone is happy, right?

Psalms 32:9-10 says, “Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.  Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.”

Father, forgive me for being like those mules.  I trust you.  Amen.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 27 – “Cailyn’s announcement”

Cailyn made quite an interesting announcement yesterday.  Well, maybe it wasn’t so much an announcement as a revelation.  On the other hand (wait, that makes three hands), she was just waking up from her nap, so perhaps it was all just a dream.  Hard to say when a three-year-old is the principal purveyor of information. 

As she usually does when she wakes up, she cried out for the last person she remembers seeing before she fell asleep.  That makes sense.  In this case it happened to Nani, who was at the time getting clothes out of the dryer.  So good old DadDad forced himself into the consoler role and headed back to her room.  She didn’t seem too disappointed when she realized it would not be Nani responding to her cries for attentiveness.  I plopped down on the bed next to her and we began to talk.  Well, she began to talk, which is always more fun for me.  Never know what she might say, especially when she is just waking up. 

After some preliminary giggling and hiding under the pillows and shivering because she was “brrry” and pointing out – again – that the cover she was under was one that MeeMaw had made for her and that she had another one at home that Nani made for her and she also had a Hello, Kitty blanket at home and … well, you can see what greeting Cailyn after the hard work of napping is like.  After all those preliminaries she paused for a second to think about what she would say next.  I didn’t want to interrupt the thought processes of this master talker in training, so I kept quiet.  She obviously was thinking through something.  Her brow furrowed just a bit.  Her lips pouted out.  She let out a barely perceptible sigh.  And then it came to her.  Her eyes lit up.  She bolted upright in the bed.  This was the message of the day – of the week – of the year, perhaps.  It was certainly the memorandum of the moment. 

She reached over and gently touched my arm.  She looked at me with a conspiratorial glance.  And then she began:  “My mommy is trying to get a new baby in her belly.”

Wait.  What?  That came out of nowhere.  Not wanting to make any assumptions, I asked for clarification, “She does?”

“She dose, DadDad.  She wants a new baby in her belly really bad.”

OK.  So after long days of studying and clinical experiences and tests (did I mention that April is in her labor and delivery rotation of nursing school right now?  Not to mention that Aunt Christina is this very moment walking around with one of those “babies-in-the-belly”) April has been confiding the deepest longings of her heart with her three-year-old companion. 

Now this was getting fun.  I decided to take my one and only leap into the world of Cailyn’s announcement just to see one thing.  It was dangerous ground, I knew, but the opportunity was just too good to pass up.  Boldly, I took a deep breath and forged ahead, “So how does Mommy get a new baby in her belly?”  Yep.  I really did ask that.  Come on, you know you would have wanted to in that situation.

A long pause followed as she pondered the mysteries of that universe.  Longer.  It was as if she was searching, searching for the answer she knew must be there somewhere.  The longer she searched, the more uncomfortable I became.  See, if she realized that the answer didn’t exist in her world, she just might ask the question herself.  And did I mention that Nani was busy folding clothes?  Frantically, I gathered together all the grandfatherly wisdom of the ages to bring forth the proper answer to such a question.  Oh, I had an answer all prepared, believe me.  I was all set to jump right in with that perfect answer for all such queries that has stood the test of time.  “Ask your mother.”

I was stricken from my reverie by a new outburst from Cailyn.  This time one of giggles and then outright laughter, as if the question had become the most absurd thing I could ever have come up with.  And her answer?  She threw her arms out to side, palms up, tossed her hair from her face, and squealed, “I don’t know that, DadDad, where’s Nani?”

Whew.  Subject changed.  Issue dropped.  For now.  But Nathan and April … anything you want to tell us?

Psalms 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

Father, I count on you watching over all our little ones and teaching them as they grow.  Anoint their Moms and Dads with your wisdom so they will have “all the answers” when the time comes.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 26 – “Early morning”

Early morning today.  The plan was to get up in time to go to Ball High School.  It is See You at the Pole day.  The idea is for students to get together before school starts and pray for each other, for the school, for the administration, and for the country.  Last time I went to one must have been before Hurricane Ike.  Back then different local churches would get involved to provide music and sometimes even leadership.  It’s supposed to be strictly student-led, though.  Anyway, I would have had to be there around 7 a.m.  But that didn’t happen.  Mom had another night and day reversal, so she was up all night just roaming around the house.  And of course Chris was right there with her.  Mom finally went back to bed somewhere around 4:30, so after Chris finally fell asleep I got up to take the next shift.  Mom was up again by 6:30, so I got her some breakfast and brought her walker and glasses to her.  She finished her cereal, then grabbed a piece of cake, then a chocolate chip cookie, then a piece of candy.  Guess she was hungry.  Chris was awake again by 7:15.  Tough night.

I’m meeting my friend Clay for breakfast over at IHOP.  Been a while since we have done that, too.  Not four years, but a month or two anyway.  It’s always good to touch base with him.  It is very difficult for a pastor to have a real friend, and he has certainly been one to me ever since I coached his son and mine in high school basketball. 

Early morning makes for a very short journal entry. 

Psalms 32:6-7 says, “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.  You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance”

Father, give those students courage to stand up for you today and every day.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25 – “Fresh from the sea”

I went fishing for a while yesterday.  Same old spot in front of WalMart.  I’m trying to get in a few trips before it gets too cold to wade fish.  It was kind of rough, but I managed to find a spot on the deep side of the first sandbar that was mainly swells rather than breakers.  The water was cool and very clear.  The results?  I did catch three or four good specks.  A boatload of little whiting.  Kept some of them for what we affectionately call whiting Mcnuggets.  They are pretty good fried.  After I ran out of shrimp I cut up one of the whiting hoping to catch a few larger ones.  They are known to be cannibals, feeding on the flesh of their fallen brothers.  The first cast proved to be a good one, too.  But it wasn’t a bigger whiting on the end of the line.  It was a nice slot redfish.  I tried for a few more, but finally had to call it a day when a wave hit just as I was casting.  The resulting backlash proved more than I could deal with and dodge waves at the same time, so I came on home.  Chris smothered the redfish in barbeque sauce and baked it up for supper.  Nathan and Cailyn even joined us.  Nothing quite like it. 

A friend of Nathan’s who does work on swimming pools came by to take a look at our hot tub.  We haven’t even attempted to repair it since it floated around the yard during Hurricane Ike’s flooding.  It has been way down on our priority list.  Not that it has suddenly catapulted to the top.  We are just trying to get an idea of how much we are talking about to get it fixed.  Sounds like the first step is getting an electrician out to run a wire to the breaker box.  Everything at the box is supposed to be ready to go.  He is going to try to get some prices on parts and let us know what he finds out.  It really sounded to me like he didn’t do much spa work.  He was definitely a full size pool guy.  I do appreciate him coming, though.  It’ll be helpful to know how much we need to save up for. 

Psalms 31:23-24 says, “Love the Lord, all his saints!  The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full.  Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”

Father, help me keep my focus, my hope, on you where it belongs.  Amen.

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 24 – “A New name”

Chris got an interesting series of texts the other day.  The first one was “L.”  So was the second and third.  That’s all.  Just letter “L.”  Then it changed up a bit to “;” followed finally by “B.”  Interesting sequence.  We wondered if the person was stuttering.  She finally did get a significantly long text from the sender.  Maybe they were just warming up.

Micah has hit upon another possible name for his future sibling.  Josiah even likes it well enough to use it as well.  In fact I may even hang onto this one.  They started out with the whole Luke and Leia idea from Star Wars.  I guess Leia can stay in the mix just in case, but these are guys, so they are leaning toward a brother in their predictions for the future.  Now I have no idea where this name comes from, but it is sure stuck in their heads.  So, how’s this one sound?  Baby Roscoe.  I like it.  Has a real nice ring to it. 

I finished putting together my next book.  It’s a compilation of my journal entries from the time we evacuated for Hurricane Ike to the time we came back home.  It covers around nine months.  The last decision was whether or not to include a section for pictures.  The journal itself included three pictures already, but I’m looking at adding one of those segments of thirty or forty pictures of what the experience looked like from our perspective.  It’s not like I have a publisher lined up waiting with bated breath for me to finish.  I have no idea how much it will cost to self-publish it yet, either.  Guess I could check with the company that published A Seaside Saga.  They were fine, but they are located in Canada.  I was hoping for someone closer.  Anyway, the idea would be to have it ready for the fifth anniversary of the storm next September.  We’ll see.

Psalms 31:19 says, “How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.”

Father, you certainly have been the source of all goodness for me, whether anyone else saw it or not.  Thank you.  Amen.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 23 – “Too much daytime”

Christina’s Dad put on a shrimp fest of his own yesterday over in LaMarque.  He cooked and served shrimp po-boys at noon, shrimp enchiladas at three, shrimp etoufee (however you spell that) at six, and shrimp wrapped in bacon and cooked on the grill after that.  It was an amazing array of delectable goodies.  No frills beyond the shrimp dishes to take up precious room in your gut, either.  Just shrimp stuff. 

It was a really hot day, though.  I went to Micah’s and then Jachin’s flag football games before the shrimp event.  I was never so glad that Chris reminded me to take along an umbrella to provide some shade.  Even little Josiah had a comment to make about the afternoon heat.  On his way back inside after a tour of play in the front yard, he noted, “There’s too much daytime out here.”

Cailyn was with us for the day.  She was torn between playing on the swing and hanging out with newly announced preg-ee Aunt Christina.  As an added bonus, Christina’s sister was there, and she is not just pregnant, but incredibly pregnant.  At one point Chris found Cailyn in one of the bedrooms.  Cailyn whispered, “Nani, I have a secret.”

Chris: “You do?  What is it?”

Cailyn: “I have a baby ion my tummy like Aunt Christina.”  At this point she lifted her shirt to reveal a small sliver of soft tortilla.

Chris: “Why don’t you use something besides a tortilla?”

Cailyn: “No, Nani.  This is how big it is in Aunt Christina’s tummy.”

See, Cailyn had just seen the ultrasound picture.  The hunk of tortilla looked a lot like what was identified as a baby in that picture.  Too much baby stuff going on around here.

At one point while everyone else was outside, Josiah snuck into his brothers’ room to find something exciting to play with.  I heard him mumbling to himself, so I stopped at the door to listen.  I’m not sure if he was allowed to be in there or not, but he was moving as fast as his little legs could carry him.  And the whole time he was saying, I find fire truck.  I find fire truck.”  He was one motivated little kid.  Finally he let out a small wimper of success, his own child-language of Eureka.  And he made his way out of the closet carrying a toy pirate ship.  That’s when he first saw me and grinned.  Holding up the ship he declared, “I find dis fire truck, DadDad.”  That was obviously OK by me, so he made his way to the living room, where the Woody doll (the cowboy from Toy Story) became his firefighter.  Uncle Nathan, we need some help over here – some firefighter clarification.

Psalms 31:16 says, “Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.”

Father, take that smattering of creativity in those little guys and allow it to blossom into a life that is always full of fun and wonder.  Amen.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

September 22 – “Good-will morning”

Mom was awake at 5:23 this morning.  How do I know the time so exactly?  Because she decided we all needed to be awake at 5:23.  She very quietly snuck down the hall to our room.  Chris didn’t even hear her.  Slowly she reached inside the door and flicked on our bedroom light.  What a great way to be awakened, huh?  Actually we both instinctively woke up just seconds before the light came on.  Chris raced to the door and turned it off, trying to protect my eyes.  Not to be deterred, however, Mom simply reached behind her and turned it on again.  It was kind of funny, actually.  Made me have some flashbacks to my younger years when she would inspire me to wake up every morning by turning the light on and greeting me with a jovial, “Good morning.  Rise and shine.”  Didn’t usually set so well with my older brother, as I recall.  In fact since I was such a good younger sibling, I took note that he wasn’t particularly thrilled with cheery good mornings.  And I did everything I could as often as I could to encourage good ol’ Jay to greet the day in a cheery, upbeat, woohoo kind of way.  I was just so inspired by Mom that I took her “good-will morning” style and made it my own.  And it has served me well – at youth camps in particular – for many years. 

Chris finally left it on and began her gentle way of talking Mom back to bed.  She did reach back and turn it off as they headed down the hall.  Always thinking of me.  What a great wife.  Of course by that time I was wide awake.  I waited for her to come back to bed and we talked for a few minutes before I finally got up a little after six, my usual time.  Great way to start the day. 

Speaking of out of place prowling, there were some more people roaming around next door again.  The first was just yet another representative of the bank taking pictures and recommending that the house be torn down.  Nothing different there.  The second was a bit different, though.  A lady came by and Chris engaged her in conversation.  She said she wanted to buy the house and fix it up and either resell it or rent it out.  Apparently she even had a call in to the City of Galveston guy who is responsible for demolitions.  She wants to stop the demo.  That’s not good news.  It just means more delays, I’m sure, no matter what the outcome.  Four plus years and counting.  Long enough, don’t you think?

Psalms 31:15 says, “My times are in your hands.”

Father, thank you for good-will mornings.  With Mom and with You.  Amen.

Friday, September 21, 2012

September 21 – “Purple butterfly birthday cake”

I got to spend some alone time with Cailyn yesterday.  It was a Daddy’s at work and Mommy’s in class day.  Chris had to take Mom to a doctor’s appointment – regular check-up kind of thing.  Nothing substantially different in what’s been going on.  She still doesn’t sleep much at night, and when she gets up she has no idea what she wants or where she is.  Chris usually just directs her to the bathroom and then back to bed.  She doesn’t talk much at all any more either, so it’s very hard to figure out her needs.  The doctor’s comment was something like, “we are entering the shallower waters now …”  Great.  A beach metaphor. 

So Cailyn and I had an hour or so to hang out before nap time.  She wanted to go in the back yard, so that’s where we headed.  Not like she is the Princess or anything.  I wanted to go outside, too.  Really.  Once there she led us on a rousing game of “Eat out at the restaurant,” an inspiring classic that we have enjoyed many times in the past.  I usually get to be the customer and she is the waitress.  Not this time.  She sat down in one of the outdoor chairs and wanted to know first of all where the table was.  I dutifully assumed my role and pretended to wipe off the invisible table in front of her.  “Oh,” she responded, “Thank you.  But I thought the table was down here.”  She moved her hand to a spot much closer to her level.  “Ah, my apologies, Madam,” I intoned, “Allow me to get that for you.”  I continued my cleaning regimen on a level much closer to her.  She smiled, so I knew I got it right that time.  Finally I asked what I could get for her.  She started out with a request for some tea, “And not sweet tea.  The kind with no sugar in it, please.”  That was a surprise.  Chris doesn’t even make unsweet tea around here except for our home Bible Study night, and then she sweetens it once everyone leaves.  Ever the dutiful waiter, however, I brought her a nice cold glass of make-believe unsweet tea.  “And what can I get for you to eat?” was the next query.  She thought for a long time until finally she had it.  “I’ll have a purple butterfly birthday cake with black and purple and blue polka dots.”  Thankfully, birthday cake orders are accomplished with amazing speed and efficiency at the V-BOR CafĂ© (Vaughan Backyard Outdoor Restaurant).  I handed the order to her.  She admired it as being appropriately handsome, then had a further request.  “Can I get this wrapped up, please?  Wrap it in paper with butterflies on it.”  I took it back from her and replied, “Absolutely.  Why didn’t I think of that?  How could one tiny little girl be expected to eat a huge offering such as this.  Let me take care of that for you right away.”  Wrapping applied, I returned it to her and she was ready to depart.  One more completely satisfied customer. 

Psalms 31:14 says, “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’”

Father, I trust in you.  I say, “You are my God.”  Amen.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 20 – “The grand demolition”

I received smattering of good news the other day.  Beyond of course the explosion of great news about our new grandbaby coming in April.  Tuesday, you see, was the final remaining deadline.  The last of the opportunities. The ultimate cutoff date, beyond which there is no other.  And what, you may ask, is so significant that it has to have numerous deadlines?  Tuesday was the last deadline for anyone – owner, lienholder, bank, family member, distant relative – anyone – to step up and claim responsibility for the house next door to us. 

Yes.  The Ike damaged, still virtually untouched since the storm (which, incidentally happened over four years ago), stinky, rat-infested, siding-falling-off, porch teetering perilously, walls bowing, mold-infested (whew) house that we have been living right next door to.  So what happens next? 

Well, I made a phone call that I promised would be made months ago to the guy in charge of such things down at the City of Galveston offices.  And he assured me that he had just turned that house and two others over to his assistant for her to get bids on for demolition.  He also said they “have some money that we are trying to get spent,” so he thought the process in this case would really be fast-tracked.  A little late to use the words “fast-tracked” when it has already been four years, but exciting to hear anyway. 

We have been wondering what will become of the land after the house is removed.  We would be interested in buying it, but not at any exorbitant cost.  Anyway, after four years, the only thing we have left to do to complete our storm recovery is replace our interior furnishings.  That’s right, the great majority of what we have furniture-wise was given to us by the many great people who helped us after the storm.  Not that there is anything particularly wrong with it, but it’s just not what Chris would have picked out.  We didn’t have any insurance money left after we got the house all rebuilt, so that part of the process will be slow in coming.  Hang in there, Chris.  Meanwhile, maybe we can sell tickets to the grand demolition …

Psalms 31:7-8 says, “I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.  You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.”

Father, thank you for the place you have set our feet in.  It has been good.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

“Prophet, priest, king, ???”

Yesterday was a good day.  I got off to a great start on the teaching for Sunday.  Of course whether that’s good or not won’t be determined until, well, Sunday.  But at least I’ll go into it with some good notes and a sense of direction.  That always is helpful. 

We received a phone call yesterday that added to the “good day” feel.  We were getting ready to eat supper when my cell phone rang.  I answered and after a long pause, here is what I heard:

Jachin: “This is Jachin.  Me and Micah have something to tell you.” <Giggle, giggle>

Me:  “OK.  What do you have to tell me?”

Jachin: “Mom”

Micah: “has”

Jachin: “a”

Micah: “burp”

Me: “Mom has a what?  Say that again.”

Jachin: > “Mom”

Micah: “Has”

Jachin: “a”

Micah: “burp” <out of control giggling>

We tried our best to get them to calm down and repeat it one more time, but all hope of control was out the window.  Fortunately, we do check our Facebook page every so often (and we received an email about an hour and a half before the FaceBook post went up).  So we already knew about their Mom’s “burp.”  Sometime in April of next year they will be meeting their new little brother or sister.  So Micah the prophet, and Jachin the priest, and Josiah the king will be introduced to … hmm.  I guess they will have to move into the New Testament.  Chris pointed out that “Apostle” was still an opening.  Uncle Josh and I came up with a south-of-the-border suggestion (pronounce it hay-soos), but that would effectively put an end to this particular line of progression.  How could you top that?  Apparently Jachin and Micah are thinking along a different corridor entirely.  They came up with Luke for a boy.  I know.  How do you characterize that one?  Gentile?  Physician?  Historian?  You are thinking inside the box.  Let me help you a bit here.  I think you will understand better when I tell you their suggestion for a girl’s name … Leia.  Now do you get it?  Prophet, priest, king, and … Jedi Warrior.  That’ll work.

Psalms 31:5 says, “Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.”

Father, into your hands we commit the spirit of this new little one.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 18 – “From whining to hope”

Welcome back.  No, that’s not a kindly expression of hospitality.  In this case it’s a sarcastic plea for relief.  Once again the rheumatoid arthritis reared its ugly head last night.  It has been almost totally under control for quite a while now.  The combination of the new shot I started taking once a month, with the Celebrex we got approved – finally – through the insurance company, mixed in with a prayer for healing here and there, resulted in a few months of feeling really good.  I even started back walking and moved into jogging a bit.  But then the insurance company got wind of it.  Not wanting to be denied an ongoing customer because he thinks he doesn’t need them anymore, they decided that I had reached the end of the line as far as Celebrex is concerned.  In fact the way their explanation was worded to the pharmacy, it sounds like my copay for all prescription medication is about to go up from either $25 or $40 to over $500.  That’s the copay, not the whole price for the medicine.  Sounds to me like I’ll be welcoming back pain like an old buddy from high school.  I did get an application to see if I qualify for a program to get free Celebrex from the drug company that makes it.  If that goes through by some freak chance, it’ll still be three to six months before the benefit kicks in.  I still had some of the last drug I was on before Celebrex, so that’s what I took last night to finally help me get some sleep.  I was doing my best not to jump straight to the heavy stuff – the straight pain medication.  Almost.  Maybe I should just go fishing today and try to forget about it for a while. 

OK.  Enough whining.  Today is deadline day.  It is the final opportunity anybody has to step up and save the house next door from destruction.  Past owners, next of kin, lien holders, all have been contacted and given every chance to make a move.  According to the city’s timetable they will now step in and tear the thing down.  Of course that will probably take longer than getting cleared for the Celebrex program to actually happen.  But, hey.  Hope springs eternal, doesn’t it?  Gotta stay positive.  Gotta hope for the best.  Gotta be encouraging.  Gotta make a phone call later today to jump start the process.

Psalms 31:3 says, “Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.”

Father, I’m all yours.  Do whatever you can with pile of aching bones.  Amen.

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17 – “What a Sunday”

We had a good service at church yesterday.  And a great crowd stayed for dinner on the grounds.  Best in a long time.  Well, best in terms of number of people.  There’s always great people there. 

We got back to the house in time for me to change into shorts and a t-shirt and take in a few minutes of the Texans football game.  They were doing quite well and eventually won easily.  Somewhere in the middle of the fourth quarter my wedding counseling appointment arrived.  She was all decked out in her Texans jersey.  I don’t think she was all that happy with the timing of the appointment.  Her fiancĂ© set it up, though, so he’ll have to pay for that one later. 

The Astros won again.  They took three out of four games from the Phillies.  Heard they effectively knocked the Phillies out of any chance of winning the pennant.  Guess they still have a shot at one of the wild card spots.  All these playoffs are hard to keep up with.  Back in the day they had to win the pennant to get to the World Series.  Period.  Seems like it meant more back then.  Of course the more games they play, the more money they make. 

Jennifer and Bryan came by last night.  It was her first big outing since she had surgery to reconstruct her ankle.  Made us feel special to be first at something.  She brought some kind of special stethoscopes for April to use.  They are geared for little children, somehow.  Supposed to make it easier to hear their heartbeat since it goes so fast.  She looked really good, though.  She seemed determined to follow doctor’s orders.  She goes in today to get a new cast.  The one she has is too big now that the swelling has gone down.  One of the Seasiders is taking her to the doctor’s office since Bryan has to work.  Way to go, Laura.

Cailyn spent  the night last night.  Always a fine time for Nani and DadDad to practice saying “yes.”  Gotta get that little bit of spoiling done while we can.  This time it meant an evening of being a horse and a ballet dancer and a rocket ship.  Oh, and I guess Cailyn played, too. 

Psalms 30:11-12 says, “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”

Father, thank you for Sundays, in all their forms.  Amen.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 16 – “Surprise delivery”

Well, how about that?  I had something happen today that I can’t recall ever happening before.  And it’s not even 7 a.m.  I went outside to get our neewspapers.  We take both the Galveston and Houston papers.  The Galveston one gives Chris her daily gossip laugh.  I read it so I can check the obituaries and see if I’m in them.  The Houston paper gives us all the information we need about Galveston without much bias.  That’s refreshing.  I guess they keep it simple since we are just the outlying branches of their community – that island off the coast of Texas that watches their local television stations. 

Now, the Galveston deliver person does his best to hit the tree in the middle of our yard.  I like that.  Keeps things consistent.  I know when I open the front door whether he’s been here or not, because I can see the base of the tree.  The guy who delivers the Houston paper, though is not so consistent.  Sometimes he tries to hit the tree as well, like they are tossing horseshoes or something.  Those are the good mornings.  Sometimes he manages to get it completely under the car that is parked in the driveway.  Not so good for this old guy early in the morning.  Yesterday was interesting.  He went for the old under the car toss, but it went farther than it has ever gone.  It actually passed almost all the way under the car to where I could see it near the front.  Still had to do one of those deep knee bends to reach it.  Nice attempt, though.  Gotta applaud the effort.

So this morning I opened the door as usual and made my initial perusal of the territory to see if I could locate each of the newspapers.  There under the tree was the trusty Galveston  Daily News.  Excellent.  I didn’t see the Houston Chronicle, though.  Not that unusual on a Sunday.  Sometimes he doesn’t make before eight.  Some Sundays he takes the day off, I guess, and I have to call to get the paper.  I sighed and began the trudge through the grass to get the information that was available.  At least it would have the score of the Astros game.  Of course it’s officially football season, so the Astros would be even more buried than they were before they agreed to move to the American League and traded off all their talent.  College football is marginally interesting to me, though.  I could still check out the Aggies and the Longhorns and see who is ranked higher.  As I took my first step out the door I felt something squishy under my foot.  What in the world could be parked on my doorstep that wasn’t there last night?  I slowly looked down, not knowing what to expect.  A renegade stuffed animal?  But Cailyn wasn’t here last night.  An overturned flowerpot?  That was a possibility.  The neighborhood cat?  No such luck.  As my eyes adjusted to the dark I began to realize that what my foot had squished so admirably was indeed the Houston Chronicle.  The deliverer had placed it carefully right at the threshold of the front door.  To what do I owe this special treatment?  Is it repentance for the under the car treatment of yesterday?  Whatever it is, I could get used to this.  Better than walking out to the tree. 

Psalms 30:4-5 says, “Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name.  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, thank you for that joy.  It means we always have something to look forward to.  Amen.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September 15 – “Dodging Nani’s watchful eye”

The anniversary of Hurricane passed fairly quietly around here.  Save from an editorial in the paper about how they considered the anniversary date to be the day the death and destruction began as opposed to the National Weather Service’s date of when the eye crossed onto land, everyone around here was just glad we didn’t get an Isaac and happy to have some much-needed rain. 

Speaking of hurricane preparations, I spent much of yesterday back at scanning our old pictures.  The idea is to have another, more easily transported set over and above the huge, bulky photo albums we have in our closet.  And that’s not just one or two albums I’m talking about here.  We have twenty or thirty of the things.  We even have a stack of empty plastic tubs up in the attic that have been designated as travel receptacles for the photo albums.  I completed the album that covered 1979 through 1981, and I have begun the next one.  That means Josh has just had his first birthday.  Cute kid.

Jachin, Micah, and Josiah came over for the evening.  Their Mom and Dad went to the Hitchcock high school football game.  Oh, by the way, my old high school team broke a twenty game losing streak last night.  Way to go, Ball High Tors.  My other team, the Astros lost their 99th game of the season last night.  Hey, somebody has to root for the underdogs.  And speaking of baseball, that’s kind of what we played last night.  The boys found a rubber ball and we played “bounce the baseball off the refrigerator and see who can make a great play on it.”  Ah, that brought back some fond memories.  Not that I ever played that one exactly.  But I made up lots of games that involved bouncing a rubber ball off the side of the house.  Most of the time I did it outside, though.  But then, I wasn’t at my grandparents’ house where anything  goes, right?  Of course Nani wasn’t quite as excited about the contest as the guys were.  She started making up all kinds of rules about how high the ball could hit.  Something about possibly breaking things.  What could we possibly break in the kitchen?  We also played a card game they brought over.  Something to do with Pokemon.  Probably the most confusing game ever.  Think I’ll stick to bouncing a baseball off the fridge and dodging Nani’s watchful eye.  Keeps me in shape.

Psalms 29:10-11 says, “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever.  The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”

Father, thank you for the reminder that the purpose of strength is peace.  Amen.

Friday, September 14, 2012

September 14 – “Where else could it be?”

Another long night last night with Mom.  She felt compelled to do things like rearrange the dishes in the dishwasher.  At one point she decided she needed to come into our bedroom and turn on the light.  I was still in bed, and she made that move before Chris could get over to stop her. Chris had moved to the spare bedroom to be closer to her, but Mom eluded capture just long enough to get the light on.  Never a dull moment around here, even at 3 or 4 in the morning.  I was going to take a walk when I got up at 6, but Mom had just gone back to bed, so I told Chris to try to get some sleep and I would stick around in case Mom needed to go reorganize the books on my shelf or maybe sort through our DVD collection. 

I have begun the tedious process of scanning our old photos onto the computer so we will have backups.  For those of you who don’t know, Chris is an avid photographer and chronicler of family events.  We have twenty or thirty thick photo albums detailing our life together.  I’m up to 1981 now, the time we spent at Woodland Baptist Church in the Heights area of Houston.  Up to this point the pictures have come in all shapes and sizes, reflecting the many different cameras we have had.  When we first got married we couldn’t afford a camera at all, so there are not many photos from our years at Langwood Baptist Church in Houston.  Somewhere in there we got a Polaroid, so there is a hefty accumulation of that type.  Finally in 1981 we bought a very nice 35 millimeter.  The reason was so we could have a camera that took pictures without a flash.  That’s what was required if we were going to take part in that brand new opportunity that was just opening up – the husband going into the delivery room for the birth of a child and actually recording the event in pictures.  Amazing.  Cutting edge.  Thank you, Josh, for being born into such an advanced technological era.  From the photo album standpoint, it has made scanning pictures a lot easier.  The scanner has finally been able to recognize that there are five different pictures on the screen and subsequently it identifies them as such.  Now I don’t have to draw the box around each one separately.    It has made reminiscing about that one dream vacation we took a lot easier.  Where did we go on that grand experience?  The National Baseball Hall of Fame, of course.  Where else could it be? 

Psalms 29:3-4 says, “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.  The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.”

Father, forgive me for the times I don’t hear your voice.  It’s obviously turned up loud enough.  Amen.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 13 – “Faithful in the little things”

I got to hang out with two of my sons for a while yesterday.  Kel’s church is hosting a community block party Saturday, and I went with them to pick up the Galveston Baptist Association’s block party trailer.  It has all sorts of cool things inside to make a block party more effective.  Things like two bounce houses, a popcorn machine, a sno-cone machine, a grill, table games.  Not a bad resource to have access to.  The trailer access was my part in the tale of the trio.  Kel was there because he knew someone who had a truck with a trailer hitch that he could borrow.  Nathan came along because he was the only one of us who knew how hook up the trailer and back it into its place at the church.  What a team. 

And as it turned out, it looks like there was an underlying purpose behind the little excursion.  Nathan’s truck has been woefully out of date for about three years now.  By “out of date” I mean literally out of date.  It hasn’t been able to pass inspection for that long.  A large part of that time it wouldn’t even run and sat idly in front of our neighbor’s abandoned house, feeling right at home.  He and April have decided to look for a replacement rather than throw money at it to get it up to snuff.  Wise choice.  Now to the excursion’s purpose.  It just so happened that the reason Kel’s friend had a truck with a trailer hitch available for us to borrow was that he was trying to sell it.  So Nathan had an opportunity to test drive it under towing conditions.  And he was hooked.  When we got home he called his credit union and arranged for the loan.  Today he talks directly to the owner to see if they can get the deal worked out.  Not a bad outcome of a ministry opportunity.

Speaking of ministries, I have been praying that God would trust Seaside as far as we could deliver on that trust.  And after I began that prayer, we have had two “unexpected” ministry opportunities come up in two days (not counting the trailer-fetching).  We helped out the lady yesterday with gas money and some groceries.  On my way home from the youth Bible study last night I had a chance to give some money to a family who was headed home after losing one of their 18 month old twin daughters to sickle cell anemia.  They had already arranged for every other need.  An organization out of Texas Children’s in Houston, where their daughter had been cared for, took care of their hotel arrangements.  An aunt’s church in Louisiana was covering the transportation costs to get them home.  I just got them enough to cover some peanut butter and jelly for sandwiches to tide them over until they leave in the morning.  If we keep trying to be faithful in these small things, he will trust with some bigger things.  I’m getting kind of excited to see what God has in mind here. 

Psalms 29:1-2 says, “Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.”

Father, help us stay faithful.  We want to be ready for whatever you send our way.  Amen.