Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 31 – “That day”

I lent my vast expertise to two of my sons yesterday.  This time it was in the field of home central heating repair.  In this particular case that meant I brought over some sandpaper and watched while they called the repairman.  To be fair, though, they did a really good job of replacing everything that it was legal for them to replace without a license to deal directly with gas.  I was a proud papa.

The beauty shop came to Mom yesterday.  Literally.  The lady in our neighborhood who cut her hair regularly before Hurricane Ike has started back her business.  It doesn’t sound like it is as extensive as before, though.  She used to have a regular little shop in her garage, but their storm renovations turned that into a big kitchen.  She still has a small area set up, but she insisted on being allowed to come over here so Mom wouldn’t have to negotiate any unfamiliar territory.  Very sweet lady. 

So today is “that day” again.  Lots of folks try to avoid this one, but it has become the best day of the year for Scripture distribution and relationship building around the Vaughan house.  Chris and I set up an assembly line yesterday afternoon.  Our purpose?  To put stickers in the 200 New Testaments a family in the church donated to give away on Halloween.  All the stickers did was identify each New Testament as a gift from Seaside Church.  Our party starts around 5 or 5:30 with pizza.  Looks like we’ll have quite a few folks coming over to join in the fun.  Even some of the visitors at church Sunday asked for directions to the house.  One group of ladies who are originally from France and now live in Conroe seemed particularly interested.  As was a Dad and his three sons.  Come on over, but get here early.  There are so many people who bring their kids to the neighborhood that it is difficult to get a place to park.   Bring on the onslaught of children. 

Psalms 37:1-2 says, “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.”

Father, keep the little children safe tonight as they venture into the streets. And use your word to touch someone in your time.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 30 – “That wonderful time of year”

Sigh.  I guess it’s finally that time of year again.  Almost Halloween.  Thanksgiving is a month away.  Yep. The time is ripe.  For what, you may ask?  We received our first official Target Christmas ad book in the mail yesterday.  Nothing but toys.  Now that’s the real start of the Christmas season.  What child hasn’t pored through the latest toy catalogue - from the old Sears & Roebuck to the reigning champion Toys R Us?  And the approach to that important Christmas task hasn’t changed all that much, either.  I remember circling all the things I would like to have.  Of course I didn’t ever get my turn until both my brothers were finished, so there wasn’t much left to circle.  The sad lot of a middle child.  I heard Christina say yesterday that her Dad gave each child a different-colored magic marker to do his circling with.  Now that’s a wise man.  Not only does he get ideas for shopping for the kids, but he also builds up each one’s self esteem, for they know that Santa will know that “my color is yellow, not red.”  Cailyn has her own style of indicating her wants in the ad books.  She foregoes all the pencils and markers and moves right into the scissors.  You gotta appreciate that first-born philosophy – get rid of all the extraneous stuff.  After all, I’m the center of the universe.  Chris had to rein in her scissor action, though.  And she had a brilliant approach.  “You have to keep it together so Jachin and Micah and Josiah can look at all the boy stuff.”  That then led to one of Chris’ teachable moments.  She showed Cailyn how to spell the words “Boy” and “Girl” and how to spot them in the ad book.  Perfect.  That is, until it occurred to Cailyn that Jachin and Micah and Josiah probably wouldn’t want girl stuff anyway.  That meant it was surely fine for her to go and cut out what she wanted, as long as it was just for girls.  After all, she was the only girl around, right? 

She didn’t cut out everything she wanted, because when her Mom got here, she was quick to pick up the ad book.  The ensuing interchange was great:

Cailyn (pointing to an item in the ad): “This is what I want, Mommy.”

April: (in a masterful, mommy-esque response): “Save it for your Christmas list.”

Cailyn )shaking her head from side to side in a condescending way, amazed as ever at her mother’s failure to understand even the most basic of childhood truths): “It’s not for Christmas.”

April (captured by insistence, and perhaps embarrassed by her obvious lack of perception, yet doing her best to enter into the wondrous world of her daughter’s mind): “Oh.  So it’s for your birthday, then?”

Cailyn (somewhat exasperated and eager to get down to the essence of the communication): “No.  It’s for getting… Now.”

Ah.  Of course it is. Hand her the scissors.

Psalms 36:10 says, “Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart.”

Father, watch over all the little guys who will be circling and cutting and listing over the next few months.  Amen.

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29 – “Lassie League”

I went to a Lassie League game yesterday.  For the uninformed as to the ways of the diamond around Galveston, that is girls’ softball.  In this particular game the girls were maybe five or six years old.  I couldn’t tell.  But in the way of a baseball reporter I decided to transcribe the actions of the little girl I went to watch.  What she did was absolutely typical of just about every other little girl on the field, so it turned out to a pretty good picture of the entire ball game.  So, here goes …

First you must prepare the dirt around you.  That takes quite a bit of grooming skill, you see, as well as intensely focused concentration on the task at hand to the exclusion of all other, less significant items such as minor details like, oh, say, the softball game going on around you.  First you carefully scrape the dirt, first with your left foot, then your right.  I suppose it would be the other way around if you were left-handed, but I made no direct observations of southpaws.  Once the dirt is smoothed, the next step is to bend over at the waist, being careful not to bend at the knees.  Completely straight knees appeared to be essential to the effectiveness of the next operation, placing your glove flat on the ground in case the ball should roll directly into it.  And once the glove is in position you must be ever-diligent, watching that receptacle to make sure it doesn’t somehow escape your clutches.  Of course due diligence means keeping a close watch on the dirt about six inches to either side of the glove, with an occasional check completely behind you.  Can’t have anything sneaking up on you from that direction.  In the grand scheme of things, about every fifth or sixth pitch thrown, it is also a good idea to glance forward.  Once your position has been solidified thusly, it is safe to get in a little practice on taking giant steps for your next game of “Mother, May I.”  Of course it is crucial that any such practice be done with your back to the batter.  You wouldn’t want to give away any trade secrets.

All of this preparatory work is exhausting, to be sure, so the occasional yawn is certainly warranted.  Even taking a brief respite by easing down on one knee would appear to be within the scope of the good defender.  On occasion you might detect a distant communication from one of those older guys over near where Mommy and Daddy are sitting, then standing, then sitting, watching you.  Better wave to them.  They probably need the encouragement.  And in response to that call from the coach to chatter, how about one long, never-ending “Aaaaaaaaahh, batter, batter, batter,” whatever that means?  At some point you realize that you have wandered from your original spot, because the dirt just doesn’t look right.  The only way to get an accurate measurement of your proper location is to employ some geometric calculations, and that of course requires drawing some lines in the dirt.  Fortunately you are wearing those very cool shoes your Mom bought for you, the ones with the built-in sticks on the bottom for digging lines clearly.  That accomplished, you must do the high-level math, and sometimes that takes more than just your fingers.  So it might be necessary to have a seat in anticipation of taking off your shoes to get access to a few more digits.  While you are down there, you might as well check for wind direction by picking up some dirt and slowly releasing it to see in which direction it is carried.  Sadly, reaching a final conclusion to the mathematical puzzle before you proves futile, for everyone with the same color shirt as yours has disappeared from the field, and you hear your name being called.  Checking first for Mom or Dad, you then turn your attention to the bench.  Oh, there they are.  It must be time to join them.  Walk slowly to the sidelines.  If you are not mistaken, it must be time for your team to bat, and that means you get to do some of those chants.  Hmm.  “Let’s go, Kenzie, let’s go …”

Psalms 36:8-9 says, “They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.  For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”

Father, keep those little girls safe as they learn a great game.  Amen.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 28 – “Mission accomplished?”

I just want to say thank you today to those of you who encouraged me after my kind of ranting blog the other day.  I appreciate the opportunity to just be a normal human being every now and then and let my flaws be somewhat more visible than they may be most of the time.  And believe me, they are there.  It is great to have friends and family who care.  Keep it coming, and I’ll do my best to reciprocate.

Cailyn was over the other day, and we were in the front yard resting on the grass after a round of dancing at the ball on our front sidewalk.  I suppose we were also entertaining some of the neighbors and passers-by in cars.  By “entertaining” I mean, of course, giving them a huge laugh for the day.  I’m sure we looked pretty goofy – some crachity-looking old dude and a beautiful little three-year-old, hand-in-hand, sweeping majestically around and around in circles and finally flopping onto the grass.  Wouldn’t trade it for anything, though.  Especially the moments of deep discussion that inevitably follow such times of reverie. 

This particular discussion made it into the record books as one of those opportunities for me to impart some grandfatherly wisdom.  Cailyn was holding a little wildflower weed she had picked.  As we lolled in the grass she put it into her mouth and said, “Look, DadDad.  I smoking.”  Seizing the moment I immediately put on my best I-just-ate-something-sour face and said, “Oh, yuck.  You don’t want to smoke.  That is nasty.  And it’s not good for you.”  Now, I knew that her Daddy had smoked for a long time and was working on quitting completely.  I also knew that many of her Mommy and Daddy’s friends still were smokers, so I wondered how she would respond to the gentle scolding.  She took it in stride.  Didn’t even hesitate in her response.  “But my Daddy smokes.”  Yep.  I expected that one.  Undeterred, I forged ahead.  “Well, it’s not good for him, either.”  That’s when I was overwhelmed by a sudden urge to wax philosophical.  Well, maybe not philosophical.  But it just seemed like the right time to throw it out there.  After all, she was the daughter of a fire fighter.  She could make the connection easily enough.  “You know, if God had wanted us to smoke, he would have put a fire inside of us.”  The thought did stop her in her tracks for at least a full second or two.  The wheels were obviously turning in her pretty little head as her brow furrowed and her lips turned downward on one side.  Until suddenly she brightened.  I sagely thought to myself, “Ah, she has it now.  This is an ah-ha moment she will never forget.”  Well, she may remember it, but not exactly like I had hoped.  See, that brightening was followed by an unexpected explosion of laughter.  When she was able to contain herself, she called out to Chris, who was sitting on the front porch, “Hey, Nana.  DadDad said if Daddy smokes, Jesus is gonna put him on fire.”  OK.  Not the response I had hoped for.  A memorable image, I’m sure, but not exactly theologically accurate.  She did stop smoking the weed, though.  Mission accomplished?

Psalms 36:7 says, “How priceless is your unfailing love!  Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

Father, thank you for friends and family, and for lessons learned.  Amen.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October 27 – “Ride ‘em, Cowboy”

We had some visitors last night.  Kel and Christina and their boys came down from Texas to see us and just hang out for a while.  Jachin brought his football but the wind was blowing and as far as Galveston is concerned it was a blustery winter evening.  It must have been in the 60’s at least.  And it was 56 when I got up this morning.  As Cailyn is so fond of saying, it was brrrrry. 

Since it was so unbearably frigid outside, we stayed in the house and had some Blue Bell ice cream.  I know.  Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?  But, hey, it’s Blue Bell.  You can’t go wrong with that no matter what time of year it is.  And speaking of dairy products, Josiah found a brand new use for chocolate milk.  He decided he wanted a cup of the good stuff, so he opened the fridge, climbed up into it and pulled out the carton.  We buy it in half gallon size, so he had no problem handling it.  When he finally got around to actually asking for some, we turned toward the kitchen where the sound originated.  And what did we see?  There was two-year-old, built-like-a-linebacker Josiah … riding the carton of chocolate milk like it was a horse or maybe a bucking bronco.  All that was missing was the highly anticipated (by me) “Yee Haw.”  He hadn’t yet spilled a drop, so I for one was quite impressed with his accomplishment.  Not so much his Mom and Dad, though.  They burst into his fantasy ride like a rodeo clown and corralled the horse-carton with minimal cries of disappointed from the cowboy and, frankly, from the crowd.  He did get his cup of chocolate milk, though.  Ride ‘em, Cowboy. 

Psalms 36:5-6 says, “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep.  O Lord, you preserve both man and beast.”

Father, thank you for two-year-old cowboys and playing football catch in the cold with your Dad and squealing in delight while demanding not to be tickled any more.  Amen.

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 26 – “Family”

Yesterday I really needed a “joy comes in the morning” experience in the afternoon.  I used up just about my last vestige of optimism and energy.  I was just plain tired.  Seaside has been behind in giving, so I found out I won’t be getting my paycheck on time.  And the emails have started about what that might mean and whether it is a major crisis of belief and what do we do now.  I have a funeral to go to at eleven this morning of a really nice old guy from First Baptist Church in Galveston.  He was always accepting and even encouraging to me during the time I was there as a long-haired, liberal, change-at-any-cost, Jesus-Freak-new-Christian, high school senior.  My friend Jennifer got some tough news about her ankle.  Mom was up all night again, so Chris and I didn’t get much sleep.  Chris is trying to get her Mom’s will finalized after a flurry of emails from the lawyer.  Chris hasn’t even been out of the house, except for one time last Sunday to come to church, since we can’t leave Mom by herself. 

Maybe I should try to take a sabbatical from Seaside like the pastors of big churches do.  No, I guess that wouldn’t work.  It would have to be a paid one since we can’t afford to go without a check.  And they wouldn’t be able to pay an interim guy anyway.  They would have to be creative about taking up the slack.  Mike could do most of the preaching.  I don’t know who would teach the youth group or the Sunday School class before church or our home group.  But it sure would be nice.  The first two weeks I would just rest, probably sleep.  We could go see Josh and Christi and their boys.  Somewhere in there I could work on books.  I finished the one that compiles my Hurricane Ike journal into the story of how we faced the aftermath of the storm.  But we don’t have the $1400 to get it published.  I’m working on the Visual Verses devotional book.  It would take some doing, but I could get some work done on the compilation of services and ceremonies I have created over the years.  Sigh.  It is kind of fun to daydream. 

The Bible study last night at home group was on bearing one another’s burdens – Galatians 6:2.  Best point of the night was on getting your focus right.  If you focus on your own burdens all the time, then you are obviously out of whack (kind of like my rant above).  Then you have to be either John Wayne and handle it all by yourself, or Tom Sawyer and try to trick others into handling it for you.  But if you focus only on others’ burdens, then you become a martyr and burn out and then you’re no good to yourself or anyone else.  The only focus that makes sense is to focus on God as the Father.  That makes other believers your family, and where else but family can you feel free to admit it when your burden gets a little too heavy?   Where else can you offer to carry someone else’s pack for a while and he is OK with letting you?  Family.  Family of God.  It sure makes sense. 

Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Father, help with that focus-on-you thing when I get overwhelmed with the stuff in my backpack.  Amen.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 25 – “Labeled”

I made a trip into Texas yesterday to visit a friend in the hospital up there.  Jennifer shattered her ankle in an accident several months ago.  She then had surgery to rebuild the ankle.  Just as her no-weight-bearing time was ending after that surgery, the graft collapsed and she developed one of those nasty infections at the site.  She went back in the hospital to clean out the site, remove the hardware that collapsed and determine what her next options will be.  Sounds like quite an ordeal.  But what she discovered this week may overshadow all the bad news she has had. 

While the doctor was examining her incision site, Jennifer pointed out a lump she had discovered on her leg.  The doctor checked it out and sent her to have one of those Doppler radar checks done on it.  I guess he suspected a cold front was sweeping down her leg that would result in a series of rain showers with possible hail followed by much cooler temperatures.  Cooler temperatures would certainly have been a welcome diagnosis, too, since Jennifer was running a fever at the time.  The tests proved negative, thankfully, and the lump was just a knot of muscles angry at the manipulation of the leg that had happened during the clean-out surgery.  Oh, wait.  Did you think that was going to be some bad news related to that lump?  Oh, no.  Not that.

But this overshadowing news did come to light during the trip to the Doppler radar room.  Jennifer was in her hospital bed, all hooked up to IV’s and antibiotics and general pain medications and specific pain medications designed to block pain impulses directly to the affected ankle and heart rate monitors and monitors to show how many times she blinks and … basically a mass of wires and tubes.  The guy who was sent to wheel her away was trying to be helpful, so he suggested just hooking her one IV bag to the bed and taking off.  Not possible, however.  The nurse quickly informed him that they all must go.  Uncertain of what to do with only the two hands he brought with him, the tech struggled.  Fortunately Jennifer’s husband Bryan was there.  He offered to help.  He would take control of the pole holding the IV’s for the journey to Doppler.  And therein lies the rub. 

See, it often happens that way.  A good guy offers to do a good deed.  And as a result he inadvertently changes the way he is viewed by the world.  Sometimes it works out well.  Other times the ensuing designation imparted upon him follows him for the rest of his life.  I certainly hope the latter is not the case for poor Bryan.  For as you might have determined by now, his simple offer and subsequent acceptance of help by the technician has labeled dear Jennifer’s husband.  All he wanted to do was help move the medicine from one place to another.  But unfortunately, in that action, he had become, like it or not … a drug pusher. 

Psalms 34:22 says, “The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.”

Father, take care of Bryan and Jennifer.  Bring her healing and surround both of them with your peace as they walk through this medical calamity again.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 24 – “Ball Walk”

Cailyn heard that Uncle Jerry was back in the hospital the other day.  Her response was to honor him by making him the object of her choice for playmate of the day.  What did that look like?  She became a doctor.  Chris became her patient, some guy named Uncle Jerry.  That is until Doctor Cailyn needed a nurse.  Then Chris took on that role and one of the stuffed animals became Uncle Jerry, er, the patient.  It’s amazing just how long she can stay focused on a play sequence like that.

The last few days she has been fixated on our photograph album of pictures from her Mom and Dad’s wedding.  She will go through that book time after time, making comments like, “Ooh, Mommy’s dress is so pretty.”  Or “Why did you talk to Mommy and Daddy?” (I was the officiant).  Or “Remember this dance, DadDad?” (Said like she remembers it like it was yesterday).  Or “Why are those boys picking up Mommy?” (One of the photographer’s suggestions for a photo op was to have the groomsmen all hold April like she was lying down).  The one that confused me for a long time, though, came when she spoke dreamily about “Mommy is wearing her bride on her head.”  I assumed she was referring to the tiara-like headband April was wearing.  I was wrong. 

See, she began playing “ball” again with Chris.  Oh, and by the way, she mentioned playing ball to her Mom, and April wanted to know if she was a better catcher or thrower.  Great question, Mommy … for a little boy.  I would certainly have asked the same thing.  But back to the girlie version of “ball.”  Cailyn insisted she had to have a “bride” of her own.  I thought surely Chris would come up with some kind of paper crown decorated with crayons or maybe glued-on glittery stuff.  But no.  See, Chris understood the whole “bride” concept.  It seems Cailyn had been referring not to the headband in the picture, but to the actual flowing veil that the tiara was attached to.  All Chris had to do was grab a washcloth and some hair pins and, voila, Cailyn had her elegant “bride.”  And was she ever proud of it.  So excited, in fact, that she insisted they go on a “Ball Walk.” 

So here again, my understanding of the meaning of such a thing was severely hampered by my general ignorance of all things “little girl.”  What in the world was a “ball walk”?  Taking a stroll down the street with a friend while playing catch?  I have done that many times.  Maybe getting one of those huge playground balls and trying to walk on it and get it to move along?  Sounds like lots of fun, but somewhat impractical, and highly unlikely to be anywhere in the realm of experience for our three-year-old little girl.  When it became evident what a “ball walk” actually was, I was very pleased that Chris was the one invited.  The two of them (by now Chris had her own “bride” proudly pinned to her head) pretended to hold up the long trains of their gowns with one hand and took an actual walk down the sidewalk.  In the front yard.  Right next to the street.  Where all the neighbors could see.  That was a sight to behold.  It almost ranked right up there with what I was invited to be a part of (at Chris’ suggestion, I might add).  I had the honor of being the prince and dancing with my little princess out there on the sidewalk.  And then we fell backwards onto the grass (so glad I have fought to get rid of stickerburs out there).  That was when Cailyn looked at me with a grin and said, “When I grow up, I’m gonna marry you, DadDad.”  Of course my heart melted.  And of course that’s going to be a problem when the time comes, because word has it she also promised that honor to her Daddy.  Well, Cailyn, I’ll settle for a dance at your wedding.

Psalms 34:19-20 says, “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.”

Father, thank you for fantasies and promises and “brides” and “ball walks.”  Amen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 23 – “Just the basics”

I never cease to be amazed at the wit and wisdom and take on the world around them of the youngest of young children. 

Our grandson Josiah, who is well into his second year of life, shared an especially poignant piece of information with Chris the other day when he and his brothers spent the day with us.  He is in the later stages of potty training, and doing quite well, I might add.  On several occasions he made known his need to take care of such bodily function and made to the appropriate receptacle in record time.  A few times he didn’t bother with appropriate receptacles.  Like when he and I were outside playing.  The time came and he simply removed the most immediate obstacle to the accomplishment of his goal – his pants – and took care of the situation.  After all, they do live out in the country.  What could be so wrong here that is fine out there? 

Now on this particular occasion, as happens with all of us at one time or another, he seemed to be having a particularly difficult time in the proverbial “number two” department.  He made it to the potty in plenty of time, but once there, he just couldn’t quite finish the job.  After two or three such attempts, as he was once again enthroned, so to speak, he quipped to his dear grandmother, “Nani, my poop’s broken.”  What a perfect description of how it feels to be constipated.  Says it all.  Succinct.  No excess verbiage.  No question as to nuances of meaning.  Just broken.  Indeed, Josiah.  I have been there.

Psalms 34:17-18 says, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

 Father, hear the cries of our friends and family who particularly need you today.  Jennifer is troubled about her surgery that had complications.  Jerry is wondering what is going on with blood clots and extreme coughs.  Be close to them.  Deliver them.  Amen.

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 22 – “Gorgeous girls and ER madness”

Cailyn made it to church with us yesterday.  And Ciara was there.  So was Joy.  That’s our farm team for future development of our youth group at Seaside.  I have always said, the way to grow a really good youth group is to find a beautiful girl who is sold out to Jesus.  The other girls will come because they want to be like her.  The guys will come because … well, because they want to be near her.  Males perfect sense to me.  And with those three gorgeous little girls around, you better watch out for our youth group in the future.  OK.  I know I’m making not-so unconscious comparisons with the Astros.  But our future looks a lot brighter than theirs.

I had another hospital excursion last night.  My Uncle Jerry called again in the afternoon asking if I could bring him some Benadryl so he could get some sleep.  He has never fully recovered from his problem a few weeks ago when he went in to get checked out for blood clots.  I took him the medicine, but he called back a few hours later to ask if I could just take him on into the hospital emergency room.  He had called and upon hearing what he had been admitted for last time, they directed him to come on in right away. 

They did all the requisite testing and vital sign-taking, and he seemed to me to be looking worse and worse.  Guess it’s a good thing I’m not a doctor.  I did run for the nurse when he started vomiting, though.  It would not have been a good thing for them to have both of us sharing time over the sink in that little ER triage room.  They got him some medicine for the nausea and he finally began to look some better.  He still couldn’t get comfortable, though.  When we had been there long enough for a second doctor to come in and repeat every exam the other one had done, they let on that they were basically killing time until a bed opened up in the hospital that they could transfer him to.  The cat scan test they needed to do to check for a blood clot in his lungs couldn’t be done because his kidney enzymes were out of whack (or something along those lines).  The alternate test for that is only performed on Mondays, so he was in a holding pattern until then. 

As we waited, at one point they came and carefully closed the door.  Our curiosity was piqued, but it didn’t take long to find out why.  Someone we brought in who was less than happy to be there.  He was very defiant and … loud.  He screamed and hollered obscenities for at least thirty minutes before finally quieting down.  We decided they must have convinced him to let them give him a shot of something that knocked him out.  I confess that I did peek through the curtains at one point, but all I saw were some paramedics and one sheriff deputy.  Of course that could have been fodder for some great speculation and maybe even an idea for a TV pilot or two.  But I was getting pretty tired by then, and Jerry was in and out of a very restless sleep. 

They finally transferred him to a room in a different area of the ER.  It had a much more comfortable bed and a TV.  They indicated that he could be in there for most of the rest of the night, so he insisted that I head on home and get some sleep.  I’ll check on him later today.  Gotta love these busy Sundays.

Psalms 34:15-16 says, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.”

Father, once again will you care for Uncle Jerry?  His kids are worried and a long way away.  Thanks.  Amen.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 21 - “Pumpkins jumping”

I went on a treasure walk the other day with Cailyn.  Among our finds were two sticks that rapidly became swords for Pirate Girl and … “Here, you can have one, too, DadDad.”  Guess I was responsible for my own character development.  I contributed two pigeon feathers to the trove.  Feathers are always a plus.  Only about seventeen thousand more and we can make a pigeon pillow.  She found “six acorns, ha ha.”  Not just acorns, mind you.  They were “acorns, ha ha.”  Hey, her words, not mine, so there must be something “haha” special about acorns.  Add one stickerbur to the list, lightly embedded in her finger.  Not enough to hurt, obviously, but enough to warrant nurturing for the trip inside.  Two of those big sycamore leaves made their way into our stash, one big one for her and a much smaller one for me.  I’m beginning to sense a pattern here.  But hey, my self-esteem is just fine.  We also stopped to talk to two of our neighbors.  The man didn’t hold her attention for very long – all he had going for him was Halloween decorations in his yard.  The lady, however, had a cat.  Two, actually.  And she let Cailyn feed them some treats.  Ah, the way to a little girl’s heart is through a cat’s stomach.  At one point Cailyn even followed one of the cats inside the lady’s house.  The cat had a contingency plan for escaping young children, however, so Cailyn rejoined us on the porch when it became evident that her search would prove unfruitful. 

Later that day, at rest time, we reviewed our treasure walk experience to see what educational value had accrued.  What she remembered, however, was somewhat different from the events I have just described.  Most notable among her reminisces was the “pumpkins jumping around that was just sooo funny.”  I must have missed that one.  And “When you jumped up and down, up and down, DadDad.  That was sooo funny, too.”  I know I missed that one. 

Psalms 34:12-14 says, “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.  Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

Father, may you grant all of our grandkids many good days.  Give their parents the wisdom – and the energy - to model the lifestyle that will guide them in that direction.  Amen.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 20 – “Math un-genius”

I had a chance to relive some early days in education yesterday.  Not my own education – cave drawing just isn’t in vogue so much anymore.  I meant the joys of home schooling.  Jachin and Micah and Josiah came over for the day.  Christina and Baby Roscoe had a doctor’s appointment in Houston.  She did get some ultrasound pictures, but the sexual identity was too close to call at this time.  We’ll check back on that mystery in six weeks or so.  After her appointment they went over to check on Christina’s Mom.  During the ultrasaound they got a text that her Mom had been taken to surgery, so since they were just across the street they went over to get some details.  Her Mom donated a kidney not too long ago, so any infection or pain is cause for alarm.  As it turned out she had some cysts removed and will be fine in a few days.  Kel then had a marriage counseling appointment followed by an unrelated wedding, so we had the boys until Christina’s brother could make it up to the hospital.

And that meant we got to help Jachin and Micah with schoolwork.  It wasn’t that much, actually.  Micah had to practice some handwriting, and answer some math problems that looked suspiciously like pre-algebra stuff.  For a six-year-old?  Unbelievable.  He was done in a jiffy.  Jachin is older, so his was a bit more extensive.  It was also math.  Long division.  And long division to an eight-year-old is similar to a high schooler dealing with algebra 2 or even Calculus.  You either get it or you struggle with it.  Period.  At first it seemed that Jachin was in the “struggle with it” category, and I was excited to be able to relate to him as a fellow math un-genius.  But after working with him for a while, the truth began to emerge.  He knew the stuff.  He was just easily distracted.  At least I could still relate to him in the distracted realm.  The problem was the mixture of distraction and creativity he displayed.  It was fascinating … and kind of fun.  Very hard to keep someone else on track when you want to do what he’s doing, too. 

Like our son Nathan when he was doing math, Jachin was not particularly bound by the rigid structure of lines or by showing his work in an orderly fashion.  How the two of them ever kept the answer intact was beyond me.  Jachin proved to be quite the artist.  He started with that little half-rectangle you draw to separate the two numbers (I can never remember what they are called.  That math language was way worse than Greek to me.  “Dividend.”  Sounds like something at a bank.  “Divisor.”  Sounds like someone who comes up with schemes to get into trouble.  “Quotient.”  Sounds like … nothing in my experience).  Anyway, that half-rectangle became a house, and from there his internal architect took control.  His houses added stairs of numbers and direct TV radar disks.   It was dizzying at best to keep up with where he was.  I eventually did something that helped with Nathan.  I got some graph paper to make it easier to line up the rows of numbers and thus see his work.  Of course giving graph paper to a budding architect is like tossing a juicy steak to a hungry lion.  Suddenly he had houses with crown roofs and stairs and basements and sub-basements with swimming pools.  Quite impressive, actually.  As far as I could tell, he did get all the work done, and I’m pretty sure he got them all right.  But that was math.  Better that you not accept the word of an avowed un-genius.  Check it for yourself, Christina.

Daniel 2:28 says, “but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries …”

Father, keep on revealing those math mysteries to the boys.  Amen.

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 19 – “Just ‘ball’”

Cailyn and Chris played ball yesterday.  I was working on the computer, so I wasn’t aware of the fun until Cailyn came in and asked me to play.  Wanting simply to be sure of what I was getting into, I asked a question, “Is it baseball or basketball or football?”  Quite reasonable, wouldn’t you say?  I’m sure any of my other grandchildren (all boys, by the way) would have had an answer for it.  After all, it’s just multiple choice, isn’t it?  Apparently that wasn’t enough for the girls.  They both just responded with an abrupt “tsk,” a flip of the hair and, “No, DadDad.  It’s just ‘ball.’”  The light bulb finally started to glow faintly in my head as I allowed myself to be torn away from the persistent demands of computer work.  I started a reply, “You mean …” and Cailyn impatiently interrupted, “We need you to be the prince, DadDad.”  Ah, I finally got it.  They meant the kind of ball where you dance.  My knees ached at the thought of dancing.  My elbows just ached.  That’s become their routine lately.  But I really did want to be a prince.  Who doesn’t?  I assured her that I would hurry with my work, so she went back to whatever ballroom the two of them had concocted in the bedroom or in their minds.  And as I struggled to quickly finish up my task at hand, I caught a glimpse of motion out of the corner of my eye.  Leaning back as far as I could go in my chair, I finally focused on the flowing, graceful sway of movement as Cailyn, lost in the delight of a world of fantasy in which she heard music of her own composition, danced delightedly with Corner, the stuffed animal dog that had been her Daddy’s companion when he was a youngster. Sadly, I sighed.  And the rebuffed Potential Prince returned to the keyboard with only his dreams of what could have been. 

Psalms 34:9-10 says, “Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.  The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”

Father, bless our little princess and all our little princes with their hearts’ desires as they grow to know and trust you.  Amen.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

October 18 – “Kel’s surprise”

My son Kel had an unwelcome surprise Friday.  It was supposed to be payday, but his check didn’t come in the mail.  I suppose that’s enough to give anyone pause, but for those of us living pretty much paycheck to paycheck, it can be a near disaster.  And when you have three kids and a fourth on the way, the intensity hits an even higher level.  Add to that the fact that they had to leave for a conference on Sunday afternoon.  What if it didn’t come on Saturday?  What if it came Monday while they were gone?  Or Tuesday?  What if there wasn’t enough to cover automatic draws?  What if?  What if?

Now, I’m not making light of what I’m sure was a stressful time for them.  I certainly have been there.  And as it turned out, the check did arrive on Saturday.  That did mean making some special arrangements, though.  That’s where I came into the picture.  He asked if I could make the deposit for him on Monday morning.  Absolutely no problem.  There is even a branch of their bank right around the corner from us.  It all worked out in the end, right?

Well, yes, right.  But as it turned out there was even more to the story than meets the eye.  He found out yesterday that there was a problem with the mail being delivered to their house on Friday.  See, the mail truck that was loaded with mail bound for their street … caught on fire.  Burned to the ground, if a vehicle can do that.  Everything in it was destroyed.  All the mail that would have been delivered to their house.  If his check had been on time and on that truck it would have been among the casualties.  He might not have received it even yet.  The very day his check is sent out late for the first time just happens to be the day the mail truck burns down.  What an amazing coincidence, right? 

Or not.  That was just another example of the no-doubt hundreds of ways every day that God protects us in the little things.  The car wreck you didn’t have because the baby hid your keys and it took you an extra ten minutes to find them.  The job you still have because someone else got that promotion just weeks before all middle management positions were downsized.  The list could go on and on. 

Glad your check came in, Kel.  I’m happy to help out any time.

Psalms 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”

Father, thanks for giving us another taste.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 17 – “Wood is good”

Chris has been back in creativity mode again.  We got a new (to us) dining room table that can open up with two large leaves to serve a ton of people, so we decided it was time to retire the table we tried for so long to salvage after Hurricane Ike.  It was Mom’s table, so it was pretty old and had some sentimental value as well.  It just wasn’t in very good shape.  The guys who tried to restore it right after the storm had it screwed here and nailed there in a kind of hodgepodge way.  The finish layer was peeling off, and neither of the leaves was in any condition to be used, except maybe for extenders of my Black and Decker workmate out in the garage (which, by the way, they have done an excellent job at).  In a nutshell, it was time.  The only decision was in how to let it go.

And that’s where Chris and her legendary creative mind rose to the surface.  She immediately saw something in there that I had no capacity to imagine.  And that has always been a source of amazement to me.  It took some doing and more than a few attempts at drawing, but I finally got an idea of what she was talking about.  So we dove right in.  First order of the day was to take the old one apart.  That was fairly easy.  I have always liked demo.  We were trying to save as much of the wood as possible, though, also a plus from my standpoint.  Wood is good.  See?  It even rhymes.  We didn’t have as much trouble with all the rusted screws as I expected, so before long we were lifting the top off of the leg support piece.  Then came the fun part.  Power tools.  Her idea was to create a long, skinny table to fit behind the couch.  I think it probably has a name, but that has never been essential information to me, so I will never remember it.  She wanted one side to have curved edges and the other squared off, so all we had to do was cut off each end of the table, and we were in business – twice.  Yep.  She realized that we could make not one but two tables.  See, there were actually four leg support pieces.  The second one would be a bit tougher than the first, though, because there would be no horizontal support pieces running between the legs.  But that was a concern for another day.  If we could get one done, then the second would just be gravy.  Meaning, of course, that if I messed it up, it wouldn’t be that hard to just pour it down the drain and use ketchup.  OK.  I’ll leave that image for now.  I’m not sure what that means, anyway.  Never claimed to be a cook.  Making the first cut worked well.  I had a brand new blade for my jigsaw, and it performed admirably.  The new tabletop was ready.  Then we attacked the legs. 

On the original table the two legs on each side emerged in a kind of Nike swoosh from what looked like something you would see on a musical scale.  The idea was to keep the musical scale part and cut the swoosh into a semi-level bottom.  Do you know how hard it is to make a straight line out of an arc?  I felt like I was back in Catholic school kindergarten, trying to color inside the lines with Mrs. Pate hovering over my shoulder.  And to top it off, the blade on the jigsaw was already getting dull.  Needless to say the cuts were not … straight.  We ended up having to make some “adjustments” in the final product, but hopefully they aren’t too noticeable.  The last stage of building was adding four nine-inch leg pieces we found at Home Depot.  Of course the way they had been built required more hardware that of course was not available at the time.  So I again had to improvise.  I figured out a different way to screw them in using two-sided dowel screws.  Never mind.  I didn’t know what they were called either.  I just looked until I saw what I was looking for.  The legs attached with little difficulty, and the structure was complete.  The only thing left was staining. 

The darkest stain I could find short of one called “ebony” (which I learned from crossword puzzles is a poetic way of saying “black”) was some kind of walnut.  It was no trouble to put on, but when it dried Chris immediately noted that it didn’t match.  It was obviously not as dark and much redder than what was already on there.  Guess my task for today will be a trip to Home Depot for some ebony wood stain.  The table itself looks good, though.  It’s sitting behind our couch with a doily on it that Mom made to spell out the word “Vaughan.”  Oh, and table number two?  The cut didn’t go so well on that one, so I had to grab a new blade for the jigsaw.  I still haven’t come up with a plan for bracing the legs that I’m totally satisfied with.  But we will go again.  Wood is good.

Genesis 1:31 says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day.”

Father, thank you for the beauty of the grain in a piece of unpainted wood.  Thank you for the smell of freshly cut wood.  You were right.  Wood is good.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

October 16 – “The real treasure”

I suppose I showed my age the other day.  It happened when Cailyn and I went for a walk.  That’s always a great experience, and this time proved no different.  We went all the way to the end of the street.  Seems she wanted to show me the Halloween decorations down there which are pretty extensive.  Ghosts in the trees, skeletons coming out of the ground, bats hanging from eaves, and of course jack-o-lanterns of all shapes and sizes, which led to a long discussion about her need to get a pumpkin and my need to get a pumpkin and her Mommy’s need to get a pumpkin and Nani’s need to … see what I mean about long discussion?  When she completed her list of needy pumpkin people, she determined that it was time to head back to Nani’s house.  Taking my hand firmly, she announced, “We have to look both ways before we cross the street.”  That’s my girl, ever safety conscious.  She took long looks in both directions and then led me across.  I felt like the proverbial old woman being helped across the street by a Girl Scout. 

Once we got to the other side she made an exciting discovery.  The first yard we encountered was littered with treasure.  That treasure was in the form of sticks, but it was obviously treasure nonetheless.  Cailyn handed me her little purse and began gathering as many as she could hold in her hands.  I’m not sure what they were to be used for in her rapidly developing scenario, but they were all-important pieces at that moment in time.  Finally satisfied that she had all she needed, we continued our journey, she proudly carrying her sticks and me strutting by her side carrying her purse.

After passing a few houses she suddenly stopped.  She turned to me with a look of excitement, like she had just remembered where the candy was hidden or something.  Thrusting her trove of sticks into my hands, she declared, “It’s time to run now, DadDad.”  And off she went.  Apparently we were now in the home stretch and it was time to turn on the afterburners (Is that the right word?).  What I mean is, this was no “Look at me, I can skip.”  She had already shown me that skill earlier.  Nope.  This time she started running.  

Now I used to be able to keep up with her little legs by just quickening my pace slightly.  Not so any more.  She is three now, and an apparent improvement in capacity for speed is a natural part of the developmental process.  No more just walking faster for the alleged “adult in charge.”  Summoning all the energy I could muster, I broke into an all-out, no holds barred, slow jog.  I was barely able to keep her in my sights, but fortunately – and unfortunately, depending on your perspective - there were a few neighbors out, and they kept an eye on her as she raced past.  Of course that meant they also looked around to see if this beautiful little girl was frolicking through the neighborhood on her own.  There was fire in their eyes for the obviously incompetent parent who dared to let this little one race through the dangerous streets all by herself.  Until their gaze finally lit on … that old guy with the purse, way back there, chasing her with obviously every ounce of “speed” he could muster.  Their expression immediately changed from fierce, protect-the-children rage to one of … amused pity.  I smiled weakly at them each time and waved a neighborly greeting like this was our usual routine and we had everything under control. 

I managed to keep my composure and my rate of “speed” right up until it happened.  I don’t know how it happened.  One second I was jogging merrily along and the next there I was, flat on my face, sprawled out on the sidewalk amid splintered sticks and a well-protected purse, held closely to my chest.  Yep.  I just fell.  Didn’t hit anything that I saw.  Just stumbled.  Scraped up my knee a bit.  Jarred everything else.  I definitely felt it in my elbows, those storehouses of RA soreness.  But I jumped right up.  OK, I slowly scraped myself off the ground, looking around to see if any the neighbors witnessed the event.  I was already preparing my “It’s OK, I’m fine” speech, but thankfully I didn’t need it.  A strategically parked car had blocked the view of the nearest potential witness.  I was in the clear. 

I made it home.  Cailyn, who had already been inside and had a drink of water, greeted me with, “Where’s my sticks, DadDad?”  The sticks.  Alas.  I had forgotten them in my haste to regain my dignity, er, I mean my feet, my balance, my … OK, my dignity.  I apologized for leaving the sticks, but about then she saw my battle scar, my scraped knee.  It was bleeding, and that, of course, is a crisis.  All thoughts of imagined treasure vanished, replaced by the urgency of concern.  I didn’t reject her compassion.  She led me inside and like a little nurse she helped Chris bandage it.  And that, as they say, made it all better.  I wonder if they make bandaids for an old ex-athlete’s injured pride? 

Psalms 34:7 says, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”

Father, thank you for the little angel you sent us who we call Cailyn.  Amen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15 – “Strange creatures of the insect realm”

The other day Cailyn and I were looking for things with the magnifying glass.  It’s an old one that somehow survived Hurricane Ike, but it definitely shows that it has been through the ringer.  It is pretty scratched up and dinged up, but you can still look through it and see a grossly misshapen eye or use it to focus the rays of the sun and miraculously start a fire or at least give a bug a suntan. 

Speaking of bugs, that was where we began.  Always a winner.  We searched the bed for bedbugs and the wall for wallbugs.  We looked for ladybugs.  We tried in vain to find some ants or a spider.  Of course I don’t know how she would have reacted had we actually found something alive.  She was acting the role of frightened leading lady quite admirably without the assistance of an actual tiny little beast to encourage her distress.  We imagined many strange and wonderful insects and pretended to look at them.  I can still almost feel the miniscule creatures scampering up and down my arm, making my hair stand on end and bringing that uncontrollable, itching.

It soon became evident that the game was drawing to a close.  Interest was waning, so I made a feeble attempt at revitalization.  I asked her if she had any horses in her ear.  It certainly got a reaction.  Her hand dropped to her side.  Turned just a bit so that to look at me she had to flip her hair out of the way and glance back over her shoulder.  One eyebrow crept upward.  The other edged downward.  The edge of her mouth quivered just a bit on one side – just enough to let on that her frown was not one of disapproval, but of … perhaps incredulity?  And after taking a long moment to study me, to ascertain whether my question could possibly be a serious one, she spoke her reply.  “DadDad.  That’s just silly.  I can’t have horses in my ear.”  Not content to let the matter slide, I followed up with, “But why?  Why can’t you have horses in your ear?”  Didn’t take long for her answer to leap forth on that one, “Because, DadDad, the horses are all over here with the unicorns running up and down my leg.”  Oh.  Of course. 

I figured that meant the game was over and we would move on to something else, but suddenly she said she had an idea for something else to look for -   “Eyeterdooders.”  At least that’s what I heard.  When I repeated it, though, she began to laugh hysterically.  Again.  Being the wise older gentleman that I am, I immediately grasped that I was perhaps slightly off in my interpretation of the sounds that had come forth from her lips.  Sure enough, I was informed, “That’s not it, DadDad.”  At this point she enunciated very slowly and carefully, “Al-yi-ga-ders.”   Ah.  Of course.  Those crocodile-like things.  They do have a way of showing up at the most inopportune times.

Psalms 34:6 says, “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.”

Father, finally a role I can identify with – poor man with troubles.  Thank you for hearing when I call.