Thursday, February 28, 2013

February 28 – “Really, really, really, really fast”

Yesterday was a crawl into my office cave, turn on the computer, and work kind of day.  I did work on the sermon for Sunday.  I did work on the Bible Study for tonight.  I did a lot of work on the pastor’s class for Sunday.  That one actually took up most of my time.  We are doing a track of church history, and my preparation scheme is to accumulate information for one century at a time, compile it all into a time line format, and then add in information from cultures all over the world.  The next step is to find pictorial representations for the names or events mentioned for each year.  I usually do some googling and save the pictures to my computer for the last step, which is developing a power point presentation for that century.  That power point will be my primary agenda for today, along with several other things that have come up, as usually happens.  I’m trying to get everything for the week done today so I can head up to Houston tomorrow to pray with a family before a surgery. 

Chris was only up with Mom two times last night as far as I can tell.  The night before was crazy, though.  Every hour on the hour Mom was headed somewhere.  Even after I got up and stayed up at 5:30, she joined me before long.  That time she told me she had to go upstairs.  We don’t have any stairs in our house, so I’m not sure where she thought she was.  Maybe back at her house on 36th and Avenue L.  It’s where we were living when I was born.  That one had a garage underneath the living quarters. 

Oh, and Cailyn spent the day with us yesterday as well.  She joined me on the only break I did take, which was to go over to Randall’s and pick up a few prescriptions.  We did have some fun while we were there, though.  Randall’s has the shopping carts with the little toy car attached to the front so kids can sit in it and pretend to drive.  Cailyn headed straight for one of those and we took off.  She asked right away, “What’s our first stop, DadDad?”  I told her we needed to pick up some oranges, so she began turning the steering wheel in earnest.  Fortunately we managed to avoid any collisions as we made our way to the produce section.  And from there it was off to the pharmacy.  For some reason this time she admonished me to “drive slowly, DadDad.”  So I of course obliged.  We wove our way, creeping around end caps and through the flower department, dodging other shoppers who all seemed to be grinning at us for some reason.  Glad we could make some people’s life a bit happier.  We picked up the drugs and headed back towards the exit.  This time, though, Cailyn was feeling a bit more adventurous.  “Let’s go really, really, really, really fast this time, DadDad.”  I think it was four “reallys.”  I’m not sure.  I lost count, but I got the message.  We didn’t have much area to cover, and like any self-respecting grandfather, I had to come up with some way to satisfy her need for speed.  So we began a series of swerves instead.  Good choice.  She squealed and grabbed her steering wheel tighter and went with the flow, so to speak.  By the time we arrived at the cart station, she hopped out, looking exhausted.  “Whew,” she exclaimed, “Thanks, DadDad.  That was really fast.”  Made my day.  Ah, the life of a “works only one day a week” pastor. 

Psalms 68:19 says, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”

Father, thank you for those brief moments of joy in the day that make the rest of it easier to endure.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February 27 – “Listening from the other room”

I went to the inaugural session of the Beth Moore Bible study at Seaside yesterday morning.  It will be our weekday study for the next ten weeks, so we located it at the worship center so we could use the projector and advertise it on the marquee.  Seems to have worked as far as marketing goes.  There were 17 people there, with both men and women.  Not a bad start.  Of course the study itself was good.  Jesus, the One and Only. 

Cailyn was with us for the day at the house.  My favorite Cailyn sound bite came as Chris was fixing dinner.  Cailyn was of course helping her as much as possible.  I was trying to get further along with the sermon and with one of the other classes I teach on Sundays.  Still have to get the Life Group study done for Thursday as well.  So while I was working I heard a faint … well, not so faint … OK, a really loud cry from the kitchen, “DadDad, dinner is ready.”  Sounded good to me, so I responded faintly with an OK.  Obviously it wasn’t loud enough, because almost immediately the dinner cry came again, this time even louder.  And this time it was followed by a response from Chris.  “Cailyn, no it isn’t.  Dinner is not ready yet.  You are not being honest.”  The whole being honest thing is one that Chris has been working on whenever Cailyn is here.  I guess we homeschooled for so long that teaching character traits along with the ABC’s is second nature around here.  Cailyn wasn’t quite so accepting of the mild rebuke, however.  She is never one to take any kind of reprimand with the opportunity to tell her side of the story.  So the next words I heard from Cailyn were these, in her best teacher-like voice:  “Nani, I am being honest.  I’m telling DadDad.  Now, Nani, just calm down.” 

I have to say, that struck me as the funniest thing I have heard all week.  I started laughing, and immediately realized that I was perhaps encroaching on a teachable moment.  So I did what I learned to do time after time during similar such teachable moments when our boys were growing up.  I covered my mouth with both of my hands and did everything I could to keep the laughter in silent mode.  Not an easy task, I must say.  My body was heaving back and forth, and tears were coming to my eyes when Chris made her way into the office and gave me my well-earned smack across the shoulder.  And still I laughed, though now the tears began leaking from my eyes.  She then had the audacity to describe Cailyn’s physical demeanor during said response.  Cailyn directed an outstretched arm in Chris’ direction, index finger pointed to the sky for “Nani, I am being honest.”  Then came the palm in the ever popular “speak to the hand” stance.  And finally both hands were out with palms to the ground as if physically pushing Chris’s concerns to the floor, urging her to settle down … be at peace.  By the time Chris finished her description (and a few more well-placed “you better be quiet” smacks), I was beyond hope.  So was she.  We both ended up laughing hysterically … quietly.  Yes, it is possible.  See, some things are just funny.  I was glad Chris finally got a taste of the kind of enjoyment I had over the years listening from the other room while she taught the boys. 

Psalms 126:2-3 says, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them."  The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”

Father, thank you for the laughter yesterday.  It is always so full of healing.  I could sure use a few more days of that.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February 26 – “Happy Birthday, Kel”

Today is the birthday of my oldest son, Kelley, Jr., affectionately known as Kel to all in his world.  I have no idea how old he is.  Much younger than me.  He burst forth into existence some nine months after we graduated from college, as I recall.  Yes, we do know how to celebrate key events.  Have a great day, my son.

I got to see little Haisley at the hospital yesterday.  She is the premie born at about 29 weeks to a young couple who had a connection with Seaside when they were teenagers.  Yesterday the baby had an operation to install a pump to drain fluid from her brain to keep excess pressure from harming further development.  And she came through with flying colors.  Her breathing seems to be doing fine, and she continues to gain weight, so about all the family can do now is be patient and let God do his work.  Oh, and add love on her and keep on praying to that list.

A while back Kel’s wife Christina brought their boys over here for a science class.  They are home schooled, so creativity is not just allowed, it is built in as part of the curriculum.  They came to our house because they were studying plants, and they knew good ol’ Nana would have some bulbs.  That’s putting it mildly, actually.  Good ol’ Nana could open a bulb sanctuary.  She has irises and lilies of several different kinds.  Some she got from her Mom’s house.  Others we salvaged from across the street when my Mom used to live there.  Apparently it doesn’t take long for those things to have babies and spread like wildfire, because we have them popping up everywhere.  I don’t know how Chris can keep up with what she planted where, but she knows them all.  They boys had to dig up the bulb and tell Christina (er, Teacher Momma?) what kind of root system each one had.  Then they took home the ones they dug up.  The plan is to replant them up in Texas and see if the climate up North has any effect on them.  I don’t think it’ll take them long to fill up the pot or planter box or wherever they end up putting them.  That’s what Spring is all about, isn’t it?  Except if you live in North Texas and beyond about now.  I hear they are having a serious blizzard.  Wow.  Yet another reason to be glad that God brought us out here to this tropical island paradise. 

Psalms 68:5-6 says, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”

Father, thanks especially for that “sets the lonely in families” image.  That’s what I want Seaside to be – a family for the lonely.  Amen.

Monday, February 25, 2013

February 25 – “You’ll get burned”

We were up to 58 people in church yesterday.  If the one family with five kids had been there we would have topped 60.  That’s some progress, I guess.  I am excited about the Beth Moore Bible study starting Tuesday morning at the church and the Family Fun Friday event on … well, Friday.  One of the ladies is cooking up a big pot of spaghetti.  We’ll set up a volleyball net and some tables for playing 42.  I never did play that much.  Maybe once or twice, but I don’t even remember how to begin any more.  Maybe I can relearn Friday night.

I got a big kick out of the children’s sermon.  I had an oven mitt and asked what it was for.  “To keep you from getting burned” was the consensus best answer.  Then I asked a series of “what if” questions.  “What if I decided I was in a hurry and I can get the pot out of the oven a lot quicker if I don’t have to stop and get one of these.  What will happen to me?”  Of course the obvious answer was “You’ll get burned.”  I continued with “What if I said I don’t need one of these.  If I used one people would think I was a wimp.  What will happen to me?  Same answer.  “You’ll get burned.”  I went on: What if I say, “I don’t believe it will help me.  You can’t prove it will.  What will happen to me?”  “You’ll get burned.”  Then: “what if I say “I’ll make up my own potholder.  How hard could it be?  All I need is an old rag.  What will happen to me?”  “You’ll still get burned.  Probably worse.”   Ouch.  That one hurt.  The last one was “What if I say I saw one at the store the other day.  I’ll save up my money and when I have enough, then I’ll get a potholder.  What will happen to me then?”  Alas, the answer was still, “You’ll get burned.”  I finally got around to making the connection.  I asked, “What would be the easiest, best thing for me to do?”  And the resounding answer was, “Just trust the potholder.”  That’s when I explained that it’s kind of like learning to trust Jesus.  You can make all sorts of excuses not to trust him, but every one of the excuses leads to one thing.  At that point a chorus of adults spontaneously cried out, “You get burned.”  Yep.  Somebody got it.

Psalms 68:4 says, “Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds  — his name is the Lord — and rejoice before him.”

Father, thank you for the growth and excitement beginning to abound again at Seaside.  Keep it coming.  Amen.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

February 24 – “It’s a date”

Chris and I did something last night that we haven’t been able to do in quite some time.  We left the house together.  Just the two of us.  And we went out to eat.  It was an actual date, I think.  Not sure I remember what that would actually consist of, but it was sure good to hang out with the gal I love and not have one eye and one ear focused on what Mom is doing.  Thanks so much to April and Cailyn for coming over and sitting with Mom for that hour and a half or so. 

We were going to try out the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company on the Pleasure Pier.  We began to have doubts, though, by the time we crossed 61st Street.  Beach traffic was pretty heavy, and there were even quite a few brave polar bear type souls actually in the water.  Sure enough, the closer we got to 25th Street where the restaurant is located, the more crowded it got.  We finally bailed out and went back to what has been one of our go-to special event places, Casey’s.  That’s a seafood restaurant that is right next door to the famous Gaido’s restaurant.  Funny thing is, the two places use the same kitchen, but Gaido’s is considerable more expensive.  You really pay for the ambiance there.  So we went into Casey’s, expecting some pretty good stuff.  As we walked toward the door from the car Chris took my hand.  I looked down at it and said, “Hey, what’s this thing touching my fingers?”  It really has been a while.  Sigh.

We ordered their fried seafood special, and we split it.  That’s one thing we have learned over the years we have been together.  No sense begin gluttons at places like this.  There is plenty of food on one plate for both of us, and paying for one plate at a place like this usually equals out to two at our favorite “locals” place, Shrimp and Stuff.  Sure enough, there was plenty to split.  Three or four fried shrimp, one stuffed shrimp, one crab cake and one pretty large catfish fillet from Mississippi.  Could have done without the catfish and replaced it with a speckled trout as far as I was concerned, but for catfish, I guess it was passable.  That’s why they put a slice of lemon on your plate.  Takes away from the “fishy” taste.  Oh, and of course the ketchup helps with that as well.  None of that fancy schmancy cocktail sauce for me.  Just bring out the Hunt’s ketchup.  OK, so Heinz does OK in a pinch if that’s all they have.  But at least they now have Thousand Island dressing for my salad.  That used to be a sticking point for me there.  Everything was pretty good, except for the crab cake.  Chris was convinced they left something out.  I think she just needed to dunk it in some ketchup. 

The rest of our date we spent walking around Home Depot.  We found some stain to use on the dining table chairs we stripped after Hurricane Ike.  Maybe they’ll come closer to matching the others.  Naked yellow pine doesn’t really go well with dark walnut-looking stain.  We’ll see soon how close we got to matching. 

We headed on home after getting the stain.  No movies playing that grasped our attention.  Just dinner and a stroll around our favorite home improvement store.  Sounds pretty sad, doesn’t it?  Guess you just don’t need quite as much hype to appreciate each other after you’ve been married for … wait, let me figure it up … 2013 minus 1975 … I’ll get there … almost 38 years. 

Psalms 68:3 says, “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”


Father, I sure am glad you gave me just right person to spend my life with.  Thanks for that.  Amen.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

February 23 – “An outside day”

Hey, all you Northerners.  Guess what I did yesterday?  I mowed and edged the grass.  Got to use my brand new grass blower that I got for Christmas, too.  Ah, that’s the life here on our tropical island paradise.  Of course I was pretty sore last night.  Still am. 

Last night we had a cousins’ night of sorts.  Kel and Christina went to a church conference in Houston, so we had their boys most of the day and for the night as well.  Then Cailyn heard about it and, not wanting to be left out of anything, decided she wanted to come, too.  Actually Nathan and April were busy getting ready for their garage sale today, and they hadn’t yet cleaned out Cailyn’s room.  So … sorry Cailyn.  Hope none of your secret treasures are revealed in your absence only to be cruelly sold into garage sale oblivion. 

We spent some time over in 40 Steps playing in the dirt.  That’s Josiah’s name for the vacant lot next door.  Guess the name has taken hold.  We all use it like the name has been posted for hundreds of years.  Jachin and Micah also spent a lot of time riding those scooters called razors.  They did have their helmets with them this time, though, so Chris wasn’t quite as on edge about it.  I got a kick out of Josiah.  He put on Cailyn’s spare helmet that we keep here and tried to ride her little undersized, training wheel adorned bicycle.  Couldn’t quite figure out what to do with the pedals, but he was very proud to be “riding a bicycle.”  And then when Jachin and Micah left the razors unguarded to go take a water break, he jumped on the opportunity.  He grabbed one of them and headed down the sidewalk.  He did pretty well, too.  I followed at discreet distance to make sure he didn’t fall off the edge of the world or anything.  I could hear him mumbling something as he went along, but I couldn’t quite make it out.  Apparently I was careless in my tracking techniques, no doubt distracted trying to hear what he was saying.  As I closed in on him he glanced back and saw me on his tail.  Grinning widely, he turned the scooter around and headed toward me.  And he continued the mumbling.  But this time I could make out what he was saying, because the closer he got to me the louder he got.  Kind of surprised me at first, but the look of determination in his eye told the whole story.  What was the mantra coming from his sweet little two-year-old lips?  “I gonna run you over.  I gonna run you over.”  To his delight then … like any self-respecting grandfather in danger of being crushed, I turned and ran away screaming.

Psalms 67:6-7 says, “Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.  God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.”

Father, you have already blessed us with some great fruit.  Take care of our little guys.  Amen.

Friday, February 22, 2013

February 22 – “Happy birthday, George”

Happy birthday, George.  Isn’t this the actual day George Washington was born?  I remember back in grade school when we used to have two separate special days in February, one for George and one for good old Honest Abe, on the actual days of their birth.  I can’t remember Lincoln’s but for some reason the 22nd has stayed with me over all these years.  I remember doing artwork that was George’s silhouette.  Abe’s was a lot easier, though.  His always included that really tall hat he wore.  We had history lessons that actually related to George, like how he crossed the Delaware River standing up in a boat.  Hey, anything that happened in a boat was significant to a Born-On-Island kid.  It’s interesting to me that the lessons on Lincoln always included how he was assassinated.  I still don’t know how Washington died.  I know he wore that silly looking wig, though.  Guess that was his silhouette enhancer like Lincoln’s hat.  Anyway, Happy Birthday, George.

The other day when Cailyn was here she decided it was time to play “Go to the store.”  She was the checker.  I was to be the customer.  When she called me in to join the fun, I found a blanket laid out on the floor with various items for sale that had made their way from our pantry.  I had to sit down on the blanket with her.  I wouldn’t be able to see everything effectively from way up there where I spend most of my time.  So I creakily joined her on the blanket and made my selection.  I bought raisins.  Figured I’d go healthy right off that bat.  She scanned the package on the back of the couch.  Really.  Just made a deft swipe accompanied by the appropriate sound effects.  Sehe informed me the price was $40.  Whew.  Steep for a few raisins.  Must have been a drought year in Raisin Valley.  I forked over my imaginary money without too much fuss.  Then she put my purchase in an old WalMart bag and handed it to me, with a smile and a happy, “Thank you for shopping here.  Have a nice day.  Come back and see us.”  Eerie.  I think this little girl may have had altogether too much training in this particular area of expertise.  And little did I know that “Come back and see us” was not just a friendly gesture.  It was a statement of prophecy regarding my immediate future.  See, I attempted to return to the work I was doing at my desk, when I heard the next “invitation” to come to the store.  Not quite so sweet this time.  Not that it was ugly or anything.  Just a bit more intense.  And loud.  Definitely loud.  On my second trip I bought Cheezit snacks.  Again $40.  Oh, and part of the deal was I had to return the raisins.  Only one item per customer, I guess.  Again she “invited” me to come back.  I never even made it back to my office that time.  I got just about to the kitchen when she called me back.  I’ve always heard that this is a terrible way to buy groceries.  That time I bought Fruity Pebbles.  And again, $40.  That time when she invited me to come back, I said I didn’t have any more money.  And that effectively ended the game.  I think she was getting tired of it anyway, so my bankruptcy was a good excuse.  I wish I had hung onto those raisins, though.  I’m getting kind of hungry.

Psalms 67:5 says, “May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.”

Father, thank you for raisins and Cheezits and Fruity Pebbles and little girls who learn.  Amen.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

February 21 – “Disney Date”

Well, I had quite an exciting start to my day yesterday.  I went on a breakfast date of sorts with Cailyn.  When she arrived for the day she announced that she wanted to go to the donut shop for breakfast, and there was no dissuading her.  Apparently she had had a taste of it the day before when her parents stopped by there on their way to Cailyn’s four-year-old checkup.  Great idea, by the way.  She ended up getting three shots, so the massive sugar rush helped ease the trauma, as did the stop at some kind of free play facility on the way home. 

So Cailyn and I went to the donut shop.  Now you have to understand what she was wearing to fully appreciate the significance of the date.  She had on one of her princess costumes.  She told me it was her new dress from the Disney Store at the Outlet Mall.  That’s my little shopper.  Mommy is teaching her well.  She further explained that it was Aurora’s gown.  I asked what movie that was from.  She replied, “You’re so silly, DadDad.  I told you.  It’s from Aurora movie.”  OK.  I admit it.  I am not so up to snuff on my Disney princesses.  I still haven’t figured out which movie it is.  The only one I’m sure of is Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  Not because I managed to stay awake during that movie or anything.  It’s because she is a character on the new TV show, Once Upon a Time. 

We entered the donut shop in all her glory (and my blue jeans).  She went right to the refrigerated section and selected some chocolate milk.  It was like she was a regular at one of the coffee klatches they have at that shop every morning.  She did bring a smile from everyone who saw us, though.  Even the harried counter worker managed to grin when I picked Cailyn up so she could peruse the offerings.  She quickly chose one with pink icing and sprinkles on top, as well as “some of those little tiny donuts ones.”  I took that to mean donut holes.  Good guess this time. 

The date didn’t really last that long.  I ordered an apple fritter for me and a cinnamon twist for Chris and we headed on home.  We enjoyed the sumptuous meal with Cailyn sitting on the kitchen counter and Chris and I standing nearby.  Who needs those bar stools anyway?  Great day for me.  A drive with a Disney princess.  Breakfast with two gorgeous girls.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

Psalms 67:3-4 says, “May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.   May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth.”

Father, thank you for my all-too brief interlude of joy yesterday.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February 20 – “A new fire station”

I went to the grand opening of Galveston Fire Station Number Four yesterday.  It’s the one that is responsible for protecting my house.  Seemed appropriate that I should at least show my support.  The old station located at the airport was destroyed by Hurricane Ike, and they have been operating out of a doublewide trailer since then.  Good thing we haven’t had another hurricane.  No way that thing would have survived.  Actually, they haven’t officially started using it yet.  There are still some final touches the builders have to put on it.  It is pretty impressive, though.  Individual rooms for the fire fighters instead of big bunk areas.  A very cool red slide to get from the living areas to the trucks quickly.  A gorgeous wrap around balcony.  Big kitchen.  Big TV.  I guess there are fire trucks and minor stuff like that to go in it, too, but they weren’t in there yesterday.

The ceremony was about what I expected for something like that.  Except maybe I would have oriented it the opposite direction.  The setting sun gave us spectators fits with glare, and I’m sure it affected the pictures people were taking.  They gave plaques to key people who participated in the building process.  They also recognized all the bigwigs who showed up.  Representatives from fire departments around the area were there.  I noticed trucks from Hitchcock and Texas City.  The Galveston city manager very quietly snuck in and stood next to me.  Michael has come to Seaside a time or two.  His incognito status didn’t last long, though.  Someone saw him, and he had to go pose for the ribbon cutting and all the photo ops at the end.  He also did a pretty good job shaking hands all around.  He’s a really nice guy.  I saw just a few other people I knew.  One was a fire fighter who has been to the house with Nathan.  He was taking pictures for his father’s online newspaper.  He thought I was someone else when I shook hands with him.  I corrected him, and he said, “You look just like that other guy, but you’re a lot more fun than he is.”  How’s that for a save?  I might use that one sometime.  The other guy I saw was a friend I knew from First Baptist Church.  Greg is big into Kiwanis and doing things for the community, so I wasn’t too surprised to see him there.  The one thing that kind of surprised me, though, was the absence of very many children.  I know it started right at three, but I thought some would make it over when school let out.  Maybe more got there after I left.  Hope so.  I’d hate for the cookies made in the shapes of fire hydrants and fire helmets to go to waste.

Psalms 4:8 says, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Father, thank you for your protection.  Take care of the Galveston fire fighters as they do what they can to extend your protection in practical terms.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 19 – “A busy, glitchy, income tax kind of day”

Yesterday was one of those sit at the computer and zone out of everything else kind of days.  Most of my Mondays are like that.  I have a long list of things that I have to do each week, and I try to stay focused enough on Mondays to get through a good portion of them.  I have to do summaries of everything that happened on Sunday.  I write an article for the church website.  I put something on the church’s FaceBook page.  I send out bills as well as birthday and anniversary cards.  I also get started on the teaching for the next Sunday.  Well, yesterday I did all that. 

But yesterday something else hit me that was one of those “has to be done” kind of chores that no one really wants to do but everyone has to do.  I started pulling together all my information to send to my accountant.  Yep.  It’s income tax time again.  That basically illegal (as I understand it) action of the federal government to fleece the citizens and stay in operation for another year.  I do keep pretty good records over the course of the year, so I guess it is not all that difficult for me.  It just seems so time consuming.  And I don’t think it would be as bad if I had someone local who could do them.  The guy who has been doing them for years retired a few years back, so I have used the people he recommended.  They have been fine, but now they have sold part of their business to someone else and my file went along with the sale.  I would really like to find someone in Galveston who understands the intricacies of a pastor’s tax return.  Not to mention however Mom fits into the equation.  And whatever responsibilities Chris has for the one account still under her control that is for settling her Mom’s estate.  (No, that still hasn’t been settled.  But that’s a whole other story).  Any ideas?  Maybe I should give TurboTax a try. 

On top of that whole tax scenario, which I haven’t finished, by the way, I turned on my computer this morning and it went straight to one of those dreaded blue screens that warn your computer has crashed and it may or may not decide to return.  I ran the program to check it out and fix the bugs, but it concluded after its study of the situation that whatever glitch it was could not be fixed.  Of course when I closed the program everything came up fine.  Problem is, that’s the third or fourth time it has happened.  Same blue screen.  Same lack of success fixing it.  Same restart and opens fine.  Very much beyond me.  I think I got the important stuff all backed up last time it happened.  Hope so. 

Psalms 67:1-2 says, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.”

Father, could you help this computer last for a while longer?  That would be a tough new expense to cover right now.  Amen.

Monday, February 18, 2013

February 18 – “Monday Morning Review”

We had another rousingly positive day at Seaside yesterday.  It was Third Sunday Dinner on the Grounds day, so there was that extra attraction.  The kids did a great job helping me out with the children’s sermon.  I was trying to train my pet snail to do some tricks.  They helped me name him (Slimey), and one of them even did a somersault to show the creature how it was supposed to look.  Didn’t work.  Nothing worked.  They told me I needed to learn to speak snail if I was ever going to be able to communicate with him.  That was what I was waiting for.  The teaching was about how God did just that for us.  He became a man so we could understand him.  I know there’s a lot more to the incarnation that that, but, hey, one step at a time.

There was a lot of interaction during the regular teaching as well.   Especially during the rundown of ways that Jesus was “one of us.”  Several folks shared where they were born (Jesus was born, too), and one little boy raised his hand to say he was from Russia.  His Mom told me later that although he had relatives from Russia. He was born in Oklahoma.  Said she’d have to have a talk with him about where he was born.  I figured he was pretty young back than, so it was probably hard to remember details like that.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the cookies that little guy passed out to remind us that Jesus got hungry, too. 

Lots of folks struck around for dinner on the grounds, and the spread was huge.  Everything from barbeque sandwiches to chicken alfredo.  Not that I would have been able to name the chicken stuff.  The lady who made it told me.  Lots of desserts as well, including Blue Bell ice cream.  Can’t ever go wrong with Blue Bell.  We have to do extra next month because we will be hosting a group of twenty college students.  They tend to get hungry.  Very hungry.

The leadership team met after that and began to focus on some specific recommendations for actions we can take as we move ahead.  They divided into two groups. One will focus on the vertical ways we can strengthen the church – spiritual growth through worship and discipleship.  The other focused on horizontal strength– ways to grow through getting more people involved in ministry and fellowship.  I’m anxious to hear what they each came up with at our meeting next week.  I’m more anxious to get going with the actions they propose.

Psalms 66:16-20 says, “Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.  I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.  If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.  Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”

Father, thank you for the positive spirit at church.  Come back anytime.  Every time.  Amen.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

February 17 – “Fortress of Forty Steps”

We went on a treasure hunt yesterday with two six-year-olds and a two-year-old.  Oh and I guess you should count the newly aged thirty-two year old as well.  Josh and I were assigned outside duty with Zak, Micah and Josiah, so we decided to go with them over to the “40 Steps” vacant lot next door.  Strange how a name like that can just come to the head of a two tear old and then be perpetuated by the adults in his life.  Maybe we should print up a welcoming banner to place on the lot, kind of like the Hundred Acre Wood in Winnie the Pooh. 

The boys found all sorts of treasure buried beneath the sand and dirt left by the excavator that tore down the house.  An old Christmas light (the kind you hung outside before they invented icicle lights) was Zak’s favorite find.  A Christmas wreath (well, the remains of one) had Micah so excited during the extraction process.  He thought he had uncovered an entire Christmas tree.  A real white Lego (Just one, I’m afraid).  An old wheel and the blade off of a lawn mower.  Two long pieces of metal pipe held together by some kind of round object.  Micah said it was part of a giant’s pair of scissors.  A piece of a train track (that was Josh’s big find.  He was excited enough to bring it over to Zak for his inspection).  Micah found a piece of one of those plastic hot wheels tracks.  He knew exactly what it was, too.  I spent most of my time pulling up[ large pieces of concrete, small shards of glass, and pieces of metal that I thought might become dangerous items to tread upon in the future.  Chris even came out at one point.  She was scouting out possible sites for a garden.  Hey, a girl’s gotta dream, right? 

Zak and Micah soon graduated into the construction phase of their outdoor tenure.  They decided to build a fort out of the stuff they had been finding.  Very creative, those two.  Concrete blocks stood on end.  Strips of broken wood completed the circle of walls.  When Josiah wanted to be involved, Josh suggested that he be allowed to dig a moat around the fortress, and he complied for a time.  A rusted pipe brought a water supply into the confines of the fort.  When I found a second old wheel, Micah turned it into some kind of booby trap to add to the fort’s protection.  And when they had completed the edifice, they ran inside to get some Lego men to man the defenses. 

So beware all ye who would dare to intrude upon the peace and tranquility of our fair little hamlet, for the Fortress of Forty Steps stands ready to protect and defend the inhabitants. 

Psalms 5:11 says, “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”

Father, thank you for being all the protection we really need.  Amen.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

February 16 – “Happy Birthday, Josh”

Yes, today is our son Joshua’s birthday.  He and his wife Christi disappeared last night to the Tremont Hotel and we got to spend the night with Caleb and Zakary.  Great fun for us, that’s for sure.  We watched a few episodes of Wipeout on TV and then we watched Caleb relive them with his own special twist on the action.  Zak had some ideas as well for how they could have mastered the obstacles.  If they ever have a brothers show, watch out producers.  These two will come away with the prize for sure. 

The whole bunch of our grandkids were here for a while yesterday to get in some cousin time.  We loved it when Josiah (the two year old) showed up wearing a sock on one foot and the other foot was bare.  No shoes.  His explanation?  “I have a peg leg.  I a pirate.”  Of course. 

We had quite a scare this morning.  Not about the grandkids, though.  They were fine.  And not about Mom, although she was up most of the night again, which meant Chris was up, too.  This time it was my computer.  I turned it on and it started up as usual.  Up to a point.  Then it suddenly turned into a blue screen and flashed one of those dire warnings about how the world as you know it is about to come to an end.   Well, at least the world as your computer knows it.  I followed all the instructions as they arrived on the screen.  They kept me informed as to what the computer was doing, but when the process was complete, the notice said nothing was repaired.  It switched to a different screen with new instructions, and I followed those instructions as well.  I am such an obedient fellow.  Finally that program finished its diagnostics and informed me that there was nothing it could do, either.  Sadly, I pushed the “Okay” button, certain by now that a good portion of pour pictures file as well as some key documents that had not yet been backed up were being systematically flushed into oblivion …

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a windows screen to bring me good cheer. 
I breathlessly watched as it loaded itself,
while I silently cheered as I reached for the shelf. 
Then Windows came up as if all was fine, 
and I hastily backed up the files that were mine. 
Videos, pictures, and documents, too,
all safely nestled in file back up two. 
A sigh of relief did come forth from my soul,
that’s enough of the stress that has taken its toll.
Pass me the Legos, a muffin, let’s eat,
And while you’re at it, please turn up the heat.

OK.  Enough of that.  I slipped into a bit of poetic reverie there. 

Psalms 66:10-12 says, “For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.  You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.  You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.”

Father, thank you for those trials.  I guess.  It is hard to remember that they will result in a place of abundance when I’m in the middle of them, though.  Amen.

Friday, February 15, 2013

February 15 – “Valentines Day reminiscing”

Ah, Valentines Day.  Don’t you just love reading all the posts about romantic dinner dates and beautiful roses?  Want to hear about our Valentines Day this year?  I guess that’s a silly question since I’m the one writing this thing.  I did remember to get Chris something, by the way.  Thought about it a lot.  So here it is, my official Valentines Day post:

Valentines Day: I gave her a book.  She loves to read.  She gave me pink, heart-shaped pancakes.  I love to eat.  We enjoyed each other’s company over a nice romantic lunch surrounded by five grandchildren all eating pizza.  Sigh.

We did have Jachin and Micah and Josiah and Cailyn all here.  Zakary and Caleb arrived later last night.  Christina had an ultrasound appointment to see what that little female earthling growing in her womb looks like.  And of course she is gorgeous.  We got to see the 21 pictures they brought home.  Christina brought us one of their extra swings when she came to pick up the boys, so as soon as they drove away Cailyn was onto me about hanging it up.  That meant drilling some holes and getting the swing  screws out that I gave Chris for Christmas.  Not that difficult, but I had to look straight up to do it, so my neck is kind of sore.  Cailyn loves it, though, so I guess it’s worth it.  We’ll see what Zak and Caleb think today.

Did I mention that we had pizza for lunch?  Chris intended to make spaghetti, but apparently it has become a tradition to have pizza every time the boys come over.  Even Josiah was asking where the pizza man was.  That turned into another funny scene when the delivery arrived.  Josiah was very excited when the doorbell rang.  “Pizza man is here,” was his cry as he ran to the door.  His face quickly fell into a look of overwhelmed confusion, though.  It wasn’t the pizza man after all.  It was the pizza lady.  Very confusing, but he did manage to ask her where her big pizza truck was.  Sadly enough, she was using her own car.  No pizza man.  No big pizza truck.  What’s this world coming to, eh, Josiah?  He did manage to force down his slice of pizza, though.

Later we were outside playing when he discovered my fishing poles in the garage.  That was all he wanted to do from that point on … go fishing.  Can’t say I blamed him.  I’ve been wanting to go fishing for months.  I have to admit I was a little envious of him, though.  When he realized we weren’t going today, he threw an epic temper tantrum.  Beating up the car, throwing himself to the concrete, wailing about how mistreated he was.  Wish I could do something like that on occasion.  It really looked cathartic.

John 4:34 says, “’My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’”

Father, thank you for the chance to spend Valentines Day watching Chris interact with our grandkids.  There’s not much more fun.  Amen.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

February 14 – “A new word”

I learned a new word at our Ash Wednesday service last night.  I’m actually planning to do some more research on it to make sure I get a full understanding of it.  It is a foreign word.  Polish, actually, according to the couple who was visiting.  Their last name was Ruzanski, so I have no reason to doubt them.  They were here from Chicago staying at the RV park near Jamaica Beach.  They were wondering how they could find a service to go to for Ash Wednesday when they saw our marquee.  Divine coincidence, I guess.

Now back to the new term.  It is a religious word, I guess you could say.  Specifically related to preparations for Lent.  That would make it closely associated with Mardi Gras.  Now Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday.  When they first said this new word I thought maybe it was just their version of the same thing.  But no.  This word has a whole meaning all its own, and the more I think about it the more I am once again inspired to seek it out …

OK.  So the Polish word is “paczki.”  Try to pronounce that on your own and I can almost guarantee you won’t come anywhere close.  I had to write it out phonetically: “poonch-key.”  Anybody ever heard of it?  I sure hadn’t.  Apparently it is very common in Polish communities, and shows up only once a year, the day before Ash Wednesday.  It is … drumroll here … some kind of massive pastry.  Like a huge, oversized stuffed donut with cream or jelly inside and covered with powdered sugar on the outside.  Those are their words, not mine.  To get a real paczki you have to make an order at a Polish bakery way in advance, because, as you can imagine, they sell out as fast as they can make them.  Anybody hungry yet?  Now that’s the way to celebrate Mardi Gras.  I don’t know any Polish bakeries in Galveston, though.  I wonder if three or four regular sized cream-filled donuts would equal one paczki?  I’m certainly willing to give it a try. 

Well, I’m off to get Chris’ Valentine ready before she wakes up.  We have a houseful coming over today.  Cailyn will be here for her Mom’s test day.  Kel’s boys will be here for their Mom’s latest ultrasound picture of their little sister.  Then some time today or tonight Josh and Christi and their boys will be here for a few days.  It’ll be a madhouse of fun and excitement around here, that’s for sure.  Maybe I could get over to the donut shop for my first paczki trial before they arrive …

Psalms 66:8-9 says, “Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.”

Father, thank you for new words and new friends and potential new experiences.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February 13 – “Manners”

Well, it looks like there will be no help for the weary in our household.  The lack of an appropriate diagnosis on Mom makes her ineligible to get any significant immediate help.  Home health requires a specific illness or injury.  Hospice needs a “pending death” determination.  That leaves only one way to get the kind of help we need.  Pay out of pocket for it.  So what do we need?  Someone to help Chris give her baths.  Someone to come in and sit with her – help her to the bathroom, make sure she doesn’t fall, and see that she eats - for a few hours or even a weekend at a time so we can go to San Antonio and see Josh and family.  Of course it has to be someone Chris trusts as well, and that’s a pretty tall order right there. 

Speaking of Mom, Cailyn was very sweet toward her yesterday.  At lunch Mom got stuck in scraping the bowl mode.  That’s an unusual phenomenon that occurs quite often when she is eating.  Instead of putting food onto her spoon and into her mouth, she just scrapes the spoon around and around and around.  There are occasions when she will eat most of the food first before she goes to scraping, but yesterday I guess she thought she was finished already.  It’s like she hits a point of behavior and then forgets what is supposed to come next, so she keeps repeating and repeating like an old record with a scratch in it.  So this time she had a full bowl of food.  She had picked it up to better attend to her scraping, but the tilt was causing the food within to become precariously close to spilling into her lap.  Cailyn watched for a time until she couldn’t hold back any more.  Very patiently she reached over and gently pushed the bowl back to the table, quietly remarking, “There you go, MeeMaw.”  After several times I remarked, “Thank you, Cailyn, for being so kind to MeeMaw.”  She had an answer for me right away, “I’m working on my manners.”

Psalms 66:5 says, “Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man's behalf!”

Father, thank you for the awesome work you have done in my behalf on both ends of the spectrum.  Mom who is nearing the end of her life and Cailyn who is just beginning.  Both are amazing.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February 12 – “The Lolly Incident”

Yesterday was one of those times when Nathan had to be at work by 6:30 and April had to be at clinicals for nursing school by 6:15.  Rather than wake Cailyn up and drag her over to our house at that early hour, guess who gets to drive over there at 5:45 so she can sleep in?  That would be good old DadDad.  Actually I’m usually up by then anyway, so it’s really not a problem.  I just packed up the laptop and settled in on the floor with my back up against the couch while Abby their boxer snoozed … up on the couch.  Explains why I got the floor. 

Sleeping in for Cailyn means she trudged down the stairs around 7:15 or so.  That event was preceded by the appearance of her sleeping companion, Scooter the Boston Terrier.  And Cailyn’s first stop was the cage of their ferret, Lolly.  Apparently part of the morning routine at the Vaughan Family Zoo is for Lolly to have some time outside her cage, either snuggling on the couch or hiding under the pillows or … as happened in our case yesterday, of course … disappearing.  Now I happened to know from earlier consultations with April that the disappearing trick was not something brand new just to show off for DadDad.  She had told me before that Lolly had gone missing one time and had kept them in suspense until they finally located her behind the stove in the kitchen.  Guess she was cold.  I checked there as my second choice when we realized she was no longer pacing on the side table next to the couch.  That would be after I pulled the couch away from the wall and looked under every couch pillow.  I even asked Cailyn if they had kind of secret signal or special way of calling Lolly.  She looked at me quizzically for a moment, then offered in a bit louder voice, “How about, ‘Lolly’?”  Funny.  Then she suggested, “You could try the kitchen or in my room downstairs, or maybe she’s in my Mommy and Daddy’s room upstairs.”  Great help there, Cailyn.  Just what I needed – a verbal floor plan of the entire house.  But by then she got into the flow of things and suggested scratching the fabric on the couch.  Now there was an inspired idea.  We tried it.  No luck.  That’s when we expanded our search. 

I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to call for some firemen to come help in the rescue attempt.  But a ferret is a rodent, isn’t it?  Worst case scenario would be we don’t find her and she lives surreptitiously in the walls, eating cockroaches and running other mice out of her territory.  What’s so bad about that?  I did want to check one other place, though, before I gave up.  The bathroom always has great places to hide, especially if you are a long, very skinny rat-like creature.  I turned on the hall light as I approached the bathroom and happened to glance over at the ferret’s cage.  And there, peeking out from underneath the cage, was the missing Lolly.  She just wanted to go home, that’s all.  We played hide and seek for a moment or two as she decided whether or not I could be trusted.  She finally came out of hiding and I was able to return her to her humble abode.  Mission accomplished.

Psalms 66:1-2 says, “Shout with joy to God, all the earth!  Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!”

Father, thanks for the reminder from a rodent that I can always come back home to you and you will find me and gently return me to the comfort of your presence.  Amen.