Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 31 – “Anecdotal data”

When Josiah (age 3) was here the other day he was hungry.  Actually he gets hungry every time he is here.  It’s kind of a rite of passage through our front door for boys of all ages to get hungry at Nana’s house.  They could have just eaten a full meal, but entering Nana’s kitchen just sparks some kind of internal flame that must be fed with Nana food.  This particular time Josiah’s sweet tooth was doing its best to take over the conversation, though.  Here’s what I heard:

Josiah: “Nana, I want some snoot snacks.”  (That would be translated “fruit snacks” in case you were wondering.  It’s one of the few Josiah-isms we have figured out)
Chris: “How about some fruit?”
Josiah: “I want snoot snacks … or candy.”
Chris: “No candy.  How about some fruit?”
Josiah: (Resignedly) “Okay.” 
Chris: “So do you want an apple?”
Josiah: (Obviously confused) “No.  I want some fruit.”
Chris: (Chuckling) “Do you want an apple or an orange or some grapes?”
Josiah: (Hopelessly lost) “I can have an apple.”
Chris: “Okay.”
Josiah: (sighing) “Okay.”

So, not enough action for you in that anecdote?  Or maybe you just want to hear the female side of things?  Here’s a quick Cailyn interchange we had the other day.

Cailyn: (pulling up a child’s size rocking chair next to my desk and plopping herself down in it): “DadDad, how about let’s talk?”
Me: (How can you resist an offer like that?) “What can we talk about?”
Cailyn: (pensively wondering as if in a daydream) “DadDad, when I grow up … when I grow up …”
Me: (interrupting her thoughts) “Cailyn, how old will you be when you grow up?”
Cailyn: (without hesitating a bit) “Thirteen.”
Me: “Ah.  And what do you do when you grow up to be thirteen?”
Cailyn: (again, without hesitating.  She has obviously thought this through) “You get married.”
Me: “So when you’re 13 years old you’re gonna want to get married?”
Cailyn: “Yep.”
Me: “Your Daddy might have something to say about that.”
Cailyn: “Silly, DadDad,” (I get called that a lot around here) “I’m gonna marry my Daddy.”
Me: (pierced to the heart) “So you’re not gonna marry me?”
Cailyn: (thinking briefly with a finger across her lips) “But I’m gonna dance with you.”
Me: “Ah.  That’ll be just fine.”

Psalms 103:13-14 says, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”

Father, help me remember to have compassion on your children as well.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 30 – “Micah Moments”

Our grandson Micah is one of those guys who is always in motion, even when he is at rest.  He was walking through my office the other day when it hit him that my office chair was unoccupied.  Now some kids would see that as an invitation to crawl up in it and pretend to be an airplane pilot or a fire truck driver or even a rider on a roller coaster.  Not Micah.  Oh, he saw an opportunity, all right.  But it didn’t involve getting into the chair.  See, the chair swivels, no, spins around and around.  Now that had some possibilities for Micah.  He gently shoved it a time or two, just to get his bearings and figure out the geometry involved.  And when he was ready, he took a deep breath, pulled the chair as far back as he could and let it fly with all his might.  Problem was, he didn’t factor in one significant obstacle.   His head.  As the chair flew around, it smacked him right upside the head.  He wasn’t hurt or anything, but the look on his face sure screamed, “Well that was unfortunate … and kind of silly.  Sure glad DadDad was the only one who saw it, because he's always been unfortunate ... and kind of silly.” 

Apparently Micah had been doing quite well in some of the games he has played of late.  I received word that he smoked his older brother and his baby sitter Jennifer (that’s sitter, not sister.  I have to be careful to make that distinction now) in a game of Sorry.  I asked him about it, and he added that he had excelled in a game called Legendary as well.  In his words, “I’m on a winning streak of games right now.  I’ve won like seven in a row.  And Jachin is not too happy.  ‘Cause he’s usually the one who always usually wins.”  Attaboy, Micah.  Find your nitch and dig in.

Psalms 103:11-12 says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Father, here’s a special word just for Micah today.  Please walk with him as he grows and learns and discovers and interacts with your world around him.  Especially as he interacts.  I love that little guy.  Amen. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29 – “Fire fighter family”

Yesterday the weekend of fire fighter charity benefits to help the Anderson family with medical bills after the premature birth of their baby girl Haisley concluded with an all-day softball tournament at the fields near the Galveston airport.  I managed to get there right at 8 a.m. as they were kicking off.  Tournament director Urbina had asked me as chaplain to pray with the guys before they got started, and I was certainly honored.

Boy, being at that field sure brought back some memories.  I raced rather quickly back through the years just before Hurricane Ike when Seaside had a team in the city church league.  Those were some really fun times, but our team was less that admirable when it came to skill.  We did know how to have a good time, though, and laughter prevailed in our dugout and on the field.  I also remembered way back to when I was a young teenager playing baseball regularly at the pony-colt field.  That was before it was named after somebody.  We played a practice game on the softball field, and I hit the first and only home run of my entire baseball career off of a fireballing right-hander named Mickey Whitley.  I was running full-out and almost to second base before Mickey got my attention and told me it was out of the park.  You could sure tell I had never been in that position before.  Didn’t even have a home run trot worked out.  And as I talked with one of the older guys who was in the umpiring crew for the day, I remembered the times I had wandered over to the softball field during one of the many fast-pitch tournaments that used to be held regularly in Galveston.  I was fascinated by the speed of the pitches, but more so by how close the third-basemen played to the batter.  And that wonder finally became reality for me when one of the teams needed an extra player and picked me up to be their third baseman.  I loved it. 

Great memories there.  But that was a long time ago.  A really long time ago.  Like 43 years ago.  Nevertheless, the old man here actually got picked up by one of teams to be the designated hitter, meaning I didn’t ever have to take the field.  You know, strictly an RBI man.  I managed eke out a few hits.  Even got that RBI against the one team in the tournament that didn’t have a fire fighter on it.  They were the only ones who didn’t seem to be playing for fun, though.  It was kind of sad.  They won their games, so I guess they got what they came for, but I think I’ll stick with fire fighter family.  I enjoyed watching the little kids play together, and especially watching them run the bases between games.  I was introduced to several wives and girlfriends.  Gotta love that family atmosphere.  It is such a privilege to be associated with this group, and they have gone out of their way to welcome me.  I just hope they know I want to be there for them when they need me.  I am sure sore this morning.  But it was sure worth it.

Psalms 103:9-10 says, “He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

Father, thank you for that promise.  It’s more than just cutting us some slack.  It’s mercy.  And all you ask in return is our love.  That is humbling.  Take care of Haisley and her family.  And watch over that whole fire fighter family.  Amen.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28 – “Happy Anniversary, Seaside”

Today’s entry will be a short one.  I have to be at the softball fields at the airport before 8:00.  I have been asked to say a prayer before the benefit tournament for one of the fire fighter families begins.  It will be the culmination of a weekend of events designed to help out this young couple.  Friday night the fire fighters held a benefit barbeque and silent auction that seemed to go well.  Barbecue chicken, rice and beans.  Bouncy house for the kids.  The food was great and there were lots of items up for bid.  I haven’t heard yet how much they received, but I know any amount will be greatly appreciated.  This particular family is a little closer than most because Mom and Dad both went to Seaside as teenagers.  That makes them twice family.  They had a premature little baby girl with multiple problems, so their medical bills are already pretty high and promise to continue as she grows and needs different surgeries.  So, when you combine Seasiders with fire fighters and there is also baseball involved, I gotta be there.

Today is also the seventeenth anniversary of Seaside’s constitution as a church.  We are not doing any kind of big celebration or anything.  In fact I’m probably the only one who remembers things like that around Seaside.  Although I did put Happy Anniversary on our sign last week.  I’m doing a business-type report about the state of the church, so I just put together a little booklet to package the information in.  The booklet has a bunch of pictures from Seaside’s past as well.  My favorite page has pictures of some of our college students as they look now and back when they were five or six.  Should be lots of fun.

Psalms 103:8 says, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”

Father, thank you for your patience.  Amen.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 27 – “The Adult”

We got to spend the day with a horde of grandkids yesterday.  Never a boring experience, even with just one of them, but this time we had Kel’s three boys (Christina had a doctor’s appointment in Houston) and Cailyn (Mom and Dad were both at work).  Cailyn actually arrived first, around six, but she soon disappeared into the bedroom with Chris and went back to sleep.  Didn’t take her long to wake up after the boys got here, though.  The noise level rose a few decibels, to be sure.  And when she came in she had to show off some of her gymnastics moves.  A couple of tumbling runs started things off, but her grand finale was apparently going to be a handspring after a running start.  The running part went well.  Her arms went up above her head as planned.  But when she went into the actual flip part of the move, her upper body strength completely deserted her.  It was as if her arms were non-existent.  I have seen gymnasts do no-handed cartwheels before.  This wasn’t one of those times.  With no support from her arms, the next item in line to break her fall was, sadly, her face.  She smashed to the floor.  You could have heard a pin drop for a long second.  Two.  Three.  As we all awaited the outcome.  Finally she jumped to feet and raced into the bedroom.  No, that wasn’t the planned grand exit.  She began crying as soon as she was out of sight.  Good old DadDad was elected to go check on her.  Once I convinced her to come out from under the covers I took a look at her face.  Nose looked straight.  Check.  No obvious black eyes.  Check.  Chin still intact.  Check.  And then she opened her mouth.  There it was.  The blood had chosen to stay inside, but the problem was definitely present in there somewhere.  Best I could tell it was coming from where her two front teeth attach to the gums.  Since I had her calm for the moment, I convinced her that we needed to get some ice on it.  We also needed Nurse Nani to take a look at it, but I figured one thing at a time.  We made our way back to the kitchen and I went for some ice.  Chris met us and Cailyn let her check it out.  The bleeding continued, so Chris gave Nathan a call at work and they decided she really should be checked out by a dentist.  Chris made the call and got an appointment right away.  Nathan pulled some strings and headed home to take her.  To make a long story short, the teeth stayed put, but might be loose for a few days.  She has to eat only soft foods, which meant a trip to the yogurt shop, of course.  Her permanent teeth below the gum line looked fine.  That was where Cailyn had an epiphany, a discovery, a revelation.  She was listening, you see, always listening, when the dentist was explaining things to her Daddy.  And what she heard was, “Cailyn’s adult teeth … blah, blah, blah, blah.”  She had adult teeth.  Adult.  That meant she was an adult.  Why else would she have adult teeth?  Now that’s a sure source of pride for a four-year-old girl in the mix with a bevy of boy cousins.  Not that she has ever had problems holding her own or figuring out wily ways to have her way.  But now … she was the adult.  Hold on to your hats, gentlemen.

Psalms 103:6 says, “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.”

Father, thanks for protecting Cailyn.  Her angel was working overtime.  Amen.

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26 – “Head history”

Yesterday was yardwork day once again at the Vaughan house.  At least it was for me.  Chris was tied up cleaning house for our life group Bible study.  Remembering my bout with the heat last time, I didn’t try to do too much this week.  I just mowed the front and back and trimmed some of the bushes that started growing like crazy after the rain we had last week.  It was still plenty hot, though. 

I got a call to let a group into the retreat center at Seaside.  They were a high school group from a church in Richmond.  They had been visiting with the Galveston Urban Ministries group that coordinates so much of the volunteer missions work here in Galveston.  I think they were doing some kind of planning retreat for a future mission trip.  They did love our facilities, though.  It’s hard not to if you have searched for other sites on the island. 

I finished up printing some programs seaside’s 17th anniversary coming up this Sunday.  Actually the program is just the information for a State of the Church business report, but who can get excited about something like that?  So I dressed it up with some old scanned photos I had from the church’s history.  Even found one of me standing on my head.  That was how I introduced myself to Seaside in the first sermon I preached.  Stood on my head and asked them what they expected to happen when they came to church.  One guy yelled out, “Not that,” and I had their attention.  The rest, as they say, is history.  In the years following I started doing the head stand thing as an anniversary rite.  That lasted until my third neck surgery.  My neurosurgeon warned me that some things that are really fun would simply have to be let go.  And he was pretty specific about standing on my head being one of them.  I asked him.  He even fell for a really old joke at the time.  I asked if I would be able to play church softball after the surgery.  He assured me that I would.  I replied, “That’s great.  I never have before.”  As I recall he didn’t think it was all that funny.  Chris didn’t think it was funny, either.  She just shook her head and sighed.  She sure has kept me off my head, though.  Ah, well.  Maybe a little bit of pictorial history will make the handout a little more palatable.

Psalms 103:2-5 says, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits —  who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.”

Father, thank you for helping Seaside put together the retreat center.  Keep on using it for your glory.  Amen.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

July 25 – “Battle of the Baristas”

Mom’s trip to the doctor proved to be a fairly simple experience.  The hardest part was filling in all the paperwork to keep her file “updated.”  The doc said the different things we were questioning – even the nosebleeds – could probably be attributed to different aspects of the aging process, but of course we should watch the nosebleeds so she doesn’t end up anemic.  I guess that was encouraging.  I did get tickled when he found out Mom’s internist here in Galveston had stopped two of the meds he had started her on.  He wanted to know the reason behind it.  I couldn’t think of anything in particular, so I jokingly said, “It’s because she’s a witch doctor.”  Chris punched me.  The doc didn’t laugh, though.  He just wanted to know the name so, “I don’t ever refer anyone.”  OK.  Moving right along, then.  He restarted the medication, almost as if to say, “I dare you to stop it one more time.”  It’s kind of fun to watch a Battle of the Baristas of medicine.  It’s not so fun, though, when the battleground is Mom. 

We got home in time for me to join Nathan and Cailyn for a trip to Angleton.  They found a used car at a lot there that matched perfectly their budget and desires.  It was even white, the perfect color for displaying dirt.  That was Cailyn’s special request, although I’m surprised she didn’t say pink.  I think it’s called a Flex. And it’s pretty much Ford’s answer to the minivan without having the stigma of being called a minivan (which it really is.  Sorry, April.  You’re a Minivan Mom now, a real Soccer Momma).  The seats in the rear even fold over backwards so you can have a comfortable seat with the tailgate open to watch your kid play.  It does have a lot of bells and whistles, though.  Nathan even called me through his hands free device on the way home.  Oh, did I mention that Cailyn chose to ride home with me?  Yep.  Good Old DadDad still outranked “Mommy’s new car.”  It was a great ride, too.  The first thing she said when we drove off was, “I don’t like the music on.”  For all you guys out there, that’s female language for, “Turn off the radio.”  Ah, how young they learn to talk that way.  And of course the reason she wanted the radio off was so she would have no competition.  She started talking and didn’t stop until we parked in Galveston.  Gotta love that girl.

Psalms 103:1 says, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.”

Father, thank you for riding with us to Houston and to Angleton.  I appreciate your protection.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 24 – “Old girls”

I’m in kind of a quandary today.  We have to get Mom up to Houston for an appointment with our neurologist (he’s mine, too).  They usually get us very late morning times to give us a chance to get her up and moving before we have to kick it in high gear and get her ready to travel.  This one, though, is at 10:30.  That means we are expected at 10:15, which means we have to leave here by 9:00.  So much for late-morning appointment times.  And interesting thing has happened, though.  It is 7:15 and Mom is already up and has had her breakfast.  She has even had time to sneak a tootsie roll from the candy jar.  All this before Chris has even finished with her shower.  Now, I know we still have to get her dressed and loaded into the car, but things are actually boding well for the journey this time. 

There is not a specific reason for the appointment.  Well, other than they won’t continue to refill her prescription for nerve pain unless they see her once a year or so.  Chris does have a few questions on tap.  Mom has had some random sudden nosebleeds over the last few weeks.  No apparent reason for them.   And we’re still concerned about the way she usually drags her right leg when she walks.  If she has shoes on it does make it easier for us to hear her coming, but we could hang a bell around her neck if that was what we needed.  It causes us some concern. 

I guess I’ll leave it for today with these words of wisdom we heard Cailyn say to Mom the other day as she established the scenario for the role play game they were engaged in together.  Mom had her walker and Cailyn had discovered her cane.  As they rounded the corner we heard … “We’re both old girls, MeeMaw.”

Psalms 102:25-27 says, “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.  26 They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.  Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.  27 But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”

Father, thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience life with Mom and Cailyn all at the same time.  It is a wonderful, convoluted mishmash of fun and heartbreak, joy and sadness.  It is a great blessing.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23 – “Transcending tradition”

I did the closest thing to an infant baptism I will probably ever do the other day.  The family wanted to do something special for their almost-two-year-old daughter while the family was gathered together here in Galveston at a beach house.  It took me a while, but I developed a child dedication service for them that even incorporated Mom and Dad lowering the little one into the water.  The symbolism there was to show how we were asking the Holy Spirit to completely surround her with his protection until she was old enough to understand how to make the decision for herself to love Jesus. 

It went really well, too.  Everyone there was family.  They were all dressed in white to commemorate the occasion.  I even took a big family picture of all of them at the water’s edge before we started the service.  The little girl did really well.  She didn’t make a sound the whole time, even when Mom and Dad eased her into the water.  And after the service several of them stayed around to ask me questions.  It was great to be able to clarify the gospel in such a way that they seemed to be considering the ramifications of a personal love relationship with Jesus in a way they hadn’t thought of before. 

Guess I’ll have to include this one in my book of unusual services and approaches to ministries I have undergone over the years.  I’m not sure anyone else would buy into that sort of thing, though.  This whole transcending traditional denominational lines to discover points of commonality under Jesus just doesn’t seem to be all that popular.  Never has been.  But I have sure found some the best opportunities for ministry there.  I don’t see stopping any time soon. 

Matthew 15:1-4 says, “Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 ‘Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!’
3 Jesus replied, ‘And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?’”

Father, help me to always see beyond tradition and into you your heart.  Amen.

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22 – “Connecting”

Another great Sunday goes down in the books.  Yesterday we were graced with the presence of at least three quite interesting families.  The first one I met was a pastor from a place called Peachland, North Carolina.  Very encouraging guy.  Great deep South accent.  He even invited us to stay with him next time we are traveling through North Carolina.  I’ll have to keep that in mind if we ever become world travelers.  Then I met a guy who actually owns a home in Pirate’s Beach not far from the church.  Most recently, however, he has been living in Beijing, China.  I’m not sure how much of him we will see.  They are planning to move to the Katy area to be closer to his job.  The hour and ten minute commute is taking its toll on him.  The last family I met was very personable.  They took up one whole back pew.  Later on the Dad took me aside and quietly confessed that he was a home missionary in New York.  He said they were traveling in cognito, so I didn’t reveal his secret. 

They all had the chance to be a part of our youth camp service.  This year we did it a bit differently.  Instead of just having the students share testimonies about their experiences, we wove the sharing in as introductions to worship songs we learned at camp and introduced to the church.  It gave the younger ones a kind of “hook” to hang their thoughts on, and it seemed to really help.  It also helped the service feel more like a time of worship and less like a report.  Each one had something entirely different to say, and each one’s comments provided a perfect lead-in to the focused points I made and to the songs. 

Kelly Boyer kicked everything off by sharing about our camp prayer warriors and the job they were called to do.  It is always great to see how one who grew up at Seaside has matured and grown spiritually.  Then the youngest camper, Grace, shared how she made friends (and she was a master at it) through her involvement in the activities of her Bible study group.  It led perfectly into what it means to love and how God loved us and provides salvation for us.  Her sister Espey talked about the singing and worship experiences at camp and about how the camp pastor made his messages so easy to understand.  Great tie-in to what praise is and how we were created to be praisers.  Jason has been to camp before, so he talked about how being the one going back means you are not awed by the whole “I’m at camp” thing.  You can focus on Jesus.  Wow.  That was a sermon all by itself.  Finally, Demetrius shared about how he made a decision to read the Bible instead of the other books he brought with him.  His point was that you have to work hard to be a good Christian.  I liked his “real world connect” challenge.  He asked us to think of three superheroes we have had.  Of course Superman was right up in that top three for me.  Then he asked, “How many had one hero who was not real, like Superman or someone from mythology?”  Many hands went up.  His next question was “How many had one hero who was a human being – someone you know?”  Again, quite a few hands.  Finally, he asked, “How many had Jesus as one of your heroes?”  A few hands went up.  He explained that superheroes are those people we pattern our lives after, who we try to be like.  For a Christian, the only way to be a true disciple is make Jesus your number one Superhero.  Good stuff, there.  One would think these guys actually got something out of camp.  I guess we’ll go back again next year.  Anybody ready to sign up?

Psalms 102:15 says, “The nations will fear the name of the Lord, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.”

Father, help those students keep growing in you.  And draw some more to us so they can have these same opportunities.  Of course that means we need some adults called out to work with them.  And the circle of ministry continues.  Amen.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21 – “Agricultural and electronic progress”

Well, the rains have come.  The last few hours, including much of the night last night, have been intermittently punctuated by thunderstorms and pretty heavy downpours.  I even checked the radar.  Looks like we’re in for a few more hours before they rain themselves out.  Unless, of course, some more form out over the Gulf.  And of course rain could mean anything when it comes to church attendance.  Some folks will come because it's too nasty to go to the beach.  Others will just stay at home because it's too nasty to go anywhere.  And today is the day the students who went to camp get to share their experience.  Oh, well.  At least it makes me glad to be extremely sore today. 

I know, that was a stretch.  But we did mow and work in the yard yesterday, so I am really sore this morning.  Chris told me that eating bananas will help stave off attacks of leg cramps in the middle of the night, so I’m munching on one now.  I figure she has a vested interest in keeping my leg cramps at bay.  She’s the one who gets abruptly awakened when I jump. It’s just good to know we got all the work in before the rain.  Now the grass can soak it up and start all over again.  Ah, the life of an urban grass farmer. 

I finished all the scanning of our photo albums yesterday.  1975 through today.  That’s a really long time.  Thirty-eight years of married life.  And it has sure trumped the almost twenty-two years before that.  I’m not going into what happens when you add those two numbers together, though.  Not until August, at least.  The middle of August.  So we now have untold number of duly digitized jpegs safely stashed away on an external hard drive.  Now we just have to remember to grab it when we have to evacuate for a storm and hope that the technology continues to be available to access it.  I know, I know.  The latest thing is to put it up in the clouds somewhere.  I guess some day we’ll be forced to do that.  We did, after all, have to abandon our floppy discs that were actually floppy back in the day. 

The next electronics project in line is to get back to turning our old VHS tapes into digital creations and storing them on DVDs.  We have a problem there, though.  The VHS player I was using finally conked out.  It would mysteriously turn itself on at random times.  I think it had been commandeered by alien beings and was secretly sucking away at the life force of any human who sat within five feet of it.  I have felt better since I disconnected it.  I hope WalMart still sells those players.  I have a stack of tapes left to go. 

Psalms 102:12 says, “But you, O Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.”

Father, show your glory at church today.  Help the students communicate the excitement they felt at camp.  Amen.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 20 – “Ninja porcupine”

Well.  No VBS news.  Didn’t see Kel’s kids.  Cailyn only stopped by for a few minutes so her Daddy could fax something.  No FaceTime calls from Zak and Caleb.  Grandkid withdrawal.  I couldn’t bring myself to do no work even though Friday is supposed to be a day off, but I did force myself to cut back some.  Chris helped with that.  She asked me to help her update her quilting notebook.  That’s where she keeps a photo record of every quilt she has made.  In it she puts samples of the material, pictures of the finished quilt and even a picture of the person she made it for.  Interesting record to have.  Once we got the photos copied that she still needed, we spent some time actually labeling the pictures on the computer for easier access next time.  Great way to spend some time together and get something accomplished at the same time. 

Speaking of accomplished, I finished scanning the last of the pictures in our photo album.  They are all officially digitized now.  My next task is to arrange a few of the years into an easier to find order.  Once that is done we’ll have as chronological a pictorial history of our life together as is humanly possible for this particular human.  I’m hoping to get to that today.  The plan is to get the yard mowed first – if it doesn’t rain.  Sounds really strange to be really expecting it to rain here on the island.  That just doesn’t happen all that often in the summer unless there is a tropical storm system involved.  Not that I’m asking for one by any means.  I have enjoyed the respite we have had for the last few years after Hurricane Ike.  I’d be happy to go for a few years longer. 

Ah, mowing the yard.  Brings back such odd memories.  The last time I mowed it was hot.  Really hot.  There was a time or two that I considered stopping, but that would have made the yard look really silly.  So I kept going, the voice of my junior high school football coach ringing in my ears, “Suck it up.  Don’t stop now.  Don’t be a baby.”  Sigh.  They don’t make ‘em like they used to, do they?  I kept going until I started getting heartburn and began belching.  I know.  That sounds really strange.  The rest of the day I had heartburn and belching issues.  It was miserable.  I sure didn’t know heat could do all that. 

And the time before that, I ended up with some unexplained scratches on the back of my leg.  No idea where they came from.  In fact I never even noticed them.  Cailyn was the one who expressed concern.  I told her I had no idea what happened, and she immediately said, “I know what happened, DadDad.”  Well, this had to be good.  Never one to muzzle creativity, I encouraged her a bit.  Well, more than a bit.  So she continued, “They were made by a porcupine.  See, he was hiding in the high grass over in 40 Steps and he jumped out at you backwards while you were mowing and scratched you.  Then he hid in the grass again really fastly.”  A ninja porcupine.  I will be sure to watch out for him today.

Psalms 102:1-2 says, “Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you.  Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.  Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.”

Father, thank you for those rare days when there is nothing absolutely pressing that we have to get done.  We could sure use a few more of them.  Amen.

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 19 – “Intelly-yent”

Well, VBS has come and gone.  I let the folks from Mineral Wells know we really appreciated their hard work, and they let me know they learned more than they ever bargained for from being here.  They sent special kudos to our guys who led on Wednesday night.  Nice job to all concerned.

I know Cailyn enjoyed herself.  She couldn’t wait to get back there every night.  Now that might have been so she could see that “very cute blonde boy.”  I found out his name, by the way.  And I almost couldn’t believe it.  Ready for this?  His name is Calin.  Seriously.  It’s pronounced “Callen,” like the guy on NCIS Los Angeles.  But he gets called Cailyn all the time at school.  I, don’t know, Daddy.  This one may be in the cards.  You better stay away from Mineral Wells.

Cailyn was feeling particularly positive around the house yesterday.  At random times she told us each that we were the “very best DadDad I ever had,” and “the best Nani I ever knew.”  And she didn’t even want anything in particular.  That’ll warm a grandparent’s heart.  My favorite for the day, though, was this comment, made while she watched me working at my computer:
“You’re a smart and very intelly-yent boy and so am I except I am a girl.”
That about says it.

On the way home from VBS she was apparently getting a little bored. 
Cailyn: “Tell me a story out of your mouth.” (I assumed that meant as opposed to reading one out of a book).
Me: “About what?”
Cailyn: “About Jesus.”  (Whew.  At least it was a subject I was familiar with).
Me: “How about one about Paul?”  (He was the topic of the Bible stories at VBS)
Cailyn: “Yeah, Paul-Saul.”
I was worried that she might be getting sleepy, so I did my best to dramatize the story of Paul and his friend singing in prison and God sending an earthquake and all the prisoners sticking around.  I got to the point where Paul told the jailor, “If you believe in Jesus you will be saved like me.”  Except right after the “If you believe in Jesus” part I was interrupted from the back seat by an excited cry of “I believe in Jesus!”  Guess she was listening after all.

Psalms 101:1 says, “I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will sing praise.”

Father, thank you for the spark of your love instilled in little hearts.  Help it grow.  Amen.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18 – “Evidence”

I had my picture taken yesterday.  I know.  Sounds strange, right?  The newspaper is doing an article on fire department chaplains, so they wanted some fodder to support the story.  I met the chief at Station 5 and the guys on duty had to pose with me and pretend like we were having a conversation.  Have you ever tried to do that and look natural?  We had to do it in drama back in high school, but back then everybody was into pretending.  And the whole point was to be just a bit over the top so the audience could see your reactions.  Not so here.  I tried to think of things to talk about.  I tried, “So what really bad has happened so far today?”  Just so happened they had only had one call that shift and it was a minor traffic accident.  I did get a rise when I mentioned the union, but all the “exciting” stuff there is pretty much over.  Even their recent contract is already approved.  The good thing was, the photographer was able to get what she needed in just about a minute and a half.  The guys were released, with a noticeable sigh of relief, I might add, and I had to move to a different part of the truck and have a few more portraits done.  The whole thing lasted maybe five minutes, and it was for a positive story on the department, so the general feeling was a good one.  Now I have to wait for the reporter to email me and the chief his list of questions.  Story comes out on August 3rd. 

VBS went especially well last night, but I am a little prejudiced with this one.  A group of Seaside college and high school students came in and helped lead.  Very impressive, if I do say so myself.  There was a bit of lag time at the beginning while everyone was getting on the same page, so I plugged in my phone and played the children’s music album I have on there.  All-time favorites like Father Abraham and I’m in the Lord’s Army.  And of course that meant I had to show them all the motions.  It turned into a rousing round of movement and laughter and fun.  Felt like I was a warm-up group for the main event.  And the main event was pretty well done.  Kelly, Lora, Sydney, Melissa, Travis, and Jimmy started with a name game that I wondered might be too much for the little ones to understand.  They didn’t really get it, but they sure had fun anyway.  Cailyn wants to play it again tonight.  The idea was to quickly call out someone else’s name with a person headed for you to tag you.  Lots of pressure, but made for some comical moments.  Like every time someone approached Macy she revealed another of her imaginary friends.  First time she called out “Bob.”  No Bob there.  Next time she tried “Jamie.”  Close to “James,” I guess, but she clearly meant Jamie.  And no Jamie there.  Her last imaginary friend was my personal favorite of the night.  As the tagger approached closer and closer she got more and more flustered.  Finally she cried out, “Chicken.”  Now that was revealing.  Her imaginary friend is named Jamie Bob Chicken.  Have to remember that one and ask about it tonight. 

As things got serious, the Seasiders acted out the story of Saul on the road to Damascus.  Lora in particular deserved an Oscar for her performance in the lead role (Yep.  She was Saul).  Kelly followed up with the plan of salvation and then asked if any of the kids knew how to become a Christian.  One of the Mineral Wells kids did a pretty fair job working through the ABC’s - Admit you’re a sinner, Believe Jesus died for your sins, Confess your faith in him.  That’s when our very own youngster, Will raised his hand.  He had a few things to add that would have made any theologian proud, not to mention one particular Mommy who needs to hear about this.  Will said, “If we’re bad a lot of times, God still loves us.  No matter what we say or what we do, God still loves us.”  Now he continued on and on, but the cool thing is, everything he said was theologically right on target.  Nice job, Will. 

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Father, sounds like Will is getting the message.  Sounds like those Seaside students got the message.  Thanks for that.  I sure needed the encouragement that comes from seeing the evidence - the results - of Seaside’s ministry.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 17 – “A masterful negotiation”

Vacation Bible School, day two resulted in a three-fold increase in kids’ attendance.  Of course that means we had two more kids there to join Cailyn.  Uh-oh.  No longer the absolute center of attention.  She was fine with it, though. Especially since the other two were rambunctious boys.  Why, they even chose to stay outside and play crazy games instead doing the responsible, reasonable thing of going inside and putting together the huge floor puzzle of a price and his princess on horses.  What could be better than that?  I heard Cailyn and one of the workers’ little girls discussing who would be what character once they got the puzzle together.  They struggled a bit at first, since of course both wanted to be the princess.  And neither of them could be the prince.  I was a bit worried whether that could break out into a knock-down, drag-out fist fight.  But I forgot these were girls.  Guys would have had the fist fight, nobody would have won, the puzzle would be forever forgotten, and they would be best buddies forever.  I don’t have enough experience with girls to know what would happen, though.  As it turned out, Cailyn did get to be the princess.  No surprise there.  But the other little girl came up with the solution of the year as far as I’m concerned.  She decided she would be … the horse.  Of course.  Why didn’t I think of that?  In either case, adults could learn an awful lot from the masterful negotiation skills of children when left to their own devices.

I like the way this group is letting even the very young kids be involved in leading.  Several have lead in prayer and one kid even told the story of Paul and Silas singing in jail.  Cailyn’s friend Macy even raced into the rain to chase down a lady and with two children and invite them to come.  Doing it this way, with a very small group of children, reminds me of one of the ways Seaside has really contributed over the years.  Young kids and even inexperienced adults get to learn how to be effective ministers in a safe place. 

Cailyn came home with me after VBS since Mommy and Daddy both are at work today.  The other day she told Chris that she wants her folks to buy the lot next door so she can “come right in through your front door any time I want to.”  Chris wanted that, too.  Can’t say that Nathan and April would be that thrilled at the prospect, though.

Psalms 100:4-5 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Father, help Seaside maintain a spirit of acceptance and appreciation for the groups that come stay with us.  Amen.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16 – “Resort VBS”

Vacation Bible School is in town in a big way.  Of course that could be taken several ways.  One way would be to point to the fact that the biggest church in Galveston is having VBS this week.  And that would be true.  Moody Methodist is in full swing.  The other way to look at it is that so is Seaside VBS.  And that always means … well, at Seaside it you can never saw “always” about anything.  Too much flux.  Too many variables.  You never know what will happen there.

And the first day proved accurate.  A group from Mineral Wells is actually leading our VBS this year.  They are primarily junior high students with two ladies who seem really good at what they do.  They are taking more of a backyard Bible Club approach rather than a full blown Bible school.  Probably a good choice, because it allows for a lot of flexibility.  They set up Monday morning to do a block party to introduce the action.  Didn’t have many takers, but I think it was good experience for their kids.  One small group was entertaining Nathan, Cailyn and me by trying to make some balloon animals.  Stellera (named after her two grandmothers Stella and Sarah) was pretty good at it.  Haley, on the other hand, exploded five or six before she gave up.  Josh just wanted someone to make him a sword.  He was kind of bummed because he forgot his fishing pole.  Andrew the Banana Man wore his banana suit and waved at cars.  Gavin and Colton showed off their super absorbent necklaces from camp.  They all had a great time in the bounce house before several groups went out into the neighborhood trying to find kids to invite.  One grandma did drive up with her grandson just as we were putting things away for lunch.  She said a very nice young gentleman had invited them, and she was wondering when things were going to be happening.  They didn’t stay, but assured us they would be back.  Finally, Macy went out of her way to spend time playing with Cailyn and made a friend for life. 

Cailyn was the only kid that came the first night.  Not that unusual an experience for resort area ministries, by the way.  By that time I had determined that the leaders really weren’t sure what to do beyond the actual VBS time.  So I sent some more teams out with flyers I had made that afternoon to look for more kids, and I encouraged them all to hang in there.  Cailyn did get there, and they went through their whole VBS experience just for her.  Think she minded being the center of attention?  That would be a no.  She loved it, and pretty much had her new friend Macy all to herself.  The verse for the week is 2 Timothy 1:7, all about fear.  I ended up running the sound and computer for them to show their videos and sing songs.  Even had to “encourage” one of their guys who felt that he was too cool to do the motions or sing.  I got a little crazy with dancing around.  Then I assured him a bit, “If this 150 year old guy can do this, so can you.”  And then I “helped” him stand up and get moving.  Don’t think he’ll forget the crazy man pastor from Galveston any time soon.  I may have to provide the same assistance for a few of their adults tonight. 

I did get to spend some time talking with one of the adult counselors.  Cecil wanted me to show him the places with easiest access so he could take his son fishing and not get pummeled by waves.  It was difficult, but I forced myself to talk about fishing just a bit.

Day one went pretty well, even with just one child.  Cailyn did give new meaning to a game of duck, duck, goose, though.  She tapped Macy on the head and took off running across the field.  The rest of the group was stunned for a second or two, then began cheering her on.  The game was just not the same after that.  The younger boys took their cue from Cailyn, and when they were selected, chased each other upstairs and around the building and back.  Ah, the energy.  Cailyn did ask me on the way to her house if there would be more children there tomorrow.  I told her, “I sure hope so, but I do know Macy will be there.”  And she smiled. 

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Father, draw some more kids out to VBS tonight so these guys from Mineral Wells don’t get too disappointed.  And give old Cecil and his son a good day of fishing.  Amen.

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15 – “Wonder eyes”

We had a great time this weekend catching up with some old friends from our Arlington days.  They were in town to get on one the big boats.  Yep, they were heading on a cruise to the Bahamas.  Not that we did anything special.  All we did was sit around and talk.  But sometimes those are the best times.  Mike is a really quiet kind of guy, and his wife Pat is … well … not.  Between the two of them, they are so much fun to be around.  Pat always has something to say on just about any subject.  And Mike’s occasional interjections into her commentaries are most often hilarious.  We had a chance to see their two kids grow through a big portion of their early years, so it was especially fun to hear about their exploits as adults and how they are dealing with kids of their own.  Always a fun topic for grandparent-types.  Can’t beat the whole “You’re getting what you deserve for the myriad things you did while you were growing up that caused us such great torment and worry” gloat.  Hey … we earned it.

I decided to get in a little fishing Sunday afternoon.  The water had been perfect for it on my way to church that morning, but it was already beginning to church up by the time I could get out there.  It was cloudy and actually kind of cool, so that part was pleasant.  It got choppy quickly, though, so it became one of those “get beat up” kind of days.  I didn’t get live bait.  Decided to use up some of the dead shrimp we have in the freezer.  I was hoping for some whiting or maybe an errant red fish.  I did get a few whiting and even three black drum (same family as red fish, but these were pretty small).  It was a banner day for catfish, though.  Hardhead catfish.  Nasty bottom-dwellers.  They are good for two things.  If they’re big enough, they can make for some fun reeling them in.  Otherwise they have to die and have their skin picked clean by crabs and then sit in the sun for days and days so the bones get bleached out.  Then they have some value.  See, their bones form the perfect shape of a crucifix – Jesus on the cross.  And when you shake the dried out bones, you can hear the rattle of the dice used by the soldiers as they cast lots for Jesus’ clothing.    All in all it makes for a great object lesson.  Out of the evil, bottom-dwelling, bait stealing scavenger comes the ultimate symbol of victory.  Nice. 

I guess I’m more than a little bitter today.  One of them got me.  You always have to be careful of their three fins.  Sharp as tacks and when you get pierced, they sting and swell up and hurt for hours.  This time it was one of the biggest ones I hooked.  He was clinging to the hook for all he was worth.  Anything to make it difficult.  About the time I thought I had him lined up for another go at it, a wave hit me and he started his alligator-esque spinning.  One of his side fins found its way into my wrist.  Way into my wrist.  Enough that I had to grab him and pull him out.  Not the kind of surgery I particularly enjoy performing.  The throbbing started almost immediately, so I decided right then it was time to go home.  I almost turned loose the fish I had caught, but it was too much trouble.  As it turned out, I was glad I kept them.  Not because they will make some good fillets, but there was a little boy, about three years old, on the shore.  He was less that happy that his time at the beach was drawing to a close.  So in a valiant effort at distraction, his Mom asked if he could see the fishies.  Well, of course.  Nothing quite like watching the eyes of a three year old light up.  Can’t say I’ve reached the point where the eyes are all that I remember from the experience – my wrist is still a bit swollen.  But I’ll get there.  One day soon this will be a real Romans 8:28 experience.  At least for the little boy.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Father, thank you for the wonder-eyes of little boys seeing real live fishies.  Give me wonder-eyes at the things you are doing all around me  Amen.