Friday, October 31, 2014

October 31 – “Lasagna Fire Call”

I guess the Halloween craziness started a little earlier this year.  Yesterday I went up to the Central fire station to have lunch.  I was invited by the 50 year birthday boy Moose.  Every time I go to one of the stations I think I learn a little more about the massive amount of information these guys have learned from study and absorbed from experience over their years in the fire service.  Plus it’s always good to hang out with the guys and get to know them a little better.  And it’s fascinating to watch their interactions with each other.  Guess it’s the sociologist creeping up inside me.  And in this particular case, that was some really good lasagna.

Just as we were finishing up our lasagna, a fire call came through.  Engine one responded first since the initial call just reported smoke.  The fire chief and fire marshall were on their way back from lunch about that time, and they just happened to literally right around the corner from the house.  They hurried on over and as they walked the outside smoke began billowing from the windows on the side of the house.  A quick update on the radio changed the call, and ladder one departed.  I followed.  As did trucks from stations two, four, and five. 

The house was vacant, so no one was inside.  A neighbor called it in when he saw the first traces of smoke.  He also happened to know a friend of the owner, so he was contacted as well.  The owner was a retired fire fighter who has several houses around the city that he rents out.  I had a chance to talk with him after everyone else left.  He’s trying to sell his houses and get out of the business.  His theory was that the disgruntled renter he had just evicted from that particular unit had stacked up some trash near the front door and set it on fire before he left.  We’ll see whether the fire marshall’s office confirms that.  The fire was contained to that small area by the front door.  Now all the owner faces is a pretty big cleanup before he can put the house back on the market.  Much better than a major demolition of a completely burned out structure.  The quick call by the neighbor, close proximity of the chief, and rapid response by the fire fighters certainly kept it from becoming much, much worse. 

Psalms 17:7-8 says, “Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.  Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”

Father, thank you for a neighbor’s willingness to get involved, a fire chief’s quick thinking, and a team of well-prepared fire fighters.  Amen.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October 30 – “Ministry and Moose”

I had to make a quick run over to UTMB yesterday.  Jim works there and he had a check to be delivered to some folks.  Seaside took up a special offering to meet a specific need we heard about, and as usual, gave over and above what the family needed.  I dropped it off with the pastor who told us about the need, and told him, “Just say it was from Jesus.”  Way to follow God, Seasiders.  While there I saw one of our fire fighters working his second job.  Seems the UTMB Fire Marshall’s office really likes having Galveston Fire Department personnel on board.  Not to mention the guys who work in the emergency room.  And why not?  That’s some quality training and experience our guys bring to the table.  So, nice move, UTMB.  And way to go GFD guys who work there.

Last night I was invited to a birthday party for one of the long time fire fighters.  Speaking of experience, he turned fifty years old.  Doesn’t seem to have slowed him down, though.  Moose’s second job involves wearing a different uniform.  He rides with the police.  Lots of folks came out to wish him well as he begins his second half-century.  Man, that sure sounds old, doesn’t it?  And I’m already eleven years into mine.  Hey, wait a minute.  I’ll just start counting like that.  Means I’ll get to be a teenager again here in a few years and start doing goofy things to embarrass the lovely woman in my life.  Hmm.  Junior High again.  Not so fun the first time through.  But I have a long list of craziness that I’ve been holding back for my “senior years.”  I just never have been able to figure out when that actually begins.  What do you say, Moose?  Care to join me in a new decade of random goofiness?  Seriously, though, happy birthday, my friend. 

Philippians 4:8-9 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Father, continue to meet the needs of the family we helped in your name.  Bless Moose and give him and his family much happiness.  And surround the fire department guys and everyone who works at UTMB with your protection and love.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 29 – “Yes and No”

Chris and I were among quite a few of our neighbors who showed up at city hall to witness Alice Whiteman’s three sons receive a proclamation from the city honoring their mother.  Yes.  When our Gulf Village neighborhood sign is erected, it will be dedicated in her honor since she was instrumental in getting it approved and actually carried out.  Yes.  The mayor pro-tem who also happens to be our council representative made the presentation and I was especially impressed by Terilynn’s statement that Alice really helped her “learn the ropes” when she was a brand new rookie council woman.  It’s not often a politician – especially one in Galveston - speaks with that degree of humility.  Yes.  Thank you to all the neighbors who came out for the event.  I know the room was stuffed with people, so I for one appreciate the sacrifice for a neighbor and friend I really loved.  Yes.

The other highlight of our day (other than toiling at the computer trying to get a teaching ready for Sunday) came when we picked Cailyn up from school and she was joined by her cousins from LaMarque for an afternoon of revelry and craziness.  Christina brought her brood down here so Chris could get a measurement from Noa.  Chirs is making Noa a miniature version of the Elsa dress she made for Cailyn, and she was at the point where she needed to know how long to make it.  Once she gets the hem done all that’s left is sticking on the snowflakes and glitter.  It’s coming down to the wire. Two days until its debut.  Noa was in great form, too.  I don’t mean posing for the dress form, though.  She has learned a new word and is using it in every possible situation so she can get used to its melodious sound coming off of her lips.  After hearing her use it, I’m certain it will serve her well for many, many … many years to come.  Oh, you want to know what the word is?  That all-time favorite, that all-purpose, that one size fits all expression that all of us make use of on a daily basis … No.  She uses it to mean yes.  She uses it to mean hello.  She uses it to mean “you can’t catch me.”  Oh, and she uses it to mean no.  Often.  Have loads of fun with that one, Mommy and Daddy.  It won’t go away any time soon.

Matthew 5:36-37 says, “And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Father, thank you once again for the “yes” influence Alice had on our community.  And please endow Kel and Christina with wisdom as they deal with Noa through her “no” years.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 28 – “The Banquet”

We did another of those grandparent chores last night.  You know, those events where we get to sit around and be proud of our grandkids.  This one involved Cailyn and her cheerleader banquet.  At least we thought it was a cheerleader banquet.

The first place we stopped on the way in was actually on the opposite side of the building at Moody Methodist Church.  They were hosting an early voting site, so we decided to kill two birds with one stone.  There was no line at all, and one of the guys there to help even had one of those “I Voted” stickers stuck to his forehead.  My kind of place.  Needless to say it took us less than five minutes and we were done.

Then we took a hike around the building searching for the banquet.  It wasn’t in the fellowship hall where we thought it might be.  Their old library has been turned into some kind of game room, but it wasn’t there either.  Finally we began hearing some noise.  We followed it to their family life center (AKA “gym”), and there it was. 

Instead of what we thought was going to be a cheerleader banquet, we suddenly realized was in reality a banquet for the entire youth football organization.  That meant not only 43 cheerleaders, but no less than five different football teams as well, from flag football for the youngest to a “senior” team for what looked like fifth or sixth graders.  The entire gym was covered with tables.  Four or five more tables pushed up against one wall were covered with trophies and miniature footballs.  The other side of the room held the serving line full of catfish and chicken strips and potato salad and cole slaw as well as tea and lemonade.  It didn’t take long for just about every seat in the place to be filled, and they were setting up more tables.  That’s a lot of kids … and parents … and of course … grandparents. 

The cheerleaders went first, and Cailyn was pleased as punch to receive her trophy.  The boys began receiving theirs to the accolades of their coaches, especially the guy who apparently served as league president.  That guy could talk forever, and he was incredibly encouraging to each of the boys.  We saw a few Seaside guys, Matt and Will Landry.  Also receiving awards were two sons of fire fighters, Mike Varela and Cash Hutson.  Way to go, guys.  As we were leaving a familiar pink shirt caught my eye.  I did a double take to see who it belonged to, and there was Nora Garcia, the administrative assistant in the fire marshall’s office.  She appeared to be doing the grandmotherly thing as well, gathering as many photos as she could.  Nothing quite like being the awesome grandma, is there, Nora? 

Proverbs 17:6 says, “Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”

Father, thank you for the privilege of seeing my children’s children.  Awesome.  Amen.

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27 – “The residents of Bethlehem”

We continued our old home week experience yesterday after church.  Some very good friends of ours who now live in Bethlehem (Pennsylvania, not Israel) came by to visit.  We showed them the glories of a no-ambiance meal at none other than Shrimp and Stuff, of course.  Mark and Melissa recently bought a company that sells all kinds of stuff somehow related to sewing and quilting over the internet, so Chris has been ogling their website ever since.  I think they called it Home Sew.  Check out their website.  They were in Houston at the pre-convention distributer and supplier convention connected to the actual International Quilters Festival that is this coming weekend.  Whew.  That’s a mouthful. 

In the short time they have owned it, they have already turned the company into a family business, with two of their three children joining them in one capacity or another.  Allen has taken over updating their website and some of the marketing.  Ashley is in the process of organizing everything from the office to the warehouse.  Melissa pays the bills and Mark does the ordering and posts funny things to their FaceBook page.  OK.  I’ll admit that is probably somewhat of an over-simplification of their roles.  Allen and Melissa post to FaceBook as well.  I’m not sure which one of them sweeps the floor and cleans the bathrooms.  Maybe they’re holding that spot open in case Lindsey ever joins them in the company.  I don’t know, though.  Lindsey has a pretty good handle on the whole FaceBook posting thing.  She could probably teach them all a thing or two.  

We met the Dammeyers back in our Texas days at South Oaks Baptist Church.  Their son Allen and Nathan became literal lifelong buddies from the day they were born.  The two have alternated spending at least a week in each other’s homes over many spring breaks and summers.  When we moved to Denver we thought the two of them were going to have some serious withdrawal anxieties.  It was pretty hard on the boys, but as coincidence would have it, Mark’s job somehow got him transferred to the Denver area as well, and they took up right where they left off.  That gave us a chance to really get to know the daughters Ashley and Lindsey as well.  When they subsequently moved to Rhode Island, the boys had another anxiety episode, but that’s when their trade-off of vacation times began.  They have been good friends ever since.  Nathan even managed to spend some time with them when they were Floridians, something we were never able to pull off.  We did get to Rhode Island on a vacation once (I think) and when they lived in New Jersey I had the honor of officiating at Ashley’s wedding. 

So our visit was all-too short, but the food was great and the company was greater.  And now Chris has begun planning for another trip to that “alternate holy land,” Bethlehem, PA.  Maybe we’ll get a chance to drive to that booming metropolis just a few miles away … Nazareth, PA.  Hmm.  Where’s my map of Israel, er, Pennsylvania?

Matthew 2:6 says, “’But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”

Father, thank you for good friends.  Bless them and their new business.  Amen.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 26 – “History times two”

After an all-too-brief night’s sleep, we hit the road again yesterday, this time to Houston.  This time the event was our first-ever football game tailgating experience.  Now don’t get too excited.  The team was Houston Baptist University, our alma mater.  They haven’t even had a football team for that long, just a year or two.  So it’s not as if they were threatening to knock off Mississippi or Alabama or even Baylor, for that matter.  But hey, when you’re an alum married to another alum, minor stuff like who your opponent is doesn’t really matter, right? 

Besides, the whole point of this particular excursion wasn’t the game, anyway.  It was the tailgating experience.  Why?  Because Luke was having his first birthday party right in the middle of all of the craziness.  Josh and Christi (also alums) set up a tent in the alumni tailgating area and decorated it with a birthday-mixed-with-football theme.  Coincidentally enough, the tent was quite near the kids’ bouncy house and face painting booth, so there was no lack of rambunctious activity opportunities.  Just what a collection of eight cousins needed for a perfect day.  That’s right, Kel and Christina (also alums) and all their kids were there.  Cailyn rode up with us.  Oh, and Christi’s brother (also an alum) and his wife (a Baylor alum) brought their little one as well.  Not to mention the presence of Christi’s Mom and Dad (also alums).  Quite the HBU family gathering. 

The tailgating was about what I expected.  Besides the bouncy house, grills everywhere, tents for shade, fraternity and sorority sponsored fun stuff, like tossing a football through a swinging tire (or just swinging on the tire), walking across a tightrope strung between two trees, watching a professional soccer match on a big screen TV set up in one of the tents (hey, gotta appeal to everyone’s interests, I guess), college officials schmoozing around meeting the alums (Aaaand, gotta keep those donations coming in, right?), college coozie give-aways, footballs and frisbees flying here and there, volleyballs bouncing, (was that badminton birdies I saw?), a full-blown university police presence (now, that’s a major change from when we were there.  Back then we had one guy who dozed all day in a golf cart), numerous variations on the pitching washers game, and lots and lots of orange and blue. 

The birthday party was great.  With some help from his older brothers Zak and Caleb, Luke blew out his candle and dove into his little cake (with some helpful modeling from Zak).  The chicken nuggets and fruit and chips and numerous candy choices on the side provided us all with a finely-balanced, nutritious meal.  I would say we were more than prepared for our foray into the football stadium. 

Now, a quick word about the game itself.  It was homecoming, so there were some of those types of activities.  The king and queen were crowned, dignitaries were recognized.  But in the end, the football team showed itself up to the task.  They were victorious, recording the very first home football win in school history.  Ah, to be a part of two history-making events in one day … a very first home win and a very first birthday for Luke.  Does it get any better than that?

Psalms 59:17 says, “O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.”

Father, thank you for our little man Luke.  Watch over him as he grows and learns and has many more birthdays.  Amen.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 25 – “A South Oaks ‘My Girl’ Reunion”

I have a quick Oops correction from yesterday.  I mentioned that the time change would happen “this” Sunday.  I meant to type “next” Sunday.  Not really something I can blame on autocorrect, is it?  Just the old man’s fingers.  Sorry about that.  Thanks to Janet for pointing it out.

We made a bit of a trek yesterday.  Well, more than a bit.  We got up at around 4 a.m. and headed to Arlington for a funeral.  Marceil Moore, a truly wonderful lady, died of cancer complications.  We knew her way back in the early 80’s when I was on staff at South Oaks Baptist Church in Arlington. 

And as is the typical case at such funerals, we had quite a family reunion from those days of the early 80’s.  Bruce and Cindy Edwards were there.  He was the pastor back then, and he assisted current pastor Dan Curry in the service.  But here’s a rundown of some of the others, just for nostalgia’s sake:

Of course Gary Moore was there.  Marceil and Gary were the perfect couple.  He was always wacky and loud and boisterous.  She was quiet and had a dry wit that was impossible to surpass.  And then she put on her clown costume and joined Gary in the craziness.  A.J. and Ella Stewart, Marceil’s parents.  A.J. was dubbed “The Godfather,” partly because he had had throat surgery, so his voice was always just above a whisper, but also because he owned his own business and was quite successful.  Ella was the one who rocked every baby in the nursery at some time or other.

Wes and Debbie Holmes.  Wes was our very first accountant back then.  I realized early on that I wouldn’t be able to handle this whole pastor’s tax stuff.  He was certainly a God-send.  Ron Walker was our first real insurance agent.  He was quite impressive as a deacon and financial planner as well.  Still follow his daughter Janna’s exploits on FaceBook.  Jeff and Sybil Rampy were there, too.  Jeff later took on my tax preparation burden and would still be doing them today if hadn’t retired.  Sybil was the originator of the world-renowned Swim with Syb outfit that taught our boys how to swim.  Even the one who was petrified of water because of a previous debacle involving an incompetent teacher at a YMCA.  You can try to guess which boy that was.

Lisa Pollard was one of our all-time favorite surrogate moms for the boys.  She loved to cuddle with them, not to mention the fact that she was just plain fun to be around.  Bob and Bea Bryant.  Bob was our boys’ first barber.  He was old school, too.  One of the last to still have the old razor strap and put wet towels on your face before a shave.  He was also an incredible Sunday School director.  Bea was just, well, sweet.  Still is.  Larry and Nancy McSpadden.  Larry jumped in with Bob and became a second Sunday school director when we added a Sunday school hour to the mix.   Gary and Marjorie Laymance.  I remember Marjorie because she was so easy to embarrass.  All I had to do was holler her name as loud as I could whenever I saw her.  Howard and Sue Schutt.  Sue was an elementary school teacher in the gifted and talented program that Kel was in.  Howard became the first pastor of a mission we started.

George and Leslie Tabor. George was famous for writing something without a pad underneath it and actually making imprints into Chris’ dining room table.  He was also involved in getting me a recliner after my first neck surgery when I couldn’t lie flat.  Russell and Merla Cook.  Russell makes hammered dulcimers.  And hearing him play one is just amazing.  Steve and Susan Jones.  Steve was one of the R.A. instructors who worked with the boys.  Susan was one of the children’s music people.  Both awesome, of course.  Doug Davis provided us with the mini-blinds in our Mansfield house.  Jerry Wyatt had a son named Joshua Michael who was born just weeks apart from our Joshua Michael.  That proved challenging for the moms when they tried to call them down for running in the church.  Linda Satterfield is another I have seen often on FaceBook.  She posts her morning talks with Jesus over a cup of coffee.

Mike and Celia Philpot.  Mike was the ultimate behind the scenes guy, always doing something for widows in the church.  Can’t get much more biblical than that.  They have a house in Galveston now.  Can’t wait until they really retire and move down here.  Debbie McMullen had twins, a boy and a girl.  Debbie did a great job as a single Mom before that was the “thing to do.”  Debbie Millican had a daughter who was among those Josh’s age.  We thought they might have had a chance, but it’s hard to predict things like that when a kid is eight years old.  Rob and Kristi Henderson.  They were one of the up-and-coming young couples who have become quite the leaders now.

Kevin and Mari Killian.  We have seen them a time or in the years since.  Renee Goodwin is a band director now.  I remember when she began dating her husband Dave.  Vernon Nelson, her Dad, became quite influential at the church as well.  Bryant Colley.  His daughter Arica still keeps in touch with Chris, who was her G.A. teacher for years.  Mozelle Spray was one who befriended Mom when we were relocated for several months after Hurricane Ike.  There were several others who expressed sorrow about Mom’s death.  I have to mention the “youngsters” we saw.  At least they were youngsters in the 80’s.  Kathryn Sellers and her brother Jason Howard, and NovaLee Bulin.

Rick and Rebecca Sales.  Great folks here.  Rick was a great inspiration to Kel, in particular.  He is a Spiderman fan and an incredible artist.  He provided theme art for countless youth mission trips and camps and DiscipleNow weekends over the years, even when we were in Denver.  And I would have loved for our boys to have experienced Becca as a teacher.  Mona Smith and her husband Dave loaned us their camper after Ike.  Dave is a paramedic and Mona is one of the most fun people I have ever been around.  We spent a lot of time with Blair and Patti Jones this time.  They are some of those friends you know you can call on even if you haven’t seen them in ten years.  They opened their homes not just to some Seasiders after a hurricane, but to their animals as well.  Now that’s memorable.  Cary and KayLynn Winkle have remained friends who we keep in touch with regularly.  They adopted Josh and Christi and their boys, and have served as surrogate grandparents when we couldn’t be around.  I guess if we can trust them with our children, they must be pretty special folks.

I’m sure there were a few others we saw who I didn’t mention, but this has already become an unwieldy blog post.  It is obvious there were more than a few folks who have made an impact on our lives.  But then, that’s what the church does.  Thank you to all of you.  We love you.

Acts 2:42-47 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Father, walk with Gary and A.J. and Ella and all of their family through their journey ahead.  Welcome Mr. Gary’s “My Girl” into your presence.  Amen.

Friday, October 24, 2014

October 23 – “That’s my Dad. He’s a fire fighter”

I got another chance to see the awesome Trish the Teacher in action yesterday.  She led some more fire department tours for elementary school classes.  And was she ever a busy woman.  She did one for Holy Family on the East End, and raced from there to station four at the airport to lead one for Oppe Elementary.  That’s where I caught up with her. 

She was assisted by quite a few of our awesome fire fighters.  The crew from station four was there, of course, and the crew from station seven came as well.  It was a good thing, too.  There were over fifty kids there, so having several trucks made it so much easier to show the kiddos everything.  They were divided into three different groups, with a fire fighter or two assigned to each one. 

The group I followed, coincidentally enough, was the one with Cailyn in it.  And strangely, her Dad and her grandmother were there as well, along with a good group of parents.  Driver Bryan led our tour.  He started with who sits where in the truck when they go on a call.  Mr. Bryan showed the Captain’s seat (the guy with his white hat who tells the fire fighters what to do), the fire fighters’ seats, and of course where he sits, the driver’s seat.  He’s the one who has to stay and operate the truck, so he doesn’t get to run into the fire.

Next came a look at all the tools on the truck and how they are used.  Everything from the famous jaws of life to the long pick.  The kids had seen a picture of that one in a book they read.  After a quick walk through the fire fighters’ seat in the truck, and a jump into another fire fighter’s arms, one of the tour highlights arrived.  They each got to turn on a real live fire hose and squirt it at a cone.

The tour of the inside of the fire house showed about nine individual bedrooms for the fire fighters, because they have to be there all day and all night.  I heard one comment about them being like a small hotel room.  The station even had a fully stocked kitchen and dining table and that most important of accessories to the kids … a TV.

After a quick walk around the deck (Mr. Bryan explained that it was there so they can see all the airplanes and know where to go if one has a problem), the second real highlight of the trip happened.  They each got to slide down the big slide used to get from the top floor to the trucks.  Other than some dizzy children, they all loved it.

Right in the middle of the tour one of the trucks had an emergency call, so the kids got an unexpected treat – the chance to see the fire fighters load up and drive away with the siren blaring and lights flashing.  Next came some class photos by the ladder truck and each one got to try on a bunker coat to see how heavy it was.  Then they got to see a fire fighter get into all of his bunker gear, while Mrs. Trish explained what each piece was for.  And when he was fully dressed, Mrs. Trish was careful to point out that he was still the same guy, Fire fighter Tim.  He just looked different in his outfit and big backpack that gave him air to breathe.  Not oxygen, just regular old breathing air.  I think they got the point that we don’t have to be afraid of a fire fighter when he’s dressed like that.  He’s there to help us.  Mrs. Trish gave them another treat.  They could each touch him – give him a high five - to see what the suit felt like.  One of the cute little girls even asked if she could hug him. Way to go Fire Fighter Tim.  Do we need to warn your fiancĂ©e?  As he helped Mr. Tim out of the suit, Mr. Kenny explained the no-motion-sensor alarm.  It was really loud.

Finally Mrs. Trish finished up the day with her fire safety lecture.  Don’t be afraid of the fireman if you are in a burning house.  If you do see him, call out so he will know where you are.  Remind your parents to check their smoke alarms once a month, and change the batteries whenever there is a time change.  Oh, by the way, time change is this Sunday. 

I can’t say enough about Mrs. Trish and all the fire fighters who made this a really special day for a lot of children.  Even the guys who came in on their day off to sneak in a little extra family time with their own kids in the class.  It sure made those little guys proud to be able to say, “That’s my Dad.  He’s a fire fighter.”

Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Father, thank you for the strength of each fire fighter in our crews.  But thank you as well for the gentle spirits they show around children.  They both speak safety to tender young hearts.  Amen.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

October 23 – “Braving the Boundary”

We had a visit from some grandkids yesterday.  Always a big event around here.  Jachin and Micah and Josiah hit the front door and usually head straight for the pantry.  Gotta keep those growing boys fed twenty-four hours a day.  And Noa has kind of started a “thing” with me.  She searches until she finds the TV remote, wherever it may be.  Then she searches until she finds DadDad, because obviously the silly thing belongs to him. 

Yesterday she grabbed it off of the couch and headed into my office.  I heard her coming, alternately mumbling “DadDad” and calling out “DadDad.”  She saw me just as she got to the spot where the area rug meets the hardwood floor.  And she stopped.  Dead in her tracks.  Wouldn’t move another inch.  I smiled and asked what she had.  She proudly held up her prize and said a robust, “DadDad.”  Guess I’m not sure if she was naming the remote or offering it to me.  Instead of moving over to her, though, I encouraged her to bring it over to me.  No movement.  I kept smiling and held out my hand.  Nope.  I told her “Thank you.”  No dice.  Finally I just held out my hand and waited.  The internal struggle was obviously intense.  “Should I get any closer?  Can this strange bearded creature really be trusted?  My brothers seem to accept him OK, but then, they are boys, and even though I’m only one year old, I know how boys can be.  I know the game is for me to give this TV thing to him.  But to come closer, to step over this easily seen boundary line?  I am just not sure.”  Finally her inner voice must have deemed me safe enough to risk at least a step onto the rug.  It was a tiny one, but a major landmark in her quest.  I encouraged her with, “That’s it.  It’s OK.  You can bring it all the way over here.”  Of course, “all the way” would be about five steps for her little legs, so it might just as well have been the Grand Canyon.  My dashing smile and welcoming demeanor finally won her over, though.  She managed those last few steps.  Well, actually she managed four of the five, then leaned over as far as she could, like there was some kind of invisible wall between us.  I leaned over, too, and finally got close enough to receive the magnificent gift.  Of course the requisite “Thank you’s” followed.  I thought for a brief second that she might even get close enough to give me a quick hug, but that was way too much to ask for.  She took one last look over her shoulder, flashed a rather disarming grin, and toddled away, content that she had accomplished her purpose for this journey. 

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.”

Father, thank you for brave steps and accomplished purposes.  Help Noa - and me -  achieve many, many more of both.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October 22 – “The Tomorrow People”

We have discovered another new show on Netflix.  This one is called The Tomorrow People.  The premise is kind of like the X Men, actually.  A segment of the population is beginning to discover that they have certain strange powers that develop when they reach a certain age.  Kind of like puberty on steroids, I guess.  The powers are called the three T’s: Telekinesis, Teleportation, and Telepathy.  The show’s main character discovers he is different when he starts waking up in his neighbor’s bed with them.  He has teleported there in his sleep.  Yeah, that one is weird, right?  Apparently that kid’s Dad had the same powers, but he deserted the family years before.

The plot twist comes when a group of the super-powered ones (They are the Tomorrow People) get in contact with the boy and try to get him to join up with them.  Seems a wicked geneticist (Gotta have a super villain) with unlimited resources is on a rampage to completely destroy the Tomorrow People.  To do it he has captured and turned some of them to the dark side.  And the ones he can’t turn or take away their powers, he has no hesitation about killing.  Now the young progeny I mentioned before seems to have all the makings of the super hero Promised One. Absolutely classic scenario.  Super hero versus super villain. 

There are several other intricately woven plot twists that I won’t reveal in case someone wants to check it out for himself.  I do want to warn you that there are a myriad of references to evolution, and their grasp of even that theory is weak at best, but, hey, it’s a TV show, not a philosophical treatise.  And, no, I don’t work for Netflix.  There are other places online where you can find just about any old TV show to watch for free, one in particular being Project Free TV.  I have used it a time or two.     

Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Father, thank you that no matter what the future looks like, you will be there, and you will still be God.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 21 - “The Chant”

Ah, the joys of learning from your peers.  I remember them well.  Of course the things I used to learn from my peers were not usually (well, usually never) the kinds of things I would want my parents to know about.  Pretty much all of the array of curse words I knew as a kid came from my buddies on the street.  Hey, the dark and seamy world of sandlot baseball was a tough one back in the day.  And I can’t begin to list the things I learned when I reached junior high and high school.  Of course I had to appear cool, so I never let on that I was totally clueless. 

And here’s another thought.  Remember those chants you use to hear on the playground?  Some of them were good enough.  Others, not so much.  They could be about literally anything.  In fact, I found a few to share with you.  See which ones you remember. 

From the baseball field:
Up the river, down the lake,
The pitcher’s got a bellyache.
Got the shivers, got the shakes,
Pitcher’s belly’s full of snakes.
Thunder book, lightning flash,
Pitcher’s got an itchy rash.
I don’t think that one would be legal at a Little League game these days.

How about:
Step on a crack, And break your mother’s back. 
Or: Step over a ditch, Your father’s nose will itch.

Just getting rolling here: It’s raining it’s pouring, the old man is snoring
Went to bed and he bumped his head and he can’t get up this morning

A lot of those rhymes were strictly for girls.  Here’s one that guys could say … and really mean it:
Nobody Likes Me, Everybody hates me. Guess I'll go eat worms.
Fat ones, skinny ones, ooey, gooey icky ones, ones that squiggle and squirm.
First you cut the head off, Then you suck the juice out.  Then you throw the skin away
Nobody knows how girls can live on worms Three times a day

Cailyn’s kindergarten teacher is Mrs. Mack, and I ran across this one.  Appropriate:
Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back
She asked her mother, mother, mother
For fifty cents, cents, cents
To see the elephant, elephant, elephant
Jump the fence, fence fence
They jumped so high, high, high
They touched the sky, sky, sky
And didn't come back, back, back
Till the fourth of July, July, July

I even found one that is a bit more … modern?
Brick wall, waterfall, girl you think you got it all,
but you don't, cause I do so BOOM with that attitude.
BANG BANG, choo choo train wind me up, I'll do my thang.
Reeses pieces, 7-Up, you mess with me I'll mess you up.

So all of that to say, we heard one of those culture-busting playground chants from Cailyn yesterday.  It also fits the festive season we are entering.
Trick or treat, smell my feet
Give me something good to eat
If you don’t, I don’t care
I’ll pull down your underwear

Now, I remember those first two lines, smell my feet and good to eat.  Lovely combination.  It’s those last two lines that were different.  Kind of comical, actually.  Chris did ask where she heard it, and the quick answer was, “At school.”  The follow up question was not so easy, though.  “Who told you?”  Another quick answer, “It’s private.”  Ouch.  There’s no way you’re getting that answer, Nana.  Highly privileged.  And honestly, if it was anything like the other chants that have been passed down for generations, she probably has no idea.  So crank up for Halloween, gang, and even more Trick or treat, smell my feet, Give me something good to eat …

Psalms 136:1-3 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.  His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His love endures forever.”

Father, I guess you’re pretty good at that chanting thing, too.  Amen.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20 – “Zombie DadDad”

Interesting morning with Cailyn today.  She managed to scoop up my phone before I could get it in my pocket and began watching a video on how to make your hair look like Elsa’s from the movie.  She was pretty intense, too. In fact she was trying to follow along and do her doll’s hair.  Let’s see, that would be not Jamie, who is non-existent.  And it was not Julie, although she was here today.  In this case it was the new doll on the block, the one she calls Phoebe.  Just arrived from Target last night, so she has the prime spot as far as play time is concerned.  She also has the longest hair, she was the obvious choice for this exercise. 

At one point Cailyn went in to say hi to Chris, leaving the phone on the floor, still droning on about twisting hair this way and brushing it out that way.  Then for some reason the video stopped.  I reached down on the floor hoping that the video had come to an end, and there was an error code indicating that the rest of the video could not be loaded at this time.  Of course that would be the same second that Cailyn reappeared to continue her hairdo training session.  There I was, holding the now-silent phone.  She drew the immediate conclusion that I had obviously interfered and turned it off.  And no amount of explanation could convince her otherwise.  It was just time for a brief onslaught of drama – a true divatic episode.  I deal with that kind of drama a bit differently than most, I suppose.  I ignore it.  Completely.  Stop talking.  Turn away.  With no receptor for her emotive display, she then has but two choices: stop and listen or seek another outlet.  The first works often enough.  Today, however, she chose the second, and returned to good ol’ Nana.  Chris handled it quite well.  She got her talking right away (a skill that women have that I have yet to begin to understand).  Suddenly they were best friends. 

They went in to have some breakfast.  Of course Cailyn and I had already had frozen waffles earlier, and she told Chris she had also had some eggs at home.  Girl must be growing.  While they munched on pop tarts, I had an idea.  I took the top off of two medicine bottles and stuck them behind my glasses.  I also arranged a back scratcher so that it looked like it was growing from my neck.  Thus properly attired, I stomped into the kitchen where they sat, grimace on my face, arms raised in an aggressive looking pose.  And suddenly all was forgotten.  Chris said, “What is that?”  Cailyn laughed heartily and said, “It’s just DadDad.”  And Chris retorted, “It looks like a zombie.”  The two of them scampered into the office to “get dressed before he sees us.”  She even raced Zombie DadDad to the bathroom to get her teeth brushed. 

Good mood restored, we left a little early for school, with plenty of time to take a short cut.  Both dolls accompanied us in their very own makeshift carseat (the box Phoebe came in).  We drove past my former place of employment, Fred Hartel Roofing Company, and around the “Moody in the Gardens” hotel.  Then it was off to the back parking lot near where the Colonel Paddlewheel is docked.  Then it was a blur … past Schlitterbahn on the left and the airport and the aircraft museum on the right.  Then down by Fire Station number four.  And finally on to the school.  Of course Julie and Phoebe had to stay in the car.  I’m sure they were sad to miss out on our trek to the front door, though.  We skipped.  Well, not the whole way, thank goodness.  Cailyn said her legs got tired, so we’d walk a few steps and skip then some more all the way to the front door.  The kids we passed just smiled and wished they could do that, too.  Guess I got some strange looks from the adults, though.  Well, at least some grins and nods as if to say, “Well, there goes a goofy granddad.  He’s finally lost it.”

Psalms 30:5 says, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

Father, thank you for mornings.  And for joy.  And for the chance to see the two of them bubble all over each other and well up inside your little children.  Amen.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 19 – “Rookies to rednecks”

I went to the fire department physical agility testing yesterday morning.  Out of over a hundred who took the written test, thirty-one were there for the physical part.  It’s not an easy test, folks.  Who wants to climb 75 feet straight up in the air on a truck ladder just to touch the top and come back down?  And that’s just the first skill.  It gets difficult after that.  Only eleven guys made it through under the required time limit.  Now they have to have a good showing in their interview with the chief.  Can’t wait to see which ones get hired.  One of the best parts of the day was lunch afterwards.  Mrs. Trish put together some cold cuts and chips, and guys from all three shifts stuck around for lunch together.  Quite the family, those guys.  I’m proud that they allow me to be a part of it.

After lunch I had time to make a quick trip to see Cailyn cheer a time or two before I had to change for my 1:00 meeting with a couple getting married next week.  As it turned out, I sure didn’t have to hurry.  They were almost two hours late.  They were coming in from Beaumont and got held up because of a wreck.  Then they got in the ferry lines behind hundreds of bikes.  There was a big race this weekend.  The meeting itself only took about fifteen minutes.  Meanwhile Chris left for the wedding of a young man who grew up at Seaside.  Cody was getting married in Port Bolivar, over the ferry, about the same time as the wedding I had to perform out on the West End of the Island in Sea Isle. 

That extra two hours I had to wait almost made me late for the wedding I had to perform.  I made it though, with at least ten minutes to spare before scheduled start time.  Not that I needed to worry.  I think we finally got going around thirty minutes late.  Typical wedding timing.  Nothing typical about this bunch, though.  By their own description, this was an all out redneck affair.  It was out on the beach under a very simple arch, but there were cowboy hats and boots, cans of beer and cigarettes, blue jeans and shorts and the promise of barbeque and beans for later.  And that was just at the ceremony.  Know how I knew for sure it was a redneck wedding, though?  I asked how to get to the reception.  Here was the response (feel free to add your own twang: “Just drive on down past the fire house, turn left and look for the monster trucks in the driveway.”  I’ve never had more accurate directions.

Proverbs 21:21 says, “He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.”

Father, please watch over Cody and Taylor and Adam and Angela.  And be with the new hires at the department, whoever they end up being.  Amen.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

October 18 – “Monkey in the Middle”

I met with a couple yesterday who may come to lead some worship at Seaside, at least on occasion.  He used to play on tour with a rock band – keyboard, electric guitar, and apparently anything else he touches.  He also is some kind of computer tech genius.  She was a singer with another touring band and is a percussionist.  Their two sons are musical as well, playing drums and whatever else is needed.  They are heavily into robotics, though.  National champions.  Can you say, “proud parents”?  Looks like we still have to use worship videos at least for this week, though.  I’m still praying for God to call out one of the other accomplished guitarists in the congregation to step up, though.  I have faith in them, even if they don’t think they can do it.  “All things are possible …” right?

We got a text from Jachin later in the afternoon, wondering if we were doing anything last night.  Nothing out of the ordinary, so he brought his family over for some pizza.  After pizza we played some football out in the street.  Preliminaries for the Turkey Bowl, I suppose.  At least that’s what Jachin said.  Just about a month until Thanksgiving.  Whoa. 

I also learned a new game while they were here.  Actually it was one of those “new old” games as it turned out.  Micah and I were playing catch with a rubber baseball, and Josiah jumped in and tried to snag it.  That resulted in Micah officially declaring a game of “Monkey in the Middle.”  Not a lot to it.  The guy in the middle (the designated monkey) tries to steal the ball while the other two play catch.  Seemed suspiciously like “Keep Away,” only with a decidedly more colorful title.  Ah, for the simpler times.

Not long after they drove off to head back into Texas, Cailyn and her Mom and Dad drove up.  Nathan and April were headed out for a quick supper date, so Cailyn stayed with us, along with her doll friend named Jamie, which I thought looked suspiciously like a doll named Julie who had visited before, but I was quickly informed was someone different.  That is until later when I heard Cailyn refer to the guest as Julie again.  I’m confused.  Later on we all engaged in a rousing game of Candy Land.  Cailyn smoked us.  I came in second, though.  And Jamie/Julie was way behind us all.  That’s what she gets for pranking the Old Man.  Hah.  We followed up the game with a cup of ice cream and a movie.  Monsters University.  Cailyn fell sound asleep about halfway in.  And Jamie/Julie did too, I suppose.  At least those doll-eyes were closed.  Well, they were until they picked her up to leave.  The eerie, all-seeing doll-eyes suddenly flew open when the center of gravity shifted.  That phenomenon always has creeped me out. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Father, grant some of those straight paths to Seaside as we look for a worship leader.  Amen.