Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30 – “Mr. T(ea)”

We had a great day of fellowship yesterday.  After worship we headed over to McAlister’s Deli for lunch.  Before we even made it inside, some old friends (and old Seasiders) saw us in the parking lot.  Paul is now a pastor in Galveston and doing really well.  Carolyn looked great as usual, and Chloe has been serving as the youth pastor at their church.  Once we got inside we hooked up with Bryan and Jennifer and Sam (more Seasiders).  Now McAlister’s had a giant advertising board set up right in the walk way.  It was a human-sized glass of their famous sweet tea.  Jennifer is in a wheelchair, so I had to be the genteel gentleman and move the sign.  As I lifted the cardboard hulk to move it aside, I realized that there was a hole in it.  Just the right size for someone’s head.  Well, for my head.  So I obliged Madison Avenue and did what every single person who had walked through the Deli since that sign was posted wanted desperately to do, I  stuck my head in it as I waited for Jennifer to pass by.  There I was, the new poster head for McAlister’s sweet tea.  So of course the obligatory FaceBook post began.  The caption Bryan added was short.  Something about Mr. T(ea).  Cute, huh?

We had a small but hearty crown last night to hang the greens at church.  For us that meant grabbing a slice of pizza (thank you Dayna) and joining Kiara, Lauren and Cathy in decorating the tree and hanging the lights and garland around the room.  Oh, and there was also pecan pie and cookies to assuage anyone’s sweet tooth.  Everything looks festive and Christmassy again, so come by and check it out.    

James 5:9 says, “Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!”

Father, thank you for good times with friends.  To eat.  To work.  To be together.  Amen.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November 29 – “From the Sports Desk”

The Turkey Bowl this year consisted of six semi-adults and a host of children of all ages moving in and out.  Once again it was a lot of fun, and it certainly had its share of not-ready-for-prime-time moments.  Nathan had to work, so he wasn’t around to amaze us with his legendary athletic prowess.  Uncle Josh of the Iron Hands was there, though.  Some may think that is a jab at his ability to miss passes, but it this case, that it not at all the case.  Jachin tossed him a stickerbur-laden pass, and he caught it without blinking an eye.  Never even noticed the evil agents of the devil lying in wait to stab at any given opportunity.  And then there was Uncle Kel of the Gaping Gash.  Yep, he received a massive, gaping gash on his hand, but managed to work through it and continue the game anyway.  What guts.  What grit.  What a tiny little knick.  A friend of Kel’s also showed up this year, and he was our nod to The Flash.  The guy was way too fast for our style of football.  Several time he sped past the ball carrier and didn’t even bother to pull his flag.  He just snatched the ball from his hands and the next thing we saw was him jogging back toward the rest of us after his touchdown.  Cory was back.  He kept us in awe with his Romo-like throwing arm, consistently pinning the opponent back on his own one inch line. 

Of course we did have one play worthy of Sports Center’s top ten of the decade.  In one of those inevitable street-ball trick plays, I snared a pass in the bed of the truck.  Now the marker for a touchdown was the front of said truck.  I was quickly surrounded by defenders.  So I did what every ball carrier I saw on TV the day before did when they could smell the goal line.  I held the  ball in front of me and leapt with all my might over the cab - a desperation, completely horizontal stretch toward the goal line.  All eyes were on the tip of the ball.  Would he make it?  When the dust cleared it became abundantly clear.  I gotta get a shorter truck.  Josh casually walked over and relieved me of my flags.  Curses.  Missed it by that much.  Chris told me I would get no sympathy from her, so right now I’m trolling for a little bit from anywhere else.  All compassion welcome, just don’t pat too hard.  

After the big game we adjourned indoors for some Blue Bell ice cream a slice of pumpkin pie.  Well, Cory was the only one who had pie.  He’s a bit of a purist. 

James 5:7-8 says, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.”

Father, thank you for football games filled with laughter and creativity and fun rather than out of control arguments and intense competition.  Amen.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

November 28 – “A Window into a Vaughan Thanksgiving”

OK.  Here goes.  Wild and furious, just like the day … Josiah was back after his bout with a bug.  He explained the whole thing to me: “See, DadDad, I was sick.  101 per cent.  But then I was barely even sick – just 99 per cent.”  Got it.  And welcome back.  We missed your considerable addendums to our chronicle of festivities.

Finally it was time to trim the Christmas tree.  Kel crawled up into the attic and passed down box after box of ornaments, lights, and festive displays.  As the tree finally began to make its appearance, The Beach Boys Christmas Album followed by Christmas with the Chipmunks, all played on what is apparently now an antique contraption called a CD player.  All a part of our family tradition for decorating Nani and DadDad’s tree.  Chris and I added a little surprise to the festive atmosphere.  We showed off a few of the swing dancing moves to showcase our considerable skill set in that arena.  Rumor has it that a video has made its way onto FaceBook. 

The kiddos attacked putting up the tree this year with a vengeance.  Especially Kel, which was an unexpected delight.  He’s usually just a little bit Scrooge-y when it comes to tree decorating here.  Maybe the secret is doing ours before they do theirs.  That way he isn’t already burnt out.  Ah, but such sweet memories of Christmases past.  Soft music.  Two-year-old Noa singing along with her own melody and words.  Beautiful.  At one point Noa picked up a ball of lit tree lights and exclaimed, “I love this.”  Quite the serene and idyllic scenario … until I turned on the wet-dry vac to pick up the few thousand errant tree needles strewn about the floor.  Josh was doing his best with the broom, but that vacuum, loud as it was, made quick of the mess.  It just kind of overwhelmed the mood.  Oh, and then our last strand of Christmas lights shorted out.  Could have been a catastrophe, but Kel and Christina picked up a replacement on their afternoon shopping extravaganza.  Nathan and April snuck away as well to get in some shopping of their own.  Afternoon grandparent duty … check.

Now onto afternoon fun.  Uncle Josh organized a BB gun contest over in 40 Steps.  I know … “Your gonna shoot your eye out.”  Let me say up front that all eyes came through intact.
 Came down to Zak and Micah in the finals.  Zak took the most cans hit.  Micah took the award for most hits to Barbie’s head.  Well, to the picture of her head on the Barbie box.  What’s that?  Oh.  I found an old box for the guys to shoot at.  It just so happened that it happened to be the one that Barbie Hook’s replacement clone came in.  They pretty much ignored the cans after the first round, though.  Hey, it was a bunch of boys, right?  Christi and Luke watched from our driveway.  Something about a safer environment.  Meanwhile Cailyn and Noa organized the kids’ kitchen out in the back yard.  Nani and Luke joined them for some bird watching and swinging. 

We went over to Kel and Christina’s for supper.  Caleb rode with us.  When we pulled up he hopped out of the car and said, “Well, let’s go meet this house … literally.”  (It was the first time they have been to their cousins’ new house).  But as he approached the garage door he became a little confused.  “How do you meet a house with no door?” After a brief search he located the front door and we all went inside.  The experience was a fun one organized strictly for the kiddos.  We didn’t even turn on the football game until almost 7:30.  Of course we had checked in and found out that the game had been postponed because of lightning, but that certainly had nothing to do with our brave decision to forego football in favor of Minecraft for the kids.  Christina ordered some pizza.  They played hide and seek outside and then in the house.  They switched to video games.  Caleb was especially interested in this aspect of the evening entertainment, because he had been told that “Jachin and Micah have a real X-Box 360.”  On the drive over that was all he could talk about (before he started dozing off, that is).  Once, when he took a breath, Nani asked him just how was X-Box 360 different from plain old X-Box.  He had an answer right away.  “That’s easy.  It is considerably more technologically advanced.”  He is six.

James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.”

Father, thank you for technological advancements and the six-year-old operations manuals that come with them.  Amen.

Friday, November 27, 2015

November 27 – “A test for edibl-ility”

I managed to make the rounds of all six fire stations yesterday.  We fried some extra turkeys so we could take some to each of the stations for the guys on duty to enjoy.  As usual they were all appreciative of the expression of our love for them.  None more so, however, than the guys at station four.  They immediately started digging in to the bag to “test it for edibl-ility.”  As I recall, they did the same thing last year.  Finally Kevin admitted that they had been to Kroger earlier in the morning and were horrified to find that they had no turkeys that were already thawed out.  They did get one of those huge spiral hams, but he was aghast to think of Thanksgiving without turkey.  “I’m just a turkey kind of guy,” was his take on the whole matter.  Glad you got some turkey, Kevin.

By the time I got home the meal was pretty much ready and warming in the oven.  All that was left to make was some gravy for the cornbread dressing.  Well, that and … NOBODY HAD ARRIVED.  It was after noon.  I had been up since 5:30.  It was time to eat.  I did my best to tough it out and wait for some family foot traffic, but that just wasn’t working.  I finally succumbed to the delicious aroma and snuck a few chunks of ham to tide me over.  Finally Nathan and Cailyn walked in.  His word of greeting?  “So when do we eat?”  My words of response, “Whenever someone gets here.  Oh, wait.  You’re here.  Let’s eat ... now.”  I guess Chris sensed the urgency in my voice, even though I was in such a weakened state from my too-long imposed Thanksgiving Day hunger.  She began unloading the ovens and making the gravy.  Before she got everything out, Kel got here with almost all of his children.  Josiah had been sick the night before, so he was destined to spend the entire day alone with just him and Mommy.  Broke his heart.  After an obligatory trip to the clinic for a strep test, he was forced to have a Thanksgiving meal at Whataburger.  He discovered the gravy is really good, though.  I understand he finagled a trip to Bucees as well.  Not to mention more Netflix movies than he knew even existed.  I have a suspicion that video games might have been involved in his incarceration repertoire as well.  Poor Josiah.  I think he might just be disappointed to have to come to Nana and DadDad’s today.  After the first round of food was “tested,” Bryan and Jennifer arrived.  And later on April came over after her day’s sleep was done (she works nights at the emergency room).  Rounds two and three and perhaps four of food tasting went well.  Testing for that nasty chemical in turkey that makes you drowsy proved inconclusive.  Nathan and I certainly fell victim to its wily ways.  I suppose everyone else was too interested in the fate of Tony Romo and the Cowboys to give in.  We’ll have to do more testing.  Perhaps around noon. 

I managed to stay awake for most of the Texas Tech vs. Texas football game.  Pretty wild shoot-out.  Lots of scoring.  Tech came out on top.  It was fun.  We closed out the evening by staying awake until Josh and Christi returned from their obligatory Black Friday midnight jaunt to WalMart.  The sales all started at six, but I think there is just something in Christi’s blood that requires a late-night shopping extravaganza at least once a year.  Hope they were successful. 

James 4:15 says, “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.’”

Father, thank you.  Amen.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

November 26 – “A New Start”

We attended a wedding the other night.  The bride lives across the street from us.  She and her first husband lived next door to Mom and Dad for quite a few years as well before he died, so we have known her for years.  The groom, sadly, fell and broke his hip a few weeks ago,  to his credit, though, he has been busting it through rehab and managed to stand through the whole ceremony and even walk the entire length of the aisle at the exit.  (Not to mention, he made it through almost all of a first dance at the reception). 

The wedding was held at Moody Methodist Church.  That’s the biggest church on the Island.  Not the prettiest or the oldest, but most assuredly the biggest.  The crowd was not that large, so it was pretty much dwarfed by the massiveness.  The ceremony was nice, though.  Her son walked her down the aisle.  Her daughter was maid of honor.  Her granddaughters were bridesmaids.  Her other son read Scripture.  Quite the family affair.

The reception was considerably more ornate.  It was held at the Lasker House Bed and Breakfast here in Galveston.  It’s one of the historical homes from the turn of the century (That would be the century where 1800 was turning into 1900.  Gotta remember we have had another one of those since then).  It started out as one of the opulent, grandiose private homes that were being built around that time.  Then, with financial assistance from a guy named Lasker, it became a children’s home, and operated as such in one form or another for many years.  The present owners completely renovated it into a gorgeous, antique-filled structure that is the bed and breakfast today.  I’m not sure I could comfortably stay there overnight, though.  I’d be afraid of breaking something.  During the pre-meal festivities we pretty much hung out with one of our other neighbors.  After that we gravitated to hanging out with the “help.”  Read here, the preacher and the caterer, both of whom we have known for many years.   We did ease over beside one of the Christmas trees (the one in the “Music Room,” so designated because of the grand piano and the music themed tree decorations) so we would have a better view of the children dancing.  They were pretty spectacular, too.  Especially one who was really getting down.  She was matching up with the music, too, quite unlike a few of the other girls.  She reminded me of the character Nicki on the TV show Blue Bloods.  I have to award props to the four-year-old-ish boy, though.  He could rock out to just about any style of music and bust some serious moves.  Impressive.  We didn’t to see the bride and groom off.  I figured we’ll see them later on out working in their yard or heading to WalMart or something.  Congrats, Corrie and George.

James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

Father, walk with those two through their remaining years together.  Please do a work of healing on George’s hip.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

November 25 – “Um, we have an issue …”

It was turkey frying day around the Vaughan house yesterday.  Nathan and Cailyn got here shortly after I got the oil started heating up.  Nathan was here as a resident fire fighter to see that we didn’t  burn the house down (not to mention he did all the  heavy lifting of the turkeys).  Cailyn came to be an apprentice for Chris.  Their job was to make the pies for the Thanksgiving meal.  By the way, Cailyn has come up with yet another nickname for Chris – Nans.  Has a ring to it, I guess.

Wish I could say the day went by completely without incident.  For the most part it did.  Except maybe for the fire.  That would count as relatively unexpected, wouldn’t it?  That and the fryers not cooperating on keeping heat levels consistent.  We had to check levels at least every ten or fifteen minutes and readjust settings.  We even had to finish off the last few turkeys by baking the for a while.  The outside was perfect.  They just didn’t get quite done deep inside.  I think it is finally time for some new fryers.  These have served their time well. 

What’s that?  You want to hear about the fire?  Well … here’s the thing.  One of the things Chris insists on is that we put a layer of newspapers under the fryers to catch the residue of grease that inevitably spills over.  It helps prevent massive staining of the patio bricks.  Done it every year.  No incidents as yet.  We should have known something was different about this day when the first omen occurred.  As Nathan was slowly lowering the first turkey, Chris ready to snap a memorial photo, the steam started rising.  Not an unusual occurrence.  But he had forgotten to slip on his firefighter glove (he gave me one of his old ones for just this purpose).  I grabbed the pot lid and made a Captain America shield to protect him, but Captain America needed some work.  Didn’t do much shielding.  As I ran for the glove, Nathan dropped the turkey pan from his other hand (Not sure why he did that, now that I think about it.  It’s not like he was going to grab the grease).  Fortunately, the camera was on still photo and not video or we might have had an internet viral sensation.  It all worked out with no one the worse for wear.  (Easy for me to say, right?).  And he never forgot the glove again.  But it was a portent of things to come.

We got the fires regulated and retired to the house for our five hours of lifting, dipping, waiting, carving, wrapping, washing, rinsing, repeating.  It was a great day for turkey frying, by the way.  Partly cloudy, so it was really cool.  But at some point during one of our extended waiting periods, the wind picked up.  Not hurricane force or anything close, by any means.  Just noticeably picked up.  I went outside to make yet another check of the fryers’ temperature regulators.  And what should greet me but … a fire.  Right under one of the fryer frames the newspapers had blown upward into the flames and caught the blaze.  It wasn’t a big fire, but it was clearly flaming and rapidly engulfing the remaining newspaper.  I went into jaded homeowner mode.  I watched the fire burn for a second or two before I reported, “Um, we have an issue out here.”  Nathan was there in a second.  Together we approached the fire site.  I started stomping the fire out.  After all, I had on some old Nikes and blue jeans.  Perfectly protected, right?  For some reason Nathan walked right past the blazing inferno, however.  Come on, fire fighter.  Can I get a little help here?  That’s when I realized that he was heading over to turn off the propane tank.  Oh yeah.  Forgot about that.  That’s why he makes the big fire fighter bucks and I’m just the “unthinking” homeowner.  In my defense, I did get the fire put out.  And we did get all ten turkeys fried.  And the house didn’t burn down.  And we are both still alive.  Lots to be thankful for on Thursday.

James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Father, thank you for your protection in the turkey frying fray yesterday.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November 24 – “On the Shelf”

For anyone who has ever been through the retreat center kitchen at Seaside … you need to make a return trip.  I joined Chris Passons yesterday for a Raise the Shelves workday.  Between the two of us (and my Chris’ participation by bringing us some Subway sandwiches for lunch), we waded through Home Depot and WalMart and Jamaica Beach Hardware Store.  We cut boards to fit.  We rounded the corners.  We sanded.  We painted.  Chris screwed in the brackets to the wall, and re-screwed when there was no stud where there should have been a stud.  Oh, and we put up a third bracket in one case because the spacing between studs put on behind the stove instead of conveniently next to it where we had hoped it would be.  Not that that has ever happened to a construction anywhere).  I got a pretty nasty splinter in my finger (I know.  But I had to add a little whining in there somewhere.  Don’t worry, though, all you medical specialists who were instantly concerned about my health and well-being.  My Chris managed to get it out with no complications once we got home).  We placed the microwaves on the shelves.  Yep.  That would be plural, microwaves.  That was the WalMart stop.  We got one to replace the broken one that we tore out way back on demo day so long ago.  We even re-placed the stuff that was sitting all over the counters and put much of it on the new shelves.  Of course that will all most likely be re-set to its most effective location when someone gets up there with more of a fashion/kitchen practicality sense (dare I say “feminine touch”) than either of us had after our full day of manly, construction, grunt work.  Aaar, aaar, aaar.   We still need to hook up the ice maker for the refrigerators, but that is a job for the indomitable Bob Wyrick.  We will be happy to act as his sidekicks should he need any assistance when that time comes. 

So, great job Chris.  Everyone else … get up there and take a look.  Or better yet, check it out when you come to the Bethlehem Market Craft Fair on December 12th from 10 to 4.  How’s that for unapologetic, in-your-face advertising?  See you then.

James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Father, grant Chris some extra blessings this week for all his hard work yesterday.  Amen.

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 23 – “The Gathering”

Quite the motley crew went to lunch together yesterday after church.  I was kind of surprised to be included in such esteemed company.  There were those three stars of any event, the trifecta of adorability, Cailyn, Kortland and Jordan.  Korty and Jordan were flanked by their personal entourage of parental units, and Cailyn’s own roadies appeared as we were about to begin.  They had been on a road trip to the Renaissance Festival, no doubt scouting future appearance sites for their young charge.  I wonder if they dressed up as some are wont to do?  You know, Cailyn did have something to say about her mother’s fashion sense.  She was doing some designing of her own at the table with crayons.  In an effort to make conversation I asked her what her favorite color was.  She informed me that I already knew that one.  OK.  I tried again, asking what hue was most favored by her mother.  For some reason that drew a rise from her focused little mind.  She looked up at me, no, somehow through me, apparently struggling for an answer.  And finally it was there … “Mommy likes every color.  Even camo.  You know, DadDad, that ugly, nasty, green, camo color."  Ah.  So anyone wondering what to get April for Christmas?  How about, well, anything, as long as it is her favorite shade of camo.

Among the older of our company were the indomitable Bryan and Jennifer, wheeling their way into the history books of ankle-dom.  And across from them sat that twinkle-fingered piano tickler Wes.  Well, now Grandpa Wes after the birth of his very first grandchild, a grandSON to be precise.  I had a seat of honor far above my station next to that wonder of wonders, that bastion of baby-care, none other than Mama Chris, herself.  Never ceases to amaze me that I get to sit next to her at such functions.  One would think we have some sort of special connection or something. 

Oh, there was nothing really special about the gathering.  Eating, of course.  Talking well beyond the minimum.  And I suppose we managed to meet the minimum for laughing as well.  Just a group of rogue Seasiders gathering sustenance before continuing on with our respective rowdy routines.  But it was … nice. 

James 4:6 says, “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”

Father, thank you for after-church lunches and a different array of friends to share them with.  Amen.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

November 22 – “On her own”

Cailyn spent the night with us last night.  Always a welcome experience, although she can be a bit high maintenance at times.  Not because she does bad things.  She just likes to be the center of your world.  Of everyone’s world.  She even told me as we were brushing teeth, “DadDad, did you know that I really am a special person?”  Thinking that she just wanted a little encouragement, I hastened to agree with her.  “No, DadDad, you don’t understand.  I really am a special person.  See, Mommy has this thing where I wasn’t supposed to be borned, but I got borned anyway, so I am really special.”  What could I do but agree to that?  Then she added, “That was a really special day when I was borned, wasn’t it, DadDad?”  Oh, yes, it was.  Yes, it was.

At one point she ran to the backyard play.  Within a few seconds we heard a blood-curdling scream.  And it continued.  “Nani!  DadDad!”  We thought she was hurt.  I raced to the back door and there she was, happily swinging.  “What’s wrong?” I asked.  “Oh, you have tell Nani to come see.”  I promised I would, but not wanting to seem uninformed, I asked, “See what?”  Her reply?  “Oh, DadDad, I’m swinging and I started all by myself.”  What?  Swinging on her own?  When did that begin?  Sigh.  Yet another rite of passage attained I suppose.  I asked her, Does that mean you never want me to give you a push again?”  She thought for a long moment before answering, “Well, no, DadDad.  See, sometimes I just like to be pushed.”  Whew.  For a minute there I was afraid she was growing up. 

James 4:4 says. “You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

Father, stay close to all of our grandkids as they make their way through the twists and turns of growing up.  Amen.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

November 21 – “I know what Freddy is …”

A quick update on the infamous Freddy.  First of all, she was at home and doing fine when we returned from our Waco trip a while back.  Apparently she never escaped at all.  Nathan was just kidding around.  At least we think he was kidding around.  Surely he was kidding around.  Does anyone remember seeing a small brown piece of mobile roadkill running around Gulf Village in the last few weeks?  No.  I’m pretty sure he was just kidding.  Always the kidder, that Nathan.  Now before we go to Waco again I think Chris has plans to work with Freddy in earnest on commands.  Like “Stay.” 

So … Freddy.  She is still taking every opportunity to prance around the house with stuffed animals bigger than she is.  She never chews them up (at least she hasn’t yet).  She just cuddles with them.  Actually, I think she just enjoys dominating.  Now she has carried one or two of the smaller ones outside to play with.  Mainly the tiny versions of teddy bears they now make for dolls to play with.  Like dolls can play with stuffed animals.  That’s just a little too creepy for me.  Oh, wait, speaking of creepy doll toys, she did manage to chew up one of Cailyn’s doll’s pacifiers.  And a few of those giant Lego block things.  And Chris did find another one of those tiny doll things in Freddy’s bed.  Thing is, we have no idea where that one came from.  Maybe she did escape just long enough to kidnap a tiny victim and doom it to forever snuggling. 

One more Freddy story … Josiah was over the other day and he had a theory.  He approached me and with all the seriousness he could muster he made a declaration.  “DadDad, I think I know what Freddy is a mix of.”  Now you have to understand that Freddy is the greatest thing to ever hit the floor of Nana and DadDad’s abode.  He carries her around like a sack of flour, and she lets him.  Of course when she gets done and needs some alone time, she has to plan creative escapes.  Well, his comment certainly intrigued me, so I encouraged him to continue.  “I know one of it is Chihuahua.  But I think the other is …”  Not sure why he paused here, but it certainly had the effect of capturing my full attention.  And then he was ready.  Again, all of this was spoken in the absolute seriousness of a five-year-old mind.  “… I think the other is … Tasmanian Tiger.” 

Of course it is.  Why couldn’t I see that?

James 4:2-3 says, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Father, thank you for the perceptive mind of a child that dares to say what he’s thinking out loud.  Amen.

Friday, November 20, 2015

November 20 – “Preparations”

Thanksgiving preparations are well under way here at our house.  For the most part that means buying a bunch of turkeys and the condiments to create the secret recipe dry rub that Chris so lovingly applies on them a few days before we crank up the turkey fryers and start dropping them in.  So far it looks like we’ll be doing at least ten this year.  We might get a few more, though.  A lady in our water aerobics class found out she might not have to cook for Thanksgiving this year.  She knew we had a big family and heard that on top of that we liked to send some fried turkey up to the fire stations.  If she can verify her reprieve, then her turkeys will be making their way to our house as well.  Tuesday is the day we have set aside for all that cooking.  Nathan is off, so he’ll be helping out.  Especially if we are still going at 4 p.m.  Chris and I are going to a wedding then, so we will be leaving it in his capable hands. 

Best days to come by and smell Thanksgiving at the Vaughan’s?  Probably Sunday afternoon when Chris is doing the rub.  And then of course there is Tuesday afternoon when you might be able to sneak a tiny sample.  Not that any of us will be sneaking samples throughout the day, of course.  Oh, and of course you are welcome to come share in the actual Thanksgiving festivities themselves.  We’ll start eating Thursday around noon, and the kitchen will remain pretty much open until Saturday afternoon.  We’ll have family and friends in and out that whole time, so how about being one of them? 

We’ll also play a Turkey Bowl game on that Saturday at High Noon.  Back to old school again this year.  Plan is to set up in the street in front of the house.  Gotta watch out for the new talent, though.  Jachin has been quarterbacking a flag football team for the last few weeks.  And we’ll have those other young legs with Micah and Zakary and Caleb to contend with as well.  Pharmacy Guy Josh has said he wants to come, and Cop Man Cory usually makes an appearance as well.  How can you miss out on action like that?

James 3:18 says, “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”

Father, thank you today for anticipation.  It is an interesting gift that makes the actual receiving even more special.  Amen.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

November 19 – “Last dance”

Ah, such sad times.  Sigh.  We attended our final dance class yesterday.  We did pretty well in this last summary of every single move they tried to show us over the course of the semester.  We did fine until they got down to the chachacha.  We sat that one out.  Actually, everyone sat that one out and we watched the instructors dance together.  Might as well end it the same way we began, watching the pros. 

We (read here more accurately, me) were kind of worn out from trying to keep track of all the steps and options for the rumba and the tango and even the waltz.  One new thing we learned - the Texas two-step is actually one of the option steps for swing.  I figure between the waltz (which we do pretty well together) and the swing stuff (where it really doesn’t matter what you do with your body as long as your feet keep the same basic movements) we should be able to hold our own at weddings and funerals or wherever else they might start dancing.  Well, except maybe at weddings like the other night.  Between the obviously Mexican cultural dances mixed with Louisiana Cajun flavored movements, we never even left our table. 

Oh, and we found out that there is going to be a “graduation prom” (the teachers’ words, not mine) this Saturday night at that hotshot dance place at Moody Gardens.  Sadly (well, admittedly, not so sadly.  We really didn’t want to go), we’ll have to miss that one.  We are going to have two little girls hanging out with us.  Cailyn will be here.  We’ll also be playing host to Jordan, a little year and a half or so youngster who attends our home group.  Well, she usually brings her parents and her big brother, too.  Hey, maybe when all the Moms and Dads are gone off to their respective sources of entertainment … maybe, just maybe … I can ask one of those beautiful ladies to dance with me …

James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

Father, thank you for dancing and music and special friends to share them with.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

November 18 – “Division”

Back in the groove at water exercise.  And back in the soreness.  Or rather, soreness in the back back.  Much of it feels muscular, though.  I can handle that.  We were both pretty tired afterwards, too.  This skipping out two sessions for our Waco mini-trip makes it just that much harder.  And today is the last session of our dance classes.  The jury is still out on whether we take it again.  Too many outside distractions during the holidays. 

Cailyn spent the night with us the other night.  She came into the office where I was working and said she had a question.  Of course I dropped everything and turned my full attention to her.  Not that I had any choice.  When she needs center stage, she sees to it that she has center stage.  As I focused on her query she informed me that it was something she had to show me. 
“Here it is, DadDad.  What does it mean when you say this?” She wrote on some paper.  “Eight, and then this.”  She added a dot with a horizontal line under it followed by a second dot under the line - the classic division sign - and the number four.  Now wait a minute.  First graders doing division?  Isn’t that supposed to be a junior high skill?  We played with the concept for a little while, and she essentially had the idea.  Once she learns some multiplication tables she will be great at it.  Oh wait.  Do they still teach multiplication tables?  Or is that part of the grand conspiracy to infiltrate the schools with planned ignorance? 

Well, Freddy has discovered a new trick.  She can leap up onto our bed.  That’s no easy task for a creature as little as she is, either.  In fairness to the Law of Gravity, however, she actually makes it about two-thirds of the way up and then crawls/scrambles the rest of the way.  She discovered that capability when Cailyn was here.  That little girl can be quite the encourager, you know.  Especially when it comes to some feat that has obviously never before been accomplished.  And, I may add, that has been declared banned in the Vaughan bedrooms for many years now.  Sigh.  OK.  I suppose there might have been one or two other infractions over the Grandparenting Era that were overlooked.  Umm … temporarily, of course. 

James 3:14 says, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

Father, thank you for the miracle of mind that you instilled in us.  Help it grow in our little ones.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

November 17 – “Purported”

I went back to the hearing aid place again yesterday for my regular follow-up.  They kind of hate to see me coming.  Oh, the hearing aids themselves actually work really well (at least they do from my perspective.  And Chris hasn’t been complaining about lout TV noises lately).  The attachment even works really when I watch a college football game on my phone in the car (a benefit I never before took advantage of).  it works well for phone calls and talking to people in my head, which I suppose was its only real purpose anyway. 

The problem came in what it was purported to be able to do.  Yep, I said “purported.”  Cailyn heard me say it yesterday.  Immediately wanted to know what that word meant.  Happy to oblige her with a definition, too.  Anything I can do to inspire a love of words in my little ones.  So what was it that the device claimed to do, but in fact really couldn’t do?  Well, after a few seconds it goes into sleep mode to save battery life.  I can appreciate that.  My phone does that, too.  But when it goes to sleep, it severs the connection with my phone without telling my phone that it will no longer be picking up signals until I manually push the appropriate button on the screen.  That means, as long as my phone’s Bluetooth is on and reads “connected” to the sleeping device, I get no sounds from the phone.  Zero.  They are sent to the black hole of the device’s sleep mode, never to be heard from again. 

So that led to forty-five minutes on the phone with a tech services representative.  He spent the whole time trying to fix something that wasn’t broken, but we couldn’t slow him down enough to communicate it to him.  Needless to say, he didn’t fix anything.  Still have the problem.  The audiologist promised to look further into the problem.  From my perspective … it still doesn’t do all that it was purported that it could do. 

James 3:13 says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

Father, thanks for little miracles like hearing aids.  They do make life easier.  Amen.

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16 – “In your court …”

I remembered one other tidbit from that wedding the other night.  Before we got started I duly reported in at the DJ/Wedding coordinator/sound guy table.  He wanted to get my microphone all hooked up and installed in my coat pocket.  Now when I got over there the head guy wasn’t around, but his two assistants were ready to get me taken care of.  As I approached, one of them greeted me with, “Good afternoon, Judge.”  Now that was a new one.  I’ve had “Preacher” and “Rev” and “Pastor” and even “Hey You,” but I can’t say I have ever been nicknamed “Judge” before.  I suppose it could have been much worse.  I nodded politely and greeted him back, waiting for my installation instructions.  And then the interchange began:

Assistant #2: “I’m pretty sure I have been in your court before.”
Me: “I appreciate you opening up to me, but if you were in  my court it was in another universe.  See … I’m not a judge.”
Assistant #1: “But you are civil aren’t you?”
Civil?  Well, I try not to be rude, especially in situations like this. 
Me: I am the chaplain of the Galveston Fire Department, and I am a local pastor.”
Assistant #1 (somewhat incredulously): “Oh, really?  Where?”
Me: “Seaside Church in Jamaica Beach.”
Assistant #2 (the guy who had been in my court): “Oh, I have bee by that place before.  It’s the round one, isn’t it?”
I tried to picture in my mind how Seaside could be interpreted as being in any way round.  Rectangle?  Yes.  Square?  Perhaps.  Round?  Not so much. 
Me: “Maybe you’re thinking of the Catholic church.  Seaside is the building at the light.”
And of course …
Assistant #2: “Oh, yes.  I have been by there, too.” 
Of course you have.

James 3:7-8 says, “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

Father, thank you for chances to meet new people in unexpected ways.  Amen.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

November 15 – “Quien entrega …”

I officiated at another wedding last night.  This one was for one of the fire fighters and his fiancĂ©e.  I had the chance to do “marriage boot camp” (Their words, not mine) with them, so Chris and I got to know a little about them along the way.  They even visited Seaside.  They seemed really focused on doing things “the right way,” so I feel pretty good about their prospects for the future.

The service itself went really well.  They had two extra things they added that really made the event special.  One was the presence of a fire department honor guard throughout the ceremony.  They presented the colors at the beginning of the service.  Two stood with the flags during the ceremony and two stood at the back in the aisle.  Very different and quite impressive.  Of course the honor guard did a bang-up job, and as I understand it, they were more than helpful in the preparations for the event itself.  Kind of like an extra Best Man.  Nice job, GFD Honor Guard.

The second unusual part of eth ceremony was called the Lazo, or Lasso.  The bride’s family had a strong Mexican heritage, and the lasso is a part of that culture.  After they exchanged vows, the bride’s godparents draped the two of them with a circles of rope, joined in the center with a cross.  Great symbolism of being connected by Jesus and bound together in marriage.  Really pretty as well.  Except when they got kind of hung up on one of the bride’s earrings.  That could have been a bit … not fun.  But they worked through it and all was well.

My favorite part of the whole day, though, came right at the beginning of the service.  As I mentioned the bride’s family has Mexican roots, and her father speaks very little if any English at all.  One of the key parts of the ceremony is when he walked the bride down the aisle and I ask “Who presents this woman to be married to this man?”  They had worked out a system where the bride’s Mom (who did speak English) joined them at the front for that moment so she could answer the questioned.  We worked out all the logistics at the rehearsal.  But I decided to give them a little surprise.  I asked a bilingual friend of mine to translate the phrase into Spanish for me.  Then, at the key moment, I asked the question – in Spanish.  As I was speaking I noticed the Dad’s eyes widening and his whole countenance changing.  He stood a little taller, listened a little more closely.  I quickly glanced down at my notes one more time to make sure I was pronouncing things correctly.  “Quien entrega a esta mujer para que se case con este hombre?”  (I know all the accent marks aren’t there.  Neither is the upside down question mark at the beginning, but I don’t know how to do all those thing on my computer).  After I completed the question, both Mom and Dad answered together, “Nosotros.”  And then she added, “We do,” to make sure I understood what they had just said.  It was one of those sweet moments that no one else really noticed, but I will remember. 

James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

Father, thank you for Tim and Lizz and their commitment to each other.  Now draw them close to you.  Amen.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

November 14 – “What you need is …”

In the spirit of the upcoming season … “Oh what fun it is to talk on the phone with Comcast cable.  Hey!”

That was on my list yesterday.  We are trying to settle once and for all why we have so much trouble at the church getting wifi connection in our worship center.  The retreat center reception is perfect, but once you go downstairs into the worship center … the error messages abound.  Things like “You are connected to the internet, but you may not be able to get on the internet.”  Never has made sense to me.  If I’m connected, doesn’t that mean I AM on?  We have tried those extenders and even a cable between buildings.  Nothing has ever really worked for the long term.  So the phone call was to request a technician to come to our premises and tell us what is going on and how to fix it.  Sounded simple enough to me.

The first person I talked to was Mariah in Tech Services.  She was nice enough.  Understood the problem right away, and after consulting with her supervisor, determined that we might have to have two separate accounts.  The only way to determine that would be to have a technician come out and do a sight survey.  Fine.  Bring him on.  Well, that meant I would have to be transferred to that division. 

Step two.  New division.  Someone named Imeah, I think.  Again, very nice.  She, too, recognized the problem.  She, too, talked with a supervisor.  This time it sounded like what we needed was a technician come out and do a sight survey.  Wait.  That sounded vaguely familiar.  Fine.  Bring him on.  Well … the only department that can do that would be new accounts, so “I’ll transfer you over.”

Step three.  Now I had a talk with David in new accounts.  I explained the problem to him as well.  He wasn’t nearly as helpful as the ladies had been.  He kept insisting that he couldn’t do anything until we agreed to sign up for a two year contract of new service.  I finally got him to exit sales pitch mode and listen to me for a moment.  After my explanation he finally seemed to get what I was saying.  He replied, “It sounds like what you need is a technician to come out and do a sight survey.”  “Great idea,” I agreed with a sigh.  Bring him on.  “Oh, well, all we do here is new account set ups.  I’ll have to transfer you to that department.” 

Step four.  “Hello, this is Elizabeth from Tech Services.  How can I help you?”  Tech Services.  Really?  I asked if Mariah was around, but she wasn’t available.  Elizabeth, however, jumped right into tech mode.  She ran some tests to see if the modem was pinging.  I told her it was pinging just fine.  It just couldn’t find its way down the stairs.  She was able to determine that the issue was probably with our router, and that was something we would have to contact the router manufacturer about.  Of course it is.  And then she hesitantly continued, “It really sounds like what you need is a technician come to come out and do a sight survey.”  I knew it.  BRING HIM ON!  “Unless you want to just get one of our new and improved modems with the router built right in.  No charge for the modem itself.  Just a $69.95 service call.”  I asked if that would mean we could just deal with them and be done with it and they would see to it that we have wifi in both buildings.  “Yes, sir,” was the magic reply.  Bring him on. 

We set up a date for the installation for next Thursday.  I will meet the ever-elusive “technician who will come out and do a sight survey.”  Whew.  Thanks, Comcast. 

James 2:17 says, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Father, bring peace to your world where there is no peace.  Amen.

Friday, November 13, 2015

November 13 – “The Birds”

I remembered something Cailyn said the other day that really gripped me at the time.  Back before we left for Waco she and I met Chris at Whataburger after Chris’ arduous jury trial experience (She was not on trial.  She was on the jury).  As we walked in we glanced up and noticed the birds.  Hundreds of birds were beginning to roost on the power lines outside the restaurant (is it proper to call a fast food joint “a restaurant”?).  More and more gathered as we watched.  In seconds the lines were crowded.  The noise level gradually rose louder and louder and louder with all the racket they were making.

It felt like those scenes from that Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds, where birds started attacking people.  I was curious what Cailyn would think of the sight, as one who hadn’t yet been corrupted by the horror movie industry.  We started upwards for a long time.  Finally she looked away, seemingly content with the sense she had made of the situation in her mind.  I waited … and finally she declared, “Oh, I see now, DadDad.  There having a preach.  Like on Sunday at church.”  There you go Seaside.  Come on to church Sunday and let’s have a preach.

James 2:12-13 says, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!”

Father, thank you for giving me a chance to be involved in “a preach” every Sunday.  Amen.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

November 12 – “Terrifying”

As we prepare for our journey back to Galveston, here are a few of the random grandchild-speak gems of wisdom that came up over the last few days.

Caleb: “Why did God make you impatient, Mom?”
I didn’t hear Christi’s answer, to be honest.   I am certain it was wise and insightful and worded perfectly on the first grade level.  I’m bet it was really tempting to say something along the lines of, “I don’t know, but hurry up and finish your schoolwork and get dressed and brush your teeth … right now.” 

Again, I don’t remember the whole context of this next interchange, probably because it takes a while for the sounds coming through my hearing aids to focus into intelligible utterances in my brain.  In this case, though, the pain and frustration and utter confusion were so evident in Caleb’s voice that I couldn’t help but react. 
Caleb: “Girls are terrifying.”
Me: “Yes.  They are.”
Caleb: “Well, I’ve learned my lesson.  Girls are terrifying.”
Nani: “Wait.  What girls are terrifying?”
Zak: “All girls are terrifying.”
Right you are, my boys.  Right you are.  Terrifying indeed, but infinitely wonderful.

And then there was the touching moment of the week.  Something happened at church Wednesday night that caused Caleb to be overcome by the power of God.  Sounds kind of funny, saying that about a six-year-old.  His words were something along the lines of:
“God spoke to me here in my heart.”  Ever the dramatic one, both hands clasped over his chest and moved up and down, up and down to make his point.  “It was beating really fast like it was going to come right out of my chest.  He told me he wants me to be someone who takes care of animals, of his creation.”
Well, there you go.  No reason God shouldn’t call someone to a specific ministry when he is six.  I noticed while he was telling us his story that Zak, the ever-rational first-born, seemed to be shaking his head almost imperceptibly from side to side, not in a condescending way, though.  Caleb noticed it, too.  He continued, “And Zakary is sad because God has never told him anything like that.” 

Perceptive little guy.  Well, hang in there, Zak.  God talks to people in different ways and at different times.  And remember what you Dad said, “God is always talking.  We just have to learn how to listen.”

James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Father, thank you for speaking to Caleb on his level in a special way.  Keep on speaking to Zak, too, as he learns to hear you at just the right time for him.  Amen.