Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 31 – “A Visit from the Wordsmith”

We had a visit the other day from Chris’ Aunt Jean and her husband.  Chris and her aunt haven’t seen each other in many years, but they have kept up with letters and subsequently emails.  Chris really looked forward to the letters, and after reading a few excerpts, so did I.   Aunt Jean is quite the wordsmith.  And she had an apparently beautiful home in Washington State.  Many of her letters described her garden full of flowers that exploded with color and beauty. 

They are on a cross-country vacation trip in a little jeep.  It held all the luggage they needed, and they figured by the time they headed back to Washington they might need the four-wheel drive.  What a thing to have to consider.  I’m proud of them for thinking ahead, though.  I remember one of our vacations many, many years ago (long before our wake-up-call-to-all-things-cold life in Colorado) when we were on our way to the Baseball Hall of Fame in New York State (Cooperstown).  As the afternoon began to transition onto early evening, we began to notice an unusual sight.  Smoke coming from chimneys of the houses.  Now it was September, as I recall, and we lived in Houston at the time.  We packed shorts and t-shirts because in the swamps that is a particularly hot and muggy time of year.  Fortunately, though, the ever-vigilant Chris had tossed in a windbreaker for each of us at the last minute.  So, yes, I appreciate planning in that regard.

The visit was a lot of fun, particularly because they were so interested in Galveston and its history.  We drove from our house out to ferry road (“We have ferries in Washington that take people to Alaska”).  We made a quick swing through part of downtown.  Couldn’t get to the Strand, of course, because the streets were blocked off for Mardi Gras.  Then we drove out to the church on the West End to give them a taste of just how big (or little) our Island really is. 

Lunch stop was Salsa’s for some Mexican food.  I know.  Come to the coast and not order seafood.  But the thing was, they had pigged out at a Joe’s Crab Shack the day before.  And besides, Aunt Jean missed Mexican food more than anything since she moved to Washington many years before.  Just can’t find a good taco up there, apparently.  Oh, and we had to help her with her order.  She knew refried beans, but charro beans were a new concept for her.  She gave them a try and they got a big thumbs up.    They were a fun couple, and it’s always great watching Chris’ face light up when she reconnects with someone like that.

1 John 2:9 says, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.”

Father, thank you for reconnections and long-term friendships and family that is forever.  Amen.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

January 30 – “Delivery in the dark”

We finally received a projector bulb for the church that we ordered back in December – way back last year.  It was delivered after dark last night.  Poor delivery guy.  He wouldn’t just leave it at the door and run away like they usually do.  He knocked and waited for me to take the package from his hands.  I was duly impressed, but that’s probably why he was still delivering in the dark.  He was a little hesitant at first to let it go, though.  He looked at me, then at the package, and then back at me.  He stared for a moment.  Finally he asked, “Is this Seaside Church?”  I smiled at his quandary and reassured him that it was indeed.  Perhaps it was the sound of Jachin and Micah and Josiah rough housing or the sight of little Noa racing by as we talked that confused him.  We certainly can’t have a delivery going to the wrong place, right?  He finally released his death grip on the box, shook his head slowly, side to side, and trudged back to his truck.  And I dropped the package on my desk and returned to my family time. 

So, after a couple of months of straining our eyes to see the words to songs and videos and such, I hope we will soon be able to worship without that distraction once again.  Oh, and I am really thankful that our worship leader knows what he is doing in replacing the bulb.  Have at it, Wes.  It’s all yours.

1 John 2:5-6 says, “But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

Father, thank you for the little things that help us worship you.  I know we don’t need projectors and videos and bells and whistles, but they do help.  Amen.

Friday, January 29, 2016

January 29 – “Medical jargon”

Now wait just a minute.  I know it’s January and all, but what was that stuff on our windshield yesterday morning?  We headed out to water exercise and actually had to wait for the frost top clear away before we could see well enough to drive.  That’s just not right.  Well, not for Galveston Island.  I’m ready for a return to our horrid 54 degree winters. 

The results came back this morning from the x-ray I had of my heel.  Yep.  That’s the latest old guy complaint.  Want to see the findings for yourself?  Not a problem.  Warning … not responsible for preponderance of medical jargon.  Check them out:

A small calcaneal enthesophyte is present.  Joint spaces are preserved.  Alignment is within normal limits.  No fracture or dislocation is identified.  The soft tissues are unremarkable.  Anterior marginal osteophyte formation is seen across the tibial talar joint.  A joint effusion is suspected anteriorly.

So did you get all that?  The doctor hasn’t called to translate it, yet.  A few of the things I could relate to: “no fracture or dislocation.”  That’s always a good thing.  “Within normal limits” is generally a good thing, too.  Beyond that, I had no idea.  I looked up some of the words.  “Joint effusion” means swelling.  Fine.  I have that in every joint in my body.  Best I can tell the “-ophyte” words mean bone spur.  Other than that, it’s back to the treatment I suspected the other day.  Let Mommy kiss it and make it feel better.  Oh, I mean, put ice on it and rest it.  We’ll see what the doc has to say when she calls back.

1 John 2:3 says, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.”

Father, thank you for my foot.  It has served me well.  Still has some service left in it, I’m sure.  The two of us would appreciate some pain relief.  Amen.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

January 28 – “Sam’s of the Seventies”

Just a quick little anecdote today.  We were in WalMart grabbing some groceries.  Of course we were.  Where else would we be?  You know, going grocery shopping together has been one of the little communication factors that has kept us going together for the last, oh, forty years or so.  There’s just something about the mindless pushing of the cart and scanning of the shelves that lends itself to talking about other things.  When we were first married we lived in a student apartment across the street from a store called Gemco.  It was the Sam’s of the Seventies.  The location was certainly a factor in choosing the store, but it was also considerably cheaper than any other place.  So Gemco became our training grounds for marital communication.  We even have a joke between us.  Whenever we get one of “those” carts at any other grocery store – you know the kind … wheels get stuck, rolls like you are having to clear a bump every third step – we look at each other and, almost in unison, declare it to be a “Gemco Cart.”  Yep.  That was our only complaint about that market.  The carts were terrible. 

Back to the story.  As we rounded one pf the blind corners in the grocery section of WalMart, we came upon two ladies, each in one of those motorized carts.  It’s not like we could go anywhere, so we stopped to let them finish their conversation.  Actually, one lady had simply stopped the other to see if she knew what time it was.  Rider number two apparently didn’t have a watch or phone or any way to tell time.  Rider number one then glanced our way.  I was already reaching for my phone when she asked, quite politely, if we knew what time it was.  The interchange was pretty classic:
Lady: “Would you happen to know what time it is right now?”
Me: “Yes ma’am.  It is 3:06.”
Lady: “Oh.  Well, then, I’m 3 oh 6’n it outta here.”
Now that brought a grin to my face for sure.  I’ll have to remember that turn of the phrase.  But she wasn’t done yet.  As she motored her was past us she added a final touch.
Lady: “Thank you very much, Homey”

Homey.  Haven’t been called that in quite some time.  I’m hoping it was a term of endearment. 

1 John 2:2 says, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Father, grant both of those ladies a good day today, free of pain and full of strength and energy.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January 27 – “Missed it”

I think there might be more than just a few of us who call Galveston Island home who would agree that we are done with the cold weather.  Forty-four with a wind chill of thirty-nine is what greeted us this morning.  Does not inspire a grand desire to leap from beneath the covers and attack the day.  In fact, we didn’t.  Stayed in bed until eight o’clock.  Now that hasn’t happened in a long time.  But all warm things must come to an end, so here I am, warm and cozy once again in my flannel shirt and blue jeans, hard at work in front of the computer. 

We realized something yesterday.  We missed a retirement event that I for one had been really looking forward to.  Saturday was when we were recuperating from our all-night binge of grandparenting on the road to pick up the boys while their baby sister got facial stitches in the emergency room.  Then we had to get up early the next morning for another grandparently appearance at a football game (which Jachin’s team won, by the way).  I dozed off and on that afternoon while “watching” college basketball, and Chris just flat out went to bed.  She roused up around 5 or so, but we just ate a quick supper and crashed out again on the sofa.  I think we were in bed again around eight.  And I honestly never thought about the retirement gala.  We are just not night owls any longer.  I still hate that we missed the event.  I feel really bad about it.  That makes us one of “those people” who say they are coming and then just don’t show up and never call to cancel.  We sent them a card with our best wishes.  Hope they will forgive us. 

1 John 2:1 says, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

Father, walk with Tommy into his next stage of existence, retirement.  Grant him plenty of things to do and plenty of time to do them.  Oh, and especially grant Trish plenty of patience.  I hear that’s important.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January 26 – “Heel”

I managed to make it through a doctor’s appointment yesterday.  In fact, it was not so bad at all.  Well, other than being patient while Doctor Junior (AKA Medical Student) did his little training run.  Actually I really don’t mind the medical students in situations like this.  There is not much pressure on them (what could go wrong?  The old dude’s foot hurts.  How hard can it be?), and they usually do fine.  And this guy did pretty well.  He asked all the pertinent questions.  Even answered a few of my own.  And he promised to find the answers to the HMO questions I had as well.  That’s where he probably bit off a bit more than he should have.  I’m not sure the insurance companies that create them understand the HMO’s.  I really don’t expect the doctors to know them.  But he gave it his best shot (which was basically asking the real doctor when she came into the room), and as a result I have a referral to see an ophthalmologist and a promise to work with my existing rheumatologist and neurologist on labs.  That will be a pretty huge help.  Means I won’t have to drive into Texas as often.

Oh, why was I there in the first place?  I have been having some trouble with my heel.  Not being a heel.  My heel hurts.  It’s not anything like nerve pain, and it’s not in a joint, so my Houston specialists are out of the picture.  Besides, I did need to establish with a primary care doc now that I was forced into Blue Cross Blue Shield’s HMO realm.  It is a lot easier to get in when you have some issue as opposed to one of those checkup appointments.  They take weeks to happen.  And I do like the lady doc I have.  She’s been around Galveston for some time now.  So long, in fact, that she used to go fishing with Warren Martin, one of the early-on movers and shakers at starting Seaside back before he died years ago.  I think our reminiscing really surprised the med student. 

So my new doc ruled out a few things, plantar fasciitis being one.  She seemed convinced that at some point I had some sort of injury that was flaring up, but plan B was some kind of bursitis.  I’m pretty sure that’s the medical insurance code for “I don’t know why it’s happening.  Put ice on it.”  Very similar to “Here, let Mommy kiss it and make it feel better.”  She did send me for an X-ray, though.  Guess where?  The pediatric clinic over by Home Depot.  I made a stop by the house to pick up Chris.  If anybody was going to kiss it and make it feel better, I was going to insist that it be my own private duty nurse.

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Father, thank you for my so called private duty nurse.  Chris has cared for me through a lot of aches and pains.  Amen.

Monday, January 25, 2016

January 25 – “Throwing like a girl”

I actually watched some football games yesterday.  It has been a long time.  The later start helped a lot, since we had a quarterly discernment meeting scheduled.  We didn’t get home until almost three o’clock.  And we had Cailyn for the day.  And she invited Kiara over to play.  We stopped by Whataburger for a gourmet lunch on the way home.  Fine Texas cuisine, you know.  The kids like the gravy that comes with the chicken strips.  Sorry, other establishments that don’t serve chicken strips.  You probably won’t be seeing much of our grandkids any time soon for any of their away-from-home fine dining experiences.  Gotta have the chicken strips. 

We finally made it back to the house and the two girls disappeared into Whatever Little Girls Do Together Land.  I heard them talking – a lot – but what they said made little sense to my limited male expertise, so what else was I to do?  I turned to the Denver Broncos for respite.  Even tried out a new gadget someone at church gave me.  It is one of those electrode thingies that stimulates the tight muscles like a massage.  Interesting feel, I must say.  I think it helped, too.  I also must say, though, that there is no way it will replace an actual massage.  Nothing like touch to stimulate healing. 

After Kiara left Cailyn and I got down to the serious business of breaking in her brand new softball glove.  She signed up to play for the first time, so we had to see what kind of potential she might have.  Right up front I have to say she is a quick study.  She understood the basic mechanics involved in not throwing like a girl (opposite foot from throwing hand takes the step toward your target).  And when she remembered to look at where she wanted the ball to go, she was actually really good.  She even threw some underhand (as in fast pitch), and the tosses were fairly accurate.  All was going well until …

That’s when it happened.  It had to happen sooner or later.  Might as well get it over with now.  We were working on moving the glove so that the ball could hit in it.  It’s one of those softball/baseball skills that sounds so simple, but it just takes so much hand/eye coordination.  Perhaps just a bit more than a just-starting-out seven year old who has never done it before can handle.  Before she knew it, the ball snuck its way past her best efforts to move the glove and found its way right into her bottom lip.  Pow.  Yes, she cried.  Yes, DadDad’s heart melted as she leapt in to my arms.  I did my best to encourage her.  I sure didn’t want this to be her first and last attempt at softball before she even had a chance to try the game itself.  We made our way inside to let Nurse Nana take a look at it and to get some ice on it.  And just as she took the cool, wet paper towel out of Nana’s hand to “do it myself,” who should walk in but good ol’ Mommy.  The tears did their best to re-emerge.  I mean, come on.  You can’t let Mom miss out on a tender moment like that, can you?  One big hug and a kiss or two later, though, and the pain was under control.  The bleeding had stopped.  The swelling was gone.  And Cailyn?  “Come on, DadDad, let’s play some more catch.”  That’s my girl.  Back in the saddle. 

1 John 1:6-7 says, “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Father, thank you for Cailyn’s desire to try and try again.  Help her to maintain that spirit from now on … and not just in sports.  Amen.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

January 24 – “Tugging the plug”

What a plodding day it is when operating on four hours of sleep after our all-night affair helping out with Noa’s brothers.  Noa, by the way seems to be doing pretty well.  Even Face-timed her cousin Cailyn to check in.  A few bouts of crankiness (which I totally understand).  Mom and Dad finally removed the bandaid cover over her would so that she could get her pacifier in her mouth, and all was well.  Well, at least, for the time being for Mommy and Daddy.  Don’t tell Noa, but word has it that they might use this event as a springboard for weaning her away from the infamous mouth plug.  That might not be an easy task.  The only thing that worked for her Daddy was a bribe.  He traded in his “mine.”  I know.  Cute name for a pacifier, right?  That came about because when we played with him, we gently tugged the plug away from his mouth a few inches and say, “It’s mine.”  So obviously we were naming the silly thing, right?  That was the logic in his mind, anyway.  Oh, the trade?  He got one of those huge toy replicas of the Millennium Falcon.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  Now he is a county-renowned (Read here: his picture was in the paper) comic book collector and pop culture aficionado.  Sigh.  It’s great to have a place in the world.

So yesterday.  We crawled out of bed at around eight so we could get to Jachin’s football game at nine.  We were late.  Half time had just begun when we walked up.  We got to see an exciting second half, though.  Jachin threw one long touchdown pass on offense.  On defense he went all J.J. Watt on their quarterback.  Two sacks, one blocked pass, and innumerable times he forced the quarterback to hurry his throw, resulting in incomplete passes.  They won the game on defense on the last play of the game when Jachin grabbed the QB’s flag just before he threw what would have been a game-winning touchdown pass.  Like I said, pretty exciting stuff.

Once we got back home, though, we just couldn’t get the oomph going.  Oh, we went over to WalMart and walked around for a while.  We needed some fruit.  And a new bicycle helmet that actually fit my head.  And a movie to watch on another day when we wouldn’t fall asleep in the middle of it.  We finally had to leave before we made any other zombie-ish purchases.  But that meant finally getting still and succumbing to the overwhelming crush of sleepiness.  Chris didn’t fight it.  She disappeared into the bedroom and I didn’t see her again until after five p.m.  I took up my typical spot on the couch for watching sports on TV.  I think there was a college basketball game on.  Maybe Kans … Yawn … tucky.  Or was it Okla … Yawn … exas.   Ho hum.  So much yawning.  I didn’t sleep the entire afternoon, though.  When I woke up I realized I was watching a Hallmark Channel movie about two wedding planners falling in love.  Wow.  Help me get back to sleep …

1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

Father, thank you that Noa is healing well.  Give us a great day of worship.  Draw those folks there that you want there.  Amen.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

January 23 – “Crisis in the Night”

There we were, relaxed and enjoying the aftermath of a marriage counseling session that went really well.  Chris had even joined us around the table as we talked about tuxedo-front t-shirts vs. the real thing – you know … typical wedding decision making.  And then came the first text.

Kel and Christina and their brood were all up in Cypress at Christina’s Mom’s house.  Big family birthday party, I think.  And with nine or eleven children, most of them boys, all playing together apparently rambunctiously, something was bound to happen.  And so it did.  The text to us (Well, it was to Nurse Nana) was a picture of … The Injury.  One of the children had taken a fall and the result was a gash just under the lip and onto the chin area.  Whether the gash had gone all the way through was still to be determined.  Triple ouch.  They were on their way to the Katy version of Texas Children’s Hospital for what was a sure bet at stitches.  Maybe even a plastic surgeon.  But hey, Chicks dig scars, right?  Badge of honor?  Right?  Well ….

See, that was the problem.  It wasn’t one of the guys.  The victim was dainty, petite, gorgeous little Noa.  Kind of intensifies the concern, doesn’t it?  Not that one would care less about the well-being of a rugged male.  But a tiny, sweet little girlie-girl?  Believe me, we watched the text feeds for constant updates.  The boys had stayed at their cousins’ house, so they were all right.  The problem came when Noa’s case kept getting bumped back further and further as more serious emergencies arrived. 

Finally, a little after ten, we advanced from texting to an actual phone call.  I knew as soon as the phone rang that Nana Instincts would be totally overwhelming my lovely wife.  It had to be coming … road trip.  Our soon-to-be bride and groom realized it as well, so they hastily said their goodbyes.  And sure enough, a plan was hatched to get the boys from Cypress to their home in LaMarque.  Uncle Chad on that end would start out with the packages and head south.  We would head north.  Somewhere in between we would meet and make the dropoff.  Very exciting stuff.  Late-night.  Precious cargo.  High emotion.  Better than a zombie movie. 

We finally made connections at a Denny’s just inside Loop 610 in Houston.  The cargo was transferred over to our car and we made our way to LaMarque.  Cargo delivered somewhere around midnight, and they were asleep before their heads hit the pillow.  Mom and Dad and Noa finally arrived around 2:30 or so.  Two stitches carefully placed and hopefully she will be as good as new.  We made the final leg of our journey back into Galveston right around 3 a.m.  Took a while to wind back down, but by 4 we both drifted off.  Great ending, right?  Now to start our Saturday and maybe plan a nap?

Psalms 18:3 says, “I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”

Father, please heal Noa quickly.  Amen.

Friday, January 22, 2016

January 22 – “Inside the mind of a 7 year old”

I had an interesting conversation with Cailyn at the dinner table the other day.  Out of the blue she made the comment, “I keep forgetting I’m already seven years old.”  Of course Nani’s eyes misted up, and she replied with something along the lines of, “You’re growing up way too fast.  I remember when you were just a little tiny baby.”  I decided to take a different approach to the situation that avoided the nostalgic.  My comment was, “Wait.  I thought you were fourteen years old.”  She and I think a lot alike, so she picked up on the train of thought immediately. 
Cailyn: “No, DadDad.  I want to be 16 years old, not 14.”

Of course.  How could I have been so stupid.  But I was certainly now intrigued.  What was going on inside the mind of a seven year old?  Sixteen.  What happens when she is sixteen?  Driving?  (Hey, she already has her own scooter).  Going on a date?  (Maybe, but her Dad says she has to be 30 before he’ll allow that to happen).  What could possibly be going on inside this now-seven-year-old head that caused her to light on wanting to be 16 years old?

And the wheels were continuing to turn.  She obviously was lost in some deep thought, so I didn’t say anything right away.  It didn’t take long for her ruminations to become declarations.  “Seven to sixteen is nine more years.  I’ll be sixteen in nine years.” 

Wow.  This must be serious.  She is figuring out a time line.  I couldn’t hold back any longer.  I had to know.  “So why do you want to be sixteen?”

The answer was not long in coming.  She grinned a toothy grin and proudly announced, “Because then Daddy will be 40.”

Of course.  What else could it be?  Gotta love that Daddy’s Girl.

Ps 103:13 says, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him”

Father, thank you for the love Cailyn has for her Daddy, and his for her.  Amen.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

January 21 – “Tooting Arts”

We made the drive into Texas - way into Texas – the other day.  We went to see Jennifer at the rehab facility she has been transferred to for physical and occupational therapy.  The place was described to me as being “near Ikea.”  After that drive, I decided that “near Ikea” meant near Finland or Norway or wherever that foreign country is that Ikea imported from.  It was good to see Jennifer, though.  She is coming along well with therapy.  She’s even walking with a walker already.  She hasn’t done that in a long time.  We are proud of you, Jennifer.  Keep up the hard work.

Yesterday afternoon, when Chris returned from her Wednesday Club presentation on the history of quilting (I know.  Who better to do that one, right?), she and I decided to go on a bike ride.  We haven’t been since I got my new accessories for Christmas, so I was anxious to try them out.  Oh, what did I get?  A cell phone holder for the handlebars.  A water bottle for the cup holder already strapped to the handlebars.  My personal favorite – one of those horns you squeeze and beep to warn pedestrians of your approach.  And finally, the new seat – not a triangle-shaped one, mind you.  Oh, no.  This was is a basic, rectangular, wide-bottom, lap-of-luxury model.  At least that was my hope.

So on to the bike ride.  First off, I couldn’t get my helmet to fit.  Granted, it’s an old one, but I have worn it before.  Between the two of us we finally got it readjusted and hit the road.  And turned right around and came back into the driveway.  All four of our tires needed air.  Guess that bitter cold 50 degree weather took its toll.  And while I was at it, I raised the seat a bit to help avoid strain on my knees.  Finally that mission was accomplished, so we made our way, albeit cautiously, back into the street and around the neighborhood. 

And just around the first block I had to stop and adjust my seat.  It was set too high.  So much for my earlier adjustment attempt.  After that stop we made it at least two blocks before the next issue began.  The seat again.  This time it was wiggling forward and back.  Incredibly annoying.  But I determined to make it all the way back home like a trooper.  Mistake.  The bolt got looser and looser the farther we went until the seat was just a rag under me.  I realized that I never did tighten that thing back after Christmas when I proudly installed everything.  I basically stood up the entire way back home.  Haven’t done that since I was eleven.  Sure got that seat tightened when we got back to the house, though.

I did have one distraction from the seat annoyance.  Cailyn texted me to remind us she was coming over today.  And then she FaceTimed me.  That was great.  I could see her on my mounted cell phone as I rode around.  She was also the beneficiary of my first on-road exercise of the tooting arts.  I had to try out my horn, of course.  It just happens to be mounted right next to the cell phone.  I think I’m almost ready to leave the neighborhood. Toot toot. 

2 Peter 3:14 says, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”

Father, thank you for the few minutes of recreation time with Chris (and Cailyn, too) on out bike ride.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January 20 – “Fire … behind-the-scenes”

So all that stuff I said yesterday about it being such a boring day?  Never mind.  I was hard at work on my computer, minding my own business, when a fire call came in.  Flames and smoke showing.  I quickly got dressed and headed over to check on the guys tasked with putting out the blaze. 

It was out when I arrived.  They were doing the last scraping and poking to make sure no vestiges remained.  Well, that would be the rookie’s doings.  One of the brand new hires caught his first fire, so the vets directed him and encouraged him to be involved in every aspect of the operation.  In fact, the way I was sure he was a rookie?  He raced past me on his way to the engine to get a tool, then raced back up the steps to the house.  I also heard that before the call came in he was studying his rookie manual hard and practicing getting into his bunker gear.  In fact that gave him an edge when the call did come in.  He was already in his gear and at the engine.  Pretty impressive.  Of course he’ll need to remember that all “extraneous materials” need to be off the engine before it leaves the station.  But all rookies have curve balls thrown their way.

Back to the fire.  There were two dogs involved.  One was a little dachshund.  That one remained safe in a back room of the house far away from the fire, which was contained on the porch.  The other was a pit bull on one of those guide wires across the front of the house.  Fortunately he was very sweet and allowed one of the fire fighters to take him for a walk to get him out of the way.  Of course that was after he jumped the fence (still attached to the guide cable) and almost escaped from his collar.  By that time the owner of the house nor the renter had been located, so animal control was called to assist. 

Speaking of the renter, they finally managed to locate him.   He was a young man who was a student.  I talked to him for a while after he arrived.  Imagine his emotions.  Sitting in class, minding his own business, when two police officers enter the room and call out his name.  They take him into the hall, hand him a card with the fire marshal’s name on it, and ask if he has been in touch with this person yet.  The poor kid replied, I just moved to Galveston to go to school.  I don’t know anybody yet.  What is going on?  Am I under arrest?”  Finally the police officers said, “Your house is on fire.”  You think he would have led with that.  His first concern upon arriving on scene was the safety of the dogs.  Oh, and his pet snake.  Big snake.  All were fine. 

By this time the fire fighters had cleaned up and were pulling out, engine by engine.  The rental management company arrived and had the owner on the phone, getting insurance information.  The gas company came by to check their meters.  The fire marshals were finishing up their rounds.  I was particularly impressed at one point when they found out a neighbor had been hosing down the fire before the engines arrived.  One of the marshals went to the door to say “Thank you.”  Now that’s pretty classy.  Nice job, GFD, from start to finish, from rookie to seasoned veteran. 

2 Peter 3:11-12 says, “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”

Father, thank you for protecting the fire fighters on that and every call.  Walk with the owner and especially that young renter as they deal with repairs and insurance companies.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January 19 – “Celery delivery”

We had what many would consider an incredibly boring day yesterday.  I have to say upfront, I have rarely been accused of falling into the category of “many.”  But I guess since I’m writing this I can place myself wherever I want.  Besides, I will take a boring day any time I can get one. 

So what made this particular one so ho-hum?  Probably the fact that for the better part of nine or ten hours I sat at my desk doing work.  Ah, yes.  It must be a Monday.  I did get a few things accomplished, at least.  I’m almost finished with the end of the year reports for church.  We have our organizational meeting (we call it discernment meeting – a time for discerning where God is at work and how we can join him) this Sunday.  I have to compile everything into a booklet of reports and make them a little more palatable for the everyday reader.  Always a fun task.  And most of the weekly rote stuff is done as well.  Today I’m hoping to finish that up and focus on the teaching for Sunday.

There was one bright spot in the tedium of computer work.  We had some visitors stop by.  Ed and Pat from church shared some of the bounty of their garden with us.  This time it was some home grown celery.  Great for me, that’s for sure.  Chris doesn’t like celery, so I’ll get to dive into the homemade onion dip she just concocted with celery dippers instead of fritos.  Way healthier.  That does mean I can eat more, right?  I learned something about celery, too.  Apparently there are uses for the grass stuff that grows on top of the edible stalks.  I’m not sure what it is, but Chris asked if I washed that part when I washed the stalk I dug into.  Surely she’s not thinking of sneaking it into a salad when I’m not looking.  Sigh.  Guess I’ll just have to go a little heavier on the Thousand Island. 

It’s amazing how much you can say about so little, isn’t it?  Business reports and a celery delivery.  Wow.  What a day.

2 Peter 3:8-9 says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Father, thank you for slow days.  Gotta have them every now and then or I’d never get anything done.  Amen.

Monday, January 18, 2016

January 18 – “One order at a time”

We ordered pizza the other day.  I know.  Not that unusual an event, especially when we have grandkids around.  But after wading through the ordeal of making all our selections from the online menu and making sure I hit the right button for special deals, the final page came up where you pull the trigger and actually make the purchase.  Everything looked correct, so I went for it.  Then the very last screen appears to let us know our “hot and fresh pizza is on its way.”  All fine and dandy.  Even received the instantly generated email to my account letting me know the cost to be applied to my credit card.  But then I just happened to notice something in the fine print.  Down where it says “Estimated time of arrival” I saw something that caused me to do a double take.  “Ninety-four to one hundred and four minutes.”  Yep.  The window for delivery was an hour and half or more.  Fresh pizza, indeed. 

I just couldn’t see waiting that long.  After all the grandkids were on their way.  So I called the local store to see what was going on.  I was nice.  First I verified that I was reading the notice correctly.  Did it really say 94-104 minutes?  “Yes, it did.”  No further explanation was forthcoming, so I added, “I just wondered why the delivery was going to take so long.  It has never been longer than 30 or 40 minutes.”  At that point one very frustrated manager unloaded on me.  Not angrily, mind you.  But there was just a hint of desperation in her voice.  Seems only one driver had showed up for work.  They were in the middle of their lunch rush, and all deliveries were backed up by almost an hour.  Doing my best to keep my voice calm so she would remain calm herself, I asked how long would it take if I just came in and picked up the pizza.  Her entire demeanor changed (as much as you can discern such things over the phone).  She hesitated a second and then replied, “Twenty minutes.”  As cheerfully as I could muster, I responded with a hearty, “That will be great, then.  I’ll see you in twenty minutes.”  She stumbled a bit for words, and finally managed “Well, OK.  I’ll see you then.” 

Always happy to relieve stress in the world one pizza order at a time.

2 Peter 1:5-7 says, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”

Father, grant that manager a little easier shift next time she works.  And bring some of your peace into her life.  Amen.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January 17 – “A very quick road trip”

We are back.  I know, you had no idea we were even gone, right?  Well, after enjoying Cailyn’s seventh birthday party so much on Friday night, we decided that we just had to have another one.  Unfortunately, the closest one we could find was Caleb’s - four hours away in Waco.  But we were not to be deterred … road trip.

We woke up around six and hit the road sometime around seven.  That would be after a quick stop at the donut shop, of course.  Chris did the driving, of course.  That made it possible for me to hook up the computer and finish my blog entry.  The entry was no problem.  Trying to get it posted was quite another story, however.  For some reason the computer would just not hook up with my phone.  You know, that feature on iPhones where your phone can become its own hotspot.  Oh, it made the attempt.  I could see the little blue line across the top of the screen that indicates someone has logged on flickering down and up, down and up.  No idea what was blocking the effort, but I finally gave up on it.  I eventually managed to make the post happen when we got to Josh’s house after Zakary’s basketball game and before the birthday party.  The rest of the trip I spent watching movies.  Haven’t done that in a long time.  On the way up (and part of the way back – that hassle with the internet made me run out of time) I watched Avatar again.  That movie has some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen.  Chris told me she has never seen it.  Not sure how that is possible.  We own a copy of it on DVD.  On the way back I watched Ender’s Game.  That was another of those movies made from a book where the book is better.  Always happens that way. 

Caleb’s party was a rousing success, by the way.  Hard to beat Chuck E. Cheese when you are seven years old.  We gave him some of those coin collecting books where you put the coins into the designated slots.  Quarters, nickels and dimes.  Oh, and one that was a map of the United States with slots for the special issue states quarters.  My favorite, though was our Hurricane Ike Coin Reclamation Kit.  We have a lot of coins that rode out Hurricane Ike at the bottom of five feet of water here in our house.  As a result the pennies in particular have begun to corrode.  We gave him a jar full of those, a jar of vinegar, a toothbrush and some rags.  All he needs to clean off the corrosion and discover what damage, if any, has been inflicted on the coins.  A science lesson, to be sure.  Not to mention the added enhancement of spending the cleaned-up loot. 

We got back home a little before ten.  Plenty of time for Chris to put the bean soup in the crockpot for dinner on the grounds after church today.  Road trip concluded.  Eight hours on the road, the rest with family.  Are we crazy, or what?

2 Peter 1:4 says, “… he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

Father, we do love the family you have gifted us with.  Thank you.  Amen.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

January 16 – “Happy birthdays”

Today is my “Christian birthday.”  By that I mean the time when I consciously realized my need and chose for myself to be a follower of Jesus.  Happened when I was a senior in high school way back when there was a “19” in front of the year.  Then keep going farther and farther into that abyss until you hit the 1970’s.  Yep.  I graduated from good ol’ Ball High School in 1971.  In January of that year I committed my life to following Jesus, and nothing has been the same since.  That makes me just 45 years old.  A mere whippersnapper.  Happy birthday to me … courtesy of Jesus (again.  He was involved for the first birthday as well, being the Creator and all). 

Speaking of birthdays, yesterday I got a text.  A very early text.  A 6:48 a.m. text.  Now, I was awake and already at my desk working when it came through, so it wasn’t a problem or anything.  It’s just still a bit of a surprise to be texting with my six-year-old granddaughter.  Oh, but this one was special.  It was more of an announcement, no a pronouncement than anything else.  “Good morning.  It’s my birthday DadDad.”  And I stand corrected.  I’m texting with my seven-year-old granddaughter.  I did answer her right away, but she was getting ready for school, so we didn’t resume until she got home.  Now here’s the thing.  Last night she was having a party for the Vaughan side of the family.  In fact, Kel’s kids were at our house waiting for their Mom and Dad to get back from a movie (Christina was finally seeing Star Wars).  We couldn’t talk Josh into driving down for the event though.  Something about preparing for Caleb’s birthday party which is today.  I anticipated that she would be a little anxious for that to get started.  See what you think.  Here’s the course of the texting:
C: Good morning.  It’s my birthday, DadDad.
D: What?! Well, happy birthday.  Do you feel older?
C (4:50 p.m. that afternoon): Yes it does feel older.
D: Can’t wait to see you in a little while.  I’m getting hungry.
C: No!!!!!!!!!!! Daddy said you are coming at 5:00.
D: I’ll be there as soon as I can.  I have to wait for Uncle Kel and Aunt Christina.
C: Thanks for your information.
D (Wait.  “Thanks for your information”?  Where did THAT come from?): You are sincerely welcome.
This interchange completed at around 4:48.  That’s important because a few minutes later my notification bell went off again.
C: It’s 5:02 DadDad.

Got me.  I’m late.  After that we decided that the boys and I would head on over so they could get started on their playing time.  Kel and Christina arrived not long after that with a car seat for Noa, and the party was ready to begin.  Great hamburgers by Nathan.  Great cake by April (decorated by Cailyn and Noa).  Great ice cream by Blue Bell.  Ooops.  Gotta go.  I think I just got a text from my seven-year-old granddaughter.

2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Father, thank you for Cailyn and for her grasp of technology.  Help her to grow to love you and have many Christian birthdays of her own as well.  Amen.

Friday, January 15, 2016

January 15 – “Anticipation”

We have quite a day planned for today.  Actually if we include tomorrow we will be going non-stop for 48 hours.  Oh wait.  I forgot the next day would be Sunday, so we have to include that one, too, at least up through the end of dinner on the grounds and  the meetings after church.  I guess our starting pistol goes off around noon today and we are on until say, three o’clock Sunday.  Whew.  I’m already tired.

So today the plan is first to host Kel’s kids so Kel and Christina can go to the movies.  Christina still hasn’t seen the new Star Wars, and not many people are even referring to it as “new” any more.  We probably should prepare little Fred for this visit.  Last time they were here Josiah took command, and Fred was his entire army.  He carried her everywhere.  One time he even had her inside a pillowcase … with the pillow.  She didn’t seem to mind all that much.  Guess she thought it was some new carnival ride come to town.  I’m not sure what she thought about when Noa joined the fray, though.  That ended in the three of them (Josiah, Noa and Fred) playing Ring Around the Rosie.  Yep, Josiah had Fred by one front paw, Noa had her by the other, and they all made the circle and the “all fall down.”  It was quite entertaining, actually.  When they left that day I think poor Fred trudged into the laundry room and took a long nap.  I know I did.  The nap, not the laundry room.

Once that date is complete we will all head over to Nathan and April’s for Cailyn’s birthday party.  As I understand it Nathan is barbequeing something, so it will be good.  And once the evening’s festivities come to a close we will grab a few hours’ sleep, get up early … really early … like 4:30 early (if I can get Chris out of bed) and head to Waco for Caleb’s birthday party.  I’m not sure what to expect there.  His invitation was in the shape of a World War II fighter plane, though.  And I’m pretty sure Chuck E. Cheese was mentioned.  Should be fun. 

2 Peter 1:2 says, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

Father, help our little guys have some fun this weekend.  Amen.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

January 14 – “Plus three”

We have some great home renovation news.  Our hall bathroom shower finally works like it is supposed to.  After I have no idea how many years, we can finally switch between shower and bathtub once again.  The tiny little diverter piece that does the switching was stuck tight, so the plumber had to come out and saw the whole three-fauceted section out and replace it with a brand new one.  Not something I would have attempted on my own, that’s for sure.  Still not sure how much the charge will be, but our shower works again.  Plus.

To celebrate we decided to head into Texas to visit Jennifer in the hospital.  She is still on IV antibiotics, but they (read here “the insurance company”) have decided that she qualifies to go straight into a rehab facility.  That is really good news.  Of course the first one they contacted promised the moon, then at the last minute told her they didn’t have a room after all.  While we were there, though, a different company rep arrived to welcome her to their facility.  It’s farther away (Memorial City) but sounds like a really nice place.  They will take care of everything, including transfers and trips to the doctor as well as physical and occupational therapy.  Oh, and her insurance covers it all.  100%.  Sounds like a real win to me.  Plus. 

I was even able to swing by my doc’s office and grab some medication they had for me.  and we stopped by Lifeway Book Store on the way home to get some more birthday cards.  After all that we decided to take Jennifer’s recommendation to heart.  We stopped for supper at Cracker Barrel.  Gotta love those fried chicken livers.  Plus.

1 Peter 5:14 says, “Greet one another with a kiss of love.  Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”

Father, thank you for Jennifer’s good news.  Kind of makes our plumbing win pale in comparison, but hey, why not rejoice in all things?  I guess that might sound familiar to you, huh?  Amen.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

January 13 – “Another hat”

Well, yesterday I put on one of those other hats a pastor sometimes gets to wear.  We got word that we will be having an unexpected group staying in the retreat center.  Not at all a problem.  Except that meant we needed to finish transforming the space back into a retreat center after our Bethlehem Market.  I know.  That event was back in December.  I confess.  This was purely a case of procrastination - thinking we had until sometime in March before the next group – getting so wrapped up in all my other hats that I pushed this one to the back of the pile. 

So what did we (By “we” I mean Chris was with me, of course.  She wears as many hats as I do … sometimes more) have to do?  Let me see if I can formulate a list … 

Clean and stock the bathrooms (always a given anytime Chris is involved)
Put in a new bottle of drinking water
Empty the vacuum cleaner
Take out the trash
Box up leftover garage sale items
Box up the Bethlehem Market supplies to be used next year
Return chair and table racks to their place
Hang two sets of blinds
Clean white boards (well, begin to clean them.  Someone used permanent markers)
Hang decorative signs naming rooms and in kitchen and bathrooms
Stack old mattresses to be discarded
Arrange bunks for walking space and exit access
Place extra mattresses under beds
Vacuum the whole building
Rearrange the office/guest speaker room
Arrange chairs and tables in rooms
Place reading chair in foyer
Check the mail
Go by WalMart for a reading lamp on our way home

We didn’t get around to decorating the bulletin boards, though.  We also need to grab a few light bulbs for the reading lamp when we take it back to set it up.  Gotta say … every muscle in my body is sore today. 

1 Peter 5:10-11 says, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Father, thank you for all those hats you gave me when I became a pastor.  Some are harder to wear than others, but may all of them help me to reflect you.  Amen.