Monday, February 29, 2016

February 29 – “Oops Day”

So we finally hit yet another extra day in the life of Planet Earth.  In our efforts to codify our existence, to measure our moments, it is time once again for Oops Day.  Not in the sense that anyone made a mistake, mind you.  It’s just the day we toss in all the extra seconds that have accumulated over the past four years and give everybody an extra chance at a do-over or maybe a never-have-done.  This is the day that inspired Sadie Hawkins Day, that infamous occasion when roles reverse and the girl asks the boy out on a date, or to go steady, or to get married.  In the comics today, Dagwood’s neighbor kid felt like since it was an extra day, then it ought to be a non-day – a time to stay at home from school and work at the very least.  Lots to be said for that one, I guess.  Mr. Dithers didn’t think much of the idea, though.  He mentioned something about a non-pay day, so Dag dropped the discussion. 

As for me, it looks like I’ll be enjoying a typical Monday.  My heaviest workday of the week, usually.  Unless maybe a fire call comes in.  I missed the big structure fire out west of Jamaica Beach Saturday night.  I was not feeling well at all at the time.  Wish I could have at least listened in to the action.  Sigh.  Someday I’ll have that scanner or radio.  From what I heard the house was a total loss, but all the fire fighters did a tremendous job containing it.  Apparently the homeowner’s chiminea wasn’t completely extinguished when he left it unattended to get ready for bed.  Fires on the beach like that have a tendency to blow sparks and fiery debris into neighboring houses and onto the fields of grass.  One of the dangers of the constant sea breeze that cools us in the summer.  The Jamaica Beach Volunteer Fire Department brush truck took care of anything that sprung up along those lines, though.  They worked side by side with Galveston Fire Department to both fight the fire and prevent its spread.  Many kudos to both departments. 

Here’s another quick Josiah quote.  We were at the YMCA on Saturday to watch his brothers play flag football.  He and I went inside the building to use the bathroom.  Before returning outside to the field, though, he stopped just outside the workout room and cocked his head to the side.  I asked what was the matter, and he replied, “Do you hear that?”  Of course I heard nothing beyond the normal YMCA noises.  He strained mightily until finally his eyes brightened.  “I know what it is.”  He announced.  Pointing into the workout room he explained, “It’s from that thing where you run and it tries to pull you off the machine.”  Perfect definition of a treadmill, if you ask me.

Jude 24-25 says, “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

Father, thank you for another week and another extra day.  It’s been a long four years.  Amen.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

February 28 - “The Perfect Answer”

We were doing some grandparently duties yesterday.  Kel and Christina were still at their conference, so we took their boys (and Noa came along as well) to their flag football games, always an exciting experience.  And to salve your insatiable curiosity, I’ll tell you up front that both teams won, handily I might add.  And not only that, both boys scored a touchdown.  Pretty exhilarating stuff for a grandparent, that’s for sure.

One of the boys on Jachin’s team had to sit out the game, though.  That morning he had been horsing around with his football.  While reaching for one errant throw from himself, he slipped on the staircase and fell about three steps onto the floor below, directly onto his head.  His Dad is a doctor and was right there, but apparently the little guy had some immediate indications of a concussion.  In his words, he “couldn’t convince one of my legs to move” right away.  He was quite dizzy and confused as well.  Dr. Dad insisted that concussion protocol be followed.  No running and take it easy for  the next few days.  And no amount of pleading on the boy’s part was going to change his mind.  Now just before Jachin’s game began, Kel and Christina surprised us all by showing up.  The conference had ended, so they came straight from Houston to the football field. 

Christina, being the sweet and concerned Mom-type that she is, called out to the injured youngster and asked, “I hear you had a concussion.  What happened?”  The boy’s answer will go down in history as the “classic of all classics” answer to that particular question.  Students of quick retorts will be studying this one for years to come.  The delivery was flawless.  In fact, he didn’t even realize he was making history.  He never missed a beat. 

Question: “I hear you had a concussion.  What happened?” 
Answer … “I don’t remember.”


Jude 22 says, Be merciful to those who doubt”

Father, help that youngster to follow Doctor Dad’s orders.  Protect him from any future problems.  Amen.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

February 27 – “How old is old?”

I went to a breakfast yesterday with a whole roomful of Galveston Police Department officers.  There were street cops and detectives and captains and even the acting fire chief was there.  And he had invited the fire chief, so he was there as well.  It was an effort to connect the community clergy with the police department to build positive relationships.  Can’t beat doing some connecting over a plate of scrambled eggs and sausage and bacon.  I found out that the department has a program of volunteer chaplains they have instituted.  There are six total chaplains, as I understand it.  Three plainclothes and three uniformed (or in the words of the chaplain that was speaking, “vested.”  That’s when he tapped the bullet proof vest he was wearing).  They can do full ride-alongs with officers on shift and handle any emergency calls that officers need to make to minister to citizens as well as the officers.  Good to know.  I have had several people ask me since I have been fire department chaplain if police chaplains exist in Galveston. 

When I got home I found four extra bodies running around.  And by the time we ordered pizza for supper, there was a fifth.  Five grandkids spending the night last night.  Oh, and we FaceTimed the other three.  Gotta get that fix any way we can.  So back to the pizza.  Josiah agreed to go with me to pick it up, and on the way we had an interesting discussion about the ways of the world and theology.  Listen in …

Josiah: “It’s my Daddy’s birthday.”
Me: “How old is he?”
Josiah: “Thirty-nine.”
Me: “Wow.  That’s really old.”
Josiah: “No, it’s not old.”
Me: “It’s not?” (Somewhat skeptically)
Josiah: “No, because if he was a woman he could still have a baby.”
Me: “Ah.  So how old is old?”
Josiah: “About a trillion.  That’s how old God is.”

And there you have it.  The secrets of aging and the age of God from the mouth of a five-year-old. 

Jude 20 says, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.”

Father, thank you for being eternal and for offering us a taste of that eternity as well.  Amen.

Friday, February 26, 2016

February 26 – “Chained on bibs”

Well, I guess I have to go on another bit of a rant this morning.  I went to the dentist’s office yesterday for a simple cleaning.  It started out  nicely enough.  There were several people in the waiting room, all with whiter hair than mine, so I felt right at home.  One of the old geezers started right in with an entertaining array of jokes, all clean ones, mind you.  He was like a stand-up comic.  They flew one right after the other covering the gamut from blondes to wives (a touchy subject since one of the white-hairs was a wife) to politicians.  I don’t know if they paid him to take people’s minds off the inevitable or not, but maybe they should consider it.

They finally called my name, and on my way to the cleaning room, I stopped at the front desk and turned in my new insurance card.  That, as you may recall, was another story entirely.  This was the HMO card.  Same company – Blue Cross Blue Shield.  Just HMO rather than PPO.  I dutifully followed the tech up the stairs and took my place in “The Chair.”  She saddled me with that paper bib they chain to your neck.  I always wondered why  they used a chain.  Was it going to escape?  Not likely.  Was I going to attempt a getaway?  Perhaps within the realm of possibility.  I was all bibbed up, and she had just strapped on the blood pressure cuff when we heard footsteps on the stairs.  Rushing up the stairs.  Calling out my name, “Mr. Vaughan.  Mr. Vaughan.”  I mumbled to myself, “This doesn’t look like it will end well.”  And sure enough, she was not just returning my insurance card.  She informed me that it was an HOM card, so they could not accept it.  They only accepted PPO from Blue Cross Blue Shield.  Of course you don’t.  She graciously offered to do the cleaning anyway, for the full fee.  I think she said something like $81, but I was already answering “Nope.”  I told her I would call the insurance company when I got home and see where they sent me.  The tech asked if I still wanted my blood pressure taken, so I said she could if she really wanted to.  It was a little high.  She attributed it to the bad news.  I attributed it to all the moving around I was doing.  Either way, the visit was concluded.  Well, almost concluded.  You can’t just leave with one of their chained-on bibs.  I had to wait to be released from that bondage. 

I did call the insurance company when I got home.  Even got through to an actual human fairly quickly.  She asked all the required questions and duly transferred me to someone else who asked the same questions.  I just said all the answers before she could ask the questions.  Confused her.  A lot.  So I told her to start over again and we got it done.  I explained my situation, and she had an answer right away.  Seems the dental part of our insurance IS a PPO.  “The person in the office would have been told that, but no one called us to check.”  Well, that would be a problem, I agreed.  Next call went out to the dentist office again.  I repeated the insurance person’s claim (teehee, get it?  Insurance “Claim”?).  Sure enough the office lady confessed that she didn’t even call because she saw the evil letters, HMO, on the front.  She made a note on my chart and offered to work me in that very afternoon.  Honestly, I didn’t want to drive clear back over on the East side of 61st Street twice in one day (an affliction most West End Islanders recognize).  She offered another appointment in two weeks, but I told I would call and set something up later.  I think Chris may be planning a call today if she thinks about it.  That’ll probably be the only way I’ll go back.  I just don’t do dentist very well. 

3 John 11 says, “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good.”

Father, thank you for the insurance we do have.  Really.  Amen.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

February 25 – “Zippy”

I had a pleasant and proud Grandad moment yesterday.  I received a text from Christi in Waco to let me know of a decision her oldest son has made.  It wasn’t exactly a career-making one, but it certainly could have implications for his future for many years to come.  It’s something that he can do with his life no matter what other decisions he makes regarding a quest for money in order to live.  And it can have an impact on people far beyond the scope of his local realm of influence.  So what was it that young nine-year-old Zakary has committed his life to (or at least the next few weeks)?  Seems he has decided to become a blogger.  Couldn’t be prouder.  In fact why don’t I catapult him into stardom by reprinting his first efforts for you here?  Sit back.  Grab a cup of coffee.  Relax and enjoy …

Zak’s Zippy Blog
Today I had a lot of school so I couldn’t write my blog until late afternoon at 2:45!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I had a bible test, a Latin exercise, a bible drill review, and a history test.
Tonight I will go to RAs .
Type you later…………………………………………………(:
(Here he had two pictures of Indiana Jones, his latest favorite superhero).

Nice job, Zak.  I can’t wait for installment number two.  Oh, and I really like the word “zippy.”  Gotta use that one today.  Maybe when I go to the dentist …

3 John 4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

Father, thank you for Zak and his efforts to express himself.  Please continue to inspire that in him.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

February 24 – “From Deity to Deadpool”

Now yesterday was an unusual day for me.  Aside from the usual hours of church preparation work, Chris and I actually went to see a movie.  We went to see the late-afternoon showing of Risen, the new one about the resurrection of Jesus.  It tracks the story of the resurrection from the perspective of a Roman tribune.  He is sent out by Pilate to squelch the rumors and the movement before an upcoming visit by the emperor.  The story centers around his CSI-ish search for the missing body and his encounters with the apostles on the way.  Won’t say any more about the story line.  It’s probably worth a go-see for yourself.  Two favorite things … the character of Bartholomew was a riot.  Very joyful guy in the face of whatever occurred.  Always smiling.  Seemed just about to burst with inner joy.  And he had great teeth.  You saw a lot of them.  Great character.  Second, there was a moment when John was talking to some people about Jesus and his love.  As the people walked away, another disciple congratulated him on a job well done.  He agrees that it went well, and adds, “I think I might use that one again.”  The mantra of preachers everywhere, John.  I liked this movie.  It was … fun.  But then, I’m a Book of Acts kind of guy anyway. 

Now I know going to a movie is not that big a deal in the normal world.  But here’s the unusual part.  Around six I got a call from my oldest son, Kel the Comic Book Master.  He wanted to know if I could accompany him to a showing of the new comic book movie Deadpool.  Two movies in one day.  Now that doesn’t happen to me very often, but the lure of spending some time with Kel and my curiosity about why a comic book movie should be rated R got the best of me.  I knew the R rating would keep Chris from going.  She was right in the middle of manufacturing a quilt anyway.  So I headed into Texas to meet Kel at the Mall of the Mainland theater.  Now this movie was the total opposite of Risen.  Oh, I’ll say up front that the humor was sarcastic and actually really funny.  The story line made sense and I now have an understanding of who the main character is supposed to be and what his connection is to the whole X-Men universe.  It really helped to have Kel there to interpret those connections for me.  I’ll also say the whole thing was laced with gratuitous sex scenes and incredibly foul language.  From what I understand the comic books aren’t much different.  There is no way I would recommend it to anyone for that reason alone. 

Deity to Deadpool.  I was exhausted when I got home last night.  Didn’t wake up until after seven this morning.  And Chris actually got out of bed before I did.  Maybe today has promise.  It definitely started out … unusual.

2 John 6 says, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”

Father, thank you for another chance to connect with my son.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February 23 – “You may have already won …”

We had a pretty good group at church Sunday.  Several of our new families were actually there at the same time.  We still had a handful of out-of-towners.  And we even had two families who are long-time Seasiders who haven’t been in quite a while.  It’s always great to see those folks.  

Speaking of those folks, I had a chance to talk to Matt and Will, the 12 and 11-year olds of the family.  They were very excited to be at church again, and even sat right on the front row.  Will was particularly excited.  He told me all about an upcoming family trip to the Bahamas.  I asked if they were going on a cruise – the typical way to get from Galveston to those Islands.  Will assured me, “No, no.  It will be on an airplane.”  I told him the airplane ride alone would be a pretty exciting experience.  That’s when he raced right into a detailed description of “a game that you can play when you go to WalMart or somewhere.  It’s a Monopoly game and they give you these little cards that you open up and then tear off these little pieces that you stick on the Monopoly game paper and you win stuff when get all the pieces of a section and one of the sections is for a trip to the Bahamas for four people and it’s for free and we have all but just one of those and we haven’t even been to the store yet this week and when we go we might get it and  …”  At that point Will had to take a breath.  I had already been out of breath since about “you win stuff” just listening to him.  I am not really sure now if his family is actually going  to the Bahamas or if he is just anticipating that final puzzle piece so much that he is already packing in his mind.  If they are going, may they have a great time.  With Matt and Will along, I don’t see how it could be anything less than fun, fun, fun.

Seaside is hosting early voting again for the March election.  Since we were having dinner on the grounds, and the crew began to arrive to set up and work the machines, we invited them to grab a plate and enjoy some lunch on us.  A few of them took us up on the offer.  In fact one lady shyly approached me and asked if I was the pastor.  I told her I was, and her whole countenance changed.  She grinned broadly and asked, “Well, then, can I get me a big hug?”  Hey, I have never been one to turn down even a little hug.  What a great way to receive a thank you.  Now I have to share a bunch of big hugs in her name with the rest of the church.  Sigh.  Such sacrifices I must make as pastor …

1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

Father, thank you for thank-you’s and big hugs.  Amen.

Monday, February 22, 2016

February 22 – “Dolphins and … Done”

Well, that was a strange dream.  Not bad, mind you.  Just strange.  I walked outside my house and it was completely surrounded by water.  No idea what had happened, but I didn’t seem at all surprised by it.  As I looked across what used to be the vacant lot next door (Forty Steps), I noticed a group of dolphins playing.  I stood fascinated as they swam closer and closer until they were right next to me.  I squatted down and started slapping the water to get their attention, and they swam right up to me.  It was a very calming feeling.  Then, suddenly Cailyn was there with me.  Chris, too.  We were laughing and playing in the water, so the dolphins all swam away.  As we turned to go back onto dry land, I noticed my telephone had fallen from my pocket and was floating on top of the water.  Do iPhones float?  I grabbed it and continued on into the house, wondering if a rice bath would do it some good.  There you go.  That’s it.  Any thoughts on the deeper meaning behind a dream like that one?

Speaking of dreams, I guess we officially began one last night.  Chris and Josh have been watching airline fares to find the cheapest rates from Houston to Orlando and back again.  Last night Chris noticed that the “back again” rates had dropped well below $100.  Low enough for frugal Josh to pull the trigger?  It was worth a text.  And as soon as he got home from his after-church supper, he began.  Of course that meant he began around 10:30, about 45 minutes or so after we went to bed.  I think there must be a different time zone between us and Waco.  I was still awake working a crossword puzzle.  Chris jumped like she had been shot, though.  I calmed her down and let her know that Josh was home and working on plane tickets.  She did her best to stay awake.  Even tried to find the Southwest Airlines website on her phone.  That never did happen.  She finally gave up and left the details to me and Josh.  There were a few intermediary texts – what is your birthday?  What is Mom’s name as written on her driver’s license?  And finally, right at 11:30 p.m. the last text came through … “Done!  Let’s go to Disney World!”  I guess we can let it be real now.   

1 John 5:13 says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Father, we are excited about our time away coming in May.  Help us get all the details worked out so things will continue smoothly around here.  Amen.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February 21 – “It’s a …”

I learned something about my beautiful bride and my gorgeous oldest granddaughter yesterday.  but first, a quick recap of the day.  Cailyn arrived sometime before six a.m. as Nathan was on his way to work.  We made our way up into Texas to take in Micah’s flag football game.  His team won.  He played like a champ … of course.  After the game Cailyn jumped in their car and went home with them to play with her cousins.  Chris and I headed over to Hobby Lobby for some kind of craft backing material.  We even managed to squeeze in a quick lunch at Spring Creek Barbeque.  That makes it count as a date, right?  The afternoon went by fairly uneventfully.  Bryan and Jennifer stopped by with their newly-groomed dog.  When they left the three of us played a modified game of croquet (Cailyn’s rules).  I always love playing modified rules games with the kids.  Never know what they will come up with next.  Later on Cailyn built a tent in the den.  Oh, and that was after she and Nani had sewn a dress for her new doll. 

Phew.  Sounds like a full day now that I look at it in retrospect.  But I haven’t even listed the high point yet.  That came when we arrived home from the football game.  Chris pulled into the driveway and opened her car door.  And she stopped dead.  As calmly as she could muster, she told Cailyn to stay put in the car for just a minute.  Now she had my attention.  She was obviously looking at something, so I jumped out of the car and hustled to her side.  And there on the ground was a small, long, skinny, wiry-looking creature, the likes of which we honestly have never seen since we have lived here.  What was this monster that had so terrified my wife that she went to such lengths to protect Cailyn?  Yep.  It was a little bitty grass snake, lying in the sun doing its best to molt out of its winter skin. 

Of course by this time Cailyn’s curiosity had gotten the best of her.  She laid eyes on the critter and absolutely and unequivocally refused to move.  Chris wasn’t even sure it was alive, so I obliged the situation as any red-blooded American boy would have.  I gave it a little nudge.  It was alive.  As it slithered a few inches, Cailyn squealed.  Chris jumped.  I asked them, if they wanted me to pick it up so they could see it better, but apparently that was not the suggestion they had in mind.  Since Cailyn was unconditional in her determination to stay put as long as the creature was visible, I gave it a little more prodding and it finally slithered off into the grass, no doubt frustrated at our interruption of its spa day.  I tried to find him later on when Bryan and Jennifer left.  Jennifer was really wanting to snuggle with him (NOT).  But he was long gone, no doubt searching for a new sunbathing option to his spa package.

So that’s what I learned.  My girls are less than enamored with those slithery creatures called snakes.  Sigh.  I suppose it adds to their feminine charm. 

1 John 5:12 says, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Father, thank you for my girls.  Chris and Cailyn and Noa and Christina and Christi and April.  They have certainly changed the lives of us Vaughan boys.  Amen.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

February 20 – “What? Again?”

The fire department calls app on my phone was going crazy yesterday.  Calls were coming through almost constantly all day.  Vehicle accidents between motorcycles and cars, cars and a backhoe, and even a car versus the seawall (guess who won that one?).  But perhaps the most frustrating calls of all were to the same apartment complex. 

That’s right three different fire calls throughout the day, all to the same apartment complex - the same building within the complex, in fact.  The first one was a kitchen fire.  The other two were apparently electrical and unfortunately were burning inside the attic.  After extinguishing the visible blaze, the firefighters began the arduous task of seeking out and drowning out hot spots that could lie smoldering and spring back to life later.  Several layers of hard and soft insulation made it extremely difficult for the fire fighters in the attic to bust a vent hole to the outside.  The crew managed it, though, after a long fifteen or twenty minutes of concentrated pounding.  More spray followed, as did the difficult task of tearing through that insulation to get the space fully saturated.  All work that was standard procedure, designed to get the fire out once and for all. 

From crusty veterans to the three brand new hires that I finally got to meet, the fire department team was operating as one force.  The crews working that had been working inside were exhilarated from the adrenaline of fighting the fire, but they were also bone tired after what had already been what you might call “a full day at the office.”  They were, in the words of the fire chief, “really doing a heck of a job,” and “still giving it 110 percent.”  From what I saw, though, I think your percentages might be a little low there, Chief.  Those guys gave everything they had and then some.  In fact when I left after about an hour and a half, a crew was headed back up into the attic, determined to finish tearing out that pesky insulation and expose the underlying dry wood to a good strong blast of foamy water. 

A fire like this one really brought out the big guns.  Along with the fire chief and assistant chief, the fire marshal and one of his team were there as well.  The chief of the Jamaica Beach Volunteer Fire Department arrived to monitor the situation.  They, along with crews from Hitchcock and Texas City, were all standing by to ensure that the City of Galveston had quality first responders ready to arrive at any other calls during the fire. 

As things finally started to wind down, residents began hesitantly making their way closer and closer to the firefighters to ask those questions that they knew before asking couldn’t be answered just yet.  Like the one I heard, “Could this last fire have been prevented if the electricity had been turned off to the whole building earlier?”  Not the question you want to ask a really tired fire fighter right after he exits the structure for a break.  I told her that her question was one that the fire marshal’s office would have to deal with later.  And then there was the question of the evening – my all-time favorite.  Posed to a certain battalion chief wearing department issued shorts, the question was … “Did I get any mail today?”  Hmm.  No further comment on that one.

Well, that part of the fire fighter day lasted well into the night.  I finally got home around 10:30 or so and a crew was still in the attic when I left.  The rest of the night wasn’t quite as hectic as the day had been, so my prayer was – and is – that the guys got at least a little bit of sleep last night.  I couldn’t be prouder of those guys. 

1 John 5:11 says, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

Father, grant the crews that worked yesterday a few days of rest and non-stress.  They have earned it.  Amen.

Friday, February 19, 2016

February 19 – “Tiny discoveries … hidden wonders”

I found a chunk of wood out in the backyard yesterday.  Interesting shape, but it looked to be well on its way to becoming mulch.  I rescued it from that certain death and took it into my workshop to see if anything would emerge if I started some off-season carving on it.  Why “off-season” you might ask?  Because I generally only carve during the Christmas season.  Once a year.  One project.  All because I love my wife and she encourages me.  Strangely enough, this scrap of errant tree knot was easy to carve.  Kind of like a soft pine.  But that didn’t fit any of the trees in our back yard.  And it was just a tiny piece, about the size of half a fist.  I’m going to have to do some research back there before the Christmas Carving season arrives.  I might be doing some tree trimming. 

Oh, as it turned out, the only thing that emerged once the carving started was the very rough appearance of an animal’s head that had been ripped violently from its body.  Chris said it kind of had the look of Freddy about it, so she found a place for it on one of the shelves.  I don’t know.  I think maybe she might have been pushing it just a little bit on that one, but she often sees things that I never do.  Oh, well, back to the drawing board.  So I wonder what tree needs to be pruned back there …

1 John 5:3 says, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”

Father, thank you for tiny discoveries that reveal hidden wonders. Amen.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

February 18 – “Cabo Peak Identified”

Will the wonders of nature exploration never cease?  I heard yesterday that a brand new mountain peak has been discovered and named somewhere near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  That’s on the Baja California side of the country.  Seems some young Americans were in the area for a bachelor party, surfing and snorkeling and enjoying the sites when their discovery was made official.  In a rare display of international cooperation and local indifference, the touristas were graciously granted naming rights to the new elevation.  And what they chose was surprisingly simple and certainly apropos.  Nate’s Nipple.  Has quite the ring to it, doesn’t it?

OK.  I guess I should fill in the back story just a little bit.  Not long ago Nathan discovered a hard spot near one of the nipples on his chest.  Knowing right away that this was different from his rock-hard abs and bulging pecs, he asked his emergency room trained nurse wife April to check it out.  They even called in a consultation with pediatric nurse Chris for a second opinion.  Apparently the consensus of opinion was to watch it for a few days and see if it grew.  And it did.  Those few days happened to fall over the course of time he was scheduled to be in Cabo for the bachelor party of a friend.  That friend, as well as the rest of the groomsmen in attendance were all trained as emergency medical technicians, so they promised to keep an eye on the situation.  And they did. 

The abscess continued to grow over the course of the week’s activities, until the site was becoming quite painful and the swelling was becoming quite noticeable.  Noticeable enough in fact that the team of true-blue technicians finally went public with their name for the volcano-like apparition before them.  And so the mountain peak now known as Nate’s Nipple was born. 

When Nathan got back home April took him to the emergency room – her stomping grounds – to have NN checked out by the professionals.  They decided right away that surgery was in order to drain the area.  And strictly in the name of education, April dutifully videoed the entire procedure.  That was something gross to behold.  They carved a slice out of NN below the peak to release the pressure.  I’ve heard of exploits like that with other volcanoes, but this was definitely a first for iPhone video. Not something you’d want young children to view, for sure. 

But if you are really into that sort of thing, she also taped the removal of the antibiotic packing the next day.  We were blessed with that viewing as we waited for our lunch order at Salsa’s.  Yep.  Mexican food.  Kind of appropriate, I suppose.  Mexican peak unwrapped around Mexican meal.  That particular procedure was done in the quiet of their own home while Cailyn was away at school.  I understand there actually is a sound track that comes with that video, but for some reason Nathan made sure push the Mute button before allowing us to view it.  My guess was that he was merely protecting us from having to re-live his anguished screams.  Either way, it was quite the pre-meal experience.  I’m afraid my memories of fine Mexican food dining at Salsa’s will be forever scarred.

1 John 5:2 says, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.”

Father, please keep healing Nathan.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

February 17 – “Days of wonder and excitement”

After a failed attempt to get our car worked on yesterday (our mechanic is also a pastor and he had a funeral scheduled), we had an interesting visit or two to our bank.  We had a deposit to make, and that part went fairly smoothly, except that I forgot to fill out one of the deposit slips.  Not a problem, though.  The teller looked it up for us and we were all set.  Step two was to pick up a new signature card for the church’s safe deposit box so our newly elected signers could have access to it.  I went in about a month ago to start that process, so I figured it would be all done by now.  Not so much.  To his credit, though, the guy who had been assigned the task sat down and did it right then.  Took about 10 minutes.  Our third issue involved some IRA’s Chris and I set up some time back.  They don’t have much in them, but the maturity date was due and Chris wanted to see if the interest rate had gone up any.  We did some adjusting and got a whopping .3% rate.  That’s three tenths of one percent.  Not very much.  But hey, every penny counts, right?  We figured all he had to do was enter a few figures into his computer, press enter, and we were done.  Nope.  He had to close out the old accounts and open completely new ones.  It was going to take him an hour or so.  He asked if we could come back by later.  Wow.  We waited until much later, almost closing time before going back in.  He had turned over the job to someone else, and she had everything ready to go for our signatures.  All done in five minutes.  Not sure if the headache was worth a tenth of a percent, but it is done for another 18 months anyway.

After our first dealing with the bank we went out to the church to do a little cleaning.  We forgot that we were hosting early voting, though.  Chris did a quick run-through of the building while I took down the Ash Wednesday sign from the marquee.  Oh, and speaking of signs, we also had to remove some political signs from church property.  The church decided years ago that we could be good citizens by hosting voting, but we didn’t want to appear to favor any particular candidate.  Besides, the sign are quite a bit of clutter.  Especially when the candidates don’t return to collect them after the election is over.  So we just uprooted them (and one of them was a big one – double iron standards holding it up) and placed them on the ground.  We did explain to the election judges what we were doing in case anyone complained.  They were absolutely sympathetic to our request.  We did then move upstairs so we could stay out of the way of the voters.  Chris attacked the bathrooms and gave them all a good cleaning.  I put together the new heavy-duty shelf for the kitchen and loaded the top few shelves with stuff we had stored.  The two small tables that had been the makeshift shelves, I carried into the storeroom and repurposed them into shelves for that area.  That made it possible to reorganize that room a bit more.  It is taking forever in there, but we are slowly getting it close to being a truly usable room.

Sounds like a pretty boring day at the Vaughan office, doesn’t it?  Hey, they come around every so often.  I’m happy to push away from the computer work at least one day a week.  But now it’s back to sermons and Bible studies and emails and the like.  Oh, and I guess we need to head out soon to get the car into the shop.  Will these days of wonder and excitement never cease?

1 John 4:20 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”

Father, thank you for all the days you give us.  Wonder is, after all, a matter of perspective, isn’t it?  Amen.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

February 16 – “Blocking back”

Well, I heard back from the boogermeister yesterday.  His Mom texted me his comment on my article.  Ready for this one?  “I’m quite the boogerologist.”  That you are, Caleb.  That you are.

The President’s Day holiday was not so much a holiday for me.  After spending the morning toiling at my computer, engrossed in my typical Monday morning plethora of duties regarding church, I decided to make some rounds among a few of the fire stations.  It has been a number of weeks since I have had the time (or the heel energy) to do that.  I started out at Central, hoping to check in with the chief.  Oh, and with Trish.  I always try to see the one who actually runs things.  Unfortunately, both of them were out for the day.  But I did get to talk for a while with the three assistant chiefs and with the fire marshal administrative assistant.  Nora is like the other Trish around there.  They were holding down the fort admirably.  When I left the Central station I decided to swing by station two out on the East End.  That turned out to be a great visit with the squad out there.  Quite the collection of storytellers.  Obviously it was a really slow day call-wise.

On my way home I heard sirens and checked my rear view mirror.  Sure enough engine one was speeding on its way to a call.  I was stopped at a red light, so I glanced at my phone to see where they were headed.  Problem at a Day Care Center.  Now there were three lanes on the street where I was stopped, Broadway.  I was farthest to the right.  The other two cars had nowhere to go to get out of the way, so I pulled as far over as I could, and finally just made a right turn on red onto the side street.  Fortunately I completed the maneuver just in time.  The engine driver saw his opening and changed lanes so that he could make his way through the hole I created.  I felt kind of like a tiny fullback blocking for a hulking tailback on his way to a touchdown.  Too much football, I guess.  Go Astros.

1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.”

Father, thank you once again for our fire department guys.  Keep them all safe.  Amen.

Monday, February 15, 2016

February 15 – “Caleb’s Best of the Boogers”

I neglected to include in yesterday’s post one of the most significant revelations of our entire trip to Waco.  Caleb saw fit to enlighten us regarding that fascinating topic that, truth be told, all of us have considered intimately at one point or another in our lifetimes.  And what, pray tell, is this mesmerizingly memorable moment?  Why, Boogers, of course.

See, according to the wit and wisdom of Caleb Vaughan, there are at least six different types of boogers (Alternate spellings include buggers and even booggers).  And for your education and entertainment this fine February morning, here is the official, Caleb-generated list.  Sit back.  Close your eyes.  Allow the memories of your own childhood mining excursions to flow once again into your consciousness.

1.  Bloody – Now this type kind of speaks for itself.  Not the preferred discovery, to be sure, but they will often rear their ugly head after a blow to the nose.
2.  Black – I can remember having plenty of these, as can anyone who has spent time outside playing in the dirt, or perhaps putting out fires.
3.  Gooey – Now you’re getting into some of the more technical differentiations.  Though often the most difficult to extract, this particular type can be quite effectively rolled into a tiny little ball with your fingers.  But the problem is getting them to stay in that shape.  They have a tendency to stick to the fingers and thus stretch apart.  Hence … gooey.
4.  Wet-gooey – This variation on the regular gooey is not one that you would tend to actually see very often.  These are the inside-of-the-mouth boogers that help everyone understand the complex anatomy of nasal passages that drain into the mouth.  You know, when you close your mouth create a realm of negative pressure that causes whatever is lurking in your nose to slip uncomfortably down into your mouth to be expelled either out into the world or down into your stomach. 
5.  Watery – Somewhere between gooey and interior wet-gooey lies the Watery Booger.  This creature is perhaps the most easily handled because of it lack of gooey stickiness.  They often slip away onto shirt sleeves or the interior of the neck part of a t-shirt. 
6. Foot-long dangly – A real bonus that Zakary reminded his little brother to be sure to include.  These are masterfully formed extendables that can certainly be the life of any party of six or seven year old boys.  They are also historically least popular with mothers.

When asked to designate their most favorite of all types, Zakary had an immediate answer.  “They are all just gross.”  Caleb, on the other hand, pondered the question for a long moment or two.  Quite the connoisseur, he declared that he likes the watery kind best as far as fine cuisine dining goes.  In his most experienced opinion, “They are the most delicious food in the world.  And they help when you have a stomach ache.”

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.”

Father, thank you for all of the types of food you have provided us with.  It’s good to have options.  Really good.  Amen.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

February 14 – “You’re Going Places”

We made our yearly February trip to wherever Josh lives yesterday.  It’s just been a thing we have tried to do to be with his family somewhere near his birthday (It’s on the 16th, I think).  It worked out well this time because we also got to see Zak and Caleb play in basketball games. 

On Caleb’s level they don’t keep score.  The games are more about teaching the boys the game.  (Long pause here).  Caleb’s team won 12 to 9.  Not sure who it could have been that kept up with that tally.  Caleb was a fly in the other team’s ointment on defense.  Zakary’s team faced one of the tougher teams in their league, and they did it without one of their key players.  His absence, unfortunately, showed.  The other team had a superstar outside shooter, a lumbering hot dog, and a decent point guard.  Final score?  48-18 Bad Guys.  Zak did a great job of setting some of the best screens I have ever seen, though. 

After the games we decided (well … Christi and Chris decided) to go by “The Grain Silos.”  Yep, the Chip and Joanna Gaines, Fixer Upper TV show, Magnolia home store.  It’s one of those “New Iconic” places that you go to just to be able to say you went.  Thing is, the line to get inside was wrapped around the building outside … and around the block.  We didn’t stop.  But we have “Seen the Silos.” 

Now the other reason we went to Waco this year was to be a part of a big reveal moment.  Josh presented the six of us – Christi, Chris, Zak, Caleb, and Luke – with one of those kids’ Valentines (mine was a Charlie Brown saying, “You’re going places”).  The cards were attached to clue gifts that we “might need.”  Chris got a sunglass case.  Christi got some hand sanitizer.  Mine was an energy drink.  He sure hit the nail on the head there.  Then  he told us, “All those things are clues to another Valentine’s gift that I got you.  Turn the cards over and you will notice a letter on the back of each one.  See if you can figure out what those letters spell.  And it starts with DadDad’s.”  (Hence the significance of Charlie Brown’s “You’re going places” prophecy).  My letter was a D.  It didn’t take Zakary long to rearrange the letters, though.  Before we knew it, he had it.  D-I-S-N-E-Y.  Yep … we’re going to DisneyWorld.  The boys all jumped up and down and did some screaming and lots of hugging.  Luke even squealed and sang, “Going to DisneyWorld.”  I slipped on my Mickey Mouse sweatshirt to get into the spirit of things, and they realized that we would be joining them on the little excursion.  They seemed genuinely happy to have us, especially when they found out we had never been before.  Now, we’re not going until May.  That should give us enough time to save up to pay for the whole thing.  Maybe we could start one of those FaceBook GoFundMe accounts?  Aw, I’m sure it’ll all work out.  I might even start getting a little excited … soon.

1 John 4:11 says, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Father, thank you for our chance to be a part of such an exciting moment in Zak and Caleb and Luke’s lives.  Amen.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

February 13 – “You Can’t Lose”

We are in Waco for the day.  Made it here with not too much difficulty.  There was a lot of traffic going through Houston (Imagine that.  What a surprise, right?).   I think it picked up again further down the road, but to be honest I was either too engrossed in the movie I was watching on the computer or, perhaps dozing a bit off and on. 

I’m sure the dozing couldn’t possibly have been for very long.  The movie I was watching was, after all, so very exciting.  Into the Woods.  Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Prince Charming, Jack and the Beanstalk.  All woven into one massive tale.  I had seen it before but I obviously forgot one minor detail.  They sing.   A lot.  It’s one of those made for the movies operas that they sneak through without telling anybody.  I really liked the concept, and it was well done as far as the movie aspects were concerned.  And I suppose the people could sing.  Way better than I can, anyway.  Lots of struggle and angst and dealing with death and relationships.  Even had some lopping off of appendages.  Well, one toe and one heel in an effort to make the slipper fit.  Oh, and the slipper was made out of gold instead of glass.  If you can stand the musical interludes, I would say the movie is worth watching.  If the singing doesn’t strike you, it can also be quite the inspiration for a few winks in the car on a four hour drive.  Either way, you can’t lose.

1 John 4:10 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Father, thank you for those forty winks yesterday.  I’m sure I must have needed them.  Amen.

Friday, February 12, 2016

February 12 – “Welcome back, Cortana”

Well, imagine my surprise this morning when I turned on my computer and was met with a blank screen and the message, “We are updating Microsoft Windows.”  And a very large circle indicated that the process was 3% completed.  Great.  The one morning I had hoped to get a few things done quickly before we left for our whirlwind trip to Waco to help out with the grandkids there.  Oh, well.  Now I’m typing in the car as my esteemed chauffer maneuvers her way through traffic. 

The download did complete before we left home.  Thank goodness we had Cailyn spending the night.  That meant we had to take her to school, so the computer had some time to finish its installation.  In fact I had time to play with it a little bit.  The Windows 10 start menu had completely stopped working.  Whenever I tried to access it, it kicked me completely out of the program and rebooted itself.  Thankfully I never deleted the menu from Windows 8.  The hot new search engine shut down as well.  That would be the copycat Siri woman.  She lurks near the bottom left corner of the screen and promises to do whatever you tell her.  Except she had gone on vacation for an undetermined period of time, so I completely ignored her advances. 

With the new download, however, those glitches have apparently been corrected.  Cortana spoke to me again, and even followed some basic commands.  She opened Word so I could type this, for example. However, when I asked her to provide me with the best route between Galveston and Waco, she insisted that I download an app that was specifically dedicated to her efforts.  It was free, so it did my part.  It was taking  a really long time for her to communicate with the new app, though, so I canceled.  Now I don’t know if she can do it or not.  Maybe I’ll give her another chance later on. In the meantime … Welcome back, Cortana.

1 John 4:9 says, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”

Father, thank you for repaired glitches.  Reminds me of how you work to repair glitches in my life every day.  Amen.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

February 11 – “Sporting the look”

OK.  Here are the official results of my consultation with my rheumatologist about the piercing pain in my heel whenever I walk or stand for a long period of time or just make it  to the end of another day.  Ready?  “It will get worse and worse and then it will get better.”  Wow.  What an exciting prognosis.  Now I know he was more focused on teaching the student docs that came in with him (and I am fine with that.  In fact, it is always kind of fun) and on getting me the Xeljanz medication that the insurance company started charging an exorbitant deductible for.  And in fact, before I left the office, his crew had contacted the manufacturer and the specialty pharmacy.  The manufacturer paid the deductible.  And on our way home, before we got too far from the office, I got a call that we could swing by the pharmacy just a few blocks away and pick up the medication.  Gotta admit … that was impressive.  But … that’s not why I went for the appointment.  My heel spur issue.  Best I could understand, all I can do is wear those padded inserts in my shoe, do stretching exercises, roll a tennis ball around under my foot, and ice it.  So in a nutshell, treat the symptoms.  Sigh.  Add one more pain to my list.  Maybe I can start using Mom’s old wheelchair and get preferred parking and free trips to the head of the line.  Not quite ready to give up the ghost just yet, though. 

Cailyn was already in bed asleep when I got home from the Ash Wednesday services last night.  Turns out she didn’t go to softball practice like we expected.  Her new glasses came in, and she was raring to go pick them up.  I didn’t get to see them on her until this morning, but they are really cute on her.  Not many people can sport the glasses look and still be drop dead gorgeous … Felicity Smoak … Kara Danvers … Cailyn Vaughan.  Awesome company.  She picked them out herself, too.  They kind of remind me of a pair that I had when I was a kid.  Nostalgic moment.  Here’s praying that all goes well at school today.  I asked if she was excited to show her friends.  She replied, “I’m more excited to show Mrs. Schaff.  She wears glasses, too.”  It never ceases to amaze me the influence a teacher holds with the kids in her class. 

1 John 4:7-8 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Father, thank you for the minor medication miracle.  That stuff really does help.  Thanks for the excitement Cailyn has going for her about those glasses.  And walk with teachers today.  Give them the energy to match that influence.  Amen.