Thursday, June 30, 2016

June 30 – “Norway to Galveston”

I went fishing again for a while yesterday.  Chris insisted I go.  I must have been staring longingly at the beach on our way to water exercise. That or she thought I needed to do something to get the smoke smell out of my nose from helping the Geswenders.  Can’t beat the smell of the Gulf to take away all others. 

The  fishing itself went much better this time.  The water was flat as a lake.  The seagulls were working the water like crazy.  The only negative … no one had any live shrimp.  The first place I went to sold his last few to the guy just ahead of me, and he was taking down his live shrimp flags.  Everywhere else had sold out long ago.  Guess I should have skipped water exercise class.  Sigh.  I picked up some fresh dead and headed out to at least catch some whiting.  And I did.  Catch some whiting, I mean.  None of them were huge, but they were big enough to fillet up and add to the family fish fry coffers. 

I met a guy while out there who told me he was from Norway.  He said he was a fisherman of sorts up there, and he was just wondering what sort of fish we caught here.  I showed him and his son my catch so far, and I asked him how he ended upcoming to Galveston from Norway.  Seems he was visiting some friends in San Antonio, so he took his kids “on the pilgrimage to the sites there.”  That turn of the phrase caught my attention.  This guy at least has some Texas roots in him.  He continued on.  “We went from there to College Station.”  There it was.  Why in the world would any tourist go to College Station?  “And now we are spending a few days down here so my son can go to the beach.”  He finally got around to spilling the beans about his origins, though.  Seems his Dad had been an Aggie, so he was born in Texas and had lived in College Station some growing up.  That explained it all.  Once you get a little Texas in your blood, it’s hard to get rid of that innate desire – no, demand - to go by the Alamo at least every so often and pay your respects. 

Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”

Father, fly with that Norway family as they head back in a day or two.  Amen.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 29 – “The text said, ‘My garage caught fire’”

Well that was an interesting text to wake up to.  Actually I was already awake and dressed to go to water exercise class and in the beginning stages of a blog entry when the text came through.  All it said was, “My garage caught fire.”  That’s it.  No details included.  Curious, I asked the expected question, “Everybody OK?”  Once that was settled, Chris and I began changing clothes for a drive up to Texas City where Anne and Eric live.  We stopped and got a dozen donuts for them in case they hadn’t had time to eat (and a dozen donut holes for Cedric, of course). 

As we pulled up the fire engine and fire marshal were pulling away, which we took as a good sign.  We went to the front door first, but when there was no answer we assumed they were around back at the garage.  We made our way back there and surveyed the damage.  Looks like the back wall was the obvious place of origin.  Apparently a power tool battery charger was the culprit.  Guess I need to go unplug the one I have set up in our garage.  A situation like that here would involve the entire house (their garage is detached). 

Anne took Cedric on to daycare and we started in on clearing stuff out.  The insurance agent told them over the phone they could go ahead and get started as long as they took pictures of everything.  It was an interesting and often sad morning.  Most of their Christmas ornaments and Halloween decorations were gone.  Many times we couldn’t even tell what an object was.  It just looked like a blob of plastic.  Eric did figure out, though, that some of those plastic blobs were his collectible action figures and comic books.  Anne lost some dolls that were pretty special to her, but they learned, as we did after Hurricane Ike, that ultimately the things they lost were just stuff.  They were all OK (even the cats).  Tough lesson, but life counts.

We worked for several hours until the sun was high in the sky and hot.  We prayed together and Chris and I headed home to rehydrate and crash for the afternoon.  Pray for Anne and Eric and Cedric.

Romans 12:12 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Father, walk with the Geswender family as they deal with insurance companies and contractors in the days to come.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 28 - “A fishing paradox”

OK, OK.  So I ducked out for a few hours to try some fishing yesterday.  To begin with, no one had any live shrimp for bait.  Should have known that was not a good sign.  I went on out to the beach at my usual spot just in front of WalMart.  I made that now-long, long trek from the seawall to the water (Thanks to the beach replenishment project).  Strike two.  And then trudged through the ever-increasing waves to get beyond the breakpoint of the sand bar.  That should have been strike three right there.  But no.  The best time to go fishing is when you can, and I was already there, so I figured maybe I could get some whiting at least.  Not so much.  I ended up feeding the catfish and getting a major workout fighting the waves.  So major in fact that I could feel myself beginning to get more and more frustrated.  That’s my cue to start praying.  I managed to find a relatively calm spot and started doing some heavy talking with the Master.  It took a while.  I’m kind of dense at times.  But before long that sense of peace that can only come from him finally found me.  Not that the fishing improved, but the fishing improved.  Gotta love those spiritual paradoxes.

Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Father, thank you for proving over and over again that you love me.  Amen.

Monday, June 27, 2016

June 27 – “Gone Fishing”

I’m actually going to try to get in a little fishing this morning.  Maybe write something later on.  Gotta hurry …

Romans 12:9 says, “Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Father, thank you for beautiful mornings and lots of water … full of fish.  Amen.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 26 – “So what is fancy”

Well, I woke up at around 5:15 or so this morning and immediately decided to get up, thinking I would have at least an hour before the rest of the household even started stirring.  I grabbed my phone so I would have use of the flashlight and not disturb anyone else.  And just as it flickered on, who should come bouncing into the bed but Cailyn, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as my Grandmother used to say.  I never did quite understand the bushy-tailed part of that expression.  I’ll have to look that one up.  Needless to say … so much for my uninterrupted hour to go over the sermon. 

Speaking of Cailyn, she informed us yesterday that she was interested in being an actor on a TV show.  I asked her which one, and she quickly answered, “Not a house show.”  See, we were watching HGTV at the time.  I followed up with, “So what show do you want to be on?”  And she answered, “One like Sponge Bob.”  Watch out, Hollywood.

At supper we worked on how to act at fancy restaurants.  Nani gave us both lessons in which fork to use and Cailyn educated us on the proper way to sit up straight and keep elbows off the table.  I managed to add one comment to the discussion when she asked what to do with the silverware when finished with the meal.  I showed her the five minutes to five positioning that indicates the server that you are finished as opposed to the straight across the top that shows you are still going. 

We had a good discussion about where is the best place to go out to eat.  She loves won ton soup, and let us in on the secret that there is some good won ton “at the Japanese place right by McDonald’s, if you can believe that.”  Took us a minute or two, but we finally figured out she meant Happy Buddha.  There’s your food critic report for the week.

Well, there was one other report.  Cailyn let us know that there is a really fancy restaurant in Spring that she went to.  It’s called Kelley’s.  That resulted in this interchange:
Nani: “What makes a restaurant a fancy one?”
Cailyn: “They dress up there.”
Nani: “Is there a fancy one in Galveston?”
Cailyn: “Not Salsas.”
Nani: “Why not Salsas?  It’s kind of fancy.”
Cailyn: “It’s a Mexican one.”
(Apparently that disqualifies you from being fancy, so I pressed just a bit).
Me: “So what is a fancy restaurant in Galveston?”
Cailyn (pensively): “Bahama Bucks.”
Gotta love that Galveston version of “fancy.”

Romans 12:12 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Father, thank you for simple tastes and simple pleasures.  All good things come from you.  Amen.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

June 25 – “A new favorite”

I had the privilege of being renamed yesterday.  Well, it wasn’t official, and it probably won’t last long, but the new designation is there for now.  We drove into Texas to take care of the LaMarque kids while their mom and dad went to the new X-Men movie.  No comments on the movie.  I haven’t seen it, and probably wouldn’t recognize the characters if you named them.  It’s always been hard for me to keep track of characters in a make-believe universe like Marvel.  Now the DC universe is quite a bit different, since it is obviously the real one.  But neither universe has anything to do with my new name.

That came when I was invited up to three-year-old Noa’s bedroom to play.  We were bouncing her bigger than Noa sized Minnie Mouse doll back and forth across a rocking chair.  I decided to ask a question:
Me: “Who is your favorite princess?” (Expecting, of course one of the Big Six, or however many Disney princesses there are now … you know, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Tangled – don’t know her real name, that ice queen one that keeps wanting to let everything go, Beauty – the one that loves the beast.  Had to be one of those, right?  Not so much).
Noa (Thinking it over ever so quickly): “Hmm.  Goofy.”
Me (More than a little stunned by her selection): “I didn’t know he was a princess.”
Noa (Picking up on the gender-specific nature of my question): “Is Goofy a boy?”
Me (Not wanting to burst the bubble of her favorite princess world, but knowing I had to be straight with her): “Yes.”
Noa (Now her thinking it over process took a little bit longer, but her beautiful grin soon appeared): “Oh ... Well, then, you are Goofy.”
Me (Honored, of course, since Goofy is my favorite Disney character): “I am?”
Noa (Reaching out to pat my leg lovingly): “Yes, DadDad.  And Goofy looks like a coyote.”

Ah, my life-long dream has come to pass – to be Goofy the Coyote, the favorite Disney princess of my three-year-old granddaughter.

Romans 12:11 says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

Father, thank you for princesses like Noa and chances to be Coyote Goofy’s with her.  Amen.

Friday, June 24, 2016

June 24 – “Insert air quotes here”

We were taught something new the other day.  Cailyn had an explanation for her recent use of air quotes when she talks.  You know, the act of holding your hands in the air with two fingers extended and flicking the fingers downward as you speak.  Obviously she has seen someone use them, and what kid is not going to give something as cool as that a try?  And what better guinea pigs to try it on than good ol’ safe Nani and DadDad?  She was using them somewhat appropriately, too.  So, what was her explanation?  “This” (Insert air quotes here) “means I’m being sarcastic.”  And so another vital component of American life in the 21st Century is grasped by one of its younger constituents.  Sigh (Insert air quotes here).

Speaking of Cailyn, we took her on a field trip the other day.  Betty Head called and said she had some ripe figs for us from her tree in her back yard.  Chris makes a mean strawberry-fig jam.  So good in fact that Betty recommended it to her granddaughter, who in turn called for the recipe.  Something about wanting to impress a guy she was dating or something (The granddaughter, not Betty).  Well, apparently the exchange for the information was a batch of the figs for us.  Betty was going to bring them over, but Chris quickly volunteered the field trip. 

And quite the experience it was, for all of us.  Mrs. Betty’s backyard is amazing.  It is much bigger than you would expect.  And it is pretty much covered with gardens of one kind or another.  Along with the fig tree is a big pecan tree.  There is an array of flowers the names of which I can never hope to pronounce, much less remember. Betty had a full bag of figs already in hand when we arrived, but Cailyn got to pick a few off the tree for herself.  I’ve never been one to eat figs right off the tree, but she sure did light into a few (after we got home and washed them, of course).  She also picked out a jalepeno pepper and plucked it from the plant (Do peppers grow on trees?  Bushes?).  “Mommy will eat that right up,” she assured us.  So will her Daddy.  And guess what … they can have it.  Jalepenos are sooo good for you (Insert air quotes here), I wouldn’t want to take away that wonderful experience (Insert air quotes here) from them.

Romans 12:9-10 says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Father, thank you for the incredible things that grow in your world.  And thank you for the Mrs. Betty’s who are willing to share them.  Amen.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

June 23 – “About fear …”

We started our day yesterday with some ministry action.  I was working at my desk and Chris was reading the paper.  Just after 8 a.m. there came a knock at our front door.  It was our neighbor Cori from across the street.  She was on her way to take her husband to a doctor’s appointment, but she had just received a phone call from another of our neighbors.  This is a lady who lives further down the street and has been there since I used to live on the street as a kid.  She raised her family there and now she lives there alone.  So Chris and I have been the ones she calls on when she has particularly medical issues.  Seems the message was that she had fallen and couldn’t get up.  No, really.  That’s what she told Cori.  So we hurried down to see what we could do. 

By the time we arrived one of her sons was already there.  She was off the floor, but she was feeling really dizzy.  She refused to do anything, though, until she heard it from Chris.  That’s a lot of trust there, isn’t it?  But Chris is quite knowledgeable and stays imminently calm in situations like that.  She talked to her for a while and then encouraged her to eat something.  By the time we left she was doing much better, although she said it still felt like there was nothing inside her head.  I told her I understood completely; I feel like that at least part of every day.  She agreed that she shouldn’t be driving for a while, and if it didn’t get any better she would go see the doctor.  Her son stayed with her until her daughter arrived.

Sadly, this sweet lady lives her life in a perpetual state of fear.  She is afraid of thunderstorms and dying and snakes and, well, just about everything.  I have talked with her before about her salvation, and she has definitely connected with God.  She assures me she prays every day, mostly pleading for help with some fear or other.  We did pray with her before we left. We have been really concerned for this lady, so please pray for her.  Fear can totally debilitate a person.

1 John 4:18-19 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.  We love, because He first loved us.”

Father, grant our neighbor a hefty portion of your peace that passes understanding.  Help her to feel your presence so she doesn’t live her life in a state of fear.  Amen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

June 22 – “Coincidence?”

I spent the morning working at the computer again.  I almost completed the preparations for Home Group Bible study Thursday.  Also got started on the teaching for Sunday.  Looks like we are doing a baptism, and it “just so happens” that the next event in our study of The Book of Acts is the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch.  Well, well, well.  What a coincidence.

We had to take another quick trip into Texas yesterday.  This one was all business, though.  It was time to replenish the church’s stock of goods for fellowship.  That meant going to Sam’s Club for things like paper towels and toilet paper and coffee.  And we also had to travel even further up the road to Lifeway Christian Store to replenish the stock of greeting cards that I send out each week.  That part of the trip was a little different.  They are doing some major road renovations right at the usual exit for the store.  In fact, there is no exit there right now.  Even more so, they have completely torn down the overpass to get there from here.  We had to drive on past and take the next exit, turn around and come back.  I wonder how long before that construction is completed?  That is the access point to the only real mall in the area.  The road being out of commission could cause some issues around Christmas shopping season.  Not for me so much.  I don’t plan to go to the mall shopping any time.  Especially not at Christmas. 

Once we made our purchases we headed on out to the church to unload.  Fortunately Jim was there getting the music ready for Sunday.  He helped us get the stuff out of the car and carry the heavy stuff upstairs.  Oh, and did I mention that it was pouring down rain at the time?  Appreciate you being there, Jim.   Chris used the opportunity (as usual) to do some stocking and cleaning of the retreat center.  There is a group staying there, but they were out at their mission sites, so we got in and out without them knowing we were around.  May God bless their efforts this week.

Romans 12:6-8 says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”

Father, thank you for the mission work that is going on constantly here in Galveston.  We sure need it.  Keep showing us ways to use the resources you have given Seaside to be partners in that work.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

June 21 – “On passing down legacies”

I have to say, over the years I have received some interesting treasures as gifts for Father’s Day.  That’s just the joy of having three boys.  I have displayed some of their artwork on the fridge, as one might expect.  I have ingested some of their culinarily creative marvels expertise.  Hey, it’s hard to beat green eggs and ham.  This year, however, the gifts truly appealed to my inner child, which is not really so “inner” much of the time.

So first … the FaceBook photos.  That’s what I saw early in the morning.  The one with me and Noa when I presented her with a baseball bat at her three-year-old birthday party, bestowing upon her a symbol of the Vaughan “Love for baseball” legacy.  And the one April found amongst her wedding photos of me dancing, displaying some of the more intricate moves that Nathan has apparently managed to incorporate into his own repertoire.  Sigh.  It’s nice to see the youth of tomorrow truly appreciating the finer points of life – baseball and “creative” dance moves.

The first gift came from middle child Josh.  Now I’m not even counting the fact that he let us tag along with them on their trip to DisneyWorld earlier in the year.  That pretty much counts for all gifts for some time to come.  But we were together at a funeral last weekend, and he saw an opportunity to be especially creative.  He took us out to eat (I know, that doesn’t sound very creative, but the secret was in the “where” this time).  He took us out to eat … at Pancho’s.  Yep, that all-time favorite of my pre-marriage college days, early, struggling, not-much-money newlywed days, and subsequently his youth.  With three boys it was hard to find a place that could satisfy all of them to the extent that they left feeling full.  All-you-can-eat Pancho’s did just that.  And for Josh that always meant trying to break his record – fifteen tamales.  Pretty impressive number, but tamales is all he ever ordered.  Well, up until he discovered that he liked their rice.  He didn’t go for a new record this time, but he was absolutely giddy to be there.  See, it was his Father’s Day meal from his family as well.  And his boys really enjoyed themselves.  Raising a flog to get service was delightful.  They shoveled down a few of the soft tortillas (well, Luke shoveled down whatever was in front of him and said, “I like dis”).  And all three of them were totally sold when they realized there was free ice cream cones.  Thank you Josh, for passing down the Pancho’s legacy.

The next gift came from Kel.  And it was a real blast from the past for me.  He presented me with a doll.  Now, wait a minute.  This was not a leftover baby doll that young Noa had grown tired of.  This was like no doll I have ever seen before.  He handed it to me and I actually did a double-take.  There before me was none other than … Mr.
Mxyzptlk.  That’s right.  The imp from another dimension who was Superman’s most annoying enemy, and hence my absolute favorite villain of all time.  The only way to get rid of him was to trick him into saying his name backwards.  It’s hard enough to say his name frontwards, but backwards?  Kltpzyxm.  Now that’s some great literature right there.  Of course I probably won’t take it out of the packaging, but it is certainly a treasure to be admired.  The Superman legacy (and hence, the superiority of the DC universe) once again triumphs.  Thank you, Kel. 

Nathan was on shift Father’s Day, so he and Cailyn came over the next day for lunch.  And what a gift they did bear (along with the hamburger buns, of course).  They made a find of all finds, a true nod to the Vaughan legacy of passing on … “interesting” gifts.  Now I’ll say up front that it came with a disclaimer.  Apparently April wanted no part of being included in the selection and presentation of this gift.  Hence the FaceBook post exalting my dance floor prowess.  But Cailyn was right there and behind it all the way, so the legacy lives on.  Oh, but the gift itself?  It was the Toilet Fishing Game.  A masterful development in the realm of home decorating that is beautiful as well as practical.  Included in the kit was a gorgeous blue floor mat, the color of the ocean (somewhere).  It was unmistakably cut to fit perfectly right in front of the toilet.  Then there were “Seven plastic fish and Sea Life” (and even a seahorse) with tiny magnets embedded in their mouths.  There was of course a fishing pole, about the size of a ruler, with a reel and line and everything.  The hook was another magnet, designed to snag the fish as the floated unsuspectingly in the field of blue.  And then the best of the best.  A door hanger that said “Do Not Disturb.”  For once you get started with this game, you must carry it through to the end. Cailyn and I set it up (on the kitchen floor, not the bathroom … yet) and played for a while.  She is already better at it than I am.  But the important thing is, she saw the potential in such a masterful gift and had the courage to follow through.  Thanks, Nathan.  That is a great legacy to pass on.  Sniff. 

Well, there you have it.  A trip to Pancho’s followed by a Mr. Mxyzptlk doll to play with while I sit on the toilet waiting for the fish to bite.  It just doesn’t get any better than that. 

Romans 12:4-5 says, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Father, thank you for my boys and for the families that they have brought into my life.  And thank you for the spiritual legacy they are passing down to their children as well.  Amen.

Monday, June 20, 2016

June 20 – “How do you spell that?

Here’s a fun one from an estate sale Chris and I went to on Friday before we left for the funeral. 

While waiting to pay for the white fox collar Cailyn found (Her latest favoritest animal) and the sugar bowl that matches Mom’s china set we have and the little end table that Chris found (the whole thing came to around $40.  Not a bad deal, right?), I overheard two men talking. 
Man 1: “I grew up in Santa Fe.”
Man 2: “I’m from Dallas.  Wait.  Santa Fe?  New Mexico?  How did you come to be in Galveston?”
Man 1 (Looking at me with a whimsical look in his eye): “No.  Santa Fe, Texas.”
Man 2: (Looking at me.  Not sure why I was drawn into the conversation at all, but I figured I might as well go with it): “Is there really such a place?”
Me: “Oh, yes.  It’s just the other side of the Causeway headed into Texas.  It’s where you go from Galveston to get out into the country.”
Man 1: “Yup.  Where I grew up we had a lotta talla trees.”
Man 2: “Talla?  How do you spell that?”
Man 1: “Talla.  T-A-L-L (Here he paused, grinned real big and winked at me) -O-W.  Talla.”
(Here they both looked at me yet again, one for confirmation, the other with a look that screamed, “What is he saying?”)
Me (After a long pause for maximum effect): “Yep.  Of course.  How else would you spell it?  Talla.”

I really love living in Galveston.

Romans 12:3 says, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

Father, thank you for my great Island and its even greater people.  Amen.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

June 19 – “Happy Father’s Day”

Well, let me start at the end today.  I have already been wished a Happy Father’s Day today.  Came around 6 a.m. actually.  Got a text from Nathan as he got to work.  He is one of those who knows I am usually wide awake and reading the paper by then.  So he is on duty today for his Father’s Day, along with quite a few other guys.  Pray for them, will you?

Now stepping backwards in time just a bit, we made it back home with no problems last night.  Well, unless you count the downpour that started in downtown Houston.  Chris handled it like a champ, though.  And when we got here, who should be homesteading in our house but Christina and her kiddos.  Their air conditioner had gone out, so they needed some relief from the heat.  It wasn’t really a surprise.  She did call and make reservations.  The repair guy couldn’t be at their house until tomorrow sometime.  So there was an early Father’s Day hit.  Not the earliest, though.  That came before we left Arlington when Josh so graciously took us out to Panchos for lunch.  He and I totally enjoyed ourselves.  He taught his youngsters how to raise the flag, and they didn’t seem to mind the food, either.  Especially the free ice cream.  Christi and the new baby endured it with a sort of half-smile.  Chris dug in, but sadly, paid for her experience when we arrived back at the church to hang out with the Winkle family.  Let’s just say that she made more than a few trips to the bathroom “paying for it.”  Once all that was cleared up (or out, if you know what I mean), she seemed to feel much better for the drive home. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that we were greeted upon our return to the Island by a beautiful double rainbow.  One extended across the entire sky, covering the Island from UTMB to somewhere in the West End (maybe Lafitte’s gold?).  One end of that one was absolutely the brightest rainbow I have ever seen.  The pictures I took just didn’t do it justice, in spite of Apple’s claims for its iPhone cameras.  It was a great welcome home and pre-Father’s Day gift from the Lord. 

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Father, thank you for that amazingly beautiful rainbow.  Oh, and would tell Dad I said hello?  Amen.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

June 18 – “Another Road Trip”

So we took another road trip.  This one wasn’t just for fun, though.  We headed to Arlington yesterday to attend the funeral of a very good friend’s mother this morning.  Condolences to Kay Lynn and her family.  We love you.

As is my usual pattern, I slept for a while on the trip.  I also read some in the novel that I brought along.  Looking Glass Wars.  It’s the story of what really happened when Alice (who actually spells her name Alyss) was in Wonderland.  Lots of fun.  Quite gruesome, though.  Maybe not for young children.  Well, definitely not for young children.

We left our house around one o’clock, thinking we had plenty of time to get there, get a hotel room, get some supper and go to the visitation at 6.  Well … not so much.  From the time we left Galveston I was having to stop my reading to check out on Google Maps why we were getting stopped in traffic.  A wreck here.  Construction there.  Another wreck.  Oh, and then there were the “just drive ten MPH for a few miles for no apparent reason” slow-downs.  It was crazy. 

I finally decided I was bored.  I needed to find some way to interact with the environment around us.  Sadly, no real plan for doing that came to me.  Who wants to play “Find that letter?”  Umm … no.  So I did what I usually do in those situations when my creativity needs a jolt.  I looked.  What could I possibly see “out there”?  Almost immediately Bernie’s Backyard Crawfish Festival came into view.  Now that wasn’t an announcement of an event.  It was an actual place of business and that was its name.  Didn’t look like anyone was at home, though.  Sorry Bernie.  Not stopping. 
We were wished Happy Father’s Day by a Stihl distributor.  Thank you very much.  Not stopping there.
A huge building offered indoor skydiving.  Well, I imagine it was the people inside and not the building doing the offering.  Either way, Chris was not interested.  Besides, how do you do that inside anyway?  Not going there.
There was just a plain old bowling alley.  No frills.  Tempting, but “Been there, done that.”
Cowboy Kia.  Inspirational name.  Well, that certainly made me want to saddle up and buy a car from them.  But not today.
How about this one: Giddy Up Glamour.  Huge pink sign covered an entire billboard.  Jewelry and make up and stuff like that.  That looked a little scary to me.
Speaking of scary, have you ever been to a place called Mr. Hamburger?  Frightening logo.  It looks like a cross between a clown (and you know how scary they are) and an evil Frosty the Snowman.  Not going anywhere near that place.
How about Able Ammo?  I should hope so.  But not in need of ammo right now.
Annette’s Antiques had an old car crashing into the building.  Cute concept, except it was crashing about three feet from the roof.  That thing had been flying around town somehow.  We may have to go back and check that one out.

It took us three hours to get to Huntsville.  The we faced even more wrecks and construction.  Google Siri was working overtime.  She rerouted us in Fairfield for yet another slowdown.  At that point we gave up on our deadline and decided to just enjoy the sights on Old US75.  You know.  Things like the Cooper Farms Peach Orchard.  Pretty impressive.

Aaaaand … yet another detour routed us through the business district of Corsicana where we saw a large gorilla.  A blue gorilla.  With a black face.  Random.  Oh, and That Church.  No, no.  That was the name of that church … “That Church.”  Yep.

We did finally arrive at our hotel in Mansfield.  Even enjoyed a phone call from a friend who now lives a stone’s throw from our old church, South Oaks.  He’s a member of the big Methodist church in Mansfield and he recommended a local spot for supper, Steven’s Garden and Grill.  Several others agreed, so that’s where we went.  Live music and we had good service.  I enjoyed my chopped beef sandwich.  After a drive through our old neighborhood and a look at Josh and Christi’s old house we made our way back to the hotel and settled in for the night.  Can’t wait to see what sights await us on the trip back home …

Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Father, thank you for a safe trip up here.  Please watch over Kay Lynn and her family during the funeral today.  Amen.

Friday, June 17, 2016

June 17 – “silver spewer spigots”

We moved on to the next big inspection at church.  This time it was the fire suppression system in the retreat center.  Hefty-duty name for the sprinkler system that kicks in when there is a fire.  He checked out all the little silver spewer spigots in the ceiling (Hey, I have no idea what they are supposed to be called), and they passed with flying colors.  He turned on the test flow switch, and that was the most exciting part of the whole thing.  You could hear the water flowing into the pipes above our heads until they reached wherever it was they were supposed to reach.  And suddenly the fire alarm blared to life.  Fortunately he had already called the fire alarm monitoring company to put them on alert so the fire department wouldn’t roll out the trucks.  I assured him that wouldn’t be so bad.  We have some great guys and gals in the Jamaica Beach Volunteer Fire Department as well as the regulars at the Galveston stations.  But on the other hand it would take them out of service for other important calls, so I was glad he canceled the service.  The upstairs part of the system passed everything with flying colors.  He even gave me a key so we could shut off the pull alarm if anyone ever pulled it as a prank. 

Now the downstairs part of the inspection was a lot different.  He did his best to tell me all about it, but more than once he was met with my totally informed response: “I have no idea what that is.”  And even a few like this: “I have no idea where that is.”  The bottom line was that apparently when the pipe was installed, there must have been different code requirements, because there were supposed to be four check switches for inspections, and ours only had one.  Everything was working fine, but he was unable to check things like pressure and backflow without those switches.  Oh, and we couldn’t find where that particular water tie-in connected to the water system so it could be turned off at the street.  He didn’t need it turned off for his inspection, but he will when they do the installation of the other inspection switches.  I sent a text or two asking some of our guys if anybody knew where it was, but so far no luck.  The guy told me not to worry about it.  He will call the Jamaica Beach water department and have them come out and turn it off when the time comes.  I’m curious now, though.  I think I will keep asking around.

He assured me that the system was working properly as far as he could tell, and all was safe for the time being.  He will email me with the bid to do the upgrades we need, and we can set up an installation time later in the summer.  So I can’t really check that one off the list quite yet.  But we are well on our way …

Romans 10:17 says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

Father, thank you for spewer spigots and fire suppression systems and especially for guys who understand all that stuff.  I appreciate the sense of safety they bring.  Not as comprehensive as your plan of safety, of course.  Amen.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

June 16 – “Reconnect”

Well, I have started a new dosage of one of my medications.  It is the one from the neurologist to calm down the nerve flare-ups resulting from the disk issues in my lower back.  Those flare-ups cause my right leg to tingle and get numb and weak.  The new dose seems to do its job fairly well, but there is one issue.  The first day of taking it, it made me feel light-headed (more than usual) and I had a bit of a nagging headache.  That was the day I drove myself to the dentist.  In retrospect, I suppose I shouldn’t have been the one driving until I found out how I would be affected.  This is little ol’ Galveston, but then it’s also June on the Island, so our population has probably doubled for the summer already.  I promise I will be careful … and let Chris do most of the driving.

Yesterday I spent most of the day working.  Computer stuff – the sermon for Sunday mostly.  But Chris and I did go on a date … grocery shopping at WalMart.  Hey, that’s been a hot date spot for us for as long as we have been married (grocery shopping, not necessarily at WalMart).  It’s a great place to talk.  It’s also a great place to see people.  Oh, there are plenty of strange sights, especially at WalMart, but this time I’m talking about people we know.  As we prepared to round one corner, Cailyn exploded in front of us from out of nowhere.  She and her parents were doing a little shopping as well.  Then as we checked out we were in line behind an older couple who really looked familiar.  They were cordial enough.  Chris was already in deep conversation with the lady behind us, so she didn’t really pay all that much attention to the couple.  That is until after they walked away and we realized she had left her wallet behind.  The checker wouldn’t let me take it  to her, so I ran outside to try to catch them.  Luckily they were still on the store side of the parking lot.  She and I talked some more on our way back inside.  She asked where I lived and shared that she lived in Pirates Beach.  I told her I was the pastor at Seaside, and that was the connection.  They had been to the church back in 2008 right after Hurricane Ike.  In fact, Chris is pretty sure they have been by our house while it was gutted as well.  Seems they have purchased a house in Pirates Beach.  They were stocking up for the proverbial grandchildren visit this weekend. 

Romans 10:14-15 says, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”

Father, thank you for chances to reconnect as well as for any chance to see portions of our own little family.  Amen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

June 15 – “Beware the caramel”

Well, I plodded through another Monday, filing all the Sunday stuff from the day before and beginning to look at next week.  I did some housekeeping stuff for the church website, worked on preparing the Bible Study for home group on Thursday night, made some phone calls to set up a sprinkler inspection at church.  Then we started the errands.  Returning the lawn mower to Nathan, making a bank deposit, dropping off some dry cleaning, and picking up a prescription (the correct one this time).  We even had some time to have lunch with Cailyn mixed in there as well.  Oh, and I forgot the real highlight of the morning … going to WalMart for some light bulbs, a padded mailing envelope, and, of course, some Cheetos.

I’m nursing another chipped tooth.  This one is from the caramel popcorn Chris made the other night.  Guess that will never be on my menu again.  That’s the third tooth I’ve managed to chip just this past year.  They were not all from popcorn, though, so I can’t give it a completely bad rap.  So I was off to see the dentist yesterday to see which one looks to need a crown the worst.  See, our insurance only covers one crown every 60 months.  One every five years.  So maybe by the time I’m 75 or 80 I’ll have all three taken care of. 

Sure enough there were officially three teeth that are having problems.  None of them are sensitive in any way, so the doc started in on her exam.  Amazingly, she said none of them needed crowns … yet.  The one she has been watching for a while was still the same.  Leave it alone.  The other two were a little more tricky, but she decided she could tackle them and get them more under control.  That meant adding a little bit of filling material around each and then filing them down so that  I don’t chomp on them continually, which would place them at greater risk of being broken again.  All of that with no hint of deadening juice at all.  Didn’t need it.  My only complaint was the assistant sure could have stuck that saliva sucking machine into my mouth a little more often.  Everything is done for this trip, and my insurance even appears to have covered some of the cost.  That’s a big first.  All in all that was a pretty good experience, I’d say. 

Thank you once again to my very first pain-free dentist ever, Blair Jones up in Mansfield, Texas.  You made it possible for me to not fear the dentist. 

Romans 10:12-13 says, “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

Father, thank you for Blair and his no-pain techniques.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June 14 – “Championship”

Wow.  Did we ever have an exciting evening.  We drove into Texas for the Hitchcock Little League championship game.  Jachin’s team, the Nationals, had clawed their way through the loser’s bracket to face the two-time champion Red Sox, a perennial powerhouse.  It was an exciting slugfest, with the lead changing hands several times. 

The Nationals found themselves down by one run in the bottom of the last inning, 14-13 (I told you it was a slugfest).  With one out they managed to get runners on second and third.  Jachin came to bat.  What a pressure-packed situation.  He already had one hit, so he was keyed up to add another.  And to his credit, he responded well.  He smacked a hard line drive to the right side, but it was speared by the second baseman.  Two outs. 

The next batter had been crushing the ball all night, even hitting one all the way to the wall.  So the opposing coach ordered his pitcher to walk him intentionally.  Pretty smart move, actually.  But this particular Nationals batter had other ideas.  He took a huge swing and miss at the first pitch, which was dangerously close to the strike zone.  The swing apparently disconcerted the catcher enough that he lost his concentration.  He missed the pitch and the ball trickled behind him.  The runner from third raced home with the tying run, and the runner on second made his way to third.  The winning run was just 60 feet away. 

This time the catcher, now thoroughly confused, resumed his regular stance behind the plate.  But the pitcher was still in intentional walk mode.  His next pitch soared over the catcher’s head, and the winning run scored.  The crowd went wild.  The Nationals and their parents poured onto the field for the inevitable photo sessions.  The league president came out and presented the trophy.  Each player received a medal.  Speeches of a sort were made.  One guy said this was the only game he had been able to convince his boss to let him off for all year, so he was worried that if they had lost it would have been his fault for jinxing them.  Their coach told them how proud he was that they never gave up, and that they had fun all year long.  Assistant Coach Kel remained quiet in the background, but he was hard-pressed to contain the joy and pride and excitement.  The underdog was the new champion.  Somebody call the Hallmark Channel.  Let’s make a movie. 

To his credit, the Red Sox coach made his way over to the Nationals bench after all the photo ops had settled down, and he was glowing in his appraisal of the team that had just defeated his.  Thanks for showing some class, coach.  Congrats to the Nationals.  Nice job to the Red Sox.  And Jachin … we are really proud of you.

Romans 10:11 says, “As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’”

Father, thank you for all those boys and the effort they put into their season this year.  Give them grace and draw them to yourself.  Amen.

Monday, June 13, 2016

June 13 – “Genius contraption”

Well, the little Her-icanes softball team lost their last game, so they are out of the tournament.  It was a close one.  They lost it by one run in the bottom of the last inning.  Through the miracle of modern technology, we were able to watch most of it on their live streaming thing as we got everything all set up for church.  We got to see Cailyn smack another of her Correa-like doubles.  We were really proud of her and all the girls.  Nice job, 6 and under Her-icanes.

What a surprise at church yesterday.  A guy I knew from high school days showed up to worship with us.  And come to find out, he had done some prison ministry in the past with one our regular couples, so they were able to reconnect as well. 

Then we looked up, and who should walk in the door but Delores, the wife of the pastor of the first church I was youth pastor at way, way back while in college.  She was with Jamie, the wife of Jack, one of the kids in the youth group from back then (who also happened to be Delores' son).  They weren’t that much younger than we were, so we became friends.  Their daughter and her family were also there.  Jack was coming later in the afternoon.  They had rented some beach houses for a big family reunion with one stipulation … no cell phones were allowed.  A totally unplugged week of family and fun on the Island.  Well, unplugged except for Delores.  The oldest one of the bunch, she informed them that she HAD to have her cell phone.  No one told her different. 

As if that wasn’t enough, I met a family in town from Phoenix with relatives from Cincinnati. Not sure how they came to decide on Galveston as a point of connection, but it was good to have then.  As other folks began to arrive, who should find a seat right in front of them but a second Phoenix resident.  OK, OK, I know not everybody in Phoenix knows everybody else, but they were able to connect and talk about what part of town they lived in and the like. 

Gotta love it when God draws people together to connect in different ways.  The Church.  Really genius move there, God.

Romans 10:9-10 says, “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

Father, this church thing really is a genius contraption.  Thank you for letting me be a part of it.  Amen.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

June 12 – “One hot day”

Just a few quick updates today …

Cailyn’s softball team won their first game at the national tournament in Spring yesterday.  Score was 11-10.  We couldn’t be there, but we saw the last 5 minutes or so after Nathan found out they were live-streaming the game on the computer.  She was coming to the plate when time ran out.  We did get to see the entire second game, though.  Sadly, they lost that one.  Cailyn did really well, though.  She stopped a really hot line drive – almost caught it, in fact – and made a perfect, on-line throw to second to try to get the runner.  Sparkling defense.  At the plate she struck out once and cracked a double to right-center field.  Very Correa-esque.  (Carlos Correa of the Astros is her favorite player).  They were supposed to play a third and maybe a fourth game, but apparently the bottom dropped out of the sky and the rains inundated the fields.  They are supposed to try to resume the tournament this morning.

I officiated at another wedding last night at the San Luis Hotel.  It’s been a while since I  have done one there.  Nice couple.  He’s a middle school band director.  Her Dad is a retired superintendent of schools.  He was very encouraging after the ceremony.  Said I seemed to “have a knack for communicating with people.”  I consider that high praise coming from an educator.  The humidity was hovering around 80%, though.  In Galveston, even with the perennial breeze, that is … well, one hot day.  My suit is drenched.  Anybody know where I can get a dark, lightweight, maybe cotton suit?

We have officially been spoiled.  Last night we watched the weekly Moody Gardens fireworks show from our front porch.  We have done that many times (they do it every Friday and Saturday night throughout the summer).  Problem was, something seemed different this time.  Not sure if it was because it was early in the season and they were not yet on their game, or, more likely, we were absolutely spoiled by the fireworks we watched from our balcony at Disneyworld.  Sorry Moody Gardens.  In this case you were not even close.  But I was with my lovely bride.  And we had just had a nice anniversary meal (Albeit a little late.  And I still haven’t replaced the Island shirt that didn’t fit.  So it’s not over yet). 

Romans 9:20-21 says, “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'"  Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”

Father, keep those girls safe on the softball field today.  Footing is not going to be very good after all that rain.  And help them enjoy their priority activity for the weekend – swimming at the hotel pool.  Amen.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

June 11 - “Part One”

Yesterday was a day of “Part Ones” for us around here.  Started out when we picked up the lawn mower from Nathan and hit the front yard.  Chris volunteered to do the mowing, and suggested that I do some tree and bush trimming.  So our course was set.  I was headed for the back yard to tackle the tree back there, when I was distracted by a single branch that was hanging particularly low from one of our sycamore trees.  I lopped it off, and in the process noticed a few others.  Chris was soon helping me pick up the branches and carry them to the street. She then moved on to mowing and I moved over to clear out the middle of the oleander bush that had begun to obstruct our view of the street when we backed out of the driveway.  Can’t have dangerous vehicular impediments.  My next target was the trumpet vine that now reaches to our roof line.  Our goal for that bush is for it to provide some shade in the evenings for our back door.  It has done so well that I had to get on a ladder to reach some of the place that needed trimming.  We won’t tell Chris about the one foot on the ladder and one on the top of the fence precarious-ness.  By that time the sun was out and the 78% humidity was becoming more and more oppressive, so we decided to quit for the day.  Part Two resumes here shortly.

And there was a second Part One in our lives as well.  After leading a really quick wedding rehearsal (the wedding is tonight), we headed into Texas to watch Jachin’s baseball game.  His team has clawed its way through the loser’s bracket to face the undefeated winner’s bracket team.  A victory would extend the tournament to a final championship game.  Their opponent was cocky, and as the undefeated favorite, well they should be.  Jachin’s team (the Nationals) had nothing to lose as the underdogs, so they decided to come to the game and just have some fun.  By the way, that’s the way every baseball game should be played.  After surprising everyone by racing out to a 7-0 lead, the Nationals then gave up 5 runs in one inning to make the game a tight one again.  But a breakout top of the last inning gave them a 12-7 lead that proved insurmountable.  Jachin had one really strong line drive double to right field in the effort.  So now they move to their Part Two.  We were afraid it would be tonight, right in the middle of the wedding I have to officiate.  But thankfully they scheduled it for Monday evening.  So now it’s on to the true championship game.  I just hope the Nationals can maintain their loose, underdog attitude one more time.  And Jachin … keep on swinging at anything close.

Romans 9:16 says, “It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.”

Father, thank you for the way you grow things.  Grass.  Trees.  Bushes.  Kids.  Just … amazing.  Amen.