Sunday, July 31, 2016

July 31 – “Some Chappy Connections”

I went to the Cops and Clergy breakfast on Friday.  It’s an event that happens once a month and rotates between several of the churches in Galveston.  The idea is to get police officers and pastors and chaplains together for a meal and fellowship without any political agenda whatsoever.  It has been a really good way to do some barrier-breaking and simply to make some new friends. 

This time I sat across from one of the other pastors in town.  He was talking about a upcoming surgery he faced where he was to lose both of his kidneys.  His son might be a donor, but I gathered they were waiting to see if he was a good enough match.  The moderator of the meeting let everyone know of his situation and of our need to pray for him.  He was about to move on, so I interrupted him and asked if it was legal for us to pray for him right then.  He asked if I was willing to do it.  Interesting question.  Of course I was willing.  So the pastor grabbed my hand and I prayed.  Nice experience.  There’s just something about praying for and with someone that draws you a little bit closer.

After the meeting one of the pastors stopped me and asked if she could ask me a few questions.  Now, I was in my fire department chaplain uniform, because my intention was to visit one of the stations after the breakfast.  She informed me that he life’s goal for the next phase of her existence (well, after this phase was complete in about five years) was to be a volunteer fire department chaplain at a small town somewhere in Minnesota or Missouri.  It’s all she wanted to do once she finished her current assignment.  So she asked questions about what I did, how I got started, and in general, what was it like.  I was in my element then.  She got an earful.  I love to talk about my brief career and the rewards it has brought.  Not financial, of course.  But the rewards have come in the chance to be involved in life with the fire fighters … in weddings and the births of children and even funerals of retired fire fighters or of family members.  I have been honored to be accepted by the guys as “one of them.”  It’s like being a pastor to six different churches (we have six stations, three shifts to each station) to add to the ministry God has called me to.  Way too much work for a volunteer, and that really frustrates me, but I do love the time I do get to spend as “Chappy.”

1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.’”

Father, thank you for the chance to touch lives as a chaplain that I would never have otherwise.  Be with my fellow pastor as he faces that kidney surgery.  Protect the officers as they patrol.  And as always, walk with my friends in the fire service.  I love those guys, and I know you do, too.  Amen.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

July 30 – “Reveal Number Two”

Well, we have our second big news announcement now available for public consumption.  Kel and Christina and all four of their kids went in yesterday for an ultrasound to determine the sex of their new little one.  They each made guesses before the test.  Noa, of course, wanted a little sister.  Jachin and Micah hesitated but a second or two in declaring their votes for a boy.  Josiah appeared to be on the fence a bit, but I think he finally came out for a boy as well.  Christina seemed to be leaning toward a boy, and Kel kind of wanted another little girl.  He fell hard for Noa.  The grandma and Grandpa here in this house were solidly non-committal.  Chris spoke in terms of healthy with all its parts.  Kelley leaned more toward a human being as opposed to a … well, to anything else.  I never really heard from the uncles and aunts and cousins. Well, except for Cailyn.  She is always solidly in favor of the female.  Finally, over at Seaside, our church baby oracle, Sam, was convinced it would be a boy,  and you gotta pay attention to Sam.  She nailed the prediction with Josh and Christi’s little girl.  In fact, she has been correct just about every time on Vaughan babies.

The great reveal came first in a text to us and then in a mass Messenger posting.  Kel shared the name choices of his children under this heading: “We are adding another superhero to the fold.”  Yoda.  Chewbacca.  Kylo Renn.  Peter Quill.  I had to look that last one up, but it was pretty obvious, right?  After speculation and some demands for more info from family members, he added, “Noa has job security as the princess of the house.”  And finally, “Adding another SuperBOY to the fab five this Christmas.”  And there it is.  Yet another Vaughan boy.  Gotta love it.  We are going to be unstoppable with our seven handsome guys and three gorgeous girls.  Grandkids are great. 

1 Corinthians 1:31 says, “Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’”

Father, thank you for each one of the kiddos you have blessed us with.  Each one is distinct and wonderful and just right as you have created him … and her.  You do good work.  Amen.

Friday, July 29, 2016

July 29 – “Zombie dog”

We had an unusual doggie issue the other day.  When we were baby-sitting the boys one of them went into the laundry room to get a root beer for some root beer floats, always a crowd favorite around here after lunch or dinner.  He returned with some frightening news.  “Something is wrong with Fritz’s eye.”  Josiah, of course, made his way over to see for himself.  He came back into the kitchen declaring, “He’s turning into a zombie dog!”  obviously something was wrong, so I went to see what they were talking about.  And sure enough, he did look like a zombie dog.  One of his eyes was bulging almost out of his head.  It looked like he was returning to the roots of one of his parents (he has Boston bull terrier in his genes).  It was also covered in a white-ish yellow gunk that was seeping out.  Very gross, very zombie-like. 

We immediately called the vet to get in to have him checked out.  And their answering machine came on telling us to call back during regular business hours.  Well, that was odd, since it was 11:50 in the morning when we made the call.  And that had never happened to us before in all the years we have used that clinic.  We tried a few more times with the same results, so we decided that maybe they were having a staff lunch together or something.  We called when Kel and his crew left we asked them to see if they could tell anything when they drove past, but all they could see was a few cars in the parking lot.  At 2:00 we finally just loaded up Fritz into the car and drove over to the office.  And there in the window was a notice that they would be in a staff meeting until 2:30.  Of course.  Rather than sit in the parking lot for 30 minutes we just went home and waited. 

Chris finally made contact with someone around 3, and they made us an appointment for the next day at 1:30.  Again, very unusual for this vet clinic.  We have always been able to get in right away when there has been an issue.  Then about an hour later, someone called us back apologizing and saying we couldn’t have the 1:30 appointment.  Seems the “corporate office” didn’t realize that the doctor would be treating a horse at that time.  We could have a 3:00, though.  We agreed, very puzzled by now at what was happening.  Since when did this local vet clinic tie in with a corporate office?  Ah, well.  Why not blame it on a nebulous corporate entity?  It works for everyone else in America.

By the time we finally got seen the next day, the swelling had almost completely subsided.  His eye was still obviously irritated, but not nearly as bad as the day before.  They did a thorough inspection, and all Fritz wanted was a handful of those treats they give out.  The best guess they had was that he had been bitten by a bee or something.  We have to give him some eye drops for the next few days and he should be fine, so good news there.

They weren’t so happy to hear about our experience with the phones, however.  I don’t know how many times the doc said “It makes me sad to hear that.”  And, I’ll talk to our office manager about that.”  Interesting that she never mentioned the corporate office., though.  Hmm …

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 says, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”

Father, thank you that Fritz is doing OK.  I know you care about sparrows, so I figure you care for a certain old bee-bitten mutt who has a family that loves him.  Amen.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

July 28 – “Yoda Bug”

Can’t remember if I mentioned this one yet.  On my way to WalMart the other day I saw a VW bug tricked out to look like Yoda’s head.  Totally new approach to “Take Your Favorite Star Wars Character To Work Day.”  Amazing.  I wanted to pull over and take a picture, but it was being followed by a police car, so I decided to admire from afar. 

I’ve been doing some quilting lately.  Well, not exactly actually quilting.  I have helped Chris on an occasion or two with the monster quilt she is working on.  You may not know it, but there is an awful lot of work that goes on behind the scenes when someone is making a quilt.  I helped put the extra leaf in the table so it would be long enough to hold the whole thing.  I helped her clear furniture out of the den floor so she could lay it out and put pins in it (apparently that’s something you have to do before you can start doing the final sewing passes).  I gave my input on which way she should go when she started sewing (not that she took my advice, but she is really kind.  She seems to value my comments even though I have no idea what I am talking about).  And most recently I helped her pull and tug the excess rolled up part of the thing through the sewing machine while she was sewing.  By my figuring that all counts together as having been a part of the process.  So whoever ends up with this thing can officially appreciate my part, too.  OK, OK.  I’m being a whiner and inserting myself into Chris’ fame.  I’ll say no more about my feeble (yet indispensable) efforts.

1 Corinthians 1:25 says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.”

Father, thank you for Chris’ talent with the sewing machine.  I never cease to be amazed.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

July 27 – “… and Sons?”

I just saw one of the most unusual newspaper ads I have ever seen.  Yes, I still read the newspaper.  Old school, I know.  So the ad that caught my attention this morning? It was for a  cemetery monument making company.  Not that I was looking, mind you.  And I’m not at all sure what the technical name for such an industry is, either.  But I was just casually perusing, making sure my name wasn’t listed in the obituaries, when there it was.  A picture of a headstone with the words of the company engraved on it: “Schlitzburger and …”  Wait.  Care to make a guess as to what followed?  See, it wasn’t the name that stood out so much as the “what followed” part.  Schlitzburger and … Daughters.  Yep.  Not “and Sons” as you might have expected.  The Schlitzburgers have full-on owned the family they were gifted by God with.  No bowing to tradition for them.  Bring the girls into the family business and give them full honors.  Way to go, Schlitzburgers, whoever you are. 

OK.  I know what you are thinking now.  Must have been a pretty slow news day around the Vaughan house yesterday.  The old man is reaching for straws to find something to write about.  Guilty.  Not to put a damper on my kudos to the Schlitzburger Clan, though.  But yesterday was one of those “water exercise first, then work on sermon and Bible Study all day” kind of days.  We did have overnight grandchildren guests, but they didn’t arrive until after 8:30, and we went to bed right after the Astros game ended around 9:30, so even the Vaughan boys didn’t really have time to get into any mischief.  Although I am just hearing about an altercation that happened around 3 in the morning.  Something about one of them crawling into the wrong bed after a bathroom trip.  Guess it wasn’t a very noisy squabble.  Sure didn’t work its way into my consciousness. 

1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Father, thank you for daughters and sons and grandsons and granddaughters.  Posterity is pretty pleasing when you’re still around to enjoy it.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 26 – “Storm Damage”

The day didn’t start out much different from any other Monday.  We took an early morning walk, and then I attacked my weekly task list.  After lunch we decided to get some errands done.  Simple stuff, really.  Bank.  Randall’s to get some stamps and pick up a prescription.  WalMart for some groceries.  Everything was going quite smoothly, in fact.

Somewhere around the toilet paper, Chris made the comment, Hear that?  It’s really raining.”  The roof at WalMart does an admirable job of amplifying sound in a big way.  And then, as we rounded the cereal aisle and glanced at the door to the outside, we could see it.  Well, that’s not exactly accurate.  We couldn’t see it would be closer.  It was raining so hard we couldn’t see the cars in the parking lot.  In fact we couldn’t even see the parking lot.  We couldn’t see much past the doors.  Our concerns then shifted to whether or not the power would go out and shut down all the computers, making the trip a waste of time.  We slowed our pace considerably, not wanting to face such an onslaught of Galveston dampness. 

Finally we headed for the exits, made our purchases and wheeled out to the car.  The rain had slowed to a drizzle, so we didn’t even get all that wet.  There was a lot of standing water between our house and the store, but we managed to navigate around the deepest of the puddles.  Even unloading the car at home went by quickly and fairly dry-ly.  I began getting ready to take a shower and settle in to watch the Astros game.  Finally, a sleepy, boring Monday …

And Chris called out, “We have some tree branches down in the back yard.”  Tree branches?  We have a big palm tree back there, but those branches wouldn’t have elicited such an impassioned response.  We also have a Brazilian Pepper tree, an invasive species that provides a lot of shade and grows quickly and is virtually impossible to kill.  It is technically part of the 40 Steps lot next door, but it grew up right on the fence line, so I have been nurturing it over the years to take advantage of the shade.  That had to be the branch down culprit.  So we went outside to check it out more closely.

And boy was it ever the branch offender.  We couldn’t tell for sure if lightning was involved.  There were some really charred looking spots, but it was hard to tell what that might have been.  See, the branches were down, resting on the ground in fact.  But they were also still attached to the tree.  One really big branch had twisted and split, but was refusing to actually commit to breaking it off completely.  I think there is a teaching in there somewhere about breaking off bad relationships or maybe making a clean break from the sin in your life.  The biggest thing to remember in those situations (aside from the forgiveness available in Christ) is the fact that there will be consequences that someone will have to deal with.  In this case we became the consequence dealers-with.  I no longer have a chain saw.  Mine died a while back.  So I attacked the downed limb with a pair of those clippers with really long handles designed for tree pruning.  Chris hauled the lopped-off limbs to the street.  We still have a lot of pruning to do, but we did clear it off the fence and off the satsuma tree in the corner of the yard.  I would have hated to lose that thing.  It has a lot of fruit on it this year.  So Nathan, crank up that little chain saw on a stick that you bought and bring it over.  We have some work to do.

1 Corinthians 1:10 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

Father, thank you that the damage was really minimal and was limited to the TTRTD (Tree That Refuses To Die).  Amen.

Monday, July 25, 2016

July 25 – “Can you hear me now?”

Around 5:30 a.m. the other day I was sleeping peacefully when what should shatter my repose but a rousing rendition of that all-time favorite, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”  It took me a second or two to register where such melodious strains could possibly be emanating from.  But as I shook off the dregs of slumber, it suddenly came to me.  “That’s me ring tone.  It’s a phone call.”  Now as a pastor you might be surprised how often I get calls in the middle of the night to inform me of trips to the emergency room or to ask for prayer when someone is having a particularly difficult time working their way through some personal crisis or to let me know a baby is imminent on the horizon.  And I certainly do not mind such interruptions.  They are simply part of the lifestyle that God has called me to. 

My first move in such situations is to determine whether the call is from a family member.  If it is one of our kids, then I usually wake up Chris to let her in on the situation.  Unless of course it is Nathan telling me the dangerous details of a fire or the ins and outs of a particularly difficult rescue.  She doesn’t always want to hear of situations where he has been at risk.  If it is someone other than family I will listen first and then determine whether she should be involved in the ministry action. 

In this particular situation, the call was from the church’s lawyer, who owns a home in Jamaica Beach.  So this could have gone one of several different ways.  Was it some situation regarding the church’s legal status?  Had something happened while he and his family were in town?  Now before I say anything else, you must understand, Joe has never called at 5:30 in the morning before.  His calls are generally during the middle of the day or even in the early evening.  He is a great guy to talk to, always excited and loves Jesus.  A lot.  But I never had a call from him at 5:30 in the morning.  Did I mention that already?

The call was exasperating from one other standpoint.  The connection was terrible.  Best I could make out he was calling from Savannah.  Okay, not that unusual for him to be on a business trip to Georgia.  And I managed to piece together that the issue had something to do with the church’s landscaping, which Joe supervises for us.  So the issue was not pressing, but remained quite puzzling.  Why call so early in the morning for something so trivial as landscaping?  I figured up that the time difference would make it 6:30 in Georgia, so that explained a little.  He knows I am usually up by then.  But again, he has never called at that time.  Maybe he was preparing for some lawyer-type meeting or something.  I finally managed to communicate that I really couldn’t tell what he was saying.  He finally said something I did understand, “What time is it there?”  Odd.  Couldn’t he figure up the time difference?  I told him, and he immediately hung up.  A few seconds later I received a text saying that he would contact me later.

Now I was really intrigued. 

Well, the promised contact came in the form of a very long text.  He had received a call from the landscaper that the irrigation system was not getting power to it, so we needed to get that checked out.  Fine.  That was an easy one.  But at 5:30 a.m.?  And then came the answer to my puzzled mind.  He was not in Savannah, Georgia, as I had assumed.  He was in Masai Mara in the Savannah region of … Africa.  I’m not sure if he was on a mission trip or just a vacation, but he sent a great picture of his family arm in arm with some of the locals.  Wow.  There’s one for the pastor’s book of reminisces. 

1 Corinthians 1:9 says, “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”

Father, take care of Joe and his family on their travels.  Bless their efforts over there and bring them safely back home.  Amen.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

July 24 – “Cowboys and Fire Fighters”

I went to another funeral the other day.  This one was for a retired fire fighter captain.  He was also a member of the Cowboy Church, so everything was a mix of the pomp and ceremony of the fire service and the relaxed nature of the cowboy life.  Numerous fire fighters came, all dressed in their Class A uniforms to show their respects.  Many others arrived in blue jeans and white shirts, the preferred attire of cowboy church attenders.  A row of fire chiefs in uniform sat directly behind the row of cowboys who were the pall bearers.  It was a fascinating glimpse into two entirely different worlds.  One of our fire fighters asked me to walk to the casket with him before the service.  It was obviously a difficult moment for him.  Glad I could be there to help him out. 

The Cowboy Church pastor led the service and did a great job of drawing on his own connection with the family to bring them closer to peace.  After the service a combined fire department honor guard from Galveston and Santa Fe loaded the casket onto the union fire truck, which carried it to the cemetery.  I appreciated the citizens of Alvin in particular for pulling off to the side of the road in a display respect as the funeral procession made its wat through their town.  I didn’t see a single car defy the tradition.  Very impressive.  Two waste management trucks even pulled over and the crew stood reverently beside their trucks until we passed.  Friendswood did a pretty good job as well when we drove through their town.  At one point three cars stopped abreast across the opposite lanes and stopped traffic for the procession.  Sometime you could see the hesitance on the part of a driver as he began to pass other cars already pulled over.  Suddenly he would realize what was happening, but it was too late.  Now he had no place to pull over because the side of the road was already filled with other cars.  What an uncomfortable situation to find yourself in.  The closer we got to Houston-type civilization, the fewer responses of respect we saw.  Cars pulling over were definitely the exception rather than the rule.  One guy even pulled into the lane next to the procession and the police escort officers immediately forced him into the center turn lane to wait until we all passed.  As we pulled up to the cemetery the lead officer who was blocking the freeway exit ramp with his motorcycle, stood at attention holding his helmet at his side as the caisson pulled in.  Nice.

The graveside service was short and sweet.  The pastor just read two passages of scripture.  Someone must have told him it was really hot outside.  No one stayed very long.  The family was headed to a reception back at the cowboy church.  The fire fighters returned the truck to its bay and either went back to work or back to their families.  Once again, kudos to the honor guards from Galveston and Santa Fe for their work standing guard at the visitation and doing the honors at the funeral.  Proud of you guys.

Romans 16:25-27 says, “Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him— to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

Father, walk with that family as they continue dealing with grief and moving on.  Amen.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

July 23 – “Fish police”

I managed to sneak in a little bit of fishing yesterday before the onslaught of grandchildren began.  Well, technically it was between waves of the attack.  Cailyn had already swooped in, and the Jachin, Micah, Josiah and Noa maelstrom had not yet set down. 

I went to my usual spot  down in front of WalMart and weaved my way through the tourists to stake out a claim.  (Wait a second.  Is “weaved” correct, or should it be “wove”?  No autocorrect yet, so I’ll leave it as is).  The water was pretty clear, but still pretty choppy.  No.  It was very choppy.  Not a lot of whitecaps, but the swells were oppressive.  The tide was running consistently, though, so I figured there should be some fish in there somewhere.  I set up my rig to sink below the waves and made my first cast.  And my second, and third.  It took a while, but I finally started successfully feeding the little fish beneath the waves, which I don’t mind doing a little of.  If they are eating what I offer, the will draw the bigger guys in to see what’s going on.  I did make some catches, too.  Enough to bring home and fillet up for later.  One really nice speckled trout.  Numerous whiting.  I threw back three undersized reds.  Kept one black drum.  Shook off a few ladyfish.  There was one that got away.  Always have to have at least one of those.  I felt the tug and then it was gone.  That quick.  Hook was gone.  No idea what it was. 

Once again I had to move around way more than I like.  Part of that was due to getting pommeled by the waves.  Most of it was to avoid the tourists who kept easing closer and closer, either to me, which I don’t mind, or to the area I was casting to, which I do mind.  I sure didn’t want to hook a tourist.  They are really difficult to gut and clean, so you end up just tossing them back.  I did have a conversation with one of the fellows playing in the water next to me.  It was a Chinese family … from Calgary, Canada.  They were on a major vacation through the states.  Next stop after Galveston would be New Orleans, before spending a week in Miami.  Really nice guy.  He didn’t recognize any of the fish I caught, though.  He was also amazed that I could actually keep what I caught and eat them.  After I tossed back one of the redfish, he asked what would happen if I kept an undersized fish.  Wanted to know if the fish police were waiting on shire to give me a ticket or something.  I assured him that I had never seen the “fish police” at the beach in all the years I had been fishing here.  Throwing the undersized fish back was a matter of integrity and of a desire for them to grow and reproduce so I could keep doing what I was doing.  That one kind of took him aback.  He shook his head and slowly backed away, never to be seen at my side again.  Sometimes integrity is a concept far beyond what the average person expects to be confronted with. 

Romans 16:20 says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.  The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

Father, thank you for the fish.  And for the Canadian.  Keep them safe on their journey around the states.  Amen.

Friday, July 22, 2016

July 22 – “Undeterred”

Our brand new La-Z-Boy recliner broke the other day.  Now, let me hasten to say that it did still work just fine.  In fact we wouldn’t even know there was anything amiss except for the large black chunk of molded plastic that fell onto the floor.  For a while our response was to ignore it.  We moved the chair into every imaginable position and rocked and swiveled to our hearts’ content.  No problems.  I almost didn’t call the customer service department, but Chris convinced me that it would be better to find out now what it was than to wait until after the warranty ran out.

The call went well … once we finally connected.  It was one of those “I’m away from my desk.  Please leave a message and I’ll call you back within 24 hours” deals.  So I waited 24 hours, almost to the minute, and she called me back.  Once when I was on the other line talking long distance to Josh.  I don’t cut short phone calls with my family.  Then when I was talking to one of the fire fighters.  I don’t interrupt conversation to check my phone, either.  In fact, that’s why I put it on silent in those situations.  I want to give the guys my undivided attention. 

So back to the call.  She asked a few questions and finally said, “I know what part you are talking about.  I don’t need the part number.”  Which, by the way, I had meticulously discovered.  She let me in on her secret.  “There is only one thing under there that is made of plastic.  It is a locking mechanism for when you lean back.  Right now the one on the other side is doing double duty.  It will soon break as well unless you replace the broken one.  I’ll send you the part.  If you need help installing it, I’ll also send a technician.”  Well, I didn’t want a technician to spend the night in a box in a UPS warehouse waiting to be shipped, so I said I would give the self-installation a try. 

The part arrived, so I tipped the chair over on its side to perform the operation.  It was really difficult to get to.  In fact what should have taken 5 minutes ended up taking me almost an hour.  Reclining position.  No, now back down.  Chris, will you hold the flashlight?  Open it again.  Wait.  I can reach it now.  Ouch.  Oh, there it is.  I got the silly thing in there. 

And then I stood up.  And stretched my back out.  And repositioned myself over the hulking beast upended on its side.  And I grabbed it and heaved.  And the chair plopped back into position.  And I heard a faint sound emanating from underneath.  With a sense of dread rapidly closing in on my senses, I dropped to my knees (Actually that sounds like I did it quickly, doesn’t it?  Not so much.  I eased gingerly down onto my hands and knees.  There, that’s a bit more accurate).  I stared once again under the chair.  And sure enough.  There on the ground.  No, it wasn’t the part I just installed.  Ha.  That’s what you thought, wasn’t it?  Oh, no.  this was not one, but two other tiny pieces of plastic.  About a one inch cylinder and a screw-on … thing-a-ma-bob.  I had no idea what either of them were.  And unlike the other part, I couldn’t find anywhere that they might have even fallen from.  I guess here is where you would expect me say something like, “Undeterred, I bravely dove back into the fray until I found the answers I was looking for.”  And your expectations would have sadly disappointed.  Oh, I looked.  Once.  But then I was sufficiently “deterred.”  For now we have two tiny little extra pieces of a recliner from La-Z-Boy.  They reside in the filing cabinet under the tab marked, La-Z-Boy.  Perhaps someday their day will come.

Romans 15:17 says, “Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.”

Father, I’m headed to a funeral this morning.  Please comfort the family.  And be with the fire fighters who will be standing honor guard.  Amen.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 21 – “Nauseously nauseating”

Yesterday turned out to be a yard work day.  Actually this was last week’s yard work day.  We skipped one.  The grass wasn’t really all that out of control.  We haven’t had enough rain for that.  It did need the trim, though.  I managed to get a little more of the 40 Steps backyard cut.  For the uninitiated, 40 Steps would be the name of the vacant lot next door to us.  I have to officially declare that Chris wasn’t very happy with me.  It was pretty hot out there.  She even got a little nauseated.  Is that the proper word?  That’s another one that I have always wondered about.  Do you say “nauseated” or is the correct terminology “nauseous”?  I looked them up and they appear to be synonyms for each other, but … why?  I guess the bigger “why” has something to do with why do I care. 

So we quit a little early and came inside to cool down.  When I came out of the shower Chris was on the phone.  We had just been invited out to lunch … by Cailyn.  Mexican food at Salsa’s.  That gave us the clue that her Mom was probably involved at some point in the discussions.  April likes Salsa’s.  Cailyn had, indeed, included her parents in the invitation, so we met them at Salsa’s for lunch.  Good stuff.

Speaking of being nauseously nauseated, I have started the process of transferring over to new doctors who are “in the system” after we got “Obama-cared.”  Who knew that would become a verb?  It is no easy task to get an appointment with a specialist when your insurance is an HMO.  Any promises about keeping your own doctor are most assuredly empty rhetoric.  I finally managed to score an appointment with a rheumatologist  in September and a neurologist in November.  Good thing I’m not having any serious issues right now. 

Well, here’s the latest.  I received a message in their online My Chart system that I no longer had a neurology appointment.  Now I would instead be contacted by a neurosurgeon and a pain management doctor.  What?  After a slight medication adjustment, my pain is under control.  And I certainly don’t need surgery.  In fact I have already seen a neurosurgeon just a few months ago, before the Obamacare switch.  He told me I wasn’t a good candidate for surgery.  At least not at that time. 

So yesterday I got a call from a patient affairs specialist.  I haven’t had an affair with a doctor as far as I can remember, and I’m pretty sure Chris hasn’t either.  It wasn’t about that, though.  She just wanted to know how my last visit went.  Then she made the mistake of asking if there was anything else she could help me with.  I unloaded.  I guess she was taking notes, because when I finally finished with my “story,” she assured me someone would be calling me later in the day.  Even told me the person’s name. 

Believe it or not, I did get that call.  She informed me that I already had an appointment with a neurosurgeon at the end of August.  Never received a call about that one.  And with my PCP.  That would be in September.  OK, that was a follow-up from long ago.  And with the arthritis doctor.  Also in September.  Finally, one that I expected and had on my calendar.  And finally she told me she had reinstated my visit to the neurologist to get established with him.  And the appointment was in November, two weeks before the one they canceled.  Phew.  I think I have it all straight now.  I noticed last night that I have another message waiting on My Chart, though.  What wonders do await me in the magical medical realm today?

Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Father, thank you for the commitment of those specialists to get  where they can help people like me.  And thank you for people like Dee and Vicki, those patient affairs specialists who helped me get connected to them.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July 20 – “Nice shot”

I went to a luncheon meeting yesterday over at First Baptist Church Galveston.  It was touted as a farewell meeting for the retiring pastor there.  They made a big deal of the occasion.  The food was like something out of a magazine.  Twice baked potatoes (one of my personal favorites), fresh green beans with almonds, and a chicken breast rolled around butter and spinach and deep fried.  Interesting taste.  Wouldn’t order it in a restaurant, but it was good.  I met the guy and his wife who is the pastor at Primera Iglesia Bautista in Galveston.  They used to be missionaries in Spain, so we talked a little about Josh having just been over there. 

And while we talked I received a text from Chris.  Very short.  Very simple.  “I have a video.”  And I immediately responded, “Is it wiggling?”  No further information was forthcoming.  Understand our shorthand yet? 

She eventually sent me the video.  She couldn’t wait until I got home.  And it showed … that at least one of our Waco grandsons is a right decent shot with a B-B gun.  All three of the boys were lined up out in their back yard.  Zak and Caleb with B-B rifles and Luke with a cap-gun pistol.  They took aim at what appeared to be a huge wasp nest in the trees behind their house.  They fired as one.  And the wasp nest exploded into a mass of falling confetti.  Pink confetti.  Caleb, who desperately wanted another brother, realized right away the significance of the pink shower.  His head drooped.  His gun fell to the ground.  Something of a low growl emerged from the depths of his soul.  Zak turned around with a huge grin on his face and commented, “All right.”  Luke was proud that he had shot his gun.  Then to solidify the message, the next scene showed them each munching on cupcakes.  With pink icing.  And Caleb’s expression was a bit more resigned to his fate, but still held a bit of a twisted demeanor.  Luke was called upon to make the announcement verbally.  He did an admirable job.  His Luke-ish grin and his “Hab little sister” will live on in all of our hearts.  And to finish off any doubt that might still be underlying, the final scene was the ultrasound photo … overlaid with a big old pink bow.  One would think they were having a little girl.

I understand Caleb did eventually come around, though.  He has since warmed up to the idea and is working hard to input his ideas for girls names into the mix.  I understand Lucy and Violet are his current favorites.  I also understand that all three boys (not to mention Dad) are going to be keeping those guns cleaned and ready.  I pity all future suitors for the hand of that lovely young maiden.  Wait.  No, I really don’t.  In fact, maybe I should at least keep my airsoft gun unclogged …

Romans 15:7 says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

Father, thank you for yet another precious life set to come into our family.  And a female one, at that.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

July 19 – “Incomprehensible”

I was talking to Josh on the phone yesterday.  He was taking a break from office drudgery by heading outside and walking around.  I think he got a little too used to the laid-back lifestyle of the church over in Spain that he visited.  He especially saw value in the their tradition of taking afternoon naps.  Yep.  Siestas are alive and well, at least in Denia, Spain. 

Anyway, their doctor’s appointment to find out the sex of their fourth baby will happen today.  Apparently his immediate family is 100% in favor of a boy.  Imagine that.  A poll taken at their church came up a solid 70% for a girl.  Any guesses/votes can be relayed through responses to this post.  

When he was in Spain the pastor had some ideas to share with him regarding the Spaniard’s take on having children.
1 Child is certainly a gift from God
2 Children are, well, too many.
3 Children are a solid indication that you are crazy.
4 Children are … well, that’s just unthinkable.
I guess that makes five kids totally incomprehensible.

Leave it to the Vaughan’s.  Chris and I modeled craziness.  Nathan and April treasure their gift from God.  Josh and Christi are solidly unthinkable.  Kel and Christina are operating in the incomprehensible realm.  Gotta love it. 

Romans 15:5-6 says, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Father, thank you for every one of our little guys.  They are all gifts from you as far as we are concerned.  Amen.

Monday, July 18, 2016

July 18 – “We’ve got the power …”

I tore myself away from the Astros game yesterday afternoon for a while to go fishing.  Terrible idea.  For one thing, I missed seeing Carlos Gomez’ grand slam home run (but I saw it on the replay when I got back home).  Strike two was the water conditions.  Way too rough to be wade fishing.  But I thought I could at least pull in some decent whiting.  As it turned out the two whiting I did catch weren’t worth even bring back home.  And finally, strike three was none other than … tourists.  I planted myself as far away from the “play” area as I could, but they kept drifting closer and closer.  Not just to where I was standing, but also to where I was trying to cast.  The tourist traffic finally got so bad that I gave up and headed home. 

Now if all that wasn’t bad enough - and remember, that was already three strikes – while I was fishing I got one of those advertising jingles stuck in my head and couldn’t get it to shut off.  Actually, I’m pretty sure it was two different ones all mingled together.  This is the one with the guitar player and the guys who skipped going to the gym and poor old Grampy Tim.  It was nightmarish.  And you are not going to get away from this reading without having the same glorious opportunity to hum along as I had.  Are you ready?  Oh, and I have no idea what the products are, so this is not a free commercial.
“We’ve got the power to turn back time.  That’s what I like about Texas.”

Yep.  I know.  They don’t go together.  But that’s what I heard singing over and over and over and over in my head.  Wish I had the power to turn back time and turn that commercial off.  Now it’s back …

Romans 15:4 says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Father, thank you for giving us all the power we ever really need.  Amen.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

July 17 – “At the the-a-tuh”

We had a date last night!  I know, I know.  That shouldn’t be something warrants a proclamation, much less an exclamation point.  But it is a special occasion for us when we get to do something together and there are not grandchildren involved.  Not that hanging out with the kids is a bad thing.  They certainly inspire a new level of … of … creativity, of excitement, of … OK, endurance.  They force you to look at the world with the eyes of a child … innocence, expectation, wonder.  And there’s not a thing wrong with doing a little of that every day. 

So last night we were gifted with tickets to the Grand The-a-tuh (the high-brow way of saying theater, so I’m told) in Galveston to see a new production by the guy who does A Tuna Christmas.  That was a pretty funny show, so we were looking forward to seeing this one.  And to make it even better, we were attending with our new worship pastor and his wife, both very fun people.  The tickets put us in the second level, but right in the front row.  We were able to look down below us at the folks sitting in the “elite seats.”  I remember sitting in that section back when I was in high school and the building was the State Theater, a movie house.  To sit on this level meant you could toss popcorn or spent gum into the level below.  Not that I ever did anything so juvenile.  I was always too engrossed in the movie to engage in such behavior.  But the popcorn really was bad back then …

The show itself certainly had its funny parts, as expected.  It was a collection of monologues set in a bar.  The stated purpose of the production was “to show us that we are not all that different from one another.”  So underlying the jokes and the acting there was an element of social comment on the sociological and political hot spots in our society.  Some of the jokes and innuendos were pretty rank, to be honest, and not really all that funny.  Others, though were hilarious.  I especially enjoyed watching Charlotte laugh at the specifically Oklahoma digs they were throwing in.  Not just polite little “church giggles,” mind you.  These were full on belly laughs.  Apparently Oklahoma is a very funny state.  I also got a kick out of the San Antonio segment.  It helped that Josh lived there for a few years, so I kind of knew where and what he was talking about when he said things like, “move out north of the loop.”  There’s always something about laughing at your home state (or maybe yourself) that makes the joke even funnier. 

I managed to say hello to the two fire fighters who were working fire watch for the event.  The theater is required to have them at every event.  I think it’s because they know the number for emergency services better than anyone else.  Or maybe their superhuman instincts and superspeed reflexes makes it possible for them to dial 9-1-1 just a little faster than the average human being.  Actually, I think it probably has more to do with their knowledge of fire codes and exit points.  In any event, thanks for being there Gary and Dustin. 

Romans 15:2 says, “Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”

Father, thank you for an occasion to relax with my best friend and some new friends, as a result of a gift from another friend.  I sense a pattern there.  Amen.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

July 16 – “The Bryan Museum”

We finally managed to visit the “new” Bryan Museum here in Galveston yesterday.  I still have a hard time calling it that.  When I was in high school, the Key Club’s primary service project every week was playing touch football with the orphan guys who lived there.  We weren’t allowed to go very far into the building back then.  Pretty much the front entry hall and the dining hall.  The kids talked about their sleeping quarters, which were on one side of the room and up the stairs, but we couldn’t go with them that far.  Security, I guess.  Not that we particularly wanted to go.  The whole place was always kind of scary to me.  it seemed dark and dreary all the time.  We were pretty much content to wait for them, tossing the football back and forth on the front porch.  We had some fun games.  The front lawn of the orphanage was perfect for a football field.  Well, except for the strip of concrete running right through the middle of it.  Something about a sidewalk leading up to the front steps.  To us it was an annoying distraction.  It stopped being used as an orphanage back in the ‘80’s I think, and fell into a state of disrepair. 

A few years ago a wealthy businessman from Houston bought the building and began some major renovations.  He was also a collector of Texas antiquities, so the renovations took on the added purpose of creating a space where he could showcase his massive collection.  Of course I was more interested in what information they would share about the building as an orphanage, as well as in the restored architecture itself, and I was not disappointed.  They emphasized the collection more than anything, of course, but the building had been truly restored.  Pretty much everything was original to the building (well, to the building that rose from the rubble of the one that was hit hard by the 1900 Storm).  The wood was gorgeous.  It was hard to focus on the artifacts because there was so much wood everywhere that had been sanded down and re-stained.  From floor to ceiling and even the ceilings themselves were wood.  A carpenter’s dream.  A termite’s heaven. 

There were artifacts from every era of Texas history, from the Karankawas through the Republic and Civil War to the days of the Cowboys.  Letters and diaries (even one extremely rare one from Cabeza de Vaca detailing his journeys in the New World).  Several rare maps (One that the Austin Grant settlers used to find their way around, as well as some of Galveston in the 1800’s).  At one point they mentioned a scoundrel named Bailey who almost got kicked out of the settlement.  He made up with Stephen Austin, though, and later even had a town in Matagorda County named after him, Bailey’s Prairie.  Seems legend has it that the guy demanded to be buried standing up, with his shotgun and jug of whiskey at his side.  Chris, of course, was born in Matagorda County, and we have driven through Bailey’s Prairie on numerous occasions.  She had one more little tidbit to add to the story.  The legend also says that his thirsty ghost roams the town, looking for that jug of whiskey. 

All in all it was an interesting museum experience, if you like Texas history.  The panoramic setup of the San Jacinto battleground that took up half of a room will impress you.  All of the saddles will grab your interest.  But if you are a Yankee, watch out for the fiddle case with the music box inside that automatically plays Dixie.  The inscription on the back warns that it will be the last sound you hear.  See, the other side of the case hides a Confederate sawed-off shotgun …

Romans 15:1 says, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.”

Father, thank you for tidbits of history.  Thank you for making me in such a way that those history things are exciting to me.  Oh, and I have no idea where any of them may be today, but would you give a special sense of your presence to those kids who grew up there?  Thanks.  Amen.

Friday, July 15, 2016

July 15 – “Read”

So what good books have you read lately?  Chris is my hero when it comes to consistently being a reader.  She always a book of some kind in her possession, even when we are watching TV.  In fact that’s how I know if she thinks a show is good or not – if she puts the book aside and actually watches it.  She is the kind of person who has favorites that she reads and re-reads over and over and over again.  I think she has read the Harry Potter series 20 or 30 times.  Not just one book.  The whole series.  Same goes with The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  And don’t even ask about The Chronicles of Narnia.  I think she surpassed 30 times many years ago (Okay.  Okay.  I confess.  I have read those a few times myself.  In fact, I might just pull down that set for one more read-through.  Unless Chris gets to it before me).  We just watched the last movie in the Divergent series on DVD.  That was one we missed in theaters.  Of course we had to watch the first two before the new one, just to get our bearings.  And all the while Chris was making her inevitable comment: “It didn’t happen that way in the book.”  After one of her tirades I finally asked her what did happen in the book.  She grinned slyly at me and said, “Go read it yourself.”  I should have known that one was coming. 

So where am I going with my own reading?  Well, not counting the Bible and the obvious stuff I read as I prepare for teachings every week, I do have one book on my desk at the moment called Walking With The Angels by Calvin Miller.  It’s kind of like Screwtape Letters in reverse.  The characters are angels instead of demons.  I’m looking forward to that one.  Calvin Miller is one of my favorite authors.  I just finished the second book in the A.D. series by Ted Dekker.  The first was A.D. 30.  This one was A.D. 33.  They are all about some nomads who meet Jesus and become his followers.  Historical fiction by another of my favorite authors.  Good stuff.  I’ll have to confess to a few others we have read.  The Hunger Games series was a favorite.  I even enjoyed the movies on that one.  Didn’t particularly the subject matter, but then, I think that was the point.  And another one that I thoroughly enjoyed and just finished (again) a week or so ago is called The Looking Glass Wars.  Very well done story about what really happened in Wonderland.  It was not the silly fairy tale made up by an author who took more than creative license with stories told him by a young adopted girl who claimed to be from there.  Oh, no.  Wonderland was a violent place.  Not so much for children, this series.  Fascinating for adults who remember the fairy tale story, though.

Well, there is my 32 line book reviews post for today.  Go.  Read.  Something.

Romans 14:19 says, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

Father, thank you for books and tales and wonders and imaginations.  Amen.