Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August 31 – “A foot and a half”

Yesterday I mowed the grass while Chris did quilting.  That was after she made a trip to the quilt shop.  She is finishing up a quilt she has been working on for some time and was putting the finishing touches on it.  She even asked for my opinion.  She had added an extra strip of material on two of the sides, and she wondered what I thought about adding that same strip on the other two sides.  I studied it for a moment or two, and responded that I thought it would look great as long as she was OK with adding another foot and a half.  She stopped me, ever so sweetly, and said, “Oh no, it’s not.  It’s only 18 inches.”  (Think about it).  I love my wife … and her indomitable math skills.  We laughed pretty hard about that one as I spent the rest of the afternoon dodging her elbow jabs. 

Sears was an hour late to fix our ice machine.  When he finally arrived I guess he was tired.  He sprawled out on the floor and waited for the machine to come on.  I thought he had fallen asleep at one point.  Finally he decided it needs a new compressor.  And a new evaporator.  He handed me a repair estimate.  Almost twelve hundred dollars.  And on top of that, the repair and new parts would only be warranted for 90 days.  If we add just a few hundred more dollars to that we could get a brand new machine with a five years warranty.  Guess we’ll have to wait on that one.  Just don’t have an extra $1500 floating around right now. 

Cailyn came over for a sort of surprise visit.  Her Dad was on shift and her Mom was called in to work overtime.  That meant we picked her up after school and she hung out with us until 7:30 or so when her Mom got off work.  She was really wound up (That would be Cailyn, not her Mom).  One would think she had been sitting at a desk all day …

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Father, thank you for precise measurements and incalculable love.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August 30 – “The Word Guy”

Nothing but a few errands were on the docket for yesterday.  Randall’s Pharmacy called to let me know a prescription was ready.  I had completely forgotten that I had called it in.  I guess that’s a good thing, right?  I must not have needed it that badly.  We also grabbed some stamps at the customer service desk there.  Well, we paid for them before we grabbed them, so it wasn’t really “grabbing.” 

From there we swung into WalMart.  Is that right?  “Swung”?  Or would it be “swang”?  That second one had one of those squiggly red lines appear under it.  Doesn’t that mean that whoever created Microsoft Word – The Word Guy - votes for “swung”?  I’m going with the first one. 

We followed my agenda first.  Not that I always have one, but Chris always waits to see which direction I turn with the cart.  If I have no agenda, I stop at the crossroads and let her go first.  Great non-verbal communication technique, don’t you think?  Well, this time I wanted to see if they had any horseshoes.  I’ve been keeping my eyes pealed (Wait.  There’s another one.  “Pealed” or “peeled”?  This one got a blue squiggly line.  That means they are both real words, but the all-knowing Word Guy isn’t sure which one you mean to use.  Well, Word Guy, I don’t know which one to use, either.  Maybe one of our English masters will let us know) for a replacement set of horseshoes.  My old set still has the shoes, but the iron stakes have gone missing.  No luck at WalMart, though.  I think that’s an Academy purchase.  East of 61st Street.  Sigh. 

They did have a movie for us to watch (The prequel to Snow White and the Huntsman), and of course milk and cookies for home group and Cheetos.  And Chris found a new journal for taking notes on sermons and Bible studies.  She has a unique style that she has used for many years.  Opening her journal from the front reveals dated note-taking.  But if you open the same book from the back you will find her dated prayer lists.  When they meet in the middle, it’s time for a new book.  She also got a new, bigger notebook for her quilting scrapbook.  She keeps a sample of all the material she uses as well as photos of the quilt and of the person she made the quilt for.  Quite the fascinating little history of her accomplishments.  I must say, I’m proud of her.  Talented lady.

1 Corinthians 13:2 says, “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

Father, thank you for words.  They can sure be fun.  And thank you for that talented lady you gave to me.  Amen.

Monday, August 29, 2016

August 29 – “Tish Richardson and The Promise”

August 29 – “Tish Richardson and The Promise”

A very special lady died the other day.  She had already fought through open heart surgery and breast cancer with the same mix of Mom-like strength and elegant grace that she lived her whole life.  And yes, I said elegant.  Tish always tried to come across as salt-of-the-earth, and she occasionally pulled it off.  But when you have the air of regality that she had, it’s just hard to hide it. 

Now all of us have seasons of life.  I understand that.  I knew Tish when I was the youth pastor at Langwood Baptist church way back when you had to write a “19” in front of the century and a “70” in front of the year.  Way back when Cyndi was Cindy and Traci was Tracy (Don’t get me wrong.  Chico and Tish might have been the ones to switch those letter around, but I only knew one way to spell girls’ names back then).  Long before Mark and Curtis came along and swept them off their feet (Unless it was the other way around.  That was another era, not mine). 

School was out and the dorms were closed, so I had no place to stay for the three summer months.  I would have to move back to Galveston to stay with my parents and give up my ministry at Langwood.  And into that milieu came exploding a totally unexpected offer from Tish and Chico.  Would I like to move in with them for the summer so I could continue my work at the church?  Wow.  I knew Tish back then as one of the ladies who periodically gave me “that look” when I did something goofy with the teenagers.  You know, the one that said, “Am I really going to trust my daughters around this wacko?”  Of course she really couldn’t say anything because Chico was inevitably first in line to try the goofiness.

So, suddenly I had two little sisters when I had only known brothers before.  One of them gave up her bedroom (I’m still not sure which one that was.  They both claimed to have made that ultimate sacrifice for a teenage girl.  And I really do appreciate it, Sis.  Both of you.).  And once again I had another surrogate Mom and Dad.  For some reason God had a way of providing me with those when I was a young college pup.  He knew what I needed.  Chico was great fun to talk to and to go with to scary movies that no one else wanted to go to (And there was no way he would take his girls.  And Tish wouldn’t go, either.  OK.  I know what you’re wondering.  That was back when the movie The Exorcist came out.  We actually prayed around the dining room table before we went to that movie).  Tish was the consummate hostess.  She made sure I ate and had a place to sleep.  That’s pretty much all a college boy needed, right?  They didn’t have any sons, but somehow Tish was there with just what I needed.  Tish just knew.  But there was one thing … Tish didn’t take any flack.  Joking around was one thing, but it wasn’t hard to know when the limit had been reached.  She would lean back in her chair and put on “that look” – the one where she kept just the hint of a smile on her lips but  all smiling was gone from her eyes.  I have tried to duplicate that look many times.  Never could quite get the hang of it.  But I bet her grandchildren have seen it in the eyes of their own mothers. 

That was the summer that I finally got engaged to Chris.  I hid the ring for two months in my file cabinet.  But no one knew about it except me and my Dad.  The plan was to give it to her on her birthday.  You know, kill two birds with one stone.  That didn’t really work out, but I did eventually ask, and she did say yes, just in case you were wondering.  But here’s the thing.  Early on that summer Tish called me over to her and looked at me.  Again with the looks, right?  And out of the blue she made me promise to tell her when I proposed to Chris, no matter what time it was.  How did she do that?  She never even met my Dad.  I didn’t tell anyone.  But Tish just knew. 

Sure enough, later on that summer I proposed to Chris after an Astros game (I’m really romantic, right?).  But here’s the thing.  I really like the Astros.  I had planned this for months.  But the game was getting pretty long.  They were playing the Dodgers, and they were doing well.  In fact the score was tied.  But I had a ring in my pocket and a promise in the back of my mind.  We left in the eighth inning, and I told Chris we could listen to the rest of the game on the radio.  Except when we got to the car someone had snapped off my radio antenna.  I was frustrated and a bit angry.  But I had a ring in my pocket and a promise in the back of my mind.  I finally got the deed done.  Do you know how hard it is to concentrate on a romantic proposal with Tish Richardson whispering in your ear, “You better come tell me, no matter what time it is”? 

We called our parents to let them know.  And by then it was getting kind of late.  "Well past eleven and nearly midnight" late.  The ring was no longer in my pocket, but that promise was still in the back of my mind.  I told Chris to hop in the car.  We had someplace to go.  She was stunned enough by the ring that she only offered a token, “But it’s so late,” and we headed over to fulfill – that’s right – the promise in the back of my mind.  We rang the doorbell, and Tish and Chico met us in their robes.  The door opened and Tish had yet another of her “looks” on.  This one was the huge grin.  And out from behind that grin, before I could say a word, came Tish’s loud comment, “So let me see the ring.”  Tish knew. 

You know, I’m fairly certain that as Tish walked up to Jesus the other day, she had that ever-present Tish-smirk on her face.  And she no doubt grinned at the Lord and said, “I told them it would be this good.”

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

Father, thank you for the life Tish lived and the influence she had on so many people.  Thank you for welcoming her with open arms.  I know that makes her truly happy.  Amen.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

August 28 – “Three Hats”

There were three distinctly different segments of my day yesterday.  Talk about wearing three different hats.  Husband.  Pastor.  Granddad. 

The Husband Hat came first.  Chris asked if I wanted to go to a winding-down estate sale.  Everything was 75% off and they were opening the garage stuff up for the first time.  Well, this was the home of that lady that Chris knew from Wednesday Club, so I knew she really wanted to go.  And estate sales and garage sales are always lots of fun, as long as you’re not looking for anything in particular.  So off we went.  And as we expected, there was really not much left.  We did come away with some minor treasures, though.  Chris picked up a couple of baskets and an old brass bell.  The bell needs to be cleaned up and shined up, but that in itself will be fun.  I even got into the act this time.  I picked up a little wooden hand-carved dog.  Very whimsical.  Maybe I can copy it someday. 

Later on, in the afternoon, I received a text from a Seasider asking if I would touch base with a family in the church neighborhood.  The lady is in the last stages of leukemia, and they were wanting to talk to a pastor.  I put that hat on and drove over to their house meet with them.  Very nice couple.  And in their time of grief, extremely open to the gospel.  All four of them prayed to receive Jesus, so they were happy to have assurance of their future spiritually.  I led a short time of prayer and dedication after that, and anointed her with a bit of oil as we prayed for her.  I pray that God will continue to give them peace as they walk through a really tough time.

And then last night we had Cailyn over to spend the night.  It’s been a while since she has stayed with us, so it was really good to hang out with her.  She and I were in the bed last night after family worship and reading a story or two.  She was trying to wind down and get to sleep when she asked, “DadDad, will you tell me a story of what it was like when you were a little boy?”  Before I could begin she added, “Tell me what games you played.”  Wow.  What games did we play WAY BACK then?  I managed to come up with such classics as “First One Under” and “Hope I Don’t Meet the Ghost Tonight” and “Hide and Seek.”  The one that grabbed her attention, though, was “Kick the Can.”  I think she may want some more info on the rules to that one.  She wanted to know who my friends were back then and what were their names.  Were there any girls?  What trips did you take?  Obviously, it was all a ploy to stay awake, but after all, she was at Nani and DadDad’s house.  She didn’t last too long, though.  My monotone answers and occasional yawns were enough to “help” her drop off. 

1 Corinthians 13:1 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Father, thank you for Chris.  She inspires me.  Thank you for opportunities to represent you.  They humble me.  Thank you for Cailyn.  She amazes me.  Amen.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

August 27 – “Zumba hunter captured”

Well I guess you could say I finally got into a little bit of excitement yesterday.  The day started when Chris left for a dentist appointment and I went to the monthly Cops and Clergy breakfast.  I saw a Hitchcock officer who went to school with my big brother and said hi to him.  And I met the assistant chaplain of the Texas City Police Department.  Really nice guy.  But I had no sooner sipped my first taste of coffee than my phone went off with a text.  One of our Seasiders was getting ready to have surgery on her toe.

OK.  Quick back story there.  She teaches one of those Zumba classes.  One day she was practicing her Zumba moves at home.  When she slid her foot across the carpet, that big toe discovered an errant sewing needle lurking amid the threads.  It proceeded to embed itself into the bone of her foot and, to make matters worse, break off.  The minor emergency clinics were all closed, so she made her way to the emergency room.  Now from this point on I get a little fuzzy on the timeline and details, but it sounds like there was a series of unfortunate events.  Apparently the medical staff was fine.  But somewhere in there she was told by the office staff that before they would do the surgery required to remove the needle, she would have pay her entire medical deductible, an amount they did not have access to.  No payment plan was available since the surgery wasn’t considered an emergency.  They were told to return when they did have it, and the surgery would be scheduled at that time.  She decided to wait it out.  Also somewhere in there she was told by an ER resident that he would order a tetanus shot and send her home.  She left the ER around 3 in the morning and didn’t realize until she got home that she never received the shot.  After an hour or two of sleep she called the ER back around 8 to see if she could come back in and get the shot.  She was told she could, but would have to pay the ER visit fee as well as a doctor fee again.  Again, not happening.  So how did she the surgery scheduled?  As usual, it’s who you know.  Someone she works with knows a nursing administrator who greased some wheels, and suddenly they were treated like royalty.

So yesterday at the surgery, after they wheeled her away, her husband and I went to look for a place to eat.  A guy with a hospital nametag offered to help us, and ended up escorting us to the in-house Subway.  Along the way we chatted.  He said he was “One of the hospital administrators.”  He asked why we were there, so we told him the Reader’s Digest version of the surgery.  His eyes immediately arched.  He cocked his head to the side just a bit, like a dog trying to figure out a strange sound.  And then  he said, “I know your case.”  Apparently all the administrators now knew the case.  And he assured us they would be all over the situation.  Not sure what “all over the situation” actually meant to him, but the young couple was happy to have to the surgery completed and that needle taken out.  

Oh, any by the way, the surgery went well.  The surgeon couldn’t give her back the needle, though.  It was considered a “potential weapon,” so I guess it had to go into evidence lock-up.  Can’t be too careful with  those Zumba-hunting Nasty Native Needles.  Gotta capture ‘em and keep ‘em locked up.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 says, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

Father, help Heather heal quickly from her surgery.  Amen

Friday, August 26, 2016

August 26 – “Looking for excitement…”

I suppose I should be quite grateful as I glance back through the last few days of blog posts.  They really have been quite boring, haven’t they?  Medical issues.  Babysitting tales.  Walking woes.  Ho hum.  I understand.  I’ll try to start doing some more exciting things … well, things that don’t require running. 

Yesterday began with staff meeting.  Neither of us had anything earth-shattering to discuss, but our prayer time together has already become really important to me.  Jim did want a breakdown of my take on the whole hurricane entering the Gulf scenario.  When should he leave?  What should he take?  The typical questions.  I told him he was always invited to come over to our house behind the seawall for the smaller tropical storms.  Oh, and he had never heard the suggestion to take along a recent utility bill to prove you really do have property on the island when you try to get back after a big storm.  He did know about the insurance policies and the like.  Why was it an issue?  Well, for those of you Inlanders, there is a potential for a storm entering the Gulf soon.  We have our eyes on the tropics here in Galveston.  Mid-August through early October are really our biggest threat times.  In fact, Chris just showed me the latest view of the Gulf.  Another wave of low pressure has developed just off the Texas coast.  That would explain all the rain we’re having right now.  It could also provide the excitement I was mentioning earlier.  Not exactly the kind I was wanting …

After that meeting I stopped by to check on one of the widows there in Jamaica Beach.  Someone who used to know her and now lives in Pennsylvania had called the church and was worried about her health and safety.  She was doing OK, though.  She is having some problems, but her son lives nearby, so she is being watched over by family.  When her Pennsylvania friend calls back, I’ll let him know.

On my way back to the house I noticed a fire call had come in right on one of the streets I had to pass.  Sure enough, the truck was parked on the road, so I pulled in behind it to say hello to the guys.  They were finishing up the call for a small electrical fire inside a wall.  I talked with the guys who were already back in the truck.  Mainly about families and new station assignments.  One’s wife is pregnant and due to deliver in November.  Another has a four-footed baby he cares for.  Another was excited to start on his new station assignment.  They asked about Chris and Nathan.  This is the part of the job I really enjoy – just getting to know these guys and getting a glimpse of their lives away from the job.  Helps me know how to pray for them.  And who doesn’t think hanging out in a fire truck is pretty cool, too?

1 Corinthians 12:7 says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”

Father, watch over those firefighters as the carry out their tasks and as they live out their lives at home.  Take care of their families while they are on shift.  Amen.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

August 25 – “One more day”

Well, guess what Chris made me do yesterday morning?  Walk.  Not just to the fridge and back to the couch.  Not even from my desk to the dining room table.  Nope.  We walked for two miles around the neighborhood.  Took us around 37 minutes.  I don’t think the Olympic record was in any danger from our efforts.  Eighteen and a half minute miles.  I’m not sure. But I think that’s just under the world record … for a 5K.  Sigh.  I guess she heard that neurosurgeon the other day.

Sad news.  Chris checked online and there is a contract pending on 40 Steps.  That’s the vacant lot next door that suddenly grew a real estate sign on it.  Chris is devastated.  She really wanted to buy it.  I did, too, but it was just not the right time for us to pull the trigger.  All we can hope for now is that either the contract won’t go through or that the new owners don’t try to build a house on stilts next door.  It’s our understanding that any house built there would have to be raised at least five feet.  That would put it over the last highest water level after the flood of Hurricane Ike.  One house in the entire neighborhood on stilts would sure look silly.  Oh, well. 

And today is water exercise day.  No extra-curricular walking.  Just leaping and twisting and kickboxing and rocking and punching and treading and … whew.  I’m tired already …

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 says, “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.”

Father, thank you for one more day.  I appreciate it.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

August 24 – “At your age …”

Well, I made it to my neurosurgeon appointment yesterday.  Not that I was looking for another chance to go under the knife, mind you.  I was just following what was, for some strange reason, proper procedure for entering into the HMO insurance we are now under.  I had to go see a neurosurgeon before I could establish with a neurologist.  That just seemed backwards to me.  in fact back in the good old days when we could still get a PPO and select our own doctors, that was how it was done. 

So the doc too a look at the CD I brought with my last lower back MRI.  He studied the lab result of the last myelogram I had.  He listened carefully to my take on where I was with the back pain (He might have been recounting what he had for lunch earlier in the day, but to me it seemed he really was listening).  He obviously knew my neurosurgeon in Houston, at least by reputation.  And finally he made his official declaration.  “Your lower back is a mess, really … a mess.”  OK.  I already knew that, but I suppose I was grateful for the confirmation.  I have not one, but two synovial cysts on my spine.  There are a few quite distinctive bulging discs.  And to top it all off, there is considerable stenosis.

All the “official” stuff out of the way, from his perch on the chair next to me, he said, “There are some things that you NEED to do and there are some things that you WANT to do.  At your age (Yep, he really went there) you need to make decisions based on those distinctions.  You NEED to get up and get dressed and take a shower – things like that.  You probably WANT to do other things.  Like maybe running.  You figure it’s the quickest way to burn calories.  You have to choose.  But don’t choose to run.  You can walk.  Ride a bike.  Just do it for longer.  The bottom line is, we don’t like to do any surgery on the lower back at you age until it is truly a matter of ‘I can’t do something I NEED to do.’  Once you start with the surgeries, one will work for a while until the next one is needed.  That one will work for not as long.  Until finally the surgery won’t work at all and we start to wonder if we shouldn’t have done anything in the first place.  Here is something you can watch for: As long as you can point your toes toward your face and stand on your tiptoes, you’ll be OK.  Your Mom lived to be almost 88 years old.  That means if the genes match up you have a good 25 years left.” 

We spent the last ten or fifteen minutes of the appointment talking about HBU (I was wearing a t-shirt).  His daughter works with Sharon Saunders there, an administrator we actually know.  And we talked about Baylor.  He went there.  So did his kids.  And football scandals are a lot easier to talk about than bad backs. 

And so I have mixed emotions.  My back is officially a total mess that I shouldn’t try to do anything about as long as I can live with it as it is.  That’s kind of depressing.  But at least somebody came out and said, “Don’t run.  Don’t have surgery right now.  Walk all you want.  Do as much as you can do.  Stop when it is evident that it will hurt.  Listen to your body.”  There is a kind of relief that comes from confirmation. 

Whew.  My back hurts.  Just kidding … sort of …  Let me start again.  Let’s go to DisneyWorld.  Now, that’s better.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”

Father, thank you for the confirmations about my back.  Thank you for the relief some of the medications have offered.  Thank you for a doctor that we really liked.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

August 23 – “creative additions”

Sunday evening we played grandparents again.  Kel and Christina needed a babysitter so they could go see that new Hit Patrol or Death Team or - no wait … it’s Suicide Squad, I think - movie.  Something about the bad guys being good guys so they can stay out of prison?  Obviously I haven’t seen it yet.  Honestly, I watched the Astros game most of the time they were here.  It was Sunday afternoon, after all.  I’m never worth much energy-wise on Sunday afternoon.  When the game ended I joined everyone outside for a while.  The kiddos were riding bikes and scooters and those big wheels and even our antique horsie that you push levers up and down with your feet to get it to move.  Of course they had made some “minor adjustments” to the boring old “ride your bike” thing.  The one that seemed to be the favorite was the “chunk the wiffle ball as hard as you can and see if you can hit the guy riding by on the bike or scooter” modification.  Sigh.  I remember that one with fondness.  Except we didn’t always use a wiffle ball.  I better not get into many more details than that.

Just as we were winding down the outside competitions, Mom and Dad showed up from their movie.  They loaded up the troops and headed back into Texas, and we turned on the tape of the Olympics we had made.  And by the time Brazil kicked in the penalty goal for the 83rd time, my allergies were off the charts.  I’m not sure what it was that blew in, other than the usual Fall stuff that destroys me until December or January can chill out the air enough to get rid of the ragweed.  Whatever it was, we didn’t get along.  At all.  And it was back again last night.  All I did this time was go outside to get the mail.  Less than an hour later, my eyes were watering and I was sneezing.  It always gets much worse at night.  Some days I can just take a Benadryl at bedtime and get some rest.  Other times it takes a while for that glorious conditioned air to get the pollen out of the inside.  Last night would prove to be one of the latter.  I think I finally managed to doze off around one.  On the plus side, though, I do get done a lot of crossword puzzles.  That should help my aging “senior intellect,” right?

Sunday evening we played grandparents again.  Oh, wait.  I already said that.  Guess the puzzles didn’t help that much after all …

1 Corinthians 10:32 says, “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God.”

Father, thanks for creative additions to classic outdoor games.  Thanks as well for protecting angels during said “additions.”  Amen.  

Monday, August 22, 2016

August 22 – “A good day”

We had a really good day at church yesterday.  Lots of people who were awake and seemed very into the teaching (Although there was that one guy who was having a hard time keeping his eyes open.  I let him sleep, though.  He looked like he had been out in the sun too long the day before, so he needed to catch up).  They treated it like a teaching, too, which always makes it easier for me.  They responded (out loud, even) to my questions, and added insights of their own to the Scripture.  We had two cute little girls and one little boy join up with praise team this week.  The boy was really getting after it on the drum.  And of course the girls were so cute that the cameras were out and rolling.  I love it when the little guys get to be a part of what’s happening with the rest of the family. 

After church the good things continued.  One of our resident fishermen, Bob, shared some of the fruits of his labors with us.  He included Jim in the accolades, but Jim would only attest to one of the specs.  Either way, between them they brought 40 speckled trout fillets and cooked them up for us to go along with all the other great food people brought to our Third Sunday Dinner on the Grounds celebration.  Good stuff.  Really good stuff. 

After lunch, which included, by the way, a birthday cake for Chris, the ministry team got together to do some planning for our October and December Ministry Focus Projects.  On October 15th we are doing a Fall Fun Festival at the church.  Just a day for the community to come over and enjoy some games and music and maybe a hot dog or two.  The December event is on the tenth.  Bethlehem Street Market has been around for a few years now, and it has become a community event as well.  It is a craft fair where folks are selling their homemade wares.  Can’t beat the timing for Christmas presents, either.  Sounds like both events are going to be “Don’t miss ‘em” specials, so put them on your calendar.

And to top it all off, it rained.  Really hard, and for long enough that the grass at our house got a good soaking.  Of course that meant a few people got a good soaking as well as they were leaving church.  I won’t mention any names, Jennifer, but  …

1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Father, thank you for the rain.  Please be the focus of both of those events as well.  Otherwise we’re wasting our time.  Amen.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

August 21 – “all the way …”

Ah, the joys of driving over to Nathan’s and picking up the lawn mower, yet again, and beginning that wonderful weekly task of mowing and edging and weedeating the yard.  Oh, and toss in there lopping some more branches off of trees. (Different tree this time.  And at least this one hadn’t fallen into the yard.  And we’re still not done with the whole tree branch thing.  Still have some branches over the driveway that get precariously close to the car whenever it rains, and two trees are putting out branches that are getting a little too close for comfort to our roof.  Can’t have that going on in the middle of hurricane season). 

I texted Nathan to see if we could come get the machine, and he answered a while later.  Come to find out he didn’t notice the text until he was headed out to … mow his yard.  He happily granted our request, though.  Just asked that we return it in the afternoon so he could continue with his own mowing plans.  Well, that just made me feel bad for encroaching upon his carefully laid morning schedule.  So after I toiled through our own yard (And it was exceptionally hot, by the way.  I’m pretty sure I picked up a little sunburn this time.  And I said “I” because I tried to convince Chris to stay inside and work on a quilt or something.  She did for a while, but she just couldn’t stand it.  She joined me and took care of the sweeping), we both returned the mower to Nathan.  Now when we arrived, he wasn’t home yet.  That’s not a real problem, because we know the garage code, but the opportunity was just too good to pass up.  We started mowing his yard as well.  And as we did, one of his neighbors – the really old guy across the street - came outside, got in his car, backed out of his driveway and “all the way” down - at least two house lengths - to where we were working.  He was just worried that Nathan was sick or hurt or something.  Why else would he have two old geezers out mowing his grass?  Once he was satisfied that all was well, he drove “all the way” back over to his house and parked his car again.  So much for our attempt to keep the project a secret.  Nathan called as soon as he got home wanting to know if it was us who mowed the grass.  Oh, well.  At least I had a chance to tell him that I forgot to empty the grass catcher.  But isn’t it great to have concerned neighbors? 

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 says, “’Everything is permissible’-but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’-but not everything is constructive.  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”

Father, thank you for concerned neighbors who keep a watch over each other, especially when one of the “each other’s” is my son and his family.  Amen.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

August 20 – “Happy birthday, Mom”

Yep.  Today is my Mom’s birthday.  Wonder how they handle such things up in heaven.  Guess they don’t have to accentuate one particular day since every day is so awesome.  And even if they did, it probably wouldn’t be the anniversary of entry into the sinful world.  More likely the day she achieved her boarding pass to heaven.  Or perhaps the day she got there.  Either way, it’s a good time for her.  A really good time. 

We went to a funeral in Houston yesterday.  we were pretty sure how to get there, but we entered the address in the new app Kel loaded on my phone.  It’s called Waze.  The idea is that drivers in real time can send in updates on things like road conditions and police presence.  The reports are then immediately transferred to the app.  Otherwise it is pretty much the same as Google Maps.  It does have one fun extra on it though.  It measures how fast you are driving based on GPS pings.  It also knows the speed limit.  So if you go over, at first it just shows a small red circle with the posted speed limit in it.  If you get up to five miles over, though, that red circle suddenly gets bigger, like it’s jumping out at you to get your attention.  It was great fun to be the navigator and be able to tell Chris when she was going too fast.  I don’t think she enjoyed it as much as I did.  The problem came when the device took us to what it determined to be the address in question.  Not the right place at all.  We were on the feeder street of a freeway in Houston that could only be accessed from the rear, and the address was an old dilapidated building.  Not exactly First Baptist Church.  I quickly entered in “First Baptist Church” instead of the address, and it immediately re-routed us to the right place.  Almost as if it was saying, “Oh. THAT address.” Chris was not at all impressed and wanted the Google Maps Siri voice back. 

Last night we went to Gringos.  That’s a local Mexican food restaurant that is Chris’ favorite.  Kel and his family treated us for her birthday, so it was another “Happy birthday, Mom” occasion.  They were waiting outside for us when we pulled up.  Noa spotted us right away, and tried to run to give us s hug.  Not a good idea in a restaurant parking lot.  Fortunately Daddy saw her and a well-placed arm tackle stopped her in time.  Oh, we still got our hugs.  Just in a little safer place.  The food was pretty good.  Except for my queso covered tostada.  It was cold.  I mean like cold as if it had been in the refrigerator.  Our waiter graciously reported it, and the chef came out with a replacement that was clearly steaming.  He leaned down to me and quietly said, “I stuck my finger on top of this one and it burned, so it should be hot enough.”  I like that guy.  The staff later came out and sang their little birthday song to Chris.  I have no idea what the words were, but everybody clapped along, so I did too.  They even gave her a hugs bucket of their ice cream.  Well, actually the bucket was a crispy tostada covered in cinnamon.  Chris shared. 

1 Corinthians 10:17 says, “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”

Father, thank you for cinnamon buckets filled with ice cream and family to share it with.  Amen.

Friday, August 19, 2016

August 19 – “New digs”

I had another big staff meeting yesterday with Jim from church.  We have started getting together on Thursday mornings for prayer mainly.  We also can touch base about stuff going on around the church.  I’m going to enjoy working with this guy.  He has a real heart for ministry.  On my way home I stopped by fire station number seven in Pirates Beach.  I haven’t been by there since they moved back into their newly renovated digs.  It was done quite nicely.  First thing I noticed was how they opened up the kitchen area into the TV room.  It changed the whole feel of the place.  The oddest thing was the placement of a separate captain’s quarters clear on the other side of the bay from everyone else.  And the main radio is located in there as well.  Seems like that would go counter to the family feel of the department in the other areas.  But I guess there are reasons behind it.  It was very nicely done, though.  There are still a few things that are not completed.  Some workmen were there working on the garage doors in the bay.  They also have not begun yet on a little exercise room.  I sure hope the guys enjoy the new space.  After all, they spend 24 out of every 72 hours of their lives there. 

While we got ready for home group (you know, floor vacuuming, last-minute read-through of notes, and the like) we watched the U.S. women’s volleyball game.  Hey, it’s Olympics season, you know.  They ended up losing to Serbia, so they will play for the bronze medal tonight.  Go USA.  And while we are on the athletic side of things, the Astros continued their most recent meltdown.  This time it was the Orioles beating up on them 13-5.  Ouch.  Nevertheless … Go Astros.

We are headed up to Houston to a funeral in just a little while.  Teresa was a very sweet lady who used to come to Seaside.  She had cancer and handled it with great grace and characteristic sweetness.  Please pray for her husband Ben and the rest of their family.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Father, please be with Ben and his family as they walk through times without Teresa.  Thank you for her impact on them and on all those she touched.  Amen.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

August 18 – “Perfect evening”

I got to tag along on Chris’ birthday schedule for the most part yesterday.  I say, “for the most part” because a long few hours in there she drove up to the quilt shop in Dickinson.  She blessed me by saying I could stay home and watch the Astros game.  (A gift almost as special as the Harry Potter book book/screenplay she got me for my birthday.  I have already read it.  Can’t comment, though, until Chris reads it).  Sweet lady.  When she left I did some more work and then I went and bought her some roses.  Put them in a vase and just left them on the counter.  Several hours after she got home and got started quilting again and then took a break, she finally noticed the flowers.  I told her they had been there ever since she woke up that morning.  For some reason she didn’t believe me.  Something about her having cleaned off that very counter some hours earlier.  Oh, well.  I fessed up, and she seemed happy to have them anyway.  Almost as happy as when she opened up the Kreg Jig set I gave her.  After supper I grabbed a leftover piece of the birthday cake I received Sunday at church, stuffed some of the candles back in it, lit them (of course), and took it over to her while singing “Happy birthday to you.”  Didn’t trip or spill it in her lap or anything.  Just the two of us long-time love birds eating cake and watching the youngsters in the Olympics.  Perfect evening.

Oh, I got ahead of myself, didn’t I.  We also had a great lunch with Nathan and Cailyn.  They barbequed some chicken and sausage that was incredible.  He soaked it overnight in some stuff he had that made it taste really good.  He also had plenty of barbeque sauce on hand.  Also a plus.  And there were even presents involved.  I got a new fish-cleaning cutting board.  It will take the place of the old street sign I have been using.  And it is pretty massive, too.  Guess I’ll be forced to do some fishing so I can try it out.  I’m willing to make that sacrifice.  Chris got a yard flag.  I didn’t really know those were a “thing.”  Hers is a picture of Grandma’s house with the words, “Grandkids are loved here.”  That will certainly be an appropriate welcome to this house, although some might say one particular word should be replaced with “spoiled.”  I don’t see much difference, do you?  Tomorrow we get to go out to eat with Kel and Christina and their kids.  That will be Mexican food at Gringos, so Chris will be happy.  And everybody knows, when Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy.

1 Corinthians 9:25 says, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Father, thank you for perfect evenings with my best friend.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

August 17 – “Happy birthday, Chris!”

Yep.  Today is my lovely wife’s birthday.  Not saying how old she is.  Just that she is forever younger than me.  And prettier.  And way better at sewing/quilting.  Oh, and cooking.  She’s unbeatable in the kitchen.  And she likes to drive, so that means I rarely have to anymore.  That’s a real plus.  And she knows her medical stuff.  It’s always been great to be married to a nurse.  She reads a lot.  C.S. Lewis.  J.R.R. Tolkein.  Harry Potter.  That’s what she’s usually doing when I watch TV or a movie.  She stands out as a top-notch hostess, too.  Every week she welcomes our home group with cookies and a very … very clean house.  I don’t know how excited she was about it at first, but she has certainly become a consummate pastor’s wife.  Don’t know what I would do in that whole pastor-category without her.  And she handles drama and adversity with strength and character.  Oh, sometimes it’s greased with a few tears, but somehow they just seem to help in the whole process.  I don’t mind sharing a shoulder.  She has certainly loaned me her ear many times when I needed to talk something out.  Of course that was after she patiently waited for to come out of my cave …

I think Chris did a right decent job at raising our three boys, but you’d have to ask them about that one.  Or maybe look at how they turned out (A little more pressure that way).  She seems to have a pretty good relationship with her three daughters-in-law.  They can sure talk a lot when they all get together, anyway.  She can’t say “no” to the grandkids.  Well, wait a minute.  That would be me that can’t say no.  She always knows when to say no and when to turn them loose.  Suffice it to say that this lady is a true gift from God, not just to me, but to a lot of other folks as well. 

1 Corinthians 9:24 says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

Father, thank you for the gift you gave me 41 plus years ago.  You knew just what I needed, then and now.  Chris has sure earned her prize.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August 16 – “Again”

It rained.  But not the rain that falls gently from the skies and soaks quickly into the thirsty ground.  Oh, no.  This was the kind of rain that comes with lots of wind and noise and cascading torrents, yet when you look out the window you realize that the sun is shining but wet stuff is still pouring from the sky.

And then I went to the dentist.  I had a filling that partially fell out (eating that infamous WalMart fried chicken.  When will I ever learn?), and the dentist fixed it.  Now, I confess.  I was looking forward to milking that dentist trip all afternoon and well into the evening. And I did have a bit of a headache from holding my mouth open all that time.  I mean after all, going to the dentist is painful, right?  Well, unless it's Blair Jones in Mansfield, Texas, that is.  He is the master of no pain dentistry.  But in spite of my predisposition to expect plenty of pain, my new dentist here did a pretty good job, too.  But, hey, no one had to know that.  I could still go with the headache thing right?  At least that.  So I returned home, all set.

But did I mention that it rained?  Well, it rained.  And Chris came into my office before the numbness in my mouth even wore off and told me that we had a problem.  A problem with … the tree.  Same tree.  Same problem.  I went with her into the back yard, and sure enough, another huge limb had crashed into our fence.  Fortunately, we still had Nathan’s chain saw on a stick (Well, that’s a relative term.  I’m still not sure how that made me fortunate.  It’s presence meant that I had to actually use it).  So once again we began the arduous task of lopping off limbs and chopping them up into smaller pieces and hauling them to the street. 

This time we made another discovery.  As we cleared more and more of the branches, we realized that the telephone connection wire had popped loose from the house and was hanging down in the tree.  That would also be our internet connection, so I climbed back on the ladder and cut down some more.  And then I was able to see that the cable TV cable was also strung through the branches, just waiting for the proper gust of wind to rip it from the house as well.  And just above that was the entire electricity cable.  Needless to say, that tree got quite the scalping this time around.  And once again, I’m sure there is a life lesson hidden in this story somewhere, but I have to go to water exercise class right now.  Feel free to respond with poignant theological implications.

1 Corinthians 9:19 says, “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.”

Father, thank you for the rain.  Our grass is loving it.  Amen.

Monday, August 15, 2016

August 15 – “My birthday, 2016”

Here is my shotgun word of appreciation for all of the “Happy Birthday's” I received yesterday. I do wish I could say thank you in person to everyone.  That, however, would necessitate a trip from Colorado to Florida.

That is a copy of what I posted earlier on FaceBook.  As I have pondered it since then I have come to realize that the scope of my journey might be just a tad bit more involved.  Now bear with me for a moment.  I have to do some summarizing so that these comments may be forever embedded in blogging history for my children to peruse long after I am gone and realize that I really wasn’t such a bad dude after all.

Oh, my day was nice.  Someone brought a birthday cake to church, so we got to have a little party there.  After church we went to Salsa’s for lunch with some friends.  Then Chris hurried over to the fire department union hall for Cailyn’s Brownie advancement ceremony.  I settled in to watch some Astros baseball and have a piece of chocolate pie.  That is, until I got a text from Nathan informing me that Dad’s and Grandads were expected at the girl’s only Brownie thing after all.  Seems when we get old we no longer count as “boys.”    I was happy to go, though.  And back to back home runs by the BlueJays had nothing to do with my decision.  After the ceremony we came home and I finally got to settle into my chair.  We watched the Olympics instead of the Astros, though.  More USA victories that way.

As my gaze wandered between the tv screen and checking my birthday wishes I became more and more amazed at the wide array of people who consider me at least a  FaceBook-level friend.  I did a breakdown …

There were wishes from my Family, of course. 
And many folks from the different churches we have been associated with over the years:  Grace Episcopal in Galveston,  University Hills in Colorado, South Oaks in Arlington, Langwood in Houston, First Baptist in Galveston, and of course Seaside in Jamaica Beach. 
I also got to re-live some personal history.  I received good wishes from folks I knew in: Little League, Junior high football, Ball High friends, High school basketball, Church softball, College days, Seminary days, an old neighbor, and even a few of Mom’s friends. 
I appreciated the words from some of the other places that have provided me with different “hats” as well: The Galveston Fire Department is always special.  So is the Jamaica Beach Volunteer Fire Department.  I have a friend or two in the EMS Service as well.  The police department gets a nod in there, as does the Village of Jamaica Beach.  Oh, and there were many comments from folks I have met and befriended while coaching basketball.

But back to geography.  I think I have accumulated all the different places people “Happy Birthday’d” me from.  This would have to be my “Thank You Trip” itinerary:
Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Nebraska, Washington State, Alaska, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico, Virginia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Arkansas, Indiana, and South Carolina.  Now that’s a pretty involved tour of the U.S., don’t you think?  Well I have to add one more, just to make this trip interesting.  Thank you to AL and Krissy who wished me well from their home in Australia.  Chris … are you ready for a LONG plane ride? 

I got a big kick out of the monkey face, the ugly Christmas sweater photo (I WILL wear that thing this Christmas), and the Morgan Freeman face.  I even enjoyed the little bantering about that cat growing in a flower pot – from the Boyer family, of course.  I always knew cats were strange creatures.  I just never realized they grew in flower pots until yesterday.  Maybe if we sold flower pot lids …? 
The most interesting one has to go to a college-era friend.  He sent this: “Terevy ‘ aiteke ko nde ara mbotyre.” Apparently it means, “happy birthday to you, in your joyous occasion.”  He said it was in Guarani, or Spanish that is spoken in Paraguay.  He was a missionary there, I think. 
Of course I appreciated the ones that downplayed the extensive nature of my “career” here on earth.  Like “39?” and “Happy birthday, youngen.” 
Then there was “Happy birthday and I hope you don’t have to work too hard.”  Smart aleck.  He knew it was Sunday. 
And I loved the one from Danny, a guy I worked in youth ministry with in Denver. He is now an incredibly successful pastor in Virginia.  His words encouraged me more than he will know … “Thanks for teaching me some stuff.”  Spoken just like a youth pastor, wouldn’t you say?

I’ll close with some of the blessings people sent:
“Every day of the year, may you feel Jesus near.”  (Janet likes to rhyme)
“May your day be filled with all you love.”  (Actually this came from several people)
“May the cake be perfectly squished.”  (Sigh … Connie, Connie, Connie.  It will always be YOUR cake that is smashed)
May there be many more years that you share your joy among us and with your family.  (Special words from a good man.  Thanks, Ernest)
And my all-time favorite birthday blessing of 2016 – one that I hope to take action on real soon … “May your bait catch more fish or die trying.”  (Corbin, you hit, Brother.  Let’s go catch some specs).

I love you all!

Proverbs17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Father, please bless all these folks who wished blessing upon me.  Amen.