Friday, September 30, 2016

September 30 – “uku-update”

For all of you ukulele fans, here’s a quick update on my progress after two classes. I’m doing just fine on learning cords and getting from one cord to another.  That’s never really been a problem for me.  It just takes practice to get my fingers in the right spot.  My issues come in two other areas. 

First comes in playing melodies.  In other words picking one string at a time.  I get that it is just a matter of memorizing which finger on which fret and finding which string to pluck.  That I’m sure will come with time.  But I can’t ever find my place back on the paper when I have to look back and forth to find string and finger positions.  I noticed right away that I wasn’t the only one.  Our illustrious instructor lost probably 99% of the class when he tried to get us to play an actual song.  Of course it didn’t help that the song was by some guy named Beethoven. 

My second problem area is with what he calls strum patterns.  Now understand up front, this is why I took the class.  I have no idea when to strum down, or up, or down -  down – up, or down – up – down.  It’s just hard to keep up with all of that.  And then he expects us to actually sing, too.  Come on, now.  One or the other, please.  I’m afraid I might just be making up strum patterns as I go along.  Sadly, it is becoming increasingly apparent that I won’t be one of the stars of the show at our recital when class is over.  Ah, well, it is fun, though.  I’ll just keep learning cords and strumming away to my heart’s content, singing silently (or in certain cases, not so silently – read here “I’m a nut”) and no-doubt disturbing those around me.  In fact, Chris is awake now.  I think I’l go practice a little …

2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “We live by faith, not by sight.”

Father, thank you for music … no matter what it sounds like.  Amen.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September 29 – “And again …”

Well, the Beast had to be called into service once again yesterday.  Apparently someone from one of the groups staying in the retreat center was being helpful.  They flipped the newly installed switch allowing water to flow once again into the broken ice make mechanism.  It made one tray of ice before spewing its way into attention.  This time we discovered it when I went up with our bug guy Steve to do his treatment of the building.  I noticed a distinct odor in the air and upon investigation discovered the two refrigerators pulled away from the wall and all the fans running full tilt.  I thought that unusual, and I was worried that they had been left on since last week when we vacuumed up water before.  So I walked right in to turn them off.  And it didn’t take more than a few steps to recognize that unmistakable squishy sound as my sandal hit carpet.  Another leak. 

My first move was to the original offender.  I opened the freezer door and saw … nothing out of the ordinary.  Strange.  What else had gone wrong?  I returned to walking the property with the bug guy, but I knew I would be back shortly.  When he finished his rounds, I bade him farewell and turned my attention once again to The Leak.  Well, first I texted Jim to let him know where I would be.  It was once again time for staff meeting, and he would be arriving any minute.  Then I sent a quick text to Bob, the guy who installed the shut off valve last week.  Finally I called Chris just to let her know what was going on.  And while I was talking to her, Bob called me.  He couldn’t believe there was another leak.  By this time I was back upstairs.  I looked again inside the freezer and that’s when I discovered the few pieces of ice that had been completed.  I investigated further behind that fridge and then I saw the culprit.  The new valve was leaking, so I turned the water off again at the sink.  Our speculation scenario changed just a bit.  Maybe they turned it on, and when the water started spewing out onto the floor, they quickly turned it off again.  But in their haste they turned it a bit too far and loosened the nut.  The drip was enough to keep the floor saturated until we could arrive.  Thanks for that.  Bob said he would get it taken care of as soon as he could.

Jim and I spent another staff meeting humbled on the floor, vacuuming water.  Once the Beast and his wet vac were turned off (Thank you to Charlette for bringing it up to us), and we could hear ourselves again, we actually had a good time of sharing.  We prayed for the family of whoever was involved in the traffic accident police were working when I first drove in.  I found out later that a family member of a fire fighter was involved, so I will follow up on that later today.  I gotta say, that is not the way I ever intended to spend staff meeting once, much less two times.  I sure hope we’re done with leaks. 

2 Corinthians 5:1 says, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

Father, once again will you please be with Roger’s family as they deal with the situation.  Give them your peace and wisdom as they take care of all the details.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 28 – “A taste of unity”

I went to a meeting yesterday with a group of other pastors on the Island.  We met at the Galveston Urban Ministries building.  They have really done a lot of work bringing it up to a good condition so it can be used for things like this, as well as for their community programming.  There were at least 30 people there to hear from an outfit known as Christ Together.  In a nutshell, their purpose is to encourage local pastors to get together and develop strategies for reaching people for Jesus.  Gospel saturation based on relational unity. 

They have a four step process that they encourage pastors to take.  First, mobilize the people in their churches to engage the city in spiritual conversations.  Basically, give them permission to talk about Jesus at the water cooler, in the park, at their kids’ soccer games … wherever people are talking anyway.  Your relationship with Jesus and with the church is important to you, so why not talk about it?  Second, pastors are to encourage their people to mobilize for acts of service.  Identify at least one systemic problem in the city and work together to solve that problem.  The idea is that when people see the people of God unified toward solving a real problem, it will get their attention.  Third, pastors are encouraged to develop circles of accountability with each other.  Meet together for coffee or lunch and get to know one another.  Then progress to opening up with each other to share personal needs, hurts, and dreams, and pray together for each other.  Once that is achieved, pastors can begin to introduce the idea to their congregations for them to do the same.  Finally, pastors are encouraged to work together to start plant new churches in areas determined to be missing a gospel presence. 

The best thing about this group is that they don’t have a set “program” they are selling.  It is just a group of pastors who have been through the coming together in unity process and it worked for them in their area.  They don’t claim to have all the answers.  In fact they insist that the only way to discover what is right for Galveston is for the guys already committed to Galveston to draw their hearts together and figure it out.  I was encouraged by the gathering.  I look forward to getting together again in a meeting setting, but also to touching base on occasion with some of the other pastors who were there. 

John 17:22-23 says, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”

Father, thank you for the call to unity at that meeting.  Sounds eerily Scriptural to me.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 27 – “Greta the Ghost”

Well, yesterday was Monday again.  Last one in September of 2016, in fact.  Come Saturday we will officially be in October.  What does that mean here on a sandbar, barrier island off the coast of Texas?  One day closer to the end of hurricane season.  And of course there is a potential storm building and heading toward the Gulf as we speak.  There is also, however, a cold front of sorts barreling down on us from the North.  The cold front is good news on two fronts.  A bit of relief from our hot, muggy summer, for one.  Lows are supposed to be in the 60’s by the weekend.  Better search for our winter jackets.  Or at least a sweatshirt.  That is some cold weather for us Islanders.  The other good thing is that it tends to push the hurricanes harmlessly out into the Atlantic.  In these last days before our national election … I vote for that.

Nathan and April were both working yesterday, so we got to pick up Cailyn from school.  When we asked what she did that day, she had an interesting answer.  “We did that CPA thing in math.  We do it every six weeks.”  OK.  Umm.  “CPA thing”?  I know she’s in the gifted and talented class, but a CPA in  elementary school?  Every six weeks?  I’m impressed. 

She and I usually do a quick trip to the playground after school so she can just run and play for a while.  As we walked to the swings she shared another happening of the day that wasn’t so impressive.  Seems there were some stories going around about two ghosts haunting the school.  One, she explained was named Greta.  “She’s who the school was named after and some people hear her walking around the school.”  Thankfully I had an answer for that one.  As matter-of-factly as I could muster, I explained, “Greta can’t be a ghost here.  It’s impossible.”  She stopped dead in her tracks, looked at me, and asked, “She can’t?  Why?”  “Well,” I said, “That’s because Miss Greta was MeeMaw’s teacher when MeeMaw was a little girl.”  I know.  The logic is virtually non-existent, but the distraction was perfect.  She wanted to know what school, and how old was MeeMaw at the time.  Suddenly Greta the Ghost just wasn’t so mysterious anymore.  She was just another teacher, like the one she saw every day.  After pondering it for a moment or two, she threw some “logic” back at me, “You can ask MeeMaw about her when you get there.  And then I’ll ask you when I get there.”  Where is “there,” you might ask?  Well, she and I talk a lot about heaven.  The assumption is always that I’ll get there first.  See?  Makes perfect sense.

Now after we got home, and unbeknownst to Cailyn, I received a text from her Dad.  Her teacher had sent out a mass e-mail to all the parents of her class members telling them about the whole ghost thing, and explaining that she had done her best to quash it, because quite a few of the younger kids were getting genuinely frightened and it was quite a distraction to everyone.  She asked the parents for help in stressing to the kids to stop with the ghost talk, especially since she was going to be out and a sub would be there the next day.  I was impressed that she was staying on top of the issue. 

Now this second ghost she was not as quick to talk about.  She mentioned that this one’s name was Charlie, but I had to probe a little bit to get some more information about him.  That came later in the afternoon when we were outside playing catch and working on spelling words.  I brought it up, “So you said the kids were talking about that Greta ghost and some other ghost, too.  What was that one called?”  She was visibly frightened when we first started talking about it in those hushed, it’s kind of a secret tones.  “There’s this game, DadDad.  It’s called Charlie, Charlie.  See, Charlie’s a ghost, and the way to see if he is around is to use two pencils and if it points up, that means he’s there.”  This one was new to me, and it frankly sounded an awful lot like a pre-ouija board idea.  (Nathan looked it up online.  That’s exactly what it is).  I pressed gently, “Now that sounds kind of scary.  Did anybody get scared?”  “Lots of kids did,” she quickly answered.  “Did you?”  I wondered.  She perked up at the permission to actually say it to someone safe.  Her voice rose and she almost shouted (which is her “normal” tone of voice after school when she is playing), “Yes.  I was scared.”  She continued on and on this time about what the “game” was and how her “teacher told us to stop playing it and she was going to send an e-mail to all the parents to have them tell us to stop playing it ‘cause people were getting scared.”  Sounded to me like she got the message.  I told her that her teacher was right.  It’s never a good thing when people are really scared.  We talked a lot about her being a helper to the substitute even when it seemed like she was being mean. 

And strangely enough, our family worship Bible story last night was on the Good Samaritan.  And Cailyn, of her own accord, made the connection and application of the story to her own circumstance.  That guy helped even when the other guy hated him.  That’s like when I have a substitute.  I should help her.”  Exactly. 

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.”

Father, would you do some Holy Spirit invading over at Cailyn’s school today?  Drive out that spirit of fear so they can concentrate on learning.  And help Cailyn with her “Good Samaritan-izing.”  Amen.

Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26 – “Surprise guests”

We had some surprise guests here at the Vaughan abode on Saturday evening.  I received a text early in the day from Corbin, the son of some of our dearest friends in Arlington, and a pretty good friend himself.  He’s been a fishing buddy of mine in the past.  Seems a few friends and himself had been camping at Matagorda Bay and the weather had made them essentially miserable.  Could have told him that.  Camping is just inherently evil as far as I’m concerned.  He wondered if he could bring three of his friends over to stay with us for the night and attend church with us the next morning.  One of the friends was Brittany (or however she spells it.  I’ve seen that name spelled about a hundred different ways, so sorry if I missed it).  She has been to our before, too.  In fact she was among those who came down after Hurricane Ike to help us rebuild.  As I recall, she nailed up some of the sheetrock that adorns our house today.  Of course we welcomed them.

They arrived shortly before we had to leave for that wedding at the museum.  We left them at the house so they could get cleaned up (did I mention that camping is evil?  It took them a while to get recuperated from immersing themselves in such nastiness).  When we got home they had ordered a pizza and were watching Jaws on Netflix.  They figured, “Hey. We’re on an island.  What better show to watch.”  The scene where the guy is chumming and the shark sticks his head out of the water came on.  Instinctively, I mumbled just loud enough for everyone to hear, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”  Both of the girls turned to me and said, “You know, we’ve never seen this movie.”  Imagine.  Never seen such an iconic classic as Jaws.  What’s this younger generation coming to?  About that time the character on the screen said the line, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”  They looked at me.  I raised my hand said, “What can I say?  I’ve seen it.” 

We spent well into the evening sitting around the table, munching on pizza and sharing fun stories.  Jaws and some urging from Corbin forced me to tell my two fishing stories that involve sharks (Well, one is more about a foolish tourist picking up a shark with his hand only centimeters from the shark’s business end.  The other I guess is more about the two dolphins who rescued me from certain doom at the hands of a rather large shark off the second sand bar).  They were very interested in our experiences during and after Hurricane Ike.  Either that or they were just overly tired from their brush with evil and were being nice to their overly enthusiastic hosts.  I showed them the Ike collage presentation and the two videos we have saved on the computer (Yes, we have had that request before).  We regaled them late into the evening with tales of mucking and food lines and rebuilding. 

They also roamed the house looking at our little treasures.  Things that fascinated them: The photo of my Dad with the huge grouper he caught, the catfish bones in the shape of a crucifix, my Louisville Slugger walking cane, the porthole off the Cavalier, the towel rack in the bathroom that is a handle bar from a ship.  Even our little shampoo bottle from our Disney vacation caught their attention (And why shouldn’t it?  It has Mickey Mouse ears on the cap).  I guess we do have some truly museum-quality stuff around here, don’t we?  Anybody want to do a wedding on our deck?

2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Father, thank you for those four youngsters we hosted the other night.  Help them to have a heart for you.  Amen.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

September 25 – “Wedding at a Museum?”

Last night I officiated for a wedding at the Bryan Museum.  Well, it wasn’t exactly inside the museum.  They have a beautiful gazebo area outside that is covered with vines, so it’s actually a living niche in the garden of the museum grounds.  They have Christmas lights strung on several of the really big oak trees, and when those are turned on, they provide an extra attraction.  Makes for a gorgeous setting.  Also for a hot one.  No breeze was able to fight its way through the branches.  Chris said the spectators were actually getting a nice breeze.  Me and the bride and groom sure weren’t.  But so much for the negative.  Other than having to wear a coat and tie in the muggy heat, everything was really nice. 

The reception was held in a huge glass building behind the museum.  Yep.  All glass.  It had tinted windows so you couldn’t see in from the outside but you could see out from the inside.  And inside was nothing short of breathtaking.  Huge chandeliers hung from the ceiling.  Tables were set around a dance floor area, with a bar at one end.  The bar itself was lit with an internal light giving it an eerie effect.  The event was catered by the San Luis Hotel, so the food was elegant (can food be elegant?).  Some kind of fish, a cut of beef or breaded chicken were the entrĂ©e choices.  The fish was not bad.  I tasted the chicken, too.  Certainly passable for wedding grub.  They also served rice and green beans (the long, skinny fresh kind) as well as asparagus tips (I think that’s what they were.  I liked them).  Oh, and those little potatoes that look like they dug them up way too soon.  All the guests were dressed to the hilt.  Chris said she felt way underdressed.  She was beautiful, of course.  We didn’t know anybody there except the wedding coordinator from the San Luis who had given them my name.  As we made our way to the reception, I did overhear one guy in the middle of a story say, “Well, when I bought the Flagship …”  The Flagship was the hotel over the water that was destroyed in Hurricane Ike.  It was purchased and razed and turned into the Galveston Pleasure Pier, a park on the water with a restaurant, a roller coaster and other rides.  If that was his reference, then I know who he was.  He also owns much of Galveston’s beachfront property, including the San Luis Hotel, not to mention his casinos in Las Vegas.  Fairly wealthy guy.  Never met him, though.  And he could have been talking about something else, I suppose. 

We are not all that comfortable hob-knobbing with people in long gowns and hot suits (Not “good-looking.”  I mean actually hot).  So after dinner we talked to the bride and groom for a bit and excused ourselves to head home. 

2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Father, invade the lives of that bride and groom and their family.  Walk with them into their new relationship.  Amen.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

September 24 – “The Beast vs The Leak”

We got a phone call the other day from the guy who takes care of our landscaping at church.  He was out mowing when he noticed water dripping on his head.  Looking up he saw what was clearly a water leak coming from somewhere in the retreat center.  He thought someone should go by and check on it.  Great call there, there Silva. 

As it happened, Worship Pastor Jim was actually on site, eyes on the ground, when I got the call.  He was there to meet the bee guy.  Seems we have a major infestation of bees in the underside of the Retreat Center.  His estimate was up to 65,000 of the little critters.  It’s going to cost us $350 to have him remove them.  Ouch.  But we don’t want to just kill them.  And you have to be licensed now to do it legally.  Got to be above board.  He’s coming back next week to do the deed.

So with Jim already there, he went upstairs to check on the leak.  Sure enough, the kitchen was covered in an inch of water.  Seepage extended to the hall and one bunk room.  He opened the refrigerator and saw water pouring into the freezer section.  An inch or two of ice already covered the top shelf.  Water was dripping rapidly into the lower levels and out onto the floor.  What a mess.

He got the water turned off.  Good first move, Jim.  He called me to give me an update, and he headed home to get his wet vac.  We grabbed ours as well, and he and I and Chris and Charlette spent the afternoon on our hands and knees soaking up water.  Thankfully we had access to The Beast.  The very large wet vac that the church has was nothing short of amazing.  It sucked up more water than we could imagine.  Seriously, the suction was so powerful I had to get on my knees to even move it.  We emptied our little one three times.  Jim emptied his medium sized one a time or two as well.  The beast had to be emptied twice.  There was a lot of water in that room. 

With all three machines going and the fourth person doing whatever cleaning they could, we finally managed to get The Leak under control.  We left the windows open and fans going, and Jim turned them off when he returned for praise team rehearsal later on.  He also sprayed a few cans of Lysol to try to fight back the smell.  Bob is going to install a separate shut-off valve for that refrigerator so the water can get turned back on. 

It was hard work, but we really enjoyed the time spent with Jim and Charlette.  They are a great couple.  Lots of fun to be around.  Get to know them when you can. 

2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

Father, thanks for Jim and Charlette and Bob.  Oh, and thank you for The Beast.  Amen.

Friday, September 23, 2016

September 23 – “ookoo laylee”

I went to my very first ukulele class yesterday.  Now I know many of you have heard my staggering renditions of such camp favorites as “I’m an Acorn.”  Actually that’s really the only song I ever really played on my old ukes before Hurricane Ike swept them away into the nasty realms of wet wood and mold.  I did replace my baritone uke.  That’s the one that has the bottom four strings of a guitar and pretty much sounds like a guitar.  And then my nephew gave me his old soprano uke that he used back when he played it in a band (Yep.  He is a really accomplished musician, is Tim.  How many ukuleles have you seen in bands?).  So I have the tool, and the Osher LifeLong Learning Institute at UTMB has provided the opportunity.  They are offering a beginner’s class in playing the uke. 

Yesterday was pretty basic.  The teacher, a guy with an EdD (not, I surmised, in ukulele), explained the parts of the uke and the different types.  Frets and pegs and bridges and headstocks.  Did you know the ukulele came to Hawaii from Portugal?  Did you know the proper pronunciation is “ook” rather than “yuke”?  It is actually an “ookoo laylee.”  Did you know that there are little dots on the top side of the uke neck?  They are there so you can know without turning the uke over which fret you are trying to stick a finger in.  Pretty tricky stuff.  Not sure why knowing the names is important beyond knowing where to put your fingers.  Oh, and speaking of fingers, we had learn finger numbering and fret numbering and string numbering.  We even have to learn what all the little twirly-que’s and cent signs and fractions mean when we see them inside that long, skinny jail cell with the notes on top of it.  What have I gotten myself into here? 

I did get my only question answered.  One that has puzzled me since I first twanged the strings at camp and bellered out that glorious refrain “I’m a Nut” (Strictly to encourage young campers to awaken from their slumber and greet the new day with great joy and happiness, which I am certain was achieved to a person).  I have always wondered how to regulate the strumming.  When do I strum down?  When do I strum up?  How am I supposed to strum at all if I don’t use a pick?  I figured there had to be some mystical answer to it all.  Well, there was an answer.  Not at all what I was expecting, but certainly one I could get on board with.  How to strum without a pick?  Use your fingers.  Which finger?  Doesn’t matter.  What about the strumming?  Well, there appears to be some requirements about that.  Something about quarter notes and eighth notes and stuff like that.  I haven’t thought about those things since I played cornet in junior high school.  Guess I’ll have to focus when we get to that.  Down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up.  Ok.  Ok.  That leads to the final admonition.  That dreaded command I knew was coming.  The indomitable “P” word.  Yep. That’s the one.  “Practice.”  We’re actually supposed to practice.  Every day.  Again … What have I gotten myself into here? 

2 Corinthians 4:10 says, “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

Father, thank you for the chance to learn how to use the “ook” properly.  Looks like the class will be fun.  Amen.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

September 22 – “Lady Rockets Win”

We did something yesterday that we haven’t done in a very long time.  We went to a junior high level sporting event.  Last time we did that (that I can remember) it was a boys’ basketball game and I was the coach.  This time it was girls’ volleyball and I was a spectator.  Good thing, too.  What I know about the rules of girls’ volleyball could fit on the head of a pin.  Well, maybe a fat pin.  I did learn one rule when I went to O’Connell’s high school JV game last week.  If you are serving and toss the ball in the air, you either have to hit it then or let it hit the ground before you touch it again.  Don’t catch the silly thing or it goes as a failed serve.  Weird, huh?

The junior high game was a display of wildly varying skill levels primarily due to the girls’ maturation levels.  Some of them were big and strong (Read here, a host of players on the opposing  team).  Others, like Jada (who we came to see) and her teammates, were tinier and more petite.  Some could power-serve the ball with a mighty overhead swing (Read here, the bad guys).  Others could barely make it to the net with all the oomph an underhand serve could muster (Read here … well, you get the picture).  At the outset the good guys appeared to be sorely outgunned).  Much of the time, whoever managed to get the serve over the net won a point.  But yesterday there were several really good volleys.  Jada’s squad scored some points.  In fact one girl had a string of 11 points in a row during one game, with her basic, underhand, get the ball over the net serve.  They won a game.  They lost a game.  And the match went into the deciding third game.  And in thrilling comeback fashion, the good guys won.  Oh, and that’s when yet another volleyball rule jumped out at us.  If a match goes to three games, the third game only goes to 15 points.  If I keep watching these volleyball games, I’m gonna need a bigger pinhead.

Well, to sum it all up, out of my vast array of volleyball-ic knowledge, I have to say that I am really proud of Jada and the rest of the Odyssey Lady Rockets. 

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Father, thank you for the chance those girls have to play a game they enjoy and learn some things about being on a team in the process.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September 21 – “The Dumpy Little Fisherman”

As we left water exercise class yesterday morning I noticed I had another text from Bob.  I knew where this was going.  Sure enough he informed me that the Gulf was flat again.  And as we drove home I could see with my own eyes just how right he was.  In fact, I would say it was even flatter than the day before.  Absolutely Lake Galveston flat.  OK.  At this point I will admit I went out, but just for an hour or so, and I didn’t get any live bait.  Just lures.  Several reasons on that.  I didn’t have the money for two bait purchases in one week.  And I fed all but two of my treble hooks to the catfish the day before.  So … lures.  And of course this would be a day when the lures didn’t lure anything.  Ah., well, such is the fisherman’s life, I suppose.  There will be a next time.

I spent the rest of the day at the computer working.  Thursday night Bible Study preparation.  Walk-through of the Book of Genesis.  This week Jacob has to find a wife.  And then I moved to the teaching for Sunday.  Peter has to defend his decision to obey God and let Gentiles into the church.  Still working on that one.  Will be the rest of the week.  Chris, as is her custom, worked on a quilt.

When Chris left for Ladies Bible Study at the church last night, I went over to Randall’s to pick up two prescriptions called in by my new rheumatologist.  Well, by his resident.  One was fine.  Celebrex generic.  Haven’t taken the generic before.  And I haven’t had an actual prescription in years.  I have been on the free program through the drug company, all set up by the other doctor.  So we’ll see how it works with my new-found greatly reduced joint pain.  The other prescription was, however, wrongly written.  Something about the dosage being half of what I have been taking.  Our awesome pharmacy staff at Randall’s caught it, though, and promised to clear it up with the doctor’s office.  From there I went over to WalMart to pick up a few things.  Important things, of course.  Fruit.  Dog food.  Toothpaste.  Fishing hooks.  Hey, now.  Remember, I fed all but two of my precious treble hooks to the catfish the other day.  Oh, and I picked up another cheap pair of sunglasses for fishing and a strap to hold them on.  I could barely see out of my old ones.  So now when you drive by WalMart and see my old blue truck parked there, look out upon the wide expanse that is the Gulf of Mexico.  When you see the dumpy little fisherman with the whitish-gray beard, floppy hat and red sunglasses strap, that would be me.

2 Corinthians 4:6 says, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

Father, thank you for the staff at Randall’s and their help on those prescriptions.  And I do appreciate it when they remember my name.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September 20 – “The Early Morning Text”

I got a text yesterday morning just as I was finishing up breakfast.  Thankfully it was not one of those “on call for 24 hours a day pastor” calls.  And it wasn’t a “Hey, Dad, I love you, let me tell you something” call.  It wasn’t even a “House on fire, flames visible” call.  And Chris was sitting in the chair right next to me, so it wasn’t her.  Nope.  This was just a text from a friend imparting some information.  And what information might that be, that it would merit the opening paragraph of a blog post?  Very simple.  To the point.  “Gulf is flat this am.”  Music to my ears.

After receiving Bob’s text, I went to the website to check out my specific favorite spot.  Amazing that they would put a camera right near where I like to go wade fishing.  Thanks for that.  Sure enough, nothing but gentle swells.  It’s good when this happens early in the week.  It is so much easier to adjust my work/study schedule on Monday or Tuesday than later.  So I just moved everything back so my start time would be in the afternoon.  It didn’t take long for me to change clothes and load up the truck and head for some bait

It was getting pretty hot even as I arrived.  I found out later we were under a heat advisory again.  Something about the heat index being 113.  It was getting pretty hot.  But water conditions seemed to be really good, so I had high hopes.  Well … for the first hour or so I did my part in the feeding of the Gulf’s growing crop of hardhead catfish.  There were a few of those tiny little gaftops as well that were gnawing on the shrimp.  Waste of good bait.  Among the toss-backs, I did catch one ladyfish, one needle-nosed eel, and a small black drum.  All exciting, had they been hooked by one of my grandkids.  The award for the best fight of the day, though, has to go to the sting ray.  First one of those I have ever caught in the surf.  Caught plenty in the Bay, just not in the surf.  He fought just like a red fish, which was what confused me.  Usually they just head to the bottom and bury and refuse to come up.  This guy took off, though.  Several times.  And when  I got him close I had to figure out how to get to my hook without him finding me with his barb.  I managed to get his tail in my dip net first, so his business end was incapacitated while I took out the hook.  Disaster averted on both ends.  He swam away happy.  I had no barb wound. 

But I was trying for some food for my family.  That moment finally came when I hooked the first spec.  And then the second.  Ended up with five nice specs, two sand trout and one whiting.  I’ll take that for a good fishing day.

Of course I still had to get some work done.  I was worried that I would succumb to the evil exhaustion monster and fall asleep, but a little prayer and the fact that I was working on church stuff kept me awake to get a lot done.  And now it’s on to the grindstone once again.  But before I do, let me offer one last … Than you for the text,  Bob.  Keep ‘em coming.

2 Corinthians 4:5 says, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.”

Father, thank you for Bob and his thoughtfulness to let me know beach conditions.  I know he doesn’t have to take the time to do it, so please give him a special blessing for that.  Amen.

Monday, September 19, 2016

September 19 – “Pain for a Day”

And yesterday provided the perfect format for pain and suffering.  No, I’m not talking about the Astros’ losing, although that stung a little bit.  They did win the series from Seattle, though, two out of three.  Not talking about the Texas Longhorns’ loss.  They scored 43 points, so at least their offense works.  But the Texans and Cowboys both won.  University of Houston won.  TCU won.  Texas A&M won.  Texas Tech won.  Baylor won.  Hey, even Houston Baptist won a close game in overtime.  So all is good on the Texas sports front. 

And church went well.  We had another smallish, but happy group, ready to do some worshipping.  Jim added a new guitarist to the praise team.  Dale did a tremendous job.  He and Lynn really added to the praise experience.  Oh, and I have to mention little Elena, as well.  She’s just four years old, but she stands herself up in front of the drum and bangs away.  And she’s getting good at keeping the appropriate beat, too.  And then we had Third Sunday Dinner on the Grounds.  Never a bad dish there.  Even Cathy’s new strawberry cake recipe was good.  What better place to try out something new than at a dinner on the grounds when you don’t have to take it home if it flops?  As if anything at Seaside ever flopped.  Hasn’t happened yet.  Put that date on your calendar, folks.

So what am I talking about with the whole “suffering” comment?  I was sore.  Sore from all those hours of hard, yet satisfying labor at the church workday.  Everybody else seemed to be moving well, even chipper-ly.  Especially Bella.  Bella was all over the place.  So I didn’t mention anything other than the expected, “I’m sore” comment.  Let me hasten to say that my joints didn’t give me much trouble at all.  I need to build up my knees, though.  I have shied away from putting any stress on them for so long that I could feel the weakness in them.   My back was definitely an issue, but I got the message that I have to live with that, so that will go without saying.  Nope, my biggest other-than-back problem from a day of hard labor?  My rear end in sore.  OK.  Go ahead and finish laughing.  I’ll wait … There.  Are you done?  See, the whole first part of the day I spent crouched down or sitting down and hunched over, painting a baseboard.  Obviously there was inordinate strain on the gluteus maximus muscles.  In short, I had a big pain in the rear.  It’s better today, but there is something horribly wrong with hurting when you sit down.  So there you have it.  My Pain for a Day story.  Glad I could bring a smile your way.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Father, thanks again for the folks who worked Saturday.  Thanks for the people you drew to worship yesterday.  And thanks for the pain.  It reminds me that I’m still around.  Amen.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

September 18 – “Workin’ with Bella”

We had an incredible turnout for our church workday yesterday.  best I could count there were 19 people and Bella, the Wonder Dog.  And if you add in Bob, who almost single-handedly put up the basketball goal since he couldn’t be there yesterday, we hit 20 people working to make the resources God has given us more and more fit to use for his glory.  There was a lot of cross-task helping of one another, and no one did just one thing.  It was a great picture of how we can work together and get a lot accomplished.

Now I know I’ll probably miss something, but best I can remember, here are some of the things we got done:
Ed spent the better part of the day re-setting a toilet.  Much bigger job than it sounds, when you take into account the rust and corrosion that is a lovely part of life in Galveston.  He also brought a trailer up and hauled away some rotten wood.
Lauren worked up in the retreat center toiling away at bathroom cleaning, including scrubbing the walls.
Cathy was up in the retreat center as well.  I understand she crawled into some showers to get at the grit.  She also made her presence known in the kitchen up there, cleaning out the refrigerators and, well, the rest of the kitchen.
Speaking of refrigerators, Bob and Houston hooked up the ice makers.  Bob also worked with Bryan to get some blinds hung.  Houston delivered pizza in a most impressive way.
Jennifer spent the day cleaning and organizing a supply cabinet upstairs.
Chris worked in the bathrooms upstairs as well, and she also hung some frost privacy coverings on the bathroom windows.
Dan and Wendy were the outside connection.  They worked on some landscaping issues (the vine that was growing into the building) and they are still figuring out a way to restripe the parking lot. 
And down in the worship center, Diane and Sam cleaned and shined up all the windows.  Great to be able to see clearly again.
Bill caulked the windows that were leaking precious cool air, and then cleaned all the light fixture covers and changed light bulbs. 
Jim did some touching up of paint in the sanctuary and fellowship room.  He also made key repairs to the swing set outside.  Go check that one out.
Robert replaced ceiling tiles.  Wow, that sound so simple.  Not so easy, though.  Lots of measuring and cutting to get then to fit.
Amber worked in the bathrooms to get them shining and clean.  She was also our pizza driver.  Quite a popular person around lunch time.
Stephanie pulled on her work gloves and transformed the kitchen into a gleaming wonderland. 
Lynn did all things air conditioner.  He replaced filters, cleaned out vents and even rewired some stuff.  He also repaired the banister of the stairs to the retreat center. 
I already mentioned Bob and the basketball goal, so I guess that leave good ol’ Bella the Wonder Dog.  She did some serious supervising – she’s quite the taskmaster.  I know she checked on just about everyone at one time or another.  She also did some babysitting for Houston and Ed.

We still have some things to get don, but boy, did we ever accomplish a lot.  I am as proud as I can be of that lot who gave up a perfectly good Saturday (it only rained a little bit) to hang out with some fellow Seasiders and do some old fashioned working. 

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was sure beat when we got home.  Managed to grab a quick shower, eat some Chef Boy-R-Dee spaghetti, and settle in with a box of Frosted Flakes to watch the first half of Aggie football and the first six or seven innings of Astros baseball.  That was about as much as I could stay awake for.  Chris and I both collapsed into bed, tired but certainly with a feeling of accomplishment.  Oh, and the Astros won.

2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Father, thank you for all the help yesterday.  Bless them for their effort.  And ease some sore muscles among them.  Amen.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

September 17 – “RA news and 3-year old wisdom”

Well, the big trip to the RA doc has come and gone.  He reviewed all the most recent blood tests and x-rays.  He did another physical exam.  He pointed out several things to his “young colleague” (read here “medical resident”).  And finally he sat on the exam table (I was in a chair nearby) and asked if I had any questions.  All I needed to know practically related to prescriptions, so he quickly answered those issues and turned to Chris and asked if she had any.  She was more bottom-line oriented, and put him more into the position of telling us from his perspective what he thought about my case.  He took a deep breath, threw in a few disavowals to protect the innocent and cover all the possibilities that he could not know about in my previous care, and finally uttered, “If you had RA, it is no longer active.  Come back and see me in four or five months, sooner if you have problems, and we’ll check where you are then.”  So there you have it.  I keep taking some of the medications and some of them now become “as you need it” kinds of doses.  Sounds like a plan to me.  Sounds like over the last month without the miracle drug or a specific RA doctor that another Doctor was doing His work.

We had the patter of little (and sometimes not so little) feet around the house yesterday.  Kel and Christina went on a date, so their children came over to hang out.  We had pizza, of course (that’s a tradition), and they played hide and seek outside, rode bikes, and then adjourned to the air conditioning when the mosquitoes started biting Nana.  Inside they played some weird board games that I still don’t completely understand using tiny little action figures that they have to buy separately (great sales gimmick).  Oh, and you can’t forget the ever-popular game of baseball in the kitchen.  That can get pretty rowdy, and it’s loud, but at least it makes sense to me.  Noa was content to play with her dolls and her Nana.

Speaking of Noa, she wins the award for cutest things said for the evening.  At one point she was obviously engaging in some kind of seemingly random activity, so Chris asked what she was playing.  She answered matter-of-factly, “Scops Foot.”  Of course.  I took a stab at it and guessed hopscotch, so Chris tried again, “What’s this game called?”  Noa thought for just a few seconds before answering, “Corn.”  OK.  My bad.  I thought it was hopscotch.  Greatest answer ever.  Her linguistic coup de gras, though came when she suddenly jumped down from the table and announced that she had to go peepee.  We encouraged her to take appropriate action on that front.  She ran a few steps toward the bathroom, then stopped, dead in her tracks.  She turned to me with a very serious look on her face and explained, “My Mommy says when my zagina says I have to go peepee, I should hurry to the potty.”  Well, by all means … hurry.

2 Corinthians 3:16 says, “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”

Father, thank you for the good news on the RA front.  And thanks for the refreshing looks at life that youngsters never fail to provide.  Amen.

Friday, September 16, 2016

September 16 – “Worked in and work planning”

Just a quick note this morning.  I am being “worked in” at the new rheumatologist’s office for him to go over the lab work he ordered last time I saw him.  I’m supposed to be there by 8:15.  Not sure what that means in real time.  He personally approved a “double book” to get me the appointment.  I don’t know whether to feel special or doomed.  But my joints have still been doing pretty well over the last month or so.  I am quite curious to see what his findings and recommendations are …

Yesterday our worship pastor Jim and I walked the property at Seaside to identify some specific jobs to be done at our big all-church workday on Saturday.  We came up with a page full for each building, so I think we can keep a few people busy.  It means I have to make a Home Depot run today, though.  We want to have as many of the supplies as possible before everyone arrives.  There will be some things we’ll have to pick up at the local hardware store, but that shouldn’t be a problem.  One of the biggest issues is getting rid of the bees that have taken up residence under the retreat center.  We’d rather not kill them, of course, but we have been having some problems getting a call back from the bee removal guys.  We may have to co-exist for the workday Saturday, but they don’t seem to be the Africanized kind.  They are quite focused on their task of honey-making and I think they would only attack if they felt threatened.  I’ll have to remember to mention that … 

2 Corinthians 2:15-16 says, “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?”

Father, I’m really interested to know what the RA guy has to say today.  I for one think you have had a lot to do with the easing of pain in my joints, but I’m happy to hear whatever medical explanation he wants to come up with.  Amen.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

September 15 – “Dreaming … of pies and printing”

I had a strange dream the other night.  No talking or even any action beyond what appeared to be a camera panning back and revealing a pile of snickerdoodles and a pecan pie with one slice cut from it.  However, it had an apple pie crust (not sure how I knew that, but, hey, you’re kind of omniscient in dreams, so it didn’t matter).  And there was a stream of milk pouring over the entire pies in slow motion.  Any thoughts on dream meanings?  I’m sure there is something significant in there beyond the fact that we ordered snickerdoodle cookie dough from Cailyn for her school fund raiser.  I mean, what about the apple pie crusted pecan pie?  I love apple pie.  Not so much pecan pie.  And why would anyone pour milk over a perfectly good slice of pie?  I could definitely use some psychobabble insight here.

On the work front, yesterday was sermon day.  I had to figure out a way to make a study of a sermon Peter preached into a sermon I will preach.  Maybe I’ll get interrupted by the Holy Spirit like he did …

Speaking of dreaming … I also spent some time working on my book.  Not the Hurricane Ike one.  I’ve kind of finished that one already, but I figure I’ll wait until the tenth anniversary to try to get it published.  That’ll give me two more years to save up some money.  So I have had enough requests for my Visual Verses book that I am finally trying to put something together.  I’m afraid the printing is just going to have to be me and some toner in my HP Officejet.  Self-printing costs with an outside company are just off the roof (now that’s a saying I haven’t used or even heard in a long time.  Is the preposition even the right one?  Off the roof?  Out of the roof?  Up on the roof?   Great song.  Makes little sense.  That’s what give it such great appeal).  And now you can see why it’ll be a while before I’m finished, anyway.  (Not that I constantly amuse myself with tirades and speculations and editorial comments.  If you see me seeming to drift away, it could be that something you have said has inspired me to new depths of ponderism.  Welcome to my oh-so-fun world).  So, the book.  It’s not quite halfway done yet.  It will be a devotional guide of sorts.  One Visual Verse and a short, two-paragraph devotional thought introduction for each of the 52 weeks of the year.  The VV’s are all done, but doing the intros and laying them out in a doable, printable format is taking forever.  Anybody want to pre-order a home-printed, not-professionally bound copy?  Not sure how much it will cost yet, but, hey, take a chance. 

2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”

Father, thank you for the weird, wonderful brain you stuck in my head.  It has served me (and I hope you) well for a long time.  Keep those crazy inspirations coming.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September 14 -“On backs and fronts”

I didn’t sleep so well the night before last.  My back was pretty sore, from fishing, I guess.  No, I don’t guess.  That’s what it was from.  I woke up at 2 a.m. and never really did more than catnap up until I got out of bed at 5:45.  Then we headed over to water exercise.  Got there late, too, so we couldn’t do any warming up.  There were a few of the exercises that aggravated my back this time.  But my joints are still feeling pretty good.  I go back to the rheumatologist on Friday, so we’ll here his take on where I am with that right now.  Hoping for some good news on the joint front to make up for the not so good news from the back.  Did I get all that straight?  Front joints … Back back.  Sounds right …

Last night I went to a girls’ volleyball.  One of our Seaside kids is playing on the O’Connell JV team, and this was the first home game I could check out.  Grace’s Mom told me she is one of several on the team who have never played before this year.  There are only six girls on the team right now, too.  But because of the small number, all of the girls are getting a lot of experience on the court.  They lost the match (is that what you call two out of three games in volleyball?), but the scores were pretty impressive to me.  25 to 18 in the first game and 25 to 19 in the second.  I pretty proud of the girls’ effort and their readiness to encourage each other after virtually every play.  They really had each other’s backs.  I saw one of the varsity games, too.  Now they were really good.  Several of them had three black stripes on their shirts.  I assumed that meant they were three-year lettermen, er, letter-women.  They totally outclassed their opponents last night, though.  Nice job all the way around, there, O’Connell Ladies Volleyball.

Oh, and by the way … I slept really well last night.  Might have been a function of waiting up for Chris to get home from her Ladies Bible Study at the church.  Sounded like it went really well.  It was the front side - the kickoff night - for a new study of the Armor of God.  They are following a teaching series by Priscilla Shirer.  A little less than half of the ladies were regular Seasiders.  The rest were locals who were looking for some deep Bible study or for some friends to fellowship with.  Know anybody who wants in on it?  Every Tuesday at 6:30.  OK.  Commercial is over.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 says, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

Father, thank you for the group of ladies who are gathering to learn more about you.  Bless their efforts.  Amen.