Monday, July 24, 2017

July 24 – “Bus man’s holiday”

We had a really good day at church yesterday.  Around 50 or so people there.  That included several new locals checking us out.  One was a young couple.  She was pregnant with their first child, so they felt like they needed to get back in church for the sake of the baby.  He said that he personally hadn’t been in church since 2002.  Before that he had been extremely active.  Welcome back.  As it turned out (What a coincidence?) they ended up sitting on the same row as another first time visitor couple who just happened to be their neighbors.  She has been coming to the ladies Bible study.  He just got hired on as the newest Jamaica Beach police officer.  Glad to have you guys as well.

Chris got to spend some time talking with another family of visitors.  They came to Seaside originally from the Dallas area, but most recently from Tanzania.  They have lived all over the world.  I remember Chris mentioning New Zealand.  That would be a far piece to travel.  The wife told Chris that her heart is for missionaries who need respite, a place to come home from the field and rest and in many cases heal.  They are seriously considering a move to Galveston.  Come on.

In the afternoon we had a babysitting job.  Apparently Jachin set it up first by texting with Chris, and then told his parents.  Kel and Christina kept it pretty simple as dates go.  They just walked around the Strand.  Bus man’s holiday.  Bet you haven’t heard that one in a while, have you?  Back in the day when people actually used to rely on buses for transportation, it was a big deal for someone who drove a bus all day to take a vacation by driving a lot to get there.  A bus man’s holiday.  In Kel’s case, he walks that route every day as a mail man, so for him to return just to stroll around seems strange.  He said he did get recognized in one of the shops.  They asked the proverbial, “I think I should know you” questions, and responded by teasing a bit, “I come in here every day.”   He finally fessed up and said he comes in to deliver their mail. 

The kiddos were great as usual.  We finished watching the Astros game (sadly, a loss).  Then Jachin started telling us about his first trip ever to youth camp.  And he didn’t stop talking until sometime after his parents returned.  I think the boy had a good time. 

1 Peter 1:3-5 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Father, thank you for the new folks at church and for the time with the grandkids.  It was a good day.  Amen.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

July 23 – “That’s not meat”

Yesterday was all about the park ministry project.  Seaside was asked by the organizers of the Jamaica Beach Craft Fair to be the food vendor of choice for their big event.  So Seasiders kicked into high gear.  All food was paid for by donation, with no set minimum or maximum or even suggestion.  We set up to provide hamburgers (bacon cheeseburgers on request) and hot dogs with all the fixin’s (all grilled on site) and baked beans, as well as an array of sweets.  We also had some soft drink options, tea and lemonade.  As it turned out, though, the greatest drink option of the day was the bottled water.  It was swelteringly hot.  By the end of the day we were giving away the water to keep people hydrated.  We did have one guy ask if we were serving beer, but he gladly accepted the bottle of water. 

The fair was a huge success.  There were 40 or so vendors and hundreds of customers came through.  Our Bethlehem Street Market team handed out flyers for our craft fair in December, and from the sounds of things we picked up quite a few of the vendors to join us then. 

Cailyn came with us, since she is, after all, an indispensable member of the playground team.  And I have to say, she did a fabulous job manning the sweets table.  At one point she had to go to the bathroom, so she called me over.  “DadDad, I need you to watch over my booth while I’m away.”  Gotta love the responsibility.  And when her Dad came to pick her up, the business at the table dropped drastically.  It’s amazing the effect a gorgeous little eight year old can have on sales. 

Someone brought an art car on the premises.  The car was literally covered from top to bottom with, well, all kinds of stuff.  There were quite a few Christian bumper stickers in and about.  But my favorites were all the action figures glued onto the roof and inside on the dash and hanging from the ceiling.  I saw superheroes and E.T. (remember him?) and cowboys and cars and trucks of all kinds.  Great fun to look at.  One family stopped by to inspect the car, and I ended up inspecting them.  Every member of the family, from Dad and Mom to the youngest child, had a moustache.  And the young girl even added a goatee.  Impressive genes, I guess.

As I manned my station just in front of the food booth, one girl came by I knew well from her days as a child at Seaside VBS.  She tossed in a donation and grabbed a package of chips.  I encouraged her to get a hamburger to go along with the chips.  She replied, “No thanks.  I don’t eat meat.”  Not to be deterred, I offered, “Oh, I see.  Well then how about a hot dog?  That’s not meat.”  She had to think about that one for a second or two before she burst out laughing and agreed with me.  She didn’t take a hot dog.  But she did walk away with a bowl of beans.

I heard reports all throughout the day of Seasiders talking to people about the Lord and about the church.  I met one lady who told me she planned to visit Seaside very soon.  Seems she was a liver transplant recipient, and was very happy with the life God has given her. 

It was quite a successful day for the craft fair and for us.  The organizers asked if we were in for the next time they had an event.  We ended up making right at a thousand dollars to go toward the playground.  Looks like we might have enough to get the equipment and the mulch base now.  Oh, and after setting up and tearing down and carrying everything back to the church and putting it away, I ended up with three miles on my step counter.  I do have a question, though.  Don’t I get extra credit for standing up from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.?

James 5:19-20 says, “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

Father, thank you for the success of the event and for the money we now have to cover the playground costs.  Amen.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

July 22 – “On hospitals, giraffes and tigers”

We started our day with the required physical exertion.  This time we mowed the grass.  Well, I mowed and Chris did some work in the back yard.  Then she came behind me and did the sweeping.  Teamwork, you know.  By the time we finished the weather was threatening.  But that’s all it ever did.  Just threaten.  We can handle that. 

After cleaning up and having some lunch, we headed to WalMart.  We needed to get a gift for a little Seasider girl we were heading to see in the hospital.  Chris picked a book about puppy dogs and some bracelets.  I picked a very lifelike (and very cool) plastic giraffe and tiger.  I also added a few other things to the cart.  A new bait aerator for my fishing bucket and some bananas.  Both necessities, of course.

Next we went by Randall’s pharmacy to pick up my prescription.  This was the one I chose to wait on because it was so expensive.  I decided to just get one month’s worth.  Come to find out, the prescription had been written not just for three months, but also for me to take two a day instead of three.  Once we got all that straightened out.  The cost was about half of what I was expecting.  That’s an answer to prayer.

Our hospital was Chris’ first since the new Jennie Sealy building was completed.  She was quite impressed with the hospital itself (other than the maze we had to traverse to find the room).  She did agree with me that the parking lot is kind of weird, though.  She parked on the first level.  When we left I broke the news to her that we had to go to the lower level to get out.  Strange format.  Oh, by the way, the youngster really liked the bracelets.  And Mom loved the book.  Nice call, Chris.  But guess what she was playing with when we left the room?  Giraffe and tiger.  Turns out the giraffe was her favorite animal.  Score one for this guy.

After the hospital we had to drive into Texas to make a Sam’s run.  We needed the usual stuff for the church supply cabinet plus stiff for the food booth at the Jamaica Beach Craft Fair (That’s today, by the way.  10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Come see us.  Buy some food.  Proceeds of the food go toward the playground equipment).  It took some doing, but we managed to squeeze all that stuff into our car.  Now this morning we get to squeeze it plus a crockpot of beans plus an eight year old granddaughter.  Gonna be fun. 

We did make it home in time last night to watch the Astros game.  And they won again.  Good day.  Really good day.

James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

Father, thank you for riding with us yesterday.  Please touch little Carolann where she needs you the most.  Give the docs wisdom and her Mom patience.  Amen.

Friday, July 21, 2017

July 21 – “Sweets and treats and other necessary medication”

We trudged through our three miles again yesterday.  Although once again I have to say that “trudged” just isn’t the best word.  Yesterday’s walk seemed somehow easier than they have been.  Chris even commented as we moved into the final two turns that it seemed like we had only been going for two miles at the most.  Maybe that means we are finally getting some good out of the whole exercise thing.  Now I do have to add that toward the end of the day my back started barking at me a little bit.  But it was nothing I couldn’t handle.  What choice did I have anyway? 

Cailyn came over to spend a few hours with us.  April had to work and Nathan was doing some training, which meant she wasn’t spending the night.  That didn’t stop her and Nani from making a big batch of cookies for the bake sale on Saturday.  It’s at the Jamaica Beach park from 10-4, by the way.  Part of the big Jamaica Beach Craft Sale.  Seaside was asked to be the food vendor of choice, so we added on a bake sale for dessert.  Come eat with us.  So back to Cailyn.  She rode with me on my errand run.  We went first to the bank, then over to Randall’s.  At Randall’s I was going to pick up a prescription that I haven’t had filled in some time.  And boy did I ever have a sticker shock.  First of all, they filled a full three month’s supply.  Not what I expected.  Second, the price.  Even the guy working in the pharmacy whistled when he looked at it, and asked me if I was aware of the price.  I assured him I had no idea and no frame of reference for a guess, so he started big.  “Well, the actual cost from the drug company is $887 for the three months’ supply.”  Read an audible gasp here.  “But your insurance did cut that cost down a lot.”  Now a cautious sigh.  “The cost to you for the whole three months is $277.”  Return of the gasp, but not as gripping this time.  He finally added, “Of course you can just take it one month at a time.  That would knock it down to $90 dollars or so.”  Cailyn was horrified at talk of such outrageous costs.  I knew I would probably end up getting just a month at a time, but I told the guy I would come back another time and pick it up. 

Cailyn needed a peppermint from Chris’ car stash to get her through recovery after that traumatic experience, so I handed her one and started across the street to pick up my hearing aid.  That’s the one that had the tiny little computer unit split right in half.  What should Cailyn find as we walk in the door?  A bowl of peppermints.  Gotta take advantage of a find like that.  But wait.  On the other side of the room was another bowl.  This one had a collection of chocolate-type candies like Twix and malted milk balls.  Oh my.  The peppermints became second class citizens in the wake of this find.  Meanwhile, when I tried on the new hearing aid, the silly thing squealed like a stuck pig.  It was so loud that Cailyn could hear it across the room.  The receptionist told me to wait right there and immediately went to get the audiologist.  Seems the company had put in all my settings, but they forgot to turn on the feedback modulator.  She hooked me up to her computer and made the appropriate adjustments.  All was well.  And as a bonus, on our way out of the back fitting room, we passed a shelf with cookies, and brownies.  Of course Cailyn was offered a treat, and to be respectful and show her good manners, she graciously accepted a brownie.  I accepted few packages of batteries as my treat.  Oh, I have to tell you what Cailyn said on the way home.  She asked first if she could roll down her window.  Once that was accomplished, after a long second or two, she admitted.  “I just fed the seagulls, DadDad.”  I replied, “So the brownie didn’t taste that good?”  “No,” she agreed, kind of surprised that I had guessed what she had done.  “It was kind of nasty.  But I didn’t really want it anyway.  I only agreed to take it because it looked like no one had taken any of their treats and I didn’t want them to feel bad.”  That’s my girl.

James 5:14-15 says, “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.”

Father, thank you for sweets and treats and other necessary medication.  Amen.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

July 20 – “A gentleman caller”

I went to staff meeting yesterday.  Didn’t last very long.  We talked for a few minutes and then had our prayer time.  And then we moved trash cans.  I brought up the two new ones, and we then tossed the old ones, garbage and all, into the back of the truck.  The new site is just twenty yards or so from the old one, but the only thing across the street is a vacant lot, so we’re hoping it doesn’t complain too much.  But speaking of complaining, for some reason Jim doesn't think he wants to add garbage man to his bucket list.

Chris went to the quilt shop yesterday while I watched the Astros game.  She has big plans for making at least three more small ones before December.  She was gone a long time, though.  The entire game in fact.  I was just about to call out the search parties when she texted that she was on her way home.  And when she arrived, what should she be carrying inside with her?  Extra bags.  Not quilt shop bags.  Bags from HEB.  See, we don’t have an HEB in Galveston, so she decided to stop at one in Texas while she was up there.  She loved their produce section.  Bought a bag of oranges.  She even roamed around the store to see what it was really like.  But that wasn’t the most exciting thing about her trip.  Oh no.  She bought me some Minute Maid frozen lemonade.  My all-time favorite ball park treat can now be enjoyed in the comfort of my own home.  What a gal.  She loves me.

We had a gentleman caller for one of our children last night.  Freddy was napping by the front door when all of a sudden we heard her bark.  Well, if what she does counts as a bark.  More like incessant yapping.  And her older brother Fritz started in as well.  It was obvious that he was none too happy with what was going on.  I leaned forward in my chair to see what was happening.  And there, standing on our front porch right by the door, was a scruffy, shaggy little mutt, come to call on Freddy.  Big brother Fritz obviously didn’t approve.  We were willing to give him a chance, albeit a very small one, so we went outside to introduce ourselves.  That’s the proper thing to do, isn’t it?  Well, the little scruffer would have none of it.  He bolted from the porch and around to the side of the house.  That simply irritated Fritz more, and now Heidi had joined in the chorus.  The combination of meeting the potential in-laws and dealing with an overprotective big brother proved more that Scruff-head could handle.  He left the premises and has not been back.  Sorry Freddy.  Nice job Fritz.  Take notes, all you Vaughan brothers out there. 

James 5:13 says, “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.”

Father, thank you for our role-model big brother of a dog, Fritz.  And for baby sister Freddy.  And even for the old woman, Heidi.  They have filled their canine role well.  Amen. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July 19 – “Watch out, Gene Kelley”

We started out our walk under threatening skies.  And before we finished but one mile, the rains came.  Light at first, the mere sprinkle soon became a downpour.  And through it all we trudged together.  No, not trudged.  Nor plodded.  No.  We danced.   In the rain.  Hilariously.  Joyfully.  Well, OK.  So “we” didn’t dance.  I did.  And it was joyous.  Well, OK.  Perhaps a better word would be “comical.”  But Chris did smile.  And we made it home without being struck by lightning, so all in all, it was a good walk.

Later in the day we ventured out once again.  This time, however, we took the truck.  First stop?  Surprise of all surprises.  WalMart.  Seems we had once again found ourselves fruitless.  No, really.  Literally without fruit.  We ran out of bananas and pineapple, and we were getting dangerously low on grapes and oranges.  We managed to restock all but the oranges.  They only had three bags left, and every one of them had a rotten one inside.  So Chris sacrificed and bought a watermelon instead.  Some sacrifice.  That’s her all-time favorite.

From there we went on a trash run.  Not to pick up trash.  Not even to take trash to be dumped.  We went to Home Depot to buy two more of those big ol’ 96 gallon trash cans with a lid on them for the church.  The groups staying in the retreat center have been generating a lot of garbage, and one of the neighbors has complained again.  Our plan is a two parter.  First, we will try to use only the cans with lids.  Four of them.  Second, we will move the actual pickup site away from that particular neighbor’s view, down the street a ways where the only thing across the street is a vacant lot.  We looked into getting a dumpster, but it was well out of our price range right now.  Hopefully this will solve the problem.  Gotta be good neighbors. 

James 5:12 says, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear — not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No,’ no, or you will be condemned.”

Father, be with our neighbor at church.  Please give him patience as we try to deal with the trash issue.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July 18 – “Identical Twins”

We walked our three miles yesterday, and I even got in the majority of the Monday work that is always waiting for me.  And all that before Christina came by with her kids.  Well, not all her kids.  Jachin left for his first experience at youth camp around 4:30 that morning. 

Before they arrived they had gone to get the oil changed in their car.  While they waited, Micah started texting Chris.  I hear her chuckling off and on, but finally she laughed out loud and came in to show me what had been amusing her so.  Micah sent a picture of Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man).  He asked, “Do you know who this is?”  Being the awesome Nana that she is, Chris replied, “You?”  His response: “No, that’s your first guess.  You get three.”  She took a different tactic.  “Is it your Daddy?”  Micah: “No, but you’re getting closer.  One more guess.”  Then my beautiful bride did the unthinkable.  She let slip my secret identity.  “Is it DadDad?”  And Micah knew there could be no better answer.  “You’re right.”  Now it did come out in further discussions that I am not actually Iron Man, but I am his identical twin.  That means I can fit into the suit and operate just like Tony, without all the hassles that come with being a superhero.  Oh, and without the multi-billions of dollars he has.  Sigh.  You have to take the good with the bad.

We had some interesting visitors later in the afternoon.  We heard a loud boom or crash somewhere outside.  I thought it might have been some more trucks delivering dirt next door (They have done nothing since the last dirt delivery, by the way).  But no.  Instead we saw a utility truck parked in front of the house on the other side of us.  I walked over to see what they were up to.  Seems they were putting up some kind of support beam next to the utility pole.  That would be the pole that is completely covered in vines from our neighbor’s yard.  That stuff was rapidly encroaching upon the electrical wires.  The guy told me they had cut back as much as they could get to so they could get close enough to the old pole to put up the support.  Sounded like (and looked like) a pretty scary process.  I just hope they got it strengthened in time.  It would not be a fun thing to have the pole and its array of supporting characters in our yard. 

James 5:10-11 says, “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

Father, be with the guys who have to work around electricity and gas all the time.  Amen.

Monday, July 17, 2017

July 17 – “Quick Cailyn Anecdote of the day”

Here’s a Quick Cailyn Anecdote for today.  I’ve been saving it for when I have a day like yesterday.  Everything went great at church, don’t get me wrong.  The Astros even won.  But I had a tough, kind of blah afternoon.  Couldn’t get settled.  Didn’t even fall asleep like I can usually do on Sunday afternoon.  So, here from the archives …

I sat down at my desk to start working again.  The screen was set on FaceBook since I guess I had scrolled through for a while after my last work session.  As I reached for the mouse, I missed it and knocked it off of its pad.  Not a big deal.  It was only a matter of a few inches.  But when I looked at the screen, everything was huge.  It was like some 99 year old almost blind guy had snuck in and rearranged all my settings to super ultra large print.  I had no idea what I had done or how to even begin to correct it.  Ah, but have no fear.  An eight-year-old was near.  Cailyn was sitting nearby, so I asked if by chance she knew how to fix my screen.  She sat in my lap, pushed my hand away from the mouse, and in about three seconds had the screen back to normal.  I made her do it again, only much more slowly so I could follow in case it ever happened again when she wasn’t around.  Thank God for the techno-minds of the children.

James 5:7-9 says, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.  Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!”

Father, thank you for Cailyn’s willingness and ability to help me out the other day.  And thanks for the really good day at church.  Amen.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

July 16 – “Good bye, Flight Museum”

We started our day yesterday by going to the airplane museum.  Sadly, it was to be the museum’s last day of operation here in Galveston.  They are moving the planes up to a new and bigger facility at Ellington Air Field on the mainland.  They were hit pretty hard by Hurricane Ike, and ever since they have been planning how they can escape the next big one.  Meanwhile, nine years have passed and no hurricanes have threatened.  Yet they still followed through with their plans to leave. 

Every volunteer they have on staff was there, and they also were going to serve lunch.  We even saw a few World War II vets.  Also the pilots.  The guys (and girls) who fly the planes at airshows and just to keep them running were on hand to answer questions.  For me, since we have been to the museum many times, the most interesting thing to see was the inside of the B52 bomber that flies over our house all the time.  Fascinating to see the machine gun in place.  They were raffling away free flights in some of the smaller planes every hour.  You had to have closed toe shoes on to even enter, though.  We were in our island Teva best, though.  So we didn’t win.  It seemed the best decision to me, though.  The weather was unstable at best.  Not sure I would want to be up in one of those tiny things during a thunderstorm.  Now if Josh were here he would finagle a way to get some extra entries in there.

Speaking of Josh, we started sending him photos of the planes to gloat a little bit.  He eventually called back, and we ended up FaceTiming with Caleb.  He knew all about each plane and was happy to fill me in on its history and use.  I think he would have been happy to win one of those free flights as well. 

We ended up joining the support team of the museum.  It gives us unlimited free entry to the new place, but the deciding factor was the fine print offer.  All of our five to eighteen year old children AND GRANDCHILDREN receive free admission with us.  That just might be worth it in one trip.  We also get 15% off all purchases.  Not to mention a nifty membership card to carry around with us.  Now we’ll be forced to go check out the new digs up at Ellington.

I can’t close without mentioning our other jaunt of the day.  We stopped by the local First Lutheran Church to see the big quilt show extravaganza.  And then we went to another one over at Rosenberg library.  Chris filled me in on all the different types of quilts and styles of sewing involved.  She could recognize in a heartbeat which ones had been done on a machine and which ones were done by hand.  Two comment s from this peanut gallery here.  One, the handmade ones from the 1800’s were by far my favorite.  Way more impressive than the curly-cue designs of the machine era.  Two, the quilts Chris has done are certainly in the earlier category.  The comparisons make hers stand out far above the others.  So those of you out there who have been blessed with a Chrios quilt … it’s a great one.

James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.”

Father, thank you for the volunteers that have made the airplane museum what it is today.  Give them safety now as they have to travel to Ellington to do their work.  Amen.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July 15 – “Repairs”

I started off the day yesterday with an upsetting discovery.  The tiny little computer that operates my right side hearing aid was splitting in half.  That’s right, breaking right in two.  Weird.  It still worked, but I had a difficult time getting it into my ear.  Chris was concerned that once I got it in I wouldn’t be able to get it out.  So our first stop on the magical mystery Friday tour was the hearing aid place.  We got there about five minutes before it was scheduled to open, but the receptionist saw me standing there, looking forlorn, and she kindly let me in.  She took one look at the apparatus and said, “Oh, no.  This is one of those things we will definitely have to send off to be repaired.”  Of course it is.  So if you have any face to face dealings with me, be kind.  I’ll be half deaf for the next week or two.

Stop two on the excursion was the county clerk’s office.  The registration sticker on the car needed replacing, and we took care of the inspection last week.  Apparently early morning is the time to arrive there, too.  We were the first in line.  Well, we were the only ones in line.  But we were careful to follow proper procedure.  We walked all the way around the little sign that says “Line forms here” before approaching the counter.  Must be good citizens, you know.  We had all the proper paperwork in order, and even had an actual paper check to write on.  See, you can save a dollar by doing business in person like this.  It costs extra for the convenience of paying with a credit card or doing the transaction online.  Gotta love a small town.

Next stop was the district court.  No, we weren’t turning ourselves in or anything.  We were just there to apply for our passports.  Never know when you might need one, and we heard that after this year it is going to get tougher and tougher to get one.  We had already gone online and downloaded all the paperwork we needed.  But that seemed to be a bit unnerving to the guy waiting on us.  Well, that and their boss walked in and said hello to him while we were standing there.  And he was all alone in the department.  Remember, we got there pretty early.  We actually began to feel sorry for the poor guy.  His hands were even shaking.  He was a nice enough chap.  Said he thought my name was familiar, but the only connections we could make were that I went to high school with his cousin and I grew up on the same street with one of his co-workers.  We turned in all our paperwork and sighed where we needed to sign.  He took our picture (after we paid the cashier around the corner).  And we wrote the separate checks to be attached to each of our applications.  Lots of red tape, but in the end, our new friend didn’t think there would be any problems at all.

We decided that was enough for one Friday “day off.”  Back to the house for Chris to work on a quilt and me to … figure out some way to get repaired a bit before the Astros game. 

James 4:13-15 says, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.’”

Father, thank you for people like David who did a great job helping us out at the passport office.  Give his a calming weekend.  Amen.

Friday, July 14, 2017

July 14 – “Exotic”

We walked our three miles again.  Took me a while before I could keep my usual pace though.  Pretty stiff and sore.  But the "innards grease and oil," whatever the scientific term is, eventually kicked in and I was able to finish the route. 

Cailyn came over to spend the day with us.  Nathan was working a double shift and April got a call that she could pick up some overtime.  I was already deep into working on the teaching for Sunday, so I stayed at the computer while the girls took a little trip.  They went downtown to the library.  Seems there was a special guest speaker yesterday.  And that speaker brought along some friends.  Exotic friends.  A toucan.  A lemur.  Some kind of big cat (Can’t remember the name, but it starts with an “S”).  A wallaby.  Cailyn consistently called it a Ko-wallaby.  I first thought she was saying koala bear.  It wasn’t until she mentioned it having a pouch and I saw the pictures that I fully realized what she meant.  She even got to pet it as the lady walked through the crowd with the wallaby in a bag.  That wasn’t Cailyn’s favorite animal, though.  Oh no.  When the lady pulled out the fox Cailyn was absolutely smitten.  It wasn’t an arctic fox.  Good thing or Cailyn may have gone home with the lady.  It was some other exotic breed, though.  When they got home Chris looked up the lady’s website.  She actually will bring her creatures to your home for things like birthday parties.  Pretty hefty charges, though.  Churches do get a discount.  Not enough to make me jump for the phone and book em. 

We decided that Chris and Cailyn would stop at Whataburger on their way home and bring us some lunch.  I decided to surprise them and meet them there. Pretty busy place around noon.  After lunch Chris was battling a headache, so while she lay down Cailyn and I had to entertain ourselves.  She settled on some card games.  Kings in the Corner and, our current favorite, poker.  After we played quite a few hands a friend FaceTimed her.  The two of them proceeded to have the most unusual play date I have ever witnessed.  They carried their ipads around the house playing with dolls for a really long time, happy as a lark.  Hhmph.  Girls.

James 4:11-12 says, “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.  There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you — who are you to judge your neighbor?”

Father, thank you for my girls.  Don’t know what I’d do without them.  Amen.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

July 13 – “Tales of the Crazies …”

I had to leave the house pretty early yesterday morning.  I was scheduled to meet Steve the bug guy at the church for our regular spraying.  Apparently some of the folks staying in the retreat center have seen a critter or two, so we can’t have that.  Steve was already there when I arrived.  In fact he had already done some spraying for the ants he had seen outside.  He regaled me with bug stories as I followed him around the building.  He said there is a new species of ant on the Island that made its way here on board ships from the Caribbean or somewhere exotic like that.  Crazy Ants.  There is another name to go with that but I forgot it.  Non-essential information, I guess.  Apparently these crazy ants stake out a territory of five acres or so, set up five or six queens and go to town.  The systematically destroy every other species of ant in their terrain, including fire ants.  I asked if they did damage to human beings the same way fire ants do.  Nope.  In fact the only negative he has ever seen about them is the fact that they seem to love electronics, engines and the like.  That would put at risk automobiles that remain idle for a time and air conditioning units.  Interesting trade-off if you have a fire ant infestation, I suppose.

Steve completed his task and left, but I stuck around for a few minutes to talk to the leader of the group currently staying in the center.  They are having a great week working with Galveston Urban Ministries.  They were really interested in the story of how the retreat center came to be.  They were admiring the wall mural beach scene with me baptizing a girl, so I got to tell the story of the youth group that came with the artist.  When she took a break to catch a quick nap, they came in behind her and painted in some shark fins in the water right near the baptism.  Very funny stuff.  The artist, however, was not amused.  They were also happy to see the bug guy.  At least their kitchen ladies were. 

After a good staff meeting and prayer time with Jim I headed back to the house hoping to get some work done.  I have had some back and neck pain issues this week, so it’s been hard to concentrate.  I really needed to get the teaching on track for this week before Cailyn arrives later this morning.  I made a little headway before I had to take a break and walk around.  Chris saw that I obviously needed to stretch, so she asked if I would make a quick WalMart run for her.  She was making some potato soup for a Seaside lady, and she needed something to put it in.  I was hoping for a little taste myself, but this was strictly a ministry batch.  Oh, well … something to look forward to.

James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

Father, be with Steve as he battles the bugs, with the group in the center as they minister, with our sweet Seasider as she deals with her issues, and with Chris as she does her home ministry projects.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July 12 – “All Star Scavenger Hunt”

We took the car into the shop yesterday.  It was time for the annual inspection and oil change.  I got a call from the mechanic, though.  He asked if we had been having any problems with the car starting.  I told him I would ask Chris since I don’t drive the car that much.  In the meantime he recommended looking at buying a new battery just in case.  I didn’t see that would be a big problem so I assured him I would follow up.  I pulled the old one out so I could see where we bought it.  And what to my wondering eyes should appear??  Right there, etched rather than stamped into the side of the battery, was a date.  August 2008.  It was the original battery that came with the 2009 model car.  Now it did promise to be a seven year battery, but we were working on year nine.  That’s some reserve power, there.  I told Dennis that there had to be a sermon illustration in there somewhere. 

Cailyn joined us for the day around lunch time.  She and I then stayed here at the house while Chris went to the church for her ladies’ Bible study.  Now what does a DadDad do with an eight-year-old girl when the major league All Star game is playing on TV?  She did play softball, but watching on TV has never been her strong suit.  Before the game started we did play a few rounds of poker, no betting, of course.  And we didn’t get into straights and flushes and all that stuff, mainly because I don’t know the ins and outs of it all.  In fact she had a pretty good handle on it already.  Seems her Dad has been doing a little indoctrinating before me.  Good.  I can blame that one on him. 

Now, I knew that I was going to have be on top of my game.  That would put me only a few fathoms below the top of Cailyn’s game, but I was hoping that would be enough to hold me.  All afternoon I worked on my plan, and even after Cailyn arrived, I took her into my confidence.  Together we developed the perfect plan for watching the 2017 major league All Star game.  All Star Scavenger Hunt.  We filled up a sheet of paper with things to watch for while the game was on.  It included some obvious things, like the names of each Astro on the team.  It also included some very baseball things like someone hitting a home run and someone stealing a base.  Some got pretty random.  Someone dressed like a judge (Yes, we saw this one.  Thanks to Aaron Judge of the Yankees).  Someone in the Hall of Fame.  A player laughing.  She got most excited about the ones she found on commercials.  A Car.  Money.  An airplane.  An animal.  The very first thing she saw came as Jose Altuve approached the plate to bat (It didn’t occur to her yet that he was actually on the list).  Nope.  She noticed in the stands behind him … someone selling cotton candy.  Amazing.  One of the items was a player wearing number 99.  That’s Aaron Judge’s number, so when he came to bat I asked Cailyn what his number was.  Now, he was in his batting stance, and the camera angle was from behind the pitcher.  So Cailyn jumped up, ran to the TV and stood to the side of it (and behind Aaron Judge), hoping to get a better angle of the number on his back.  Ah, the problems of a 3D mind in a 2D world.  We actually found almost all of the items on our list.  Nobody attempted a bunt, so that wasn’t there.  And we didn’t see anyone kissing.  I guess the Kiss-Cam wasn’t in action.  I also never saw a doll, a Bible verse, or somebody saying “dragon” (Even though Chris Divinsky did pitch and did well.  His nickname is Dragon.  Does that count?).  We had a really good time clear up until Dad called to FaceTime with here, and then Mom called as well.  That’s about the time Chris returned from her Bible study, so we paused the game and headed for bed.  All in all, it was a pretty successful experience for me.  Of course I failed to mention that she had at least four snacks and glass of strawberry flavored milk.  I’m sure that had nothing to do with her inability to settle down and fall asleep.  She was still snoring away when I left for the church this morning …

James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Father, thank you for my baby sitting session last night.  Cailyn was a great sitter, and we behaved almost the whole time.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July 11 – “From the sky ...”

Warning: Cuteness overload.  One of the little bitty girls who is watched over often by Chris in the nursery approached her after church.  Smiling shyly and ever-so sweetly, she handed her a page from a coloring book.  She had obviously been working hard all through the service to get Mickey and Minnie Mouse done just perfect.  She said, “Here.  This is for you.”  Aw.  Of course Chris did the usual amount of encouraging and gushing and praising over her color selection and application.  And when Chris finished, the precious little one, with a toss of her hand in my general direction, added (Her emphasis, not mine), “It’s for HIM, too.”  I am so happy to be HIM in cases like this.  It is important to be remembered.  Thank you, Elena.

We did our three miles again yesterday.  When we “recovered” from that exertion, I decided to mow the grass.  And before I could finish, the clouds started rolling in.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, you know.  They bring welcome relief from the unfettered sun.  But when the air itself begins to cool and the wind begins to pick up, you know something extra is on its way.  So I made an attempt to speed up.  Put it in hyper-drive, in fact.  I discovered that self-propelled lawn mowers really can’t go any faster than what they are programmed to go. 

Chris came out onto the front porch at one point and yelled something at me.  And she kept pointing at the sky.  Well, I knew a thunderstorm was imminent.  There was really nothing I could do about that.  So I smiled and pushed harder, now almost running as I strained against the mower controls.  Finally I completed the task.  Before the rain fell, I might add.  Oh, I never got around to weedeating or sweeping, but the yard was mowed, so that was a win. 

As I put the lawn mower back in its place inside the shed, Chris joined me.  She had been waiting to tell me something.  See, when she came out on the porch, it wasn’t to tell me that it was about to rain.  Why, no.  And she hadn’t been just broadly indicating the threatening skies.  Nope.  She told me that she had been pointing to a particular cloud bank.  The one that had begun swirling into tornadic shape.  A funnel cloud, dropping down and then returning into the sky.  Oops.  Misread that one, didn’t I?  She just wanted to make sure I wasn’t swept away into the tornado and whisked to Oz for an adventure without her.  Nope.  Can’t get rid of me that easily, my dear.

James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Father, thank you for protecting me while I mowed.  And thank you for Elena.  Help her to grow in mind, body, and spirit to know you better and better.  Amen.

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 10 – “A Langwood Blast”

We had a great surprise Blast from the Past at church yesterday.  Several families were visiting, so I was doing my best to greet them all before we began.  As one of the families moved past me to find a seat, I glanced out the window and saw another new group on their way up the ramp.  The girls I didn’t recognize, but thanks to the ever-present stalking that FaceBook does to find posts to put on my feed, I actually recognized the guy.  It was an older version of the youngster Danny Carr.  Danny was the youngest of three boys that the pastor had in the first church where I was a youth minister.  He was always fun-loving and had a smile on his face.  Of course more times than not, that smile was there to cover up whatever sinister plot he was currently involved in.  They were in town to do some crabbing and enjoy the Island.  Thanks for the great surprise, Danny. 

After church I showed Danny and his family around the retreat center, and when they left I had one more appointment to take care of.  It was haircut day.  Suzann was ready for me with her clippers and scissors and sharpened razor blade.  She does an amazing job, and when she cuts on Sundays the cost is a donation to the church.  Creative ministry at its finest.

The Events Team got together after church as well.  We have been asked to be the vendor of choice for food at the Jamaica Beach Craft Fair in the Park on July 22nd.  They got word that our food booth at the Bethlehem Street Market in December is one of the best ever.  They also knew that we have been raising money to replace our playground equipment, so they asked us to be a part of the festivities.  Sounds like a great opportunity to be involved in the community.  Spread the word to come to the craft fair for lunch on the 22nd of July. 

We went to lunch with a group from the church.  Since it was Jennifer’s birthday she chose her favorite hopping Island spot, Salsa’s.  It was hopping, too.  We had a twenty minute wait to be seated.  There were tourists everywhere.  We didn’t let it hinder our celebration, though.  Happy birthday, Jennifer.

James 4:6 says, “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”

Father, thank you for the chance to see Danny and his family.  Give them a great time together.  And please help our Events Team as they get things ready for that craft fair.  Amen.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

July 9 – “A Dangerous World”

We are back on track.  The walking track, that is.  Not a literal track, though.  We walk around the neighborhood.  Just “on track.”  Double meaning.  Turn of the phrase.  Desperate for something to write about.  Anyway, we walked again yesterday.  Three more miles under our belts.  Gotta be doing some good in there. 

We also ventured into the dangerous world of Tourist Traffic.  First stop was Randall’s to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy.  We also grabbed some stamps while we were there.  Yep, stamps.  They are strange, sticky, little things that you use when you send out birthday cards and such.  People used to use them all the time.  Look on it as antique email.  Wait.  Email is kind of antique now, too, isn’t it?  Umm.  FaceBook Messenger?  No.  How about the super-old way people used to Tweet stuff to each other?  Closest I can come.  Sorry.  I can’t help but think that people still enjoy getting a real-live, snail-mail, personalized card every now and then. 

There were really very few people there.  The parking lot was eerily empty, especially for a Tourism Saturday.  So we decided to try our luck over at WalMart.  Aaaaaand there they all were.  The parking lot was packed.  I mean Christmas shopping quality packed.  I was worried that Chris was going to just drive on by and I would miss out on a fabulous people-watching expedition.  She pulled in, though, and we made our way inside.  Honestly, all we needed was some fruit, so it didn’t take us long to weave our way through.  We did stop briefly at the cheap tank top aisle.  Grabbed a few for each of us for our walking excursions.  $3.96 each for mine.  $4.96 for Chris’.  What’s the deal with a woman’s clothes being so much more expensive?  Ah, another issue for another day.  We picked up our fruit, made one huge sweep around the entire store (adding some more steps, right?), and headed bravely for the check-out counters.  I expected to be waiting in line for at least ten or fifteen minutes, but for some very strange reason, virtually every lane was manned.  Our wait was every bit of thirty, maybe fifty seconds.  That’s right.  Would have been less, but the guy in front of us bought a big cooler, and the checker couldn’t get it off the conveyer belt.  I love going to WalMart …

James 4:1-3 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?  You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Father, watch over all the tourists here this week.  Help them have a happy and safe time.  Amen.