Saturday, November 18, 2017

November 18 – “Getting Ready”

We checked on our friends from Arlington yesterday.  The ones who had a moving van load of furniture and clothes and other stuff from 40+ years of marriage catch fire on its way to their new home here in Galveston (It was somewhere near Houston). The trailer had a flat tire, and as the movers were easing to the side of the road, apparently some of the sparks made their way into a tiny hole in the frame.  By the time the movers got over to check out the tire, they could see smoke pouring from the hole.  And of course the hole was right in the center of the van.  Once the fire was out, they changed the tire and continued with the delivery.  They have all the smoke-damaged stuff under tarps in the back yard now.  As it turned out, the moving company had no insurance to cover the contents.  Looked pretty bleak … until our friends mad a phone call and verified that the homeowner’s insurance that they canceled effective, well, today, would indeed cover all their losses.  The moving van people have assured them that they will help with all the deductibles involved.  They assured us that they are doing fine while waiting for all the insurance red tape.  In case their daughter is listening … Larissa, we gave Mom and Dad a hug for you.

On the way home we made our yearly stop at the Moody Methodist craft fair.  That’s the one that co-opted our name.  They call it the Seaside Craft Festival.  We snagged a few books from their library clean-out, but mainly just strolled around looking for things Chris could do.  Oh, and people-watching of course.  We saw Laura and her goat factory soaps and lotions.  And April snuck up on us and said hello.  One of the vendors who has already signed up for our craft show in December (9th) stopped us and asked if I could figure out the symbolism of one of his new creations.  Lots of pressure, too.  He said he had asked a few people already and no one got it right.  He was excited about coming to our show so he could “ask the pastor what he though.”  I studied the details of the cross he held before me, pondering whatever he could mean.   I even came up with something.  Not what he had in mind, though.  After he showed me what he intended, of course I could see it exactly.  I encouraged him to give it a name to make it easier to see his vision.  Something like, “Christmas Star Cross.”  It is a beautiful item, by the way.  It would make a great Christmas gift.  Come get you one on the 9th

The rest of our errand run involved getting ready.  We went to Academy and got two new turkey friers and some oil.  Once we get some propane tanks that actually dispense propane, we will be ready to do some frying.  Then we stopped by Home Depot to get some more dropped ceiling panels and clips for hanging garland at the church.  We are just about ready for our Hanging of the Greens fellowship after church on December 3rd

Psalms 3:3-4 says, “But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.  To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.”

Father, help us to get ready for the things that matter … like loving you and loving people.  Amen.

Friday, November 17, 2017

November 17 – “Proving me wrong”

Yesterday was one of those days.  I know, that could literally mean anything depending on who says it.  In my case, in this particular blog situation, however, it means that, well, nothing much happened yesterday.  Now here’s where I try to track our footsteps and prove myself wrong.

We did our walk and exercise regimen after being off for four days.  It was easier to accomplish after all that rest, but I’m kind of sore this morning.  Chris cleaned house for home group, and I even did the vacuuming.  Then after getting cleaned up we headed out to run errands.  Asleep yet?  We stopped by the bank to make a deposit.  Still doing our banking the old school way.  Oh, we are set up to do online stuff, and I do that occasionally, but there’s nothing quite like getting to know a banker.  Never know when it might come in handy. 

Next stop was Randalls for some fruit and to pick up a prescription for Chris.  While in line at the pharmacy an old guy wearing a World War II Marines veteran cap asked the fellow behind me (who was just a bit older than me, himself), if he would mind holding his place in line while he sat down for a few minutes to rest his bad leg.  He assured the old fellow that he would.  Well, Chris and I heard the interchange, so I struck up a conversation with the guy behind us and asked if he would mind if we let the old guy go in front of us.  He was readily in favor of the plan.  As we continued our chat he asked about my fire department hat, and we shared which neighborhoods we lived in.  I told him I was born here in 1953.  He said he arrived on the Island in 1956.  Just a couple of salt between the toes, long-time Galvestonians.  Always good to find a kindred spirit. 

Then we headed to Walmart … of course.  We did have a plan this time, though.  Turkeys.  Next week is Thanksgiving, which means next Tuesday is turkey fry day.  So we had to grab ten of the right sized beasts.  Fortunately we got there just after a bin-stocking, so we loaded up on 14-15 pounders.  Why so many?  Well, we will have the whole family over, plus some Seasiders are planning to join us.  We also freeze as much as we can to use throughout the year.  And we’ll give some away, so it will all find a place by the end of next week.  It took some maneuvering, but Chris managed to find a place for all the birds in the fridge until we can fire up the fryers next week. 

As I was studying for the home group Bible study I got an email from the daughter of some good friends from Arlington.  Her parents are finally making the big move to Galveston and their retirement home here.  But they ran into a problem on the way down here.  One of the two trucks that was hauling their belongings caught fire.  I don’t know how much was destroyed, but everything in there was at least water or smoke affected.  Their daughter was asking if we could stop by their house today and give them a hug.  That sounds doable. 

Bible study went well.  Ten of us talking about manna from heaven (The kind in the Book of Exodus).  After everyone left we crashed on the couch with an orange and watched a Hallmark Christmas movie. 

So there you have it.  We have reached the end of our day.  One of those days.  I guess we did end up accomplishing something, though, didn’t we?

Psalms 1:6 says, “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

Father, thank you for giving us one more of those days.  Be with the Philpot’s as they sort through their stuff.  Amen.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

November 16 – “Dance. Dance. Dance”

I guess I haven’t mentioned much about the conference itself.  The business was all very … boring.  All straightforward maintenance stuff like electing officers and adopting resolutions to thank the venue and the people who worked on the convention committee.  I did hear that they are moving it to Arlington next year.  We did hear a pretty good sermon, though.  It took a while for the guy to get started.  He was kind of intimidated by his preaching professor being in the audience, but once he stopped worrying about “proper style” and just went to preaching, he was really good.  He had three or four lists of points, but one thing I thought was catchy: “When we allow what’s ABOVE us to get IN us, only then can we handle what’s AROUND us.”  Yep.

Before I go any further, just to make things perfectly clear … AnnaGrace did say DadDad.  Numerous times.  Appropriately.  That and her all in style of taking a break (just flopping down on the carpet on her back with her arms out to the side) captured my heart.  Luke showed his creative side.  He was playing with a pirate ship when suddenly a giant whale (I suppose they have a Jonah play set or something) leapt from the depths and landed on the masts of the schooner.  The pirates did their best to fight against him, but to no avail.  Caleb and I had a run-in while playing a card game (The name of the game had something to do with exterminating vermin in a certain northern African country).  Part of the excitement involved being the first one to slap the cards when a double is played (like two jacks in a row).  He leaned way over into my line of attack, so the next time a double showed up, I smushed his face into the ottoman we were using as a table.  Sure surprised him, but we laughed about that all the way up until I did it again.  And again.  And again.  Speaking of card games, Zak displayed his victory dance for us.  His Daddy told him he couldn’t swing his hips in any way, so he figured out a way to compensate.  And he looked like a TV star.  No, not in general.  A very specific TV star.  Remember Erkel?  Picture him.  Hips pushed out in front, head down, arms stiff as a board.  And then the arms move back and forth, allegedly in time to the music, but if anyone is watching the music becomes irrelevant.  It’s too funny a sight to bother with things like timing.  And timing was not really a factor in his other dance move, one he called The Seizure.  No explanation necessary.  The dancing segment was even better when Zak took it upon himself to train Luke in proper techniques.   That we have a video of.  All three of them in dance mode.  Great fun.

Eccl 3:1 & 4 says, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven — 
4 A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.”

Father, thank you for the unbridled fun of three brothers dancing.  Amen.  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

November 15 – “Now, THAT’S a burger place”

Well, we found a place to eat a burger in Waco, Texas.  No, we found THE place.  In response to a quick text I sent asking for some lunch ideas, Josh replied with two suggestions.  One, a sandwich shop, was right by the convention center.  We went there the first day.  Pretty good sandwich.  Also had a guy walk up to us and strike up a conversation.  To be honest, I didn’t recognize him.  In fact it took the better part of the day for me to come up with his name.  He was from way, way back to even before I was a youth pastor.  Sigh.  It takes longer and longer for long term memories to escape from their warehouses nowadays.

But today I speak of the second option Josh sent us.  The name was innocuous enough.  In fact I just assumed he misspelled it or auto-correct jumbled it up or something.  Dubl-R Old Fashioned Hamburgers.  I typed it into Google maps, though, and it came right up, just as spelled.  Now, we don’t know much about the town of Waco yet, but it didn’t take long for us to become suspicious of the route Google Siri was suggesting.  Certainly not the safest-feeling area of the community, to be sure.  We followed her directions to the letter, though.  And still, we almost missed it entirely.  Tiny little building.  We circled the block, and sure enough, there it was. 

Chris said, “Are you sure you want to go in there?”  well, the parking lot was almost full …. with construction trucks.  And we all know they know the best places to eat.  So we walked inside.  And she said it again, “Are you sure you want to eat here?”  Now more than ever was my thought.  The kitchen is right in the open with a bar-type counter facing it.  Everyone has to buss his own table.  Not that unusual, right?  Well, here’s the interesting thing.  Instead of placing your little plastic basket and setting it on a counter somewhere, you put it straight into the sink of soapy water marked “Wash.”  They don’t use frozen meat.  The cook just grabs a wad of hamburger meat, plops it on the table, smacks it flat with a spatula, and slaps it onto the griddle.  And they fried the bun along with the meat.  Oh, and they had bacon.  Can’t beat bacon. 

There was live entertainment, too.  Well, sort of.  The guy who was apparently the store owner was … verbal.  He was working behind the counter.  At one point he chewed out a few of his customers (a couple of college students) for texting instead of talking.  “Hey!  Put those phones away and talk to each other.  What’s the matter with you?”  The fry cook stirred the pot a little when he carefully pointed out that one of the customers liked to play video games.  The owner started out simple enough.  “What’s your favorite video video game?  Hesitantly, the guy mumbled “Atari.”  That’s all it took.  The trap had been set and the prey had stumbled right into it.  The owner yelled, “Video games!  Why are sitting around the house playing video games all the time?  Get a job.  I bet you still live with your Mama, too.  Give her a break.  Get your own place.  Oh, but to do that you’d have to GET A JOB.”  Between them all, they also solved all the problems the Dallas Cowboys are having, but no one has asked them.  Oh, and right in the middle of one such tirade the owner suddenly stopped and said, “Wait.  That guy there is praying.  Everybody shut up so he can pray.”

So … highly entertaining place.  Oh, and the burger was fabulous.  Not that I would have particularly noticed.  Too much going on to concentrate on food. 

Psalms 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinner or sit in the seat of mockers.”

Father, thank you for people who really enjoy what they do for a living.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

November 14 – “Pretty inspiring lady”

We arrived in Waco.  Guess I failed to mention that we were heading here yesterday. The plan was to attend the Baptist General Convention of Texas, or whatever they are calling themselves these days.  They were gracious enough to hold the convention in Waco this year.  I’m fairly certain the decision was made strictly to make things easier for us.  No hotel room to pay for, and we would have access to a certain four grandchildren.  Such a difficult sacrifice we have been called upon to make, but we are willing.

We arrived early enough to go by the church where Josh is pastor.  A young man was sharing about a trip he had just taken to Israel.  He was focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his teaching.  Pretty fascinating history lesson.  Caleb was enthralled.   He even approached the speaker at the end, and the two of them discussed their mutual love of history and begrudging acceptance of all things math. 

Zak and Caleb hopped in the car with us for the ride home, so we got to hear their welcome excitement.  Luke is four years old now.  In an apparent nod to our aged forgetfulness, he told us that at least five times.  And AnnaGrace melted our hearts with a smile, of course.  Girls.  How do they do that? 

Grandchildren fix completed, we made our way to the conference yesterday.  We got checked in, received our free welcome bag, and headed into the exhibit arena.  Isn’t that what everyone does at these things?  Lots of free gimmick-y stuff to go with the coffee and snacks for breakfast.  We had already had breakfast, though.  The hotel had a place set up with some really good bacon and cheese breakfast burritos.  We did avail ourselves of the gimmicks, though.  Strictly in the cause of research, of course.  You never know when we might have cause to purchase a hundred or so engraved pens (that’s an easy one), or single pen holders (Kind of an odd plastic blob with a hole on top), or those squishy stress balls that look like baseballs (lots of offers to us for these, since I was wearing an Astros shirt), or my personal favorite so far, a tiny fan that plugs into the recharge port of your cell phone, so you can be cool anywhere you have your phone, which of course these days is everywhere. 

We also ran into an old friend from our South Oaks Baptist Church days.  We have been keeping up with Jodi on FaceBook.  She is an amazing woman.  A while back she was on vacation and fell, breaking both ankles and a wrist.  She received news from the ER doctor that she would require some surgery once the swelling went down.  Guess what?  Since she had to wait for the swelling anyway, and she wanted her own doctors to do any invasive stuff, she just continued on with her vacation.  Took her four months to come back from the ankle surgeries and another three months for the wrist.  But now she is up and at ‘em, traveling again.  Pretty inspiring lady. 

Rev 1:17-18 says, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’”

Father, thank you for Jodi and for her story of inspiration.  Keep her safe and healthy.  Amen.

Monday, November 13, 2017

November 13 – “The Walking Stick”

We had some visitors in church yesterday.  Well, I guess that doesn’t tell you much, since a day without visitors would be the anomaly at Seaside.  But these fellows were from Oregon.  They were in Texas to do relief building work in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on behalf of their Swedish Lutheran church.  And the three houses they had been working on all week?  Well, they were in Rosenberg, a community west of Houston.  How did they come to be at Seaside?  Well, they came to Galveston take a day off at the beach town, basically.  They knew nothing about it other than it was an island.  So how in the world did they come to find out about Seaside?  The internet.  Apparently our website won out over all the rest when they saw the line about wearing shorts and t-shirts. 

The visual verse for the day was Jeremiah 29:13 – You will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.  One of the Oregonians (They were impressed because I pronounced it correctly) approached me after church to tell me a story.  Seems his father and uncle both loved to hike on the trails in Oregon.  His father even led hiking tours.  Sadly, something came between them, and the uncle, who was an unbeliever, refused to talk to his brother for two years. 

On one of his hikes the uncle found a walking stick, an elaborately carved walking stick, in fact, obviously quite expensive.  He checked with all his sources and came up empty.  The only other course of action he knew of was to ask an actual trail guide to check with tour groups.  And the only trail guide for the area in question?  You guessed it … his estranged brother.  The uncle managed to get past whatever had kept them apart for two years.  He contacted his brother and the two of them worked together to find the cane’s owner. 

Now that would be a nice, Hallmark-y ending to the story.  But here’s the thing.  Number one, I don’t know if they ever found the owner of the cane or not.  He never said.  Why?  Because the actual “punchline” was so much better.  When the brothers got together to look at the cane and develop a lost and found ad, they noticed that the engraving on the cane included a Bible verse.  Jeremiah 29:13.  You will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.  And from the chuckle they shared at the irony on the stick, their relationship was healed.  Irony?  Ah … I prefer … the power of the word of God to heal and restore.  Beat that, Hallmark.

Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.”

Father, thank you for the effort the guys from Oregon are expending here in Texas to help folks rebuild.  Honor their efforts and keep them safe as they return home.  Amen.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

November 12 – “Another championship”

Our day started kind of early.  We made a trip into Texas, so we put together our Texas list before we left the Island.  First stop was one of the Seasider Dickinson homes affected by Hurricane Harvey.  We have been walking with Amber through the rebuilding process, and we had a gift card to give her to help out with some of the materials purchases she still has to deal with.  They are just about finished with sheetrocking and once the texturing and painting there is done, they can move onto flooring.  That’s moving pretty fast in the grand scheme of things.  We also made a swing by the Boyer’s house to check on them, but no one was at home.

Next on the list … we headed to Lifeway Christian Store to pick up an order of New Testaments.  These are destined for the give-away bags at the upcoming Bethlehem Street Market on December 9th.  Every shopper will receive a nice cloth bag with the New Testament and a few other things inside.  Then they can fill it up with all their purchases.  Mark your calendars.

After a fly-through stop at McDonald’s (Yes, McDonald’s.  It was the only place near us where we could grab something fast and get on the road.  Chris ordered a Big Mac without the special sauce.  I had to remove the extraneous hunk of bread they stick in the middle.  I tried the quarter pounder with cheese, cut the mustard, add mayo.  Never have had one before.  I think I have found a go-to option in the event we are forced to rely on a McDonald’s excursion in the future), we made our way back south a little bit to Jachin’s baseball game.  It was his end-of-the-season tournament.  As it turned out they won their first game, so we were going to arrive just in time for the championship game. 

As we walked up we were greeted with running hugs from Josiah and Noa.  Well, Chris was the hug recipient.  I got the left-overs.  But I had my moment to shine just short moments away.  Ezra was in his stroller, so I approached him.  I leaned down and grinned at him and gave him a little tickle under his chin.  He made eye contact with me and quite clearly said, “DadDad.”  Of course.  And from that point on, every time he saw me he named me again.  It kind of felt like a hippopotamus in the Garden of Eden with Adam trying repetition to remember what it was he called that strange creature.  This old boy didn’t mind, though.  Bring it on. 

So back to the game.  Jachin’s team entered the top of the last inning ahead by five runs.  And the other team launched a surging comeback.  They scored five runs to tie the score.  Jachin was finally called on to stem the tide, and he finally induced a weak chopper back to the mound to retire the side.  They came to the plate needing just one run, but this was a pony league team, and not the home run happy Astros.  The first batter worked a walk, then stole second and third, sandwiched between a few foul balls.  Then came a passed ball.  The runner made a dash for the plate.  The pitcher was covering.  The catcher made the throw … and the pitcher couldn’t handle the toss.  The run scored.  Jachin’s team wins the championship.  And by virtue of a timely relief appearance, guess who is recorded as the winning pitcher?  Yep.  That would be Jachin.  That’s my grandson out there. 

Revelation 1:8 says, “’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’”

Father, thank you for a great day of sunshine and baseball.  And for all of those 10-month-old “DadDad’s.”  Amen.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

November 11 – “Friday Night (Wedding??) Lights”

It was wedding time again yesterday.  One of the young ladies who grew up at Seaside was getting married at the Gartein Verein venue.  There were a few “interesting developments" at this one. 

First of all, the rehearsal was held at noon the day of the wedding.  Kind of unusual there, but if all 14 attendants could be there, then who am I to disagree?  Well, 13 of 14 wasn’t too bad.  None of the three flower girls were there, however.  I guess they were all considered flower girls.  One was about the right age, maybe five or six.  The other two looked to be at least in their late teens.  They ended up doing fine once we started. 

One thing the bride’s parents (Seasiders Eric and Beth) had realized was that because we have moved away from daylight savings time, it would be getting dark around the time we needed to start the wedding.  I told the bride’s mom just to make sure the best man had a flashlight with him.  Then if I couldn’t see, he could stand next to me and shine his light on my book.  Then if he felt the service was running too long, he could just turn off the light and we would be done.  A little officiant pressure there.  They had already scrambled, however, and with strategic placement of lights and lanterns, and by offering a hand-held flashlight to every guest, I could see to read the ceremony just fine. 

The second issue they had not foreseen.  As we were talking at the rehearsal I mentioned a wedding I had done at that venue where a high school football game was being played right next door.  A look of near-panic crossed Beth’s face as she realized it was Friday and it was football season.  Friday Night Lights and all.  They jumped on the internet in search of a football schedule, and to their horror, a Ball High home game was indeed scheduled for that very night.  Now, fortunately, the wedding was scheduled to begin at 6, and the game didn’t start until 7.  We should be fine as long as we started pretty close to on time.  Fast forward to wedding time.  Everyone was in place, ready to begin, when we got word … the brides grandparents were lost somewhere on the Island in the maze of our two one way streets.  Could we possibly wait for them?  I asuured them that we could wait.  I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?  We could be right in the middle of the ceremony and have to stop and stand for the National Anthem.  We could handle that.  After all, it was the day before Veteran’s Day.  They finally arrived, and the only competition I had was the occasional pregame announcement over the public address system.  Well, there was also the little explosion of raucous cheers when the guys finally made their way down the stairs to begin the ceremony.  It came from behind us … from the bridesmaids.  All ten of them plus the bride.  Quite the announcement of beginnings. Wouldn’t you say?

The wedding itself was really pretty.  Since it was full on dark by the time we started, the lights made for a really nice ambiance.  The music, however, ranks right up there with my all-time favorites.  Being from Galveston, the bride wanted an Island feel for the ceremony, so she went on the internet and located someone who could play … the ukulele.  And as it happened, the ukulelist she found was none other than my uke teacher from the classes I took.  He is an amazing player and pretty good singer to boot.  And while we waited for the grandparents to arrive, he played an impromptu concert for the crowd.  I guess it would be appropriate to mention here that he and I were adorned for the occasion with real-flower leis draped across our shoulders.

Oh and one final note about the day … one of the bridesmaids was a guy.  He even wore the flowery little crown in his hair like the girls did.  He tried to walk down the aisle carrying a bottle of beer, but my esteemed wedding coordinator assistant (read here, Chris) would have none of that.  She even went to each of the girls and made them spit out any gum they were chewing.  Very funny young man.  He told me his parents were pastors in the Valley.  He took a selfie with me to send to them to show he connected with a pastor at the wedding.  He also said his cousin was somewhat of a celebrity.  Eric and I were talking about the Astros (he’s a huge fan, too), and the World Series hat that I had just received in the mail.  And this fellow interjected that his cousin was now Carlos Correa’s fiancĂ©e.  As a result he had all sorts of Astros paraphernalia he was hawking – “just out in the trunk of my car … just twenty dollars.”  As tempting as it sounded, I decided to hang onto the one I ordered.  Wouldn’t want to deprive other of his clientele who were no doubt waiting with bated breath for his arrival. 

Jude 24-25 says, “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

Father, be with Sean and Melissa as they start out on a new phase of their journey.  Draw them toward you.  Amen.

Friday, November 10, 2017

November 10 – “DJ Blaze and the Fire Pup”

I had my final physical therapy appointment yesterday.  Kind of a mutual parting of the ways.  She realized that the therapy wasn’t solving the problem I arrived with.  I realized that I wasn’t going to get a deep tissue massage out of the deal.  Oh, she did another of her traction/acu-pressure sessions that leaves me sore and aching.  But no real massage.  Guess I’ll be forced to go on a cruise or something to get one of those. 

Last night before homegroup I went to this year’s fire prevention open house at fire station number five.  That’s the event where they honor the kids in the Galveston area (Bolivar included.  Crenshaw School over there always has some winners) for their fire prevention posters.  Kids win trophies for first through third place and honorable mention.  And they get a cash prize from the local sponsors.  Couldn’t hear all of them, but a Galveston insurance group was among them.  I think Heffernan Insurance has been involved for fifty years in the project.  The winners at this level will be entered into a similar contest on the state level. 

The event was fun for the kids.  Besides the free hot dogs, there was an appearance by none other than YouTube sensation, America’s Got Talent alum, DJ Blaze.  Yep.  Well, OK, I confess.  I never heard of him.  I’ll have to check him out.  But he was a goofy guy with toilet paper stuck to his shoe and wearing funny nose glasses, so I connected with him right away.  He got a group of the kids to get up and dance with him, but he was most effective one on one, especially with the little bitty guys.  Fire pup was there as well.  He is a life-sized (that would be human-sized) Dalmatian in bunker gear.  A little behind the scenes note … Pup’s big entrance was delayed briefly.  The guy wearing the giant dog head was having some trouble with his tail.  I think they finally borrowed some safety pins from the EMS guys to get the wardrobe malfunction repaired.  Oh, and speaking of malfunctions, at one point after his appearance he called one of the other fire fighters over and told him that the helmet strap was in his eyes.  Not sure what he expected.  It could not have been good for the fantasy to see a fireman reaching up into Fire Pup’s head.  He was well-received, as always, and made it for the picture session with each of the winners.  New Fire Marshall Harrison did a pretty good job introducing the event, and of course Mrs. Trish, the event organizer and Department Glue (In a good way, Trish), was fabulous.  There were lots of great posters.  One of the high school winners drew a close-up of a fire fighter’s face.  Some of us were oo-ing and ah-ing over how good the artwork was, and we wondered who her model for the portrait might have been.  Imagine our surprise when we discovered she was the daughter of one of our newer fire fighters.  When he arrived we grilled him about his modeling career.  Sadly, he informed us that he had only found out about the victory the day before.  Her model was actually a random internet guy.  (Either that or maybe she’s been watching Chicago Fire).  Ah, well … explains the facial hair. 

So … DJ Blaze and the Fire Pup.  Sounds like the hottest new superhero duo.  Or a singing group.  Or …

Jude 20-21 says, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.  Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”

Father, bless those youngsters who spent so much time working on their posters.  Amen.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

November 9 – “Hard to fathom”

After working on the Sunday teaching all morning, I headed to the offices of Galveston Urban Ministries for a meeting with the Christ Together Galveston group.  It’s a bunch of pastors and leaders of local non-profits who are gathering together for prayer and sometimes worship.  This time we met around tables and enjoyed a meal of fajitas from Salsa’s.  After a presentation about involvement in the group, each table prayed together.  At my table I was asked to pray as the “elder statesman.”  Yep.  There it is.  I noticed that I was pretty much the oldest guy in the room once that designation was awarded to me.  Ah, well.  I have been at Seaside 22 years.  Hard to fathom. 

Speaking of “fathom.”  Which definition came first?  The one that is a measurement of depth in the oceanic realms, or the one that means “to figure out or understand”?  And what in the world is the connection between the two that makes the alternate definitions meaningful?  Hard to fathom. 

We picked up Cailyn after school.  Stopped by to say hello to her Dad at work right after that.  Then came a game of catch in the front yard.  Gotta keep up her skills for her Fall Ball games.  We had some chicken and dumplings for supper. Very good stuff.  Then the girls made some cookies for a certain upcoming feast day celebration … Thanksgiving.  Two weeks away.  Once again, time flies.  When the cookies were done we settled onto the couch and watched a cheesy Hallmark movie about Annie Claus, Santa’s syrupy sweet daughter.  Never fear.  She found true love and the guy she ended up with will make a pretty decent Santa when ol’ Dad retires.  Sigh.  Hallmark movies.  I love ‘em.  How do they stay on the air?  Hard to fathom.

3 John 4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

Father, it’s hard to fathom why you love us like you do, but we are sure glad you do.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

November 8 – “An unexpected combination”

Well, now.  That was unexpected.  Chris decided to drive up into Texas to get some stuff for church at Hobby Lobby (No, that’s not what was unexpected).  I stayed at the house to do some more work on a wedding I have this weekend as well as on the teaching for Sunday (Nope, that wasn’t the unanticipated event, either).  I finished up the wedding notes and got a start on the teaching, when I hit my wall.  That sometimes happens to me.  Creativity comes to a crashing halt.  It’s not that I wanted to stop, and I even felt OK physically.  But I had reached the end of what I had to offer for the day.  I went into the den and turned on an episode of Arrow we had taped to see if some mindless dribble could inspire me. 

About that time I heard the front door fly open and who should proclaim her presence but Cailyn, followed shortly by her Daddy and even her Mommy.  Cailyn presented me with a gift bag.  There, embossed with glitter, read “DadDad.”  The gift was no doubt for me.  And just under it was written, “A just ‘cause day.”  Hmm.  Something Hallmark came up with, I assumed.  Quite curious by that point, I got the bag opened and peered inside.  Cailyn was quick to point out the presence of a card.  Hand-made gem, I might add.  She had written (and punched out the centers of all the letters with a circle in them, like “p” and “a” and “D”) “Happy Just ‘Cause Day DadDad!”  Surrounding the main message were several smaller ones: “Your Awesome,” and “best person ever,” and “we miss you!”  And there at the bottom was the answer to my query concerning this mystery holiday, a P.S.  “I made it up!  HA HA (smiley face laughing).”  Well, the card itself was enough to make me feel loved.  And, a as you can imagine, I was pretty stunned.  Creativity tends to do that to me.  But then I saw an actual gift in the bag.  I was even more intrigued.  Could it really be?  Yep.  They had given me an Astros Champions t-shirt.  Astros and a Hallmark-quality creation of a granddaughter’s heart.  That’s an unexpected combination.  That’s a fine day.

3 John 2 says, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”

Father, thank you for unexpected combinations.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November 7 – “A Brightness”

Well, we received no visit from the mailman yesterday … again.  He only comes three or four times a week now.  I understand though, from my source within the mail service, that ten more workers have been hired and are due to start on December first.  Meanwhile … please be patient if you expect to hear from me by mail. 

Chris and I started a new workout routine yesterday.  We took a walk first.  It’s been a while, so we cut it short at one mile.  When we returned she did her specific exercises designed to strengthen and stretch out her hip that has been giving her trouble.  Meanwhile, I did the exercises given by the physical therapist that were specific to my neck.  Then we came together and did the exercises lower back pain.  Oh, and we adapted the new exercises I got last week.  They are supposed to be done with my face on a folded up towel so I am facing the ground.  It is way too painful in that position, though, so we did the same movements standing up.  Not as much resistance from gravity, but at least it was accomplishable. 

The public received notice yesterday of another motorcycle fatality.  This one is really sad, too.  The guy was driving by himself on Sunday or Monday night, and apparently missed the turn at Dead Man’s Curve on Stewart Road.  He and his motorcycle left the road and disappeared into the tall grass.  His body was stumbled upon by a passerby sometime on Monday.  The saddest part of the story, though, is the fact that there was no one to report him missing.  Kind of like the little boy whose body was found on the beach a while back.  Authorities are still searching for information on who he was. 

In the midst of the sadness there is a brightness, though.  I am officiating the wedding this weekend of one of the young ladies who was in the Seaside youth group.  It is always a pleasure to see it when one of our own comes into her own.  They even have a creative approach to their sand ceremony planned.  Guess I need to get busy writing that one up, don’t I? 

2 John 6 says, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”

Father, be with the families of the folks who lost their lives, both here in Galveston and in that little church near San Antonio.  Show them a little of your brightness through the darkness that surrounds them.  Amen.

Monday, November 6, 2017

November 6 – “St Nick on a Cycle”

Well, the big motorcycle rally of 2017 has come to a close.  Once again we had thousands of motorcycles on the streets of Galveston, showing off their creatively decorated machines.  It is one of the most welcomed events on the Island because of the overall good behavior of the participants.  Well, that and the fact that they spend money here.  This year we had two couples stop at Seaside to attend church with us on Sunday morning.  It is always fascinating to hear the God story of, well, anybody who has one.  But a lot of these guys have been through the ringer before finding Jesus.  One of the guys this year was especially interesting.  He looked just like Santa Claus, and in fact told me that he enjoys playing the part of Saint Nicholas so he can explain to people that there really was such a historical character, and that old Saint Nick really did love Jesus.  He is also a motorcycle club chaplain, and when he heard that we had given away New Testaments on Halloween, he asked if he could leave a handful of the Testaments that he carried with him for the same purpose.  Great pocket sized testaments with a picture on the cover of a biker kneeling in prayer next to his motorcycle.  Even printed in modern English.  They shouldn’t be too hard to give away. 

Last night we drove into Texas to do some baby-sitting for Kel and Christina.  They went to see the newest action flick.  I think it’s the one about Thor enlisting the Incredible Hulk to help him out.  The kids were great.  They watched a movie of their own, The Incredibles.  I recalled bits and pieces of it, so it must be one we have seen before.  It was an animated feature, so it is always hard for me to stay awake.  While the movie was playing Chris took Ezra into the bedroom to rock him to sleep.  They were only interrupted once, when Cousin AnnaGrace called to tell him about her day.  Apparently she jabbered and he listened, an excellent training opportunity for future dating scenarios, I suppose.  They called me, too, but reception was so bad that the best I got was an excellent rendition of a piano piece by Caleb and a glimpse of Luke, AnnaGrace and Zak every now and then.  Oh, well.  We are planning to see them next week in person.  Guess we’ll get our fix then.

2 John 5 says, “And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.”

Father, keep the motorcycle folks safe as the return to their homes.  Amen.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

November 5 – “Ah, the life”

It has been a dangerous weekend thus far around the Island.  Way too many accidents involving motorcycles.  With the sheer volume of motorcycles on the Island for the Rally this weekend, some uptick is to be expected, but my fire department app has been exploding.  Thankfully most of them have been relatively minor, but at least two have put people in the hospital in critical condition. 

So, we left the Island yesterday to go watch Jachin play some baseball.  They did a pretty good job.  This is Fall Ball, so they don’t really try to be as aggressive to win as they would during a normal season.  Jachin even got to pitch.  He is McCullers-esque in his approach – very … emotional.  We are trying to get him to emulate Keuchel or Verlander instead.  They rarely show emotion at all, and never in regard to ball and strike calls by the umpire. 

We were going to eat lunch after the game at Cracker Barrel, but the wait was over 30 minutes.  We thought we were good since it was already almost 2:00.  What are people doing, waiting so long to eat lunch?  I was hungry at 11:30.  We settled for Sonic instead, since it was in the parking lot of the WalMart we stopped at in LaMarque (Or is it in Texas City?  I have no idea where the dividing line is).  The purpose of the WalMart trip was a little more than people watching this time, although LaMarque has its share of “interesting” people.  We needed to pick up a small Christmas tree to use for an “Angel tree” type ministry project we are doing at Seaside for the folks in Alvin, and for any others we can get information on.  Amazingly, Chris was pretty focused on just getting what we came for, so we weren’t there very long. 

Back at home we watched a little of the Oklahoma vs, Oklahoma State football game.  Primarily so I could talk to our resident Oklahomans at church today.  The score was 38-38 at halftime when we had to leave the house again, and I think the final was something like 62-52.  I think the state of Oklahoma forgot how to play defense.

Back into Texas for the evening.  We headed to Hitchcock this time to watch Josiah, then Micah play their games.  Josiah played catcher for the first time in his young career.  They decided to put him there for two reasons.  One was that he knows the game so well.  The other was a little less glamourous.  He was beginning to get bored out in the field, and playing catcher kept his head in the game every pitch.  Gotta say, he did a great job.  Threw a kid out at third on an attempted steal, and got several guys out at the plate as well.  They lost the game, but I think we might have ourselves a young Brian McCann in the making.  Micah played first base for his team.  He was also the lead-off hitter.  Being the home team, however, the opponents had a top of the first inning that lasted almost an hour.  After striking out the first two batters, the pitcher suddenly couldn’t find the strike zone.  They finally put in a reliever who shut them down, but the damage was already done.  As for Micah, though, he worked a walk in both his times at bat.  Both times he stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch.  I think he was happy in spite of the score. 

We finally made it back home in time to watch a Hallmark movie (thanks to the time change) and hit the sack around 10:30, new time.  Which is actually old time.  I think. Ah the life of a grandparent.

1 John 5:20 says, “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true — even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”

Father, please watch over the motorcyclists.  And please do a work of healing on the ones still in the hospital.  Amen.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

November 4 – “Motorcycles and Puerto Rican romance”

The roar that is motorcycle weekend in Galveston has begun.   Cyclists actually began rolling into town earlier in the week, but as of yesterday, they are most assuredly … here.  The din is, I am sure, much louder the further east on the Island one goes, so we will be doing our best to stay west. 

I did have to experience a bit of the preparations on Thursday when I went to physical therapy.  I decided to drive down the seawall to get to the hospital clinic building.  From 25th Street to about 19th Street the westbound side of the street was completely blocked off and vendors of all types were setting up shop under massive tents.  I saw everything from t-shirts to leather jackets to motorcycle stereo components (Apparently there is such a thing).  Fortunately we have been able to avoid the Strand area where most of the activity is.  Thousands of motorcycles park there so their riders can walk around and see each other’s bikes.  I read an article this past week about how some people are apparently worried that the noise and vibrations from all the motorcycles will have a damaging effect on the historic buildings.  I guess that is conceivable.  Not sure why they are worried so much about it though.  Most of those buildings have already undergone restoration anyway. 

Our strategy to stay away from the noise adjusted a bit yesterday to include a trip over the San Luis Bridge into Lake Jackson.  I was asked to officiate at a funeral of a really sweet 98 year old lady.  She attended our home group several times some years ago with her niece.  Incredible lady.  Born in Puerto Rico.  She was the lighthouse keeper’s daughter who married a U.S. serviceman.  Quite the romance.  Made me smile in light of the other Puerto Rican romance in the news this past week (Houston Astro Carlos Correa proposed to his girlfriend in the middle of being interviewed on national TV after they won the World Series).  They (The lighthouse lady and the serviceman, not Correa) ended up living in Galveston via New York City (She didn’t like the cold, and Galveston reminded her of her Puerto Rican home). 

Chris noticed something unusual as she drove back into Galveston.  Several of the motorcyclists we saw would point to the ground as they crossed paths with the cyclist behind us.  Not all of them did it, though.  We were just wondering what that meant.  Anybody have any ideas on that?

1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

Father, please watch over the motorcyclists this weekend.  There have already been too many accidents involving them.  Amen.

Friday, November 3, 2017

November 3 – “The inevitable declaration”

I received the inevitable declaration from my physical therapist yesterday. It’s one I have been given every time I have ever done physical therapy on my neck.  Something along the lines of, “I have checked with every other therapist I know.  I have read through every book I can find.  I even talked to several doctors.  You need to understand that the therapy we are doing here is really not going to help with the pain problem you have.”  Of course it’s not.  Her research led her to discover that the nerve that regulates the sensations I am having up into my face is a cranial nerve rather than a spinal one (whatever that means).  I replied, “So ….?”  And her answer was, “You need to check with a neurosurgeon or neurologist.”  Interesting.  I answered, “And you remember … that’s who referred me to you?”  No real answer to that one. 

What followed was a session of torture, er, therapy, that I am still reeling from today.  She is working on some posture issues to strengthen my back and neck muscles so I don’t continue developing into a cratchity old dude with a hunchback.  I suppose if I follow her regimen, I will instead be a cratchity old dude who can stand up straight.  The new exercises are more difficult than the last ones she sent home.  For these I have to lie on the floor face down (literally face down.  Have to put my forehead on a rolled-up towel so I can breathe).  Then I put my arms in different positions and try to raise them toward the back.  Not too difficult in the actual doing.  Very difficult in the dealing with residual pain part that comes after.  I suppose the jury is still out on whether it will do any good.  I mean, after all, that one guy at Notre Dame got a whole book written about him …

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

Father, I could use some help getting through the physical therapy this time.  Pretty brutal aftermath.  Amen.