Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 31 – “Ah … banking”

We made a bank visit yesterday.  Initially it was just to make a deposit, but Chris remembered that her IRA was due to be rolled over, so she wanted to check out the rates for the different terms.  I have never really paid attention to any of that stuff.  Never really had enough money to make a difference anyway.  But she enjoys following it.  Guess she likes the power of being in control or something.  Not that the interest they are offering is anything to write home about.  It used to be a whopping .4%.  Something good must be happening, though, because it just skyrocketed all the way up to .7%.  Wow.  We will soon be millionaires at that rate (Read here “Sarcasm,” just in case you, like me, are of the “I have no idea what that means” persuasion).

Well, we just went over to our water exercise class.  We were pretty determined to make it today since we missed both sessions last week because “someone” was too sick to move.  And when we arrived there were only two other cars in the parking lot.  Not a good sign, since we were right at the time class was supposed to be starting.  One of the other guys got out of his truck and we shared our frustration over obviously not being contacted.  Seems that he missed last Thursday as well.  That must have been the announcement day.  Ah, well.  Oh, but don’t think I dodged the exercise bullet.  No.  No.  No.  I am married to Chris after all.  As soon as we got home she barked out the order to get dressed for going walking.  Well, OK then.  So now we are back home.  She is settling in with the newspaper.  I am back at the computer.  Great way to start the day.

Colossians 2:9-10 says, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”

Father, thank you for the brisk, damp day, perfect for taking an early morning walk.  Amen.

Monday, January 30, 2017

January 30 – “The late-night invasion”

As you know if you have been reading my posts over the last few days, I have been sleeping in my recliner for about a week.  No, that’s not code for “The doghouse with Chris.”  I just haven’t been able to lie flat without coughing like crazy. 

So the other night I was just settling in, twisting and turning, trying to find just the right spot where my body would think it was really bedtime and my head would be tricked into staying unclogged.  Chris had gone on to the bedroom, to settle in herself – into our nice, warm bed (See, the whole sleep in the recliner bit is not as sleepover-fun as it might sound).  As the sounds of the day finally began to quiet in my thinking, I heard a different noise.  This one was not inside my head, however.  This one was clearly recognizable.  This one was … the dogs barking.  Freddy, to be exact.

She was out in the back yard engaging in one of those yelping, excited kinds of barking tirades that are hard to describe.  It was obvious she was seeing something, but there seemed to be a hint of mystery in her bark as well.  What was it she was protecting us from?  Or was she just playing around with a snail on one of the plants?  Freddy’s kind of strange that way.  After a time, she even drew Fritz’s attention.  He obviously had not yet seen anything, but he was adding an occasional baritone bark to Freddy’s soprano warblings. 

I waited and listened for several long minutes, hoping they would simply tire and head on to bed.  But sadly, they did not.  So I dragged myself out of the recliner and trudged into the kitchen for a flashlight.  I flipped on the back porch light and stepped outside, leaving the door open behind me.  Freddy immediately came to greet me, but she didn’t stay long, she was on a mission, and was not to be deterred.  Fritz came over to join me, though.  His attitude was more, “She’s off her rocker.  Can you get her to just shut up?”  But about that time a flash of white raced across my field of vision, with Freddy’s distinctive tiny brown body close behind.  A very large white cat made its way from our back flower bed, onto and over the fence.  Well, that would certainly be a cause for alarm.  After all, we can’t have cats squatting in the back yard.  What would the respectable dog community think?  I figured that would settle the issue.  I complemented Freddy on her pursuit and called her to come inside.

But I was ignored.  She decided that it was in her contract to make one last run-through of the offended vicinity of the flower bed.  She sniffed and shook violently.  Fritz stood by, wagging his tail and thinking, “Give it a rest, Shrimp.”  And suddenly, Freddy yelped in abject fear and leapt backwards from the bed, landing at my feet.  The yelping mixed with an excited, almost-crazed bark that I didn’t know could come from such a small mouth.  She gathered herself, and bravely moved forward again, that other-worldly yapping sound still emanating from her mouth.  And just as she reached the edge of the flower bed, another cat, at least twice her size, hissed loudly and raced toward the safety of the fence.  Fritz finally saw this one and gave a feeble farewell growl, but Freddy followed it all the way, bravely and loudly encouraging the rapidity of its exit.  All the racket reached through the house and brought Chris to the back door to see what was going on.  It took me a moment or two to recover from laughing, but I filled her in.  Freddy was calming back down now, so we assumed the yard had been deemed safe.  Fritz was certainly ready to call it a night, and so were we.  And so, I can only imagine, were our neighbors.  So sorry, my adjacent friends.

Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

Father, thank you for our little yard guard dog.  Amen.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

January 29 – “Twinkle-finger magic”

We made yet another trip over to Office Depot yesterday.  I needed some more covers for the last of the Visual Verses books I printed up.  I have a total of seven now available.  Well, one of those has been spoken for, so make that six.  I’m planning to take a few up to the church this morning.  Maybe someone will be interested after we do a verse during worship. 

You know, we’ve been spending so much time at Office Depot lately that I grew fearful that WalMart was going to get jealous.   Can't have that.  So we went there, too.  Actually I needed a certain prop for the sermon introduction.  Can’t say what yet.  Don’t want to spoil the surprise for you Seasiders who check in here before getting to church.  We also needed some bananas, and I picked up some more cough drops.  The cough is much better (I actually slept through from around 11 until my alarm went off at 6.  It’s been a long time since that has happened), but I want to have some backup going into the sermon this morning. 

When we got home I did some practicing on my uke.  This advanced class I signed up for starts in two weeks, and I’m afraid it may be a lot more than I anticipated.  I ordered the book online and have been slowly working through it.  Thing is, right off the bat they want us to do that picking stuff.  That means I may be forced to try to learn some of that music theory junk.  You know, what finger goes on which string so you can try to find said string and pluck just that one while simultaneously looking ahead to see where the next note is on the little set of lines, wrack your brain to remember what it is, so you can switch finger positions and go back the plucking again.  Oh, I know it can be done.  I’ve seen those really big guys play on Hawaii 5-O.  I just don’t know that it’s the best use of my poor old fat arthritic fingers.  It’s certainly not what I intended when I started out.  I just want to learn chords so I can play “Happy Birthday to You” or “I’m a Nut” or some of the other such classics of the musical realm.  Well, and maybe a praise song or two would be nice.  You people better appreciate it on Sunday morning when your praise guys start playing.  Especially when they start with all that twinkle-finger magic …

Colossians 2:6-7 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Father, thank you for the dedication it took our praise team guys to learn all the chords and finger movements so that they can lead us to worship you.  Amen.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

January 28 – “Print Shop”

After receiving another email order for one of the Visual Verses books, I had to spend some time over the last two days printing some more copies.  I figured up that it costs me less to buy the toner and paper and binding materials and do the printing myself, than it would to have it printed at Office Depot.  They charge eleven cents a page for black and white copies – one-sided.  Two sided is more expensive than that.  I would have to charge $25 a book just to break even.  As it is I’m hard pressed to get all expenses covered just charging $20, and I feel bad charging more than $15. 

On the positive side, though, I had to go back to Office Depot to get some more printer toner.  And to my surprise I stumbled upon some serious deals.  I took a coupon with me for $10 off a $50 purchase.  I knew I would hit that because the plan was to also buy a case of paper.  The paper was drastically reduced from $55 to $17 a case.  They had an in-store coupon on the desk for buy one, get one half price on hp toner cartridges.  And when she rang up the purchase, I also received a 20% discount from somewhere.  No idea where that came from.  The whole purchase knocked almost $50 off the price.  Not bad.

When I got back I changed out the black toner that was running low, and the very first run I noticed that the pencil sketches were coming out green, then a vomit-yellow color.  Only one thing that could be.  Fortunately I had a tri-color toner cartridge on hand and changed it out.  Back to good as new.  I now have five completed copies of the book ready for distribution.  Also have two more that have been printed, but I ran out of the binding covers.  Guess there is yet another Office Depot trip in my future.  It’s not easy running a print shop.

Colossians 2:5 says, “For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.”

Father, thank you for the folks who are interested in the book in the first place.  May it help them have some fun with Scripture as they get it into their lives in a surprising way.  Amen.

Friday, January 27, 2017

January 27 – “Coincidentally …”

Day Four of the Cold War has devolved into the cough stage.  Still some residual stuffiness and occasional scratchy throat, but the headache is gone.  I slept in the recliner again, though.  Made it through until 4:30 before waking up.  I will take that on a good night.

I went on a field trip out of the house yesterday.  Well, two of them, actually.  One was just over to WalMart with Chris.  I started printing a few more copies of the Visual Verses book (Got another order in the mail), and since I also had to print the booklets for the discernment report at church, I needed more toner for the printer.  It felt good just to walk around and stretch my legs.  Kind of wore me out, though.

After we got home I got an email from the financial secretary at church.  Seems she had been somehow locked out of the online banking system.  When she called to ask them about it, they wouldn’t even talk to her since she wasn’t also a signer on the account.  On a hunch I dragged myself over to the bank to ask them in person.  Coincidentally, the person I asked about it had recently been promoted to the position of … the one to talk to about just such issues.  She asked for Cathy’s phone number and called her right then to see what was the issue.  Sounded to me like they got it taken care of, but the bank lady also gave her a personal cell number and said to call her later that night if she had problems. Then Cathy asked why she was suddenly getting help now when she had been rebuffed earlier when she had called.  The answer?  “Because Mr. Vaughan is in my office right now and I know him, so I know what you’re doing.  It’s OK.  We’ll get this taken care of.”  When she hung up she told me she was going to get Cathy set up with whatever access she needed.  She would email me the paperwork and all I had to do was get one of our signers to sign it.  Then she asked who our signers were.  I mentioned Cory Anderson, and she stopped me right there.  “Wait.  Cory is a signer?  I know Cory.  And I know where he lives.”  Coincidentally, she lives in Jamaica Beach, too.  And coincidentally, her husband is a Jamaica Beach police officer who works with Cory. 

Coincidentally, coincidence is often a crock.

Colossians 2:2-3 says, “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Father, thank you for being involved in even some of the most minor details of life … coincidentally.  Amen.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

January 26 – “Holding it together”

Day Three of the Cold War has come and gone, and I really think things are looking up.  Chris suggested that we cancel home group tonight just to make sure any residual nasties don’t make their way into anyone else’s system.  Agreed.  Evenings are always the worst time for any illness with me anyway.  Besides, I’m sore all over today from coughing which has not yet run its course.

Aside from binge watching Bones on Netflix while Chris works on a quilt, absolutely nothing of import happened around here yesterday.  That would be a good thing, because I wasn’t tempted to force myself to get up and deal with anything.  Oh, we did get a text from some Seasiders wanting to replace our outside lights that have burned out.  Go for it. 

How about I let Paul do the rest of the talking today?

Colossians 1:17-29 says, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.  I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.  To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.  To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”

Father, thank you for the glimmer of recovery.  And thanks for “holding all things together.”  Amen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

January 25 – “A Shattering Incident”

Day two of the TV Commercial poster boy for upper respiratory drug therapy has come and gone.  There were definitely moments when I felt way worse than any time the day before. 

Cailyn spent the night with us last night.  I had to do my best to keep my distance from her.  Meanwhile, Chris showed that she really loves me.  She stayed home from ladies Bible study at church.  Not so much to take care of me as to entertain Cailyn.  They were both sweethearts, though.  Cailyn was going to feed me supper in my recliner.  I made my way to the table, though.  They worked together to make the meal.  Chicken strips and gravy and black eyed peas.  A veritable feast.  Cailyn said a very sweet prayer and included me in it.  And after the meal, her sweetness continued.  She cleared off the entire table.  She did a great job right up until she was about to set down the last bowl.

Apparently she felt a sneeze coming on, so she did what pretty much everybody does in that situation, she jumped.  And that last bowl went down.  Shattered into a million pieces.  I don’t think even Abby from NCIS could put this one back together.  Cailyn was barefoot at the time, so Chris hollered at her to freeze.  I reached her and convinced her to climb onto my back.  Once out of harm’s way, she grabbed Freddy to protect her.  One bowl.  No blood.  That’s a win around here.

About the time Cailyn went to bed, I started alternating between cold shakes and being hot as a firecracker.  My head throbbed right behind my right eye.  I put on my brand new Ho Ho Ho long sleeved pajamas.  Painful.  Aggravating.  Frustrating.  But through it all I kept trying to convince myself to just make it through the night.  Why?  Because “joy comes in the morning,” even if only for a few hours.

Colossians 1:15-16 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”

Father, thank you for the hours of respite you give in the morning.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 24 – “Window of clarity”

Well, it would appear that I have a full-blown cold.  Hard to tell because I haven’t had one in literally years.  I guess I’ve forgotten what they are like.  But everything from the TV commercial is there.  Itchy, watery eyes.  Scratchy throat.  Sneezing.  Coughing.  Runny nose.  Can’t sleep.  Can’t stay awake.  I followed all the proper procedure yesterday.  Drank enough ice tea to float a boat.  Finished off what little grape juice we had left.  Ate some of Chris’ homemade potato soup (awesome stuff, by the way).  I suppose today will be more of the same.

I tried to deal with the electric company yesterday, too.  I’m trying to get a handle on why their balanced billing amount went up when they have over $700 of our money on account.  We are debating now the pros and cons of going off balanced billing completely and paying as it comes.  That would mean some pretty hefty bills in August, September and October (Those are our high usage months.  Strange, huh?  I would have expected at least July to make a run for it).  We’ll see.

I also spent some time at the computer trying to get some work done.  Not a pretty picture in my condition.  Oh, I got some of the basics out of the way, but the creative stuff, like Sunday’s teaching and Thursday’s Bible Study suffered.  I’m hoping for at least a few days this week where I can see the screen and keyboard clearly.  I’m not so sure what the quarterly discernment meeting report will look like.  Haven’t even started it.  I’ll try to take advantage of the hour or so I usually have of clarity early in the mornings.

Well, speaking of that window of clarity, I better save at least a few minutes of it this morning as well.  What to attempt first?  Here goes …

Colossians 1:13-14 says, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Father, I understand that colds are just an aggravating part of living in your beautiful but fallen world.  Help me do the right things to get through this one.  Amen.

Monday, January 23, 2017

January 23 – “Recovery”

We had a great day at Seaside yesterday.  Sixty people filled the room with praising and worshipping.  And meanwhile, another large group met up in the retreat center doing a Bible study and worship time of their own.  We returned to the study of the Book of Acts that we left back in December to enter the realm of Christmas teachings.  It felt good to get back into the swing of things.  Not that I don’t enjoy Christmas, mind you.  I just really like studying the Book of Acts.  It’s all about loving the church.

Two ladies took the offer of our creative ministry hairstylist after church.  Suzann cut their hair and they paid the church whatever they would ordinarily pay her.  Great ministry, Suzann. 

Chris and I joined a few other Seasiders for lunch at Nate’s, the local eatery there in the West End.  And two other Seasiders were already there enjoying lunch.  And before we left two more came in and said hello.  It was good to see familiar faces, especially since there were Green Bay Packers fans decked out in their team regalia on one side of us, and Pittsburgh Steeler fans on the other side of us.  I know they didn’t play each other, but it was shaping up to be a “football crowd at the restaurant” Sunday.  As it turned out both of those sets of fans were bitterly disappointed in defeat later in the afternoon.  We even watched some of each game when we got home.  That would be between the nap we both took (still recovering from the late night trip home from Waco) and the season finale episode of The Librarians that we watched on TV.  Great show, by the way.  Very fun premise. 

I’m not sure why I was awake so early this morning.  Five a.m. and I was wide awake.  I managed to stall until 5:30, but I finally gave in and got up.  Looks like today will be spent battling a sore throat, working on the computer, and probably making a fruit run to WalMart.  Maybe I can get another nap in there somewhere.  I don’t think I’m recovered enough yet from our trip …

Colossians 1:10-12 says, “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”

Father, thank you for a great day at church.  Keep on drawing folks to yourself.  Amen.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 22 – “Good night”

We are back.  Our whirlwind trip to Waco for Caleb’s birthday is complete.  Cailyn has been deposited on her own sofa (Nathan and April started texting us on our way home, so go we got the impression that they might have been missing her just a little bit). 

The big day started out with donuts for breakfast.  That’s kind of a tradition when DadDad comes to town.  While everyone was at the breakfast table, we gave Caleb his present from us.  Cailyn pulled out the present from her and Uncle Nathan and Aunt April as well.  One of those pre-birthday party parties.  Didn’t stop there, though.  They had a gift for Cailyn’s birthday as well, so she opened hers.  Luke recognized what was happening right away.  He insisted we sing “Happy birthday to you.” 

Josh had to officiate at a funeral later that morning, so we all took turns holding and playing with AnnaGrace.  She captured the heart of her oldest female cousin.  Cailyn was smitten when she elicited that first little baby grin. 

Caleb had a basketball game at noon.  Terrible start time for a group of 8 year olds.  Their minds were most definitely not on playing basketball.  They seemed to have a good time, though.  They don’t keep score in games with that age group, but the other team did score more than Caleb’s.  And Caleb showed off a remarkable dribbling ability.

After his game it was back to the house for some pizza and one of the most laid-back birthday parties I have ever attended.  It was very casual.  He just had a few friends over to play video games and jump on the trampoline.  Of course there was ice cream and a cookie cake (that Luke was happy to show off to anyone who came anywhere near the table).  They came up with some elaborate jumping games on that trampoline.  My favorite had to be when they played charades, though.  Caleb’s acting (long, exaggerated steps across the surface of the tramp) stumped everyone until he finally told the answer.  He was none other than “Louis Armstrong, the first man who put the American flag on the moon.”  Ah, of course.  One of the Dad’s pondered whether that was before or after he played a solo on his trumpet. 

As the party wound down, we realized that we would have to hustle to get back to the gym for Zakary’s basketball game.  They do keep score in his games, and his team absolutely dominated their opponent.  Zak had injured his ankle in a previous game, so he was still a bit hobbled, but he did a great job playing defense against players much taller than him. 

After the game Chris and Cailyn and I stopped off at a Whataburger and got some gas before hitting the road for home.  Cailyn devoured her food.  She had not had much time throughout the day to waste with minor details like eating.  And once the food was gone, she stretched out on her pillow and mine and was asleep in seconds.  She did wake up mid-trip when we stopped at Buccees for a bathroom break, but once back in the car she said but one thing: “Good night.” 

Colossians 1:9 says, “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”

Father, thank you again for riding with us on this trip.  Keep the birthday cousins safe and happy.  Amen.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

January 21 – “I’m so bored”

We made it all the way to Waco with very little difficulty.  We took the Beltway around Houston because both travel apps indicated a wreck downtown and significant slowdowns on the loop.  The tolls are an extra expense, but there was sure no traffic.  We even found a courteous driver who allowed us to change lanes at a toll booth when we found ourselves in an “Exact Change Only” lane.  Kind of rare in Houston.  Cailyn went with us, and for the first hour or more she watched a DVD with her headphones on.  She re-emerged into the world just before we arrived at Buccees, our halfway point stopping place.  The second half of the journey proved a bit more of a challenge for her.  In her words, “I’m bored.”  That led to a round of the alphabet game, where Cailyn smoked all of us when she instituted the rule that letters could be located on Pokemon cards.  Of course she was the only one with Pokemon cards.  Chris then suggested we sing some of the songs Cailyn and I sang when I had my ukulele.  Guess which song Cailyn picked?  And the only one she picked.  “I’m a nut.” 

Then, in the crowning statement of the trip, she suddenly cried out again, “I’m so bored … I want to be entertained.”  That devolved rapidly into a made-up game involving locating certain live animals.  We had no problem with cows.  They were everywhere.  Horses showed up every so often, as did hawks.  Nani was the best at spotting hawks, which was good for us, since she was driving.  We saw quite a few goats when we got closer to Waco.  We even saw an emu on one farm.  Strangely, though, we never could find a donkey or a dog.  Happily, that search took us all the way into Waco and to Josh and Christi’s house. 

Colossians 1:6 says, “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.”

Father, thank you for watching over our travels.  Amen.

Friday, January 20, 2017

January 20 – “Out of the blue”

We are heading off to Waco for a flying trip to help Caleb celebrate his birthday party.  The plan is to return tomorrow night after Zakary’s basketball game that starts at 5 p.m.  At this point we are taking Cailyn along with us as soon as she finishes all of her Friday tests at school.  And speaking of Cailyn, here are a few quick anecdotes from her last stay with us.

Out of the blue she made this proclamation:
Cailyn: “DadDad, you know you can ground my Daddy any time you want to.”
Me (typically stunned and more than a bit taken aback): “Wait.  What?  But he’s a grown man now.”
Cailyn (more assured than ever): “Yes, but you are his Daddy and you are old and you are alive.  So you can do it.”
So … I get the “his Daddy” part.  It’s the other two parts of the grounding trifecta that cause me pause.  I’m old.  No real argument there.  And I’m alive.  Glad to hear that one.  When I mentioned this to Nathan, he said he was going to file it away and spring it on her when she hits her twenties or thirties and wants to start dating.  No, really.  He assures me – and Cailyn – that her dating days are a considerably longer way off than she could ever imagine.

A second little interchange happened as she and I were enjoying a robust breakfast of cinnamon frosted pop tarts (Hey, she was offered more, but apparently it was pancake day at the school breakfast line.  We never had a school breakfast line when I went to school).  Again, there was no particular lead-up to the question.  Out of the blue is her specialty …

Cailyn: “How many times do you and Nani go to WalMart?”
Me (No idea where this came from or where it was headed, but it sounded innocent enough): “I don’t know.  Every so often.”
Cailyn (Guardedly pensive): “Do you go about once a week?”
Me (Also guarded now.  Where is she going with this?): “That’s about right.”
Cailyn (Explosively excited in an instant): “I knew it!  I told my Daddy that I want to move in with Nani and DadDad because he and Mommy go to WalMart every single day and you and Nani only go one time a week.”

Um.  Hope I didn’t say the wrong thing.  Maybe we need to spend more days at WalMart?

Colossians 1:3-4 says, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints”

Father, thank you for surprises.  Gotta love ‘em.  Amen.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

January 19 – “A suitable helpmeet, and … BOOM!”

Happy birthday to me … well, sort of.  Today is the anniversary of the day 46 years ago when I made a decision to love Jesus back.  I prayed and gave my life over to his control, and have never looked back.  Oh, believe me, I have messed up.  At least twice.  Maybe more.  OK.  That’s a joke.  I realize there have been more than a few times over the years that I have messed up … royally.  But that’s the awesome thing about a relationship with Jesus.  He keeps on forgiving.  Amazing.  Just amazing.

We went up to the church yesterday.  I had staff meeting and Chris went to undecorated the last of the Christmas trees in the retreat center.  I joined her when Jim and I got finished, and we now have a special pronouncement to make: A suitable helpmeet hath been found for the Beast.  A Bride of Frankenstein, if you will.  A Beautiful Belle to his frightening Beast.  That’s right.  While up there I put together the new vacuum cleaner we bought, and the thing … well, the thing just … works.  It sucked up the tiniest pine needles from those trees.  Made me want to vacuum the whole center.  Almost.  But congratulations to the Beast on his new companion.  Things are looking up for the Retreat Center.  A happy Beast makes for a clean (and dry) facility.  (For those late-comers among you … the annals of the Beast and his antics are sprinkled throughout this journal.  He is the monstrosity of a wet-dry vac who cleans up water spills and leaks). 

We picked up Cailyn after school yesterday.  Mom and Dad were both at work, so she got to spend the night with us.  One of her requirements is to read or have read to her for about twenty minutes each night.  Then she has to write out an answer to a question or two about the reading so the school can be assured that she is actually doing it.  Now the book she chose was the one we gave her for Christmas, the children’s illustrated version of the first Harry Potter book.  We started out with Nana reading a page.  Then Cailyn read a page.  And then it became my turn.  Two chapters and a little over an hour of my own “personal interpretation reading approach” later we finally stopped to get ready for bed.  Oh, I tried to stop at the end of that first chapter I was reading, but for some reason, when the chapter ends with a mysterious and extremely loud “BOOM,” it’s just difficult to say, “I’ll be back tomorrow.”  I closed the book, and Cailyn immediately protested, “NO!  We have to read some more.”  Now that’s what reading is all about.

Philippians 4:23 says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Amen.”

Father, thank you for Cailyn’s excitement about reading.   May it continue to grow.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January 18 – “Thank you”

We had a quick surprise visit from our long-time Seaside friend Sam yesterday.  She stopped by to give us some books she had accumulated.  Some she had bought way back to donate to the church’s school.  There were some really good books, too.  An entire set of Childcraft.  Numerous Classics titles as well.  Don Quixote.  Huckleberry Finn.  Hardy Boys.  Nancy Drew.  I’m not sure why we are accumulating books all of a sudden.  But we’ll get them to a good home, that’s for sure.  Thank you, Sam.

I got a phone call from Lauren yesterday afternoon to tell me the Jamaica Beach fire department had been toned out for a call to Seaside.  Apparently the fire alarm was sounding at the retreat center.  She is on our list as a contact person and was already almost there.  I started out there as well, but she called before I even got past the airport to let me know the fire department was already on sight, had entered the building (it was unlocked), and reset the alarm.  No idea why the alarm went off, though.  Proud of those fire department guys.  And thank you, Lauren.

I had some alone time last night.  Chris went to the kickoff night of the Spring Ladies Bible study at church.  They are doing a Beth Moore study on the life of David.  Oh, I found some stuff to do.  I worked on my Visual Verses book revisions (read here illustrations, as in pictures).  I watched some Baylor basketball for the first time this year.  They are not half bad.  They blew their number one ranking, but I think they are still number six.  I also scanned through the Netflix listings to watch something different.  I finally found a Bruce Willis movie I had never seen.  Some kind of CIA thriller.  It was a good movie.  Predictable, but enough action to keep me awake.  Lots of bad language, though.  Get with the program, Bruce.  That stuff is not needed if the movie is good.  Let it stand on its own merits.  So my take on the evening alone?  Just not sure if I like that so much.  I guess I’m just an old social gadfly at heart.  Thank you for being there for me, Chris.

Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Father, thank you for the great people you have surrounded me with.  I appreciate them.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January 17 – “Alone time”

We had another houseful of Vaughan kids for a few hours yesterday.  Kel and Christina and Ezra went out for lunch, so the rest of their bunch hung out here for a while.  I played a new game with them called Oregon Trail.  It consists of game cards and a single die.  The idea is to work together to get from Missouri to Oregon while facing all sorts of obstacles and hoping the supplies you have accumulated in your covered wagon will help you deal with any issues that may come up.  Dysentery, measles, snakebites, and even drowning in the river are all possible outcomes.  The most interesting part of the game to me was that everyone was on the same trail ride.  There was no individual winner or loser.  If we reached Oregon, everybody won.  If not, everybody lost.  Of course Jachin and Josiah both died on the way, and Micah and I were the only ones still alive, but as far as the game is concerned, we all won.  I like games like that. 

While they were here we were schooled by Micah on the difficulties of being a middle child.  Seems he often finds himself happily playing with younger brother Josiah, when older brother Jachin approaches and asks Micah to play a game with him.  Now he knows Jachin and Josiah don’t play well together, and he doesn’t want to hurt Josiah’s feelings, but he finally has to tell the younger sibling that he has to spend some time playing with Jachin, too.  After all, it’s only fair.  So he finds himself having to juggle all his time like that.  Sadly, it means that he just doesn’t get any personal, alone, “me” time.  But then, in his own words, “I don’t need all that much personal time.  Dad does, though.  He needs his alone time.”  I’m pretty sure there’s another story in there somewhere, but we didn’t get to hear that one.  Maybe next time …

Philippians 4:12-13 says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Father, thank you for Micah’s ability to connect with his older and younger brothers.  Give him - and his Dad - some alone time.  Amen.

Monday, January 16, 2017

January 16 – “Happy Bat-Birthday”

Yesterday was Cailyn’s 8th birthday.  Time flew a little more quickly than I expected there.  She had a birthday party yesterday afternoon.  Super hero themed.  Girl superhero, of course.  Cailyn wore her new Batgirl cape that April made under the tutelage of Chris the other day.  She had an entire costume to go along with it.  Long Bat-socks.  A Bat-mask just like the one Batgirl on TV wears that in no way impedes her vision or adequately hides her secret identity from anyone except the folks in TV land.  She wore a shirt emblazoned with the number 8, and even had yellow utility arm bands.  Frighteningly beautiful. 

The party was at a place called Jumping World.  Interesting outfit.  I had actually heard of it before.  I saw an episode of Undercover Boss a while back where the head honcho revealed what it was like to work there.  The entire center of the place is a mass of trampolines shaped like fifty-yard dash straightaways with a trampoline cushion at each end that rises up a good eight or ten feet.  Kids were constantly running back and forth, flipping and twisting and sprinting, trying to reach the top of the end cushions.  Another section was set up with basketball goals and trampolines.  Another, Jachin and Micah and Josiah’s favorite, was a massive game of dodge ball on trampolines.  They also had simpler areas for the little bitty guys, like a ball pit and a bounce house.  Perhaps the oddest area, though was a huge plastic cylinder floating on some water.  A kid could crawl inside and run around like a hamster, trying to get the cylinder to move around.  There were random, you pay extra games all around the edges of the room.  You know, like those games with the claw where you try to pick up a stuffed animal.  And they also had a snack bar.  Oh, and for the adults … there were two separate areas, one with overstuffed chairs, arranged around a television set.  And from what I could tell, both of those areas stayed quite full the entire time.  Not because parents were neglecting their kids, mind you.  It was just that there was a football game on.  The Dallas Cowboys football game.  So sad.  But enough said here.  I’m sure there will be plenty more comments on FaceBook throughout the day today if you want to wallow in the sadness further.

The party part of the festivities was held in a roped off area set aside for just such occasions.  Extra-long picnic-table with a hostess provided by the place.  They apparently have a connection with a pizza place, because part of every party going on was the pizza serving (and there were a lot of parties going on).  After the pizza April and Nathan pulled out birthday cupcakes for everyone, and a special round cake for Cailyn.  It was allegedly so she could have a large enough place to put her number 8 candle and the Batgirl decoration.  And after the rousing song (which I couldn’t sing rousingly myself because I was holding young Ezra at the time.  Three week olds don’t take kindly to loud, off-key bellering by old DadDad’s), Cailyn dug in to her special cake.  No, literally dug in.  Face first.  With only a little help from her Daddy.  She enjoyed her face plant immensely, though, and wore it for a few extra minutes as a badge of honor.  Plenty of time for pictures.  Nana and Aunt Christina came to the rescue with baby wipes to clean it up. 

Cailyn was blessed with a lot of presents from her friends from school and the softball team.  Several of the girls were even coming over for a girls’ night slumber party.  Enjoy that, Nathan.  I heard they were going to paint fingernails and toenails.  He’s a pro at that one.  In the words of the immortal Robin … Happy Bat-Birthday, Cailyn.

Philippians 4:9 says, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Father, thank you for the eight special years we have had with Cailyn.  Draw her close to you as she grows.  Amen.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 15 – “Turn out the lights …”

Well, along with many, many others in Galveston and Harris County we watched the Texans play last night.  I have to confess, though, that we bailed on them at half time to watch an episode of Sleepy Hollow that we taped.  We did check in again in the third quarter, but by then we were headed for a somewhat early bedtime.  Oh, I checked the score on my phone before I turned out the lights.  Kind of reminded me of a certain Dandy Don Meredith song that he would sing as a football announcer when it appeared certain one team was about to lose.  “Turn out the lights, the party’s over …”  Sorry, Texans.  But hey.  The Cowboys still have to play this afternoon.  Maybe they can keep a Texas team in the hunt.

Other than an ill-advised grocery run to WalMart yesterday (No real problems.  It’s just a bit crazy to go to WalMart on a Saturday when you really have to buy stuff.  Way to crowded with people who have “special” kinds of issues), we spent the day project working.  Chris was back at the old quilting grind.  I spent the day at my desk and on the computer, working on the second, illustrated edition of my Visual Verses book.  I decided the first one was just too boring.  I spruced it up a bit, made a few simple changes, and now I’m working on some illustrative drawings for the devotional pages.  I also plan to redo two of the verses that have distracting bleed-through from the scrap paper they were created on.  Not sure how long all that will take, though.  But maybe the practice will help hone my artistic skills. 

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”

Father, thank you for work-filled, quiet Saturday afternoons with my wife.  Amen.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

January 14 – “Restaurant Week Review”

It is Restaurant Week in Galveston.  Well, actually it’s Restaurant Two Weeks, but that is a bit harder to market.  The idea is to fill in the traditionally totally dead space in the tourism calendar that covers pretty much the entire month of January.  December is Dickens on the Strand and, well, Christmas.  February is Mardi Gras, and then comes Spring Break in March, which kicks off the beach season.  But there is just nothing going on on the Island in January.  So, inspired by the creative actions of the greeting card companies before them, our board of tourism came up with an idea to spotlight several of the restaurants in town.  They agree to have a cut rate menu for the “week” and the tourism board takes care of advertising the big occasion. 

Chris and I decided to dive in and check out one of the downtown hotspots.  We went for a Mexican food lunch at a place called Taquilo’s.  We found a place to park within a few blocks of the restaurant.  Free for two hours, too.  Free is always a plus, especially in downtown Galveston.  There was no waiting for a table at all.  In fact, we were greeted outside by the hostess.  They did have an outside table option, but we were directed inside to a booth.  The centerpiece of the room was a bar.  A sports bar, actually, with two TV screens playing ESPN.  The guy who asked what we wanted to drink was one of the bartenders.  Then a different guy approached to ask what we wanted to eat.  I told him he had changed a lot since he asked about our drinks.  Without missing a beat he said, “Well, I did grow a beard.  Maybe that’s it.”  Nice reply.  Between the two of them, they embodied what I look for in a waiter.  Not pushy.  Fun personality that seems true to who he is.  And finally – and this is a big one – he doesn’t call you “Hun” or “Sugar” or “Sweetie.”

As we ate I took in the general atmosphere of the place.  My take on it was that they were consciously trying to appeal to the local young yuppies who live and work downtown.  There seemed to be regulars at the bar.  I didn’t get a sense of desperate tourism appeal at all.  That was a pleasant surprise.  Oh, and Chris noticed the city manager was in there for lunch as well.

The food arrived in a reasonable amount of time.  Chris had a summer plate with several typical Mexican food items.  One was supposed to be one of those big round chips with queso on top.  I know there’s a name for that but I can never remember it.  This one was fried to the shape of a bowl, but they turned it upside down and poured the queso on the bottom.  Seems to me that it would be a better idea to just fill it up with queso.  But no one ever asks me.  I was a bit adventurous.  I usually order either cheese or beef enchiladas at a place like that.  Or some combination thereof.  Yesterday, in the spirit of trying new things, I ordered the shrimp enchiladas.  They were just soft flour tortillas filled with crab meat and shrimp.  Lots of crab meat, actually.  Also a plus. It came with rice and beans, and if they hadn’t been on the plate I would have never assigned the dish to be called “Mexican.”  Oh, it wasn’t bad at all.  Just didn’t taste Mexican.  The problem?  There was no cheese anywhere on the plate.  How can it be Mexican food without cheese?  The best part of the meal came when he brought us some churros.  Sweet cinnamon pastry-kind of things with a caramel dip for added tastiness.  Yes.  Yumm.

We are talking about trying one of the other places that we have never been to sometime next week.  It’ll be for lunch for sure.  Probably won’t be Mexican food this time.  My pick is generally seafood, but I may branch out.  After all, it is Restaurant Week.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Father, thank you for all the types of food you have created for us to enjoy.  Amen.