Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February 28 – “Teachers of the world … it worked”

Ha Ha Ha.  TeeHee.  Chuckle.  Giggle giggle. 

Sorry for my becoming overwhelmed with glee at the start of this blog.  But I had one of “those” moments the other day.  You know, those moments when you feel like your entire career as parents has somehow been worth it just a little bit.  And these particular moments are intensified because they also relate to the fact that we homeschooled our boys.  Was all that sweat and tears worth it?  (I don’t remember any blood being involved in our teaching process).  In cases like this one … oh, yes.

So … Nathan called the other day to ask a quick question.  Are you ready for this one?  He was working on building a planter box for his house.  And the dilemma he was facing involved … well, he needed to know how to find the length of the third side of a right triangle if you already knew the equal lengths of the two sides next to the right angle (4 feet).  I remember him mentioning as well, “Now, I’m pretty sure the other two angles are 45 degrees, but wasn’t there some way to find out the length of that third side?”  OK, all you math teachers out there.  On three, let’s all jump in the air and scream “Hypotenuse.”  Yes, there is, indeed, such a formula.  The infamous a squared plus b squared equals c squared.  As soon as I said it, he remembered.  “That’s it.  That’s the one.”  Of course his next problem was figuring out the square root of 32 to get the actual number he needed.  I helped him out with that one as well.  But no, I have to confess, I didn’t do the whole figure it out on paper thing.  I was, after all, sitting at my computer at the time.  I just typed it in and voila … 5.65685424949238.  I want to see the tape measure that has that number on it.  I think he’ll be able to get it close enough, though.

So there you go, all you moms and dads and schoolteachers out there.  Sometimes it works.  And from the kids’ perspective … don’t you just hate it when you actually DO use some of that stupid math you had in school?  Thank you, Pythagoras.  You and your theorem are welcome at our house any time.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

Father, thank you for theorems that can be counted on and for aha moments in the real world.  Amen.

Monday, February 27, 2017

February 27 – “The Voice”

Yesterday at Seaside we had an unexpected visitor join our worship experience.  Now having visitors is never an unexpected occurrence usually.  Why, just Sunday we had a couple from Arkansas who were making Galveston a little two week side trip after spending two weeks in Costa Rica.  But as exotic as that sounds, it’s not really that unusual.  But yesterday?  Well, unexpected fits it well.

I was just getting into the meat of the Scripture passage.  Paul and Barnabas and Titus were on their way to Jerusalem for the first ever Jerusalem Council to debate the first issue that was threatening the unity of the fledgling church – whether or not Gentiles had to become Jews before they could become Christians.  And just as I turned to the map to get a handle on their route from Antioch in Syria down the coast toward Jerusalem, I asked the question, “So where are Phoenicia and Samaria?”  And that’s when the interruption occurred. 

Now, I’ve been interrupted in a sermon before.  Adults stop me to ask questions or respond to my questions virtually every week.  Teenagers have moved back and forth to the donuts stash.  One little youngster even ran at a full sprint so close to me that I had to raise my leg for him to dash underneath.  But I have to say that this one was a first.  I asked the question, “So where are Phoenicia and Samaria?”  And I received an answer.  An eerily familiar voice from nowhere replied, “Here is what I found on the web on ‘where is Syria.’”  I turned toward the sound, and Amber, the lady sitting nearest the source immediately issued a disclaimer, “That wasn’t me.”  But by then I had a pretty good idea idea of who that interloper really was.  Already well into the interruption by now, I made my was over toward the sound source … my briefcase.  Sure enough, I was right.  Never before yesterday have I ever been interrupted in a sermon by … Google Siri on my phone.  At least she was trying to help.  Sadly, none of her options were really appropriate for showing where Phoenicia and Samaria were located in the first century.  But if anybody wanted to know what was happening in Syria, we were all set.  Thank you, Siri.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 says, “Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt.  Test everything. Hold on to the good.  Avoid every kind of evil.”

Father, thank you for fun interruptions that keep us all on our toes.  Amen.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

February 26 – “Happy birthday, Kel”

Had to start out the blog today with a shout out to my oldest son.  And by oldest I mean, officially - really, really old.  That kid turns forty today.  Yep, the big 4-0.  Seems like just yesterday … wait a minute.  No it doesn’t.  Seems like a long time ago.  We still lived in Houston, as in we hadn’t moved away from our college town roots as of yet.  We did leave and then return to Houston later on in time for Josh to be born there.  But this time we were just a couple of young knuckleheads, head over heels in love.  I was embroiled in the throes of a church basketball tournament.  We were pretty good, too.  I remember I had the check to pay our entry fee for the tournament.  Forgot to turn it in at our Friday evening game.  But not to worry.  I would get it taken care of the next morning for sure.  That night after the game we entertained some of the kids on the team (read here, gave them food).  And when they left I managed a sneaky “before” photo of Chris turned sideways.  Not the most flattering of pictures, of course, but important to have one for posterity.  Nowadays everybody takes pictures like that.  Guess I was just ahead of my time. 

I don’t remember much about the actual birth.  I seem to recall coming out to the waiting area to inform our waiting family that the youngster was another Vaughan boy.  Beyond that it’s all a blur.  They didn’t do ultrasounds to determine the baby’s sex way back in the Dark Ages of the 70’s.  That would be the NINETEEN seventies.  Forty years ago.  Besides, we loved the surprise factor.  Good thing, too.  Because the surprises have never stopped.  Soccer and basketball.  Penguins and Eagles.  Umm.  I started to list some girlfriends’ names.  Thought better of it.  HBU and APiK.  A church for people who hate church.  Baptists and EFree’s.  Lifeway and … the Post Office.  Christina and … here it comes … Jachin, Micah, Josiah, Noa, and Ezra. 

That kid has had quite the life.  Gotta say I am proud of him.  Enjoyed having you around these past 40 years, son.  Let’s do a few more.  We love you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Father, thank you for our first born son.  Make him happy.  Amen.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

February 25 – “In the Real Real Real World”

It is possible that this requires somewhat of a spoiler alert, so … read on at your own risk.

I don’t know how many people are into watching the TV show Marvel: Agents of SHIELD, but for the show’s sake, I really hope the creators of the movie The Matrix are not among them.  We watched an episode last night that rang more and more familiar the deeper into the story we got.  It took me a while to make the actual connection, but suddenly, there it was.  People are hooked into a machine that creates for them an imaginary world that feels completely real.  Meanwhile, in the “real” real world, people are fighting to overthrow the evil overlords who control the simulation.  Now the SHIELD version tries to explain the “science” involved more than Matrix did, but that just clouds the actual story line thievery.  If I was on the jury of a lawsuit about this one, I’d have to vote in favor of The Matrix. 

Speaking of monetary gain and loss in the real “real” real world, I finished putting together our income tax documents.  Good news and bad news, I guess.  Glad to be done with it, but dreading the news regarding how much we will owe.  I haven’t yet gotten brave enough to do the Turbo Tax thing.  All the rules about pastor salaries and self-employment requirements are just way over my pay grade.  I send our info off to the company that has been doing our taxes since the 1980’s (with a brief hiatus when we lived in Colorado).  We would love to find someone here in town in whom we trust (No, I don’t usually say “in whom” but auto-correct was rabidly insistent, and in this case perfectly correct.  Thank you, Mrs. Marchand, and Jr. High English teacher and Mrs. Roberts, her high school counterpart, for infecting me with a sense of the correct in word usage) and who is comfortable with and experienced in all the nuances of pastoral taxation, but so far we have come up empty-handed.  Recommendations will be accepted …

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 says, “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”

Father, thank you for my old teachers who obviously had some long-term effect on me.  See?  There it is again – “effect’ rather than “affect” – I can’t get away from it.  Amen.

Friday, February 24, 2017

February 24 - “Retiring Robinson”

Yesterday I attended a retirement celebration for Galveston’s reigning Fire Marshal, Gilbert Robinson.  He has worked with the fire department for thirty-six years and has been fire marshal since 2001.  In Galveston (Or I guess, anywhere) that is quite an accomplishment. City Council even got into the act by recognizing his service, and there was an impressive crowd on hand to show support and encouragement.

Trish, the fire department administration assistant, did her usual admirable job of pulling together the reception that followed council meeting.  There was plenty of food and drinks, and the ever-present Nora was taking a boatload of pictures to document the event.  Fire marshal representatives from numerous area departments were there to congratulate Gilbert.  I know I saw guys from Santa Fe, Texas City, and League City, and I’m sure there were plenty of others whose logos I didn’t recognize.  Just about every fire crew on duty yesterday made it a point to stop by and pay their respects, along with a few who were off duty.  And from everything I could tell, Gilbert seemed to have the respect of not just the fire fighters, but also the city administration and the people of the city.  That is no easy accomplishment, either.

On a personal note, every time I have had contact with Gilbert he has been warm and encouraging, from the first time I was introduced to him as chaplain.  At fire scenes he has been the consummate professional.  I have seen him talking with fire victims and gently sharing options with them.  Then he turned around and spoke with authority to the power or gas company representative.  And then he could revert to friendly colleague mode when checking in with on-scene fire captains or battalion chiefs.  He could also relate with ease when reporting to the fire chief.  I have seen him in teaching mode, too.  He once took the time to explain to me some of the basics of what to look for to determine where a fire probably began.  And I have heard him share the basics of fire safety to a group of youngsters at the annual fire safety poster contest awards presentations. 

I’m glad I had a chance to encounter Gilbert Robinson.  I’m looking forward to working with new fire marshal Chris Harrison.  Chris, looks like you have some pretty big shoes to fill, my friend.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 says, “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.”

Father, may Gilbert find the rest he has earned and the new task you have for him to tackle with your help.  Amen.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

February 23 – “No”

I was scheduled to meet with the fire extinguisher inspector yesterday … again.  This is the one who didn’t show up and didn’t call last week.  He did finally apologize.  It is tough on the consumer in cases like this because they are pretty much the only game in town.  So he was scheduled to be there at 11 a.m.  He showed up a little before 10.  Think he was trying to say “I’m sorry”? 

After staff meeting I called the MediaShout helpline.  That’s the name of our presentation software at church.  It connects from our computer to the projector that shows song lyrics and Bible passages and various images on the wall for people to see during worship.  The problem we have been having is that the software refuses to project powerpoint presentations.  It appears to be working on the computer screen, but it locks up when it tries to go through the projector. I explained the dilemma to the tech support guy and he had an immediate answer.  Their software only works effectively with Powerpoint 2010.  Any other versions throw it off and it works intermittently at best.  And of course we have Powerpoint 2013.  What were we thinking?  Upgrading for a better experience?  He recommended either calling Microsoft for help or borrowing an installation disk from someone who still had Powerpoint 2010 on their computer.

So my next call went to Microsoft.  The first person I talked to said they no longer provided support for Powerpoint 2010, but if I could find someone with a 2010 disk, I could load that.  Sense a pattern here?  Sadly, they offered me a smattering of hope.  They transferred me to the actual tech department to see if anyone could provide any other way to make it work.  I knew I was in trouble when the person I was transferred to asked in broken, extremely hard to understand English, “What country are you calling from?”  After right at an hour of her trying to convince me that changing the file format would work (which I had already tried … it didn’t), she admitted that she couldn’t help.  I asked if she thought I should find someone with an old disk of Powerpoint 2010 and install it (hey, might as well give her some help), and she agreed that it just might, but she was still going to send me a link on how to change file formats.  Her final comment still floors me, though.  She had the audacity to ask, “So was I able to help you successfully with your problem today, sir?”  I admit I had to pause for a second and craft my answer carefully on that one.  Finally I replied, “No.” 

I actually did get that email with the link she was telling me about.  It also contained an apology that they couldn’t help me.  But they did encourage me to call again any time.  I checked through my stash of old disks here at home and found the installation disk for our copy of … Office 2010, which includes, of course, Powerpoint 2010.  We’ll see …

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Father, thank you for those people who try to help, even when they know upfront that they can’t.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February 22 – “Classic Mommy Move”

Did I mention that we had a sleepover while we were at Josh’s house on Monday?  Luke greeted us with the possibility of such a magnificent idea almost as soon as we arrived.  And it immediately became apparent that Mommy was leaving it up to Nani and DadDad to make the decision.  Like that would even be a matter of debate … of course we were all in for a sleepover. 

The boys (AnnaGrace decided to sleep a little closer to her source of midnight snacks) gathered up sleeping bags and special blankets.  At one point we had to move our toes out of the way to make room for an extra mattress that Zak and Caleb were hauling into the bedroom assigned to the sleepover.  There wasn’t a spot on that substantial floor that didn’t have some kind of sleep aid.  I had to carefully mark a trail in my mind for my inevitable late-night bathroom break.  Hey, some things are more important than others when you get to be my age.  Once everyone had gathered in one mattress or another, Josh lad us all in a family worship prayer and the lights went out. 

Now there were one or two further details about this particular sleepover.  Apparently it was an unspoken requirement that Mommy be right in the middle of the floor, giving her easy access to whichever of her three male offspring should need her the most.  Initially that was the youngest and most excited about the sleepover concept, Luke.  She cuddled with him until he drifted off, and then joined the grownups in the den to watch a TV replay of the church’s big choir number from that morning.  It received a spontaneous standing ovation, something that is in no way a common occurrence at their traditional church.  It did sound pretty powerful, although something like that is way better when experience in person.  Just something about the personal dynamic makes it penetrate deeper.  We also got to see Zak and Caleb’s choir sing a song from their upcoming musical.  We had hoped to see that one, but it looks like it might be on the same day as the baptism of two other grandsons.  And that takes place here in Galveston.  At the beach.  With our house as the base of operations.  If it is the same day, Christi assured us they would record the whole thing for us to watch later.  Sounds like a good plan to me.

While we were watching the boys’ choir sing, Caleb appeared in person.  He had heard it from the bedroom, and had to add his two cents worth of comment in person.  Christi listened patiently and then sent him back to the bedroom.  Now we didn’t stay up all that late, so we soon headed in to join the boys.  All seemed quiet enough as we crawled around the floor debris and made our way into bed.  Now at some point my internal grandpa clock did indeed wake me for a bathroom break, and I made my way across the full floor with no casualties.  And on my return trip I noticed that there was Mommy again.  This time she had been encouraging Caleb to return to slumber, but Luke had made a noise, so she was creeping over to comfort him.  Classic Mommy Move.  I was totally impressed.  I waited until she got all settled back into place herself before making my way back to my side of the bed.  All I can say is … gotta love those cell phone flashlights. 

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 says, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.”

Father, thank you for Christi’s maternal instincts.  Grant her some uninterrupted sleep time now that AnnaGrace seems to be sleeping longer between nighttime feedings and the boys all seem to be well.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February 21 – “Luke’s alien encounter”

Speaking of out-of-the-blue alien encounters, Luke experienced one yesterday.  Not at all what he expected, but it was indeed quite entertaining for the rest of us.  Here’s how it all began …

We sat down at the table to enjoy a piece of Josh’s middle-child, left-over, half-birthday cake.  At least that’s how he described it.  And sure enough, when Christi removed the cover, there before our eyes was … half of a cake.  It even had three or four candles on it, already used at least once, of course.  He told us not to be concerned.  He was used to these left-overs kind of celebrations ... as the middle child.  That’s my boy.  We sang the birthday song for him.  Sounded a little discordant at first, but then I realized that Josh’s own middle child club representative, Caleb, was belting out the song - in perfect Spanish.  Quite impressive, I might add.  Especially for a middle child.  That’s my boy.

When it came time for Josh to open our present … he had to wait.  Luke had to go to the bathroom.  The Caleb had to take a quick shower.  Poor Josh.  Poor, poor, middle child – forced once again into the background while other things took precedence.  We did finally get back to him.  I think it was Christi who finally remembered him.  So we all gathered once again around the table, and we handed Josh his gift bag.  It was actually an old shopping bag with some brown paper stuffed inside to hide the gift, but I’m sure it was good enough – for a middle child and all.  Luke was standing right next to him as the paper began to be displaced.  And finally the contents edged out of the bag.  It was a life-sized doll of Yoda.  Of course by life-sized, I mean Yoda sized, which made it just about as tall as Luke.  As the creature’s head cleared the top of the bag, Josh twisted his wrist so that the strange being appeared to be looking right into the eyes of Luke.  And the young one with no idea of his Jedi potential was … well … taken aback.  Literally.  His eyes widened to saucers.  He involuntarily backed about three paces away.  He trusted his Dad to protect him, but who would protect his Dad against such an abomination as this?  As Yoda levitated fully out of the bag, Luke slowly, tentatively approached.  What was this monster-in-a-shopping-bag being so frivolously released into his dining room?  Would it harm his new baby sister?  Or worse, would it be allowed into the family?  That would put him … in the dreaded middle.  It’s not often that one so young faces such a disturbing dilemma. 

It took time and a few pictures of his little sister staring down the interloper, but Luke overcame his initial concerns.  The Yoda creature was fully accepted into the fold.  This morning I saw the two of them sitting on the couch together.  Well, fairly near to each other.  I asked Luke who that was next to him, and he responded … well … non-verbally.  He slid off the couch, walked over in front of the wizened old master, and punched him in the stomach.  Yup.  Yoda’s here now.  He’s been punched in.  He’s a Vaughan.

1 Thessalonians 5:8 says, “But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.”

Father, thank you for opportunities to welcome new creatures into the family.  Amen.

Monday, February 20, 2017

February 20 – “I know that guy, but …”

Have you ever had one of those “I know that guy, but …” kind of moments?  I just did yesterday, but let me back up for a moment.  After a really great day at church Sunday – pretty full house with 64 people, then people around every table at dinner on the grounds, and topped off with a haircut (Our resident hair stylist was there again, offering her creative ministry haircuts.  She does the cut and whatever you would have paid her, you instead donate to the church.  She did at least four yesterday, so it is really catching on) – we hurried home, packed up some bags, and headed out for Waco.  Josh’s birthday was the 16th, so this is our birthday trip to see him (And anybody who believes that, let me talk to you about some prime real estate in Upper Montovenia.  Sure it’ll be nice to see Josh and all, but he did just have a brand new baby girl about two months ago …).

The trip was not too bad, if you don’t count the motorcycle wreck on I45 we had to wait for (everybody looked to be OK), or the construction on US290, which is rivaling I45 as the never-ending construction zone for the state of Texas.  We made it to the half-way point with no permanent damage.  Chris certainly earned her Buc-ees stop this time.  And before we even got out of the car I saw a young man who looked just like a guy that Josh used to play soccer with back in the day.  Chris didn’t see him, though, and he was already driving away, so no verification was possible.  Hmm. 

We went inside for the compulsory bathroom break, and as we trekked across the length of the building, we passed another familiar face … now who was that guy?  I know I knew him, but from where?  He was accompanied by a lovely lady and three or four young (maybe junior high age) girls in what appeared to be volleyball uniforms.  They were obviously headed to or coming from an away game or tournament.  We did that enough in our day.  None of them looked familiar, but that guy … I knew him from somewhere.  I asked Chris, but she had already done the zone out of people thing and was focused on the task at hand.  I told her I knew that guy, but …

We went on the bathroom and grabbed something for a quick supper break as well.  All the while I was struggling to place where I had seen that guy.  Had he visited Seaside?  That is always my go-to explanation in cases like this.  But Seaside just didn’t seem like the right connection.  As we approached the register I had just about decided to let it go and not ponder identities any more for the day, I realized that the family just in front of us had girls in volleyball uniforms.  And a Mom.  And … that guy.  Who was he?  I pointed him out to Chris, hoping she could provide some insight, but no.  She had nothing.  And then they advanced to a register and disappeared into the parking lot.  Shortly thereafter we made our purchase and headed for the car as well.  And that’s when it hit me.  Like a ton of bricks fell on my head.  I knew unequivocally who that guy was.  No, it wasn’t from Seaside.  No, it wasn’t from walking around WalMart.  But I had seen that more than just a few times.  In fact I saw him every single time … that the Astros played on TV.  That guy was none other than former major leaguer and current Astros announcer, Geoff Blum.  Chris asked if I wished I had gotten his autograph.  I had a ready reply for that one.  “Oh, That Guy?  Why would I want an announcer’s autograph?”  She then asked, “Didn’t he used to play?”  “Ah, yes,” was my answer, “but sadly, he wasn’t really all that good.”  Sorry, Geoff.  I really like you as an announcer, though.  Go Astros.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 says, “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

Father, thank you for serendipitous encounters.  They are fun.  Amen.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

February 19 – “It works”

Well, that brand new lawn mower of ours officially works.  That’s how I spent my day on Friday while Chris did the grandkids babysitting gig up in LaMarque.  It took me quite to even get started, though.  I first had to run over to WalMart (of course) and buy one of their cheap weedeaters.  Ours died about the same time as the old lawn mower did.  We almost got one at Eleven O’clock Sears (My new name for them) when we bought the mower, but all of theirs had a double string thing going on.  Way too much trouble to reload when it runs out.  The WalMart one was a single-stringer.  And while at WalMart I grabbed some fresh gas.  Gotta start out right. 

Once I got home I had to enter yard prep phase.  That’s the bad thing about the first real yard work of the season.  You have to get all the fallen sticks and seeds and the like out of the way.  And in this case I had one other job to do before I could start.  We have a small shed in the backyard.  It is supposed to be home for things like lawn mowers.  No way this mower was going to fit in there until I cleared a path for it.  That meant dragging everything out and doing a serious purge.  There was even an old dead mower from way back still folded up in there.  That was an easy one to get rid of.  All I had to do was roll it to the street.  It was gone by the end of the day. 

There was one problem I didn’t discover until the task of mowing and edging was complete.  When I rolled the new mower back in and went to loosen the bolts to fold the handle over so it would fit into the shed space, I found that I had to completely remove the bolts and replace them after I made the fold.  Now that’s going to be a pain when I have to do this weekly.  Oh well.  In the end it all fit and the yard looked nice when Chris got home.  And all that remained was the recovery period … for me …

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

Father, thank you for beautiful days and pretty yards and happy wives.  Amen.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

February 18 – “The wrong shoes”

We had our little overnight guest on Thursday.  Mom and Dad found a new place for a creative date, so I picked her up from softball practice and she made a night of it.  Yesterday morning she got all ready for school with no problems … until she went to put her shoes on.  Uh oh.  Major crisis.  It seems Mom had packed the wrong shoes.  Now don’t ask me what the right shoes would have been.  In fact, don’t ask me what exactly made these the wrong shoes.  But there was absolutely no question that wrong they were.  And it was, of course, all Mommy’s fault, for she had done the deed.  She was the official clothes packer.  Oh, we have seen several incidents whereby Daddy had mis-packed in some shape, form or fashion, but that seemed so much easier to deal with.  After all, he IS just Daddy.  And what do Daddies know about fashion anyway?  This, however, was simply unacceptable.  The culprit was Mommy.  MOMMY.  How could that happen? 

Now understand, the shoes were the only ones available (well, we COULD have been ultimate super grandparents and run over to her house and let her pick out the correct shoes, but don’t tell her that).  She could see that her options were severely limited.  She wasn’t interested in wearing her softball cleats.  But she had to let someone know that she was more than a little displeased.  So she vented.  And ranted.  And raged.  (Actually it wasn’t that bad, but it makes for a much better story).  She did, however, stand right in front of Chris while she verbally accosted good ol’ absent Mommy.  Even wagged a finger a time or two.  Chris did her best to keep a straight face.  Me?  Not so much.  It was one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time. 

Finally Chris could hold back no longer.  During one of Cailyn’s pauses for breath, Chris managed to ask, “Why are you mad at me?”
At that challenge to her behavior Cailyn made a clinic-worthy psychological breakthrough, one that would have made any psychiatrist worth his salt nod and say, Um-hm.  She blurted out, “It’s … It’s … It’s because you’re like Mommy.”  Whoa.  Complement?  Deep-seeded psychological breakthrough?  OK, all you psych students out there.  Run that one through your “Why do I act like I do” meter.  You make the call.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 says, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

Father, thank you for right shoes and wrong shoes and Mommies who care enough to pack at all.  Amen.

Friday, February 17, 2017

February 17 – “eleven o’clock?”

We embarked on a Texas journey yesterday with the knowledge in hand that we will soon be getting a refund.  No, not from the IRS.  I still have to put all that together, and I’m afraid that will result in the opposite of a refund.  This one will be from the electric company since we went off of balanced billing.  The purpose of our Texas Trek?  We decided to get a lawn mower.  We’ve been borrowing Nathan’s for quite some time now, and he hasn’t cut us off or anything.  We just decided it would be much easier to just wheel it out of the shed or garage and get started rather than having to go over to his house, load it on the truck, do the deed, then return it.  And on top of that, Sears was having a big sale.

Ah, Sears.  Times must be difficult for the retail Giant.  Why do I say that?  Did you know they have changed the time they open their doors?  Eleven o’clock.  That’s right.  Forget morning shopping at Sears, folks.  I guess it’s a new company perk for employees – sleep late every morning.  We arrived at around 9:30 to find the doors locked up.  Undeterred, we made our way over to Sam’s and then to the WalMart next door to kill some time.  Wow.  That WalMart sure put ours in Galveston to shame.  Much bigger.  Wider selection of goods.  And the people were actually pleasant.  We must have been greeted six or eight times.  that still wasn’t enough time to get those Sears doors open, though, so we went over to Whataburger to have an early lunch. 

Finally we made our way back to Sears to see if their employees of the day were awake yet.  They were, so we let one of them know what we wanted.  Exactly what we wanted.  I think it surprised her that we were so incredibly knowledgeable.  It wasn’t hard, actually.  Chris did all the inspection work online before we ever left the house.  They happened to have one on sale that fit every single restriction we were demanding.  Front wheel drive.  Larger back wheels.  Side mulching option.  We saw one that kind of made me start for just a second or two.  It had all the options, but it also allowed you to shift gears in the self-propulsion mode.  Several different speeds.  I wonder what that would be like … shifting into high and having to run to keep up?  In the end I decided it would just be something else to break down. 

We had another pleasant surprise when we checked out.  Just for yesterday there was a special of some kind where we got 15% off our purchase.  And then we had some points on a Shop Your Way promotion that knocked off another $8.  All in all, they ended up paying for all of the taxes and then some.  I’ll take that any day.  They loaded it into the car for us and we were on our way home.  The only thing now is … I guess I’ll really have to use it.  But it’s supposed to rain today, isn’t it? …

1 Thessalonians 3:13 says, “May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.”

Father, thank you for the ability to get a lawn mower.  It would be helpful to hold off on the rain for a little while this morning, but we’ll receive whatever you send.  Amen.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

February 16 – “Locating long pants …”

Headed out to staff meeting yesterday.  We did our initial look at the Ash Wednesday service coming up.  That’s always a fun and for many attenders educational experience.  We try to mix in some litany and ritualistic elements of worship along with the teaching on Lent and Ash Wednesday and Mardi Gras. 

After the meeting I hung around to wait for the arrival of the fire extinguisher inspector.  He was supposed to call me at 8 a.m. and then arrive before noon for sure.  He accomplished neither of those goals.  And I didn’t have a phone number with me to turn the tables back on them, so I finally left around 12:30 or so.  Guess if they ever call back we’ll just reschedule.  I did bring back some of the chorus books I had in my library at the church.  I’ll see if I can figure out any of those songs on my uke.

Chris had her Wednesday Club meeting at the library, so I spent the afternoon shuffling between working on the Sunday teaching and watching an old Nicholas Cage movie about the end of the world.  Exciting stuff.  Aliens and everything.  And the movie wasn’t all that bad, either.

When she got home we ran over to the vet’s office to pick up some heartworm medicine for Fritz.  He came up positive after Hurricane Ike, so we have had to watch him carefully over the last few years.  From there we stopped at Randall’s.  They advertised the coffee we like on sale for a pretty good price.  And of course as it happened, they were completely out of the kind we like (Sumatra).  Not really a crisis, though.  We still have a few bags of beans that were a gift from a Seaside visitor who does medical mission work in Haiti.  Also pretty good stuff. 

As often happens, since we were out anyway, we ended up at WalMart.  Strictly to pick up some fruit and do a little indoor walking, you understand.  It has been dreadfully cold here on the Island.  52 degrees the last two mornings.  I had to locate my long pants again.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 says, “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”

Father, thank you for the brisk weather.  Keeps us moving.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February 15 – “Our Valentine’s Day”

We’ve been married well onto forty-two years now.  At least we will be, come June.  So our Valentine’s Days might look a little different from some other folks’.  We exchanged gifts this year.  Chris somehow snuck around on the days that I was outside the house, and she made me a bag for my uke music and tabletop music stand.  The outside has an array of guitar-ish stringed instruments on it amidst musical notes.  The inside lining shows a collection of staffs and chord markings and even finger markings for plucking (an obvious nod to my frustrations with learning just such musical theory details).  Everything fits into it perfectly.  Nice job by my sweetheart there. 

The gift I gave her was one I have been working on for some time in secret as well.  It was a carving.  I know.  No surprise there.  But she still seems to like them.  I made kind of a reverse image of what someone might carve into a tree, except there was no tree.  It was a heart that intertwined within itself like a knot, with the initial “C” on one end and “K” on the other.  That piece then stood up next to a second carving of the letter “V”.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for family.  I probably should have started with a thicker piece of wood so I could make it look like intertwined rope, but, hey, you use what materials you have, right?  Kind of like our whole Valentine experience together all these years.  We have learned to be at peace with each other and with whatever we have been blessed with around us. 

And speaking of using what materials we have been blessed with … we even went out for an early Valentine’s supper at Salsa’s using a gift card from some friends at church.  Mexican food is Chris’ all-time favorite.  The waiter was a sneaky one, though.  When he took our order he asked questions that involved choices – did Chris want red sauce or chili con queso, or did she want pico, for example.  Little did we know (we don’t eat out there all that often) that every choice he offered involved an extra charge.  He failed to mention that little detail.  No doubt a trick they teach in server school to up the total bill so the tip will be larger.  Oh, we didn’t withhold a tip or anything.  He was just lucky we had enough cash on us to cover the extra charges and give a tip. 

When we got home we settled back into our evening routine.  Chris started working on a quilt.  I checked on the teaching for Sunday, then joined her in the den to watch some TV.  You know what?  I love that woman.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 says, “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”

Father, thank you for the incredible gift you gave me in my wife.  She puts up with a lot of my wacky antics, yet still insists that she loves me.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February 14 – “Boldly go …”

Last night we embarked on a journey.  We boldly went where no man has gone before.  Well, I guess a few have gone there before, but apparently not that many.  We turned on Netflix and started watching “Star Trek: Enterprise.”  It’s the prequel series to Jim Kirk and Spock and McCoy and O’Hura and Sulu and the rest of that gang.  It stars Scott Bakula (I think that’s the guy’s name) and a host of unknowns.  The plot centers around the adventures of the very first Starship Enterprise.  The ship doctor is an alien who uses “home remedy” applications instead of a lot of drugs.  He’s my personal favorite character.  He is positively giddy to be in this human atmosphere, learning culture trying everything, especially the blueberry pancakes.  The science officer is (Imagine this) a Vulcan woman.  I wouldn’t call her exactly Spock-ish, but you can tell she is trying hard.  Humans and Vulcans have a rather shaky relationship politically.  Seems the Vulcans were the first alien race to realize the human were beginning space travel and exploration, so they made contact.  Since that time they have acted like the overbearingly overprotective big brother.  In this series the humans are struggling to gain their independence like a frustrated teenager.  Oh, and I just remembered my other favorite character.  The captain has a puppy with him.  Can’t beat a puppy, right?

We also watched a remake of the classic Around the World in 80 Days.  I’m sure it’s been around for a very long time.  After all, it is on Netflix.  I have no idea who the leading man and woman were, but the perennial sidekick was none other than Jackie Chan.  Perfect movie for checking your brain at the door and just enjoying the Jackie Chan fight choreography.  I think I need to find a few more like that.  Any suggestions? 

1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 says, “For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.  On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.  You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed — God is our witness.  We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.”

Father, we could use a little weather protection today, especially up there in the Houston area.  Amen.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

February 13 – “A Day to Honor”

We had quite a full day of honoring yesterday.  Church, of course, started everything off.  Can’t beat starting off any day honoring and appreciating Jesus.  We had a pretty good crowd, and I’m pretty sure that everyone had been to a service at some time before.  That’s kind of unusual at Seaside lately.  We tend to have quite the entourage of visitors from all over the place.  The fact that so many locals are attending is a real boost in the arm.

Yesterday afternoon I officiated at the funeral of a gentleman who had been attending Seaside when I first came back to Galveston 21 plus years ago.  In fact I think he might have been on the pastor search committee that asked me to be Seaside’s pastor.  He had quite a career in law enforcement.  He was a past chief of police in Jamaica Beach and then became a sheriff’s deputy.  He became very close friends with the pastor who started Seaside, and was eventually baptized by him.  That pastor now lives in Delaware and has had some health problems, so he wasn’t able to make the journey to Galveston for the funeral.  He did send some words of remembrance that one of the family members read.  There was quite a crowd present to honor Clyde, too.  Fully a fourth of the room was reserved just for masons, who did the closing part of the service.  Probably the most interesting sight in the room, though, was the sea of fifty or so tie-dyed t-shirts worn by family and close friends.  I was even honored to be wearing one.  Clyde loved the tie-dyed look, and he wore a tie-dyed shirt pretty much every day he wasn’t in uniform.  It was quite the tribute. 

I have to say my favorite story shared about Clyde came from the woman who told about the time she was new to the area and drove through Jamaica Beach on her way to her new home in Bay Harbor.  She dutifully slowed down in Jamaica Beach, but suddenly noticed the flashing lights behind her anyway.  She pulled over, and Clyde approached her vehicle.  She asked if she was speeding, and he replied that she was not.  She asked if she was weaving or in any way driving erratically.  Again, he said she was not.  Quite confused now, she asked why, then, had she been pulled over.  Clyde replied, “You were the first car I have seen drive through here in four hours.  I was just bored.”  They had a cup of coffee together at the 7-11 and became friends from then on. 

From that and many other stories I heard, it sounded like Clyde had touched a lot of lives in a very positive way.  I know his family will hold onto the precious memories shared with them.

Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Father walk with the Batten family as they deal with grief and loss.  And meanwhile … welcome Clyde into your presence.  Amen.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

February 12 – “Chili and drones”

I went over to the big chili cookoff in Sea Isle for a while yesterday.  Cailyn was staying with us, but she had softball practice, so Chris took her there.  There seemed to be a pretty good turnout.  At the cookoff, I mean.  They had tents set up with contestants hawking their chili-wares.  Many of the salespeople were dressed up as well.  I saw several in Mexican ponchos and sombreros.  At one tent everyone was wearing crocodile hats.  Their secret recipe had something to do with Cajun ingredients.  Another group was all dressed like pirates.  Before you could taste their chili you had to walk the plank (a 2X4 placed on the ground) and down a jello shot.  I actually never tried any of the chili.  I know, kind of strange to attend a cookoff and never try the goods.  But I know my stomach, and without knowing which of the concoctions were supremely spicy, I wasn’t about to put my interior health at risk.  Seaside’s worship pastor and his band were playing the gig.  Well, when I arrived it was just Jim playing.  His guys were taking a break by manning their tents.  I saw several Seasiders and met a few new folks.  It was a fun time.

From there I stopped by station 8.  A few of the guys were investigating the possible future uses of drone in waging war against a raging fire.  I am absolutely certain that’s what it was.  It never ceases to amaze me when your job has moments where it is actually fun.  I guess that means you have truly found your calling.  I have never watched the operation of one of those drones up close, so I was fascinated.  They showed me all of its ins and outs.  Oh, and it had a camera attached, too, so we could see what it saw on its journeys by watching on a cell phone.  I felt like I was watching Hodgins on Bones.  The little creature flew to the beach and back.  And when it got out of range, a voice declared, “Returning to home,” and it made its way back to the last place its GPS had indicated it was parked.  It could make a circle around the property, mapping the premises.  It even followed the guy with controller without him doing anything.  I asked if they ever hit high wires or anything.  He told me that some of them have built in obstacle avoidance systems, but his did not.  He was pretty good at avoiding wires and houses on stilts.  He did take it down the street where some workmen were on a new building site.  They obviously enjoyed the break and knew they were being watched.  Hey, there’s another drone usage possibility, all you straw bosses out there.  The battery had a twenty minute life span, and when it reached ten percent capacity it automatically returned to the home base GPS position to get recharged.  Wow.  Sounds like a commercial for an exciting new toy.  But remember, I’m describing a potential tool for work, right?

Colossians 4:5 says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”

Father, thank you for the folks I got to see at the cookoff yesterday.  And thanks for the chance to take to the fire fighters.  Help them all to be happy today.  Amen.