Monday, July 31, 2017

July 30 – “Sights of the City”

We were blessed to experience two pretty exciting sights of the city yesterday.  We have been taking care of Nathan and April’s two dogs while they are on a mini-vacation.  Yesterday while on our way to let Scooter and Abby out again, we saw the first of the two sights to write home about.  Now at first glance it seemed rather commonplace.  Just a girl walking her dog in the neighborhood.  Very sweet, but not so outstanding in the grand scheme of sights of the city things.  And then we drew closer.  Now the dog was a simple creature, and it was, well, in the process of enjoying simple creature comforts.  So my attention then shifted to the girl.  That’s when I did a double-take.  She was apparently wearing something on her shoulder.  Either that or she was grotesquely misshapen.  I struggled to focus my early morning eyes.  Finally I pieced it together.  She had a full-sized (I guess) parrot sitting on her shoulder.  Now that’s something you just don’t see every day.  But wait.  That wasn’t all.  As I glanced down at her feet to check on the dog once again, I realized that she wasn’t walking at all.  Oh, no.  She was riding on a hoverboard.  That wins some kind of award, don’t you think?  Walking your dog with your parrot on your shoulder while balancing on a hoverboard. A winner in my book.

So, Scooter and Abby happy and fed and granted some time in the backyard, we headed on to church.  I was just settling in to go over my teaching one last time, when we saw a garbage truck parked right in the center of Seawall Boulevard.  OK.  We live on an island, so that in itself was not so unusual.  There are large trash receptacles all along the seawall that he was apparently having a difficult time accessing.  I get that.  I spent some time as a beach trash man myself.  It’s a pretty thankless job.  But then I noticed it.  One of the burly trash guys was dragging a full to the brim plastic trash bag.  “Not so unusual,” you might say.  “Isn’t that his job?” you might query.  Well, here’s the thing.  That trash guy was hauling that full bag-o-trash … away from the truck.  Yep.  He was headed right back toward the trash can.  I’m pretty sure there must have been an explanation, or at least a fun story.  But without the closed captioning I’m at a loss.  So the errant trash guy takes his place among this Sunday edition of Galveston Sights of the City.

1 Peter 1:24-25 says, “For, ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.’ 
And this is the word that was preached to you.”

Father, thank you for your people who do silly, fun things.  Help me to be one of them every chance I get.  Amen.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

July 30 – “Set set up”

No movement on 40 Steps yesterday.  Eerily quiet.  I thought about taking a walk among the erected pilings and globs of lumber and deserted earth movers.  That thought didn’t last long, though.  Can’t waste energy on frivolous pursuits when it is 89 degrees outside.  Along those lines, however, we did drive over to where the same company is building more houses.  We found one that looks like it might be a similar floor plan.  Shouldn’t be too ugly.

We spent most of our day over at the church.  We were waiting for a certain long-anticipated delivery.  That’s right.  The new playground equipment was delivered and installed yesterday.  The two guys who did the setup were really nice.  Very limited English, but they sure knew how to get the set set up (I’ve been waiting to use that phrase for a long time.  “set set up.”  Love it).  We bought the two guys a Subway sandwich and joined them for lunch.  Not much communication happened, but they were genuinely surprised and grateful.  As far as the equipment goes, it looks great.  Two swings and a place for a baby swing to be added later.  One rope disc swing.  A rock climbing wall.  A rope ladder.  A ten foot slide.  And, because of Cailyn’s single demand for the structure, a set of monkey bars.  In fact, she will be happy to find out about a little glitch we had.  Seems they were actually out of stock on the monkey bar add-on for this particular set.  We were going to have to wait 3 to 5 weeks for another one to come in, then set up yet another appointment for delivery and installation.  Instead they got permission from corporate to substitute the monkey bars add-on for a larger structure.  It’s just a few bars longer and a bit sturdier.  We’ll suffer through the replacement.  Now all we need is the wood mulch pit underneath.  But that's a whole other story.  We didn’t tell anyone at church about the delivery.  We weren’t completely certain that it would happen.  But I already got a text from Lauren.  It seems she noticed it …

I officiated another wedding last night at the San Luis Hotel.  It was out on the lawn, but they didn’t use the gazebo.  They aligned it for a much better view of the Gulf.  I guess they wanted lots of water in their photos.  They were from El Paso.  Not much ocean available out there.  The bride’s mom and dad dint speak much English, so I used the Spanish version of “Who presents this man to be married to this woman?”  Dad was pretty surprised when he heard what I said, but he gathered himself and answered … also in Spanish.  I have no idea what his answer was, but I said thank you and continued on with the ceremony.  While Dad spoke to and shared a hug with the groom, I whispered to the best man, “Did I say it right?”  He grinned broadly and said, “You got it perfect.”  Whew. 

1 Peter 1:24 says, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”

Father, take care of the two guys who did the setup on the swing set.  They have a really hot job.  Amen.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

July 29 – “Gettin’ serious now”

I went to the Cops and Clergy breakfast yesterday.  It was held right around the corner from our house at the old Zion Lutheran Church.  It is now a retreat center.  In fact we have been sending them some of the groups that call us and find that we are booked.  It was a really small group this time, so I actually got to talk to some folks.  I met Jack Roady, the Galveston District Attorney.  When he found out I was the pastor at Seaside he asked about Mike Bell.  Seems one of the Sundays Mike filled in preaching for me, Jack came out to Seaside to hear him.  He seemed to be a nice enough guy (Jack, not Mike, although Mike can be a pretty nice guy, too).  He provided the colaches and donuts for the breakfast.  I also met a few of the prosecutors from his office.  Our Neighbor the Cop from down the street was there.  He and I regaled the Retreat Center staff with neighborhood-oriented horror tales from Hurricane Ike and its aftermath.  And I spent a lot of time talking with one of the new hospital chaplains at UTMB.  He told me they have reinstituted the program where a pastor can get a name badge and receive free parking tokens.  That will be helpful. 

The 40 Steps update.  It appears that they are getting serious now.  The construction port-a-potty was delivered yesterday.  Oh, and Chris had some things to say when they started woodpecker pounding the pilings into the ground.  Very large, very loud woodpeckers.  And they started before 6:30 in the morning.  I was already up, so I knew what was coming.  Chris came flying out of the bedroom demanding to know how they could dare to start with all that noise so early.  She even googled city noise ordinances and discovered that they aren’t supposed to start with the loud stuff until after seven.  They are done with it now, though.  Looks like our shade from the blazing western sun will be here sooner rather than later.  While they were finishing up the pounding (they had a delay or two when their apparatus started splitting the pilings instead of pounding them), two full truckloads of wood arrived.  Can’t build a house without wood, I guess.  And the junior sized bulldozers started rearranging the dirt.  Gotta have that dirt in just the right spot, you know.  They seem pretty determined to get the thing up and ready.  One of the guys told me this builder had slapped together two houses in less than a month already, and he had 72 more in the works.  Just … wow. 

1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

Father, thank you for the cops and the folks from the DA’s office that I met yesterday.  Help them be safe in their tasks from day to day.  Amen.

Friday, July 28, 2017

July 28 – “Reconnects”

Another exhausting day yesterday.  Physically, I mean.  We did our three miles, and while walking we figured that the only window of opportunity for mowing the yard would be right after we got home from the walk. Too bad we didn’t think of it during mile one instead of right before we made our final turn.  We could have stopped early.  I kept my phone in my pocket the whole morning so I could check the steps tracker and see how far I went.  It registered just over 10,000 steps, or four plus miles.  Now Chris is ready to add another mile to our regular walk so we can get to 10,000 on a regular basis.  WooHoo.  Can’t wait.

Here’s a 40 Steps update.  The piling company came yesterday.  They worked all day installing pilings for a raised house, which will be the only one in the neighborhood.  Right now they stick up into the air about even with our roof.  The installer told us, however, that the plan was to cut them all off to a height of around five feet.  That matches up with what we were told after Hurricane Ike.  The flood waters reached right at five feet in our neighborhood, so any new building must be raised to that height.  I’m afraid it will really look silly to be the only house around sticking up like that.  One good thing that we are holding onto, however.  At least the house will block the devastatingly hot West sun. 

I was included in one of those FaceBook private group pages yesterday.  It’s called The Galveston FBC Youth Group.  Some of the folks who were in the youth group at that church way back during the late 60’s and early 70’s are trying to pull together a reunion of sorts sometime next year.  I wasn’t there all that long - just over six months or so – but you might say it was a formative time in my life.  I did become a believer as a result of the ministry there, so there is that.  Made a friend or two as well.  The group administrator asked if I still had contact with the guy who ended up being my college roommate.  I had already put David’s name and FaceBook contact info on the page.  In Then I noticed on the page just before our home group Bible study began last night that a girl who was like a little sister to me posted her name.  I made a note to myself to send Nicky a message when home group ended.  And what do you know … during the Bible study my phone sounded with notice that she had already done the same to connect with me.  Looking forward to hearing from her again soon.

1 Peter 1:14-16 says, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

Father, thank you for reconnects with old friends.  Amen.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

July 27 – “Bucket list addendum”

Ah, ‘twas a sad, sad day in the neighborhood.  Truck after truck had already infiltrated the unsoiled landscape (well, unsoiled except for the stickerburs … lots of stickerburs) with load after load of dirt.  Piles and piles of the fresh topsoil stood waiting, just waiting.  And then … More about that in a moment.

But first, I saw something new on my way to staff meeting at the church.  Not just one but two very pale gray hawks.  Almost white.  Beautiful birds.  Oh, and I saw a dead snake in the road, too.  Not dead at the talon of the raptor, however.  This guy looked like he got run over, plain and simple.  I didn’t stop or anything, but from my quick glimpse, it seemed to be a diamondback. 

We got some really good news about ordering chairs for the church.  The website Kel used to get chairs when he was pastor at Faith Bible Church in LaMarque is still in operation and still offering great deals on really good chairs.  Looks like we can get 100 chairs for under $4,000.  Way less than we were expecting. 

After staff meeting Chris and I went to Houston to look at the possible playground equipment in person.  We missed our exit off of the beltway, so we had to go the long way around.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact as we roamed through a few neighborhoods in Northwest Houston, we came upon two things that I already want to go back and see again.  One was a restaurant inside a train car.  They serve barbeque and seafood, but that is kind of irrelevant.  I just think it would be fun to eat in a train.  The other was a photo op that I can’t believe I didn’t insist we stop at right then and there.  If it hadn’t been so close to rush hour already, I’m pretty sure I would have demanded it.  It was a monstrous hamburger.  Had all the fixin’s, too.  Huge thing just hanging on a big old pole on the side of the road.  I really want my picture next to that thing.  Bucket list.

OK, so back to the sadness.  When we arrived back home 40 Steps, the vacant lot next door, was destroyed.  The two huge trees, bigger than our house, that provided shade from the heat of the afternoon sun were uprooted completely and tossed to the side.  The other tree back there was sheared in half.  Looked pretty silly, if you ask me.  and the piles of dirt were all bulldozed flat.  Not pretty flat, mind you.  Just flat.  Stay tuned for further 40 Steps updates as they occur.

1 Peter 1:13 says, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Father, thank you for our safe trip to Houston and back.  And thanks for the beautiful birds.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

July 26 – “A two-check day”

Three mile walk with Chris … check.

Worked on sermon most of the day … check.  Chris worked on a quilt.  Oh, and she went to ladies’ Bible study at the church last night.

That about says it.  Sigh.  A two check day.  But the Astros did win last night.  Does that count for a third check?

There was none of the promised movement forward on the building of the house next door.  Well, other than neighbors coming out and asking what has been going on.  Chris showed me the stakes that the guy hammered in when he was there the other day.  They supposedly mark where the corners of the house will be and where the garage will be.  They are separated, so I guess it’s supposed to be a detached garage.  And it will be located around behind the house with a driveway trailing all the way from the front.  So much for a lawn on that side of the house or in the back yard.  It also looks as if we will be losing our shade trees.  If the stakes are indeed accurate, both of the big trees will have to come crashing down.  Looks like our view to the West is about to change drastically.  Stay tuned for further developments on the 40 Steps Interloper.

1 Peter 1:8-9 says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Father, I want to pray for our new neighbors, whoever they may end up being.  Draw them close to you even now.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July 25 – “To the hospital with Siri”

Ah, Monday.  Always the big workday of the week for me.  That’s when I get out my brand new list for the week and start plodding through the things that come already printed, the things that have to happen every single week, fifty-two weeks a year.  And if we are by some freak chance on vacation or if something pressing comes up … the Monday list still must be done.

So, after a three miler with Chris and the rest of the morning at the computer, I headed out for my Monday exception.  This time it was a hospital visit up in Texas at the Clear Lake Kindred Hospital.  There were actually two patients I needed to see.  One was Todd, the guy we have been praying for a long time now.  He’s the one who was originally told he had kidney stones when actually his appendix was about to rupture.  It did.  He ended up septic and has been through a horrendous month or so.  The other patient was a retired fire fighter I was asked to visit by the retired association’s president.  Danny had some extremely serious cancer surgery and has been in the hospital for two months now. 

I followed the directions given to me by Old Faithful, Google Siri.  Not always a great idea, I know.  But it is usually an adventure, if nothing else.  Sure enough, she sent me on a wild goose chase.  I ended up at a Kindred facility, all right, but it was not the right one.  She even had me pass by the place and make a totally unnecessary, wild and crazy U-turn to get there.  Fortunately the receptionist knew where another facility was, and even called ahead for me to make sure it was the right place.  And I enjoyed watching her try to give directions.  She leaned and twisted and pointed and did all manner of gyrations so I would certainly be able to picture where she was leading me.  I think Google might consider hiring her if they ever decide to do a visual version of the Google Siri voice. 

I finally found the right place, though, and went in first to see Todd.  He was in much better shape than the last time I saw him, but he obviously has a lot of physical therapy ahead of him.  He was most excited about being allowed to have ice chips and about the prospect of have a smaller trach put in that will enable him to eat actual food.  After prayer I headed back to the elevators to go see Danny.  A gentleman joined me as we pushed the “up” button.  He was carrying a New Testament, so I figured he was headed to make a visit as well.  We talked briefly, and as we exited I let him lead the way.  I had a hunch we might be going in the same direction.  Sure enough, he went to the same room, so we paused at the door and kind of formalized our elevator introductions.  He was a member of the Sunday School class of the guy who asked me to make the visit.  So we joined forces and made the visit together.  Danny seemed genuinely glad to have some company.  He was pining about not being able to eat real food as well.  He did give kudos to his daughter and ex-wife for all the help they have been to him.  In fact he was ready to put his ex-wife up for sainthood.  I was glad to hear he had that kind of family support.  Physically he has a really long and difficult recovery ahead of him.  He did assure us that he was born again, though.  So he is ready for whatever comes next. 

Oh, when I got home there was a guy taking measurements out on 40 Steps (the lot next door).  Chris couldn’t stand it, so she asked him what was going on.  He said the plan is to start building sometime today.  Long sigh here. 

1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Father, be with Todd and Danny.  They both will really be needing you over the next few months in particular.  Amen.

Monday, July 24, 2017

July 24 – “Bus man’s holiday”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 23, 2017

July 23 – “That’s not meat”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

July 22 – “On hospitals, giraffes and tigers”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

July 20 – “A gentleman caller”

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July 19 – “Watch out, Gene Kelley”

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July 18 – “Identical Twins”

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

July 17 – “Quick Cailyn Anecdote of the day”

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 16, 2017

July 16 – “Good bye, Flight Museum”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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