Thursday, July 20, 2017

July 20 – “A gentleman caller”

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July 19 – “Watch out, Gene Kelley”

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July 18 – “Identical Twins”

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

July 17 – “Quick Cailyn Anecdote of the day”

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 16, 2017

July 16 – “Good bye, Flight Museum”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July 15 – “Repairs”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

July 14 – “Exotic”

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

July 13 – “Tales of the Crazies …”

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July 12 – “All Star Scavenger Hunt”

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July 11 – “From the sky ...”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 10 – “A Langwood Blast”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 9, 2017

July 9 – “A Dangerous World”

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 8, 2017

July 8 – “Changing plans”

We didn’t do our run yesterday.  That would be my bad.  I just felt that my body needed a day to recuperate a little more fully.  I had some kind of weird episode with my lower back the other night.  I was getting ready for bed when suddenly it felt the same way it did when I had a myelogram (That’s the evil dye-in-the-spine test).  Lots of intense pressure and pain from the lower back down, and my legs began to buckle.  I managed to sit down on the thoughtfully-provided white seating receptacle in that room, and the spell eventually passed.  Very strange and quite frightening, actually.  I guess that was in the back of my head in my decision to forego the walk.  Besides, today’s a new day.  We’ll either walk or do yardwork this morning, so I’ll get in the exercise I missed. 

Since we didn’t walk, we did do the next best thing.  Actually a day off kind of thing.  We haven’t done anything with that sort of description in a long time.  We went to a movie.  Spiderman Homecoming.  I’m not one to be a spoiler, so I won’t describe any key details.  Just this … think high school angst, pterodactyl, Avengers.  There.  That’s enough clues.  Oh, wait.  One more thing.  Stay to the bitter end.  All the way through the credits.  All the way.  It will be worth the wait. 

Christina and the kids went to the library yesterday, so they came over to hang out for a while afterward.  Kel eventually joined us as well, when he finished his route.  And of course that meant … Pizza Friday.  Micah and Josiah joined me to go pick them up.  On the way I asked both of them what car they planned to drive when they got old enough.  Josiah was a red Lamborghini all the way.  He planned to purchase it with his bonus money when he got his first pro baseball contract.  Micah started out with a sports car as well.  I reminded then that sports cars usually seat just two people comfortably.  “What will happen when you and your wife start to have kids?”  Now that was an issue they were both familiar with.  But Josiah had the answer immediately.  “Oh, I’m not getting married.  Ever.”  Micah, however, grew more pensive.  Perhaps thinking in terms of that big baseball contract, he changed his mind about his automobile of choice as well as his course of action in life.  His changes?  First he will get a truck.  Next purchase, an iPhone 7.  Then a house … a really big house.  And finally … he wants a pool as well.  Sounds like he is all set.  Later in the afternoon Josiah had apparently begun to rethink things as well.  Out of the blue he said to his mother, “I’m going to take my honeymoon money Toronto and get a hotel room there at the baseball stadium.”  (Side note: We were watching the Astros play the Toronto team, and sure enough, there is a hotel that overlooks the ball park.  Some Astros fans had taken over one room and placed pro Astro signs in the windows).  So … at least two of our boys are all set in their life goals … for now. 

James 3:18 says, “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”

Father, walk with all our youngsters as they make and change and refine their life plans over the years.

Friday, July 7, 2017

July 7 – “End of an Era”

Well, it looks like the end of an era has arrived.  The 40 Steps Era, that is.  It was with great curiosity at first that we responded to a loud “Beep ... Beep ... Beep” – the kind of noise usually made when large machinery begins its backing up process.  A quick glance out our front window verified the situation.  Not one, but two big dump trucks had stopped traffic out in front of our house.  One was backing into the vacant lot next door.  The other was parked in the middle of the street, doing nothing but causing a car behind him to grow increasingly more agitated at the delay.  The first dump truck came to a stop in the lot. But suddenly stopped.  The driver got out and started walking around, seemingly aimlessly.  Apparently he was looking for something. 

By this time Chris and I were outside in our driveway, watching the invasion.  He saw us and started toward us.  I knew what he was doing.  He wanted to make sure he was at the right place before dumping his load.  It was tempting to steer him away, but minor character flaws like honesty and integrity drove me to assure him that he was, indeed, where he was supposed to be.  As he walked away Chris said, just softly enough that he couldn’t hear her, “You can go ahead and take it somewhere else.”  Sigh.  It is difficult to endure the end of an era. 

Finally the unloading began.  The beeping of the backup.  The whining of the hydraulics.  The crashing thundering of the back gate as it swings shut.  All proved more than Heidi could stand.  She repeatedly knocked over our dog gate to let us know that there was a storm going on outside and she wasn’t at all happy about it.  We finally just had to close the door.  Sorry, Heidi, but there is only more to come.  So, so much more.

Best we can tell they stopped at six truckloads of dirt.  I suppose the bulldozers will be here soon to spread it out and prepare the foundation.  Chris looked online to see what the latest ownership situation was on the property.  Guess who is listed as owner now?  The Galveston mayor.  My thought is that he is listed as owner of all the properties the city purchased to build mixed site section eight housing throughout the city.  That is not good news for property values in our neighborhood, but hey … as several folks have told us they will be doing on our behalf … pray for good neighbors. 

James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

Father, we do pray now for our new neighbors, whoever they may be.  Help us to be wise.  Amen.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

July 6 – “What would YOU do?”

We had an interesting day yesterday.  It started out the same as many other days.  I was hard at work over my computer, trying to finish up the research for the teaching on Sunday.  Chris spent the better part of the day reading.  She finally finished the last of the Harry Potter books … again.  I think that’s her sixth time through.  I was trying to get in as much work as I could before heading out to the church for staff meeting.

And at the church we had another group come in to stay at the retreat center.  Oh there were no people around when I got there, but they left some evidence of their presence.  Remember back when I ordered and installed those signs for the church?  The ones that were clearly marked “Drive Thru” with an arrow pointing to the lane designated for that purpose?  That’s the one.  Yep.  That’s the lane that locals have started using as a short cut to get to the beach.  That’s the one that allows us access to the back parking areas around the church.  That’s the one that gives us access to the road behind the church so we can get to the mailbox and to the red light intersection without having to wait on traffic.  That’s the one that had a big old trailer parked right in the middle of it.  I went through several potential responses.  I don’t have a trailer hitch on my truck, so moving it myself was out of the question.  I did go upstairs.  Had there been anyone there I would have spoken to them in person.  I really didn’t want to just leave a note, though.  I also considered calling our retreat center coordinator.  But in the end, I just went around the silly thing.  They do need to have it moved before Sunday, though.

Yesterday afternoon we decided to take a little drive.  Oh, we had places to go.  It wasn’t a rambling road trip through the city or anything.  That would be placing our lives in danger unnecessarily.  We went to Randalls to pick up a prescription.  They were also supposed to have the coffee we use on sale, but they didn’t have any of the kind we drink (Starbuck’s Sumatra beans).  While we were out we went by the local animal shelter.  No, we are not looking for another pet, although there was one little guy in there who looked a lot like Fritz.  Mean as a snake, though.  But I digress.  Chris wanted to check and see if by some freak chance someone had picked up Kel and Christina’s dog Lucy in LaMarque and brought her to the Island.  Slim chance, and it didn’t pay off, but at least we can say we tried. 

Oh, and the quote of the day came from a lady at the shelter.  She and another woman came in with a cute little pup, apparently to see about getting the dog fixed.  We missed most of the conversation, but we did hear this little tidbit as she held her puppy tight: “Would you want your momma to spay you before you had your first litter?” 
Umm … well … I don’t …

James 3:16 says, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

Father, be with that lady as she makes decisions in her life.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July 5 – “Here’s to our Fourth”

We started our holiday in grand fashion.  We took a three-mile hike.  Well, OK, it was just a walk, but it was three miles.  And it felt like a ten mile hike through the sweltering Amazon rain forests.  We pushed through, though.  We pushed through.

By the time we got back home (It usually takes us just under an hour to go three miles.  I know.  We need to work on our time, right?), we were beginning to smell the odors of the day.  No, I don’t mean we stunk, personally.  Although I suppose we probably did.  I mean that people were waking up and immediately firing up their grills for whatever scrumptious goodies were planned for their Family Fourth celebrations.

I couldn’t get by without doing a few hours of work on the holiday.  I still have to develop a teaching before Sunday, and sometimes it just takes a long time.  I forced myself to stop so we could crash on the couch together and watch none other than Gojira.  At least that’s the way the closed caption people printed it.  I thought it was pronounced Godzilla.  Either way, I dozed, er, watched the movie and Chris read yet another Harry Potter episode … again. 

And our big Fourth of July supper?  Barbecued red fish seasoned in Tony Sashere’s and lemon juice and topped with barbecue sauce from Rudy’s.  Chris’ famous pasta salad.  And my own personal selection, green peas.  Yep.  This old boy actually loves those tiny green delectables.  We managed to put away one side of the fish, so we have that much more for a fish sandwich today, I guess. 

We followed up the fine dining experience with an Astros game on TV.  And boy, did they provide some serious fireworks.  Sixteen runs, including a grand slam in the ninth inning by Josh Reddick.  What a game to watch.  We put it on pause for a brief interlude during the seventh inning stretch.  That’s when we began to hear the distinctive sound of city fireworks exploding in the distance.  We headed up onto our deck and watched the city’s fireworks display in the distance.  No crowds to fight with.  No traffic to contend with.  So romantic.  Just the three of us (Freddy joined us as our protection detail.  She didn’t bark as much as I expected though).  And along with the fireworks we were treated to a patriotic flyover by a Vee formation of pelicans.  Oh, and then there was the drone.  I think someone didn’t have the deck view that we did so he sent his drone with a camera mount to get the event on video.  I think it might have been our fire fighter neighbor, Paul.  I waved.  As we headed back into the house, we also noticed that one of our neighbors just then was firing up his grill.  9:30 p.m.  Guess he got a late start.  Ah, well.  Great date night, as far as I was concerned.  Maybe we can do it again next year. 

James 3:13 says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

Father, thank you for decks in the trees, barbecues at night, and drone-views of fireworks.  Thank you for our country.  Please do what you can with her.  We kind of like it here.  Amen.