Sunday, July 25, 2004

No kidding...

I am stupid.

There. I said it. I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow nor do I understand what went on yesterday or fully why today is like it is. The only explanation I have for the ignorance of these facts is that I am, in fact, stupid. (In other amazing news, the sky is blue, water is wet, sugar is sweet and women are confusing.)

There really is something blissfully comforting in accepting one's own stupidity. There is so much less pressure. Actually, this is not a new revelation for me. It hit me pretty early in life. My mother passed away on Christmas Eve of 1974. I had just turned five. In the course of that loss and others to follow people would ask why. Then, not content with their own questions, they would ask me about my questions and whether or not I wondered why. Upon being confronted, it occurred to me that I had not.

For some reason, early on I assumed the Wisdom of the Ages knew what was going on and that was enough. As I have grown, experience has not refuted that. It dovetails with the concept of free will and it compliments so many scriptures. "For I know the plans I have for you..." "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want..."

I remember being very young and thinking that after the suffering Jesus went through, expecting an easy ride for myself was rather audacious. Don't get me wrong. I hate that there has to be suffering. I sometimes even fall into the trap of thinking that I might have had a better approach. Further, I have still never endured suffering as it relates to my kids and I cannot imagine being able to handle that. Nevertheless, when in this world I do have trouble, I hope I fall back on the hope in the One who has overcome this world.

Benjamin Disraeli said "To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge."

Well, at least it's a start.

Stephen Curtis Chapman said, "The only burning question that remains is "Who am I?" Can I form a single mountain? Take the stars in hand and count them? Can I even take a breath without God giving it to me? He is First and Last. Before all that has been, beyond all that will pass. God is God and I am not. I can only see a part of the picture He's painting. God is God and I am man. Oh, I'll never understand it all, for only God is God."

Maybe there is hope for me, yet.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Cut and Shoot, then cut some more

Cut and Shoot, Texas is in Montgomery County in Southeast Texas. This town traces its peculiar name to a disagreement between two factions in the community during the summer of 1912. Baptist and Methodist citizens had jointly constructed a building to serve as the community's schoolhouse and church, with the understanding that Mormons and Apostolic Pentecostals would be barred from using it. According to county historian W.H. Gandy, someone gave an Apostolic minister named Stamps permission to preach there, and a confrontation ensued between those who arrived to hear Stamps and others who had locked the building to prevent him from speaking. Many involved in the confrontation were armed with knives and guns..."      
                               From "Muleshoe and More" by Bill and Claire Bradfield

When I read this, my first thought was that we have made at least a little progress. But then I realized, the article does not mention what the CoC was doing. My second thought took me back only a few years to a local Abilene CoC wherein the praise team arrived one Sunday morning to find their microphone cords cut. At least one person was still armed that day. I'm coming back to the heart...

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

And that's the way it is...

As I read the blogs of others (something I have not gotten to do much this week) it appears that the subjects cover every hash mark on the line between the profound and the mundane. And although the profound end is not nearly as populated as the authors might have hoped, I fear that I have also failed to leave much of an impression there. So, now for something completely mundane.

Our family has been very busy this week. My son, Connor, is playing in his second baseball league this year. The season calls for games every night for two weeks. It has been fun, but extremely hot. He is so good at this game and I love watching him because he loves playing. He is really in his element whenever there is competition in the air.

Michal Kate has also had a big week because she lost her first tooth. She calls the gap where her tooth was her "sunny space." I have always gone a little weak in the knees whenever she makes this wrinkly nose smile, but now that it includes a "sunny space" I turn into a puddle. If she knew what that does to me she would have a new car for every day of the week and more. I am such a sucker for those kids.

Finally, Addie is also having a great week because today was her birthday. Our baby is 5. She is convinced that this magic day on the calendar has had amazing effects. She is significantly taller, she can draw her own bath, she can take the bossiness up another notch and more. Her party is Saturday and once again Kendra (the pretty woman I conned into marrying me) is facing the predicament she created by having to try to live up to the nearly impossible benchmark she has set with numerous other children's parties. I keep trying to tell people that expectations are much easier to achieve if the standard is established at a lower level but no one listens to me. That's okay; who needs the pressure of a bunch of people hanging on your every word?

As far as my week has gone, I have been busy as well- especially today. I traveled to San Angelo today stopping at one of the ranches on the way there and back. On the way there I thought I saw a goat stuck in the fence along the side of the road near Coronado's Camp. I was running late, but I made a note of where it was and determined to check on it on the way home and see if it had gotten free. Well, on the way home (from a successful trip) I was running late again, but sure enough- the goat was there. I pulled over and checked on him. He was alive but dehydrated and fading fast into a meal for coyotes within a few hours. I worked him out of the fence and watched him stagger off in search of water. Then I jumped in the truck and broke more than my share of traffic laws to get to a birthday dinner for Addie. After that I unloaded the truck, served two eviction notices, found a third house sitting unexpectedly empty, handled three business calls and still made Connor's game.

I am pooped.

But all in all, what a blessed day. Safe travel, good company in San Angelo, a great job, and returning to a family that I could not have imagined could be this perfect. My conservative upbringing always tosses a little cloud over good days and great blessings as I wonder when the other shoe is going to drop. Well, the fact is, God does not want to lower the boom on us. Satan is the father of that lie. Sure, bad things will happen to good people and many have befallen our family in recent years. But if we lean on God and not on our own understanding of events in this life, the clarity of that purpose will overcome any cloud Satan throws our way. And while I may wonder about things like that, one matter of which I can be assured is that God has already provided a great day for us that will come no matter what. So whether the days are rough or whether they are the "salad days," an even greater day is coming. Like my sister used to say, "This is not all there is- and I'm so glad."

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Crook News

Well, as a matter of fact, I do feel safer now than before this tyrant has been dethroned. I am glad that so many resources of our government were expended on the enforcement of the standards violated by this ruthless premier known for persecuting loyal subjects.
So now as peers determine your future, may your instruments of torture no longer be at your disposal and may your influence for evil be forever quieted.
So there you go, Martha Stewart. I guess you got what's coming to you and surely that's a "good thing."

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Dream Weaver

Today I was trying to daydream but my mind kept wandering.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Redeemed! How I what now?

Growing up, I did not have much of an opportunity to be involved in sports. To make a long story short, I was raised by a single parent who thought (and still thinks) that work was more important and most sports are fixed. My son, however, loves sports. He plays baseball, soccer, basketball and runs for distance. He also loves watching sports. Basically, he is studying games rather than merely watching them.

I'll never forget the first time he realized that people actually make a living playing sports. Instantly his career path was mapped out. I warned him that not many people actually got to that point, but that point was lost on a cocky 7 year-old(at the time). So I also warned him that he might be playing in front of thousands or even millions of people thinking that his shyness might prevail. He was not at all concerned about that.

Next I told him that he warned him that as a professional athlete he would have to talk to a lot of people and conduct interviews. I thought this might discourage him somewhat because he is such a quiet, serious brainiac. It did give him pause, but he decided it was possible to deal with it if it allowed such a vocation.

Finally, I told him that girls would constantly be seeking his attention and wanting to be around him. That almost did it. He looked disgusted at the thought and he really thought it over before he decided it was a sacrifice he could handle. Perhaps he just remembered he might be holding a bat.

Anyway, I was watching an SI special the other night with him (not of the swimsuit variety) and there was mention of how some athlete had redeemed himself by excelling in some element of the game after previously making a huge blunder. It occurred to me that the speaker did not really apply the concept of redemption correctly. Because we have been redeemed after making a blunder of our lives, but not through anything we have done. In fact, the source of our redemption is the very One most impacted by our mistakes. My redemptive moments are made more obvious and more necessary when I make mistakes, but they are not of themselves a means to any positive end. Lord, I am sorry for the daily object lessons. Thanks for being so willing and so patient.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Dead Day

In a story related to the previous post, I know when I am giong to die. My birth certificate has an expiration date. I'm not going to tell you when because I might want to borrow some money.

Brush with Fame

Rarely in Abilene does one get the chance to have am honest-to-goodness brush with fame. Oh, sure. There are a few Abilene natives that have found fame. Bob Estes on the PGA Tour, Rizzo from M*A*S*H, Brandon Scott Thomas. But other than that, most celebrities are passing through.

I did, however, see a family at lunch today that had their 15 minute window of fame. Several years ago the story of the Jenkins family of Abilene gained national attention when that family (Caucasian)was in danger of losing an African-American son they had adopted. It seemed that some of the powers that be felt the child could not be raised in a culture different from his origin. There was quite an outcry over this situation. Oprah even featured them on her show more than once. All of the attention apparently turned the tide in their favor and this young man was sitting with them at lunch today, part of a family that by appearances seemed loving and warm.

Often we do not get to see the end of stories like this one. People's lives flash before us and keep moving in this fast-paced world. But in one case, we know the outcome of a story in which we are personally involved even though it is still in progress. We know that Jesus has won a battle for our collective eternity by defeating death on the cross. So despite any reunion shows or where-are-they-now? retrospectives we know our story before the curtain falls on our earthly lives. That's pretty cool.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Oh, Poo...

Boycott Shampoo! Demand the REAL poo!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The Bachelor

Well, today Kendra and the kids went to Muleshoe. Yes, it's true. We have saved enough to send most of the family to this West Texas resort town. I am the only one that had to miss out.

I always get moody when the family leaves. I mope around pathetically missing them before we're even apart. As of now, they've been gone around 2 hours 58 minutes give or take a few minutes and I am wanting to see them.

The kids and I have a tradition called 21 Kisses. You see, the night before my sister died she was holding 2 week-old Michal Kate and kissing her. She looked over at me and said, "From now on the first ten kisses you give your kids every day are from me."

"Deal," I said. "Now I just have to kiss them 21 times so I am still winning in the count." So, now my kids get 21 kisses a day. I seldom miss a day and often when I do I make up for it by peppering them with kisses until they are beating me off with whatever blunt instrument is handy. That's okay. I'll gladly take the bruises before I'll stop letting them know how much I love them and how blessed our family is because of their presence.

Anyway, three days comes out to 63 kisses apiece and I seldom shave when I am baching it. Hurry home soon, kids!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Fowl Cheese

The early bird gets the worm. But the second mouse gets the cheese.

MAZE Musing (Corny Alert)

Tonight I got together with some friends from high school and college. As we sat and visited and watched our kids splash and play, many thoughts tumbled in the vast empty gymnasium of my mind.

First, in light of some of the stunts we pulled, was it really such a good idea for us to reproduce? And yet there were 12 kids running around for whom we, at least legally, are responsible.

Do these responsibilities then mean that our focus has shifted to the point where we unapologetically are leaving these old friendship to wither? Or, pursuant to the ultimate crazy stunt of parenthood, do we need to watch out for each other more than ever?

Obviously, the answer to this question is green (or maybe 6).

Actually, I think I find myself somewhere in the middle (move over John F. Kerry). The fact is, you can't really go back to the good ol' days without completely denying all that has occurred since. And what has occurred since is a part of who we are and what we have learned. So, perhaps the best scenario is for us to back each other up in our shared prank on the world where we become parents and spur each other on to good things. And so, while we may have changed over the years, and while we may wonder if we have as much in common, and while we are separated by wider miles and styles and interests, I pray that you all move forward with Christ as the standard before you and a spiritually healthy family as the outcome. Please offer the same prayer for me. Either way, I've still got your back.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Dog Days of Summer

Well, the adaptation to being a two dog family continues. Ella, the four month-old Great Dane adopted from the animal shelter is trying to make friends with Zoe, the older (not necessarily wiser) Schnauzer. It is odd to see this puppy initiate play with the older but smaller dog. I don't know why, but it reminds me of Ellie Mae Clampett trying to get Ms. Hathaway to go along with some hare-brained idea (or hair-brained depending on your dialect). As Ella woofs at Zoe with her charming Danish accent and as Zoe tries valiantly to stay aloof I just encourage Zoe to make an impression on Ella while she has a chance and not cave so easily to Mr Drysdale either.

Friday, July 02, 2004


All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.

The Stuff of Things

As a companion thought to Mike Cope's recent posting of favorite places, I am curious about favorite things. I must admit, my first reaction is to think of my family, but where I live you cannot own people. Besides, that answer is too easy. Rather, I wonder about tangible things. Items, mementos, knick knacks, stuff. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens kind of stuff.

For me, one of my most prized possessions hangs on the stone wall above our fireplace. It is a sketch of our three kids sitting in the grass in our back yard. When we went to the artist's studio for the final sitting and he turned it around for us to see I immediately knew this was a treasured heirloom.

I also have a picture of my parents from the night they got married. Dad got out of the Air Force that Wednesday and got married that night after church. He jokingly says he gained his freedom and lost it again that same day, but the young, naive, excited couple in that photo is a great image.

Finally, there is a black and white picture of my wife that I keep at work. I keep it there because she hates it. In fact, following George Costanzas lead, I dug it out of the trash after she threw it away. I don't know how old she is in the picture but I know she's hot! I think she doesn't like it because it's too glamorous but I like it, so there.

There are more little items here and there that I would probably fight you for but that scenario is not likely since they are worth very little to anyone else. And yet, we try so hard to collect things that other people might covet. Now, why is that exactly?


Six days ago we visited the Abilene Animal Shelter. In retrospect, I understand that once that decision has been made you own a new dog. The only remaining questions are how many and what flavor.

The flavors of dog at the shelter are seldom pure and just like the sodas my kids create at open soda fountains the ingredients are not always discernible. One common thread, however, is that most of these animals are on death row. It's a heavy thought as you walk through the puppy wing, or as you see sweet dogs that were obviously loved and cared for once upon a time or even as you walk through the rather large section of pit bulls (shudder).

We came home with Ella. As of today she is still on the home page of She is the Great Dane puppy at the lower right corner. Actually, I think she is a Great Dane/Boxer mix. She really does have a sweet disposition and seems quite smart at four months old. I think she'll be a nice addition to the family.

At first, I cringed at the thought of how my yard might be affected. But if I pause to remember yards I have enjoyed, I most often have memories of fun times instead of weedless, evenly cut meadows. Of worn places where the pitcher stood. Of bare spots under a rope swing. Of short-cuts to the neighbors. Of burned patches from an honest mistake with fireworks. Honestly, I am proud that my yard has no weeds, but more proud of the memories being made there by our family and friends. So go ahead Ella. Live out your pardon here. Just clean up after yourself and we'll get along fine.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

The Donald I Ain't

Today I had to terminate an employee for legitimate reasons but I still feel miserable. I hate being a part of anything that might disrupt or add difficulty to anyone's situation. Without question the matter has been bathed in prayer and I hope anyone reading this offers up one of their own for the family of this employee.

Although I had no doubt before, I am further convinced that The Donald is indeed a jerk. Not the sweet, naive, lovable Jerk like Steve Martin but the other kind. I have been sick to my stomach all day over this matter and am wishing for some distraction even though I know that is nothing compared to how this former employee feels.

I guess I am getting soft as I age. Not that I was ever heartless. It's just that I was able to more easily detach personal matters from business matters. This appears not to be a struggle for Donald Trump but is instead a thrill.

May joy never come from the hardships of another and may I never think that creating a more difficult situation for one person is the proper way to elevate another. Life is not a zero-sum arrangement and anyone who says it is either is selling you something or has not experienced the Love of God.