Monday, November 29, 2004

Real Men of Genius

Today we salute you, Mr. Day After Thanksgiving shopper. Sure, you have ignored the value of getting an extra six hours of sleep and avoiding maddening crowds. Rather, you got in line at the Target at 3:00am to save $7 on a Scooby Doo tree skirt. Never mind that you leap-frogged a small child while simultaneously being beaten with a walker by an over-zealous senior citizen wanting the same delightful Christmas trinket. We know that you are merely feeling more than your share of the Christmas Spirit as well as internal bleeding. So march on into battle and remember, the true message of the season must actually be: "To the victor go the spoils"- or in this case a tree decoration sporting a talking dog and his free-loading hippie sidekick with chronic munchies. Yes, march on Mr. Day After Thanksgiving Shopper. March on!

The Holiday Weekend

Well, we are coming down off the high that was the Thanksgiving weekend. I actually started blogging about this earlier today when my computer crashed and went to a C: prompt after I had been at it a while.

I guess the weekend began on Wednesday when I took the kids out to the ranch with me while Kendra cleaned house to get ready for company. The kids and I had a lot of fun off-roading, hiking, target shooting and taking pictures. Michal Kate shot a gun for her first time and Connor once again proved that he is a great shot. Some intermittent springs were running so we took some neat pictures with small waterfalls in the background. We also got the truck really muddy and even jumped it once. Then to top off the day, we saw the Sponge Bob Movie. Next time, I'll take the alternative torture no matter what it is. Sponge Bob is just a little too nerve-wracking.

Thursday my brother, Vance, made it to town but they stayed at my dad's house that day because Connor was down with the stomach bug. I took the girls over to play with their cousin Isaac, but Connor stayed in bed all day.

Friday my sister's husband, Chris, got to town with his kids Carissa, Harrison and Mallory. I love it when they come for many reasons. First, I think it is very important for us to keep in contact with them even though Vicki passed away. But also, I love for my kids to be around them and see the great examples they are. It is good for my kids to have positive role models like that.

Friday night we did the Thanksgiving meal and then afterward did a gift exchange for that side of our family. My other brother, Vearl, and his family were unable to come because three of them had strep. Still, we had fun.

Saturday everyone came to our house and there was a lot of front-yard football and general play. That night we all went to see "Polar Express." I thought it was great and the reputation it seems to have for darkness may be a bit exaggerated. At any rate, it beat the crap out of Sponge Bob.

Sunday I led worship at Highland. There were 19 congregational selections! I started feeling a little sick during the service but made it through and hurried home to go through my own bout with the stomach bug. It was awful. I even threw out my back puking so that added insult to injury, or maybe injury to insult.

So anyway, there you go. The mundane. We will return you to you regularly scheduled ridiculousness, soon.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Christmas Serial

I know most of us have heard or seen or read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson, but a friend of mine, Cindy Miller, edited it pretty well for a reading that could be done in one sitting of about 30 minutes. As Highland becomes more missional in nature, this type of story is especially appealing, but it is a great story to read to your kids this season no matter what. Therefore, the next few entries to my other blog, will be this edited re-telling.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Pull my Trigger

This week I found unexpectedly that I had a trigger. By "trigger" I do not mean anything that has to do with a firearm. Nor am I referring to Roy Rogers' horse or to the car driven by the Bandit. Rather, I am talking about some occurrence (expected or otherwise) that serves as a reminder of some other event that brings on a flood of emotions (expected or otherwise).

This happened for me just this week. I won't go into the details, but Sunday night while watching TV, just such a trigger hit me like a bolt of lightning out of the clear blue sky. Suddenly, my eyes were full of tears and a situation from my past had taken on unexpected emotional impact.

It's rather funny to think about some of these triggers. Sometimes they are sights. Sometimes smells are strong reminders. Sometimes it is the spoken word. Sometimes they are rituals. Often they take our minds to a time where something happened that forever changed our lives.

Many elements of God's plan are rich with such things and His emphasis on reminders is clear. The Seder meal and baptism are classic examples of how God's people have performed rituals or sacraments with the very intentional purpose of reminding us of God's presence and real action in our lives. Different faiths employ different sacraments. Most of them adopt more than my personal faith background. Probably most notable in my background is the Lord's Supper, wherein we actually perform a symbolic re-enactment of the sacrifice of Christ's body so that we may be reminded of His love for us.

Such reminders are a good thing even in the opinion of this "emotionally detached" premature curmudgeon. While I may avoid displays of emotion, I cannot deny the benefit of anything that draws us into a deeper understanding of why we are the way we are or a better understanding of God's work in our lives. Some might argue that to go too far in the ways of rituals takes us into the dangerous territory of "traditionalism" and as Ferris Beuller said "Isms aren't good." But to completely ignore traditions or rituals could be akin to forgetting important elements in the story of how we got where we are. I suppose the key is to know the role the reminders play in pointing us to the real story. The outcome of such things may not always be guaranteed or even expected, but just in case: Go ahead- pull my trigger.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Paging Mr. Griswald

Well, this is the year my family is coming to Abilene for Thanksgiving. At the same time, we will have our gift exchange since we will all be elsewhere for Christmas. Because of that, we needed to go ahead and decorate for Christmas.

The first thing with which I was confronted was probably a comentary on the entire season. There is a location on our porch with a nail whereupon a snowman decoration has hung for the past couple of years. However, one day while Kendra and I were teaching the second grade class at church we needed a cross in a hurry. I had a walking stick in my truck so I went out and got it, broke it, and tied it together with rustic twine to form a cross. It worked well for the lesson, but it also looked perfect on that nail on our front porch. As I picked up the snowman, I instantly realized that old Frosty would have to find a new home this year. I hope I can maintain that idea for the rest of this season in the face of selfishness and consumerism. I hope the cross keeps its prominent position in my life instead of just on my porch.

After that, I started with the Christmas lights. Pursuant to that, I spent Saturday on the roof.

I now have the roofline of the house outlined in clear lights Obviously, I went with the harder-to-find C7s. I like the understated classiness of the C7s. Besides, the C9s are for show-boaters. I also like the uniformity of the uni-color look with a 9.5 inch separation between lights. Honestly, I can't imagine what is going through the minds of people who go multi-color but do not adopt a pattern. They're just amateurs, I guess. I am a little upset about the fact that I have not been able to color-match the extension cords to the shingle color since we got our new roof. I'll get to that later.

The monkey grass in front has the twinkle lights and they are quite attractive, but the next step will be the crepe-myrtles. I will try to do them today, but with a 1,000 light minimum per unit, it will take some time. Besides, I am helping someone move today.

Although many miss this, the key to exterior holiday illumination is to maintain a classy look without being gaudy. To that end, I do not employ the use of anything like plastic characters or wooden cut-outs. It's just a personal choice that has served me well. Another important thing to remember is that if you cannot decorate a tree properly, you should not decorate the tree. To throw a string or two in the lower branches of a tree produces something that is just rather sad. Perhaps I will post a picture of the finished product, but I am hoping to wait until it snows.

I am thankful for so many things this week. I started to try to list them, but I realized that though it was a nice exercise, it was also sort of folly. I could never complete the list because I could keep thinking of ways I have been blessed in my life. Thank you God for blessing me in inumerable and incomprehensible ways. Forgive me for withholding anything but my everything from you. Pardon my shortcomings and restore your mercies.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Points to ponder...

Why is abbreviation such a long word?

If you arrest a mime, do you have to tell them they have the right to remain silent?

What is the speed of dark?

Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?

What is another word for synonym?

Why isn't phonetic spelled the way it sounds?

If one synchrinized swimmer drowns, do all the others have to drown, too?
If a cow laughs, what comes out her nose?

Where do the gruntled employees work?

Why are there locks on the doors at stores open 24 hours a day?

What exactly was going through the mind of the first guy to milk a cow?

How do you know when you're out of invisible ink?

Who is Gen. Failure, and why is he reading my hard disk?

If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?

What happens if you get scared half to death twice?

Why do psychics have to ask your name?

What's another word for Thesaurus?

What are imitation rhinestones?

How do you know if the dictionary has a typo?

Why do irons have a setting for permanent press?

Why do we park on driveways and drive on parkways?

Why ask why?

Why are there any sentences that begin with "Needless to say..."?

Monday, November 15, 2004


There is another blog in my quiver now. Actually, it is a blog I had hoped to share with Kendra offering family-related stories. Anyone who knows both of us would tell you that Kendra is much smarter than I am in spite of the way she married, so I thought that a forum for her would be a true public service. Still, she has remained silent. I have not given up hope, nevertheless, and am keeping the dream (and the blog) alive. It is:

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Agreeing to be Disagreeable

As this political season begins to turn (in much the same way as stale-dated dairy) we of course see the true colors of the season's inhabitants in all the splendor we have sadly come to expect. The green of envy, the yellow of cowardice, the red of shame and the purple of rage are brightly revealed just prior to the decent of it all into the brown of muck and decay.

I don't know what color respect might be, because it is seldom included in the pictures we paint. Rather, our disagreements become so vehement that we never dull the point of the crayon that would represent respect.

For instance, consider political conservatives and political liberals. I know and respect several people described in both ways. I know in my heart that their intentions are honorable and I believe those intentions are worth more than paving material in Hell. I respect that their convictions are honorable even if I do not agree with their methods. I expect others to respect that I may share those intentions even though I do not agree with certain methods. Instead, in the political arena people leap to the conclusion that if you do not agree on methodology, you must, therefore, approve of dreadful things. To make such a leap is to show one's hand and the fact that respect is not a card being played.

This is not only true in politics. It is also true in our churches. As I see more and more progress (in my opinion) toward being spirit-led rather than tradition-bound I am still saddened to see people on both sides of various issues finding commonality in mutual disdain rather than in respect. As I sit in meetings where people deride church members that may not agree with changes being made, it occurrs to me that the attitude on both sides of the issue is the same even if the opinion is not. It's just sad.

Do I think we should always agree? Abosolutely not. In fact, I think disagreement is healthy when done in a respectful way. If we cannot maintain a viewpoint in the face of opposition, just how strong is our point? I just think that we can and should disagree in a way that does not assume the worst of the other party or necessarily the elitism of ourselves.

And that's that about that.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Be a Good Sport

In visiting with my friend Grant Boone this morning at our small group meeting, we discussed (among other things) sports broadcasting, a field in which Grant has skillz (yes, skillz). It encouraged me to offer these sports announcer and sports interview quotes that were among some assembled by Tim Harrower.

"We only have one person to blame, and that's each other." -Barry Beck, N.Y. Ranger explaining how a brawl started.

"He fakes a bluff!" -Ron Fairly, S.F. Giants announcer

"Winfield goes back to the wall. He hits his head on the wall! And it rolls off! It's rolling all the way to second base! This is a terrible thing for the Padres!" -Jerry Coleman, S.D> Padres radio announcer, describing a fly ball hit by a member of the opposing team.

"We are experiencing audio technicalities." -Ralph Kiner, N.Y. Mets announcer

"If I wasn't talking, I wouldn't know what to say." -Chico Resch, N.Y. Islanders goalie

"Arnie, usually a great putter, seems to be having trouble with his long putt. However, he has no trouble sropping his shorts." -Unidentified gold broadcaster during a tournament

"His reputation preceded him before he got here." -Don Mattingly, N.Y. Yankees star, on new pitcher Dwight Gooden

"Lintz steals second standing up! He slid, but he didn't have to." -Jerry Coleman

"I don't want to tell you any half-truths unless they're completely accurate." -Dennis Rappaport, boxing manager, explaining his silence regarding Tommy Hearns

"It's about 90 percent strength and 40 percent technique." -Johnny Walker, wrist-wrestling champion

"Today is Father's Day, so everyone out there: Happy Birthday!" -Ralph Kiner

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Non-Bush Bushisms

George W. Bush is among the millions who make fun of his mis-usage of the English language. However, other famous Texans have had their turn. Try these.

"I want to thank each and every one of you for extinguishing yourselves at this session." -Speaker Gib Lewis

"Let me give ya' a hypothetic." -Rep. Renal Rosson

"Well, there never was a Bible in the room." -Gov. Bill Clements*, on repeatedly lying about the SMU football scandall.

"I am filled with humidity." -Speaker Gib Lewis

"It's the sediment of the House that we adjourn." -Speaker Wayne Clayton

"This is unparalyzed in the state's history." -Speaker Gib Lewis

"Oh good. Now he'll be bi-ignorant." -Ag Commissioner Jim Hightower, when told that Gov. Clements was studying Spanish

"Let's do this in one foul sweep." -Speaker Wayne Clayton

"There's a lot of uncertainty that's not clear in my mind." -Spkr. Gib Lewis

"No thanks. Once was enough." -Gov Clements when asked if he had been born again.

"If it's dangerous to talk to yourself, it's probably even dicier to listen." Ag Cmsr. Jim Hightower

"I am so full I feel like a tick that's been on a dog for a long time." -Brandon Scott Thomas

* Painted Pony played a gig for Governor Clements once in Austin. Somewhere there are pictures with the gov, his wife and a very drunk Jim Hightower. That is a funny story for another blog.


So, it's back to the mundane, I suppose. While I feel the recent events of my life have been anything but mundane, I do recognize that others may not agree. I regret that principles of confidentiality keep me from revealing much of what has happened recently, let me just ask that in one particular situation you pray for clarity in the life of someone dear to our family. The roller-coaster that this person has forced others to ride recently has been a wide-spread struggle and potential disaster to many. In response, my first (and perhaps most selfish) prayer is "Lord, please come quickly." Other than that, my prayer remains that the Spirit will move mightily and to instill revelation.

That having been said, now on to the election. I did not pretend to know how the election would turn out, but when pressed, the only prediction I made was that if Bush was the apparent winner, Kerry would not concede Wednesday morning. I was technically right, but only by a few hours. I do, however, commend Kerry for the class he displayed in his concession. Apparently this is a trait that he did not share with John Edwards, but I am sure it is not easy to be in such a position. The worst thing I saw today was a blog posted by a young man here in Abilene wherein he said if God had really wanted Bush to win the margin would not have been so thin. That statement is so ridiculous that I do not even know how to respond. Perhaps that's just as well. As I have said before, it is impossible to argue with an idiot. In matters of world politics, I merely pray that the One who has overcome this world will work in the hearts, minds and souls of those who think they run it. Unlike some, I do not think it is wrong to ask God to bless America because I do not assume that we are the only ones He is blessing. To do so would place the omnipotent in a very small box. So, God bless America and God please bless the world and Your work in it.

And that's all I have to say about that.