Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I hijacked Val's bolg to leave a birthday greeting for him. Hopefully he'll forgive me! ~Kendra

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


The winner last time was "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes." You just gotta love Paul Simon. Chris won that one. Chris, for your prize, you may keep any diamonds you find stuck in the tread of a stranger's shoes. I suggest you ask everyone you see and report back.

Next, we will go with a theme. I can only think of a few Halloween Songs, but I invite you to offer more. I also invite you to offer captions for this picture.

The World is Too Much With Us

When will we learn? I mean truly learn? I just marvel when I think about how we continue to reach for the brass ring (often at the cost of the golden band (rimshot)). This week I have been struck again by the way friends of mine are deepening the holes in which they are stuck rather than digging out. I have friends who in recent months have purchased newer and nicer cars and more expensive houses even after experiencing difficulty in making the payments on the ones they have. And for what? Is it not just a version of the excess we shake our heads about in stories like the cancelled prom in Long Island though perhaps on a different scale? Where is the line among the varying degrees of excess that when crossed says we have gone too far? For many of us, the notion that kids spend tens of thousands on prom parties on the other side of that line. For someone in a third world country the fact that the amount we pay monthly for television is enough to feed their family in that same month that places many of us solidly on the other side of the line. Perhaps even more important than where the line is drawn is how the line is drawn. By that I mean are we drawing our own line based on how we want to honor God or on how we want to be perceived by other people? We rarely look at this so objectively as to totally discount how people will view our actions or possessions, but clearly some are more adept at this than others. Some have learned that contentment is of much greater value than any possession or perception. Consider this piece by William Wordsworth.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

The first few lines sound like they could have come straight out of scripture. "The world is too much with us." Ya think? "Getting and spending we lay waste our powers." Indeed, we have willingly forfeited control over our destiny not to God, but to others and what we hope they will think of us in human terms. To understand that Christ is the great equalizer of man must further lead one to understand that anything placing the importance of one person over another is in stark contrast to what God wants. Does it then follow that we are not to work toward greater things? Absolutely not. God expects us to use our gifts to the fullest potential they offer in the service of the one who granted them. He is not honored by those who choose not to use their gifts of by those who intend merely to live off the efforts of others while they squander their gifts in the mire of laziness of entitlement. But neither is He honored by those who use their gifts to impress others rather than honor God. For others to foster an environment that further allows this lack of accountability is to simply invite those taking advantage of others to continue and in so doing deny needed assistance due those who are oppressed or otherwise disadvantaged. But for those who are blessed with the ability to help those who truly are unable to help themselves God is honored.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Foot Where?

We may have already done this topic. I can't remember because it's been a while. Anyway, looking for songs dealing with


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Who to root for? I am in a bit of a quandry this year, but I suppose it is a nice problem to have. Four teams I admire are still in it.

The White Sox? Sure, I love to root for the underdog and you you can't get more underry doggery than the Chi Sox. But then I would have to wish ill of...

The Angels? Otay. I dislike most things Californian, but they have a Highland pitcher. I cannot say I know him personally, but I do think the world of his dad (who is a great singer by the way) and it would not be right to root against anyone in the Lackey family. Sorry Sox. Gottta go with the Angels on this one.

The Cardinals? My Missouri ties run extremely deep. St Louis has bittersweet memories. The sweet is that it is where I asked Kendra to be my wife. That's pretty special. But now she and I both live in Texas, home of the...

Astros? Yeah, this one is admittedly tougher. I almost always think it is disloyal to go against the home team and loyalty is important to me. Not only that, St. Louis kind of frittered the series away last year and I wonder whether or not they deserve this chance. It's almost a tie on this one but it may lean slightly toward St. Louis because of Albert Pujols. I really like him. On the other hand, you have different fingers. Just kidding. I guess I sort of favor St. Louis on this but I would be happy with either one.

Just don't ask me who I want to win the world series. If the Sox are in it, I'll cheer against them (sorry AL). If the Angels make it I'll probably cheer for them (sorry NL. Hey AL, I'm back!). But I'll worry about that more later. On the bright side, at least I don't have to worry about the Yankees.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Real Men of Genius

Mr. Guy Who Makes “3’s” for Gas Station Signs

Today we salute you, Mr Guy Who Makes “3’s” for Gas Station Signs. For years you toiled away making your 3’s at an average pace. Occasionally you got some excitement when you saw the creative use a backwards three for a sign short on “E’s” (frugal ingenuity) but it never really became a trend. But now, you are smiling all the way to the bank as we see prices soar and the disappearance of that smug look on the face of the guy who makes 2’s. Never mind that all of your overtime bonus vanishes when you pull your bling Escalade away from the pump. (You’re in the money…)You keep right on living large Mr. Guy Who Makes 3’s for Gas Station Signs, at least until the guy who makes 4’s gets his way… (Mr. Guy Who Makes “3’s” for Gas Station Signs!)
Stand by for controversy. Usually stuff just rolls off my back, but lately some of the stuff I have heard has implicated some people I care about.

Anyway, though I have not devoted much time to blogging while studying in recent weeks, I have read a few things lately in the blogs that mercilessly bash public education. I suppose that’s fair, to a point. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. That is, unless someone’s opinion is at all critical of home-schooling. Then the claws really come out. I have been shocked, frankly. Why be so defensive? Am I missing something? I mean, many of the home-schoolers lead the charge against public schools and rather than restrict their criticism to specific situations, appear to paint with a massive brush and criticize not only the systems (no matter where the school or make-up of the board or commitment of the teachers) but the teachers and parents who have chosen accordingly. Is that fair? I don’t think so, and yet I don’t hear the defensive response from that side.

My best friend’s wife home-schools their kids and she does a great job. Further, I have other friends who are well-trained and providing a good education in the home. So that’s great. But in spite of the fact that I know people for whom it works, it would be ridiculous to assume that there are no problems at all in home-schooling. Nevertheless, the response to any criticism suggests it is above any reproach. It is true in my own experience to say that the majority of the kids I have had in class at church that have little respect for adults or awareness of how to behave in class are home-schooled, but not all of them. Frankly, one little girl in our kindergarten class is just about the sweetest little thing I have ever seen; respectful of teachers and encouraging to the other students and she is thriving in a great home-schooling environment.

Conversely, there are huge problems in public schools as well. “Teaching to the test,” an education bill written by Ted Kennedy, and weird curriculums to name a few. But there are also great things going on. Kids are being Jesus to kids that really need Him, teachers are being trained for five years (plus continuing education) and then sacrificing themselves in the interest of others despite low pay and constant criticism. In Abilene, our school board is comprised of Christians who appear to truly want what is best for students. I don’t always agree with their conclusions, but I respect their objectives. Not only that, but many of the teachers are Christians who display Christ to students in ways both obvious and risky. I am proud that Kendra is one of them and I would gladly stand her up against anyone who claims that being a parent is an equal qualification to being a parent and trained educator.

Basically, I am a little tired of teachers as individuals suffering the slings and arrows of people who think they are immune from similar criticism. Are there rotten teachers in public schools? YES. Are there pathetic home-schoolers? YES. Are there problems with the public school system? ABSOLUTELY. Did trained educators help plan the curriculum that home-schoolers use also? YEP. Education is not perfect anywhere and to pretend that it is is folly.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Weekend Warrior

As it turns out, I am one of those guys that will get into a project that I have no business attempting. Traditionally, this has not been the case. If something looked the least bit beyond my area of experience I would get someone else to do it. But one of my friends, Davy Crockett (his real name, by the way) told me I wasn't bold enough and should try more stuff. This weekend was one of those times I tried.

We decided we needed a storage building in our back yard. I had a small one, but I did not have a small amount of stuff so we needed to add to it. As it turns out, a guy that owed me some money had the capability (supposedly) of fixing one up for me that was 12' x 24'- slightly larger than a one-car garage. I determined I could move it myself and I managed to get it loaded on a big trailer on Saturday (no small feat) but I knew I would likely need help getting it into my yard so arranged for help on Sunday afternoon. After snaking my way across town avoiding low trees and power lines I got to my house and told my buddies my plan for unloading. They all scoffed and pointed out that white collar guys just didn't have much common sense and insisted they knew the better way to go about it. Two and a half hours later with darkness falling, the neighbor's driveway blocked (they were very gracious about the whole ordeal) and the building now wedged between my house and a tree I finally took over and enacted my own plan. About fifteen minutes later I had it on the ground in my back yard and there were no injuries. There was much rejoicing. This is a very short version of a long ordeal that I hope never to repeat and these are the lessons I learned.

1. If you are underneath a building weighing more than a few cars that is precariously suspended, you can pray really quickly when you hear any creaking and popping noises (or perhaps in this situation pooping noises).

2. If you can arrange delivery, it is worth the price- no matter what.

3. People are intrigued by idiocy and consider it a spectator sport.

4. Val, thy name is idiot.

5. Kendra is very patient.