Saturday, January 29, 2005

Link to Ode

Just a link to a Happy Birthday blog for Michal Kate.

Thank you and we appreciate your bidness.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Carpe Doo-doo

In retrospect, I should have stayed in bed. Nothing would have happened if I had stayed in bed yesterday. Nothing. But, I made the sometimes ill-advised decision to face the world yesterday. Instead of nothing, by the end of the day I had memories of being late for a closing, being stood up for lunch, hitching up a trailer in the rain, later changing a tire on that trailer in the dark in 40 degree rain and so much more (or less, depending on how you look at it).

So now, it's 5:30 in the morning the following day and I am really considering my options. I know how yesterday turned out, but today still has promise. After all, His mercies are new every morning. I like to think that He isn't thinking about yesterday and how I disappointed Him in so many ways. Or the day before that. Or probably even the day before that. And probably not even the multiple offenders involved in every day in the history of man. So, perhaps today has promise anyway. Besides, it is the day of the birthday party for the cutest little almost-seven-year-old you've ever seen.

So, I guess I'll give today a shot after all. Besides, my hind-sight is not that great anyway. It's hard not to keep sitting on those glasses.

Friday, January 21, 2005


We have heard that Satan roams around like a roaring lion seeking those whom he may devour. His desire, of course, is to steal, kill and destroy us and our hope in our Creator. Now having identified his method, where does that leave us in trying to understand a motive?

For those of you who are parents, this will be an easy question. If someone wants to harm you, what will emote the strongest possible reaction? When someone asked that question yesterday I immediately pointed over to my kids saying, "Going after them." And that is exactly why Satan goes after God's children. Whether or not people see or believe the cosmic battle between good and evil, it exists. However it is quite one-sided in one way. Nothing in heaven or on earth can directly harm God. Nothing. Nothing is stronger, better, wiser, mightier or in any other way as powerful as our Creator. Therefore, it is only obvious that the Father of Lies cannot defeat the Wisdom of the Ages. But Satan has figured out how to hurt God indirectly- by going after his children. God hurts any time we hurt. And if all good things come from God, it stands to reason that pain and suffering come from Satan as a direct attempt to harm God's family. Satan loves to plant seeds of doubt wherein we wonder why God caused something to happen or even let something happen, but if we dwell on such things we are missing the point. God does not cause these things or even choose for such things to occur. Satan attacks us and God provides a salve.

I am an "Already But Not Yet" Christian for those who have heard Mike Cope discuss these matters. And as such, I do not think God tries to become intricately controlling in our lives- especially when living itself is terminal. That would lend way too much importance to something that is temporal. I do, however, think He becomes intricately involved in our lives by caring for us and hurting when we hurt and grieving when we grieve and rejoicing when we still choose God's way despite Satan's efforts to steer us elsewhere. Believing this acknowledges that there are time of darkness and times when our love for Christ grows weak. But it also recognizes that no matter how dark the valley, God has overcome it.

Although I know people disagree with me on this and even think this view is blasphemous, I think that, for me at least, this view may be a good explanation of what going on in this world. I do not think that God is a puppet-master, choosing or daily steps and becoming intricately involved in the minute details of our lives. I do, however, think that God gave us discretion and judgment to use it exercising our free will. In this arrangement, good things happen and bad things happen according to the movement of this flawed world. But through all of that, God wants to either hurt with us or rejoice and be an ever-present help in times of trouble and in so doing point us to a better world. A world that is more than just this world which he has overcome. A world that is not temporary. A world that is the destination, not just the journey. To overly emphasize this world would be missing the point. The point is that in spite of what happens in this world, God wants us to endure it, and then still choose Him. His promise is that we will not be alone as we endure it and I think events such as those of this week show that.

Now in espousing such a view, I have been accused of placing God in a box. I think it is actually quite the opposite. I am not saying there are limits to God's power. I know He can choose to change the course of history if wants to. But in a way, that suggests that God's interest is limited to this world- something we know is not true.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Seek and you will find...

Well, as the doctors keep checking Chris out, they seem to keep finding things. Chris does have a small skull fracture in addition to the numerous other injuries he has sustained. When I saw him today it felt like I was literally going to choke as my heart jumped into my throat. Of course it was partly because I hated to see him in his condition. But perhaps more than that, it was out of the joy in seeing him and the pride in knowing this tough young man. I am confident that great things are in store for him. Stay strong, Chris.

Jon-Westin and Austin were looking good and eager to go home. Their parents, though weary, were holding up pretty well. Both boys were talkative and even a little impish, which I took as a good sign. What a homecoming all three boys have to look forward to.

It is remarkable for me to see those guys. I first got to know them when they were kindergartners and Kendra and I taught that class. It's sobering to think that though that hasn't been too long ago, they aren't little boys anymore. Especially now, in the wake of what they have endured this week, they seem to have grown so much. I pray they continue to use these experiences to grow even more and encourage spiritual growth in others.


I am on the phone with Mike. He is very thankful for everyone’s prayers and concern and wishes he could give more regular updates, but for whatever reason the hospital computers think Blogger involves porn and will not allow him access.

As far as Chris goes, he is in ICU but has technically been released. They are just waiting for a room to come open. He is in a back brace but not a body cast as has apparently been rumored. They have also discovered he has a broken thumb, but of course the long recovery ahead will be mainly due to the broken vertebrae.

Thanks again for all the prayers and keep them coming in the months ahead for all involved.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Processing Time

Also, for those interested, there will be a time for members of the Highland Youth Group to gather this evening at 6:00 to try to process the events of this weekend. Jackie Halstead will be involved in that effort.

Highland Update(s)

Thanks for the outpouring of concern for the Highland Family in general and specifically for the families directly affected by this tragedy.

All three of the boys in Cook's are doing well and had a good night last night. The parents are optimistic, though perhaps a little overwhelmed. While the support has been great, prayers are the most welcome gifts. All three boys should be in the hospital at least all week.

John Westin Bennett had a successful surgery on two broken legs. He is "alert and well" and is expected to be out of ICU perhaps by this afternoon. His parents, Wes and Teri are upbeat and optimistic.

Austin Lemmons also had a good night and appears to be comfortable. He is responding to requests for "hand squeezes" and his outlook is also good. He has a concussion among others injuries.

Chris Cope also had a "good night." Further tests revealed no other unexpected complications and he is resting comfortably.

Jim Morrison, and ER physician and Highland member made the trip to Cook's as well and is ministering to the families. That man is Jesus in a stethoscope.

As far as the kids in Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene, at last word Amara Childers was the only one remaining with all aother having been released.

For Highland members or anyone else interested, we will not have the planned divided service on Wednesday night, but will instead meet together in the auditorium. A special time of prayer is being planned today.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Danish Blah

So yesterday, with the sky a lovely shade of khaki, I of course began to reflect on various things. First, I considered a quote I heard on Sunday: "Children cannot become anything better than what they see modeled." While I understand the intent of such a message is to give impact to the role we play in being examples to our kids- a very important fact, the quote itself is wrong or we would be part of a society that is hopelessly and perpetually declining. Besides that, I have faith in people to recognize mistakes. That's how we got rid of Jimmy Carter. Well, that and mortgages at 18% APR.

I saw an old friend this week who I used to bank back in the day. One thing I enjoyed about banking back then was the fact that I learned at the feet of some old-school bankers. These were the kinds of gentlemen who took formulas and ratios into consideration, but also were aware of value in others things as well. As far as this friend goes, there were special considerations where he was concerned. He had a salvage business wherein he might suddenly find a deal on new but discontinued merchandise and need a tidy sum to buy it. However, it might be the type of inventory that would last him for a long time. This is not a typical cycle that fits ordinary formulas, but he kept very strong balances with me and always performed exactly as he promised. Nevertheless, after I left the bank, the new owners shut him down, ruining him, and slitting their own throats in the process. It truly made him a broken man- especially sad because it was so unnecessary. In the years since that happened, he has had financial problems which may have led to some marital problems. Much worse than all that, a few months ago his 13 year-old daughter took her own life. He is now working as a hired hand for a business here in town and still gives off a cheerful countenance when I see him. It really gets to me when I think of all he has been through. Sometimes people go too far in the name of profit.

Perhaps somewhat related, what is the deal with all of the animosity toward Wal-Mart? I honestly don't get it. Sure they are a powerhouse, but I cannot believe the flack they take compared to other businesses or industries. In a stretch, people claim they underpay their employees, but they pay an average wage of twice the federal minimum plus they offer a benefits package that no collective bargaining by any union has ever achieved within the industry. I guess it's popular to hate the big dog, but I just don't get it. I have nothing to gain from being on either side; I'm just observing. So many other major businesses and industries go unnoticed and they are actually doing things to chip away at lives and livelihoods.

I'm tired now. Sorry to bore you.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


If you see me acting like I have it all together as a parent, remind me to check out my FamilyStories blog from today.

Monday, January 10, 2005


In the wake of Elvis' birthday observance this week, I heard someone reading a review of his first record. I do not remember it exactly, but they commented on his awful guitar playing and worse singing. They went on to say that he would soon be forgotten. Odds are, that few people know who wrote the review.

Here is a list of things said by critics followed by the name of their targets.

"With your voice, nobody is going to let you broadcast." CBS producer Don Hewitt of Barbara Walters

"Stiff, unappealing. You ain't got it, kid." Columbia producer Jerry Tokovsky of Harrison Ford

"You have a chip on your tooth, your Adam's apple sticks out too far, and you talk too slow." Universal exec of Clint Eastwood

"The girl doesn't have a special perception or feeling which will lift that book above the curiosity level." A publisher rejecting The Diary of Anne Frank

"The band's okay but, if I were you, I'd get rid of the singer with the tire-tread lips." A BBC radio producer of The Rolling Stones

"His ears are too big. He looks like an ape." Talent scout Darryl F. Zanuck of Clark Gable

In each of these cases the recipient of the poor critique was rejected but later went on to prove them wrong. We believe the Father of Lies when he points out all of our shortcomings, but then our manager steps in and proves him wrong simply by looking at us quizzically and saying, "Sorry, I just don't see it. I have a starring role for which I think this guy would be perfect." Then He handles our audition for the Producer and we look better than we ever dreamed we could. If you dwell on the lies, you'll miss the role of your Life.

More Sports Quotes

"He dribbles a lot and the opposition don't like it- you can see it all over their faces!" -Ron Atkinson

"And here's Moses Kiptanui, the 19 year-old Kenyan, who turned 20 a few weeks ago." - David Coleman, track and field announcer

"We now have exactly the same situation as we had at the start of the race, only exactly the opposite." -Murray Walker, motor sports announcer

"It's a partial sellout." -Chip Caray, baseball announcer

"The Phillies beat the Cubs today in a doubleheader. That puts another keg in the Cubs' coffin." -Jerry Coleman

"Any time Detroit scores more than 100 points and holds the other team below 100 points, they almost always win." -Doug Collins

"There are no opportune times for a penalty, and this is not one of those times." -Jack Youngblood, soccer

"Coming on to pitch is Mike Moore, who is six-foot-one and 212 years old." -Herb Score

"That was a complicated play, folks. So let's have a replay for all of you scoring in bed." -Bob Kelly, hockey

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

You hit Harry Flugleman on a bad day!

One of my favorite quotable movies is "Three Amigos." In that movie there is a scene wherein the Amigos go to studio head, Harry Flugleman and ask for a raise. To say the least, he gets a little out of sorts and he responds with today's title. I bring this up because, as it happens, today I am Harry Flugleman.

First, I decided today that I was tired of making continuous attempts to refuse a free hot tub. Let me explain. One day I was in a building I own and discovered someone had put a large hot tub inside. For weeks I tried to track down the owner. Finally I found him and he agreed to get it. A few months later it was still there and the new tenants wanted it gone. I hired some guys to move it out and again left the owner messages regarding my predicament (I think that was around the end of October). I have left this person several messages in the time since. Today, however, a thought hit me. I like hot tubs. Rarely have I used a hot tub and when through thought, "How terribly annoyed am I by what I just experienced!" So, in light of the countless efforts to help this person get theirs back despite months of free storage and my costs involved in moving it, I think I will use it until some resolution is reached. I was fed up with all of my efforts and will now merely soak while I wait. But that was only slightly Fluglmanish. There's more.

While home for lunch today I answered the door. It was a polite young mailman with a registered letter addressed to my lovely bride and calling for a return receipt. I signed his paperwork, and went inside to open the letter. Then realizing I had kept his pen I chased him down and returned it. Then I again went inside with Kendra and we opened her letter. It was a summons saying she had been sued over something that I had previously uncovered as a clerical error within city offices. There had never even been a violation or anything that could even be construed as one! It was merely an error within their system that took on a life of its own. Kendra has never committed an offense of any kind (except maybe a speeding ticket 10 years ago but this was completely unrelated). In fact, other than that little problem of marrying me, she is quite possibly perfect. So, suffice it to say, they hit Harry Flugleman on a bad day. Furthermore I called several city offices and the city attorney and told them so. I did not swear. I did not yell. I did not make personal attacks. I merely pointed out the mistakes in their system and further pointed out that it was not polite to send such threatening letters to upstanding citizens like my wife. Within a few phone calls I had people falling over themselves to apologize. I told them to address their letters of apology to Kendra and to make sure they used the good stationery. They hit me on the wrong day.

Later this afternoon I was still ready to rumble and I called to resolve a matter with PayPal that has been dragging on for months. They had frozen our account with them because of unauthorized attempts to use our account by someone overseas. While I appreciated the successful catch by their security measures, in so doing they had rendered my account useless. My repeated attempts to fix it were met by incompetent customer service and I had had my fill. I called again this afternoon and after 25 minutes on hold I got a representative. I explained to her that I was very annoyed with PayPal but not with her. It worked! She appreciated that I was polite with her and she fixed my problem almost immediately. Honey over vinegar can be awesome- even when you're Harry Flugleman.

This evening, I got home and downloaded an e-mail containing a personal attack on me based on erroneous second-hand accounts of something supposed to have occurred about five years ago. It is intriguing to get something like that, but especially so when the account is so full of holes and doesn't even hold up to basic logic, let alone opinions. Usually it is probably best to just say "Serenity now" and let it go. But not today. Today they hit Harry Flugleman... Well, you know the rest. I called the perpetrator and calmly confronted them, explaining that I thought this was the best approach- to discuss the matter calmly like caring adults. The interesting thing about situations like that is that people get angrier if you do not allow them to get you upset. Eventually, I saw that this person's problem was not with me, but was instead all a situation where I was a convenient diversion from another matter they wished would go away. At that point, I almost felt sorry for the other person and decided to drop it. I explained that it had become apparent that this situation would not be resolved and I would be available if they did want to pursue the matter further, but otherwise I would drop it, but wish them well. I am actually proud that I once again refrained from personal attacks and maintained a calm respectful manner, but really, by the end of the phone call my anger had turned more to pity and I just didn't have it in me.

I hope your day goes better than mine. But if it doesn't, and Harry comes for a visit, I'll try to steer clear.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


I am still floored by the events on the other side of the globe last weekend. As far as relief goes, I like that the White House has encouraged public participation in the effort and the way the two former presidents have been tapped to co-chair the effort. It seems to be a classy and heart-felt approach. I intend to participate at some level. Just think about the impact if every family gave even the paltry sum of $50. That would be billions just from the U.S.!

While it is so difficult to put into perspective the enormity of this tragedy, it is also somewhat depressing to look at it in light of other things which we do not meet with the same degree of shock or resolve. Consider these numbers and then think about whether we can just go on about our normal lives once the tsunami chapter is behind us.

- Every year over 200,00o people around the world are killed in alcohol-related accidents. If you were to then add to this number the number of families destroyed or spouses abused or even pregancies caused by the abuse of this drug, why do we not exercise prevention rather than lauding this industry?

- So far, among the 40-50 mass graves uncovered in Iraq, the total of people- men, women and children- murdered during the reign of Saddam Hussein is appraoching 300,000.

- Ethnic cleansing in Africa has caused the savage slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people- again- men, women and children.

- Within the lifetimes of many people we know, over 6 million Jews were killed because of their heritage. Today the drumbeats of anti-semetism are growing louder and louder, not just in the Middle East but increasingly in Europe, yet still ignored by many.

The list could go on and on- referring to North Korea, Columbia, Haiti, Afghanistan...

Equally long are the questions in the face of such tragedy.


What now?

Who do we blame?

What can we do?

Could we prevent these things?

How can I help?

How can I take advantage?

How does this help me?

Why should I care?

Some of those questions are not pretty, but they do get asked, and sadly (and perhaps too easily) some of the negative ones get answered.

One not so easily answered, yet still containing a flicker of hope is "How long, Lord?"

Come quickly...