Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sour and Dour Power

So Sunday I'm looking out as we're singing "How Great is Our God" and my eyes fall on two young couples (late twenties/early thirties) and it was a little unsettling. You might even say it worried me a little. There were four people in a row who were not only not singing, but a one had his arms crossed rather defiantly and another had his hands in in his back pockets as if he were a bored teen enduring some torturous lecture from a parent or teacher. I mean, I love that song but I figured that it must not be for everyone. A little while later we were singing again and I look out to see them with the same apparent demeanor of disdain. This time the song was "Blessed Be Your Name" so I decided it was not disgust over the theology or musicality of the songs. It had to be me. I didn't know these people very well, but I knew who they were and at first it began to bother me. Then I looked out and saw other faces lifted in earnest praise- faces of people like Jim and Sally and Dickie and Latimer and Betty and Bill and on and on and on. And I realized, they weren't focused on me and I shouldn't be either. A consistent prayer of our praise team is for us to be used to God's glory that we may help bring people closer to the throne through our efforts, that we may not be a distraction. I need to remember that prayer throughout the service but also pray that I will not allow myself nor anyone else to be a distraction. For those of you at Highland: Sorry about that. For those of you not at Highland: Pray for the folks that have to look up there at my ugly mug now and then.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Spring Break

We went to Ruidoso, NM for a few days to let the kids try their hand at skiing. The trip was great in spite of horrific winds. Once as I was getting off a chair lift the wind was blowing so hard that it overcame the gravity that should have been pulling me down the slope. I got off the chair okay but was suspended half way down the "exit ramp" by the wind. I was afraid the next chair (though empty) would smack me in the back of the head but the gust finally subsided and gravity won. The kids ook to skiing quite well. Michal Kate was a surprising speed-demon and Connor was a natural.

That trip was great. First, I was reminded how I absolutely love the mountains. You can keep your beaches and oceans. Scuba diving and sun-worshipping just aren't my thing. Give me freash air any day even if it is a little thin. And I prefer furry wildlife to slimy any day. Not only that, there is always something to enjoy in the mountains. When it's cold you have Alpine sports. When it's warm you have hiking and exploring and just plain ol' sight-seeing. I could learn to love living that way.

Speaking of sight-seeing, one sight our kids witnessed was real, honest-to-goodness Native Americans. Their reaction was interesting, but I guess I understand it. When they study Indians in school it is always against the backdrop of history and not modern times. Consequently, they were amazed to see the modern incarnation of a people just like we are. One of our kids even asked us in amazement, "You mean they use, like, technology?"

Of course, this became a teaching moment and I think we made some progress. Then the next night I came across a guy who was down on his luck and needed a ride. I recognized him as a worker at the ski resort and thought it would be okay. However, when he got into the car we all realized (partly because he said so, partly because he smelled very strongly of alcohol and partly because he told us he had a black belt in Wang Chung) that he was completely drunk. Yes, I, doing my best to teach my kids a healthy regard for Native Americans had picked up a drunk Indian. Without going into that ugly stereotype we still took advantage of yet another teaching moment and prayed for the young man and talked about drinking and choices and how God wants us to help people whenever we can. Just the day before Connor and I had frozen our butts off changing a tire for an older lady and I really was thankful for both opportunities our kids had to be a part of willingly helping people we would never see again. I hope they will remember those moments of their Spring Break as much as any of the planned or fun stuff.

Getting back to Texas we spent a few days working in the real world. Monday when I went to the office I found a couple of college age girls sun-bathing by the pool. They ran (amazingly well) and I gave chase. Then I thought about how it might look for a guy in his mid 30's to be chasing two young girls and I figured nobody would believe that I was trying to catch trespassers. I stopped and they escaped my wrath. I am sure they are still quaking in their flip flops and bikinis.

Wednesday we went to the ranch for what turned out to be a rather abbreviated stay. Still, it was fun to watch the kids drive the go-karts for miles and miles and to pet baby goats and hold live rattlesnakes (I'll post pics on the other blog) and feed cows and watch deer and hike and just enjoy each other.

All in all, it has been a nice Spring Break. I find true joy in watching my kids experience joy. I hope they remember fun times of bonding like this and look back on their old man as being fun instead of just an old jerk. I think family time is so valuable; much more so than social time. Maybe that's why I am such a home body and don't care so much about impressing people socially or things of that sort. I have friends that try so desperately to pursue social interests and I fear it is a losing game. I really think that chasing that type of approval is just setting yourself up for disappointment.

Anyway, I hope you and yours had a good Spring Break as well. Now go back to school or work and finish your tax return. The world won't stop for you forever you know.

I really hope this post did not appear to be insensitive toward any race or ethnic group. The fact is, I have some Indian (or Native-American) blood in me. I have heard that I may have been able to qualify for schooling or home-buying assistance. Still, I have not really done a great job talking to my kids about the plight of Native-Americans. We hear so much about black-white issues that the manner in which Indians uncerimoniously got the shaft gets largely ignored. But that's for another blog.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

This was the first weekend of classes for the class I am taking this semester. Most of this weekend was taught by Peter Robinson of Pepperdine. His enthusiasm for the subject matter is fun to experience. More and more, I am beginning to think that a certificate in conflict resolution will be my goal. The program is changing soon and a few of m professors have indicated that the Master's program might not be very productive. It seems that if one is not seeking to teach there is not much to be done with a Master's that is not possible with a certificate. We'll see.


Well, here we go. Baseball is on. Well, officially we can't practice until the 17th, but the draft was today. Connor will be a Ranger this year. His coach is Rob Beckham. If you were reading Mike's blog before he pulled his entry on the local Ditrict 71 race you may know who that is. If the way he said he would vote is any indication, Mike probably won't be rooting for us if he comes to any Dixie games.

I have heard that they may be working on interleague play with another league here in town. Both leagues only have four Major League teams so maybe that would be a good idea.


Lately it seems like every time we turn around there is another marriage from among those we know that is going up in flames. What is the best way to be an effective volunteer fire brigade? What do we do to help relationships rise from the ashes to soar again? Or, is it possible that expecting marriages to soar is so far removed from reality that marriages are cursed from the very beginning? Why do we ever suggest to those poor saps at the front of the church that the fairy-tale of their wedding day is something representative of a lifetime together? Why do we perpetuate the notion that our lives are perfect by refusing to be real with one another? Don't get me wrong. I feel so enormously blessed to be married to Kendra. But I would be lying if I said I always understood her. Not only that, she would definitely be lying if she were say I was consistenty fun to be around. She deserves some type of medal for sticking with me for over 13 years. I love her deeply and have to say that overall we get along better than I would imagine possible. Of course, I must admit this is primarily due to her patience and grace. (Fact is, I married way over my head.) Anyway, a common fixture in my prayers lately is the state of marriages. So many seem to be under heavy attack.


Can we please do something about all of these award shows for people who already think they have won life's lottery? The opinion that so many of these people have of themselves is plenty high. Do they really need us to pile on? "Hey everybody! Look at me. My poor taste goes beyond this outfit that Joan Rivers is analyzing as we speak. You should see my body of work. The millions of dollars you throw at my crowd to support or crap- excuse me- craft, just isn't enough. We need to have approximately 7,000 awards shows. Can't we make it 7,001?"


An exercise I have been working on lately for a class is to list 50 personal interests and assign to each a points value. The total should come to 10,000. This is much harder than it sounds, and frankly I thought it sounded pretty hard. I am taking the approach of interests for which I strive and not necessarily those borne out in my behavior. Still, even though it is a challenge I think it is probably a good activity to do and review.


I'm shutting up now.