Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Shhhh! Be vewy, vewy, qwiet...

...I'm working on a children's book. No time for blogging today.

(and please, if you happen to know what it's about, do NOT put it in the comment section as others could siphon the idea)

Monday, November 29, 2004

Nutcracker Review

My daughter Shelby was in the local production of The Nutcracker. For the actual review you can get it here:
Dallas Morning News Nutcracker Review

The "official" review of my daughter's part used words like "merry" and "hectic."

My unofficial review was that there was a party girl during the party scene that was brilliant and beautiful and talented and frankly, stole the show.

I'm sure the other dancers were excellent and, as you can read from the above review, made it a wonderful evening for all the patrons.

I didn't see them. I was fixated on the party girl in the black dress who stole the show who was brilliant and beautiful and talented. She made it a wonderful evening for me.

I'll post pictures of said evening so you can all see what I saw as soon as my uber-talented photographer wife gets them developed.
Champagne All Around!

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, my higher-order life-liver sister Jilly became engaged to Shane The Barnstorming Pilot.

I'm thrilled, largely because my higher-order life-liver sister is thrilled.

A couple of introductory thoughts (as I'm sure more will come along the way):

First, will the combination of home-ownership and marriage affect higher-order life-living? Will minivans and manicured lawns somehow become a part of the higher-order?

Second, (mandatory, albeit hollow, big brother bravado to follow) if Shane makes her cry, I'll make him cry. That's just how it is. *glaring and flexing*

Congratulations, Jilly and Shane. I couldn't be happier for you two!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Reality of Vacation Has Hit Me

It's 9:20 AM on Sunday. I'm not at work/church. I've leisurely flipped through the newspaper & done the coffee thing. It feels very strange, and hard to enjoy. I'm not very good at vacations or rest.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Christmas Season Processes

Despite retailers trying to get me in the "Christmas Spirit" before Halloween, I manage to fight it until I see Santa in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. For some reason, that seems to me to be a somewhat appropriate time for everybody to look forward to Christmas...even though you still have a Thanksgiving Day to go.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is when we gear up for the holidays at my house. Tracy shops, and I get gigantic blue tupperware down from the attic that contains our accumulated Christmas decorations over 16 years. We generally don't throw anything away except broken strings of light, so we've added a lot of gigantic blue tupperware over the years.

I then place the lights on the roof and the rest of the outside decor. This year we added a six-foot lighted tree to the mix outside...which the wind blew over once already. A minor setback that was quickly taken care of.

Now, there are several gigantic blue tupperware containers in my den, preparing to throw up all over my living room.

Yes, I dislike this part of the Christmas season: Scrooge "Bah Humbug" factor of 10. Very Grinch-like at the moment: "Oh the noise noise noise NOISE!"

It will dissipate over time. I simply have to get past the stories on the news of retail shopping victories, the fact that it's 65 degrees and I'm sweating while putting up lights, all the wondering why we don't get rid of half of "this junk," etc.

My Grinch-heart usually begins to stretch that little monitor beginning with my daughter in The Nutcracker (which is tonight)...and over a few weeks I'll be full-throttle, riding down the hill toward Who-ville on the sleigh, trumpet blaring with presents afoot.

But right now, I'm stealing presents and lying to Cindy Lou Who (who was not more than two) about lights on her tree while stuffing it up the chimney.

Oh the noise Noise Noise Noise!

Friday, November 26, 2004

My Friend Katherine's Crusade

I finished reading "The Revolutionary Communicator" yesterday. It's a book that examines how Christ communicated and how pastors (well, really anybody) can improve by applying the same habits. The proof will be in the pudding, I suppose, on whether or not it was worth the money.

Anyway, the authors assert that one of the dangers in modern communication is lack of transparency. We fear rejection. We like our image. We only reveal innocuous imperfections. Yada yada yada.

That's not Katherine's crusade...at all. Her crusade is more along the lines of the example they used to highlight why our personas are valuable to us. Here's the quote, and from it, you'll get the gist of her battle:

"It is not hard to see why we feel our persona must be nearly flawless. After all, everyone else is, it seems--at least, everyone who matters.

Consider the fact that for every alluring photo included in Sports Illustrated's yearly swimsuit edition, roughly twenty-five thousand photographs are taken and discarded. And that is after starting with statuesque models who likely have undergone intense dieting, rigorous exercise, and scores of cosmetic surgeries--not to mention the lights, make-up, and exotic settings. Tragically, countless women hold such photos as the standard for beauty, with devastating consequences for their health, confidence, and sense of priorities."

Hope this is useful in some way, Katherine. Methinks you have your work cut out for you, and me-also-thinks I can't begin to understand what the female of the species goes through.
A few questions I'd like answered, please...

Are post-Thanksgiving Day sales actually starting on Thanksgiving these days? I don't really mind, but I thought pretty much everything was closed on Thanksgiving.

What's so magical about the 6 hours between 6AM and noon that has everybody in retail so stoked?

Even if it was Ice-T or Darth Vader's voice calling, would anyone really want to have Target give them a wake-up call?

In the newspaper sales stuff, I'll flip entirely through electronics store, toy store and sporting good store flyers, ignoring pretty much everything else. What does this say about me?

Is it possible (or desireable) to get a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings from a restaurant cheaper than doing it yourself? It seemed like an awful lot of work for my wife and her mom for a meal or three or five (we had a lot of leftovers).

Is Thanksgiving becoming a more informal holiday or is it just my family? I remember my grandparents doing fine china and silver when I was a kid, and we just piled it on and watched football. Side question: Since I like our current way better, is this negative in any way?

Why do people in my neighborhood pay folks to decorate their home for the holidays? To me, that's what the Friday after Thanksgiving is for.

Why do I actually feel good about my gluttony on this one day per year?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Predictably...Stuff I'm Truly Thankful For:

I'm thankful for...

...a wife who grows more beautiful and interesting every day, and that being a student of her really makes "studying" fun.
...two distinctly different daughters who have great health and generally get along.
...the reality that overeating is a temptation rather than hunger being normative.
...the roof over my head.
...a happy childhood, with lots of fond memories.
...an unhappy adolescence, through which I discovered a relationship with God and the true freedom it brings.
...the relationship I have with my higher-order life-liver sister Jilly.
...my Mom.
...my in-laws, who really have accepted me into their family.
...my church family, who accepts me warts and all; and the fact that it really does feel like a family at my church.
...the formal education I've gotten to date, mostly because I learned how to think.
...Lloyd the dog, who, against all odds, has really won me over and become a member of our family.
...the servicemen and servicewomen defending my freedom at this very moment...and at every moment.
...the families of servicemen and servicewomen who are making sacrifices so my freedom can be defended.
...the fact that my reality is that when I make a Christmas list, most of the things on it wind up under the tree.

I'm a blessed man, leading a charmed life. And I'm thankful for it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Needing Some Honest Feedback

I'm giving serious consideration to torching all my journals today.

I'm also wondering if the energies I put into doing two blogs wouldn't be better served in writing books of some type.
The In-Laws Hit Town Yesterday...

I like it when my in-laws come. They're really nice and it's good for my girls to get to spend quality time with them...it only happens twice a year or so and it's always very enjoyable family time.

Anyway, they got into town with all their Christmas shopping done (for us, anyway, as they saved shipping charges) but the problem is our tree isn't done, so the gifts are all wrapped and just sitting in our den.

One big surprise was that they brought their old coffee maker to give to me. It's a shiny, stainless-steel job with a clock and an alarm and cone-shaped filter. You can fill it up with water, put in the coffee and set the timer, and the coffee will begin brewing at whatever time you set the clock for.

I'm guessing the next step in coffee-making is simply to give me an I.V. around 4AM and just let it steadily drip into my body.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Sometimes Servanthood Pays Off Right Now!

I've had a love affair with books since childhood. Dr. Suess was like childhood crystal meth to me (not that I really know, but if COPS is any indication, that stuff is highly addictive and makes people spend a lot of money trying to get bigger and better fixes...which is the analogy I was going for). Granted, I took a break from any and all non-school reading once I discovered girls and sports in middle school.

But I came back to books once sports became non-competitive recreation again and I'd had enough reality with girls to know that pursuit was generally a waste of time...so I became an English major for a year. I found out that girls thought English-majoring boys with philosophy minors were "sensitive and thoughtful" so that was sorta win/win for a time: It was okay to enjoy reading again, and girls thought it was acceptable.

Anyway, I've blogged before about lending out books (I'm a literary crystal meth dealer in that sense...I'll loan out the first one for free, knowing you're coming back for more) and not having them return. I keep doing it. The reward always outweighs the risks.

So, in one case, I lent a book to one of my more irresponsible teens. He claimed he gave it back to me. "I KNOW I gave it back, but I'll look in my room/car/locker again. I swear I gave it back...I just don't know when."

That book is now out-of-print. It was the first work of an improving and enjoyable author, Donald Miller. There are rumors that he's going to re-release "Prayer and the Art of Volkswagon Maintenaince" under a new title with updates and all that. But there's something cool about having the first edition.

I had given up hope on the book. It was lost. So, my first-edition, with highlights and notes was gone...and I'd have to settle for a fancy schmancy reprint and re-read it...but it isn't the same.

Last night (and all week, really) my wife was at warp-speed. She's being a stage mom for Shelby's Nutcracker performance later in the week and her parents are coming out for the Thanksgiving Holiday, which both of those combine to create stress in her already busy photographer life.

Housecleaning duties fell to me as injured daughter Kelsey was limited as to doable chores. I was in full-throttle serving mode, too. It was wide-open move-the-furniture-to-vacuum and pull-knick-knacks-off-shelves-to-dust cleaning. And, lo and behold...

Bomp Ba Domp Ba Baahhhh

...My long-lost copy of Prayer and the Art of Volkswagon Maintenaince had fallen behind some other books on the shelf. He did return it! And I'm happy about the find. Complete with highlights and notes.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Stuff I Wish I Could Do Over...

Okay...the vacation has begun. It's pouring rain here in the MetroPlex, foiling my plans for disc golf and softball playoffs and I was wishing the rain wasn't here. For some reason, I started thinking about stuff I'd like to do differently in my life. If somebody says they have no regrets, they're lying. Here's a few things I wish I could do over:

...I wish I'd never hit Sandra Allen in the face with a baseball. Even though it was an accident that happened in fourth grade, she reminded me of it when we were on our senior trip after high school graduation.
...I wish I'd never thrown that rock into Mr. Stokes' birdhouse. I still have no idea why I did it.
...I wish I'd invited my sister to come and visit me at college on football weekends when she was still in high school. I still have no idea why I never did...other than possible contributing to the delinquency of a minor. I'm glad she's a grown-up now so any delinquencies are of our own volition.
...I wish I hadn't spent so much money on my high school girlfriend, my first car's rims/tires/stereo system, and albums.
...I wish I'd taken a look down at those bleachers instead of laser-focus on the fly ball.
...I wish I had been forced to pay for some of my college education. It's hard to take education at a state school/football factory seriously when you're on somebody else's nickel.
...I wish I'd had more sense when planning our wedding. We were too busy listening to older adults, raised in the Deep South, tell us what we could and couldn't do. In retrospect, I'd do everything in a more fun manner, spend money I didn't have on a honeymoon (Tracy and I still haven't had one) to anywhere with a beach, and I'd spend more than I did on an engagement ring (maybe even go into debt a bit and pay it off over time instead of just buying what I could afford).
...I wish I'd kept up with the guys in my wedding after we had kids.
...I wish I'd moved out of Alabama sooner.
...I wish I'd paid more attention to my family while I was in seminary and working two jobs.
...I wish I'd taken more chances when I was in my 20's like my sister did.

So...what do you wish you could do over?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Thought Provoker

Read this quote, and it really got my thoughts going, from Brian McLaren:

"In the emerging culture it may well be that theologians will leave the library more often and do their research and study among the rest of us. And the best of the emerging theologians will join hands and hearts with poets, musicians, filmmakers, actors, architects, interior designers, landscape designers, dancers, sculptors, painters, novelists and photographers, Web designers--not only to communicate authentic Christian theology for these times, but also to discern it, discover it.

Such a marriage of theologians with artists reflects a shift from left-brain to whole-brain-from reductionist, analytic rationalism to a broader theological holism. The coming theology is one that works in mind and heart, understanding and imagination, proposition and image, clarity and mystery, explanation and narrative, exposition and artistic expression."

Why is it that I read stuff that articulates precisely where I am spiritually, but can't say those same things myself?

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Finally...it's over...I can breathe again...

After a late Tide touchdown: Auburn 21, Alabama 13.

Unbeaten season, 11-0.
Victory over the loathed (but respected & feared) Crimson Tide.
Playing for the SEC Championship in two weeks.
I really can't believe it.


4th Quarter: 11:31 to play...

TOUCHDOWN, AUBURN!!!!! 21-6. That might just do it.

End of the 3rd Quarter...

Auburn's up, 14-6. Feeling a little better. Feeling like one more touchdown will put it away...
At The Half...

The Tide leads 6-0.

And it looks very bleak...
No-Limit Alabama Iron Bowl

I have a huge emotional investment in this year's Auburn Tigers football team. I have lived and died with good old AU through the lean years (and there were many lean years in my youth) and the Iron Bowl against Alabama is always big...but this is huge. I've never witnessed AU with a shot at playing for all the marbles.

It will happen at 2:37 PM today. 10-0 Auburn vs. 6-4 Alabama. We should win handily.

But I think I know what it feels like in No-limit Texas Hold 'Em when you're holding pocket queens, with another queen on the flop and you go all in with about 250,000 bucks. There's a chance you lose it all but if things play out like they're supposed to you win a bundle.

I'd imagine the feeling of waiting to see the last two cards is similar to what I'm feeling right now.
Ice Bag, Heating Pad, Ace Bandage & Crutches

My daughter got a severe high ankle sprain during her athletics period today (she missed her broom hockey with the middle schoolers to boot). I'm glad she likes to read and paint and draw. It looks like her Thanksgiving Break will involve crutching around for a few days.
A Recipe For Fun

Take one rink of ice. Liberally put brooms all around. Add one fresh soccer ball. Put two goals on the edges. Mix in 55 high school teenagers who just got out of school for Thanksgiving Break. Allow it to gel after midnight. Once the giggles turn to full laughter, you know it's close to being done.

Broom hockey with my student ministry.

I can't believe I'm in my late-thirties having this much fun and getting paid for it.

Friday, November 19, 2004

That Is SERIOUS Chocolate

As a "thank you" gesture, someone in my church included a chocolate bar along with some very thoughtful, encouraging cards. This is what it says on the label:

"Sweet Blessings (tm)
Premium Chocolate Almond Candy Bar

Touch the soul. Tickle the palate. (tm)
Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. (Jude 1:2)"

I don't know about you, but if this candy bar can deliver those things, it ought to be the greatest snack ever.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Gearing Up For Powering Down

I have no idea if it is because I'm looking forward to my upcoming week and three quarters of vacation time, but I'm having trouble with motivation. Maybe it's because I've waited 18 months between breaks and just don't have the juice to hit the finish line strong. Maybe it's because I know that it takes twice as much work before you leave for vacation and you have to work twice as hard when you get back.

Most likely it's because I don't "rest" very well. It's a spiritual issue at the core...and I usually feel guilty for taking time off, or resting.

I'm guessing it's a combination of pride and failure to trust God's sovereignty.

No matter what the combination, I'll do my best to get work done before Sunday at 7:35PM (there's broom hockey for middle and high schools, a Saturday newbiew class and a full slate of teaching on Sunday)...and it's a ton to do, believe me.

And I'm working on the pride and sovereignty thing. Really.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Lifetime Memories

When I was a six years old, my grandmother's next door neighbor played football at Auburn. One Saturday when the team was playing a team they would beat handily he invited me to the game as his guest, and asked my parents if I wanted to go into the locker room after the game. Yep.

I still remember everything about that day vividly, too. The team throttled the Moccasins. I got to see and hear them sing the fight song after the win and chant "Beat Tennessee" to begin getting focused on the next week's game. They gave me helmet chin straps which we put in my mom's purse on the way out to keep them from getting stolen. I saw players get interviewed for newspapers and television. I shook hands with quarterbacks who told me to eat well so I could grow up and play for Auburn (I guess they didn't know that I'd be weighing a cool 135 upon my high school graduation). I met the legendary head coach, who they later named the stadium after. I didn't know it, but Santa was in the locker room, too, because I got an autographed game ball with every single player's autograph on it for Christmas that year.

It's 32 years later and it's a day of my childhood I don't imagine I'll ever forget.

My youngest daughter Shelby had a day like that yesterday.

Somehow, some tickets to the American Ballet Theatre landed in my wife's lap (naturally, after we'd purchased some pricey tickets for TONIGHT'S show, but who's complaining?) through a friend of hers. They were the best seats in the house. A parking pass in the best places in the lot. Some ritzy donor couldn't make it to the show and my daughter got to see what the newspaper called an "eclectic, energetic performance."

Not only were the seats primo, there was a benefit of admission to the "donor's lounge." During intermission, my wife & her friend as well as their ballet-loving daughters got to hob nob with the type of people who get their picture and stories told in the society section of the paper. My daughter got to try some smoked salmon thing and caviar. Whoever the folks were that got my wife in must've been impressive donors, because they threw that name around to get my daughter's ballet instructor and her friends back there, too. I'm sure it wasn't a big deal, I mean, crashing that kind of scene can't involve real troublemakers.

Anyway, the tickets also came with some post-show reception in which my daughter got to meet & greet the dancers and all that jazz. I don't get the full story because my daughter was reading the review in this morning's paper.

They didn't get home until 1AM. On a school night, to boot.

Well worth it, for a lifetime (and likely highly inspirational) memory, if you ask me. And since ballet doesn't require size and speed of college like college football, maybe a blonde-haired blue-eyed ballerina in my house can dream big. No matter what, it's a lifetime memory. And that's grand.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...when you wake up and (for some unexplicable reason) the Digital Underground's song "The Humpty Dance" is playing in your brain, it's going to be a pretty good day.
...those Dallas Cowboys tickets I'm trying to procure for my father-in-law for his visit out here on Thanksgiving may be more of a punishment than a gift if last night's game is any indication.
...that our softball team played the league leaders last night pretty strongly even if two of our significant players weren't there, and the playoffs are next week.
...for some reason, the essay-style spiritual writings of Donald Miller appeal to me (does that make me relevant and/or emergent?).
...I may start training for a marathon again, and for some reason, the Napa Valley track appeals to me more than the Dallas White Rock or the Fort Worth runs.
...that I need to make out my Christmas list, which will be heavy on clothing.
...I'm pretty primed to turn in my vacation days for approval today (while it's been quite the stretch, not having vacation in 18 months, it'll be nice to take three of the next 8 weeks off).
...I'm very glad that my staff is back intact, what with honeymoons and all.
...that my friend Jude (who needs to blog in a gargantuan way) is one of the best small group leaders on my staff and has a very effective ministry we sometimes underrate.
...that I like the Thanksgiving holiday more than the Christmas one.
...that my head is telling me that Auburn should beat Alabama like a drum in this Saturday's Iron Bowl, but my heart/past experience is telling me it's going to be a nail-biter.
...that all these "evangelical Christians" who allegedly showed up to vote in the last election are strangely silent in day-to-day life/love with/of their neighbors.
...that I may be going full-blown electric in my guitar playing very soon, so my neighbors should be prepared.
...the local mist/fog/drizzle in Dallas over the last week, with more days to come, fire me up.
...I lead a charmed life, full of family and friends that love me.

Monday, November 15, 2004

What Do Women Need To Know About Men?

In the newspaper this morning there is a comedy troupe from the area that apparently have a comedy bit about what women need to know about men. A few of their "top ten":

1) We will listen to you when you tell us about your day if you'll just add some sex and violence to spice up your story.
3) When you ask us whether we noticed that beautiful woman we just walked by and we so no, the truth of the matter is that we noticed her three blocks before she got to us. We've trained our eyes to look straight ahead and keep talking while you're walking with us.
4) Yes, it will kill us if we don't get to watch the game.
7) Our best friend, whom you think is a disgusting pig, is the funniest person we've ever met.
8) When we're in public and say, "Hey, don't you have a blouse like that girl?" We're really checking her out and think you may have busted us.
9) We really do know when bulk trash day is. We just say we don't.

I've also heard a Seinfeld bit on this, and he had an insight regarding a response when a woman asks us what we're thinking, and we respond with "nothing," that's the real answer. Women need to know that we really are thinking nothing...we're just checking stuff out.

So, what else do women need to know about men...

or vice versa?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Every Dawg Does Not Have His Day

Auburn Tigers 24, Georgia Bulldogs 6. It wasn't that close, and it was beautiful.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

It's 8AM...Do You Have Your Game Face On?

#3 Auburn vs. #6 Georgia. Jordan-Hare Stadium. The most important game on Auburn's campus in 33 years. 2:30 PM CDT today.

726 miles from my driveway (according to Yahoo! Maps, anyway) is where I will be mentally all day. Before, during and after the game (I'm not preaching tomorrow!).

ESPN GameDay watching will begin at 10AM. They're broadcasting live 726 miles from my driveway. Don't call. Don't come by.

My game face is officially on.

Big time.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Hey! I'm on the World Wide Web!

For those of you that might be remotely interested, the sermon I antagonized over is on line. You can grab it here. Scroll down to "special messages" and it's the one given on 11/07/04.

This is how I'm feeling today... if you click on the comic it'll get larger and clearer.
Posted by Hello

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Visual Presentation

Okay, so if you kick up enough dust behind the scenes at work, those that are in charge will put you on a committee. It's true in churches and I'm sure it's true in the business sector if what I've read in "Dilbert" is anywhere close to accurate.

I wound up on this web-site subcommittee for our church.

Our first task is to come up with "who we are." The idea is that when you first hit our web page, what comes on your screen should visually communicate "who we are." (My first suggestion of a bunch of 40-somethings taking kids to soccer practice in an SUV fell flat, squeezing a Bible in the picture somewhere...well, that fell flat, for obvious reasons. I was joking. Kinda. I think.)

Anyway, I've been thinking about it and have a meeting today. Here's a few of my ideas:

My Brilliantly Gifted Artistic Wife takes pictures of brides as part of her photography business. She has this one shot, taken from a distance, of a bride in full gown, standing on an arched bridge over a creek, full of greenery around it. I'm thinking we could blur it or something and make that the photo we put our menu over. You know...bride of Christ and all that.

Another is to take Van Gogh's "Bible In Still Life" and put our menu over that. For those of you haven't seen it, it's a dark piece of an old, murky, family Bible sitting on a table. From the interpretation, it's a photograph that shows exactly what we're up against as a church...the impression that the churc is dead, stale, wordless, and irrelevant. Maybe I'll post the photo later today if I have some time.

One last one is to have my Brilliantly Gifted Artistic Wife take a photo that defines "who we are." I can't really give her much direction other than that and since she attends there she could do something excellent without my direction. If I were to give her a suggestion of a picture to take (which she loathes it when I do that), it would be sharply focused on a well-annotated Bible in the foreground, in our main auditorium, with our well-lit cross above it visible and unfocused in the background.

So, for those of you who know my church, help me out. Whatever you do, DON'T click on the link on the left. It isn't our church at all...

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Support Your Friendly Neighborhood Photography Contestant

My pierced and tatooed neo-hippie friend Kristen has a photo in a contest in the magazine Better Homes and Gardens. You can climb on-line and vote. And since I really like her a whole real lot and we can help her win $1,000...

Simply click here. This should pull up a photo contest page, click on the drop down menu and select “finalists.” Go to page three. You can also search for the photo by its ID number.

Our photo is entry number 554200004, and should be in the middle on the second row on page three — it’s a picture of five pumpkins lined up and stacked on each other.

Kristen, you rock my whole face off! I hope you win!
So...Where Are We Off To Next?

I saw a book in a magazine ad entitled 1,000 Places To See Before You Die. I looked it up on-line (simply because I feel like I should give the author some props) and it was written by Patricia Schultz.

Even though I didn't check out any of her results, I thought it would be cool for my quaint little blogging community to give one or two or three places we should see before we die.

My limited travel experience hinders my insights, but I'm going to go with:

1) New York City, New York, USA
2) Amsterdam, The Netherlands
3) San Juan Capistrano/Dana Point, California, USA

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Some Days Are Nice In Their Simplicity

Yesterday was a nice day off.

I had coffee with my daughters. See, staggered school start times allow me to have coffee with one, take her to school, pick up the other, have coffee, then take her to school. I view these times as very important...sure, some days, nothing deep or necessarily important gets discussed, but I think the pattern of my girls knowing that they get uninterrupted time with Dad keeps the lines of communication open. Yesterday was somewhat unremarkable as far as discussion, but enjoyable just hearing about normalcy.

Came home and had a serious nap.

The girls came home from school, filled us in on their day, did homework and headed off for extracurricular activities.

I had a softball game. Our fall league is making up 3 rainouts so we're having to play into November, and the three weeks off showed in my play. In fact, I can't remember playing so poorly in years. Our team lost, too, in the last inning which made it worse. But it was fun playing anyways.

I came home and hung out with Tracy and we watched C.S.I. Miami. It was supposed to be a television event according to the radio advertisement...it wasn't, but we like that show anyway.

And then I went to bed after watching a bit of Tom Hanks on Letterman.

Nothing happened, really. And it was grand.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Post Sermon Poupourri

After delivering four sermons yesterday (which takes more out of you mentally and emotionally than you can imagine...I have no idea how our senior pastor has done this almost every Sunday for about 5 years) I'm having trouble with coherent and/or linear thoughts this morning so I figured I'd simply clear out a few things from my brain and then go have a nap.

The neighborhood church sign is at it again: "Forbidden Fruits Create Many Jams."

As a gift, I got some DVD's of Saturday Night Live "Best of..." I've come to the conclusion that Adam Sandler is overrated on SNL, Chris Farley had some good physical comedy, and the women were brilliant in spots (Cheri Oteri, Molly Shannon and Gilda Radner were all consistently good)...but for my money, Will Farrell might have been the most consistently funny guy on the show (with notable props to Phil Hartman). Tracy, Kelsey and I watched his greatest hits last night and laughed out loud during each one of the sketches.

The plush purple chairs at the local Starbucks are something I want in my dwelling place in the Kingdom.

I had a dream last night that Auburn lost to Florida 46-23 and my sister broke up with her boyfriend and Tracy was yelling at me and blaming me for both. What's weird is Auburn doesn't even play Florida this season and things haven't been better for my sister and her boyfriend and Tracy doesn't ever yell at me. Any dream interpretation you can come up with would be helpful.

The early feedback from my sermon seems to be, "Good sermon. That's just what we needed to hear." My insecurities tell me people are just being polite and nice, but I like to think that if I'm being Spirit-led, that would be the normal result.

Things I think need more appreciation from the masses: The Onion, Moby, Wes Anderson comedy movies, Mississippi Delta blues, Space Ghost, hockey, and Douglas Coupland novels.

I'm not a video game player. Can someone who is explain to me why "Halo 2" is going to recieve $100 million in sales in one night? That's double what an average successful movie would do in an entire run.

Well, that's about it...eyelids getting heavy. Time for a day-off nap.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

My Friend Nathan Got Married Yesterday

On the way to the wedding, a billboard on the interstate leading to downtown advertised a surgical procedure that would help eliminate excessively sweaty palms. Is this a problem that really needs to be addressed surgically?

He asked the teenagers in the student ministry to show up wearing purple (the colors of the bride), and they did. Afterward, he wanted the photographer to get a photo with all of them. At the reception, Nathan told me the photographer "got the photo of us with the kids for the Dungeon (our student ministry room)." He's going to make a pretty good youth minister if he's thinking about stuff like that on his wedding day.

One of my colleagues, Bill, has this knack for goofing up one thing at any wedding he performs. Notably, there was one wedding where he forgot to say, "Please be seated" and the entire congregation stood for 25 minutes. This time he did really well. The only thing he could've done better was to shorten one sentence in his vows. The couple laughingly had trouble with one of the phrases due to it's length and structure. It was actually a very personal and endearing occurrance in the ceremony and I can't imagine what it's like to officiate the wedding of your child...so shouts out to Bill on a job well done! He said something really cool about the rings, which I'm going to have to steal.

At the reception, the groom's cake had a Texas Tech logo on it and they played the school's fight song before they cut it. Being from the South (where such behavior is perfectly normal and expected) I thought it was a nice touch, even though I didn't know any of the words, but many in the crowd fell right in line and sang along.

I'm not sure I like the tradition of the "dollar dance." You know, where the bride and groom take a buck to dance with whoever pays it during a song? I think the reason I don't like it is that Tracy and I didn't know about it when we got married.

I'm also out on the shoving of the cake in each other's faces, but I like the putting of some icing on the nose of the other one. I guess it's not the act, but the amount.

My church family really feels homey. We've been here long enough that we know all the kids getting married and all the families of CBC wind up going to these weddings and receptions together. It was strange seeing all the people from our church sitting together in another church, though.

The art of giving toasts in our society needs to be worked on...but the heartfelt sentiments are always pretty cool no matter how they're delivered.

Vanilla Ice still can get a crowd excited.

He loves her. She loves him. They kissed.

The countdown is over. The count-up begins...which is way better, anyway.

I had no married staff two weeks ago, and now most of my staff is on their honeymoon. I've got a lot to do this week, I guess. But it's well worth it.

Saturday, November 06, 2004


The sermon is "in the can," so to speak. Knowing that I have to preach will have me replaying it in my head the whole day...so my Saturday is actually spent in "work" mode.

So, I'm excited to see how God will use what I have to say tomorrow to our congregation, and nervous about all the "details" of overseeing a service that includes the Lord's Supper.

This never gets any easier. I'll be glad when Sunday at 7:35 PM rolls around.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Losing Both The Battle and The War

For years, when I say goodbye to my daughters before they go off for their day at school, I've said, "Have a good day at school. Come home smarter than you are right now, okay?" They'd roll their eyes or say "okay" or whatever their prevalent mood was.

Well, this morning I got the curve ball from the oldest:

Me: "Have a good day at school. Come home smarter than you are right now, okay?"

Kelsey: "Sure, Dad. Have a good day at work. Come home more accomplished than you are right now, okay?"

Ever have an epiphany that let you know that your kids are figuring out that they are smarter and wittier than you are? Yeah, I had one of those this morning.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Mad Hatter

No time to talk today.
Sermon for big church to prepare.
Youth ministry stuff to do.
Psalm 122.
Acts 2.
Festivals and fellowship.
The Lord's Supper.
Praising God.
Say all the raging stuff in your brain in love.
Sermon notes to Nancy for bulletin publication.
Calm down about all this.
Get on with your day.
No time to say "Hello," "Good-bye" I'm late I'm late I'm late.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Tired Head

I didn't sleep well last night...a strange combination of coffee after 9PM and curiosity about the election. I didn't really need or really want or really care about either so much that I'd jepoardize my work week. I'm preaching on Sunday and I still have a ton to do with my "regular" job, so I'm under the pile when I need to be taking it easier.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Squirrels and Nuts

Yesterday I purchased my annual half-cord of firewood. It's already been delivered and stacked in my backyard. It's November. It's Texas. It's 60 degrees. I'm either ready for winter or I threw hard-earned money away.
It's been a long time since I've rock and rolled...

Is it me, or does anyone else have a hard time thinking that Joey Ramone would be altogether thrilled about the song he covered right before he died being on an advertisement for the show "The Amazing Race?"

And, I know that Led Zeppelin is getting paid a huge sum of money for it, but does anybody really think Robert Plant and Jimmy Page are Cadillac drivers? And, for that matter, isn't it scary that Led Zeppelin's fan base is now the target demographic for a car brand that used to appeal to retirees?
Election Day

I'm off to vote today...

"Simply put, much political discourse has grown absurd. Not just exaggerated or offensive, but meaningless.

Whether it's President Bush's numerous verbal infelicities, John Kerry's labyrinthine evasions of his own positions, any third-party candidate's quixotic pronouncements or the Crossfire chattering heads blathering away, never in my memory have Americans been subjected to such inane babble about so many vital issues."--Brian Cook, from a Dallas Morning News Viewpoint.

I cannot, for the life of me, remember a time that I felt so alienated from the process or the people who make up the process.

I am thankful for America. I am thankful that I can vote. And I will vote my conscience.

I only wish that it wasn't a power game driven by money. If I were choosing between philosopher/statesmen such as those who wrote the Constitution, my conscience would feel better when I leave the booth.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Is it November already?

Stuff that was cool about the last weekend of October:

My friends Wes and Lizzie got married, and I was a part of the ceremony. Sometimes you really don't realize how much you love two people until they're standing in front of you, asking you to be a part of God's will for their lives. I still get very emotional at weddings (and it seems to be getting worse with age) even when I'm "working" during them. This one was particularly emotional for me because of how far they've grown in the Lord and we've all ministered together. Those are two things that are guaranteed get me emotional...and how then how happy I am for them...well...I almost lost it.

Auburn played their worst game of the season and still won by 21 points. The Cowboys played their best game of the season and won by 10.

Our middle school ministry had 60 kids raise money for a local charity by getting pledges and walking 5 miles. We fed over 40 families for the holidays. Did I mention that their small group leaders, who are high school students, spearheaded the effort?

We had a small Sunday School class due to the trick or treating. I like smaller groups as we can actually have more interaction. And it's funny to me that 40 kids in a class is now something I consider "small."

Watching my wife work is cool. I love it when I'm surrounded by people who are excellent at what they do, and my wife is really excellent at what she does. I know the pictures she took will be fabulous.

My daughters had a low-stress, high fun weekend. That's always nice.

My co-worker Neil, who has this grandfatherly wisdom thing happening, celebrated his 10th year on our church staff and his 40th wedding anniversary Sunday (and, the fact that he got his bride to marry him on Halloween says more than you know about them as a couple...they're hysterical). Some things are worthy of much more than a reception and tea, and that's one of them, although the reception/tea was a really good one and well-attended.

My friend Nathan had his bachelor party, and even though I didn't get to go, I'm really starting to get excited for him and Kimberly...they get married next Saturday, and it'll be nice to enjoy one without having to "work."

I keep trying to figure out how come I live such a charmed life.