Monday, February 28, 2005


I'm supposed to take a day off.

I have SO much to do this week and that reality will be staring over my shoulder, preventing me from enjoying my day off.

It's so much to do that figuring out where to begin takes thought. In college, I would've spent three hours cleaning my room, alphabetizing albums and doing laundry before doing it.

I know...bird by bird, long journey and first step, focus on bite-size chunks, plan my work and work my plan...yada yada yada.

I feel like it's going to be a long, unproductive and guilt-laced day. Ugh.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Bull Takes Fighter... Posted by Hello
At The Moment

Stavesacre show last night at The Door in Dallas.

I don't expect many of you to "get it."
It isn't most of your type of music.
It isn't most of your crowd.
But I can tell you this:
Once the show started it was truly a deep, spiritual experience for me.
I enjoyed the hour and 15 minutes more than I can tell you.
I promise you that my dwelling place in the Kingdom will be a lot like that hour and 15 minutes.
It was really that meaningful to me.
Again, I don't expect many of you to "get it."
It was beautiful.
And suddenly, I once again feel very far afield from my fellow man.

Here's some lyrics from one of their songs, "At the Moment." Of course, you'll have to imagine the primal sound/heavy bass/screaming guitars if you haven't heard it before:

"With a sigh i greet the day
i feel the morning on my face
weary at the moment i awake
even as i lie
the thought returns to mind
"welcome to the rest of your life".
somewhere i've lost my way
from saved to stray and failing
in silence my spirit pleads,
"is the vision lost
or has it been passed on?
is there any use continuing?"

my soul will wait
my soul-wait silently
for God, my God(God my refuge)
and i will live
and i know some destiny
still waits for me

his faithfulness, my hope
it brings comfort to my soul
with a still small voice whispering,
"call upon my name and i
will set you up on high
be still and know that i am God

creation speaks to me
i'm stricken to my knees
in reverance and fear
forever my Almighty
the heavens in your hand
surpass the grains of sand
who am i before you
elieonai eli adullam [God my father, God my refuge; Hebrew]

What a great night.
I wish I could describe it with words that would mean something to you, but I can't. I'm sorry. I'll shut up now.

Here's Nancy, Katy and Kristy right before showtime! Posted by Hello

Here's Brian, Marky Mark, Me and Big Nate (Nancy snuck in the back!) right before the show started. Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 26, 2005


According to my Blogger account, since I started blogging I've written 152,802 words. I have no idea what that means. I also don't have anything of substance to add to that number today...but here's how I'm feeling at the moment:

Strange, by R.E.M. (lead singer is Michael Stipe)

"There's something strange going on tonight
There's something going on that's not quite right
Michael's nervous and the lights are bright
There's something going on that's not quite right
There's something going on that wasn't here before
Keep your eyes glued to the floor
There's something strange going on tonight
There's something going on that's not quite right."

Yep, that's how I feel today. Over and over and over. And no, you won't be getting details.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Staff Retreat, Gainesville, Texas. Day 2 Recap.

We spent the first part of the day in Bible study led by our senior pastor, Tim Stevenson. We’re spending one hour in each chapter of Philippians on this retreat. Sometimes, I think that one of the best benefits of being on staff at Crossroads is that I get to have Bible study with that guy on a consistent basis. Despite the reality that, even with the formal theological training I have gotten in my life, I feel like a neophyte listening to some of his insights. I’m sure people in our congregation think he’s a gifted teacher, but when it gets to the level he’s able to with his staff, it borders on brilliant. You’ll have to trust me on that, but it is truly that good.

Afterward, we had some free time, and drove through a town called Whitesboro (population: 3,800). On the return trip, we stopped at the video store to rent the movie “Ray.” Total charge: $1.04. Throw in some conversation about the nice weather we had and about the place we’re staying and it was pretty much free. Either Blockbuster is making a 300% killing, or this guy is running drugs and using the store as a front. I have no idea how he can make money renting movies at a buck a piece.

On the way to Gainesville (population: 15,300), there were a couple of signs that caught my eye:

“Fantasy Tattoos. Buy 1, Get 1 Free.” Is that really the kind of investment you’re looking to get that kind of bargain on?

“Tabernacle of Jesus: A Church of Balance.” I have no idea what that means. There were scales on the sign.

(Outside the Assembly of God Church) “Long Time, No See”—God. Nothing like guilt motivation to get you back to church, eh?

There was a Tex-Mex restaurant called “Ouchos” that advertised, “Pretty Good Tex-Mex.” What they didn’t advertise, we discovered later, were $1.50 marguritas. Nothing like low expectations and cheap drinks to keep the folks coming in.

Central Baptist Church was located on the outskirts of town. I guess at one time they were in town, and grew, and bought cheaper just outside the town. Otherwise, it’s ironic.

There was one historical marker and something called a “point of interest.” The historical marker was for the family that founded the Houston newspaper who settled here, and the point of interest was a well surrounded by American flags. We didn’t slow down enough to really get the full story.

There were two barn-looking structures that you could drive through and they’d put cases of beer in your trunk.

As best as I can discern, in this area you can either go to church, get some beer, or get a tattoo. Of course, for $10 you could get an average appetizer at Ouchos and rent a movie. Hmmm.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Staff Retreat, Gainesville, Texas.

Our church staff is taking our first ever staff & wives retreat this week. It’s only a couple of days, but we thought it’d be nice considering our staff has been together for pretty much 10 years now and all.

Anyway, we’re staying in a town north of Dallas about an hour called Gainesville, which, as best as I can discern, is mostly known for it’s correctional facility.

A few observations:

On way here we crossed a lake the Army Corps of Engineers developed and, from the looks of things, a dam was necessary. There was a store just on the other side of it called “The Dam Store.”

Another store advertised their deli…right above their pushing “live bait and tackle” on those who might want to fish near the dam. That store might need a new ad exec.

We passed through the town of Tioga. Gene Autry was born there. I know that because anywhere you might find the name “Tioga” you’d find something about Gene Autry’s hometown or birthplace. When I told Tracy that I thought Tioga’s Chamber of Commerce was getting a lot of mileage out of Gene Autry, she responded, “Brent, it’s Tiogo, Texas. What else have they got?”

On the way to the bed & breakfast we’re staying in, there was a farm with a sign out front telling the world the name of their estate: XTC Farm. My first thought was that if they had a crop of XTC they could make a fortune by having rave-culture teenagers “pick their own” by the hour or whatever. My second thought was that if you could grow ecstasy I’m not sure you’d need to grow XTC to make money.

On the drive into the bed and breakfast, there was a sign that said, “Please drive slowly. Our squirrels can’t tell one nut from another.”

Apparently bed and breakfasts are designed to look like a Cracker Barrel came in and threw up on them. At the bed and breakfast, there are no less than 5 birdhouses IN MY BATHROOM. There’s also an “emergency fire escape” ladder I’m supposed to hang out my window if there’s real trouble.

More observations later as we’re set with an agenda that will let us explore a couple of these small towns surrounding us this afternoon…

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...that standardized testing in our community is a waste of time as almost all the students not only pass the test, but make a perfect score on it.
...that my daughters are more worried about what book to bring to read than the tests themselves.
...that Shelby takes it seriously when her teachers tell her to get a good night's sleep and eat eggs as brain food.
...that my daughter Kelsey made the track team and is running in the hurdles.
...that science fair projects are actually pretty fun when you watch them from a parent's perspective.
...that I'm looking forward to our staff retreat over the next three days since all our wives get to come on this one.
...that my college football team has to settle on a quarterback for the upcoming season.
...that not everyone gets Kurt Vonnegut, but he's brilliant and I enjoy reading every word he writes.
...that the world would be a better place with more a more moderate diet of television, cell phones that take pictures, and the Internet.
...that one of my teenagers was interviewed in the Dallas Morning News "snapshot" of a teen you should know today and answered the question, "If I had a million dollars..." with "I'd give some to Crossroads Bible Church." Cool.
...that the more I work with Nathan and Steve and Kristy, the more I get excited about going to work each day.
...that I have to go make Shelby some brain food right now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

An Enlightening Game

My friend Dustin posted this game on his blog yesterday (apparently, it's going around in e-mails and other blogs) and I thought it'd be cool to see what it says about my readership:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.

Here's mine...From "Eleanor Rigby" by Douglas Coupland:

"Jeremy said, 'When you become a zombie, your sould vanishess...there's no heaven or hell for you--there's absolutely nothing--which is why zombies are so terrifying.'"
25 years later, and I still believe in miracles...

I can tell you exactly where I was 25 years ago today: A high school freshman, who had just gotten home from high school and finished my homework.

I watched the news to see how the team was doing. Back then, the Olympics were only broadcast in prime time, so a lot of the events were on tape-delay. The local sportscaster told me that the U.S. hockey team was trailing the Soviets 2-1 at the end of the first period.

Imagine my surprise, when watching the prime time coverage of the game, when the U.S. scored a goal with seconds left in the first period to tie it at 2-2. This was before the internet and 24-hour news channels and all the other ways of getting information, but I'm the type that enjoys watching replays without knowing the score so I don't know if I'd tried to find out the score once the game was finished, anyway.

With 10 minutes to go in the game, Mike Eruzione (who had scored a crucial goal against Sweden two weeks earlier--for some reason, my friends and I were hockey nuts even though we lived in Alabama, and had been following Olympic hockey since the Games had begun) scored a goal to make it 4-3.

The next 25 or so minutes of my life were nerve-wracking with each save, and the U.S. held on to win...and eventually won the gold medal.

It was emotionally moving and exciting, and I used photos from magazines to adorn my room for years afterward.

I do believe in miracles.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Seasonal Affective Disorder?

I don't know what's wrong with me.

I'm lacking the motivation to write.
I'm lacking the motivation at work.
I don't feel like doing anything at all.

I'm just...

...blah... practically all areas of my life right now.

Maybe because it's mid-February and it's going to be 80 degrees and sunny today. My circadian rhythms must be off or something.


Sunday, February 20, 2005

Luther Review

I watched the movie "Luther" last night before Kelsey and I got hung up in the NBA dunk contest. People had raved about the movie to me...used the words you'd see in a television ad for it.

It was an okay movie. But the reason it's good is because the story of Martin Luther and what has become known as the Protestant Reformation is a fantastic tale.

What concerns me is that there's so much garbage out there in Christian music, writing, radio, television and movies that anything that's "okay" gets Christians to use words you'd see in a television ad for it to get you to watch it.
My Trip To The Bookstore

Yesterday I was armed with birthday money and headed off on one of my favorite excursions: The Barnes & Noble trip. As the wife was out celebrating a friend's birthday last night, I took the girls.

Things were not going well early on in the trip. See, I had an idea of what I wanted to purchase, but I also wanted to be open minded about letting a good book find me.

I immediately found Book I Wanted #1, but couldn't find Book I Wanted #2. I was a bit perturbed by the cost of book #1 as it was the retail price on the bar code. For some reason, it makes me happier when something screams that it's now 10% off.

I couldn't find Book I Wanted #2 on the shelves and asked the information desk guy if they had it. His computer said they had 3. He went to the shelves with me and I think he was planning on doing some sort of "Condescending You Just Didn't Look Hard Enough" dance because he walked with such confidence over to the fiction section. To his credit, he looked in the stockroom, too...but no book. He muttered something about the computer rarely being wrong. Clearly, Book I Wanted #2 was winning the game of hide-and-seek (or fool-the-computer).

I found Book I Wanted #3, a guitar instruction book to get me to the next level, but someone had pilfered the CD that comes with it. There were no other copies. Information Desk Guy's Computer said so.

CD I Wanted #1 was in stock, and plenty of them, but I'd seen it the night before at Target and it was priced $5 less. That's screaming "25% OFF!" right there. No sale. Now, knowing that I'm going to a competitor's bookstore across the street because my daughter has a gift card from that store, I put back Book I Wanted #1 because everybody will have it and maybe, just maybe it'll have a sale sticker on it at the other store.

Meanwhile, my daughters have scattered throughout the store, so I'm trying to wrangle them. As I put back Book I Wanted #1 I grunted like Marge Simpson. This was supposed to be enjoyable. I've got DRIZZLE outside, and time to read and now this plan isn't coming together at all.

I summon the oldest daughter to find youngest daughter. While waiting I mosey over to the "Staff Recommends" shelf just for kicks. There's Book I Wanted #2, all three copies! Plus a 10% Off Sticker! The middle copy (the one I figured no one had pawed over yet) is now "It" but I congratulated them on a good game of hide-and-seek. This spurs a reconnection with Book I Wanted #1, and the purchase is made. I notified the guys at the help desk where Book I Wanted #2 was now located and did my own little Condescending In-Your-Face Dance in my brain under the guise of being helpful.

I found Book I Wanted #3 with the all-important CD still intact at the competitor's bookstore. Kelsey made her purchase. Shelby, even with money in hand, got nothing.

We stopped on the way home to eat Chinese food, buffet-style. And I now need to run to Target to complete the birthday shopping.

I read until I fell asleep. Very nice, even though no books found me yesterday.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Ideal Saturday?

Okay, so I wake up to a light drizzle, and showers are forecasted for today.

Yardwork won't get done. Sorry.

I will go to the gym.

Then, I have some birthday money and am prepared to get some books and some music. So, me and the girls are off to Borders, Barnes & Noble and various CD stores. I don't know what exactly I'm after, but sometimes books find you. (last night, on a whim, I purchased the SNL "Best of Jimmy Fallon" DVD last night, and lost it when he, Horatio Sanz, Tracy Morgan and Chris Kattan did their "Christmas Time is Here" music sketch).

Tracy already has plans for a night out with her friends, so it may be dinner and a movie with my girls.

Today is looking very enjoyable.
Superior Antibodies Update

When I talked about my surprising illness (see Thursday's entry) on Wednesday, I ended it with a statement that I'd be just fine if I was never sick like that again.

Well, after watching one of my children have it, I'd like to retract that statement. I can honestly say I'd rather have it than for them to have it.

Friday, February 18, 2005

"It's baseball, Ray. It's bigger than all of us."

There was video of pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in Arizona and central/south Florida.

There were "baseball briefs" from said major league camps in my sports page this morning.

There were photos and articles about the hometown Rangers.

"There is also a civic interest by having the population at large leavened by millions of fans. They are spectators of a game that rewards, and thus elicits, a remarkable level of intelligence from those who compete. To be an intelligent fan is to participate in something. It is an activity, a form of appreciating that is good for the individual's soul, and hence for society...

...Being a serious baseball fan, meaning an informed and attentive and observant fan, is more like carving than whittling. It is doing something that makes demands on the mind of the doer. Is there any other sport in which the fans say they 'take in' a game? As in, 'Let's take in a game tomorrow night.' I think not. That is a baseball locution because there is a lot to ingest and there is time--although by no means too much time--to take it in.

Of all the silly and sentimental things said about baseball, none is sillier than the description of the game as 'unhurried' or 'leisurely.' Or that baseball has the 'pace of America's pastoral past.' This is nonsense on stilts. Any late twentieth-century academic who thinks that a nineteenth-century farmer's day was a leisurely, unhurried stroll from sunup to sundown needs a reality transplant. And the reality of baseball is that the action involves blazing speeds and fractions of seconds. Furthermore, baseball is as much a mental contest as a physical one. The pace of the action is relentless: There is barely enough time between pitches for all the thinking that is required, and that the best players do, in processing the changing information about the crucial variables... witnessing the physical grace, the soul comes to understand love and beauty. Seeing people compete courageously and fairly helps emancipate the individual by educating his passions."--George Will, in "Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball"

The pitchers and catchers are there.
The position players follow shortly.
Professional baseball is upon us.
If you listen closely, you can hear the ball smacking the leather gloves.
All is right with the cosmos.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Superior Antibodies

I have been blessed with good health pretty much my whole life. I mean, I missed three days in high school combined...and that was for surgery.

I never missed a day of work in 6 years with Youth for Christ...and I only missed 3 days with walking pneumonia two years ago.

What I'm saying is that I rarely get sick.

But from 2AM to 6AM yesterday, it was as if I was being observed by extraterrestrials who felt the need to see how much wretching one human could put up with. I wouldn't be at all surprised if, at any point, that scene where the alien pops out of Sigourney Weaver in "Alien" was recreated right there in my bedroom.

So, I cancelled a lunch, a coffee with a teen as well as my Bible study/movie night. A first in 9 years.

Since I'm so genetically superior, the only explanation is that I got exposed to E-coli, SARS, Mad Cow, botulism all at once and my antibodies broke it down into a 24-hour bug.

A gallon of Gatorade, a couple of bowls of soup and all sorts of strange pulled muscles in the abdominal area, and I'm back up to full speed this morning. It wouldn't bother me at all if I never had another night like last night.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Sometimes, it's nice to be "gotten."

Despite my best efforts, word somehow leaked out about it being my birthday yesterday (My higher-order life-liver sister Jilly spilled it first on the comments). Generally, I don't like the fuss of it all and try not to bring it up...but, alas, I turned 39 years of age.

Anyway, many of you know how I write little birthday blogs that tell you to act like that person in celebration of them.

Well, yesterday, those tables got turned. You can check out my friend Katherine's blog to see how one of my former students views me.

And, I guess now that the cat's out of the bag, feel free to add your own comments about how you'd celebrate my birthday...
Again, with the weather...

Okay, I've pretty much had it up to here with Texas weather. Just so you know, yesterday we set a freakin' RECORD for the high temperature on this date: 83 degree Farenheit. That's 26 Celsius...give or take a degree.

Ugh...and it's going back down to the 40's today.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Well, Here Goes Nothin'

In keeping with my New Year's Resolution (see Jan. 1 entry), today I will be submitting a proposal to Youthworker Journal magazine. Yes, youthworkers have their own professional journal.

The outline is done.
The introductory paragraph is complete (one more once-over before I hit "send").
It's in the suggested format from their "writer's guidelines."
I am comfy with my idea/slant (the magazine theme for the article is "community").
I gave it my best shot given those constraints.
I love my title.

Good luck with all that...

Monday, February 14, 2005

It's actually come to this, hasn't it?

Yes. It's a manufactured holiday.
Yes. It misses the entire point of what love really is.
Yes. It's a $900 million dollar industry.
Yes. It can lead to some people getting hurt.
Yes. The whole cupid thing is silly.
Yes. There are lots of reasons not to like this day.

Yes. Yes. Yes.
I know.
You know.
We all know.

But ignore it at your peril.

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone I love...just in case...

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Rainy Saturday

Slept in until 6AM.
Coffee/newspaper/on line newspapers/blog writing/blog reading.
Went to the church to meet the newcomers' class.
Came home and read a bit.
Had a nap.
Went to work out at the gym.
Ran to Blockbuster because my wife is under the weather and didn't want to go out.
Same reason I went to Chili's to get some food (that carry-out to your car ad is the truth, and it's perfect for rainy evenings).
Watched a movie called "The Notebook" and was surprised that I liked it.
Built a fire because it was close to 45 degrees and drizzly and I purchased a half-cord of firewood in November and haven't used 20% of it with the mild Dallas weather.
Read some more.
Watched Saturday Night Live.
Went to bed after Weekend Update.

I enjoyed it. I'm really not all that complicated.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Strange Days, Indeed...Well, Strange Night, Anyway.

There were 12 of them...and a couple that couldn't make the ceremony. It still strikes me as odd.

See, there's this student ministry program I've been teaching for 9 years familiar to many as True Love Waits. It's what newspapers call "abstinence-based." Our is what I call "knowing-God based." Yes, I read where the government sponsored "abstinence based" programs don't "work"...and the reason is even though they're "abstinence based" they don't tell you anything about a God you can know personally and intimately. They seem to be saying "say no" but really only for the reason of being a "good kid."

We teach them that it's all about a relationship with the infinite omnipotent omnipresent God of the universe, that He loves you and cares for you and that not having sex before you're married is because God is faithful, pure and loving and wants to bring out those qualities in you through your dependency on Him and allowing Him to manifest Himself through you in the form of fruit of the Spirit.

Anyway, on a Friday night in Double Oak, Texas, 12 kids stood up in front of a crowd of about 100 friends and family at our church to tell the world they agree with God and want to have an authentic relationship with Him, and one of those areas that will be affected will be their sex life..."on hold" until marriage. 148 teens have done that since I've been at my local church.

Some make it, and some don't. I didn't say the course was magic or perfect. But of all the options they had to spend their time over the last 3 weeks, and all the options they had to spend their time last night, they chose to be there with friends and family...and tell God they agree with Him and want to honor Him.

All at once, it was strange...and beautiful.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Trying Not To Be A Proud Dad, But I Really Think She's Good

It's oil on canvas, 2 x 3 feet large. Posted by Hello
Happy Birthday, Shelby!

Several of you were a part of helping Shelby get the loft bed she was after for a few years, and here's the kid enjoying it...Tracy and her put it up last Saturday! Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Magazine Article Like Jazz

Many of you know my affinity for author Donald Miller and the manner in which he presents the spiritual life. Thanks to my friends the Alperts you can grab an interview with the author here. It even has a quote by and a photo of their pastor. If you're interested in the author, you'll like the article.
A Bit Hesitant

After the blog discussion about Moby from two days ago, I'm a bit hesitant to express my affinity for the greatest sporting event on the planet: The World Cup.

The United States began qualifying yesterday by visiting CONCACAF rival Trinidad & Tobago, and attained a rare road win, 2-1. I'm all U.S.A! U.S.A! about this, and I hope this in no way concerns my readership (all apologies for my Dutch readers who will agree with me about the World Cup) about my preferences on things I enjoy.

As a balance, allow me to offer that the worst sporting event on the planet is a tie: The NBA playoffs and any golf major championship.

*feeling far afield from his fellow man*
*shrugs shoulders*
*exits, stage left*
You Need To Read Kurt Vonnegut

Tell me this isn't brilliant writing and you'll only expose your ignorance:


Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.

Billy has gone to sleep a senile widower and awakened on his wedding day. He has walked through a door in 1955 and come out another in 1941. He has gone back through that door to find himself in 1963. He has seen his birth and death many times, he says, and pays random visits to all the events in between."

What I wouldn't give to write one paragraph that well just once in my life. And he does it about 10 or 15 times a novel.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

C.S. Lewis Strikes Again

Sometimes you read something that really hits the nail on the head. From Book 6 of the 7 book series by C.S. Lewis entitled "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair." This exchange takes place after three characters, Puddleglum, Jill & Scrubb, fall into the underworld after they failed to follow Aslan's "signs":

"Who's that?" asked Puddleglum. And it was so long since anyone had spoken, that Jill wondered how he had the nerve.

"That is old Father Time, who was once a King in Overland," said the Warden. "And now he has sunk down into the Deep Realm and lies dreaming of all the things that are done in the upper world. Many sink down, and few return to the sunlit lands. They say he will wake at the end of the world."...

..."One thing I'd like to know," said Puddleglum, "is whether anyone from our world--from up-a-top, I mean--has ever doen this trip before?"

"Many have taken ship at the pale beaches," replied the Warden, "and--

"Yes, I know," interrupted Puddleglum. "And few return to the sunlit lands. You needn't say it again."

When you work with teenagers, and their parents, these truths are self-evident. Many sink down, and few return to the sunlit lands. I hope it takes before the end of the world for them to wake up.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Is Suburban Minimalism An Oxymoron?

My friend Kendra was there the Saturday we went through our old children's books in a beginning effort to "unclutter" our lives. This is the longest we've ever lived in one place, and we keep a lot of things we should get rid of and you gotta start somewhere.

Anyway, I stuffed the massive stack of kid books (naturally, we kept the very best ones & the "classics")and some assorted books I needed to get off my shelves into a rolling suitcase and another carry-on luggage piece to Half-Price Books.

They no longer make trades there, so the offending clutterer kid books turned into $35 cash. We went out for a family dinner on the first steps of legitimate realistic suburban minimalism have officially begun.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Embracing the Culture

Last night, we had a roomful of students (and it's a big room) from our student ministry show up at our Super Bowl extravaganza.

They ate 22.2 yards of pizza...two first downs. It didn't cost them a cent...but a few donated a few bucks to the children our students support in Columbia and Haiti.

They cheered madly at the good commercials. Their favorite: The FedEx commercial that mocked Super Bowl commercials. Their winners were the P.Diddy Pepsi commercial (especially when Xzibit pimped his truck) and the Jack in the Box commercial where Jack told the guy who offered him a donut and he told him his donut "was a scam" and "go eat your hole." Their booed incessantly at the losers: Any bank ad (I just don't think you can make banking funny), the rugby commercial, and Vin Diesel's movie ad.

They were even into the game, too. The crowd was split as to who they wanted to win which made it fun...and kept it in a fun spirit since they really didn't care one way or another.

At halftime they kinda sang along with the Beatles tunes Paul McCartney played. Really, they just mouthed the words while they were playing video games or ping pong or foosball. However, when they played "Hey, Jude" they sang really loudly when one of our volunteers, named Jude, stood up and started waving his arms. Several even lit their cell phones and waved them back and forth...the new "holding up your lighter" at concerts for the smoke-free generation.

They stayed to the end of the game...right down to the last interception.

We took pictures since our church just went through a communications deal so the entire church could become aware of all the ministries and what they're up to, and I think the photo of a bunch of kids who showed up will look a lot better than if we'd taken a picture of the number of people in our 4th service last night (6:30 PM...what're we thinking?).

It was a fun night, and I have the suspicion that more ministry took place last night than if our ministry ran it's regular programming.
Yet Another Annoying Church Sign

The local neighborhood church is at it again with their sign. This week, it reads:

"Have you read my best-seller? There will be a test.--God"


A sign at a neighborhood religious institution that made me laugh:

"God loves you...
whether you like it or not."


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Random Super Sunday Thought

Our church has four identical services each and every Sunday in order to accommodate the number of people who attend. Two of those services are in the morning, and two are in the evening...with corresponding Sunday School classes. The idea is that every family will choose the morning or evening "block" to attend.

This works well on about 48 Sundays per year.

If history is any indication, this Sunday at CBC will involve an overflowing morning "block" and a lightly attended evening session, with the 6:30PM service being more a small group. Unlike the First Springfield Church on The Simpson's, which has a sign out front that reads, "First Springfield Church: Where Every Sunday is Super Sunday."

The student ministry just punts and has a Super Bowl party since the first year we tried class nobody came and someone else had a party they all attended.

And I was thinking today that the July 4 celebration is a celebration of the IDEALS of America and Super Bowl Sunday is a celebration of the REALITY of America. Your thoughts?
New Experience

For all my friends who have daughters, allow me to just share with you a reality. One day you're taking your daughter to see Beauty and the Beast on ice, and then you wake up what seems like the next day and realize that you're taking her and a new friend to the movie. By themselves.

Okay, so I'm easing into it by getting in on the steps rather than diving in the deep end off the diving board. I'm not quite ready to just drop her and her friend off at the I chose a movie (Sideways, which was excellent. Thomas Hadon Church stole the show) that started and ended at the same time as theirs.

Being teenage girls, they chose Johnny Depp and Finding Neverland. He didn't disappoint.

*Deep breath*

All of a sudden I feel like tomorrow a will involve a cap and gown.
Sorry...Quiz...Couldn't Resist

(Please rate my quiz)

Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Beauty in the Mundane

Last night, I...
...came home from work.
...had spaghetti for dinner.
...Watched "Remember the Titans" with my family.
...Read to my youngest daughter.
...Read a bit myself.
...Went to bed.

Why is it that nights like that are very rare in my house?
Why is it that nights like that are the most enjoyable?

Friday, February 04, 2005

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...that the bill currently before the Texas Legislature containing a provision for all school disticts to begin no earlier than the day after Labor Day is a great idea. Currently, the our district starts on August 12 which really shrinks up summer since all the extracurricular stuff starts two weeks before that.
...the local State Department warnings regarding Juarez (and the gang-related killings there) will create all sorts of buzz among the parents in our student ministry, so we'll have to do our research. shaving cream, Edge Gel, refers to it's new formula as "the ultimate shave." It felt like Hall's mentholyptus on my face this morning. I'm thinking the ultimate shave would involve a pre-shave breakfast of steak and eggs, ESPN's Sports Center in HDTV, and that I'd better not reveal too much more about what my ultimate shave might entail. expectations of adult's spiritual growth is too high, and my expectation of teenager's spiritual growth is too low.
...television is really the opiate of the masses, not religion. That may never change as it's habitual within our culture.
...the NHL lockout is missed most at this time of year, between football and baseball season.
...the high school coach in today's paper who adamantly denied that ANY of his football players were taking steroids based on "personal interviews" with his players needs to seriously have his head examined. Teenagers lie, and you can test for steroid use (ummm, coach, 9 of them admitted to it). According to a few of my teenagers involved in athletics, steriod use is prevalent in our area. Of course, they could be lying.
...after much soul-searching, I am convinced I am not the reason for or the contributor to some of the problems I'm being blamed for.
...some things that need to be said are the hardest to articulate.
...that I'm still peaved at the Texas Rangers for removing their free Winter Carnival (where you could take your kid, tour the stadium, go see players and coaches interviews, run the bases, etc.) last year for making the same event available only if your purchase at least a "mini ticket plan" (starting at $50 or so). It's tomorrow and unless hell freezes over, I'm not even considering it. Even if that happens, I doubt I'll go.
...Puxatawny Phil giving us 6 more weeks of winter by seeing his shadow hardly phases us in Texas. It's going to be high 60's today, so six more weeks of this kind of winter here will be a blessing.
...I'm still "in it" and not sure how to get "out of it."

Thursday, February 03, 2005

State of the Union?

I missed the president's State of the Union address tonight, so I read it on-line. Apparently, there was a redress of the Social Secuirty issue and our president seemed pretty shrewd and savvy in a political sense by telling those over 55 they didn't have to worry...but the rest of us have to worry a bit about (pick one) higher taxes, fewer benefits and/or the volatility of the stock market. So, everybody wins...the older generation gets what they have coming to them, and our generation get reform of sorts.

There were also touches on gang violence, Palestinian peace and other hot topics. Namely, the reality that we're spending $1 billion a week in military spending during this war, and he's asking for another $80 billion. The way I see it, that's over a year and a half of more involvement in Iraq. That's difficult for me to comprehend, but I don't doubt they need it and at this point, I think you should see it through to the end.

I guess that's the state of the union at present.

I'm really not worried about anything he said tonight.

I'm more worried about the state of my ministry at present...and the state of my heart for God. Seems if I can square those things, then I'll worry more about the state of the union.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

You Know, Thomas Jefferson Was Right: These Truths Really Are Self-Evident.

I don't do politics. Unless it's for effective public transportation, I tend to keep my mouth shut and just vote my conscience.

But the politics that have been going on in Iraq in the last two days must be commented on, and I've found some truly beautiful quotes:

"They promised to introduce democracy in Iraq, and I hope they can achieve it," Baghdad bookstore owner Abu Hussein said. "These values are not American, they are universal."

From the Dallas Morning News Editorial yesterday: "The choice could hardly have been clearer: democracy or religious fascism. Defying the killers, most Iraqis had the courage to choose democracy."

No matter where you stand on our involvement in the war, or our president's foreign policy, or the reality of how hard this will be to maintain, there is a certain beauty to 60% of the population turning out to vote under extreme circumstances.

It isn't a burst of patriotism or neo-American colonialism to me, but rather the reality that Thomas Jefferson (et al) said:

"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."

These words really are beautiful. And correct. And just.

And it's beautiful to see that others, no matter the means at this point, see them as universal...and worth dying for to enact.

Sorry about the civics revival there...wait...

no I'm not.
Books I Finished in January

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Vision and The Vow by Pete Greig
Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Habitudes by Tim Elmore
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Just keeping a record for the end of the year, so I'm listing them on my blog for record keeping. Sorry to bother you!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Good Luck Exploring The Infinite Abyss

Sometimes you'll hear a song, or read a line in a book, or see a movie or whatever that puts into words exactly what you're thinking, feeling and/or experiencing. I had one of those moments yesterday...

Anyway, it's an exchange between the lead character Andrew Largerman and his girlfriend Samantha in the seminal movie "Garden State" that occurred right after Andrew was exploring some of his thought processes and experiences by telling a story from his brutal childhood:

Sam: "You're 'in it,' right now. Aren't you?"
Andrew: "Whaddya mean?"
Sam: "My mom always says that when thinks that I'm like working something out in my head she says, 'You're in it right now.' And looking at you, telling that story, you're definitely 'in it' right now."
Andrew: "I think you're right. I am 'in it.'" (long pause)
I mean, whatever, alright, can we just change the subject right now?"

I'm definitely "in it" right now, and manalive would I ever like to change the subject.
Five on the First

Stealing a page from several other blogs I've been running across, on the first of each month, I'm going to poll my readership and ask for a list of "five" things on a particular subject.

The inagural "five" question:

What five restaurants would you take a friend to, just for the experience?

Pete's Famous Hot Dogs in Birmingham, Alabama. The greatest hot dogs on the planet, bar none. No seats, no napkins, no plates and Grapico grape drink (or milk) pushed non-stop by Gus, the owner. The cheese beef all the way will be served in my dwelling place in The Kingdom, and you'll be getting Grapico, too.

Dreamland Ribs, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The best ribs you'll ever eat, even if you're an Auburn gotta go with it. Eating on picnic tables, napkins, bread, and sides just on wax paper right at your table.

Two Boots Pizzaria, New York City. My sister claims there's a better pizza place in Seattle, but it's the best pizza I've ever eaten.

Lambert's Cafe, Foley, Alabama. Home of the throwed rolls (really, it says that on all the billboards, and they really do throw a roll to you when you raise your hand) and as real a Deep South eating experience as you can get in a restaurant, with a heavy diet of Lynard Skynard all around.

Hernando's Pizza, Winter Park, Colorado. Some transplants from New York opened a place with an incredible view of Winter Park/Mary Jane ski resort and some serious pizza and Italian food. Not to mention, they let you deface currency with markers and staple it to the wall.

So, where would you take me that I just gotta see for myself?