Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 At A Glance

January:My Auburn Tigers beat Virginia Tech in their bowl game to go 13-0, and, frankly, lay legitimate claim to the mythical NCAA college football championship (only USC's victory over a highly overrated Oklahoma team kept them from it--but, if you ask me, USC should stop all this "3 in a row" talk...LSU in 2003, Auburn in 2004 have a claim).

February: I saw Stavesacre live at The Door.

March: I was going through angst like this, "You might always be, and be viewed, as a reservoir of unreached potential."

April: I hung out in San Francisco with my higher-order life-liver sister Jilly and saw the Bay Area from her plane.

May: Grant & Amanda got married, as did Jeremy and Lori. I was in a huge funk. Some teenagers I care about a great deal graduated from my student ministry & gave me a watch that means just about as much to me as any gift my students have ever given me--largely because of my relationship with them as well as their rationale for giving it to me.

June: Another great trip to Mexico...this time to build 5 houses in 3.5 days with 107 people camping out for a week. I'm still amazed that we get that done every year.

July: Christy and Joshua got married. And then I went to the Bay Area again to watch my higher-order life-liver sister Jilly get married to the guy I would've picked to marry her, and seeing her that happy (and seeing that happiness continue) really made my year. I can't imagine what it did to hers.

August: Hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, and people actually wound up in Dallas because of the danger and the damage. If the images on TV didn't cause your heart to break, then hearing the stories first-hand of the people affected while they were having dinner in your church did.

September: My mom's cancer came back and she started chemo treatments. I have had just about every emotion tested since then. I can't imagine what it's done to Mom's.

October: I saw Social Distortion live at The Granada. It was terribly close to a worship experience.

November: Nathan & Kim had a baby girl. Shelby danced The Nutcracker. And Auburn beat Alabama for the 4th year in a row.

December: We had an enjoyable (and hectic) visit with family and it's going to end with Steve-O marrying Michelle later today.

And, my wife's business keeps on growing because it rides on the coattails of her talent...and she's VERY good at what she does. I couldn't be more proud of her at this stage in our lives.

And, my love for my daughters keeps on growing because it rides on the coattails of watching them become who they're supposed to be in Christ. Even if the cost of that is the two of them getting a bit more independent of us, it's well worth the payment to see the young women they're becoming.

And, Lloyd continues to get it done.

So, goodbye 2005. See ya around.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Vacation time spent with family is nice. In our case, with both sets of parents in one town, it can get hectic. But it's nice to spend time with them since we only see them a couple of times a year.

The 10.5 hour van ride home was largely uneventful except for the girls laughing out loud while watching my Beavis & Butthead DVD. They had earphones on so we weren't sure what they were laughing at...but it's pretty funny to have relative silence interrupted by belly laughs from a teen & pre-teen in the backseat.

But, today...

My recliner.
My den.
My Dallas Morning News.
My coffee in my pot made my way with my creamer.
My dog in his chair to my left.
My family in their beds.
My routine with no real threat of being interrupted.


Again, don't get me wrong. Vacation and extended family are nice.

But it's good to be home.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Birmingham Chronicles, Wrap Up

Our last day in Birmingham was spent hanging out with my Mom. She has another round of chemo beginning today and going for about 9 she's had quite a week, what with family and friends and Christmas so she was a little tired.

The strangest reality about that was my mom's stepson, Kris. He's a police officer and works other security jobs on the side. He was between jobs and had fallen asleep in a chair in my mom's living room...feet over the back, head in the footrest and a blanket over him. He slept that way through the entire visit, his phone woke him up to go to the next job, he pulled his gun out of the top of the cabinet, and off to work. Very surreal.

It hailed on us, too. It rained like it hasn't rained in Texas in like a year or so.

Then we went to visit this suburb called Mt. Laurel that's close to where my in-laws live. It's supposedly a trendy new idea is subdivisions, where you create an "urban" atmosphere in the 'burbs. Narrow streets. Town square with the requisite local businesses (not chains) within walking distance. Brownstone type townhouses. Houses close together but none looking alike. But still with all the amenities of the suburbs like sidewalks and parks and community pools and schools. It was pretty cool and I can see why other places would want to imitate it.

Then we spent the last night with my niece and nephew. Nothing really special while at the same time that was really special in and of itself. I really like them.

So, that's pretty much all from Birmingham...gotta pack and get on the road before 9AM to hopefully arrive in Dallas around 7:30 or so.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Birmingham Chronicles, Day 6

Yesterday began with a kidnapping...sort of.

My higher-order life-liver sister Jilly and Barnstorming Pilot Husband Shane had a flight departing at noon or so from the airport. Kelsey and Shelby spent the night with their cousins...halfway between my in-laws and my mom's house. The girls wanted to see Jilly & Shane off, which meant me swinging by and picking them up. Well, I'd cleared all this with Kelsey on the cell phone but forgot to mention it to Aunt Jodie...who, upon my arrival headed off to the back of her house for something. We didn't have time to visit so I rounded up the girls quickly and got them in the van. I told my nephew to tell his mom we had to leave quickly and didn't know the plan for afterwards but we'd call them. Moral of the story: Don't depend on 12 & 14 year-olds to communicate clearly.

Then we ran some errands with Jilly & Shane. They wanted to grab some coffee at a local Starbucks and did so. I noticed this particular Starbucks had a whole lot of "5-Star Awards" framed and posted for all to see. They were framed and lined up and everything. While waiting for the final "holiday" drink of the year (egg-nog chai tea) to get prepared, I read the reason for the 5-Star Award: "For continuing excellence in the ability to provide the Starbucks experience for 100% of their customers." Ummm...isn't that what they're supposed to do?

Anyway, presents shipped back to the Bay Area, chai tea appreciated, along with the free excellent Starbucks experience, goodbye hugs given...

...and we were off to visit one of my teenagers from my very first student ministry, Haley. We did what old friends are supposed to do: Get caught up on everyone we had in common from those days in ministry. I hadn't seen her in 10 years (I see her older brother about every two years or so), but she's the first "kid" I've visited bringing her children in-tow...she's just as funny as ever, too.

Lots of thoughts about this, among them:

It's cool to remain friends with my former students.
It's strange to have former students in their 30's.
Some ministries in this town take forms that will keep their churches perpetuating, but won't help people understand a true walk with Christ.
I'm amazed at how many of my former teens have risen above that church perpetuation and are growing.
Sometimes, those kids you went through the most stuff with are the ones you appreciate seeing the grace of God in and through.

Then it was off to Milo's again...when you're only in town for a week you don't mind two visits in two days.

And then we had a photo shoot with Tracy's family. Neices & nephews with aunts & uncles. Grandparents with everybody. Husbands with wives. Children with parents. The whole deal. I couldn't help but think the snapshots my wife was taking would wind up in frames on prominent shelves & mantles relatively soon...and, being married to a photographer, we haven't had a family photo since the girls were about 4 and 2. And, is there anything more fun than having to watch the person who pushes the button try to beat the timer and get into position before the photo is taken?

After that, we all went to another great Birmingham restaurant, Lloyd's (which was jokingly in honor of our dog Lloyd's 4th birthday, coincidentally). I didn't even bother with the menu and went with the 16 oz. hamburger steak smothered in gravy and onions. I wiped up the extra gravy with their bread and got a side of onion rings. For those that have been there, you'll understand why that's one of the main meals that I'm having in my eternal dwelling place (the difference, I'd imagine, would be that my glorified body will remain in ultimate health afterwards, while today I can feel the blood rushing through my veins). I also played big shot and picked up the check. It is fun to do for my father-in-law, who has picked up untold amounts of checks on vacations and what not, though.

After that, we settled down and watched a lousy movie on DVD called The Island, but I was more interested in trying to get my niece to bring me cookies or stealing her princess crown or whatever. The older kids were iPodding or watching "A Knight's Tale" on the DVD in their room.

Well, I hope you feel like you got continuing excellence from today's Diner experience...otherwise I can't give myself an award for others to marvel at.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Birmingham Chronicles, Day 5

Headed over to my nephew's house to help him out with his iPod Nano. He was having issues with his home computer and things weren't working out correctly. Since it was on the way to my mom's house I stopped by there briefly...not that I'm a computer expert by any means...but I knew more than his family. And, I gotta be honest, I was going up against two enemies I loathe: Technology that's supposed to work and doesn't, and the Christmas gift that doesn't work out as planned. Like Tracy said, "Not being able to get that to work on his computer is like getting the toy you wanted for Christmas without the batteries."

Then it was off to my mom's house for a planned visit with her sisters and a few of their grandkids. It was a multi-purpose affair, among them that side of the family meeting Barnstorming Pilot Shane as well as the Christmas family stuff.

Among the highlights was my cousin Sherry Lynn. We were the closest in age at the bottom of the grandchild food chain (my higher-order life-liver sister Jilly was the baby, but she was five years younger--sorta out of the mix because she was so little) so we did pretty much everything together at family gatherings. We were good friends through college, too. She regailed us with stories of what it's like to be married to a veteranarian, including failed calf-roping attempts, sons that play with broken cattle prods, and adoption of all sorts of critters. Sherry Lynn's a far cry from the suburban bowhead she was in college and equally as likeable in this phase of her life.

Another highlight was a 4-year-old who is my mom's husband's grandchild dropping in to get his presents. He entered the room sideways, cut his head sharply and glanced out of the corners of his eyes at all of us. "Spiderman entrance," his mom clarified in response to our puzzled looks. Nice. Even better looks came from my sister as Spidey ran his remote control truck into the walls, cabinets and doors.

We took down all the Christmas stuff in my mom's house in about 30 minutes. Her house was nicely decorated...just efficiently so. It just cleans up quickly.

The lowlight for me came as Tracy took various photos of Mom with her sisters, Mom with Jill and I, Mom with Will, etc. I suddenly felt like we were preserving moments for family history instead of capturing joyful moments for the heck of it. Such is life with Mom in chemotherapy.

After a discussion of a possible movie with HOLL/BPH Jilly & Shane, my family decided to go visit neice & nephew while Jill napped and we'd finalize plans later. We should've known that once we got settled fatigue would hit and we'd want to stay they headed off to dinner and a movie and...

...UNCLE BRENT GOT THE iPOD SITUATION FIXED!!! Nothing like being the hero, even if it was immediately thanked by pushing me out of the computer chair and dismissed from ensuing playlist making/transferring, etc. My neice was kicking around in various stages of dress-up...she's got a big princess motif and plays the part well for age three.

We did get some Milo's Hamburgers. Oddly enough, we went to one location only to be told they were out of bread. How does a hamburger joint run out of bread? "When will you get some?" "Don't know." A key to that answer was that it was about 8PM and all the grills had been cleaned as well as the deep fryers. We figured that the smart move was heading another location about 15 minutes away. Oddly enough, you can't buy Milo's Sweet Tea (supposedly it's "famous"--it is good, though) in the gallon containers at Milo's restaurants. You have to get them at the grocery store. Which we did...but they were out of the sweet tea, so we got unsweet. No one drank it.

There was a ping-pong tournament and all sorts of fun moments that won't translate here, but we finally wrapped things up around 10PM and headed off to bed. Everybody's sleeping late recovery, I guess. It's nice to have some morning solitude.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Birmingham Chronicles, Day 4

Well, it's time for my annual Christmas review:

Best "Throwback" Gift: Shelby got a sewing machine. I wasn't sure if those things still existed and if they did, anybody knew how to use them.

Best "We've Been Married 40-Some Years" Moment: My mother-in-law, Frances, woke up to watch the girls see what Santa brought them. She enters the room saying, "Murray, have you seen my glasses? I can't find my glasses." Murray, my father-in-law, says he hasn't seen them. Five minutes of searching and Frances notices Murray is wearing her glasses. Murray responds with, "I was wondering why I couldn't see anything."

Best Inspiration and/or Foreshadowing: My higher-order life-liver sister Jilly and her barnstorming pilot husband Shane gave Kelsey a zippered sweatshirt with "Berkeley" across the front, and Santa left her a mug with "Rocket Scientist" on it for her hot chocolate.

Most Predictable, Yet Hottest, Gift: My nephew got an iPod Nano...and we went for the chip-in with Murray to get him one, too. Watching a pre-teen with a Nano call his buddies with, "I've got 147 songs right now (1PM) many you got?" is pretty funny. Watching Murray loading his library and then sit and "explore" to see what it would do was fun. Sure, it's "easy" and predictable, but they brought happiness...even if the iTunes website kept causing delays due to so many hits.

Gift That Raised The Most Question Marks: I got a DVD collection from HOLL/BPH Jilly & Shane of a British comedy that aired when I was in college called "The Young Ones." It was one of my favorite shows and I still think it's funny...but no one except the givers had heard of it.

Best Sticking To The Letter Of The Law, But Not The Intent: Shelby, my youngest, is a Christmas junkie. She gets up early and searches underneath the tree by stealth. Can't wait to get at it. Kelsey is 14 and values sleep above most everything not related to Sports Center. Kelsey made a pre-slumber rule for Shelby that she may not touch her or her bed or anything of hers to wake her up. They share a room here. We have a rule that both have to be up before they can see what Santa brought (we act like we enforce that rule, and Shelby acts like she abides by it, so we don't need to fix what isn't broken). Shelby puts her iPod on at 6AM, and then bounces on her bed until it wakes Kelsey up. I'm sure Kelsey will be more specific on her rule-making next year.

Gift That Raised Eyebrows At Brent's Pastor Position: My sister-in-law, the Country Music Lovin' Jodie and her husband, Stephen the Litigator, delivered on the DVD set "Beavis and Butthead, Volume 1." A collection of 40 shows from the cartoon duo. I'd have paid money to hear their discussion before purchasing it.

Best Wistful Reminder: My three-year-old niece reminded me of how great it is to have daughters. We sat in a chair and read books. We laid down on a pallet and watched "Madagascar" and laughed together. She showed me her Cinderalla horse-drawn carriage and would go get me cookies. When I asked her where she got them, she said, "Owt ov de powar beaws bewwy." There's a polar bear cookie jar in the kitchen...could it get any better than having daughters, or nieces?

Conversation That We Knew Was A Farce: After lupper (3PM lunch/supper), we discussed going to a movie. Right. By 7PM we were all saying, "It's only 7? It feels like 11."

Silliest Question: Frances asked me, "You saved the sales flyers when you read the paper this morning, right?" After being around this family for nearly two decades, the one thing I know will happen on Friday after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas is that the Thomason women will hit the stores for exchanges and bargains. I didn't even respond other than to give her a look that communicated precisely that reality. My daughters both got in on the act this year. They're already gone, and have been for 45 minutes. Late start this year.

Best Reminder That Excellence Comes At A Price: Shelby got a foot massager spa know, where you fill it with water and salts and it ministers to your feet? Apparently, when serious ballerinas get their pointe shoes and get up on the tips of their toes so much, their feet need to be ministered to. This should do the trick.

Most Repeated Question: Frances, "Did ya'll get enough to eat?" This house has more food than a grocery store...which makes the question truly unnecessary, to boot. We're all laying around groaning about how we ate too much and she fires off her question about every 8 minutes.

Best Observation: Kelsey noted, "Could me and Shelby be any more different? Look at the movies Santa brought us. She has three dance movies. I have 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' and 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.' She got ballet calendar and I got a Rangers baseball calendar. She got dressy clothes and I got workout clothes." I was silently thankful, too. Having them both in my house and getting along so well pretty much all the time is such a great thing.

Best Cliche: I'm glad we did all that...and I'm glad it's over.

And, while I'm at it, I'm continually surprised at how many readers this thing has, and I hope all of you had as wonderful a Christmas '05 as I did.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

For to you, this day in the city of David has been born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord

Merry Christmas, Diner readership!

Now, get back to your families.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Birmingham Chron, Day 3

Once again, "sharing" my father-in-law's next-door neighbor's wireless connection...

I knew going in that yesterday would be my wife's hardcore wind-up-the-shopping day. She'd had a few last-minute gifts to she headed out with her mom. There were cell phone calls. There was griping about the traffic. There was kicking herself for waiting to get certain things because the stores were now out of a specific size or color. There were stories of how bad it all was at Target/Wal Mart/Everywhere.

And she absolutely loves every minute of it. I think that is all part of her process, really. She actually enjoys the hustle and bustle.

I, on the other hand, get very scrooge-like even on runs to the grocery store or whatever.

Then I spent the afternoon with Kelsey and my nephew. We went to the local ballfield and let them hit some and throw some and run around some. It's sweatshirt weather, but still nice enough to play the baseball. Kelsey had a tough time of it because she hasn't hit or thrown a baseball in years. And softball has subtle nuances in hitting and throwing that made it hard for her. She had fun anyway, and we went to a local batting cage to let her hit fast-pitch softballs to erase the frustration.

We've been eating leftovers for three days...and they're still good.

Then we went to see some of Tracy's extended family after they'd had their family celebration...We've pretty much watched each other's families grow up through Christmas cards so it was nice to see them in person. Tracy's cousin Sally was in our wedding, and her husband Mike was regailing me with the realities of having two teenage daughter at Christmas:

Mike: You wanna know what else makes you crazy? The 16-year-old brought her boyfriend to Christmas with the family this year. That's him over there. Can you believe it? She actually asked me if she could bring her boyfriend to Christmas with them this year!

Me: I bet that's kinda hard.

Mike: Not really. Honestly, I like him better than her. He knows about football.

He kept me in stitches on topics like driving ("After she got her permit, she told me she didn't like to drive because she, and I quote, 'Has to concentrate too much.' Like I'm ever giving her the keys after a comment like that.") and the possibility of home schooling his kids ("No way. Not us. Not with my wife having to run it. My kids would be idiots. They won't be able to add 2 + 2 but they'd pass a lot of quizzes about Oprah or a true/false test on what time they all got up. Uh uh. No way. Not us.").

We then had to run by Wal Mart to get some kitchen supplies (even though we could all survive here for the remainder of winter if they didn't get groceries one more time)...and Tracy finished off the day wrapping the last minute gifts. Lights were out at 2AM.

Vacation isn't very restful...and, on top of that, the Cowboys game will not be shown here today as we'll get the Falcons/Bucs. Why my mother couldn't get a satellite dish with NFL Sunday Ticket for the one day a year I fall victim to the NFL's regional coverage policy is beyond me...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Birmingham Chronicles, Day 2

Once again loading up with the next-door neighbor's wireless connection...

I got up early yesterday, primarily because I like getting up early. I have no idea when this started exactly, but now I love the peace and quiet of the mornings. Plus, my getting ready and out of the way gave the three women in my life the bathroom access they'd need to get ready.

And my father-in-law has this sun porch he added to his house. It's all windows and doors and if you look straight ahead, it's nothing but trees, and if you look out at about 10 o-clock you can see the tops of the hills. Good place to write or think. Wise man, my father-in-law. And, sure, it's a bit chilly. But he's got a space heater. And Lloyd hangs out on the porch sofa with his bone.

This trip has been difficult for Lloyd. He's still got some puppy in him after three years and he's been playing or inspecting or visiting the whole time. This dog generally sleeps some 20 hours a day and he only got about 2 the day before and 6 overnight. He finally hit the wall last night and crashed in a room full of people.

But the morning was spent kinda backwards. Generally, I read the Dallas newspaper and get the Birmingham paper on-line. Reverse order now. Then, I got on in the sun porch and blogged and read blogs.

My neice and nephew came over just before lunch. Katelyn, who is 3, asked her mom if that "grown-up boy" was going to be there. "Yes, Katelyn, your Uncle Brent will be there." My nephew is 11. It took about 6 minutes before he and Kelsey were behind the sofa firing ping-pong balls at me. I fired back even though I had no furniture to use as a suffice to say I took some hits and both have some pretty good arms, but as a last resort I used my size to pin them both down and inflict pain. Later we went to the park and played something that loosely resembled football.

After that we visited my mom. It was a very nice visit and she got all caught up in asking them about their stuff going on and all that jazz. Due to the chemo & recovery time, she's got a really good two-hour burst in her, and we didn't want to overstay...but we'll see her again on Christmas Eve.

We had to come back on Birmingham's notorious Highway 280 during 5PM traffic. When I left Birmigham over 10 years ago that road was a nightmare and there were plans on the table to fix it. Apparently, those plans are still on the table. What's the matter with the city leadership here? Why are they so reactive instead of proactive? Maybe it's that way everywhere and it just seems so magnified because I see the potential this city has...and why it shouldn't have ever fallen behind Atlanta and certainly never should've let Nashville become more important.

Then last night we had a little get-together with some family friends. They're actually the in-laws' best friends who are more or less Tracy's aunt & uncle. We've been doing the get-together since I've known Tracy and it's really fun. Of course, now the dynamics are such that the flower girl at my wedding is now married...and now all of us who were there a decade ago now have our kids getting the gifts, but it's really fun. The most interesting thing was everybody looking at "what's on each other's iPods." You can learn a lot about people quickly that way.

Presents were opened...the old stories were told--and laughed at...the "I feel so old" comments were made...the "got you a cool gift that didn't cost too much" stuff was exchanged...the "see you next year" stuff was said...

...and it was very nice.

It's suddenly starting to feel like Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Laugh Out Loud Funny

I didn't see the skit on SNL this weekend, but thankfully the fine folks at Relevant Magazine did, and linked it. It's Chris Parnell's rap video about going to see the movie Chronicles of Narnia. I'm sure I'll be showing this on Sunday night at some point.
Birmingham Chronicles, Day 1

I gotta ask it: Is it okay to log on to your in-law's next-door neighbor's unsecured wireless network?

Anyway, yesterday was pretty much just a travel day. We couldn't pick up the girls from school until 12:30PM (mid-school mid-terms, which they seem to think they did "okay" on). After a quick bookbag dump-off, wardrobe change to comfy travel clothes, and a drive-thru Chick-Fil-A run, we're on the road by 1:30.

On Dallas traffic: Without H.O.V. lanes, it would've easily added another hour to our trip. When I'm in an H.O.V. lane and fit the H.O.V. qualifications, it makes my shoulders do a little happy dance in the driver's seat. When I'm not up to par, I curse their existence.

Our dog Lloyd has never been in a car for more than half an hour. He was certainly curious about the whole experience. He's known for sleeping and for finding the most liquid ways to sleep, but he was excited about everything, particularly big trucks...which I don't guess he'd ever seen before. It was like looking at a little boy who loves trucks...minus the little "hand pull" gesture to get the truckers to honk their horns. At one point, he actually laid down with his bone on the DVD player that straps on both front seats and wedges nicely between them.

The iPod and the DVD player that the iPod earbuds fit into have created a silence for the driver that I'm sure my parents never experienced. At one point, Tracy was doing a shoulder happy dance to Bowling for Soup's 1985, and the girls were watching 5 episodes of "Lost" back to back. Good time to clear the cobwebs from work and life and to pray and such, but at times I felt kinda lonely.

Open message to the folks at Willow Point Baptist Church in Shreveport: That billboard you have by the interstate. You know, that one with the bloody hand with a railroad spike in it? The one that reads, "This blood's for you." You know, that one? Yeah, my punk rock sensibilties like the "in your face" statement. But, yeah, my stomach turned looking at it. Kinda gruesome. And I wondered how many people came to your church because of it. And I wondered how many people's hearts and minds were stirred. I'm not saying take it down...I'm just saying it might ought to be re-thought.

There were times when I was looking for something on the radio. Anything. But you know, between Monroe, Louisiana and Vicksburg, Mississippi you can set your AM radio on scan and it won't stop. And the FM options were either country or rap. Hearing "Golddigger" in the middle of nowhere is pretty surreal. My shoulders did a horrible rap dance.

Tired teenagers will sleep from Jackson to McCalla after dinner. Wives will doze and crack jokes. Like when I asked her what she was going to listen to when she pulled out her iPod, she replied, "Anything other than you." At least, I think she was joking.

When the radio scanner stops on religious radio stations, I press "scan" again after about 5 minutes. My friend Larry Murcer, at one time a big-wig at Moody Bible Institute, once said about the American church, "The church is in trouble." He repeated it three times for emphasis. If late-night southern radio is the indicator, he couldn't be more correct.

Coming into my hometown brings mixed emotions. I couldn't wait to leave the place. But I have lots of fond memories here.

Arrival into your in-laws home makes you realize how much they miss us. After 10 hours and 14 minutes, door-to-door (and 672 miles--yes, I'm bordering on Chevy Chase when I get the family in the truckster and get on the road--gotta make good time), it's nice to have that reality in such a tangible manner.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Fun Stuff

I had a lot of fun yesterday at the office. Primarily because it was my last day there before the holiday and I got to give gifts, and this year seemed like a particularly good year for me as far as the thought behind them.

I gave Nathan a "Darth Tater." Nate's a big Star Wars fan, and the Mr. Potato Head with little pieces to put on his face that make him resemble Darth Vader was too good to pass up.

Steve-O got a "paper football" that is actually made of genuine leather football grain and had the Texas Tech logo...his favorite college football team. It came with it's own plastic yellow uprights, too.

Kristy got a book about the nature of the underground church. She just got back from a mission trip serving that very the fiction seemed appropriate.

Our staff is broken into two "teams" and each team has a pastor who serves us. Our "team" got our lead pastor something we knew he'd really enjoy but that isn't what made it a good was the timing and presentation of the it that was fun. It's fun to surprise people and see them genuinely appreciate the gesture.

Our entire staff went for the chip-in to get the senior pastor something we knew he'd like, too. He's been under the pile with lots to do this week...we're kicking off a sermon series that will require a lot of effort on January 8 and he's writing some booklet material for that and he's preaching five times on Saturday and then hosting a Christmas deal on he's been busy and giving him a gift that we knew he'd appreciate was fun, too.

Then, out of nowhere, one of our staffers came out of his office wearing a Santa outfit and another came out wearing an elf outfit...and he's like 6'3" and tights were involved. After a photo session, they were off to give gifts to a children's ministry in our area.

Then I stopped by to see one of my former teens who got engaged last weekend and I won't get to see her before my vacation. When I asked her if she'd been able to focus on finals and such, she told me she'd been so excited for the last week that she felt like a "human glow-stick."

Another teen was spending her last day of high school today. She's graduating early so she can take advantage of a unique missions opportunity and I wanted to congratulate her. She wasn't too burdened by the prospect of one last final today as she was about to go to dinner and a movie with her family.

Then I came home and my own daughter was off with her youth pastor and some friends to see King Kong. The other had one of her friends over and they were cutting up. Apparently, middle schoolers don't get too worked up over the prospect of one last final, either.

And, my wife was in a good mood, too. Wanted Chili's take-out for dinner and we had a gift card, so we rode together to pick it up.

Then Jude came by. He's house-sitting for us for the week, and he's looking forward to having a house to himself for a while. I mean, we're taking our pets with us so he's just getting a place to himself to hang out, so he was in a good mood, too.

Some days are simply fun...and yesterday was fun.

And...we're off to Alabama today at 1PM. Maybe the drive will be fun, too.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Culture Wars?

I kick around a lot these days trying to grow-ups to see the fundamental shifts in teenager's thinking and how that will (and does now, actually) affect the church over the next 10 years or so. I win some. I lose some. Others just nod and smile politely. It's a nice little world I live in.

But last night I saw a news broadcaster mention something about "fundamentalists losing another battle in the culture war." Or, maybe they were winning the battle. I'm not sure. Me and my dog Lloyd, who is terribly unconcerned with this culture war, were dozing off.

Either way, it bothers me that there is a percieved "war" over culture going on. It bothers me that militant liberals are trying to keep kids from passing out candy canes with Bible verse attached to them and it bothers me that militant evangelicals are passing them out. It bothers me that some chain department store replaces the word "Christmas" with "Holiday" and it bothers me that preachers go on TV and bash those chain department stores. It bothers me that abortion clinics exist and it bothers me that people break the law (everything from arrest-driven protests to bombings) to try to get them to cease. I could go on and on.

I guess I'm "Switzerland" when it comes to this culture war.

Anyway, I couldn't put my finger on the tension.

But today, I think I did in a syndicated article by William McKenzie. You can get it by going to, then going to "opinion" and then clicking "columnists" and then finding his name. I'd link to it but I'm blogging on my wife's Mac G4 which blogger doesn't support.

Anyway, here's a few quotes that should get us thinking today. The article is headlined "Light and Darkness."

(after talking about Falwell and Bill O'Reilly being so publically vocal about "taking the Christ out of Christmas"...even blaming president Bush for sending out "holiday cards")

"I understand their point. We shouldn't ignore the spiritual reason for the season. But they seem to forget the season is not all about purity on earth. Instead, it offers a wonderful metaphor for Christian living. If you look closely, Christmas is about the sacred and the secular living alongside each other."

Another one:

"(Falwell, O'Reilly, et al)...want to save society so they, in turn, can save individuals from destruction. The problem is, no amount of society-saving will radically change humans because, well, sin stains us all. And it will until Christ comes again. At least, that's what Christian theology teaches. So, it beats me how today's triumphalists think they can save us from ruin if they put Christ back in Christmas or get rid of abortion clinics or get everyone praying in schools."

So...back to teenagers and how they think and the "emergent" church...

It's about engaging the culture. We should be equally as concerned about the damage and image those like Falwell and others of his ilk do to the image of those who love Christ and walk with Him and want to influence their little corner of the world as we are, oh, I dunno, pornography on the internet or whatever. And we aren't.

I'm pretty comfy with my "Switzerland" approach to this culture war.
I'm pretty comfy with love, joy, and peace.
I'm pretty comfy with letting God be God and living in hope of Christ's return.
I'm pretty comfy with loving God and my neighbor.

And letting it go at those things...I mean, if I can master those things, then maybe I'll enlist in in the war to triumph over culture. And I think I speak for Lloyd, too.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Results Are In

A cancerous spot on her lung has shrunk roughly 50%...

...the abdominal spots remain unchanged.

It could've been better. It could've been worse.

Frankly, today...

...I'll take it.
Today, 648 Miles Away...

The chemo has been given.
Three months or so of various ups and downs.
A couple of wigs.
I'd bet a million different thoughts...good and bad.
I'd bet a million different emotions...good and bad.
Calls from family, friends and parishoners.
Blood work and blood work and more blood work.

You get the drift.

All day, every day, for three months fighting recurring cancer...

...and today... Mom will sit in a room with her doctor.

He will have CT scan results from September in front of him.

He will have CT scan results from last Friday in front of him.

My mom's husband will hold her hand.

And he will give his interpretation of the results.

There are only three possibilities, really: The cancer has shrunk. The cancer has stayed the same. The cancer has spread.

But, Santa, if you're really up for the Christmas gift I really want...I'll take complete remission if you've got that in your big bag.

Around 9AM today this all goes down in Dr. Barnes' office in Birmingham.

It's 6:32 AM now...and it feels like time is frozen.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

How Would You Fold THAT One?

Tracy and I stopped down after a brief bit of Christmas shopping and decided to watch the movie "The Family Stone." Nice little movie.

But what got me thinking was a line from Ben Stone (played by Luke Wilson--it's the same character he always plays, but it's still a funny character) to Meredith (played by the ever so annoying Sarah Jessica Parker)...who is WAY too uptight and she's trying to impress her potential fiances' parents and messes up a hundred different ways.

Well, Ben tries to get her to relax over a few drinks at a local pub, and the gist of the conversation is centered around him telling her to relax and be herself instead of trying to impress them all. He hints that his family is far from impressive, so she should just cut loose and be herself.

Anyway, the quote:

"You have the freak just don't fly it."

So, today, let's all be ourselves...just fly our freak flags and salute as others fly theirs.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Soup's On!

Again, at the risk of sounding presumptuous, for those of you who have asked, the technical glitches in the posting of my sermon of Dec. 4 have been fixed. You can get it here along with D's addition to our Christmas series.
iPod vs. iWorld

I overheard an older person talking about how they couldn't stand how "kids today" have those "white wires" coming out of their ears. "Don't they know there's a whole world they could be interacting with and enjoying instead of just listening to their iPods the whole time?"

I let them ramble. It's pretty much useless to try to argue the point. Generations have been picking at each other since time began. They're all variations of "back in my day, blah blah blah," and nobody's really discussing anything...just griping.

Anyway, I got to thinking about that.

Half the time, that "whole world" out there I'd rather NOT deal with. Don't get me wrong. I generally don't mind friendliness or making small talk or meeting new people. Interacting with some teenager while she's ringing up my groceries or a salesclerk trying to help me asking me about the weather while we're searching is just good manners. Doesn't accomplish much, but it's not so bad, either.

But I could do without a COMPLETE stranger looking over my shoulder when I'm browsing CD's saying, "That band's 2nd CD is not nearly as good as their first one."

Or some random businessman next to me on a plane rambling on about how his widgets are going to overhaul society and get him that new pool in the backyard his family's been wanting.

Or that mom prattling on her mobile phone about which movie to bring home or which type of milk in the latte her husband wants while I'm trying to read--even if it's a publc place, I might expect less rudeness around me--is something I could do without.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that it's like anything else: If I want to use my iPod as a space bubble then I will, but I should also be polite and interact in social situations, too. It's give and take. But a blanket "these kids today..." mindset is pretty polyanna.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Is "Antipomp" A Word?

My friend Steve-O is graduating today.

From university.

Today at 10AM from D.B.U.

It's a big deal.

And, due to work responsibilities, I won't be there to celebrate this great achievement with him...

...or his family, who have at allowed me to be a part of their lives over the last decade. I guess you could say that I'm the "Cousin It" of the Davis clan.

I'd like to be there, in large part because I'd like to see how Steve-O deals with the pomp and circumstance of it all. He's not much of a pomp and circumstance kind of guy.

But, you know what?

Some things are worthy of pomp and circumstance. This is one of them. So, Steve-O, you didn't ask for any advice, but I'm giving you some: Enjoy the pomp. You've earned it, my friend. Let people make a fuss about you and be absolutely smitten with you. You won't regret it and they genuinely want to do it.

So, Bob & Sue, enjoy making a fuss and pomping all over Steve-O and being smitten with him. It's one of the truly excellent parts of the parenting gig, I'd imagine.

And one of the great parts of the friend gig is that you get to celebrate with friends who are celebrating...even if it isn't in person, it's certainly in spirit.

So, congratulations Steve-O. Congratulations.

Many of you know I have friends serving as missionaries in Haiti. One family, the Shoemakers, have a very close relationship with many in our church, and I have served their family by having our student ministry's teens "adopt" their kids whenever they're home for furlough. So, I'm closer to this situation than most.

But I posted a letter from them regarding an emergency situation with Devon, their 18 year-old son, on the student ministry website (link on the left). For those of you who believe there is a God who is active in our world today, please take the time to pray.

And the stuff revealed in the post shows why missions lifestyles are extremely gutsy and bold and adventuresome and exciting and scary and well...

...a lot like all of our lives I guess. When it comes down to it, we all have to trust God. I guess the reality is we're all trusting Him with different logistics.

Please take the time to read it...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...tomorrow night is our student ministry's progressive dinner, and I enjoy it very much. Sure, it's just an activity. Sure, it gets the kids to dress nicely. But it's really about COMMUNITY. They eat together at their friends' houses. Their parents come and help out in various ways. They laugh together. They do LIFE together.
...I can't imagine King Kong will be a good movie.
...if Francis Schaeffer's theory that the U.S. trends about 30 years behind western Europe is correct, then our entire church should go to Holland with our student ministry to catch a glimpse of their society. We ain't seen nuthin' yet.
...the Foo Fighters are a really good band (I'm burning a mix CD of their greatest hits--without the newest one which I don't have yet--right now).'s hard for me to enjoy vacation because I spend the week before and after working about twice as long so I can "enjoy vacation." Weird.
...if I see one more mom "over-momming" her son I'm going to scream.
...I've been in a surprisingly good Christmas mood. I never really had to break out of my traditional Grinch-heart phase.
...I've been thinking about Manhattan lately. I miss the continual vibe that that particular place is on the move around the clock.
...I'm glad hockey season is back.
...I'm glad that the weather here is cold and today--as an added bonus--drizzly. I'm a big fan of dreary weather.
...Last night my senior girls' Bible study went out Christmas caroling, and their small group has major league talent (some are in a choir that won a high school Grammy last year). I didn't hear it because I was at my own study, but I bet those neighbors got some of the best caroling in the history of caroling. friend Bailey fell yesterday in a tumbling accident and requires oral surgery. Not to make this about me, but I think I have found an even greater fear than my fear of dentists: Fear of an oral surgeon. teacher-student sex a new trend or are we just reading more stories about it? If I read one more story about some teacher's sexual interloping with a student I'm going to scream. Maybe it's because I'm overly sensitive to those stories because I'm in a profession that creates a student-teacher repore...but that type of activity is wrong on about 132 different levels.
...I need to go and bring some firewood in so it won't get wet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

what Do You Think?

I'm reading several books at once these days and last night I came across a sentence that said something to this effect:

The things we noticably dislike in others are the things we dislike most about ourselves.

I was wondering if you think this is true or not. I mean, there are plenty of things that I notice about other people that I dislike that I dont think are characteristics of mine, but maybe they are.

So, I thought I'd get some post-finals (for my college-aged readership) discussion clicking...if you're not in college/high school and don't have finals, I guess it's just Wednesday discussion.

Either way, do you think that's true?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ever Had That Feeling...

...that you were supposed to be doing something for God yet you weren't exactly sure what that might be?

See, we're trying to figure out the best possible way to minister to the teenagers in our church as well as in our area. There are lots of good ideas. All of them have their plusses and minuses. All of them affect the entire church, too. Some in good ways, bad in others.

If we leave things the same...well...I have a sneaking suspicion that we won't be very effective over the long haul. We might get away with that for a while, but two years from now we'll be in another fix.

So, I fear I've landed in what Dr. Suess calls a "most useless place": The Waiting Place.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Life's Grand

Nothing really major to report...things are moving right along. Just wanted to say "what's up?"

*nods chin*

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Ignore Them At Your Peril

Today I read an article in the Business section of the Dallas Morning News.

No, I didn't get momentum rolling from the Sports section and accidentally keep going. Granted, it's rare that I travers into that realm of reading, but there was an article on how difficult it is to advertise to GenX and the Millennials.

You can read the entire article here if you're interested.

But here's the crux of why it's difficult to reach them through advertising as summed up in a quote by Chuck Underwood, a consultant who advises companies on how to speak to upcoming generations:

"They can smell B.S. from several miles away. Don't try to fool them. If you do, they will eat your lunch."

Just letting all of you know, the same goes for your individual spiritual life you live in front of them as well as how we present ourselves to them as a Church.

Consider yourselves warned.
Not Trying To Be Presumptuous, Really

I always hesitate to do this, but some of my readers have asked. My sermon from last Sunday is on-line. You can get it here: Crossroads Bible Church On-Line.

A file was corrupt yesterday, but they should have that fixed soon...and it's also available for your iPods, too.
Narnia Review

I really liked this movie, and I'd say so even if I hadn't read the it's a bit of a stretch for me to compare it to, say, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter because I either haven't read them or read them 25 years ago.

But Lucy was great.
The White Witch was brilliant, too.
The scenery was pretty cool and the talking animals were pretty cool.
Very creative movie.

In fact, the only thing I didn't like was actually Aslan. I'm not exactly sure why or what I'd do differently, but I didn't like the way he looked or Liam Neeson doing his voice. He just didn't seem all that majestic or powerful.

But, overall, a very well-done and imaginative flick. Definitely well worth the money.

P.S. If you have kids younger than 10, it might be kind of dicey. Some of the scenes could be pretty scary or a little much for the little ones.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Didn't make it to see Narnia last night...looks like it's on tonight's agenda. So, we decided to have leftovers and hang out together as a family. I ran by the video store and grabbed a couple I thought we might like.

One DVD was called "Millions." Some kids find a bag or money and are faced with all sorts of moral dilemmas. They win some, they lose some in the choices the brothers we all do. Nothing blows up. Dialogue rules the day. But there are plenty of plot twists and turns.

They don't make movies like that anymore. And it's a shame. A little lesson about what's important in life, and it isn't money or stuff. Somtimes it's sitting around eating leftovers and watching a movie with people you love and like...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Punk Is Dead?

Many of The Diner's consistent readers will remember my two or three entries regarding my trip to go see Social Distortion, a punk band from my youth, on their recent tour through Dallas. The content of those entries involved the band and their fans pushing 40 and the various realities of that.

At any rate, they're wrapping up their tour and have a few nights in San Francisco. My higher-order life-liver sister Jilly lives in the Bay Area and sent me this quote from her local paper. It was in a blurb that runs every day entitled, "Public Eavesdropping" where someone who works at the paper submits something they overheard while they were just living life (and don't think for a second I haven't considered doing that here).

Anyway, here's the "public eavesdropping" from two days ago...mildly polished for the Diner readers:

"If you didn't think punk was dead before, you do now. Who the (hell) orders a margarita at a punk show?"--Fan to fan at the Social Distortion show at the Fillmore, overheard by Ryan Magat.

Apparently, Social D's crowds are consistent from city to city.
Happy Narnia Day!

The big-screen version of C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe opens today. I think me and the fam are headed out tonight to watch it...if not, we'll see it tomorrow night. I'm far more interested in seeing this than I was the other movies that have opened with midnight showings recently.

Shelby and I read the book series out loud to each other last summer and so it seems our timing was perfect. Kelsey re-read the first volume over the snow day.

So, in honor of the day, a quote from C.S. Lewis:

"When I was 10, I read (fantasy fiction) stories in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am 50, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Snow (Ice) Day!

The school district cancelled school for today. An inch of ice'll do that in a place like Dallas where there isn't PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION and the ability to prepare the roadways isn't worth the financial commitment necessary.

But I remember the joy of being a kid and getting the snow day. It was pretty much irrelevant that you'd have to make it up in the spring when you could actually go out and do something on your day off because you knew when it was happening and could make plans.

We'd wake up early and listen to the radio hosts reel off the closings:

"Birmingham City Schools--CLOSED. Calhoun County--Closed. Cullman County--Closed...through the alphabet until you heard the magic words, "Jefferson County Schools--CLOSED." Yes!!!!

You'd kill time by hanging out until the sun came up and the phone would start ringing. "Meet us at Savoy street in an hour. And bring your sled!"

We were the only people that owned a real, live sled in our neighborhood. For some strange reason, my grandfather was a serious business traveller back before that became so common and had procured one on a trip up north somewhere. It wound up in our garage and stayed on a hook above the washer. Once or twice a year we'd fire it up.

Savoy Street was the novice hill. Pretty steep and long...but straight.

When we were 10 we cut through the woods to Cloudland Drive. Equally as steep (it was only about a block over) but it had two sharp turns and if you didn't make it you wound up in some old guy's yard and he'd sit on his porch and laugh at us if we didn't make it. We threw snowballs at him and his wife lectured him not to laugh at us.

Then, as teenagers, we'd make the long walk to Shenandoah. It's the kind of hill that you'd sit at the top and seriously think about whether or not you were going to actually do this. when we told our parents that's where we were headed, they actually paused and said, "Well, be VERY careful." They never had to tell us to watch for cars. If you've been to Birmingham, you know it's a city in a hilly forest, and no one drives there if you're in the southern suburbs and there's ice.

We'd hear rumors about how some kid two or three years ago had to go to the hospital for either...

a) a broken arm
b) a leg broken in three places with pins and screws (even if we weren't exactly sure what those were)
c) a cerebral hemorrage which they still haven't stopped and the kid is in a coma and will never live a normal life again.

...and, while no one could produce a name of that kid or even that kid's younger sibling, we were pretty sure it was true.

Successful negotiations of the hill once or twice then led to going "doubles"--which made you go faster--and even going "triples"--which never, to my knowledge was ever pulled off on Shenandoah because the top guy always rolled off before you really got going.

There were tons of snowball fights, too. Sometimes we'd find a stick for a bat and then have a pitcher who would try to bean us with the pitch.

And snow football...mostly "Kill The Man With The Ball" or it's cousin "Throw Behind"--which is "Kill The Man" with an end zone.

We even had a kid who moved from London that tried to get us to play snow soccer. We tried, but it wound up being "Kill The Man" with a soccer ball.

We played "army" with BB guns. That was really boring because your winter clothing prevented you from even feeling getting hit...which led to "Kill the Man" without any ball because of the arguments over whether or not you actually were hit with a BB, no matter how many times you pumped it, you couldn't penetrate winter clothes. And if you got the pellet gun down, your parents got wind of it.

My dad: "Brent, pellets are different than BB's. Somebody could really get hurt with one of those."

Me: "But, Dad, we're getting hurt in the flesh piles because of the arguments over who got hit..."

"No lip. No pellet guns. Get back outside. And scrape my windshield while you're out there."

You learned not to come back inside because some chore was sure to from sunup to sundown you stayed out.

And when you came in, your hands were frozen, your gloves were wet and your feet were cold and you were exhausted.

I can understand why we got jacked about snow days (even if our parents did or didn't...I'm never sure where they stood on them), but I can't understand why my kids got jacked last night when they saw on the news that school was closed today. It looks like it'll be a day of DVD watching, PS2 playing (Dance Dance Revolution), iPod updating and text messaging from what I can tell.

Thankfully, they've got a mom who can make some serious cookies and hot chocolate and keep a good fire going. Those are definitely cool things...but, happy snow (ice) day to our community, just the same. It's a nice break from the routine.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Wintery Mix

All the newscasters are saying that a wintery mix is heading our way. It's supposed to start soon and get progressively worse during the day. Sand trucks are on alert. Bridges & overpasses and bread & milk and wood brought indoors and the whole deal.

For some reason, I'm pretty into all the hoopla even though I don't believe much will come of it. It just sorta gets you in a good mood.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A "Dead Poets Society" Kind of Moment

Maybe I'm not the guy to talk about this.

I mean, in high school, for me, a science experiment involved hooking the Bunson burner "accidentally" to the water valve instead of the gas valve. Or it might take the form of adding the acids and bases in the opposite order of the teacher's instructions.

Let's just say that I made decent grades in all my high school math classes, but that was because of a little grace-oriented teacher invention called "extra credit." One time I actually passed Mrs. Truss' algebra class because I put an Iron Maiden album cover that had Satan on it (after meticulously enlarging it by the use of an "opaque projector" I checked out of the school library) on the bulletin board with the phrase "Don't let your grades go to the DEVIL." I added flames to the word "devil" because I thought it would help. It did.

It's safe to say that neither math nor science were my baliwicks.

Which is what allowed me to flourish at the university level. When you can choose a major that allows you to graduate by substitute 10 hours of philosophy for math courses and my lab science requirement was fulfilled by geology (a.k.a. "Rocks for Jocks"), well, I was going to graduate in liberal arts no matter what.

So, you can tell that I get amused when I read a headline like "Math and Science Add Up To Our Future" on the Op/Ed page. The article goes on to talk about some group that is trying to push all these objectives and incentives through Congress in order to ensure our students get the jump on the rest of the world:

...keep our edge in a global economy...

blah blah blah

...the sky is falling...

blah blah blah race made us a world leader...

blah blah blah

...push our children educationally...

blah blah blah get the idea.

Anyway, let me save you chaps pushing the agenda some time. It isn't about pushing educational goals downward it's about challenging students to go upward. See, it's an easy political move to create standards and objectives with math and science. For all the reasons you mentioned in the article. People applaud and how can anybody be negative about something like that?

But what made the space race in the 1960's so influential? I mean, it worked.

It was an government-driven mandate/objective. Beat the Russians to the moon. Nothing short of an American flag put in the dirt first is acceptable.

That's what drove the engineers and scientists and math-oriented folks. A challenge. An incentive. Something of significance to attain to...and our citizens responded to the challenge. Americans tend to do that.

So, instead of a new set of mandates and objectives that will get parents to applaud at the middle school open house when the teacher says, "We know have 45 additional minutes a day of math and 25 additional minutes of science," (to which your wife will tell you it's okay to go home after that session when you respond a little to loudly with "Why would grown-ups applaud THAT?")... about giving us a new challenge to excel and put the same amount of energy and resources toward whatever that is?

You know, like developing a comprehensive public transportation system (both civic and federal)--man, I hear the Japanese are developing trains that run on freakin' magnets and go 200 miles an hour. Or maybe developing solar technology to run cars or whatever--you know that ideas for flux capacitors and stuff like that might really get things cranked up. Anything to get rid of our dependence and consumption of oil, both foreign and domestic--

--and you know how many other problems get solved?

Just think about it.

Just promise me you'll think about it.

Challenge our young people. Don't give them hoops to jump through. That's the best thing you could do.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Post-Sermon Brain Scramble

The 4-sermons-in-one-day deal is done and I'm having a bit of trouble with linear thoughts so I'll just fire off some stream-of-consciousness writing.

My friends Joshua and Kristen are some of my favorite people because they really get the essence of the Christian life.

I haven't taught my teenagers anything in any venue in three weeks. De-toxing is never enjoyable...and I'll have to get my fix on Wednesday and Sunday.

There might be some snow flurries in our area on Wednesday. It was 80 last Saturday.

My friend Caroline is a living, breathing reason that public transportation is well worth the expense. It makes people's lives better and makes me wonder why Texans value their cars so much.

The Cowboys blew the big game yesterday. The Tigers are going to a really good bowl game and might finish their 2nd year in a row in the top-5. Times are good for good old AU football and the future looks good, too.

Coffee with Shelby is one of the best ways to try to get out of post-sermon brain scramble.

I've been reading some really good books lately, none of which are listed on the left. For that matter, I haven't been sticking to my corrective discipline regarding erasing links of bloggers who haven't blogged in a month.

I had a really important meeting at work last Thursday. Times are good for my church, and the future looks good, too.

Chemotherapy is tough on people.

I'm surprisingly in a Christmas kind of mood. I've already watched Elf and Christmas Vacation, and A Charlie Brown Christmas (which comes on Tuesday) usually pushes me right over the edge into full-blown Christmas mood. Normally at this time of year, my Grinch-heart is still three sizes too small.

Sometimes I wish I lived in New York City.

My brain's still tired and I'm tired of typing...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

"First Springfield Church: "Where Every Sunday is Super Sunday!--sign outside The Simpsons' Church

Here are the facts:

I have studied, and feel comfortable with my level of knowledge of my subject matter.

I'll be following 25 minutes of Christmas music, so everyone will be in a good mood.

The listeners, as far as I can discern, like and love me. Generally speaking, they haven't communicated anything to the contrary.

I've done this about 10 times before in the same environment. Literally a thousand times in other environments.

It's only going to last between 30 and 45 minutes. Frankly, I could do 30 or 45 minutes on this topic without much preparation.

Here's the subjective reality:

It feels as if the cast of the off-broadway show "Stomp" are doing their final number in the pit of my stomach. I have little idea why this is the case.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Softball A Holics

I'm off in two minutes to get Kelsey to a softball tournament. First game at 9AM and if the team does well, they could play 6 games...but it's for a good cause: Toys for Tots.

I can't decide what's more goofy: The fact that they'd schedule a softball tournament for the first Saturday in December, or the fact that the weather cooperated at will be 80 degrees and sunny today.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Can't talk now...

I've got a sermon to polish and if it isn't done by today at around noon, I'm in big trouble.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fore! & Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

I really enjoy the guys in my senior guys' Bible study group. They are cool guys to be around, and that is highlighted when you give them one hour, a mini-golf course, and a pass to drive go-karts around a track. What's done/said at Putt-Putt stays at Putt-Putt, but those guys DEFINITELY make it more fun than Putt-Putt should be...
Five On The First

A while back I stole someone's blog idea to ask readers for various "top five" lists on the first of every month. Today, I'd like to hear about your top five favorite cartoons. Here are my all-time top five:

5) Beavis & Butt-head
4) SpongeBob Squarepants
3) The Animaniacs
2) Buggs Bunny
1) The Simpsons