Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Please re-think ever starting a teaching opportunity for a teenager with, "You think you're under stress *now*? Just wait until you have a mortgage the size of our and kids and pressure of losing your job. When you get in the REAL WORLD..."

Coming from someone who has studied the tribe of teenagers for nearly two decades now, I can attest that the stresses they face are very REAL WORLD.

Yes. They are age-appropriate, folks. A teen can't experience the stress of a mortgage because a lot of people don't even get a mortgage or pay rent or even pay their own bills until they turn 20 or so in our culture. Same for having children. Or having a career-type job. Those are all age-appropriate for someone just starting out on a career path.

But being a student is one of their roles. A test or project can create REAL WORLD stresses.

But being an employee is one of their roles. Their bosses get on them, too. And, you know what? Their bosses are usually more condescending than yours...simply due to the types of jobs they tend to get and their age against the age of their bosses. REAL WORLD stress.

But being involved in a fluid social situation is one of their roles. Yes, there's drama. Yes, it's usually created by the reality that many of them are actually learning and developing social skills in some way. This necessitates trial-and-error. That necessitates REAL WORLD stress.

But being involved in clubs and extracurricular activities of all types creates stresses, too. They'll lose some big games. They'll have deadlines to meet for yearbook staff or newspaper staff. They'll have meetings moved to inconvenient times. REAL WORLD stresses.

But being in a dating relationship creates all types of stresses. Even having somebody "like you like you" that you don't like back creates stresses. Something tells me I don't have to explain these REAL WORLD stresses all that much.

Being the child of the type of parents who can afford to live in this suburb creates all types of REAL WORLD stresses.

Trying to be a Christ-follower in our culture where a worthy walk is neat and tidy instead of a questioning journey of increasing faith, well, that has some REAL WORLD stresses all on their own.

I could go on and on.

And, yes, I know you're under various trials and stresses, too. It's part of the gig and has been since The Fall. I'm not diminishing the nature of yours.

My point is that I don't want adults to ever lose sight of the reality that teenagers are already in the REAL WORLD, and pretty much all that entails. They're just age-appropriate issues.

I sat in a Starbucks yesterday three times with three different teens.
I listened to their various REAL WORLD issues.

And tried to get the Rubik's Cube colors to line up with how following Christ fits into the nature of their REAL WORLD issues. We'll see how it works out for 'em. It's gonna take time with all three of 'em.

My point is that how they learn to deal with the REAL WORLD now will help them learn to live a transformed life in Christ when they have a mortgage, or a kid in the hospital, or lose a job, or go through a divorce, or even plan a wedding.

But make no mistake: They're already in the REAL WORLD.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reading Again

I'm only two chapters in on Jim Palmer's book Divine Nobodies. One quote from each chapter over the coffee today, folks:

From Chapter 1:

"Admittedly, my purely intellectual approach to God was inconsistent with my evangelical jargon that often referred to a 'personal relationship' with God. I had the rhetoric down but did not really experience God in this way in everyday life. I did have a sort of relationship with my Bible, as much as one can have with a book. I had a wide range of motivations for making the Bible the center of my life. Sometimes I read the Bible because it was drilled into me that I should, a God-won't-like-me-if-I-don't kind of should. At other times, I came to the Bible as God's little instruction book for improving my life and fixing my problems. I seached the Scriptures for promises to claim and principles to apply in achieving a successful life (including financial independence, vocational achievement, and cured depression). Reading the Bible was also a checklist item that I could easily mark off in order to feel good about myself, kind of like exercising and taking my vitamins."

From Chapter 2:

"Somehow, somewhere along the way, my Christianity had become a hamster's squeaky wheel of dos and don'ts (which I commonly referred to as discipleship) that were wearing me out but not getting anywhere. I wasn't addicted to crack; I was addicted to religion in a vain attempt to get God to like me, bless me or at least spare me from hell when it was all over. It's funny how one can talk a good grace game, but for all practical purposes live by the law. I've learned that the 'grace, but...' mentality is as lethal as anything you can sniff, toke, or shoot up."

If the first two chapters are any indication, this should be excellent time spent reading. Of course, it could go south at any second, too. We'll see.

But what I wouldn't give to write a couple of sentences like those last two...that provocation should keep the thinker busy pretty much all day.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hey Everybody! It's The Higher-Order Life-Liver Sister Jilly's Birthday Today!

Let's all celebrate by...

...taking flying lessons and finding our soulmate in the process.
...being kinda, but not fully, bummed by choosing to live in the East Bay.
...going back to college to finish that degree, even if you're older than some of the professors.
...getting mentally ready to be a great parent.
...placing a terra cotta warrior from China (and that story alone is worth a blog entry) in your dining room in such a way that the warrior's hand could, shall we say, check male guests for a hernia at no extra charge.


...throwing it back to the 80's: Taking the t-tops off the Camaro Berlinetta and cranking Adam Ant's "Goody Two Shoes" while driving through the suburbs, griping about how it won't be long before you're leaving that place forever.

Happy Birthday, Jilly! I love you!
We Gave It A Shot

Lots of meetings.

Lots and lots of meetings.

Beginning in November and running once or twice per week to get our new church service format up-and-running. And we kicked it off last night. Going into it, I *felt* we were on the right track. I was pretty darn sure we were, anyway.

And we weren't perfect. There will be more meetings.

Lots more meetings.

But this morning, I'm convinced we're on the right track.

And if you were there, any and all constructive criticism will be listened to. Just comment here or e-mail because we'll be bringing them all up in our meetings...

...of which we'll now be having lots more of.

But they'll all be worth it in the long run.

We're really on to something with this. And I'm pretty excited about the future of it.

Even if it means more meetings.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Maybe You've Seen It, Too

I've seen this phrase on t-shirts and bumper stickers: "Keep Austin Weird." The idea is that Austin, Texas, likes to position itself as a haven for the, shall we say, artistic types. Think Haight-Ashbury but subtract the authenticity. Anyway, they don't have the phrase trademarked or anything because I saw the same phrase on my trip to Portland, Oregon. Apparently, they like to keep it weird, too.

So, I thought we'd try this for each of our locales we're all posting from. Simply put the city in there and an adjective that reflects what your town is like.

Keep Flower Mound _____________.

Have at it, folks!
In Case You Were Wondering

Kid2 had that look on her face yesterday. She was on stage all by herself doing very complicated and intricate ballet in front of judges who know their stuff.

I don't know my stuff when it comes to ballet. But I know my stuff when it comes to knowing my daughter, and she had the look of determination combined with doing what she loves on her face the entire time. Afterward, the hugs I get have just a little more grunt and tightness to them, so I know it's real.

She loves the ballet.

I love her.

It works.
Well, I Wasn't Going To Say Anything, But Since She Sent Out a MySpace Bulletin...

Last night, my cell phone rings. It's the "Hey Ya!" ringtone that lets me know when Kristy the Assistant is calling...being Saturday night and we have a big day tomorrow with our student ministry, I figure I'd better get it.

A little background: I've had three people in the last three days question me about things I never said. One of them was on this I'm a little on edge when the conversation begins with, "Hey, Brent. It's Kristy. Yeah, I heard you're tired of doing weddings, is that true?"

In my brain: "No, I'm not...and why don't people listen to me. I didn't go to the wedding of a former student last night because I had other family responsibilities, not because I'm not doing student's weddings anymore." Out of my mouth, "No, Kristy. I'm good with weddings."

From her: "Well, I'm really glad to hear that. Wanna do mine?!"

We went through the excitement of the moment and all that jazz. It was fun, and then she was off to tell others their happy news.

And, yes, Kristy. I do indeed want to do yours. Having a front row seat watching God work in and through you since I've known you for the last decade, well, having the very best seat in the house on your wedding day will do quite nicely.

And, yes, Marky Mark, I'm glad to be a part of it. Having been there as you were the star witness in a Jehu trial, and being there for both The Hammer and The Flying Squirrel, in addition to watching God work in and through you since I've known you for the last decade, well, having the best seat in the house on YOUR wedding day will do quite nicely, too.

But make no mistake about it: Kristy, you have chosen well, grasshoppah. And, Marky Mark, you are marrying WAY above your head...but you already knew that.

And, I'm happy beyond words. Congratulations Kristy and Mark. Congratulations.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Diner Bulletin Board

Push-pinned to the Diner Bulletin Board, knowing that softball season is just around the corner:

Full set of catcher's equipment for fast-pitch softball: Shin guards, helmet/mask, chest protector in EXCELLENT CONDITION. Make an offer, these tools of ignorance need a new home for the upcoming seaseon. Also, a pricey bat for a hitter age 10--12 with plenty of hits left in it. Again, just make an offer...

It's the big day.

My wife and daughter have been boarders in my house as of late. Practice.





And then more practice.



More fittings.

More practice.

More practice.



More practice.

And today, for about a grand total of 10 minutes, my daughter will be on stage.

Awards are at stake in the regional competition. New York for those that score high enough. Dancers from several states are here for this. Scholarships to ballet schools are afoot as well.

But I'm learning something about Kid2: She's really looking forward to those 10 minutes for none of those reasons, but rather because she loves what she does and it's a chance for the dancer's payoff. Applause of appreciation for their inspiration and expression, and the reality of hard work really paying off.

And I'll be there. Not catching the subtle nuances of the dance, but rather watching her face and eyes. That will make it all worth it for me.
My Shuffle

Letting you know what came up on the old iPod shuffle this morning...I have no idea what this says about me:

Rockaway Beach, by The Ramones
Plateau, by Nirvana
Stormy Monday Blues, by T-Bone Walker
Smile, by Weezer
Planet of Sound, by The Pixies
All I Want Is You, by U2
Leaning to Breathe, by Switchfoot
Screaming for Vengeance, by Judas Priest
Space Dementia, by Muse
Never Say Never, by Romeo Void
No Man's Friend, by Mike Ness
Fruit We Bear, by Lost and Found
Far Behind, by Jason and the Nashville Scorchers
When It Started, by The Strokes
Vitamin R, by Chevelle

It's kind of creepy how well my iPod knows what it takes to get in the groove of a Saturday...

Friday, January 26, 2007

2nd Best News I Got Yesterday

I live vicariously through a friend of my higher-order life-liver sister Jilly and Barstorming Brother-in-law's friend, Vince. He's *that* guy. He's just hanging out and the most outlandish events occur right around him. *That* guy who sends you a photo text message because he sat next to a rap star on the plane or wound up seated at a restaurant next to an Oscar winner. Sure, he's also the guy that winds everybody up for the big event (remind me to tell you about the time he tried to get an exhausted wedding party revved up for another night out on the town) and/or makes small events turn into big events. He's *that* guy that never runs out of energy.

It's akin to Jilly and money. She can set her loose change on the dresser before bed time and when she wakes up, the amount has doubled or tripled...but I digress.

Anyway, Vince is in Vegas staying at a hotel and a rock star is hosting a charity fundraising event in the same hotel. Vince decides to make a bid on one of the items up for auction. One of those deals where the highest bid on the list gets the prize, I assume. Then, Vince is off to do whatever it is that Vince does when Vince is in Vegas.

Well, Vince won the item he bid on. That's right. He won the Motley Cruise. A Carribean cruise with the glam-rock band Motley Crue. This is Vince, with lead singer Vince Neil.

How classic is this?
The Best News I Got Yesterday

My higher-order life-liver sister Jilly and Barnstorming Brother-In-Law Shane sent an e-mail yesterday with the best news I recieved yesterday. Incubation is progressing happily and healthily for all involved.

So, Diner patrons, allow me to introduce you to my new neice/nephew, scheduled for a late summer arrival:

Yes, it's cliche to post sonogram photos.
Yes, the (*ahem*) more mature patrons will smile politely and think that it isn't as big an event as *their* children's sonograms.

But this is MY neice/nephew we're talking about here.

And, let's be honest: That's one good-looking, extremely intelligent child. A blind guy with one eye could tell ya that.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

You Gotta Teach 'Em This Stuff

Our office is a haven for grandchildren. We have grandmothers and grandfathers where I work. They're a club, and any club member--new or existing--will host their impromptu meetings with either a rookie bringing in their first photos of the grandchild (usually in a book) or some of the grandkids will actually show up. Our administrator had to implement a "20 minute" rule once these gatherings began or office productivity could grind to a halt. I like watching the club operate, though. It looks like they're all having fun.

During one of the impromptu club meetings, I chimed in that some parents are failing their children (not really, of course, but I was exaggerating for effect) in the area of old television shows. This deficiency, I declared to any and all within earshot, will only be corrected by an army of grandparents dedicated to the proposition that some old television shows will be lost forever unless they get serious. This might be as simple as going to Nick at Nite and TiVo-ing or a Blockbuster run, or in some cases, a DVD purchase. Once I got the list started, they chimed in with their own necessities, and here's what I can remember from our list--everybody contributed so I can't remember who put what on the list, but here's as many as I could remember:

In no particular order:

Naturally, The Andy Griffith Show (and distinctly NOT the spin-off Mayberry RFD) got things started. Favorite characters were mentioned (Floyd the runaway favorite. I was expecting Barney Fife) and favorite episodes were listed. Helen Crump was declared to be very attractive.

Then shows quickly became nominated:

The Three Stooges.
I Love Lucy.
Gilligan's Island.
The Brady Bunch.
The Little Rascals.
I Dream of Jeannie.
Any and all muppets shows & movies, including Sesame Street--although that is still running.

The longest discussion involved the entire library of Looney Tunes DVD box-set (it cost $150 bucks or so, making it a Christmas purchase or some other special occasion--like maybe a 5th birthday). This one sparked the most interest because the discussion diverted quickly into our favorite episodes. Some were obvious (Elmer Fudd and Buggs in "Kill the Wabbit" to the Barber of Seville) and others not so much (like when Sylvester was singing along to the Charelston before the dog clocked him with the fence slat). Our favorite characters came up, too. Foghorn Leghorn (and that little Chicken Hawk) got a surprise nod, along with Marvin the Martian. Tweety was mentioned, too. I'm a Buggs man all the way. It was declared a club mandate that, at the very least, every home should have a DVD compilation of 5 or 7 cartoons. Grandparent Law. Voted and approved.

I also tried to nominate Speed Racer cartoons (the Mach 5 was the coolest car I'd ever seen, and how can you not like the nicknames of his sidekicks: Spridle and Chim-Chim?) as well as Clutch Cargo (they had REAL MOUTHS and his sidekick's names were Spinner and Paddlefoot!). I tried to get any of the grandparents who were aware that their children were going to have a set of twins to incorporate those sidekick names in any combination to name the new grandkids. Who wouldn't like Spinner Chim-Chim Johnson? Spridle Paddlefoot Smith? It fell on deaf ears. Motion failed.

And it was about that time the 20-minute rule was invoked and everybody had to go back to work.

Since that's the case, what did they leave out that future generations will need to know about?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I was flipping through an old copy of Relevant Magazine and an article about Tony Hale (Buster Bluth on Arrested Development) caught my eye. I'm a big fan of the show. I'm a big fan of folks who follow Christ that simply do their jobs well. It was only natural that I'd stop-down to read the entire article.

What got my brain engaged was this quote (article written by Adam Smith):

"Hale believes that many people in the Church shun artistic expression that is no overtly Christian, and he warns against such division between the sacred and the secular. 'It creates an 'us [versus] them' mentality,' Hale says. 'I think it comes from fear. We put our faith in a box, and it's pretty and it's safe and anything outside the box seems scary."

"He points to an episode of Arrested Development in which a married fundamentalist Christian woman becomes infatuated with the show's main character, Michael. 'It seems like the word secular is used 50 or 60 times in that episode,' he says. 'They talk about her falling for 'that horrible secular man.' I wish every Christian could see it. Christians use that word far too much, and it becomes a synonym for bad or evil.'"

I've noticed the same things.

That us-versus-them thing does come from fear.
We put our faith in a box.
We label those who don't know Christ as secular and therefore they're the people who always do bad things and Christian folks are the ones who always do good things.

Let's do all we can to take the word "secular" out of our vocabularies. Starting right now.

(says the guy who had input on naming our recent Bible conference "Thinking Biblically in a Secular World"--please don't think I'm missing the irony here--but it makes my point: What if we just called it "Thinking Biblically About The World?")
Uh-Oh, Happy Learned How To Putt

The basketball program at Auburn has pretty much been an afterthought. There was a conference championship season when my dad went there in the early '60's. They didn't win another until I attended in the mid-80's. They went to the Big Dance every season I was there and even got to the final 8 once. Charles Barkley (and Chris Morris & Chuck Person were all on the floor at the same time for two of those seasons--they'd each have good careers in the NBA) had an awful lot to do with that. There was also a stretch in the 90's where a coach loaded up with junior college transfers who came in and won big but then flunked out right before the NCAA tourney--but he kept doing it and it worked in the short term.

But, they don't win consistently, that's for sure. Basketball at Auburn gives people something to divert their attention from seeing if the running back from Palatka, Florida or the defensive end from New Smyrna, Georgia has backed off their verbal commitment to play football there next fall.

So, three years ago the administration made a commitment to basketball. New arenas are being designed. New training facilities are on the table. A very young coach who played at North Carolina was brought on board. He ran off all the juco thugs and started building a team with his own recruits--good students, hard workers, etc.

And they struggled for the last two years. Big time struggled. At one time they only had 7 players that could deal with the coach's work ethic and academic standards. Auburn fans didn't care because we're still enjoying a high degree of football prominence, so the losses were all under the radar.

ESPN showed the turnaround live and in-color last night: Auburn and it's one junior and stacks of sophomores/freshmen who have been getting kicked around for two years 81, #12 Alabama 57. This was 4 days after they upset #22 Tennessee. #1 Florida comes in Saturday--but there's hope now.

Something tells me this coach has built it the right way this time, and Tiger basketball might be back.

But even if it isn't: We throttled the Crimson Tide by 24 on national television. Sweet.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

So Easy, But So Hard

It was a simple statement I came across reading a book yesterday, by Rick McKinley:

"The act itself preaches."

It's an old theme...the old "actions-speak-louder-than-words" bit. Mother Theresa jumped all over that with statements like "There should be less talk; a preaching point is not a meeting point...Take a broom and clean someone's house. That says enough." Yeah, we've all heard it until it becomes blah blah blah blah blah blah. And we agree with it, generally.

Rick (I'm on a first-name basis with him now since I listen to his podcasts weekly, and if he ever shows up at The Diner, well, suffice to say the coffee's on the house but he and I will have a lengthy chat about this, that and other things) put the statement in a "kingdom context" that really got me thinking about it:

"The fact is, our lives do preach. But what do they preach? Do they announce to the world that God mourns with those who mourn and is risen 'with healing in His wings'? Or do our lives announce that God is apathetic?"

So, ummm. Yeah.

The act itself preaches.

It's a loaded statement for me right now (bordering on haunting me, frankly, and it's only been about 18 hours), and has the gears spinning on the repercussions in my own life and in the life of the people I rub shoulders with in the Kingdom.

The act itself preaches.

I may get that tatooed soon...

...or at the very least put on some t-shirts.
For Those Who Asked

The Winter Bible Conference that took place last weekend was highly provocative and challenging, and for those of you who can't attend, you can get the audio in various formats from the Crossroads on-line site

Since it was so much information in a short period of time, I plan on listening to each session over the next week or two and we can grab a cuppa joe and chat away here in The Diner ASAP.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Today, I want to talk about rumors.

When I was in middle school, they were out there. Like the day the ambulance showed up at a friend's house in my neighborhood and took Peter's older brother to the emergency room with a badly injured hand. When we went to school the next day we heard it was because he mishandled some stuff while he was building a pipe bomb. Turns out the truth was that he was actually moving an old car battery in his garage and got some burns from the acid.

In high school, they were out there, too. Most had to do with sex or drinking or drugs or dating--that kind of stuff. One night there was a party at Kim's and there were too many people on the deck and it pulled away from the house and fell. A few injuries were the reality, the worst a broken leg. For a week or so all we heard about was who was going to sue the parents and all sorts of stories about who/what caused it. This continued until prom night and we had a whole new set of locker room innuendo, half-truths and out and out lies to sort through.

In college, they were there, too. The topics generally changed because sex, drugs and drinking weren't nearly as taboo in that environment, but we still found ways to discuss things. One memorable one had a fraternity brother who'd been elected SGA treasurer pilfering money from the SGA funds. Funny, but it turned out he was letting friends (including us) use the unlimited long-distance feature from his office to call home. I'm sure that wasn't on the up and up, either, but he wasn't taking cash.

And, I've heard it from grown-ups, too. This teacher did this/said that to a student. This airline pilot is taking a new job. I've even overheard parents sharing the gossip about other teens based on what they heard from their own child. This city coucil member is voting this or that way. The local restauranteur is going to serve alchohol now. This kid is signing a football scholarship to that school. You know how it goes.

But what set this little observation off is that our church is making some changes. Some people will truly enjoy them. Others might not be so fond of them. That's true with any change. We'll get a new pastor sometime this year. Some will think he's incredible. Others, by comparison, will find faults. We painted our student ministry room a different color and some teens liked it and others didn't. So, when we're making some changes to our evening schedule I'd expect some people to like them. Others won't. It really is that simple.

However, you wouldn't believe what I've heard that we're implementing...

...from people who would have no idea what we're implementing.

And, I don't know where they would even hear what we're implementing.

Because, I've been in the meetings. I know what we're implementing. I know why we're implementing them. We're having a meeting next Sunday night to explain all this. More importantly, I'm aware of what hasn't been settled yet. There are a few more blanks to fill in.

So, yes, there will be change.
Yes, I think they'll be good ones.
And, peope I love and care about will disagree.
That's okay.

Just know for sure what you're disagreeing about and why you're disagreeing, and everything will be hunky dory.

But remember that rumors are kid stuff. And generally untrustworthy.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...that when the speaker at our Bible conference recommended one hour of media per day (including Mp3, TV, internet, radio, etc.) I couldn't even begin to fathom cutting back to that level. If I just watched the nightly news and blogged, that'd be it!
...the hopefully, when that session is on the Internet, I'll be able to find a loophole. reading pace has slowed to a crawl, and with the busy nature of work lately, I'm not sure there's a way out of that anytime soon.
...that people who think I would tire of the weather if I lived in the Pacific Northwest haven't seen how I've thrived in the last week of Dallas weather.
...that no one should be surprised by HIllary Clinton's presidential desires & actions. She's been preparing for it since she was 5.
...that if your feet start out the day cold, it's hard to get them back to warm over the course of the day.
...I often have little idea of the price of things because we're looking at re-doing our bathrooms, replacing windows and some flooring, and when I "thought out loud" about the overall cost, Tracy gave me that little smile that said, "You're a sweet man, but you have no idea about these kinds of things."
...I'm thinking of taking over the laundry chore at my home, but I learned how to do it from my fraternity brothers, which was basically just wash pretty much everything in cold/cold and use as few quarters as possible. Folding is optional. I borrowed Hollywood's iron if I had a date. I'm not sure that formula works for families, though.
...I'm having little trouble going without soda. De-caffeinated, flavored teas at restaurants fit in fine if I'm not doing the water/lemon thing. It's too early to determine if it's affecting the budget much...but it appears minimal early on. Tea & sodas are pretty close in price. The biggest difference is that I don't pick up a soda after buying gas or groceries.
...I have little interest in the NFL playoffs, but I'd like to see the Saints & Colts in the Super Bowl, given that those are among my options.
...I set up a pretty awesome "rallying" playlist (I stole that term from the Riskey family--you know, when you're tired and you need a boost? You gotta rally. Katherine says it best.) but I don't want to publish it because it's MY playlist. Let's just say you can't go wrong with the Toadies, Chevelle, Stavesacre and Motorhead and others.
...It's into the new year and usually by this time I've already got several penciled in dates for weddings of former students, but this year there's only 3. However, there are several couples on the brink of engagement. I don't think those will get married by summer, though. of the Bible conference speakers made a joke that he had the spiritual sensitivity (referring to his ability to discern God's leadings) of plankton. He got laughs, but from me, at that moment, we were kindred spirits.
...the changes coming at our church are terribly exciting and I hope our members roll in with open minds next week to hear about them. I mean, we all dislike change, even if it's for the best and done with the best of intentions. I'm thrilled about them. Truly thrilled.
...Reverend Lovejoy is by far and away the funniest character on The Simpsons, if you're asking me.
...that I'm wanting to get into the office early today so I can ensure hearing Dr. Hazen today in first service, so I need to get on with it.
It's Shelby's (Kid2) 13th Birthday Today!

So, let's all celebrate by...

...easing into our days by getting out of bed and laying on the couch watching the TiVo'd "Cosby Show" reruns before we fully "get up."
...wearing nothing but flip-flops wherever you go (no matter what the weather or the occasion).
...wondering when the next season of Gilmore Girls is going to be released on DVD.
...dancing in front of a mirror on the tips of our toes for about 4 or 5 hours a day!

Happy 13th, Shelby! Two teenage girls in my very own home, now. I gotta say I lead a pretty charmed life.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Good Start: Your Best Theory

The Bible conference at my church got off to a good start last night. The speakers each presented an overview of what they'd be talking about and my synapses were all flashing by the time it was over. Usually, at 8PM on a Friday night my brain is mush but the speakers had my thoughts going all over the place...but that's not what I want to blog about today.

One of the speakers gave an illustration in his overview about an electronic bulletin board discussion at the university where he's a professor. He said it was an excellent topic for college kids because it gave them room to be creative, and I thought on this very PacNW drizzly day, we could do the same thing at The Diner.

The topic: "Tell us the best theory you know of."

It could be anything. Toast always lands butter side down. Cats always land on their feet. Christians are weird. Anything.

So, what's your very best theory?

Friday, January 19, 2007

I Certainly Don't Want To Be Presumptuous...

...but several Diner patrons asked where they could download the sermon I delivered on Christmas Eve. You can find it in various formats (RealPlayer, Windows Media, and Mp3) right here.

As always, constructive criticism is appreciated.
Good Stuff At My Church Tonight!

You should go to Thinking Biblically in a Secular World at CBC tonight. We're partnering with two other churches in our area, The Village and Rockpointe, and it should be excellent.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"And this here's the TV. Two hours a day, either educational or football, so you don't ruin your appreciation of the finer things."

Kid1 and the Smokin' Hot Shutterbug Wife are off to an open house tonight at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. It's got quite a reputation around Big D in that there's some serious talent bouncing through those hallways. Edie Brickell. Eryka Badu. Norah Jones. Roy Hargrove. Elizabeth Mitchell. Drummers for various rock bands. You get the idea. Anyway, tonight is a fact-finding mission. There are many more steps in the admission process, but this is the first one...and Kid1 is exploring her options. I'd imagine she'll focus on the "visual" part and not the "performing" part as the basis for her exploration.

And, I'm thinking about education this morning.

See, I was public schooled from opening day until day 1 of graduate school. I had a very normal experience. I wasn't bullied, but I wasn't on the "A" list of popularity, either. I had good teachers. I had goofy ones. I had bad ones. I took some classes very seriously. I took others for what I thought they might be worth (which was usually more than what I believed them to be). There were opportunities to discover what I was good at and what I wasn't in both the classroom and the extracurriculars. Pretty generic. Pretty normal. At least as generic and normal as Alabama's public educational system can be.

It worked for me. I tend to be a big fan of public education.

And the high school Kid1 goes to is even better than the one I went to if you're looking to find yourself. It's like a small college and about 3,200 kids attend. There are two others like it within a 7 mile radius...with the full compliment of classes and activities to allow each and every one of those kids to figure out a few things and pretty well tailor their schedules like you would at a university. They have their core curriculum and after that there's plenty of variety and good teachers/coaches to help your teen develop in their areas of interest. It seems like a good deal to me...and don't even get me started on the social opportunities.

The art teachers are good, too. Kelsey's been pretty pleased and enjoys learning from them and getting better at what she enjoys doing. No complaints in the department, either. Salutes to the MHS art department!

But yet, Kid1 is considering going to another school.

And, I was thinking through the benefits of such a move last night. A few:

Maybe an artist needs to be surrounded by a variety of ethnicity. BTWSFTVAPA has that.
Maybe an artist needs to be surrounded by the type of people who would enroll in a school dedicated to the fine arts. I mean, we all like to feel "gotten" and maybe the artistic community needs that even moreso.
Maybe an artist needs the "urban vibe." Well, maybe some do, anyway. It ain't all mountains and flowers in the art world.
Maybe an artist is comfy with a working knowledge of math and science without a laser focus on them. BTWSFTVAPA dominates the state-mandated scores in reading/English and is better than the state average in math & science (but not overtly high like the reading/English).
Maybe an artist needs the kind of instructor that would work at a fine arts high school.

I don't know. I'm not an artist. And the "fine arts" to me are represented in the savage ballet that is found in the NFL and NHL...and don't even get me started on the artistry of baseball. Tears might well up.

But I know I'm in a house full of them. Photography. Painting. Ballet.

And I'm wondering if our fair burg is considering a fine arts type of school. My kids can't be the only ones who would benefit from that style of education. I see lots of community benefits, too.

I would think if we could pull 300-500 students from each public high school in our area, we'd ease some overcrowding and make things a bit more manageable.

I would think a fine-arts high school would be cost & space effective as you wouldn't need to build athletic facilities.

I would think that some students would benefit from being "gotten." I saw a kid in a restaurant yesterday all gothed-out in full black, sporting a button that read, "I'm only wearing black until they find a darker color." I think she's benefit from being "gotten."

I would think our community would be inspired and challenged in the way that only the arts community can do.

I would think their test scores would match up well and still let students who aren't all into math/science to flourish in other, equally valuable, areas.

I would think that our community could pay the best & brightest teachers to support our teens.

I guess, in short, I'm guessing it would be a win/win. The community wins. The kids win. We all benefit.

And, I'm wondering if maybe we should be considering it if we aren't already. And if we are already considering it, maybe we should bump it up on the priority list.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

1st Quote of 2007

Yes. My reading has been slowed.

A lot. We've been wicked busy at work as of late. Good busy. But busy nonetheless.

I feel stupider.

But, I've picked up a book by Rick McKinley, the pastor of Imago Dei in Portland (and their podcasts are a "must subscribe/listen" if you're asking--I'm drawn to his style and delivery of Truth) entitled This Beautiful Mess and he's got a quote that provoked me a bit. The context is that he was going through a touch-and-go health situation with his young son and how Christians responded to him:

"Somehow Christians have a hard time saying things like, 'I don't know why the hell this is happening or how this will end. You guys must be scared to death.' I guess we all need to be able to explain life down to every last detail even when the answers don't mean anything to us. We just can't stand the questions. But in the kingdom of God, I have come to believe, it is all right not to have all the answers, and I think Jesus likes it even more when we don't make up ones that are safe and easy but hollow."

Have at it, patrons. Now I have to get more hot chocolate ready and stoke the fire as I'm sure business'll be up in The Diner today with all your cabin fever and needing a place to hang out on a cold day.
Snow Day!

I fell asleep before the weather came on the news last night so I was a bit surprised this morning when Lloyd, the greatest of all living dogs, was hesitating before his morning, *ahem*, constitutional. It's our routine. I make the coffee and he sniffs and takes care of business in the yard. Later, I meet him and we get the paper. It all ends when he gets a Milk Bone dog treat and he's back to bed with anyone who happens to still be sleeping. This is everyone but me.

Anyway, after the coffee pot starts I'm headed out and Lloyd is still on the porch, staring at the powdering we got (and are still getting). I coax him to follow me while I get the paper and he takes care of his responsibilities and I come in and check channel 8's scrolling list of closings. Channel 8 is my news of choice.

It took a while, but eventually L.I.S.D. is listed as closed for the day.

So the kids get the day off.

And, for some reason, this makes me happy, even if I still have to go to work.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Overheard At Pine Cove

I got back from two days at Pine Cove Shores Camp. It's our "No Agenda" weekend where we actually give the teens a true schedule to speak of and any planned meetings are "optional." Perfect for busy teens...and what's cool is the relaxed nature of it all gives our staff time to build relationships and spend a good deal of time with teens. I know if you click on Bob & Sue's link on the left you can get an idea what it's like from one of our volunteers.

Anyway, instead of regailing you with all the soggy details of the weekend (manalive, did it ever rain), there were two things I overheard that I thought I'd share.

The first instance, a teenager was making observations about how she was able to get through a very difficult stretch in her life. We were talking about the nature of grace, the unmerited favor/divine enablement, and what it's like to truly experience that reality. Her comment about getting through the curve ball life's throwing at her: "Grace is totally my best friend right now."

The second, a teen was making random observations about our church--positively and negatively, but both were being done very humorously: "I don't think it's a very good sign when you walk into church and most of the women have short hair and most of the men are bald."

I could go on for hours about stuff that was said, both in serious discussions and light-hearted banter, because that's the nature of the weekend. But I got a big kick out of both of those.
Diner Bulletin Board

*When you come into the Diner today, you notice that there's a new cork bulletin board on the wall next to the register. On that board are two 3x5 index cards stuck to the board with push pins. One was clear, the other yellow. Each card is handwritten using blue ink*

Card 1 reads: For Sale (each word underlined twice): Loft-bed, twin size. Used two years, complete with hardware and easy to assemble. Perfect for the room that needs to utilize space as a desk can easily be attached underneath. Have a photo if you like and I can e-mail it to you. Contact management with offer.

Card 2 reads: For sale (each word underlined twice): Day bed w/trundle. Metal frame & mattresses included. Make offer.

As you can tell, the icy day yesterday had the family doing some redecorating in various rooms at home and we thought we'd give patrons 48 hours before we put it all on Craigslist or whatever...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Long-time Diner patrons have known for a long time of my admiration for Martin Luther King, Jr. I was hooked in middle school when I read "Letter From A Birmingham Jail." Later revelations of his personal life irritated me a bit, but fell under the same catergory of those about Jefferson and Franklin, et al. American hero without question. Another in a long line of rabble-rousers who set us all straight.

So, in honor of his holiday, a few quotes:

"A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan."

"A right delayed is a right denied."

"Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better."

"An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law."

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

"I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land."

"If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."

Thank you, Dr. King. They don't seem to make 'em like you anymore.
The Weather Outside Is Frightful

A rainy weekend.
A cold spell.
Ice on the roadways.
Newscasters standing for hours showing us videos of sand trucks and cars sliding.

Day off.

Flannel pants.
Hot chocolate (Citano brand hot cocoa mix, creamy style, the very best).
Hockey game on television at 3PM today.

Life is good.
Sorry...The Park's Closed. Moose Outside Should've Told You

I forgot to put the sign in The Diner window that lets everybody know we'd be closed over the weekend. Management has a job moonlighting with a youth ministry and we were off to Pine Cove for our No Agenda weekend. Sorry for this slight oversight and hope it didn't cause any inconvenience.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Funny Thing Happened At The Hockey Game Last Night...

Around lunchtime, I get a call from Retrophisch Chris. Tickets to the Stars game are a possibility. Am I in?

Around 3PM, I was in. So was Kid1.

By 4:30PM, everything was confirmed. Tickets were courriered over to Mrs. Retrophisch's office, they procured a babysitter and we were off by 6:30PM.

Kid1 says to pick the left line to enter the arena. "It always goes faster." Mr. and Mrs. Retrophisch tested her theory by getting in the center line. They won as they were through security a good two minutes before we were.

Kelsey's purse got searched and apparently 15-year-old girl with spikey hair and wearing a women's Stars jersey fits the terrorists/roughneck profile because the security guard pulled her over for extra screening. They ran the wand over her, it didn't beep, so we were free to go.

They hand us the night's give-a-ways as we entered: A mouse pad with three Dallas Stars photos on it and the web site address they wanted you to hit. There was also a faux boarding pass from American Airlines with a city or country listed on it. Mine said, "Lima, Peru" and Kelsey's said "Belize." Not sure what the Retrophisch's were holding.

Primo seats. I don't know how corporate affords $118 per seat, but they do, and I enjoy it when I'm the beneficiary of the deal. At one point, we checked our program to see if a player autographed the ad for a restaurant and we'd get a free dinner there if he did. He didn't.

Good first period, even though the Stars were down 1-0 to the Ducks. They were playing well.

Then, while the Zamboni's were warming up, they announced that we should check our faux boarding passes to see if we were a prize winner: "And if you have the boarding pass for Steamboat Springs, Colorado, or Belize, please report to the Guest Relations table behind section 113 to claim your prize."

Kelsey said, "Hey, I've got 'Belize'!" So, we were off to claim our prize. The last time this happened it was a $10 coupon to Hooters. Mrs. Retrophisch won that at a baseball game. I never asked if they used that. Anyway, I'm figuring we'll go up there and there will be a Stars calendar, maybe with some autographs on it or maybe some sort of t-shirt or whatever.

I started getting suspicious when NO ONE else was there to claim a prize.

Kelsey handed the nice lady her faux boarding pass. She verified it. And said, "Congratulations! You're our Grand Prize winner!"


Turns out that the Grand Prize is two round-trip airline tickets to anywhere in the freakin' world that American Airlines flies. Turns out that is pretty much anywhere in the freakin' world.

I had to sign some things because Kelsey wasn't 18, and one of those was a release for our image to be used in promotions. We had to wait about halfway into the 2nd period in some special seats they have for Grand Prize winners to watch the game until they use your image in promotions. Turns out that meant we smiled and waved at a camera for 10 seconds while it was on the big screen in the arena. They handed us a letter to claim the tickets.

As we were walking back to our primo seats and in the tunnel, the Stars scored. 1-1. We didn't see it.

The next few minutes were a flurry of phone calls to Mom & the higher order life liver sister Jilly and barnstorming pilot brother-in-law Shane and her friends and whoever else she could text message. We'd left our phones at the seats because we didn't think it'd take that long to pick up a calendar.

We looked up and it was 4-1, Ducks.

I kinda cared. Even if it's on corporate's nickel, somebody paid $500 for primo tickets and my team was getting drubbed and playing effortlessly, I'm gonna be pretty miffed. I'd gotten back into the game.


...not so much.

And, apparently, there'll be a trip to the Denton Country Courthouse sometime soon. Apparently, you need a passport to get to London these days.

And I'm sure Kid1 and mom will do it up right...

...even if the flight is on the house.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Stuff That Came Up Yesterday

Personality and style are often confused with passion.

We'd all be better off if we, like Francis Schaeffer said, spoke boldy and with authority where the Bible speaks boldly and with authority and then remain quiet about what the Bible doesn't say.

Parents cannot shelter their children from the world, but some really believe it's doable.

You won't find the answer you really need in the next book or tape series. Check out what the Bible says first.

Teenage girls who are 15 and weigh about 115 pounds can think they're fat, and there's not a lot that can be done to change their minds.

One-hour with a teenager can change the whole day: For better or worse, depending on what you talked about.

Trying to communicate a big idea on one page is harder than one would think.

People have trouble dealing with individual responsibility...even if they really do want to take that responsibility on.

Communion services--complete with meal--designed expressly for that purpose should be done more in churches, no matter what size they are.

Sometimes people sing with gusto and other times not so much and I can't predict or analyze "why" in either case.

Teenagers sense when parents are under stress, and their parents think they don't.

Parents tend to dismiss the stress levels of their children. Granted, comparatively speaking they might be right, but the stress the teen is under is age-appropriate and very, very real to them. Same goes for a teen who is infatuated or in love.

There are lots of little chiropractor jokes that seem funny to me and I have no idea why. I think my imagination combines some sort of midevial torture chamber, just whiter and lighter and cleaner, with the end result being people who get helped. The combination just seems funny to me. As you can tell, I've never been to a chiropractor.

When you have a bit of firewood you're going to shelter from the elements and you're using a wheelbarrow you haven't used in a while, it's best to check the tire pressure before you load up the first bundle.

When you tell people that you've kept a journal of some type off and on since 9th grade they kind of look at you with disbelief.

Friends telling you about their teenage children reading what people wrote when signing their high school yearbooks years ago will make you want to keep yours well well as almost make you do a "spit take."

If you could read my personal journal descriptions of the events that spurred today's sanitized-for-public-reading versions, you might actually pay me money to do so...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

So, Today I'm Thinking

...that even though I didn't see the blurbs on the news, I'm not sure what it does exactly but I'm sure it's pretty much awesome, and I'm not really all into gadgets, I already want an iPhone.
...sometimes I can be the most selfish person on the planet. daughters are two increasingly unique people that I like and I truly enjoy hanging out with either of them.
...that our student ministry is going off to Pine Cove this weekend. The weather has been absolutely wonderful so far in 2007 (with highs near 60 and lows in the 40's and sunny) so naturally the first "arctic blast" is set for Sunday with rain predicted for pretty much the entire weekend. It's like Nostradamus plans my outdoor events.
...I haven't had sodas in 10 days, and have cut my coffee intake to two cups (although don't think for a second I won't fire up some decaffienated tea in the afternoon) and have been pretty disciplined in my eating/sleeping habits. I can't descibe how much better I feel. reading has slowed considerably, folks. Lots and lots of work that will pay big dividends in the future but requires lots of time and energy right now. When I get home I just don't have the mental ability to focus on what I'm reading, so I pretty much just watch hockey.
...I'm happy for my friends Mike and Katie who closed on their first home a couple of nights ago. I remember how much fun that was for Tracy and I, and the subsequent home purchase didn't have near the excitement factor the first one did.
...sitting in Starbucks listening to a former student talk about their growth in Christ over hot tea (see, I told you!) might be the best payoff a youth minister can ask for. friend Dave is going to be in the air for 18 hours on a trip to Africa. I'm not sure how well I'd hold up under any type of travel for 18 hours. 12 is about my limit--and that's when I'm doing the driving and we can get out and stop and such so I'm occupied enough. As I figure it, the trip is: Eat. Sleep some. Watch a movie. Read some. Repeat the process 2 more times. Ugh.
...there's a local Christian college that's starting a master's level program in youth ministry. Is it bad to think that I might want to teach a class or two there, maybe at night or something? Of course, I'm not sure the "b" in D.B.U. would be too keen on the long hair, tattoos or poor fashion sense, so I'm not sure it matters.
...I'm pretty excited about my speaking engagement this morning.
...another friend of mine was on a flight to England and her appendix almost burst. They landed in England on time to get her to the hospital, so there weren't complications, but manalive, what a scary thing.
...I'm pretty excited about our communion service we have for student ministry every six weeks or so. It's definitely cool to be a part of 2,000 years of tradition, setting aside some time to focus on His faithfulness to us, and hearing first-hand those kinds of things from the teens and the leaders. bowl predictions went pretty well and for some reason this makes me happy.
...I've got to get some firewood into the garage before the rain comes tomorrow because our family loves the fire. Okay, I enjoy the fire the most, and I definitely like the "real" wood thing. Gas fireplaces don't do it for me, for some reason.'s time for me to get on with my day.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

For Some Reason just now feels like I'm getting into the swing of the new year. I think having holidays on Mondays and the girls starting school on Thursday goofed up my new year groove.
Bowl Game Predictions Update

Meineke Car Care Bowl: Navy (+6) vs. Boston College. My pick: Boston College 24, Navy 17. Result: BC 25, Navy 24. Explanation: Good game, but I still can't believe BC didn't cover. 9-9.

Alamo Bowl: Iowa (+10.5) vs. Texas. My pick: Take Iowa and the points, but Texas wins, 27-21. Result: Texas 26, Iowa 24. Explanation: HEY! I got another one pretty much right! 10-9.

Chick Fil A Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Georgia (+2.5). My pick: Give me Dawgs in case the good team shows up, 17-14. Result: UGA 31, VaTech 24. Explanation: VaTech continues to play SEC schools tough but comes up short. 11-9.

MPC Computers Bowl: Nevada (+3.5) vs. Miami. My pick: Hurricanes 23, Nevada 17. Result: Miami 21, Nevada 20. Explanation: Miami should've lost this the fact that they didn't cover is the least of their worries. 11-10.

Outback Bowl: Penn State (+4.5) vs. Tennessee. My pick: Tennessee 21, Paterno 17. Result: Penn State 20, Tennessee 10. Explanation: An 88-yard fumble return in the 4th quarter did the Vols in, but Penn State covered. 12-10.

Cotton Bowl: Auburn vs. Nebraska (+2). My pick: Auburn 27-17. Result: Auburn 17, Nebraska 14. Explanation: I KNEW I could count on the Tigers even if they suspended 3 starters! 13-10.

Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin (+1.5) vs. Arkansas. My pick: Wisconsin 23, Arkansas 21. Result: Wisconsin 17, Razorbacks 14. Explanation: Hey! This one played out about like I thought it would, too! 14-10.

Gator Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. West Virginia (-7). UWV 34, Georgia Tech 24. Result: Moutaineers 38, Yellow Jackets 35. Explanation: I still think I'd give 7 to Tech without Reggie Ball...which is why I don't bet. 14-11.

Rose Bowl: Southern Cal vs. Michigan (+1). Michigan 28, USC, 24. Result: USC 32, Michigan 18. Explanation: I guess Michigan wasn't as good as everyone thought they were...and they certainly should keep their mouths shut about deserving to play in the National Championship game. 14-12.

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Boise State (+7.5). My pick: Sooners 35, Boise State 17. Result: Boise State 43, OU 42 in OT. Explanation: Don't dis me for this one, you picked the Sooners, too. Although, after their amazing bowl-game el foldos (along with the rest of the *ahem* Big 12) maybe we should start thinking about them differently. 14-13.

Orange Bowl: Wake Forest (+10) vs. Louisville. My pick: Louisville 31, Wake Forest 13. Result: UL 24, Demon Decons 13. Explanation: I only missed it by one touchdown, but Wake gave them a much better game than I thought they would. 15-13.

Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. Notre Dame (+8.5). My pick: LSU 31, Notre Dame 21. (I'd be tempted to say 14 because Brady Quinn is overrated). Result: LSU 41, Notre Dame 14. Explanation: Notre Dame & Brady Quinn were even worse than I thought they were. Seriously, the BCS should reconsider the Notre Dame free pass. 16-13.

International Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Western Michigan (+8). My pick: Bearcats 29, Broncos 20. Result: Cincinnati 27, WMU 24. Explanation: I couldn't have known that the Bearcats would be playing in the bowl game with an entirely new coaching staff. They still should've won by 10, though. 16-14.

GMAC Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Ohio (+6). My pick: Golden Eagles 21, Ohio 14. Result: Southern Miss 28, Ohio 7. Explanation: Conference USA isn't all that bad compared to the minor conferences. 17-14.

BCS National Championship: Ohio State vs. Florida (+7.5). My pick: "Is it possible, just possible that the Big 10 has been overrated while the SEC has been beating each other up week after week?...They haven't played a defense as good as Florida's and on a neutral field, with the Gators having a chip on their shoulder, frankly, I don't need your points. Gators 28, OSU 20." Result: Gators 41, Ohio State 14. Explanation: For people who observe the SEC consistently, this was pretty easy. And, if you're printing them J & M Bookstore, I'll buy one of those bumper stickers that reads Auburn 27, National Champions 17. 18-14.

So, there you have it, college football fans. The Diner won 18 of the picks and lost 14 for the 32 bowl games...against the Las Vegas betting line, mind you.

The best bowl of the year: Unquestionably Boise State's win over OU. Runner-up: Texas Tech's win in the Insight Bowl.

And, I'm kinda sad it's over for another year...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Finishing Touches

I'm speaking to a ladies' group that meets at our church on Wednesday and I've pretty much put finished my talk on the topic: "What I Wish I Knew Then That I Know Now." The group consists of ladies are generally mothers of that should give you a general age-range and life-station.

And, since it might confirm what I've already prepared, I don't want to give you my 5 things. But, what advice would you give to that bunch?

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Monical Lewinsky is in the news again. This time because she graduated with her Master's social psychology.

Those cheerleaders from the area high school are in the news again. This time they're talking about how much their senior year has been affected by their unruly behavior--which came to light after a discovery of suggestive photos that were posted on a web page.

And, truth be told, I feel a bit of empathy for Monica. I mean, this was a young woman who got into a university and landed a plum job in the White House--and was building an impressive resume. Then--a foolish choice. Granted, with the President of the United States, but a foolish choice nonetheless.

Same for the cheerleaders. While they might've been a bit more defiant towards authority over time, they did some foolish things: The first, taking a photo in a condom store. The second posting it on the Web.

But Ms. Lewinsky can't enjoy what should be a grand moment for her. The headlines read "Smart But Stupid" or "From Thong To Thesis." They sell papers, and frankly, are clever enough, but folks, they ain't giving away degrees from the London School of Economics.

And, I'm wondering what each of our lives would be like if we'd always be known for some sort of foolish choice we made. In this age where mobile phones take video, I wonder what dirt will come out in about 15 years when some of these high schoolers and collegians begin to run for various offices.

I mean, when I was younger, the video camera or digital camera weren't prolific (if they existed at all, I didn't ever see one until later in my college years, and you had to check that one out from the AV department)...

...and I'm glad.

It could be anything. That stupid remark you said to a friend. The fight you had in front of everybody with your girlfriend. The curse word you blurted out after striking out. The encounter with the police you had for driving really fast on the nearly-completed (but yet to be opened) Interstate near your house. Getting caught by your manager at work goofing off or breaking some policy regarding NOT letting your friends into the movies for free. The senior prank that went awry. Getting caught skipping school.

And, let's be honest, do we really want the behavior we exhibited during our university years out there? I don't even want the PHOTOS I have in my albums out there NOW, for crying out loud. It was the eighties. It was Alabama. Mullets were involved.

Or how about the early years of marriage?

Or those first few experiences of rearing children?

See, that's not to say we didn't have our good moments during those high school years or college years, either. We made decent least good enough to stay in school and finish. We had laughs. We did some very good things in both places. There was growth between points A and B.

And I wonder how life would be for me if there was the same amount of media coverage...

...not to mention the "personal, self-publishing" media that every teen has access to...

...out there when I was making more consistently foolish choices.

and how miserable I'd be if all I was remembered for was The New Year's Eve debacle of 1985.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

They Seem Serious About This

It was in the paper, so I don't mind mentioning the name and giving the link. Fellowship Church (in neighboring Grapevine) is starting a new sermon series. Now, don't get me wrong, Fellowship Church and their pastor Ed Young have an effective ministry and I'm truly thankful they exist. The Kingdom will be more populated because of their efforts. Of this, I am certain.

On the other side of the coin, I'm having a bit of trouble figuring out how this promotional video with Hulk Hogan is the manner they chose to present a good idea to the community at-large.
And She Danced

My friend Ali's parents threw a party for her graduation from high school. Interesting circumstances as dad had been transferred to London last year with mom following in May. She lived with a family from our church and graduated early...and the party coincided with her 18th birthday and kind of a "going away" deal, too. The "going away" will only be temporary as she's moving back here for her university studies. She's precisely the kind of daughter you'd throw a party like that for.

There was a nice dinner.
There was a nice toast by her father, who had a nice balance of embarrassing moments, touching stories and inside jokes.
There was singing "happy birthday" (and teenagers still playfully blurt out "cha cha cha" in all the right places) and a cake.
There was a DJ who played songs from all over the map: Motown to Justin Timberlake to showtunes (Ali loves 'em).

And, it wasn't long before the parents' friends segregated off toward the back of the room and the teenagers hit the dance floor. Well, the girls hit the dance floor. The boys took a while, but they got there.

They boot-scooted and boogied.
They brought sexy back.
They all wanted R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Greased Lightnin' came and went.
They did the "thriller" dance in unison (I'm not sure where everybody picked up on that as it was before most of them were born).

They had fun.

I'm a sucker for community like the one we experienced. Lots of villagers helped raise that child--with her parents leading the charge brilliantly.
I'm a sucker for celebrating milestones as I don't think we do it enough or very well, for that matter.
I'm a sucker for teenagers and the enthusiasm they bring.
I'm a sucker for my daughters.

And, I'm proud of Ali. I told her that, too. I know it hasn't been easy for her to graduate early so she could join her family over an ocean. She's a sharp person, and I'm glad we're friends.

And, while I hoped that we'd have a good time and celebrate and enjoy the moment all on it's very own...

...I secretly couldn't wait until my daughters get to some serious milestones to celebrate their first steps into being viewed as adults, and I'm sure they'll do so with the same graciousness Ali showed...

...manalive, that would just be icing on the cake.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Pat Robertson Reminder #11

Yeah, Pat. Ummm...we've been over this before: If you get memo's from God telling us all that God told you of "mass killings by terroritsts" in 2007, could you please keep it to yourself...

...and do everything you can to keep stuff like this compiltation of reasons I asked you to stop talking before off the airways.


Thursday, January 04, 2007


Like most of you, my profession has journals and magazines that are designed especially for my line of work--being a pastor of teens & their parents. I mentioned this to a guy yesterday and he kinda laughed. The tone was, "Seriously. You guys have your own magazines just like businessmen and doctors and photographers?" I often wonder what people have in their brains when they think of what I truly do for a living...that exchange was just one of many examples.

So, I thought I'd get just the office periodicals that zip around from staff member to staff member that were on my desk yesterday and let you browse the covers and see if you'd flip through it in a coffee shop or something:

"Discipleship Journal"--the headline just says SEX and has bullet points like "A union like no other" and "How to be a Great Lover" and "Straight talk about chastity." There's also a minor headline that reads "I Was the Mormon Next Door."

"Christianity Today"--the cover has a picture of a child in what appears to be an area where prostitution might be likely (I don't know how else to describe it) with the headline "Red-Light Rescue: The BUSINESS of saving girls from a life of prostitution. There's another headline above the title that reads "Reeling from Adultery."

"REV!"--the cover has a guy wearing a clown nose with the headline "Make it STICK! People remember less than 10% of your sermon. Here's how to make it 90%. page 52." There's a couple of minor features like "Hybels Rethinks Evangelism" and "How to get the most from 2007 Pastor Conferences."

"Youthworker Journal"--this is the magazine that thought my submission of "destroying the myth of the quiet time" could be read as "harsh by some readers" so I pretty much haven't submitted anything else...for some reason that little bit of rejection really stung, but hey, I'm working through it. Anyway, this month's headline is "Good Sports" and features and rountable discussion with leaders from ministries like Athletes in Action and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. It also interviews the NFL running back Shaun Alexander.

So, yeah, that's what I flip through between meetings or in that few mintues before a kid arrives for coffee. Then I check the box that Kim writes our names on and put them in the next box for the next staffer.

It's almost like I have a real job.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Cluttered, But That's Okay

So much I meant to do during my two weeks off from work.

I didn't clean out my closet (and put in the organizer piece from Lowe's I bought almost a year ago--it's in the garage) and get rid of the extra clothes.

I didn't put the stuff on I wanted to...the golf clubs, the extra table, the baby crib/dresser/changing table, etc.

I didn't clean out my files from work--but I can kinda let that one go because it would've seemed like work.

I didn't get rid of the excess Christmas junk in the attic.

I didn't get the computer issues resolved completely.

I didn't get the new windows/bathroom renovation thing solved.

I didn't read much at all.

I didn't write at all--other than blogs. Not even in journals.

I didn't do as much as I wanted to with my girls.

I didn't do as much as I wanted to with my wife.


I feel rested for the first time in what seems like a very long time. I didn't even have naps the last few days (which, on vacation, I nap with an excellence few can match).

Rested mentally.

Rested physically.

And somewhat rested spiritually...even though I often wonder what that means. I mean, I always feel like following Christ keeps me on this edge where ultimately He's pleased with me and protecting me with some sort of belay & harness, but there's always some lesson to learn so I'll grow that's preparing me for some vague (but important) mission for the Kingdom. It's hard for me to know what "rested spiritually" entails.

But, I'm rested.

Even if there's still a lot of clutter.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


As you can tell, the management of The Diner decided to do some post-holiday/new year remodeling. Feel free to comment on any and all changes as nothing's irreversable and it's oh-so-easy to change.

The management would like to invite all of you who hang out here to give us your blog link and we'll be happy to put you on our links. We've found that a lot of Diner readers want to get to know the commenters, and what better way than to pop on and give us your url to link to?

Also, some of you will notice we have a "blogger probation" penalty box (consider it a 2-minute minor) that if you haven't blogged in a while but we value your patronage, all you have to do is make a contribution to the blog ring by updating your blog, letting us know, and we'll be happy to put you under our "frequent patron" listing.

And, now that the holidays are over...let's get back to regular blogging/commenting schedules shall we?
Record Keeping

Just so I don't lose the lists, here's the books and movies I saw in 2006:


  • Church Re-Imagined: The Spiritual Formation of People in Communities of Faith by Doug Pagitt

  • A Man Without A Country, by Kurt Vonnegut

  • The Truth (with Jokes), by Al Franken

  • The Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives, edited by Leonard Sweet

  • To Own a Dragon: Reflections on Growing Up Without a Father, by Donald Miller

  • 1776, by David McCollough

  • Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2, by Steve Stockman

  • 7 Practices of Effective Ministry, by Andy Stanley, et al.

  • Love & Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

  • Living the Resurrection, by Eugene Peterson

  • Honeymoon with My Brother, by Frans Wisner

  • Why Men Hate Going To Church, by David Murrow

  • Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assasination of JFK, by Gerald Posner

  • How To Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved, by Sandra L. Brown (for work, okay?)

  • Belushi: A Biography, by Judith Belushi Pisano and Tanner Colby

  • Death by Suburb: How To Keep The Suburbs From Killing Your Soul, by David L. Geotz

  • Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, by Eugene Peterson

  • Blah, Blah, Blah: Making Sense of the World's Spiritual Chatter, by Bayard Taylor

  • Compassionate Leadership, by Ted Engstrom and Paul Cedar

  • When God Says Jump: Biblical Stories That Inspire You To Think Big, by J.R. Briggs

  • Practicing Greatness, by Reggie McNeal

  • The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me, by Major W. Ian Thomas

  • Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton

  • The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas L. Friedman

  • Jesus in the Margins: Finding God in the Places We Ignore, by Rick McKinley

  • Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, by N.T. Wright

  • Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation, by Sarah Cunningham

  • The Diety Formerly Known As God, by Jarret Stevens

  • The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness, by Steven Levy

  • jPod: A Novel, by Douglas Coupland

  • Punk: The Whole Story, by Mojo Magazine

  • Movies:

  • Over The Hedge

  • Nacho Libre

  • Lake House

  • The Devil Wears Prada

  • Cinderella Man

  • Click

  • Superman Returns

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

  • My Super Ex-Girlfriend

  • You, Me & DuPree

  • Clerks II

  • Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

  • Step Up

  • Accepted

  • Snakes on a Plane

  • Little Miss Sunshine

  • The Last Kiss

  • Invincible

  • Man of the Year

  • Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

  • Flags of our Fathers

  • Stranger Than Fiction

  • The Prestige

  • Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny

  • Deja Vu

  • A Night at the Museum

  • The Good Shepherd
  • Happy New Year's, Part Two

    To bury the ashes of 2006, I thought I'd start a new tradition in our family by starting off New Year's Day by cooking a big breakfast: Steak & eggs, waffles (frozen, but hey), fruit, the whole deal.

    Suffice to say, the lesson is learned: After not getting to bed until nearly 3AM, when you have to get up at 6:30AM to make the Cotton Bowl's 10:30AM kick-off, it's best to begin start that tradition next year and make it a BRUNCH. It was slow going until we arrived at Dallas' Fair Park.

    Then things picked up:

    Those $12 seats we picked up on StubHub turned out to be on the Nebraska side of the stadium (the Cotton Bowl does an excellent job of arranging it so each side of the stadium is for each participating team) we were like that guy on the Schoolhouse Rock cartoon teaching about interjections when an entire stadium of people went "AWWW" and a lone guy in the top row yells, "Hurray! I'm for the other team!" That was us, and in the same way that mountains or oceans or lakes inspire some folks, city skylines inspire me. Here was the view from our seats:

    Here's us at the game. We had to ask a nice Nebraska fan to take it, but they were plenty friendly...except for two college students who were trying to uphold their school's tradition of standing up to support their team. They didn't understand that they weren't in the "student section" and most everybody wanted to sit and watch the game and that they were the only two in the upper deck standing up. After enough razzing from those behind them (we let the Nebraska fans handle their own--we were already in enemy territory) they gave up their stubbornness and exited to the student section.

    And, then, a nice way to start 2007. It's already better than 2006's start:

    We got home at 4PM...and the rest of the day was spent trying to stay awake until a respectable hour. Tracy made it to 9:30PM, and Kelsey 9:45PM. Shelby road-warriored it with a sleepover at a friends' we'll see how that goes later today.

    At any rate, the McKinney's had an excellent start to 2007.

    Monday, January 01, 2007

    Happy New Year!

    The Diner management would like to wish you and yours a very happy new year.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to put my game face on. The Diner's family will be off to the Cotton Bowl (who the heck made the decision to put this bowl game so early on New Year's Day?) to pull our beloved Auburn Tigers through to victory.