Thursday, June 30, 2005
Anyway, it's been on my list of place to clean out and organize since taking over my new position, but after cleaning the attic and two temporary storage units we have I was not very motivated. The first week we got most of the shelves cleaned and inventoried all the paint we store back there. Today we took down peg board that held up 12 yard signs and moved it to the back where it was not in the way. We carried some stuff out to the storage units and arranged a bunch of "stuff"...and we've still got the area under the baptistry to clean.
The "food pantry" is looking a lot better, but once again I took no before and after picture. One of these days I'll learn.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
The longer I am at my new position, the more opportunities I have to "fix stuff". I have a fluorescent light in my office and it has not been working properly. The light was working, but it was not very bright so I figured it needed a new bulb. Two new bulbs did not fix the problem, so I figured it was the ballast. I've helped Harry change out a ballast in the youth building, so I knew it was not too difficult to replace. A trip to Lowes and 15 minutes later I had the ballast and all seemed well...until the next day when I turned the light on and it looked just like it did before two new bulbs and a new ballast! Apparently the problem was the little clip thingies on the end where the bulb posts make contact. Now that I got the "clip thingies" fixed, new bulbs and a new ballast, that light out to be "good to go" for quite a while now!
After that, I went out and changed out light bulbs in our security lights around the Sunday School building. Five bulbs were out (90 watt security bulbs) and appeared to have burned out within two days of each other. There is a fixture at each corner of the building and each fixture has two bulbs. When I replaced the bulbs, I noticed the light sensor on two of the lights was broken and the lights stayed on all the time (with it being daylight, they were supposed to sense this and be off). A trip to Lowes revealed that the fixtures were too old to replace the light sensor, so I bought new fixtures.
I tackled my first task dealing with electricity. I knew the first thing I needed to do was turn off the power to the lights I wanted to replace, so after a brief search of the building and the partial removing of a bulletin board, I found the power box and threw the correct breaker. Inside the old lights were eight wires and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the new lights contained only three wires that needed to be connected...black, white and green. The old lights needed three wires for each light and three for the sensor. The new lights had the sensor and two bulbs wired together so all I had to do was connect black to black, white to white and connect the green ground wire to the proper place on the box (where the incoming power was grounded). The second light took about half the time of the first and when I turned the power back on they worked like a charm! When it's dark they are on, when it's light they are off.
So far, taking stuff apart and fixing it has gone pretty well. We'll see what happens when I have to build something. Maybe I'm a more handy man than I thought.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Eight...that's how many points I had against Chuck playing racquetball
today. My all-time high score playing him is nine. So why is eight a
big deal? Because I had 8 points when he had just 7. I thought to
myself, "Certainly I can get at least two more points. That would
give me ten...and that would be a new all-time high against Chuck."
Final score? Rob 8, Chuck 15!
Sunday, June 26, 2005
When Amanda heard that the motorcycle was here, she wanted to ride! This afternoon, we took the motorcycle down to 7-Eleven to fill it up with gas and took it for a spin. We mostly rode around the neighborhoods near the house, but Amanda thought it was great. She kept going on and on about how great it was, how much fun it was, how cool it was, how beautiful it was...I think you get the idea. We had such a great time we are going to try and do it again tomorrow before PaPa comes back to pick it up.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Sunday, June 19, 2005
So, Sunday was a busy day. Pastor is out town at the Liberty Fellowship family summer conference. Liberty Fellowship is the group that Pastor, Stan (our singles pastor) and I are ordained with. Anyway, Pastor was gone so I got to preach. I really enjoy the opportunity to preach and am thankful Pastor David trusts me enough to fill in while he is away.
As I was thinking and praying about this opportunity to preach, I came across Matthew 12:33-37: "A tree is identified by its fruit. Make a tree good, and its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad, and its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, that you must give an account on judgment day of every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say now reflect your fate then; either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned." (NLT)
As I read that, I started thinking about all of the things I have tried to keep from coming out of my mouth...hurtful words, curse words, lying, gossip, etc. I remember one period in my life where I determined I was not going to say negative things about people. There were a number of times when something negative would come to mind, but I just determined not to say it. That was a good feeling, and I believe the Lord was pleased with that decision. But after reading this passage from Matthew, I realized that while God was happy that I was not "saying" those things, He would rather take those things out of my heart. Then, not only would I not say them, but they would not even be in my heart.
About this time, Brooke, Amanda and I were over at my parents house. Brooke was inside with Mom while Amanda and I were outside with Dad. While Dad and I were talking, Amanda began crying and came up to me. When I asked her what happened, she took me over to a fire ant hill and told me she was trying to kill the fire ants (because she knows we do not like them). She was trying to destroy the whole mound one ant at a time. Those of us who live in Texas know, theoretically, the best way to get rid of fire ants is some sort of poison bait that the ants will take to the queen/queens. If the queen dies, the mound dies or at least moves.
Later, the Lord brought this story and this passage together. How many times in my spiritual life do I try to overcome sin issues one little ant at a time? Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do." (NLT) The Lord was telling me that I could fight sin issues in my life one ant at a time or I could give Him my heart, let Him take out the nasty stuff in there and put His "stuff" (wisdom, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) and kill the whole "ant hill" at one time.
Lastly, with it being Father's Day, I thought about the things we give our fathers on Father's Day. What has God told us He would like for us to give Him...our hearts! So I preached a message called "The Heart of the Matter" and used the acronym HEART to look at what God says about the heart and, more specifically, how we can take a a "kill the whole colony" approach to sin by giving our heart to God.
As they often do, my parents came to hear me preach. I always appreciate them coming, and since Sunday was both Father's Day and Mom's birthday, we went out to eat together after church. Afterwards, we all came back to the house and spent a little time together before everybody got sleepy for a Sunday afternoon nap.
Sunday night, we didn't do much of anything. We just relaxed and probably went to be early. It was a busy Sunday.
We were home just over an hour when some friends who were going out of town dropped off their dogs for the week. They've got two dogs, so with our two, we've got 4 this week. We've kept their dogs before and they have kept ours, so it works out pretty well. It's been an interesting weekend with the new dogs...one had diarrhea on Friday night and left nice "presents" in Amanda's room. The other got hit with it today. Bless her heart, first I had to hose her off outside and then give her a bath. Hopefully we are all over that now and hopefully our two dogs won't get whatever that mess was!
Thursday, June 16, 2005
He called on Tuesday and came to talk to me. We talked more about the church and a little more about ourselves and then George told me he felt very welcome Sunday morning and at the Life Group he visited on Tuesday night. He said he was not much for sitting around at home by himself and he'd like to volunteer at the church. I told him I'd see where we could use some help and give him a call.
Today, I had a good hour-and-half worth of errands to run, so I called George to see if he was busy (he volunteers at a shelter twice a week and is building up his list of other places he wants to volunteer). He said he was free in the afternoon, so I asked him if he wanted to go run some errands with me and we could just hang out while we ran errands. We went to the auto supply store, Lowe's, Best Buy and Costco. It took at least an hour-and-a-half like I thought it would, and I really enjoyed getting to know George a little. One of the first things I asked him was what he prefer I call him...George or Mr. __________ (his last name). He said he preferred George, but I told him I had to ask because growing up, my parents always taught me to refer to adults (or my elders) by Mr. or Mrs. Nowadays, I settle for Mr. or Mrs. and their first name, but it's still a matter of respect. Anyway, George (81 years old) said he preferred George.
I don't know if I have enough to keep George busy for half a day every week (in my department), but I'm going to talk to other people on our staff and see what we might come up with on a regular basis. Next week, George is going to come help me clean out our pantry behind the stage at church. It was #4 on my clean up list after the attic and two PODS outside. After cleaning the other three spaces I was not very motivated to get to the pantry, so it was good timing to have somebody come along who wanted to help do whatever needed to be done. So I'll see George again on Sunday, and then we'll work together on Wednesday. He's only been to the church once so I hope he still likes it after coming a few more weeks, but I've really enjoyed getting to know him a little bit and spending some time with him this week.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
In April, Dell replaced about $1,200 worth of parts in my laptop...motherboard and heat sink (i.e. cooling fan). It was free to me because of the warranty. Well, I started having trouble a couple weeks ago when working on my computer...it showed it was running on battery power and not on AC power even though I had the AC cord plugged in. After much wiggling of the power cord, I got it to work again. This week, same problem. I called Dell...CORRECTION, I did online chat support with Dell. (That is a whole other story...online chat is easier because if you call, you are literally transferred to a call center in India. The techs there are very nice but have such a thick accent it is hard to understand them). The short version is, they told me they would replace my motherboard and the bottom plastic part of my laptop case. Of course, this was supposed to be done in one business day according to my warranty, but it took two.
So the guy shows up (after miscommunication on Dell's part as to which phone number and address to give the technician). As I watch him take apart my laptop (absolutely fascinating!), I notice the "new" motherboard has a big sticker on the bag which says "refurbished". I'm thinking to myself, "What in the world can you refurbish in a motherboard?" So I asked the guy. Guess what parts are refurbished? How about the little plug in ports...you know...the part that went bad on my motherboard so that the AC cord would not work.
Maybe I'm just being pessimistic, but I'm thinking in the two (or is it three?) years I have left on my laptop, I'm going to be calling Dell again and getting a fourth motherboard put in! I certainly don't want to call again as it is somewhat of a hassle to get them out in TWO business days, but I haven't done too well with refurbished motherboards.
Do I still recommend Dell? Yes, I'm know you can find "horror stories" on the Internet on just about any brand computer. And to their credit, Dell has made it right with my laptop, it's just been a hassle. I can tell you this, I sure am a big fan of extended warranties. Brooke's Toshiba has no warranty and it is at least three years old with no problems, but I'll never buy another laptop again without an extended warranty.
Over the years that Shaun and I have been friends, he has had so many heath issues to overcome I cannot keep track. It started with cancer. He went through treatment for that and all that goes with it. They had to cut out something in or near his vocal chords, so they told him he would never talk again after surgery. God had other plans for Shaun and with the help of an artificial vocal chord (not exactly, but close enough), he can still talk. Then he back problems...major back problems. During his back surgery, his doctor messed up and ended up killing a muscle in Shaun's leg. The leg swelled up and hurt him so bad he could not walk on it or even sleep. That required another surgery to take the muscle out of his leg and the doctors told him he would not be able to walk (at least not "normal"). Again, God had other plans. And then, one of the many surgeries had another complication...they nicked or cut his vegas nerve. This appears to be a MAJOR nerve that has to do with your digestive system, heart and many other major systems in your body. This left Shaun unable to keep down solid foods permanently. It has also messed with the chemical balances in his body so that he has to contend with depression and mood swings. Through all of this, Shaun has been quick to give God glory for every victory along the way and has kept a positive attitude that I do not think I could have maintained. I really admire him.
And then there was the call from the doctor this past Monday. Shaun has been feeling terrible and extremely fatigued recently. Last week he went to see his doctor because he thought he was having a heart attack. They examined him and ran some tests to determine he was not having a heart attack, but they also did some blood work. On Monday, the doctor called Shaun and said, "You test results came back not good. You need to come in and see us immediately." Shaun could not get into the doctor until 5pm Tuesday, so you can imagine the torture he, his wife and kids went through.
I wasn't able to talk to Shaun until this morning, when he told me the good news. The "bad results" had nothing to do with cancer. Because Shaun cannot eat solid food, he has developed a bad bacteria infection in his stomach. This infection could easily account for the fatigue, nausea and even symptoms of a heart attack that Shaun has been having. They have him on three antibiotics and after this is treated, he will have to be on medicine twice a day to keep this from redeveloping. I'm still praying for my friend that God would heal him of this infection and even work a miracle of total healing in his body...but I am relieved.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
I won't ruin the movie for you if you haven't seen it, but I will tell you it traces the story of a Lt. Col. leading his men into war in Vietnam. You watch as his men fight bravely and then many of them die. Back home, their wives come to the door, children in their arms, to receive the telegram, "The State Department regrets to inform you...". It is heart-wrenching.
So why would I call this one of my all-time "favorite" movies if I don't like movies that make me cry? Because I cannot help but thank God for every soldier who has ever fought or ever will fight for our great nation. I cannot imagine what would be going through my mind as I tuck my daughter into bed and lay down beside my wife for the last time going off to war. I cannot imagine what a wife could say to her husband as she kisses him goodbye for what could be the last time. At the end of the movie, they show a picture of the Vietnam War Memorial where all the soldiers' names are written who gave their lives for our great country. I love this movie that makes me cry (even as I am writing this), because it reminds me what a blessing it is to live in America and the price that so many paid for me to enjoy the freedoms I have today.
God, thank you for the freedoms you have given America. Thank you for the men and women who have given their lives for this great country. Protect those who are serving even now...keep them safe and bring peace to their families. Forgive us as a nation for turning our back on You...the One who has seen us through these wars and given us the liberties we enjoy today.
If you are a war veteran or are currently serving our country and happen upon this blog...THANK YOU.
GOD BLESS AMERICA!
Monday, June 13, 2005
But I'm up late because Brooke and Amanda are not here...and it stinks! Brooke's sister has been sick and in the hospital, so she wanted to go visit them this week and help take care of her sister's two kids while her sister is trying to recuperate and find out exactly what is going on. Saturday, I drove Brooke, Amanda, Boo and Sully to Vicksburg, MS where we met Brooke's parents. Brooke and Amanda headed to Alabama while Boo, Sully and I headed home. This was the first time we took the puppies on any kind of road trip, and they did great. They slept some, but mostly they just rotated one dog and then the other sitting on my lap on the way back. 13 hours in the car and nobody got car sick or had an "accident" in the car, so it was a good trip. I think I'll take them with me when I go back to pick up Brooke and Amanda.
Had my first meeting with our Life Group leaders tonight. I think things went well. I've had meetings with adult youth leaders before, but this was my first meeting with adults who actually work with adults. It was a good feeling... part of the transition between youth pastor and administrative pastor (working with adults now). We had a good turn out, some good discussions and I hope the short teaching I shared tonight will be something they can use in their groups. I'm a notes freak, so of course I gave them notes from what I was sharing. Unlike teenagers, they at least took their notes home. I have no idea if they will use anything I shared tonight, but at least I didn't have to go around the room and pick up notes to each other written on the page I had provided to takes teaching notes on (I think all youth pastors know how I feel). Anyway, it was a good night.
Well, I think it's safe to say I will NOT be getting up at 5:15am to play racquetball this morning. I usually play 3-4 times a week, but we'll have to see this week. With everybody gone, I'm very likely to come home from work, take a nap, eat dinner, work on my sermon for Sunday and then stay up late watching a movie (at home next time). When I do that, I'm not very motivated go get up early in the morning.
Having said that, I'm off to a well air-conditioned room for a good night's rest. I HATE it when my family is not here and I don't like sleeping in the bed by myself, but at least the dogs won't be laying on the 1/3 of the bed my wife allows me...they can sleep on her 2/3 of the bed tonight!
Friday, June 10, 2005
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
So here's what happened. I was on the Fair and Flexible Plan...and very happy with it by the way. We got 700 anytime minutes, free 7pm nights and weekends, free PCS to PCS calling and just $5 for every 100 minutes we went over all on a shared plan. I wish bills were more like the Energizer Bunny...I wish they'd keep "going and going" instead of "coming and coming". But since the bills kept coming, and since new doctors keep sending us their bills, I decided we needed to cut the budget in several areas. I cut our cell phone plan back (a LOT) and cut off all the extra services on our home phone. Made a few other cuts here and there, and for a week or two, it seemed like it helped. Now, Sprint did tell me NOT to go over my minutes on my smaller plan. Whereas I paid $5 for every 100 minutes I was over on the Fair and Flexible Plan, I would not pay 41 cents each MINUTE I went over on this new plan. Well, by the time I checked our minutes for the first time, we were hemoraging bad...WAY over our minutes. And then it took another week for Brooke to figure out that every time she checked her voice mail from her cell phone (because we quit taking calls), it was costing us 41 cents a minute!
I have had a love/hate relationship with SprintPCS. I think it all depends who I get on the phone. Sometimes I get somebody who is very helpful and sometimes I get somebody who wants to make me think there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ON EARTH they can do to help me. When I tried to find a smaller (i.e. "cheaper") plan, the person I talked to was not very helpful. When I realized how far we had gone over our minutes (in our defense, we get a LOT of work-related calls on our phones) and called to go back to my Fair and Flexible Plan, I got a helpful person who gave me 60 minutes instant credit on my current bill. Granted, I'm still going to have to take out a personal loan to pay SprintPCS this next month (not literally), I still thought the gesture was nice. They gave me the credit before I switched back to my bigger (i.e. "more expensive") plan.
So, I'm not yet sure what is the lesson to be learned here. I guess, "Don't ever get a cell phone, because once you have one, you never realize how much you use it"? The part that is frustrating is the fact that I was trying to save money and cut back on the budget, but in reality, I threw the budget out of whack for a couple months to come now! But we'll make it...and boy oh boy...we ought to be on Sprint's "A" list this month.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
I forgot to mention that the sanctuary decorations included these "tree things". If I can post some pictures, I'll clearly label the "tree things". Anyway, these were stored in the church attic. Let me help you get a clearer picture...climb the steps to the baptistery, climb the ladder into the attic and then climb up into the rafters of the attic. There you will see the "tree things". Before I cleaned out the attic, this was the only place these things would fit...but "fit" really isn't a very good word. If you hold your mouth just right, twist, turn and otherwise manipulate in every way you can imagine you can get those things down. The outside temperature was probably only in the upper 80's today. Safe to say it was 100 degrees in the attic...I'm guessing it was 120 degrees, easy up there in the rafters. When I came down, it looked I took a shower with my clothes on! Of course, I smelled kinda funky, too.
Oh, but I forgot to mention one other item...actually getting up into the rafters. I had a stool to stand on and I was trying to hoist myself up into the rafters from there. Now, those of you that know me know my arm-size to stomach-size ratio does not favor pulling myself up. I don't know the exact measurements between the rafters, and although there is not a lot of room left, it is sufficient for my girth. However, I knew it was going to be a challenging climbing up to the top of the stool, grabbing the rafters, kicking my legs up onto the rafters and trying to pull myself up. To make things worse (you thought it couldn't get worse?), a couple college girls working with the children's department came up to try and help while I was doing my monkey impression. To their credit, they left rather than laugh in my face (that's what they told Brooke).
Anyway, all 30-40 "tree things" came down out of the attic. I went home, took a shower, changed clothes and drank a 50 oz. lemonade and am not much worse for the wear. The good news is, since I cleaned up the attic a few weeks ago, there is room to put the "tree things" on the floor in the attic so nobody has to crawl up in the rafters anymore.
Friday, June 03, 2005
But anyway, the book I am not moseying through (is "moseying" a word?) is Making Small Groups Work: What Every Small Group Leader Needs to Know by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It is an excellent book so far (I'm on page 67 of 292!).
One chapter is entitled "The Ingredients of Grace, Truth and Time". This is what they said about grace and truth:
Jesus was the realization of grace and truth together. He was total unmerited favor. He loves us, accepts us, and helps us when we don't deserve it. He favors us and brings us favors, just because he loves us. He also give us truth-the truth of God, the truth of life and how we should live, the truth of who and how we really are. Jesus offer the love that gets us to face and deal with reality. The safety of his forgiveness and grace take the shame and sting out of our daily failure to live up to his standards. The exciting thing about experiencing grace and truth together is that we can become friends with the standards. The way we "out to be" can become a goal, a direction, instead of a judge. Because of grace, we can begin to say, "I want to see where I need to change, so I can be and do better. Show me the truth and where I am in relation to it." Jesus' grace enables us to become friends with truth.
I don't know...maybe taken out of context of the whole chapter that doesn't make much sense. I really appreciated "The exciting thing about experiencing grace and truth together is that we can become friends with the standards" because I am my own harshest critic. Too much truth about who I am is hard for me to handle. But as I've been spending time with the Lord journaling, I have noticed how he deals with issues in my life with grace. I never feel like He is putting me down or even "yelling at" me even when He is correcting me. I can relate to the need for a balance of truth and grace in my life.
The book goes on to talk about how doing life together as a group enhances (or can enhance) this truth/grace balance as members deal with one another in truth and walk in grace. As group members we have the opportunity to demonstrate the balance of God's truth and grace to others and help them mature in Christ. This books is showing me how God never intended for us to grow in him by ourselves...he intended for us to do it together. It is making me appreciate the people God has put in my life and giving me an excitement about working with the Life Group leaders in our church.