Friday, November 30, 2007

To Alabama and Back

Things have been busy, so I haven't blogged a lot recently. We went to Alabama for Thanksgiving and the 6 days we were there flew by. We came back and have been busy all week. I have spent a number of hours working on fund raising calendars for the team from the church that is going to Nicaragua this year. I did a lot before going to Alabama, worked several hours on them there and then finished printing them this week. Between that, sending out follow up postcards from our Thanksgiving in a Bag outreach and preparing to preach this Sunday, it's been a busy week. The week before I preach is always crazy, but I sure get excited about the opportunity to teach. This Sunday we will be talking about "What Does Your Passion Do For You?".

Brooke's birthday was Friday (while we were in Alabama). Amanda stayed with her Aunt Jill and cousins while Brooke's parents and I took Brooke out to dinner for her birthday. I also picked up a few Christmas CDs for Brooke's birthday, including Michael Buble's Let It Snow. Then tonight, my parents came over and we celebrated again.

So that's what's been going on this past week. Here are some pictures from our trip to Alabama (complete with still unedited red eye!)

Left to right: Amanda, Aunt Jill, MaMa Gin, cousin Hannah

Aunt Judy, Dad, cousins David and Hannah dishing up Thanksgiving dinner

Don't ask me why Jill is holding a hot dog in front of her face...because I simply do not know!

Wow, now there's a first (NOT!). Amanda is staring at the TV and missed what's going on. And no, her eyes are not that creepy color red because she has been mesmerized by the TV, I just haven't had a chance to remove the red eye yet.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Day in the Sun

This picture was taken on one of the last days I saw the turtles out. We've had a few cold nights (upper 30's) and the turtles are digging in to hibernate. This time of the year always makes me a little nervous for them turtles. They pretty much stop eating in preparation for hibernation (so as not to have food in their stomachs that will rot while they are hibernating according to what I have read). They dig down and bury themselves, but when we get a warm day right after they have dug in, they come back out and walk around a bit. I never know if they are looking for food or are just out because it's warm. I don't know if I should offer them food or not (do they need the food to stay strong through their hibernation, or would the food in their stomach be bad for them during hibernation?). The last time I tried to feed them I didn't have any takers, so I guess they know what they need. They made it through last year, so I image they will be fine again this year.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Are We "Right"?

As the "religious right" (I'm including myself in each of these):

We fight gay marriage to protect the sanctity of marriage, yet our divorce rates are nearly the same as those who claim no religious affiliation.

We fight abortion yet we do not support Right to Life (and those they help) with our time or pocket book.

We fight to get prayer back in school, yet fail to maintain a persistent and passionate personal prayer life.

We fight to get the 10 Commandments put back on the wall of a courthouse, but fail to put them into practice in our own life.

We fight to get Creation taught in school but do nothing when there is a coat drive at school for students who have no winter coat.

We fight to keep "one nation under God" in the pledge, but fail to live our personal life "under God".

We fight to protect the right of Christians to speak their minds, yet we don't speak up for God around our non-Christian friends.

We fight to clean up the trash that movie and music producers are pumping out, yet we listen to and watch things that we would never dream of sitting through if Jesus were physically sitting next to us.

I am starting to ask myself, "What if we quit fighting everybody in the name of Christianity and just started living the Christian life instead?"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

LOVE - The Only Criteria

"How might our churches be different if we took Paul's teaching seriously {his teaching on love being the most important thing, from I Corinthians 13}? What would happen if the ultimate criteria we used to access how "successful" or "unsuccessful" our churches were was the question, are we loving as Jesus loved? The truth of the matter is that we are only carrying out God's will and expanding the kingdom of God to the extent that we answer that question affirmatively. No other question, criteria, or agenda can have any meaning for kingdom-of-God devotees except insofar as it helps us respond to that question."

-Gregory A. Boyd
from The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving In A Bag

My pastor already blogged about our Thanksgiving in a Bag outreach, and you can see a great picture collage on his blog, but I am way too excited about what happened this past Saturday not to share it, too.

Brooke reads Steve Bowen's blog Kindness to Go and saw the idea for Thanksgiving in a Bag there. We have recently started a number of these outreaches where we try to meet needs in a real, practical way showing God's love and meeting people where they are (rather than expecting them to come to the church to receive). The idea behind Thanksgiving in a Bag was simple (as adapted by Vine Fellowship)...the church bought 100 turkeys to give away and challenged each family in the church to fill one bag with groceries (we had a list of things to get...all the stuff for Thanksgiving "fixin's"). We have about 100 families in the church, so this was a big challenge.

I started getting excited when I saw the bags coming in. It looked like we were going to be just a few bags short of our 100, so the church filled a few. And then on the day of the outreach, people brought more, so we had 100 turkeys and around 110 bags of "fixin's".

My excitement continued to build on Saturday. Volunteers were asked to be at the church at 10:00am to help load up tables, tents, chairs, face painting stuff and 100 bags of groceries to head to the park. By 10:10am, over 25 volunteers had shown up and we were packed and ready to head to the park down the street where we were setting up for the outreach. (We had previously handed out door hangers in our "target neighborhood" telling them about the free meal and where we'd be).

We arrived at Deaver Park, unloaded and were ready to go by 10:40am. We had 2 jump houses set up, a registration table, 3 tables loaded with groceries (and more ready to fill the gaps when those were gone), 2 tables loaded with kids socks and underwear that had been donated by church people and a pickup full of ice and 100 turkeys which we got a discount thanks to Kroger grocery stores.

Then the people started coming and things got really exciting! In our last outreach at the park, we did not have a very solid plan for taking time to talk with people and pray with them. We did get to pray for some, and it was good, but we wanted to do better. We have cards that we ask people to fill out when they come. This card has room for a person's name and address, a place to check if they would like to know about upcoming events (our outreaches) and a place to write prayer requests. This time, when people filled out their card, if they marked a prayer request, we had church volunteers offer to pray with them right there. If people put "no thank you" or didn't put anything on their card, we showed them to the groceries, told them we were glad they were there and hung out with them as long as they wanted. But when they marked a prayer request, we prayed with them. We figured we got to pray with almost 90% of the people who came to the park. Several people were still wiping tears from their eyes and they got to the end of the line and got their free turkey...touched that somebody cared enough to feed them and pray with them about their needs.

It was an awesome day! We had great participation from the congregation bringing food, an incredible turnout of volunteers and tremendous opportunities to show God's love in a practical way.

You can view a slide show of the outreach here.

Riding, Riding, Riding

OK, usually I like it cold (for those of you up north, let me clarify by saying "Texas cold") when it gets close to Thanksgiving. But since I got the motorcycle, I am LOVING every single warm day we get!

Brooke's helmet came in Saturday, so we finally got to go for a short ride. Amanda and I threw on a light jacket and went for about an hour and a half ride Sunday (pictured here). It was wonderful! I drove out into Kennedale, out Dick Price Rd. I knew we could go far enough to get "lost" and we did. We were out in the country and saw horses, cows, llamas and goats. We wandered around until we looped back to someplace that looked familiar and headed home.

So right now I'm lovin' the warm weather and hoping we will have more of it on December 16 for the Big Texas Toy Run.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Suzuki Boulveard c50 (800cc)

So here is a picture of my bike. I got to pick it up yesterday, but I have not had time to blog or take real pictures. Hopefully I can do that Thursday or Friday, but in the it is. I still can't believe it's mine!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Another Daddy/Daughter Date Night

It started Friday morning when I wrote on the napkin that I put in her lunch box:

Mommy is at the Ladies' Retreat this weekend. How about you and me have a Daddy/Daughter date night tonight? Love you, Daddy (her teacher emailed me and told me Amanda carried the napkin around all afternoon!)

I started this idea a while back after considering how important the role of a father is in teaching girls how they should expect men to treat them. I've told Amanda that I am showing her how a guy should treat her on a date MANY, MANY, MANY, MANY, MANY, MANY years down the road.

So last night we went to Movie Tavern for Amanda's first time. We watched the Bee Movie (definitely a "B" movie!), I had a hamburger, Amanda had chicken tenders (I know, both are totally predictable) and then we went to Cold Stone Creamery for dessert. We both had a lot of fun.

Just in case you are wondering, the picture here is NOT what Amanda wore on our date! It's just a new picture I have of her being goofy...and I wanted to make you wonder!

Investing in People's Lives

When I was a youth pastor, I used to tell my interns, "Don't expect a lot of "thank yous" from just ain't gonna happen. And don't base your effectiveness totally on what you see from the kids you pastor...cause they are teenagers and are gonna do goofy teenager stuff. The reward, I would tell them, will come years later down the road when you see the kind of Christian they have become. And every great once-in-a-while, one of them might say "thank you for what you did way back then." Every great once-in-a-while.

Well, this week, I got to experience one of those rare moments...and it made my entire day! I was sitting at my desk this week, and the following IM popped up:

Hey PR, I just wanted to tell you that you were the bestest Youth Pastor ever. Even though sometimes I wanted to smack you, but I guess that’s normal when you are a teenager. I learned a lot from you and all your lessons. I always enjoyed coming to youth and being a part. Even when you made us talk to strangers and give them water and I was scared, I’m still glad I did it. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the help of your ladder sermons. Even though they were embarrassing and I didn’t know what some of the things on it meant and was too scared to ask, I still kept those lessons to heart growing up. I know that they helped me to become the woman I am today and I appreciate it even more now that I am a married woman. Your teaching was second in my life only to my own parents teach.

It has been encouraging (and funny at times!) to watch Vivienne (she said I could use her name) grow up from children's church, come through youth group when I was youth pastor, and then on into married adulthood staying faithful to the Lord through the whole time. It's why I invest in people's lives. Vivienne is a fine young lady, and I'm thankful to have had a part in encouraging her to be the Christian she is today.

I've Caught the Bug

This is a motorcycle I found while browsing online yesterday. Really, I have no good reason for looking at bikes, I've just got the bug. One of my friends got a bike this year and just traded what he had for a different one. Another friend has completed the motorcycle class and got his license...he will buy soon. And then there was the whole thing about riding a couple bikes at the Men's Retreat this year. I used to have a bike, I've kept my license current, my wife is saying "go for it" and I've got the bug bad.

So I went and looked at the bike today. It was nice. I paid bills before I went, so I knew now was not a good time to be looking at motorcycles. But oh, what a good deal, and the bike was in great shape. So I asked about financing in a moment of weakness. Fortunately for me (although it certainly did not feel 'fortunate'), nobody will finance a bike that old.

So I've thought about it all day. I will have one again...someday. I'm still trying to convince myself "a motorcyce will not make you any happier." Thinking about it all day certainly hasn't!

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Rewarding Day

I got to spend the day doing something to help someone else, and it was very rewarding. Pictured here are Roger and Linda West, missionaries Brooke and I support in Mexico. They are veteran missionaries, and Roger is the founder and head of Missionary Revival Crusade (MRC...a missions sending organization).

I maintain the web site for MRC, and I have been talking to Bro. Roger about other online options for his ministry. Since he is in the country for his home church's missions conference, he gave me a call and asked me if we could get together to discuss some of the things we had been talking about online.

MRC is the missions sending organization that Bro. Roger oversees, so we have the web page for that. And then he was trying to maintain a web page for his/Mrs. Linda's personal mission work through MRC, he blogged from time to time and I had also started a blog for him to post his weekly email updates. The goal was to determine the purpose of each of these, to eliminate any overlap and make it easier for Bro. Roger to maintain the information he wanted to maintain.

I got some much needed clarity of the ministry of MRC, so I can change up that site a bit and help it better serve it's purpose. We combined the two blogs and the other web page at I still have a number of updates to that site/blog, but I think it will serve a much more useful purpose.

Things took a bit longer than planned today, but we accomplished more than I first imagined, I got a free lunch out if it, I got to spend some time with a wise-yet-down-to-earth missionary and I got to operate in what Max Lucado terms your "sweet spot" in his book Cure for the Common Life (sweet spot = where my everyday life intersects with using my strengths for God's glory).

It was a rewarding day.

How NOT to Help With Homework

It was homework time tonight, and it was my turn to help Amanda. She had some math to do, and it was mostly learning how to round numbers up or down to the nearest 10, 100 or 1000. It seems to me, once you understand the concept, it should not matter how many numbers there are. I guess it's not that simple to a third grader.

So I tried to help, but Amanda got stuck at one point. Made no sense to me...she had just worked all of these problems, tried something new, and then when we came back to the first kind of problems, she could not do it. I grew frustrated. She grew frustrated. I yelled. She cried. We finished that part and stopped for supper.

And then I had time to think.

Let's see...if I were a third grader and had homework to do, would I want to do it if I got yelled at for not understanding? NO.

Would I want to spend time with my Daddy doing homework if I got yelled at? NO.

Was this making school/math/homework a positive experience? NO.

Would I leave Amanda in a class if I heard the teacher yelling at her like I had done earlier? NO.

Was I proud of myself? NO

After supper, I encouraged Amanda's small steps in the right direction instead of getting frustrated with the ones in the wrong direction. Somehow we got through it, and we were both much happier than before supper.

Did Amanda forgive her Daddy? YES. (whew)

So tonight I learned how NOT to do homework. Hopefully it is a lesson I will remember.

They Love Me...They Love Me Not

Yup, I'm talking about Sprint again. Brooke said my last Sprint tirade was too long, so I'll be brief.

Last year I was told I could do a $30 mail-in rebate with my new phone. I sent it in and got a postcard saying my rebate was rejected. I was upset but did not want to spend the time on the phone to get it "fixed", so I let it go.

Fast forward to this year. Added a new line of service with Sprint. New phone, promised a $30 mail-in rebate. Sent it and got a postcard today saying it was rejected, and the reason given did not even match the circumstances for which it was offered. Too much...I called Sprint.

45 minutes and three phone calls later, Sprint told me the process had messed up (the "process", not a person!) and she fixed it. My $30 rebate would be expedited. This same representative also saw my rebate from last year and mentioned it. I told her it was also wrongfully denied, but I did not want to spend the time on the phone to argue about it and so I let it go. The representative told me because of my hassle tonight (I told her how long I had been on the phone) that she would re-instate the old rebate as well, so I should now be getting that one, too.

So that's why it's a love/hate relationship. Sprint seems to mess up quite a bit, but when I call and am polite by explain why I am not a happy customer, 9 times out of 10 they take good care of me.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Nobody's Really That Blind, Are They?

I have considered trying to be less political in my blogging, but sometimes I just can't stand it. I've sure you've heard the story about Barack Obama not putting his hand over his heart during the National Anthem while at some sort of Democrat event in Iowa.

Of course this reminded me of his comment that he would not wear an American flag pin: "I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testament to my patriotism." If you give him the benefit of the doubt (and do not assume this is an attempt to be less pro-American), then you just gotta wonder what kind of weirdness is this? How the heck does NOT wearing an American flag pin somehow give you a better chance to tell people what you think will make this country great? Wearing the pin may be cliche and devoid of much true meaning to the candidates, but it still feels less than patriotic to me.

And then there is the whole not putting the hand over the heart during the National Anthem. His spokesperson says this has nothing to do with being unpatriotic. Sometimes he does put his hand over his heart and sometimes he does not. And this guy want to be Commander and Chief? And we're not supposed to make anything of this? Even if it is a mere lack of flag etiquette, is that acceptable?

I could almost choke all that down (not really, but like I said, I'm trying to be less political in my blogging), but then the media's lack of attention on this is KILLING ME! It's not that you can't find it, but they sure aren't making a big deal about it.

And then this is what pushed me over the top...I had heard about the story but wanted to check it out for myself because I had not read or seen anything first-hand. I found the story in a number of places, but when I read it here, I found out that Obama's spokesman defended him by saying other pictures/video were posted of him putting his hand over his heart during the singing of the National Anthem ("sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't"). And who else would post these pictures for us but MEDIAMATTERS.ORG! Stinkin' "unbiased" media not only makes no issue of this, but they rush to defend him. I can't handle it!! Nobody's really that blind, are they?

ADDITIONAL NOTE: You gotta go here to hear the video. You get the idea on the no-hand-over-the-heart from the picture, but once you hear the lady singing the National Anthem, you'll wonder how anybody kept their hands off their ears!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Funky Town!

I didn't get to go to our church's Fall Festival (a.k.a. Funky Town) this year because I was sick...bummer! But here's a picture of my two funky women as they were on their way. You can view a slideshow of the other funky people here.

Boo and Sully wanted to get a little funky, too.

Sully almost makes it look good!

Boo always has that "wild woman" look in her eyes.

Friday, November 02, 2007

What is That Black Spot in the Bed?

See the cute little stuffed animals at the foot of the bed?

What's that one animal right by Amanda's feet?

Oh, look! It's Boo!!

The Cast is Off. Amanda's Story in Pictures

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.