Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What Next?

The words and pictures from the Katrina devastation area cut like a knife. I've got something of a survivor's complex...you know, when everyone except you dies in an accident. Why them? Why not I?

Listen. Those of us who are "haves" must help the "have nots". If there were ever a time to grasp how rich we are, this is it. Comfort is a blessing. Food and water are blessings, yea even extreme gifts. Knowledge that you can sleep in your bed tonight is rich.

The church must rally. In the past, it seems our brotherhood have been late responders rather than first responders. We have been all too consumed, sometimes, about whether we should work hand-in-glove with other churches in matters like this...pondering finer points of theology while folks go on suffering. I pray that Christians of all stripes will mount the most massive aid response in history, one that will dispense help and generous doses of love.

Roll up you sleeves. Let's get after it.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Au Revoir to NO?

Just got off the phone with Brett. We talked about the trouble, to put it mildly, that New Orleans is in.

As I write this on Sunday afternoon, Katrina is bearing down on a city that averages six feet below sea level.

Even the most optimistic forecast is brutal for this city. The most pessimistic, however, is beyond belief. New Orleans is the worst city in the U.S. to handle a hurricane. And this one is no ordinary hurricane.

Brett said that we who are not in the path will be impacted, too. Many oil refineries lie in the path of this storm. When even one refinery worldwide goes down, gas prices spike.

But that's not important. I feel for the children, the elderly, the homeless, the poor whose lives are going to be changed forever by this storm. I pray the storm weakens or stalls or changes course. God bless those in Katrina's path.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

2 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 1

Exactly a week from this moment, my only daughter will have a husband. I submit that I am not losing a daughter, but gaining a son. So many families end up suffering from the poor decisions made by their kids when it comes to spouses. Not us, bruhthuh.

Not only are our kids great kids, they selected equally great mates. This makes for pleasant family reunions...at least when Blake and Brooke choose to be civil...just kidding. What a joy to watch the two of us expand to the eleven of us...with not a single rogue among us. I truly think each of my kids has married someone who will help them go to heaven. What a joy for a parent!

May God grant Zach, Maddie, and Ethan a Jenny, Jaime, or Michael to make their lives complete! God bless y'all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

OK, I'm Tired

Guys, I'm tired. Eight straight school days of six lectures per to 28+ student classes. I can't even think straight, let alone come up with challenging blog material. Is it Christmas yet?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Leave Them There

Still more wisdom from "The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life":

I knew a Christian lady who had a very heavy temporal burden. It took away her sleep and her appetite, and there was danger of her health breaking down under it. One day, when it seemed especially heavy, she noticed lying on the table ner her a little tract call "Hannah's Faith." Attracted by the title, she picked it up and began to read it, little knowing, however, that it was create a revolution in her whole experience.

The story was of a poor woman who had been carried triumphantly through a life of unusual sorrow. She was giving the history of her life to a kind visitor on one occasion, and at the close the visitor said feelingly, "Oh, Hannah. I do not see how you could bear so much sorrow!" "I did not bear it." Said the visitor, "You are right. We must take our troubles to the Lord." "Yes," replied Hannah, "but we must do more than that; we must leave them there. Most people," she continued, "take their burdens to Him, but the bring them away with them again, and are just as worried and unhappy as ever. But I take mine, and I leave them with Him, and I take it to Him again, and I do this over and over, until at last I just forget I have any worries, and am at perfect rest."

My friend was very much struck with this plan, and resolved to try it. The circumstances of her life she could not alter, but she took them to the Lord, and handed them over into His management; and then she believed that He took it, and she left all the responsibility and the worry and anxiety with Him. As often as the anxieties returned, she took them back, and the result was that, although the circumstances remained unchanged, her soul was kept in perfect peace in the midst of them. She felt that she had found out a practical secret; and from that time she sought never to carry her own burdens, nor to manage her own affairs, but to hand them over, as fast as they arose, to the Divine Burden-bearer.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Giving Your Cares Over to God

More great wisdom from "The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life", discussing letting go present day worries:

"Just as you believed at first that He delivered you from the guilt of sin because He said it, so now believe that He delivers you from the power of sin because He says it. Let your faith now lay hold of a new power in Christ.

"You trusted Him as your dying Saviour; now trust Him as your LIVING Saviour. Just as much as He came to deliver you from future punishment did He also come to deliver you from present bondage. Just as truly as He came to bear your stripes for you has He come to live your life for you. You are as utterly powerless in the one case as in the other.

"You could as easily have got yourself rid of your own sins as you could now accomplish for yourself practical righteousness. Christ, and Christ only, must do both for you; and your part in both cases is simply to give the thing to him to do, and then believe that He does it."

Sunday, August 14, 2005


I'm reading a great book entitled, The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life. Here's a wonderful bit of wisdom from the book:

"The maturity of a Christian experience cannot be reached in a moment, but is the result of God's Holy Spirit, who, by his energizing and transforming power, causes us to grow up into Christ in all things. And we cannot hope to reach this maturity in any way other than yielding ourselves up, utterly and willingly, to His mighty working.

The lump of clay, from the moment it comes under the transforming hand of the potter is, during each hour and each day of the process, just what the potter wants it to be at that hour or on that day, and therefore pleases him; but it is very far from the vessel he intends in the future to make it. God's works are perfect in every stage of their growth. Man's works are never perfect until they are in every respect complete."

Thursday, August 11, 2005


I remember when I thought Rafael Palmeiro and Kenny Rogers were good guys. That they would make good neighbors and would suitable for kids to emulate. Now I and millions of others know better.

Whom should your kids look up to? I think, given what we know now, that it's risky to hold up professional athletes as role models. Well, you say, what about those athletes who espouse Christianity...guys like David Robinson, John Wetteland, and Curt Schilling? Those fellas are mostly admirable, particularly D.R, but I'm not sure our kids should model their lives after superstars whose income is likely to warp their perspective of life sooner or later.

Instead, I would let my children see as much of this type of person as possible: the "ordinary" person who manages to be the quintessential Christian servant. These folks are everywhere at church...those who selflessly give their time over and over again, many times doing thankless tasks that either nobody wants or nobody knows about. Let the kids spend an afternoon or a weekend with these servants and absorb the benefits through osmosis of being humble and caring.

These are the real heroes. Also, this is precisely the type of person I want to be for my grandkids.

Let the modeling begin!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Back to Work

I'm forever grateful that America's educational roots were shaped by an agrarian economy. Else, I might be working all year with but a two-week vacation. People who dislike teachers are quick to point out the incredible time, off. They have a wonderful point. I work 185 days a year, barely half of the days available. Is there any other job that gives you that while still paying you year 'round?

Most of us teachers, including me, feel that in the end, it's fair. We aren't paid that well and the benefits aren't very beneficial. It's not much of a point to say that we often bring work home, thereby giving a bunch of extra hours to our district. Well, a lot of working people have an attache case crammed with "homework", so that point isn't especially valid.

To me, the best argument for justifying the time off is role of stress on the job. My school day is worth examining. I drive two bus runs, teach six straight classes, and have to use my only off period to drive the bus over to my first afternoon pickup. In the end, it's basically an eight-hour day. The problem is the incredible mental and physical toll of dealing with kids without a break. My lunchtime is 30 minutes, but you have to subtract from that escorting my 4th period class to the lunchroom...making my lunchtime more like 20 minutes. If you've ever taught a class of any description, remember how tired you were after 45 minutes? Could you do it 30 times a week?

So, my self-serving, totally biased view is that the huge chunk of off time is quite justified; and it serves to decompress and recharge us for the next nine months.

I start year #36 Monday. Please for me...that I might have the physical, mental, and emotional strength to survive another year. But mainly pray that I'll touch young lives by being a Christian model. I've never quite figured out why I've been "stuck" doing something I'd rather not do for this long. The only answer has to be the amazing potential for shaping the spiritual lives of children who don't know Jesus. The stakes are high...and souls could be won or lost depending on how I reflect Christian values. Again, please pray.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Answers I Want in Heaven

How does Teflon stick to the pan?

How come my brothers have thick hair and I have, uh, diminishing returns?

How can one franchise (the Rangers) go through 5 decades with no pitching?

Why did Balaam answer the donkey as though he were talking to a human?

Why does the government punish the smart, hard-working folks through unfair tax policies?

What color was the slipper that Roger Moret held when he had a catatonic trance? (If unfamiliar with this incident, do a google on it. One of the highlights of Ranger history.)

What did happen to the dinosaurs?

When is the church going to wake up to the plight of the poor?

When is the church going to teach hard-core budgeting as a Christian discipline?

Will those bound to hell be eternally punished or will their souls be extinguished?

What does "sakes alive" mean and where did it originate?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

And The Rains Came Down...Finally

It has been an extraordinarily dry year. The normal spring rains never showed and the summer has been typically dry and hot. There's a palpable aura of depression outdoors...the grass is withered and dusty...the ground is developing enormous cracks...the battle to keep a yard and 3 gardens alive seems all but lost.

Until this evening. A half hour before the storm hit, I walked to the mailbox by the road and knew something was up. The wind was very high from the west; I glanced to the east and saw the deep blue associated with thunderstorms. The building supercell was pulling the oven-baked air into it with great gulps...and growing larger.

The storm hit hard, with wind-whipped horizontal sheets of rain. There was a bit of a different sound to it; we NEVER get storms from the east, and this one was blasting my house in a whole new way, triggering noises I hadn't heard before. I was talking to Blake on the phone while looking out the window when a flying saucer went by - actually it was a neighbor's trampoline and now it was at least 20 feet in the air and rising. It eventually was slammed to ground upside down 150 feet away.

So this was the day things evened out a bit. All summer I've watched neighboring communities get rain while we were being broiled to a crisp. And I'll pay the price with extended hours mowing the rejuvenated grass. Oh, well.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Getting Close

I'm an aviation nut. If you were to ask me when and why, all I can say is I remember my older brother describing his first jet flight to me...and he went on and on about getting thrown back in his seat during takeoff.

Lately I've been given all sorts of privileges that I can't even comprehend. Saturday, I got my fourth "ride-along" with Ken, a guy who works in airport operations. His job is to cruise the DFW Airport grounds, escorting civilian vehicles and construction vehicles, picking up foreign objects reported by pilots on the runways and taxiways, and checking the perimeter fences for any kind of breech. When I ride along, if there is a lull in his responsibilities, he will let me pick where I'd like to shoot photographs. And he will try to put me there. About the only restriction is that we can't get on an active runway without permission.

While standing between two active runways Saturday, I kept smelling a bad odor...like tires burning. I asked Ken about it and he said, "That's from the landing gear smoking on the touchdown, idiot." Or words to that effect. That's how close I'm privileged to get. That's why I'm able to get a shot like the one above. Based upon my knowledge of DFW photography history, I'm pretty sure there are no other pictures existing like the ones I've been lucky enough to take. I say this not in any self-serving way...only to point out just how lucky I am.