Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Road Trip

On Friday, good buddy Steve Leaming and I will head for lovely (?) Abilene, Texas with the purpose of attending an airshow on Saturday. Since I don't fish, hunt, or play golf, this is as close as I come to "a weekend with the guys".

It's good that Steve will be riding shotgun. He's a fascinating conversationalist and quick with a pun. In fact, he will start punning about something and keep the puns flying until I yell, "Stop, enough, I can't take it anymore!!" Also, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that Steve, brilliant as he is, is an humble servant of God and continually treats others with incredible Christian love.

The weather in Abilene will be ideal. Sunny with a high around 72. I've been to two airshows in the last 3 years. One featured 40 mph winds and the other one almost killed me when I got dehydrated in extreme heat. I'm ready for normal weather conditions. Naturally, Steve and I are pumped up about getting up close and personal with military aircraft.

Interestingly, after nearly 40 years of constant trips to Abilene for various reasons (college, National Guard, basketball tournaments, etc.), I'll see the town for the first time in six years. Last time was in '02 for Brooke's graduation.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What's on my mind...

It's a mellow spring afternoon here in Rockwall and these are the things I'm thinking about...

1. Going to a retirement party for my good friend Steve Leaming tonight. He's one week into his retirement from the City of Dallas. He had a wonderful little party given to him on his last day there and all the folks talked about how they cherished his friendship. There's a good chance that he and I will spend next weekend together at an airshow in Abilene. He's great to have along because he can identify any aircraft that's ever lifted off a runway. He's also the nicest person I know.

2. Tomorrow is missions Sunday at our church. The typical response to a "missions Sunday" is a yawn. Boring reports from faraway places. However, the older I've become, the more I've appreciated the work done by men and women in extraordinarily difficult locales. I also am fully cognizant that to find a mission field, all I have to do is step out my front door. But I get a rush when I hear how many new brothers and sisters in the Lord I'm getting from places I've never heard of.

3. Did yard work for three hours this morning. It is probably the healthiest activity I have. It is rigorous exercise for an increasingly aging body. Mowing, edging, weedeating, and weeding work all the body parts, and I'm sittin' here very sore. But he who sits, dies.

4. I'm watching the NFL draft. Which brings me to what Jerry Jones is doing to the Cowboys. What in the name of Michael Irvin is he thinking with this Pacman Jones interest? Doesn't character and integrity factor into anything anymore? For those of you who don't know, Pacman has had double-digit run-ins with the law and has been arrested six times. He frequents strip-clubs and coming to Dallas is something he'll love since we have 54 of those type establishments within the city limits.

5. You should see the poor girls who board my bus every school day. What they have to carry is truly amazing. Everyone carries a laptop and all the other necessities. Yesterday, a girl was toting two musical instruments, a music stand, a laptop, a backpack, and a purse. It's an a two-minute process just to load up and get off the bus. Another girl was dragging a cello back and forth every day last week. But this does show you the type of passengers I now get to transport these days. Ah, life is good.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

From out of the blue...

This morning had been hectic. Perhaps I should pause here immediately and say that, compared to ordinary workers in America, I don't have anything to complain about. My little part-time retirement job is about as cushy as it gets. So with that out of the way...I had to gas up the bus this morning, always a challenge in that diesel fuel is messy and I wear gloves to keep it at a distance. Plus, I had to load a cooler and a large first-aid kit onto my bus.

Then after my usual morning run, I had to somehow get from Fair Park to a school near Jupiter and McCree in less than 30 minutes. When I got to LBJ, well, it was LBJ: totally parking lot-ish. I diverted immediately, then called Brett in San Antonio for alternate directions, since he's real good at that. I arrived at the school with 2 minutes to spare. The bus was quickly saturated with kindergarten kiddoes who were amped up for a trip to the country. Our destination was the DISD Environmental Education facility, buried deep in the hinterlands of Seagoville.

I noted that my shoulders and neck were tensed and tired as I drove the 35-minute trip. I had now been driving 3 hours. We got there safely and I finally was able to pull the bus into a remote parking lot. This environmental center is perfect to teach city kids about nature. It is miles away from anything and is surrounded by trees, flora, and fauna. (I never met those girls.) There is no noise to speak of. It's one cool place.

So I finally got to turn off the engine, and for a moment just sat there and relaxed. Then, the neatest thing happened. A bluebird alit on one of my two fisheye mirrors mounted in front of the bus. She was gorgeous, sporting a color of blue that would be hard to replicate at Sherwin-Williams. Then she started hovering in front of the mirror, apparently watching herself and enjoying what she saw. Then she flew 4 feet to the left and alit on the other mirror, then began to hover and watch her reflection on this side. Back and forth, back and forth. I was blessed with about a five-minute show. It was absolutely mesmerizing.

When she finally left for her next engagement, I noticed that stress and tension were gone. Thanks, God!

Saturday, April 19, 2008


1. Would you rather be enormously wealthy or fabulously good-looking?

2. Would you rather be 22 years-old and have a job you love or be 59 years-old and be retired?

3. Would you rather be able to sing gloriously or be able to speak eloquently in front of any group?

4. Would you rather live on a remote hillside in Vermont or a beachside home on Waikiki Beach?

5. Would you rather be able to be fluent in a convenient language like Spanish or be fluent in an exotic language like Russian?

I hate hypotheticals. I apologize for doing this, but it was time for another blog entry.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

7th Heaven...17th Heaven?

I spend a lot of time reading books about heaven. One might ask why I "waste" so much time on something that is totally in God's hands. Well, I figure the more I know about heaven, the greater incentive I'll have to go there.

But the problem is the Bible's incredible near-silence on the matter. Jesus barely broached the subject. He spoke way more about hell. And I have all the usual questions I want answered: Will heaven be in heaven or on a re-created earth? Will we know each other? Where are the dead in Christ currently? And dozens more.

The situation I'm currently up against is a book on the hereafter by noted Church of Christ scholar, F. LaGard Smith. He is absolutely brilliant. I had just finished books by Randy Alcorn and Max Lucado on heaven - and I had decided that (1) the dead in Christ are in Paradise, a step below heaven, and (2) heaven would be here on a renewed, regenerated earth, with the New Jerusalem as its centerpiece - a massive, literal city. But LaGard steps into this lovely picture and kicks down the easel. He makes a convincing case that the dead in Christ are "asleep" (N.T. terminology) and will arise when Christ comes again. He also shoots down the earth as the locale for the New Jerusalem. He says heaven will be in such a different dimension so totally beyond our grasp that it precludes accurate description. And that the earth will be totally destroyed, down to the last atom, forever.

Of course, whichever side is right, it's going to be beyond belief. I just wish the New Testament came with pictures.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Listening to the Wind

I'm really ambivalent about this time of year. The in-between seasons of fall and spring offer so much of God's handiwork that is pleasing to the eye. Spring, as we all know, is an awakening. Buds bloom, leaves appear, and atrophied muscles twitch to life after a winter of neglect.

I love to flip the Lang calendar from March to April. But what I almost expect to see instead of blooming flowers is an angry, writhing funnel ripping houses off their foundations. It's true that tornadoes can come any month of the year, but we all know that prime-time for these nasty things is April, May, and June.

One of the more unforgettable days of my life was April 2, 1957. On that day, the deadliest twister in Dallas history carved a path from Singleton Blvd. to Love Field. I had finished throwing my paper route that day and was home watching "My Little Margie" on TV when they interrupted programming to alert us to the tornado. My Mom and I went to the far end of our back yard, looked west, and saw it. Mom was great. Her motherly instincts kicked in as she announced, "It's gonna hit our house!" Fortunately, we were miles away, but since a 9 year-old believes his momma, I was petrified for the rest of the day.

One day later, a local TV station put together a two-hour recap of the tornado. Much of the show was ground-breaking, since rarely if ever had cameramen gotten as close to the funnel as they had the day before. Much of the footage was shown in slow motion, and my impressionable brain was treated to cars flying, roofs sailing, and debris slicing through habitats. I had a bad nightmare that night, the first of hundreds of immensely terrifying tornado nightmares that have persisted to this day. I don't need to join a storm-chasing team to see these midwestern monsters - I just pillow my head and close my eyes for the night.

It's weird. When we lived in Dallas, I was rarely concerned about taking a direct hit from a tornado. Must have been the unfounded assumption that there was added protection from all the houses that surrounded us. Now that we live in the country and have open spaces around us, I suddenly feel more though the chance of a direct hit has suddenly escalated. Of course, this is silly...we were just as likely to be sliced and diced there as we are here...but the perception remains.

So, I hope I never have to take one of my grandchildren to the back fence, point to the sky, and repeat my mom's words. But I do hope the end result will be the same.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Under Siege

Here's an undate from Camp Under-the-Weather.
Little 1 yr. old grand-daughter Macie had diarrhea on Wednesday and Thursday and was not interested in taking fluids so she had a trip to the ER yesterday for an IV. She is better and slept OK last night.

Macie's dad, Blake, was supposed to drive a big Dallas Christian bus to Abilene yesterday, but he caught the bug too, and spent yesterday morning barfing instead of driving. He is better today and is in charge of Macie at their home.

Poor Carole had dealt with Macie's problems all day Wednesday, then could not sleep during all the storms Wednesday night. So she sleepily took care of Macie through noon yesterday. Well, at midnight last night, she caught the bug and spent the night chunking her cookies. I cancelled out driving the bus this morning to take care of Maddie (she's still healthy, thank goodness) and Carole.

I'm feeling good - the antibiotics and iron have really helped.

Please say a quick prayer for our family. We need the sick ones to continue to improve and the healthy ones to stay that way.

Go Stars, Mavs, and Rangers! They all won last night. How rare is that? Hope they stay healthy.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Best invention ever: the DVR (or TiVo) depending on your provider

Best delicious treat that's good for you: (can't think of one)

Best delicious treat that's bad for you: (tie) lemonade pie and chocolate peanut-butter fudge

Best car I've ever driven: my wife's 2004 Honda Accord

Best preacher I've ever heard: this is a tough one because I've lived long enough to hear many magnificent ones, but I opt for Jimmy Allen

Best holiday: Memorial Day, because summer is not far behind...and that means a lot to anyone in the education business

Best-looking jet: MD-11

Best Bible verse: II Cor. 4:17

Best flower: vinca (only one I've had success with on a grand scale)

Best state: Vermont

Best small town in Texas: Fredericksburg

Best Kellogg cereal: Raisin Bran

Best President ever: Ronald Reagan

Best sitcom ever: The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Best summer sound: Rain on the roof

Best time of day: Sunrise

Best thing I ever did for myself other than marry Carole: Lasik

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Reporting in...

The doc said my strep was fact, it never went away. And that I was a bit anemic. So I've been put on a stronger antibiotic plus multivitamins with iron.

I took today off after sleeping nearly 12 hours last night. I hate missing work. I have it in my mind that somehow the job won't be done just the way I do it when I'm not there. I'll try to drive again tomorrow and keep the students from thinking I'm a malingerer.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Officially Sick of This...

Four weeks ago, amidst a 14-hour field trip, I contracted strep throat. Since then, I've made marginal, flimsy attempts to rejoin the world of the healthy, but the efforts have been half-hearted. I couldn't really pronounce myself well since I could still hear a rattling in my lungs when I coughed, something left over from associating with my wife when she had pneumonia a couple of weeks ago.

Now here I am in San Antonio, not for the Final Four, but to finally spend some time with our elder son and his family. The weather today is as close to perfection as God allows us mortals. No wind, clear skies, low humidity, and high temps in the 70's. And I sit here feeling like someone has whipped my body with an ugly stick.

I'm able to function...I'm not skipping any of today's activities (Zach's soccer game, Ethan's birthday party, and a quick photography assignment at the San Antonio airport), but it is a crime to be feeling yucky on a day such as this.

Monday, I'll again return to the doctor and see what can be done for slow healers such as I.