Wednesday, December 31, 2003


I don't do New Year's resolutions...or perhaps I just don't do them well. There have been times when I've made life changing decisions, but I've never been able to sync them to this particular day.

I do have some goals for 2004:

There are the traditional ones - lose weight, eat healthier, exercise.
Actually I've narrowed that one down to: Don't die.
I also have a goal to wear my seatbelt all the time, Amy has threatened to kill me if I don't so technically that may still fall under the auspices of goal number one.

My primary goal for 2004 is to live more simply.

I've been giving that a lot of thought lately.

What does it take to simplify your life?

I've come to one conclusion.

All it requires is that I want less.

I want that. I want to want less.

See why I don't do resolutions?

Tuesday, December 30, 2003


One of the features of the commenting system on this blog is that it sends me an email with the specific comment when someone feels compelled to leave one. One thing the system doesn't do, is tell me to which particular bit of my wisdom the commentator in responding.

This afternoon an email sailed into my "Comment" folder from "Anonymous" which read simply, "That was cruel..."

I scoured my thoughts. I've been cynical certainly, perhaps a little sarcastic, but cruel? I started going through all the recent posts to find out which musing that comment was in response to...but I couldn't find it. So, I started going through November....nope. Okay, now I'm a man on a mission, slogging through the archives looking for a cruel post.

Finally, I found it! It was a post from back in August.

The post about McGriddle recipes.

The gag that keeps on giving.

Of course making me search through several months of writing to find that comment was equally cruel, so I consider us even.

P.S. I just noticed that I am again at the top of the hill if you search for McGriddle Recipe on Google.

If you search for Michael Main, I come in second or third. Go figure.

I ran across this article today while mindlessly wandering about the Internet. That in turn led me the book blog gender genie.

In a nutshell, it claims that if you cut and paste about 500 words of someone's writings into the "genie", the website can determine the author's gender.

Suffice it to say I have serious doubts about the accuracy...and I feel bloated.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Be The Ninth Convert

In radio, it's called contesting. You've heard it, "Be the ninth caller and win a pair of tickets"; "The only station giving away a chance to win ten thousand dollars!", etc..

There's no great mystery to's basic bribery. Radio stations hope to lure people into listening by offering them prizes. The more people who listen, the more radio stations charge for ads, and the more money they make.

It must work, since almost every radio station does it.

But not every church.

This is from The Galveston County Daily News

Church finding new ways to attract attendance

By Alicia Gooden
The Daily News

Published December 28, 2003

LA MARQUE ? Lots of people make them every year around this time ? commitments to turn over a new leaf once the new year begins.
Mixed in with all the other New Year?s resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt and stop smoking are usually vows to start going to church.
An October survey conducted by the Harris Poll, an international marketing and research firm, found that 79 percent of Americans believe that there is a god, but only 36 percent attend a religious service once a month or more. Abundant Life Christian Center is taking a step to increase church attendance.
In the sanctuary before the thousands of people who worship there every week are a shiny new Chrysler PT Cruiser and a Harley Davidson Sportster motorcycle.
The church will give the vehicles away Wednesday night at its New Year?s Eve service.
The giveaway is part of a creative method to get people to come to church, but the message has not changed, said Pastor Walter Hallam.
?This is an opportunity for the church to give something to someone that will encourage people to come to the house of the Lord,? he said.
Once there, Hallam said the message of salvation will keep people coming to church.
?We want to be real and effective in serving the community and the Lord,? he said. ?We want to do something to have a positive effect on people?s lives.?
Abundant Life has opened the drawing up to members and visitors. Each time people attend a church service there, they are eligible to enter the free drawing for either the car or the motorcycle.
The church has three services a week. Members bringing visitors are eligible to register twice.
The response has been overwhelming, said Jim Walker, business administrator for the church.
The vehicles weren?t donated. The church purchased them to give away.
?We?re a giving church,? said Hallam.
The Chrysler PT Cruiser is for a woman. The motorcycle is for a man. The winner of each new vehicle must be at the Wednesday service, which will include indoor fireworks, confetti, and a 4,000-balloon drop to usher in the new year.
The church will undertake other innovative programs that reach out to people in 2004, said Hallam.
?As a church, we have to use new methods to help take the old Gospel and give it to the world,? he said.

Has it really come to this?

How about an "Endure the sermon" contest? The last one to nod off during an 18 point sermon on the book of Jeremiah wins.

Or maybe something more blatant like "Commit to Christ for Cash!", "Baptize 'em for Bucks!", or "Lotto for the Lord!".

Am I wrong to think the promise of salvation - everlasting life wrapped in the loving arms of God should be prize enough?

It is for me...thank God.

I don't normally blog anything this early in the morning. I'm up at this hour going through newspapers on line as part of my job, but this quote got me today:

"What I'm saying is I think we're the best and most capable candidate of beating George Bush because we're the only one that is exciting the party" - Howard Dean

I'm always weirded out by politicos, and Dean isn't the only one, who talk about themselves in plural. The Royal "we". What's up with that?

I guess perhaps it sounds less conceded and boastful.

It's one of those political peculiarities. I've seen others. I don't know how many politicians I've watched roll into San Antonio and boast about their winning ways during photo-ops in front of the Alamo. The Alamo was the scene of an historic battle, of course, but it was after all a losing battle.

Sunday, December 28, 2003


Google has a relatively new news alert service which I use for a variety of topics I want to track, most of them work related. I did set one up at the beginning of the holiday season to track stories about baby Jesus figurines being stolen from nativity scenes. By my rough reckoning, I got about 30 reports of swiped statuettes of Jesus.

I mention that only because I saw an article today about this cute website established by someone whose garden Gnome has been highjacked.

That in turn reminded me of the delightful French film Amelie which, if you haven't seen, you should rent. It's truly charming.

Saturday, December 27, 2003


We had a wonderful family conversation around the dinner table last night. I mentioned I had run into some old friends who are now the youth ministers at a nearby church. I happened upon them at WalMart. This couple, whom I care about deeply and don't mean to malign, peppered all of their remarks with caveats of "feeling led" and how God had "laid this on their hearts", etc. The folks standing in line around us might very well have required a translator to understand what we talking about.

We weren't in church...we were at the deli counter each ordering sliced ham.

These friends are full of the spirit, and I adore that about them, but I couldn't help but wonder if they are separating themselves from the very people they're trying to reach by saturating everyday conversation with churchy language.

Last night my stepson, Joey, referred to it as "Christianese".

Can our own words distract us from God's word?

Today I ran across an interesting article on this very subject on the Internet Monk blog site.

It spoke to me.

Does it say anything to you?

A moment of silence please. I drove out to get a newspaper this morning and was struck by the disturbing reality that the previously mentioned Santa and Rudolph display didn't make it through the night.

It's now even more pitiful than before...something akin to North Pole road kill.

Friday, December 26, 2003


One gift I'm giving Amy this year, with major help from our home warranty service, and some significant Christmas shekels from loving relations, is a new oven to replace the aging stove in our kitchen. We've been pricing various models and she's about to make her decision. She's just informed me that the model she's looking at includes what's called "Sabbath Mode."

What a wonderful feature!

Our new oven is going to be able to respect the Sabbath.

I hope it keeps that idea warm within me more too.

Many are cold, but few are frozen.


Interesting article in the Boston Globe about Howard Dean planning to take the wraps off his faith when he campaigns in the South.

Apparently in Vermont he's fared better hiding his Christianity.

I don't find his position all that surprising, I'm somewhat amazed he admits to it though.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003


We are about to leave for church. Amy swears she is feeling well enough to lead music. The kids are planning on singing "Silent Night". As I write they are practicing downstairs. Their presence and the song fill my heart.

Soon we will light candles and tell the Christmas story.

I am ready.

Come Lord Jesus

Merry Christmas my friends.

Like many things, some Christmas decorations seem better in theory than in practice.

This is the spectacle at a home down the street from us.

My imagination has run wild with potential captions.

"I warned you if you flashed that red nose in my eyes one more time...."

The 8 seconds of Christmas-Rudolph Rodeo

Any come to your mind?

"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring...we all were worn out.
The stockings are still somewhere stashed in a box
In a pinch I'll nail up some stretched out sweat socks

The children are grown up and living their lives.
They'll drop by later, and then say their goodbyes.
Mamma is feverish, and battling the flu
I'm bracing myself, fearing I'll get it too.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Statistically today, December 23rd, is the most dangerous to drive in Texas. The folks who keep tabs on things like this, say on this day there are more car wrecks involving serious injury or death than any other day of the year. The statisticians point to the usual factors, holiday travel, drunk driving, wintertime darkness. They overlook a growing threat however; women in SUV's talking on cellphones.

I swear I've almost been killed a dozen times in the past 2 weeks by these lithe yet lethal creatures. I pointed out a number of such incidents today to Amy...she didn't seem to appreciate my astute observational least not after the fifth or sixth time I alerted her to another glaring example.

In any case, we survived the day without adding to the statistics. We also completed the Christmas shopping with time to spare.

We beat the odds again.

Monday, December 22, 2003


Amy's fever has returned. We may be moving our Christmas plans. As always prayers are appreciated....and very much requested.

Okay, lest I offend avid Lord of The Rings fans, let me say first that I loved The Return of the King. However I could have lived with about 30 minutes less winsome looks from Elijah Wood.

Did anyone else feel at times like they paid 6 bucks to observe a staring contest?

This may or may not work.

A crudely edited compilation of music from our Sunday service.

We're off to do some fast Christmas shopping. I took today off with the intent of helping Amy get the bulk of the shopping done. So far we've decided to go see the Lord of the Rings movie, so we're off to our usual proscrastinating start.

There's still plenty of time. Christmas is days away :)

Sunday, December 21, 2003


The Dallas Cowboys are in the playoffs.

Saturday, December 20, 2003


I was asked this week what was the favorite toy I received as a Christmas present when I was a kid. It was an impromptu conversation "on the air" so I thought fast and remembered my "Man From Uncle" toy machine gun that folded up into a radio. I must have enjoyed it...I remembered it.

This morning I was looking through some old pictures and I remembered the Beanie and Cecil dolls I received. Cecil had one of those strings you pulled to make him talk, which had to be one of the first toys that did that.

I loved those dolls when I was very little.

Looking at the Beanie doll though, from this picture off an Ebay auction, I have to say...he looks pretty frightening now.

So what was your favorite Christmas toy?

It's getting close. The day I've been dreading. Soon I'm going to have to start shopping for Christmas.

But not today.

Friday, December 19, 2003


I started writing here nine or ten months ago, vowing to write something every day. I'm now considering taking weekends off, or at least not feeling guilty if I don't write Friday through Sunday. The readership (both of you) tends to drop off over the weekends anyway. I'm not committing to weekends free, but if you see nothing here for a few days, don't freak out.

Thursday, December 18, 2003


We had a little mini-party at the church last night. Joey did caricatures. There was face painting and scrap booking. Wassail and chai tea.

I got out of the car to be greeted by Tiffany. Apparently everyone else knew she was driving down to be with us, except me. It was a wonderful way to start the evening. All three kids were together for the first time in a year.

They spent much of the night ignoring Amy and was just like old times.

I took this grainy shot of my friend Roy and little Jacob, who has quickly won the hearts of the congregation.

Jacob is a joy to watch as he delights in the world around him. Roy, some 65 plus years his senior, is much the same. He's won our hearts too.

Is there someone in your life you haven't reached with the Gospel? Maybe it's time you just hurled it at them.

I don't know, as cheesy as this is, I still sort of like it.

When it comes to outreach, sometimes you have to throw it out there and see where it lands.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003


A friend called this afternoon to talk with Amy. She wanted to get something off her chest. She told Amy she had some problems in the past.

Amy told her so has everyone.

She wanted to know now that she was closer to God, that she had a more organized spiritual life, if she should be less reliant on the support systems she had used to overcome some of her problems

Amy told her those support systems were gifts from God..

She wondered if she should be able to rely on God for everything be strong.

Amy told her we should rely on Him, but we shouldn't overlook the tools He gives us to do that.

We're not perfect.

God knows that.

He still loves us.

That's why God is perfect.

Matthew 6:8

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

I am covetous of my sleeping hours. But I've never gone to this extreme.

Joey's home. My stepson who schools in Ohio flew in yesterday. The house is gradually becoming messy... it's noisy a lot more often with the sound of people instead of just dogs.

It's all coming back to me now.


It feels very right.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


For I am that way going to temptation, where prayers cross. -Shakespeare

The other night Amy and I were sitting around the house when I decided to walk into the bedroom for something. When I grabbed the door knob it came off in my hand. Amy walked up behind me and immediately stuck her finger in the opening and her finger got stuck.

I can resist everything...except temptation - Oscar Wilde

I had lunch this afternoon at a fancy steak house - the company paid for it as a holiday treat/ratings reward. The waiter who brought me my slab of beef cautioned, "Don't touch the plate, it's very hot!" I immediately touched the plate.

I guess it's our nature.

I will say this, when Amy got her finger stuck, she spent several minutes trying to free it as we both laughed hysterically. She dared me to get the camera and post proof the incident had happened.

I resisted.

There are several good protections against temptation, but the surest is cowardice. - Mark Twain

Capitalism, you gotta love it.

The bearded Saddam dolls are already for sale.

For the little boy in all of us.

Monday, December 15, 2003


There was a time when I really liked to drive. I could drive all day and all night. Back in my young, carefree and single days, I took a "boy and his dog" trip that lasted two weeks. In one day I drove through seven states and would have gone further but I got distracted by the lights of Las Vegas. I loved it.

We used to drive to Ohio each summer in one fell swoop...23 hours.

Maybe it's because all the other cars on the road are SO BIG now. Maybe it's because my car has a funky window and the traffic noise seems louder. Maybe it's the difference between driving for pleasure and just driving.

Maybe there are just more miles on me.

Whatever the reason, a 350 mile trip today took its toll. I am worn out.

Driving did give me time to think though.

Tomorrow - thoughts on the temptation of hot plates, and broken doorknobs.

Tonight my mind is driven towards slumber.

Amy and I are off to lovely Waco today. Time to retrieve the youngest daughter from college. Lisa will be home with us tonight and then will be able to meet Joey at the airport when he flies in tomorrow.

It beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

First the beard the Saddam capture music.

Sunday, December 14, 2003


It's weird the stuff that runs through my mind when I am trying to take a nap. This afternoon I was trying to catch a few zzz's when this odd thought popped into my head.

I had to go on Ebay just to see if my suspicions were true.

Sure enough there's someone else out there with a twisted reality.

ADDENDUM- Ebay pulled the auction of "genuine clippings of Saddam's beard"

It's always nice to open one present before Christmas.

What a pleasant way to start the day.

I pray this is the turning point toward making life much safer for members of the military.

Saturday, December 13, 2003


I deleted a previous post about a blog I found offensive. The blog's author says I, and others, misread his intentions...perhaps so.

I don't think I'll go back though.

We came home last night from the Christmas party to a disturbing message on the answering machine from our friends, John and Denise.

John's sister has been battling cancer and evidently something went awry with the chemo treatments. At one point in the evening they believed she was going to die. At Amy's urging, I drove over to the hospital to be with them for a few minutes. The conversation was a rapid fire litany of incidents of medical chaos and confusion. There was stress, and anger and frustration. It didn't take me long to realize these dear friends, who have been through so much, didn't need counsel as much as convincing.

They went home to get some sleep.

Sometimes that's all we can do.

Nuzzle up to the quiet comfort of night... knowing God is awake.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Tiny Bubbles

I was sitting here trying to think if there's anything else I want to write about before the primary event of the afternoon - my nap - when I started trying to blow bubbles off my tongue.

When I was a kid, I discovered - in some way that kids discover stuff like this - that I could form a bubble on my tongue and gently blow it into the air. I remember for a while I was quite good at it.

I mentioned the other day an old friend from Junior High had found my blog and the emails we exchanged brought back that seemingly repressed memory of bubble blowing. Specifically how our Junior High school music teacher sent me to the principal's office for blowing a bubble at her.

At 13, I considered blowing bubbles off my tongue a unique and praise worthy talent.

She considered it spitting.

Everyone's a critic.

Guess I shouldn't put that nap off much longer.

Friday has arrived, that's always a good thing. The company Christmas party is tonight. I don't think Amy and I have been to an actual Christmas party for my company ever. They're usually on inconvenient nights (read any day during the work week) or we've had a conflict, or it just seemed un-fun. Tonight however we're making an exception to the stick in the mud rules which I enforce far too rigidly. We won't turn the lights out in the joint, but we'll be able to spend a couple of hours in a large saloon the corporate dollars are renting for the evening crowded with some 900 other people.

It's hard to describe my joy at the thought, so I'm not going to think too much about it. I'll hang onto Amy and we'll have fun. We need a night out.

The party planners have envisioned a "Casino night" where you can't win money, but if you don't lose all your chips you can buy a prize. I suspect the best odds will be on the flu bug spreading to everyone.

You have to take this with a grain of salt, but this study out of Canada is likely to have women saying, "Yeah, tell us something we didn't already know."

Hey don't blame me...blame Canada.

Thursday, December 11, 2003


Amy finally broached the subject with the doctor. It was such a delicate matter.

She said she thought he really needs help. He seems confused. He has a hard time getting off a chair if he has go left instead of right. He howls for no reason. He barks when it's dark.

Mercifully, for a change she wasn't talking about me. She was talking about Winston, our special needs dog. Since the dogs were in for their vaccinations anyway, Amy decided to discuss their mental health with the Veterinarian.. The Doc concurred with her diagnosis.

Winston is quite likely one enchilada short of a Mexican plate.

So we're putting him on drugs. Yes, our dog is on antidepressants.

I went to Walgreens yesterday to pick up a prescription of an Elavil generic for "Winston Main". The Pharmacist didn't even blink when she said, "Oh, he's a dog."

I know I heard a small gasp emanating from the woman behind me in line though.

Welcome to the new millennium.

I gave Winston the first pill last night.

I came home from work today to find him frolicking in the destructive aftermath of what was once a red plush football toy.

This is your dog.

This is your dog on drugs.

Oh yeah, so far this is working great.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003


That's not paisley.
It's evidently what testosterone looks like under a microscope. The tie is one of many Infectious Awareables you can buy...just in time for Christmas.

Testosterone-The Ultimate Power Tie.

I tried to take a picture of the moon the other night. My little digital camera doesn't have a zoom. It didn't capture the moon's majesty. It looks more like part of the sky is missing.

It did remind me of a story Amy reminds me of when, in her opinion, I periodically need humbling.

Some time back I was driving home from a church function and called Amy from the car. She was driving down a road not too far away. I said something like, "I know this is going to sound silly, but does it look like there's a hole in the sky to you?"

For whatever reason there was a blotch in the cloudless heavens. A gray gash.

To me it looked liked the fabric of the sky had been torn. I kept didn't move. I angled my looked the same. I slowed down. I sped up. It was still there. That's when I picked up my mobile phone and called Amy.

She was silent for a moment or two and then said, "Oh I see it too!

It's a plane."

Her laughter drowned out the rest of the conversation.

Mobile phones should come with a warning label, "If you're living in a world filled with illusions of your own making...use caution before dialing."

Tuesday, December 09, 2003


The title of this post ought to be good for a few blog hits.

I don't know why police might suspect George Clinton of using drugs.

Do you?


This is a hard to believe story.
First off, it's difficult to fathom that someone can actually get 100 thousand dollars to study spirituality when their stated goal is know "enough about how it works to be able to offer the same experience to anybody seeking spiritual growth."


Someone explain it to me.

Will they offer spirituality pills?

"Just add water!"

Baptisms would certainly never be the same.

It does take a certain amount of chutzpah to open God's mail.

The New Year approaches and I am already seeing the inevitable on the horizon. Vows to eat exercise. Perhaps there is another choice though. Maybe I can just find out if this kids' doctor is on my HMO.

Monday, December 08, 2003


I have to admit I haven't quite gotten into the Christmas spirit yet. Maybe it's because all the kids have grown up. Maybe it's because we're still a little unsettled with Amy's health...maybe it's because it's close to 80 degrees outside.

We held our Radiothon over the weekend (raised more than $150,000.00 to buy toys for kids) at a local mall in the same area where hundreds of parents were lined up with their children to get pictures taken with Santa Claus. We've held the Radiothon at this location for years and it always strikes me as odd. Our set up takes up so much space it forces the parents and their kids to line up rather rigidly along one wall.

Then again, maybe the folks in charge of the mall have a certain method to their madness.

We didn't have malls when I was small enough to sit on Santa's lap. I don't remember where this photo was taken. Since I spent my early years in New York, I suspect that's probably a genuine Macy's Santa, but there's no certainty. I know he earned his money...three kids on his lap at once. Getting my brothers and I to sit in a car seat without punching each other was an accomplishment, to get us all on some strangers' lap had to be a true Christmas miracle.

I look at this picture and only one thing comes to mind -- 40-plus years later, and I still have the same haircut.

Stuff that still needs to be filed somewhere in my brain....

I've been Googled and found by an old, old friend from Junior high school. A pleasant surprise. He also made the astute observation that with the power of search engines like Google now...are high school reunions obsolete?
Watch less TV and eat more veggies.

But be gentle about it.
We got around to watching "Bruce Almighty" a week or two ago. Meant to blog about it...but didn't. I loved it. Didn't find it offensive...or at least not too offensive. I liked the fact that the main character, even infused with the power of God, was unhappy and unfulfilled without his girlfriend, Grace.

Grace completes me too.

Sunday, December 07, 2003


Sunday slipped away.

Saturday, December 06, 2003


Today is a good day. Brisk and bright. It's the weekend. Our church Christmas party is tonight and this afternoon I get to help a charity make a few kids smile.
Each year our radio stations work together to raise funds for The Elf Louise Project. It's an example of a simple idea to do good that became contagious.

The simplicity of Elf Louise is a large part of its allure to me. They raise money to buy toys. Elf Louise volunteers give the toys to needy kids. No one gets paid. The only costs are for insurance and the like.

This afternoon I get to be an elf of sorts. Making a very small contribution of time. As is often the case with events like this, I will come away feeling like I have received far more than I have given.

For the record, the radiothon is taking contributions via phone at (210) 979-7700 until 5pm Saturday.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life

Friday, December 05, 2003


Baby Jesus stealing season is officially underway.

Two were stolen from a guy named Wayne.

That's a brave thief.

These are the stories that get publicity.

Too often I feel like Christ is stolen out of Christmas much less blatantly.

Thursday, December 04, 2003


I've mentioned here before that I believe people named Wayne are genetically predisposed to crime. The Houston Chronicle has the ultimate validation of this theory in a story out this afternoon:

A McDonald's customer who flew into a violent rage when she was denied mayonnaise on her cheeseburger got 10 years in prison today for running over the restaurant's manager.

Waynetta Nolan, 37, could have received as much as 20 years in prison for hitting Sherry Allen Jenkins with her car, dragging the employee across the parking lot and breaking her pelvis at the McDonald's in southwest Houston.

Nolan showed little emotion this afternoon when the jury came back with the punishment after four hours of deliberation. Earlier this morning, however, as the jury heard testimony in the punishment phase of Nolan's trial, her 43-year-old victim tearfully said she couldn't pick up her grandchildren because of the injuries she suffered in the incident.

"I put the mayonnaise on her burger," Jenkins told jurors. "I took the onions and the mustard off. What did I do?"

I rest my case.

Dappled Things turned me on to this link to a wonderful on-line snow globe.

NOTE: My brilliant wife pointed this out in the "comments" area, but I thought it was worth mentioning publicly. Don't use the "email a friend" function of the snow globe site. It will collect email addresses for spammers.

If the music gets too annoying, you can go here to have famous rock and pop musicans groups sing your lyrics...sort of.

There was a mailing in my box yesterday, saved by a coworker who thought I might want to add it to my Ignatius file. It doesn't really fit. It's certainly bizarre enough, but it's too hateful to savor. It's also too foul to put a link to here although the writer does have a website.

It's from a "ministry" that believes in all sorts of Zionist conspiracies. There are rantings about the Jewish people and Satan seeded amid dire warnings that the world is being duped. It's also chuck full of offers to buy various books and periodicals touting much the same hatred.

I did find some of it humorous. Like the allegation that televangelists are giving secret signs of the devil.

The purveyor of this brilliance contends these candid shots of televangelists prove their link to Satan because of their hand gestures.

That's not the funny part.

The funny part is that this "ministry" is based in Austin, Texas. Home of the University of Texas Longhorns.

You know, "Hook 'em horns!"

No wonder this guy sees the devil all around him...of course some of my Texas Aggie friends might agree with him there.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003


Some Spurs tickets fell into my lap at the last moment. I'm working on the assumption a friend from church will join me since Amy isn't up to it. I've left messages, but haven't heard back. I'm going to have to assume he'll be available.
I'm also working on the assumption the Spurs will play like an NBA team instead of a girl's softball league - they've lost three in a row.
Of course I'm also praying the game doesn't go into double overtime, since I still have to work in the morning.

I'm living on faith today...not the first time...certainly not the last either.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003


If you missed Howard Dean on "Hardball" last night, the Drudge Report has a synopsis of some of the brilliance he espoused. I am not going to debate the idea that we need to break up media conglomerates. It's such a silly proposition, touted by people who don't understand. I love the line that there are not enough radio stations doing news in Vermont, the "rest of it is read and ripped from the AP."

"Earth to Howard...Break up the Associated Press!" That's a monopoly!

I've come up with a slogan: Vote Dean - Make George McGovern look better in the history books.

We're on a precarious perch again. Amy has been running a fever. It's likely caused by her body rebelling against the implanted line in her chest. A line that was put in as part of the "cure" for her other ailments, presuming that diagnosis is correct, something that is still a fairly broad assumption in my mind. Her temperature has been hovering around 100 and her doctor says if it hits 101, it's back to the hospital.

Only one degree of separation...still plenty of room for prayer.

Read a story the other day that the Christmas carol Americans find the most annoying is "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer". I probably would agree with that. I mention that for two reasons:
First, this kid will never hear that song like the rest of us.
Second, the same story mentioned that the song most Americans want to hear while eating Christmas dinner is, "Silent Night". That's the song you'll hear in the background of this very cool online Advent calendar.

Monday, December 01, 2003


I was talking with our dogs last night. Our dogs work in shifts, well it's not really work...they bark in day parts. Avery, the smallest, the female, the most dominant dog, barks during the day. She barks if she hears another dog bark. She barks if kids run by out front. She barks if construction machinery is operating down the road. She barks at the neighbors next door, she barks at the neighbors two doors down, she barks at cows behind our house, she barks at the garbage crews, she barks at birds. Avery barks a lot.

Winston, our special needs dog, barks at night. If it's dark, Winston will let out a bark as soon as he goes out the door . I assume he's hoping to scare away things that scare him. Since it remains dark even after he barks, he'll keep barking. I think Winston believes daylight works sort of like the clapper.
He'll also bark and or howl at random moments, and when he's confused.
Winston is confused a lot.

Klondike, the dog who once was considered dumb - then we got two dogs who are certifiably insane - usually barks only if provoked. If there's an unusual noise, someone lurking out front, or another dog passing by, he'll let out a canine bellow that can rattle nerves and windows a half block away. I've never discouraged Klondike from barking. He's big, he sounds ferocious, and he's reserves his best barks for door to door salespeople.

So last night I sat down with the dogs in the backyard and tried to explain it to them. I told the small dogs, they didn't have to bark at all. That Klondike had barking duty. He has the loudest bark. He knows when to use it. I tried to reason with them, mentioning that I sleep odd hours and that if we could negotiate a barking hierarchy we would have a much more peaceful environment. I told the little mutts they could feel free to simply be frolicking dogs. An occasional yelp is fine, but incessant barking really isn't required. I explained their lives should be carefree. They didn't need to worry or try to protect our little asylum.

They stared at me for a while. I patted them on their heads and went back inside.

Winston howled.

I was talking with God last night. I told Him how I was struggling lately. That Amy's ongoing health issues had me worrying too much. That I felt distracted. That I was losing sleep. I mentioned that the dogs barked a lot and Christmas seemed like it was approaching with the threatening tempo of a freight train.

It felt good to pray long and hard. To unburden myself.

After a while I was more at peace. I realized my life could be more carefree. That I didn't have to worry quite so much.

Perhaps there's something to this barking thing...

Psalm 116:5-7

The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, He saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.

Sunday, November 30, 2003


Vacation is over and Monday is looming. This is a day of rest right? I don't feel rested. I don't feel particularly inspirational. I don't feel like writing. So I won't.

It's so easy to get back into decision making mode.

Saturday, November 29, 2003


The girls were in and out this weekend.

They spent the better part of the day here before driving up the road to introduce Tiffany's boyfriend to her dad for the first time. I had met the boyfriend before, but stepdads are an easy sell I think.
Although meeting stepfathers and fathers can't be tops on most boyfriend's lists of things to do, this kid doesn't seem too intimidated. With good reason, he's intelligent and seems comfortable around people. He also casts a loooong shadow.

The boy is tall, there is no missing that. I figure if things keep working out, I'll get to know him better over time. That's the case with most things I suppose.

Last night, Amy and I went to have coffee and work crossword puzzles at the local over-priced coffee saloon. It was crowded, so we did our usual team work of Amy ordering the coffee and me reconnoitering for seats. One table was empty, but as I started laying claim to it I noticed a pair of leather clogs underneath. I was struck by the oddity of that, and wondered if someone had left their footwear behind to save the table.

I have been out of my depths at various times at Starbucks, learning to comprehend peculiarities like ordering a tall drink if you want a small one. It took me a long while before I was comfortable with the general ambiance of the place much less at ease with paying 5 bucks for coffee. Now my mind drifted to Boaz and the kinsman redeemer in the book of Ruth and I wondered if perhaps this shoe thing was some Java Jungle ritual with which I was also unfamiliar.

I couldn't hesitate for long, the place was still packing in people all eying seats but not having the advantage of Amy and my teamwork skills. I decided that shoe-saving was a distinct foul. I marked our territory properly...with crossword puzzles, pens and my butt in one on the seats. Then I waited to see if anyone would challenge my actions.

No one did. When Amy came back I mentioned the clogs and she began scoping out the other customers, looking for anyone barefoot among the baristas, but everyone appeared to have their feet covered.

Finally a waitress came along and said, "Oh those shoes are still here? They've been here since I came in." She took them away.

I'm left without answers but with another tale to tell. The story of shoeless Joe?

Three words you won't hear in Japan: hold the mayo.

This Christmas, give the gift that keeps on geeking.

Being the owner of three dogs, one of which sheds enough hair to knit a full sized poodle, I sympathize with this guy. I also have empathy for the license examiner, for having to admit to wearing a shirt made of polyester.

Friday, November 28, 2003


I was fascinated to read the various reports on the President's trip to Baghdad and see journalists and pseudo-journalists scrambling to try to find a way to portray it in a negative light. I've been a broadcast reporter for nearly 30-years and believe me there is no group of people more full of their own self importance outside of Hollywood anywhere on Earth than journalists- thank God.

This was the blurb that got me from a story syndicated from the Washington Post:
Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, criticized the White House correspondents who made the trip without spilling the secret. "That's just not kosher," he said. "Reporters are in the business of telling the truth. They can't decide it's okay to lie sometimes because it serves a larger truth or good cause."

Huh? First off, what reporter lied? If reporters don't report, is that lying? What nonsense.

There are so many scenarios when reporters don't report facts for the greater good it's silly even to debate it. We don't report names of murder victims, car accident fatalities, and others until their families have been notified out of a sense of decency. We don't report the names of rape victims, we don't do stories on suicides, and we withhold the names of children accused of crimes for much the same reason. War correspondents (Geraldo Rivera being the exception) don't report our troop positions. We don't report bomb threats - unless actual devices are found - because it will only result in panic and more bomb threats. There are technologies used by law enforcement agencies which reporters have been made aware of by police, but the existence of those devices is not reported because to do so would only give an advantage to criminals.

To charge that reporters lied by not disclosing the exact whereabouts of this country's leader when to do so would have only have ruined a wonderful opportunity to inspirit the troops risking their lives to preserve the very freedoms these self appointed ethics experts rely upon - not to mention that it could have put our President, our troops and quite possibly our nation at risk - is a sickening and thinly veiled attempt to cloak a liberal agenda behind heretofore unseen and unpracticed journalistic principals.

Yes, the public does have a right to know, but the public also knows what's right.

That's no lie.

We hit the stores this morning. Amy and I have traditionally surged out the door at 6 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving to get the early bird specials at various stores. If we stick to the plan to buy only the items with mail in rebates making them "free" or the drastically reduced items designed to get you in the store, we do pretty well. Today we got a couple of 99 dollar office chairs for 19 bucks each, and a large microwave oven for 59 dollars. The chairs were a bit of an extravagance, but it's nice to have matching furniture. The microwave was a necessity. It has replaced the one we've been using which has a crack in the door. every time I nuked something I feared I was also cooking my kidneys.

The rest of the shopping was restricted to gadgets, all with rebates making them free sans tax.

This is one gadget we didn't buy. The digital sundial, for the person in your life who still thinks the Y2k bug might hit.
Weekend time waster: Listen to some of the emergency calls made to police in England. I especially liked the one from the woman calling to report a dead pigeon.

Thursday, November 27, 2003


Amy is up and about, I'm appreciative for the prayers and care we've received.

I had a more elaborate post in mind today, but Amy is cooking sausage stuffing. The girls are coming down later and my hunger is likely to supersede my wisdom.

Yesterday was a tough day, but as I sat in the hospital waiting room I started reading the bible I have on my palm pilot (you can only play so much Tetris). It's an odd translation, but it was free for downloading. Anyway, I was electronically thumbing through it and came across the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Something struck home.

Who is it you identify with in that story?

I've identified with the folks who hurriedly passed by the beaten man more often than I would care to admit. What hit me is that I've never really identified with the man who was beaten and robbed.

I have had hard days...even hard years. I've been hungry, but never starving. Even when I was at my poorest financially, had I swallowed a tiny portion of my pride I could have found food and refuge with any number of friends and relations.

It struck me that if the vast majority of people on this planet were to read that story for the first time, the character they would most likely identify with would be that beaten man. Their lives are routinely hard, and they are accustomed to being overlooked.

This hasn't been the easiest year for Amy and me, but we are warm, sheltered, clothed and fed. We are surrounded by an abundance of love. We may have little money, but we are rich.

And we have so very much for which to be thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus

Wednesday, November 26, 2003


I'm dashing this out, as I wolf down a sandwich before heading back to the hospital where I brought Amy this afternoon for what we thought was going to be a routine procedure, the insertion of another PICC line. It didn't go as planned. Apparently the line hit a nerve, she was having discomfort, numbing and the like in her arm after it was inserted. I didn't like that...Amy didn't like that...the doctor didn't like that.

So, right about now, they should be pulling that newly inserted line out and inserting another "central" line. It'll be a little awkward, going into her jugular rather than her arm, but it seemed the logical, safest and most expedient approach. Plus, now Amy is sedated, which was long overdue in this ordeal.

I've come to expect unexpected complications in this ongoing saga, and as I waited at the hospital today a few thoughts crossed my mind on the frustrations, and fears balanced against the sum total of our lives.

I'll share those when I have the time to write them, and that will be will be Thanksgiving.

For the record: If you're reading this Wednesday afternoon/night- A small prayer for no further complications would be welcome and that wouldn't mess up my Thanksgiving thoughts at all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003


I had a conversation with my friend, Roy, yesterday. Roy is in his 70's and has lived a colorful life. He has done many things, from heading the liquor control board in Waco, to being a railroad cop, to helping build churches. He has wonderful stories to tell. I look forward to hearing more of them.

During our talk, we ventured into a discussion about a popular televangelist based here in San Antonio. He heads a mega-church and a lucrative worldwide teleministry.

At one time Roy and his wife went to that mega-church. During one sermon, the Pastor spoke of a family he had passed on the highway. The family was driving a beat up old clunker car; it was rusted, and belching smoke. There were a bunch of kids in the back seat, and the car was barely making it down the highway. The Pastor made mention that on the back there was a bumper sticker that read, "God is great".

I wasn't there, but to Roy it sounded like the Minister was mocking that family. The Pastor said essentially that if the family were on the right track with God they would be blessed and wouldn't be barely making it down the road .

That particular Minister and his church are a story unto themselves. I don't begrudge folks who attend such churches. If that's what brings you to God...great. It's not for me. It wasn't for Roy either. He stormed out that day and never went back.

The conversation started me thinking about the nature of being blessed.

I thought about the bible stories of Jacob demanding and even stealing blessings. I thought about the popular interpretation of the Prayer of Jabez and how that turned into a financial blessing for at least one author.

I thought of the biblical blessing our Pastor ends most services with, "May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; May the Lord turn his countenance toward you and bring you peace."

Then I came home to read this interesting story.

I have no idea if this is some elaborate ruse, or if it's indeed a medical and or spiritual miracle. What I'm most intrigued by is the idea that this Swami believes he is blessed because he doesn't eat or drink and he lives in caves.

If God were to suddenly speak to me and say, "Michael, I'm going to bless you. You'll now get to live in caves without food or water" in all honesty, I would ask for clarification.

This has been a hard year. But we've been blessed. Some blessings were only discovered through pain. I guess that's how it works sometimes.

I suppose blessings are often in the eye of the beholder and that's the beauty of it.

Monday, November 24, 2003


I spent the day shoveling dirt. Yes, I'm on vacation, when I am not on vacation I spend the day shov...well, it's different.

We've been working on a new building at the church and topsoil has to be spread in order for it to meet inspection. It's a job I'm capable of doing, and I had the time. However now it's time for a nap and ibuprofen, not necessarily in that order.

Our Thanksgiving plans have at least been cleared up a little with two words from Amy's doctor, "Permission denied". He's not letting her travel, so that resolves that issue. It will be weird, Amy and I have never spent Thanksgiving anywhere else since we've known each other. It's also a terrible year not to be with my Aunt, who lost her Mom and her Aunt this year. However we've made tentative plans to have "Thanksgiving-The Lost days" with her in a few weeks, and this is merely a bump in the road. We'll get over it.

Now we must only decide with whom to spend the day or if we want to have a quiet Thanksgiving at home. I really have no preferences, as long as there's a TV nearby so I can watch the Dallas game. Well, I guess I don't want to spend the day with folks who aren't at least moderate Cowboys fans, and I do want to eat.

I'm so easy to please.

That decision can be delayed until after more pressing matters are attended to, such as the aforementioned nap.

It's 3:27 in the morning. I've been awake for an hour.

It's so nice to sleep in when you're on vacation.

Sunday, November 23, 2003


I spent a few minutes taking pictures of some of the kids at church today, with my little BenQ camera that I repeatedly wash and yet it still seems to work. I was going through some of the shots - emailing them to parents and to some of our church members who couldn't be with us today - when I noticed something that always makes me smile.

Those feet on the end, in the pink socks, belong to my Pastor's youngest daughter. She's always shoeless. She likes to kick off her shoes as soon as she enters the church. She frolics both inside and out in her stocking feet, often running on her tip toes. I love that she's so comfortable in God's house to take off her shoes.

I wish more of us were.

Psalm 40:2

He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

You have to look closely to see them. Scripture references, etched into concrete.
You have to look closely because they've been covered up.

Wet cement is a temptation...even for adults.

As we were finishing construction of our church, one of the workers, a very devout and vocal believer, decided it would be appropriate to leave a mark in the wet cement outside the front door to the sanctuary. He used his finger to write bible passage references upon our church doorstep.

Our church was a group project; this worker was something of a personal project for our church builder. He didn't do particularly great work. He had lived a hard life but had found salvation, and thanks to our builder, he had found work. He wanted very much to combine the two.

The builder had him cover over the words with fresh cement, but he didn't do a particularly great job so, if you know they're there, you can see portions of them.

I know at least one member of our church who rubs her shoe on that spot when she enters, hoping to gradually uncover the writings. I sort of hope she succeeds.

The path to our church has paved over good intentions.

Friday, November 21, 2003


It's Friday. I am off all next week. Is there really anything more that needs to be said?

Our plans for next week are all akimbo and right now that feels sort of good. We'll either go to Dallas for Thanksgiving or accept one of several offers from friends to join them. My time is completely unstructured. Much will be dictated by how Amy is feeling and what her passel of physicians recommend.

Is there a proper word for a group of doctors?

The only one that comes to my mind is foursome.
My mind is already wandering... Did you see this story?

I'm intrigued by the line, "the ancients apparently believed chiseling Scripture into monuments debased sacred words". That reminds me of something that happened at our little church. I'll write about that tomorrow, after I get a picture.

Gee, just like that I've suddenly made plans for my unstructured time. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Thursday, November 20, 2003


Every so often, when I have nothing better to do, I delve into the web records to see what things have brought people to my website. Our web server tracks the most common phrases put into search engines that lead here. Bar none, the most popular phrase that comes up is still "McGriddle Recipe". You'll have to cruise through the archives to figure that one out, I'm afraid to mention it anymore since by now there have to be legions of hostile web surfers raging with disappointment upon arriving here only to discover the secret McGriddle recipe does not dwell within.

I'm more curious though about another recent search string: "book bobby love schwinn old man 3rd floor".

What do you suppose that means? Is there such a thing as a book bobby? I think I mentioned a schwinn bicycle once. I have no idea what link I have to anyone's 3rd floor and I don't want to dwell on the fact that search engines refer folks here who type in the words, "old man" in any context.

I guess I should be thankful though. Another phrase that got a hit this month was: "Christian husband no help with kids household dogs".



I think I'll go unload the dishwasher.

We have a winner!

The Superblessed Christian Blog Awards are out!

I know, if you're like most people you've reacted to that announcement by saying, "Huh? The what?".

Actually, I mentioned some weeks ago that I was mysteriously included among the nominees . What do you know, I won! Well sort was a tie.

I think the panel of judges - which I believe is just Ganns, who runs Superblessed - couldn't decide between this blog and What in for the honor of "Most Humorous Christian Blog", so that means the vast amount of prize money will be split two ways.

I'm not upset by that at all. Even if my eldest stepdaughter were not a math teacher I'd be able to discern that half of diddly squat is diddly squat.

Nonetheless, it's this blog's first award and, I might be so daring to predict, most likely its last.

Surely good taste will prevail in future years.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003


Suddenly our holiday traditions are in a state of flux. During every year of our marriage, in fact even when we were engaged, Amy and I have gone to Dallas for Thanksgiving. My Aunt, a saintly woman who served as my guardian during a few of my rebellious teen years, lives in Dallas, and Thanksgiving is the time that we've set aside to make sure we visit her.

Amy's health is in a state of flux this year though. It's looking increasingly like we might not be able to make the trip. That's weighing on me today.

Nothing is decided yet. Amy has more doctor appointments on Monday and those will likely determine our course.

I'm not sure what to pray for quite honestly. Part of me wants to maintain our tradition, but another side of me wouldn't resist the prospect of not having to travel, not having to kennel the dogs, not having to pay for a motel room, not getting caught up in the bustle.

I think I'll just keep it simple...and pray that I remember I have much to give thanks for, even in times of turmoil.

However it works out, that is not going to change.

Psalm 119:114

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.

For the record, I like naps. This is not a startling observation I suppose, especially not for anyone who knows me. I just woke up from a wonderful nap, but now I'm a little pressed for time to write something prior to church tonight. Speaking of stuff not being startling information, Monica Lewinsky has had a revelation.

Who would have thought that publicizing your sleazy image worldwide would be an impediment to a meaningful relationship?

I love the line in this story that reads, "I'm doing it for the prestige, the glory and the attention."

The attention? Really? Who would have guessed?

Buddy, you've said a mouthful.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


I've been seeing a lot of tips on various blogs about how to blog. It's all good information I suppose. I don't write this blog in hopes of getting a big audience. I do that enough in radio. I write this blog for me. It's probably 80 percent mental therapy, and 20 percent ego. If I were to come up with rules for blogging here's what they'd be.
1. Don't blog about blogging
2. Write well.

The feud between Dallas Cowboy's coach Bill Parcells and his former underling Bill Belichick got a lot of play before Sunday night's game between the Cowboys and the Patriots.

I guess they've made up.

I'm just thankful this photo was in the paper days before today's ruling from the Massachussetts Supreme court on gay marriage.

I'm not quite sure how to take it. I was almost finished writing a post about recognizing what's in the wind, and sometimes letting it carry you along, when the power blipped for half a second. ZAP! Computer reboot. That thought is toast.

Oh well, rather than reconstruct, I think I'll let it mellow in my mind a bit.

Amy had a rough night. This afternoon should be spent on other things. Maybe that's where the winds are meant to carry us today.

Monday, November 17, 2003


Christmas is rapidly approaching and that means one thing...people will start stealing Jesus.

My Pastor noted last year that there are an abundance of stories each year about people stealing the baby Jesus from various church manger scenes.

This season I think I'll keep track. If you run across a stolen Jesus story, Email Me a link or a copy of it.

Maybe I'll come up with a stolen Jesus counter.

However I'm not going to rush to judgement. The baby Jesus will have to have been stolen, not just misplaced.

I don't want to get caught in the same trap as I did with my razor.

Anyone who reads this blog knows I'm a dog lover. Anyone who enters our house knows it... there is a certain "Eau de Mongrel" that makes it readily apparent.

Our dogs provide us with great amusement

However after reading this story

I have to admit, another image came to mind.

Three dogs...47 grand per dog...

Okay...I better not dwell on this one.

Sunday, November 16, 2003


Saw this at The Living Room.

Another time waster.

Create your face

This is the best I could do.

Well, now I feel silly. My stolen razor wasn't stolen at all. Amy had used my car to pick up some friends at the airport the other night and last night they called to mention they'd found an electric razor in their driveway after she drove away.

Part of me is relieved that there is not a thief wandering around my area stealing old electric razors. Part of me is ashamed for assuming the worst.

I have to admit I'm also partially disappointed since finding the razor negated a perfectly good blog post.

I guess now I'll have a razor for the car and one for the house.

Every morning as I cut away my measly beard I should use those razors to remember that no matter what I lose, in truth, I always have an abundance.

Proverbs 3:13-14

Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.

Saturday, November 15, 2003


One thing I'm often asked in the news business is "Hey, you remember that story about ______? Whatever happened to them?"

As a result of that, one of my regular brainstorms is to go back through our old stories and find out what happened to some of those people since those events.

I mention that because I saw this story in the New Yorker. If you ever saw the old movie "Deliverance" you'll find it interesting. If you never saw the movie, it will make no sense whatsoever.

Didn't have time to write anything the past couple of days. On Thursday, I got off work, cleaned the church and then assumed my role as lackey for Amy as she worked some computer miracles for a client. Friday, I drove directly from my office to the offices of another of Amy's clients. Spent the entire day there. By the time we got home, time slipped away.

I mention this only because I was robbed of my electric razor.

I had left it sitting on the passenger seat of my car in a parking lot. Yes, the car was unlocked, but who steals cheap, used, electric razors? It never crossed my mind.

The other morning I was driving into the office and began a somewhat familiar process of reaching around trying to figure out where in the car my razor was when I realized it was gone!

Memo to thief:

First off: Ewwww. Why would you want my yucky old razor?
Second: It's not magic.

You have to recharge it.

Come back by, I'll give you the cord you need. I'm sure by now it's run out of juice. You stole a well worn, unchargable, electric razor.

Hopefully, you're not thinking of thievery as a career.

I suppose it was a silly crime of opportunity. Someone walked by my car, saw the razor and realized the car was unlocked. That's all the thinking that went into it.

I don't have much of a beard. I can go for days without shaving, and no one would really notice. I've tried to grow a beard on several occasions and always gave up due to embarrassment.

What the thief took from me was more important than my razor. He - I'm assuming this nefarious criminal is a he, because if it's a woman that's even weirder - stole time.

I shave while I drive to work, so until I replaced the razor I had to get up a few minutes earlier to shave. If you don't think a few minutes is that big of a deal, why do you hit the snooze bar?

I already bought a new razor. It's another cheap one. It's all l I need. I'm going to keep it in my car too.

But I'll lock the car doors, to keep the time bandits out.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003


"It always opens up"

That's one of the catch phrases of my father in law, passed along to me by my wife. Amy says it when we're waiting for traffic to clear enough to get across a busy street and she can see I'm starting to lose my patience. Her Dad says it all the time.

Today was a long day. I had a meeting with the TV folks - my periodic meeting to say the same thing I say at every meeting. It actually went well and I left with some optimism. However the talking dragged on until early afternoon and I was dragging by the time I got home. I arrived to find Amy with the home health care nurse and the news that she was going back to the doctor immediately. Another infection has set in and the nurse thought Amy might need to be readmitted to the hospital.

Rhonda was here, our friend who has been having many struggles of her own as of late. Rhonda offered to drive Amy to the doctor so I could squeeze in some sleep and we talked as Amy got ready. At one point Rhonda said, "You know it's been tough lately, I have a hard time at times like these finding the good in situations, but I know there must be a good side."

I agreed...albeit somewhat numbly.

Amy has been tethered to an IV food source for weeks. She has been feeling lousy for a long time. Lately, the bad days seem to outnumber the good and, in all honesty, it is taking a toll on her and me.

I slept a little while, then Amy called and told me she wasn't being admitted to the hospital. The IV feedbag was coming out for several days, and IV antibiotics were going in for a couple of hours. I'll go pick her up in an hour or so.

So, we've had a little setback in one sense, but it's being addressed. Amy may not be feeling great, but she will have several badly needed days where she won't be tied to any form of IV. That means, to some extent, our lives are going to return to normal...if only until Monday.

I know there must be a good side.

There is...and if you're always opens up.

PSALM 42:6

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003


Each day I sit in a small booth alone, and talk to myself. I know other people are listening.

I'm not officially insane. It's radio.

I don't get a lot of feedback in broadcasting. An occasional angry call from someone who is confused, and the regular remarks from friends of "Hey, I heard you on the radio today." That's usually the extent of it.

In truth, I get much more enjoyment getting comments on this blog.

The radio stations I work for reach conservatively tens of thousands of people every day. By the time this blog is read by ten thousand people my typing fingers will have decayed to dust. Yet today I woke up in a funk and when I sat down at the computer to start work there were comments! It made my day.

Why do I get such joy from responses here? Maybe it's because I get to write whatever I want here, and I don't have quite as much freedom on the radio.

Or maybe I simply like to revel in the concept of sharing my insanity.

I've been thinking about Jessica today.

Not that Jessica. Not the one who is doing tearful TV interviews, and releasing a book. Not the one selling her story on Veteran's day.

I'm thinking about little Jessica. A child. The niece of close friends who has been hospitalized for two months. Jessica has spina bifida and has lived her short life in a wheelchair. She comes to our church every once in a while. The last time she visited, she helped take the offering. It was a big moment.

A couple of months ago Jessica started developing sores. They were deep and devastating. The best medical minds couldn't stop them from spreading. The sores wouldn't heal. The battle for her tissue raged out of control. Jessica put up a fight. Doctors aided her in battle. They took no prisoners in an urgent fervor to block the expansion of this horrifying invasion. At one point portions of bone had to be cut away to save others. It appeared she might lose a leg.

In this war zone, Jessica has been virtually alone. Unable to comprehend all that is happening to her. Incapable of understanding why she is in pain, why she has been sent off to Dallas where the best doctors were available. Why her Mommy and Daddy seemed panicked and why she only gets to see them one or two days a week when they drive 300 miles one way to be with her.

Our church family has been involved in this war too. We strapped on the only armor we have, prayer...and we prayed.

This weekend I learned that that the tide seems to finally have turned. Jessica is getting better.

Now I'm saying prayers of thanksgiving.

No one will see Jessica on TV or buy her book...but hers is a story of courage too. And of a Hero.

Monday, November 10, 2003


I have to give our new friend Tim credit.

Amy has been running a fever the past several days, and her PICC line started looking a little strange so we got the home health nurse to drop over Sunday afternoon. She determined the PICC line (which runs very close to Amy's heart) was infected so it had to be removed and replaced.

I had invited Tim over to watch the Cowboys and when he showed up, the nurse was here. She had already removed the infected line. I explained to Tim what was going on, and that we were waiting for another line to be delivered so the nurse could implant it.

Amy and the nurse went about their business, while Tim and I watched the game. Before long the PICC line delivery man arrived and the surreal aspects of the afternoon started sinking in. Most folks get deliveries of pizza during football games... we were getting medical supplies. The delivery guy didn't bat an eye when we asked if he remembered the free cheesy bread, but he did draw the line at promising the next delivery would be within 30 minutes or it would be free.

Around halftime, the procedure took place. Amy stretched out on the couch in our makeshift medical room, and a piano bench served as an extension for her arm so the nurse could run the line in.

I went in to watch, without a thought Tim joined me. We stood there as this wonderful nurse inserted a line into a vein in my wife's arm and threaded it blindly into an artery in her chest. There was blood.

I'll admit I was nervous.

The nurse tried to apologize for saying a small prayer to Jesus but we assured her prayers were welcome, and appreciated. Hers weren't the only ones being said.

There were no complications. The blood was quickly cleaned up and Amy was moving about soon afterwards.

I've known Tim for only a month or two but I have to wonder how I'd react if I was invited over to someone's house to watch a football game, even if I knew them well, and found myself front and center for a medical procedure.

Tim didn't bat an eye.

Then again, how many halftime shows have you watched that you really remember?

Friday night, Amy and I were invited to the law offices where she used to work, for a wine tasting. Since Amy has been hooked up to her IV food source, I find myself seeking out opportunities for us to get out when she's untethered (in all honesty it shouldn't take a lingering medical problem for me to think this way). Noting that this event was being held at her old office, and I could tell Amy wanted to go, plus the realization that Amy had been feeling better recently all combined to quickly convince me to attend. The fact it was free admittedly played a large role too, since that also dovetails nicely into our current budget.

It was a pleasant enough time, although Amy started to fade and fell victim to the temptation of foods we knew she wouldn't tolerate.

The folks at this office are nice people. They are, for the most part, wealthy people. I don't attend many events where they serve rack of lamb. Actually, this was the first I've ever attended. The wealth is on display, from the office furniture, to the fancy foods, to the wines which were excessively expensive .

These things I could see readily.

It wasn't a very large crowd, and I managed to speak with most of the folks in attendance. Almost all of them work together constantly, yet I saw very little true communication. I certainly didn't have any conversations that I would call meaningful. When the talk did venture into territories more personal, or even simply more thoughtful, I found our fellow guests drifting away.

This was an occasion for display not depth.

A time to marvel at life's fineries, talking up tannins and the subtleties of lamb.

I came away full...and hungry for something more substantive.

When the movie "Bruce Almighty" came out, I remember on several occasions seeing the commercials while watching Spurs games with Christian friends and remarks being made along the lines of, "That looks blasphemous...and funny" or "I feel bad for wanting to go see that movie." Some of my friends were uncomfortable with the idea behind the film, and even more uncomfortable with their attraction to it.

I still haven't seen it.

That's not a theological statement, I haven't seen any movies lately except Seabiscuit. Amy and I rarely go to movies, and we got out of the rental frenzy some time ago when I realized I was renting movies on Netflix just because I wanted to make sure I got my money's worth.

Bruce Almighty is on my mind today because I read where Egypt's media censors have banned the film from being shown there. Egyptian authorities don't like the idea that the movie seems to indicate that everyday people might be able to perform the acts of God. They say it degrades God.

Quite honestly, part of me applauds them for that...I wish we all held God more sacred.

Part of me wants to see the movie too.

Sunday, November 09, 2003


Maybe it's just me, but I think I'm going to grow weary of the "true stories" of Jessica Lynch and Elizabeth Smart very quickly.

Maybe it's because I think the "true story" might not include any mention of greed.

This site is hoping to illustrate every passage of the Bible. It's called Flaming Fire. At least that's what it says. I haven't really been able to get most of the illustrations to show up. Perhaps I'm impatient and it's very slow loading. In any case, they still have a long way to go, but it will be interesting to watch the progress.

Friday, November 07, 2003


Nothing to do this weekend?

Make your own church signs!

Thursday, November 06, 2003


I see a lot of ICTHUS symbols on cars. They're everywhere. Little metallic ones, or sometimes decals. Passing declarations of Christianity.

I don't have one.

I always knew the fish symbol represented a Christian, but it wasn't really until I started teaching Sunday school to children that I even understood the history behind it. In all honesty that's why I became a Sunday school teacher. I grew up unchurched, I figured if I taught kids, I could learn too.

I adore the origins of this simple symbol and my imagination runs wild about how it was used long ago. Upon meeting someone on the road, early Christians - often fearing persecution and perhaps not even speaking the same language - would draw out half of the ICTHUS symbol in the dirt. If the person they encountered completed the drawing they knew they were with a brother or sister in Christ.

This had to be a wondrous instant sense of relief. Complete strangers immediately put at ease. A blazing flash of trust. Bonded to each other by God right where they stood. No questions asked.

When I learned about the origins of ICTHUS I knew I couldn't put a metallic fish on my car.

What I really want is this:

A half ICTHUS.

I don't want to be a drive-by Christian.

I crave the engagement of those times of old. Two strangers suddenly fused in faith, casting their theologies aside and knowing that despite many differences, what is truly important is that we are on the same path. A path etched upon common ground.

Unshakeable...solid...Holy ground.

Really does anything more need to be said?

Psalm 25:4

Show me your ways, O Lord , teach me your paths

I noticed Joey is auctioning off his Homestar Runner costume on Ebay.

I guess he is learning something in college.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003


I'm writing under a deadline. Amy wants to get to the church early tonight and make a few stops before hand so she gave me that look when I sat down to write. The look most husbands are familiar with I suppose. It conveys disbelief, dismay, and a certain amount of doubt that I'll be able to do what I set out to accomplish, and still meet the commitments which lay before us in a timely manner.

It's been that type of day. I didn't sleep well, and so of course I was confronted with a crush of events at work, post election stories, a major drug bust, a convenience store robber shot by a police officer. In between there were confused coworkers, stories that needed rewriting, and some unnecessary friction created by folks who should have better things to do. These are things I wrestle with regularly though. In the end I usually find no matter the outcome, I am no worse for wear. Such was the case today. I survived it.

As I sit down to write, Amy is wrestling with Klondike - the big black dog as he has come to be known by children of our friends. Actually she is trying to wrestle away a scrap of cloth Klondike has snagged and is coveting in a manner designed to create jealousy among our smaller dogs. His plan worked. There is havoc aplenty.

The scrap of cloth is actually a piece of some of my old boxer shorts we cut up for dust cloths. There is really no way to adequately describe the din of dogs barking punctuated by the voice of the woman you love saying, "Let go of Dad's underwear!". These pictures can only hint at the cacophony of craziness.

It's been that type of day.

Moments ago, Amy lost the wrestling match. Klondike overpowered her. He snatched the piece of cloth with all his might and swallowed it whole.

Today I wrestled the problems at work and came away victorious, but sometimes you simply have to admit it when you're overmatched. In those cases, like the instance of the eaten undies, I take comfort in remembering that this too shall pass.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003


The clues are becoming less subtle. I ache a bit more in the mornings when I get up. I have to take my glasses off to read stuff close up. Those were the signs I was expecting, but now new evidence of aging or perhaps maturity has crept into my life without fanfare..

I've become a tea drinker.

I've never been a hot tea drinker...ever.

In South Texas everyone drinks iced tea, if you don't you get deported, but hot tea? I've always thought the only guys who drink hot tea are English. Really the only man who ever looks cool drinking hot tea is that Star Trek Captain and I suspect that's only because he has a gizmo that produces tea out of anti-matter or whatever, "Tea. Hot. Earl Grey."

A few weeks ago, while wrestling with nasty green invaders in my lungs and throat suddenly hot tea seemed like a good idea. I don't know why, but it did. So I made a cup...and fell in love. Now I'm slurping it down like I've won a reward challenge on "Survivor."

I've made many a bad cup of coffee, but tea seems like it was made for me. Drop in the bag, add hot water. Leave it alone and then take out the bag. It's virtually impossible for even me to screw up! Why did it take me so long to discover this?

What else have I been missing?

I was in World Market the other day and realized there are a multitude of teas to try. It was then I saw my future.

This decrepit fat man behind a walker blissfully wandering the aisles of teas, periodically spouting to no one in particular gleeful phrases like, "Orange Pekoe!".

That's if I can read the labels without my glasses of course.

Monday, November 03, 2003


My wife and kids get a real kick out of Homestarrunner. The Internet cartoon is increasingly popular. I'll be the first to admit that it's one of those things that seemingly every member of my family relishes, and I merely tolerate. Kind of like Monty Python or euchre.

No one is more of a Homestarrunner fan than my stepson, Joey. Hence, his Halloween costume.

A junior in college and he's dressing up as a cartoon character for Halloween. Thank God for the constants in life.

I crossed a time line today. I suppose it's one of those points that most every person crosses eventually in their life.

My new boss was introduced today. He is 29.

Most of my adult life my immediate superiors have always at least been my age, and usually quite a bit older. I've had bosses who were 29 before...but that was when I was 17 or 20. I've never had a boss who still a suckling when I was graduating high school.

I only met him for a second early this morning as he was brought through the newsroom by one of my other, more properly aged, bosses. The immediate buzz in the office was, "Is he old enough to drive? Does he shave yet?"

Later, I had the opportunity to spend more time with him and see how he handled himself. He stood before the entire staff and took our questions. He's sharp, very focused, obviously driven and blunt.

I was impressed, and that's good -- first impressions do count.

However, I'll have to see how he stands up to the test of time.

Sunday, November 02, 2003


Cowboys, chaos, children and Cincinnati chili. The components of Sunday afternoon. It was nice.

My littlest dog is competing for my attention now, jumping in my lap with a rag in her teeth. She growls to convey her insistence that I grab hold of the rag's other end and play tug of war.

Amy is calling from downstairs. Our guests have left and now we have a few moments to ourselves before the realities of Monday begin to poke over the horizon.

There is a time to write...this is not one of them.

Saturday, November 01, 2003


Just got back from attending my first Spurs game of the season. I was able to take a new friend who's going through a tough time. Amy graciously watched his three kids. The Spurs looked a little ragged. My conversations with my new friend were also a bit forced at times. His divorce papers come in Monday. New job. New apartment. Many new adjustments.
I have faith in the Spurs.
I have faith in God and that He will use me to help this new friend.
The Spurs won, without my help.
But tonight I hope Amy and I helped the team that needed us most.