Friday, March 31, 2006

It's Plain The Mains Are Clearly Insane

The insanity of having jackhammers entering our house next week is currently being outweighed by the manic panic of trying to get ready for the jackhammers, the noise, the dust. We really don't know what to expect with the foundation work that begins on Monday, except to be inconvenienced in about every way imaginable.

In a way, I suppose that's good. To be uprooted a bit allows us see our roots...and a lot of dirt that's been clinging to them.

Anyway, blogging may be a bit sporadic or it might be an hourly event over the next week or so. I have to believe that if the workers haven't sent us running and screaming from our home, I'll have to post photos of men working in our floor since no one has ever been in our floor least I hope not - sudden Jimmy Hoffa shudder.

Amy and I also of course have completely irrational hopes that once the work is done we'll somehow reorganize our clutter and not just shove it all back wherever it fits.

Yeah, we're insane.

However, that's not the really nutty thing.

You may want to sit down.

Once the foundation work is done and our clutter is spread back out, Amy and I have plans to help a young family move into our home.

Yes, we're doing it again.

Details on that later. I can hear most of you screaming, "What? Are they CRAZY?"

And I'm fearful I know the answer to that question.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Call

We haven't seen each other much in recent months...they've been busy...we've been when I answered her call this morning the words stung twice as hard, "Michael, I have breast cancer."

The call came as I was wrapping up work at the office so I stopped dead as my mind rushed with thoughts of how her sister's death from this same insidious disease had so jumbled her life, her emotions, her perspective on God...and I thought how those deep chasms in her soul had only been partially filled by recently finding true love...happiness.

And they are in love...married such a short time they are still life to the fullest with travel and carefree days.

There won't be many of those for a while. The honeymoon is over.

I suppressed my urge to angrily scream aloud to God, "Hasn't she been through enough?"

Instead I softly spoke three small words into the phone, "I'm so sorry."

We spoke for a good while, promising that the recent distance would disappear and that Amy and I will be there for this next part of their journey. It will be hard, for she is still mourning, and loving...and living but now there is an ever-present shadow...a darkness...a fear.

I called Amy and broke the news. When I arrived home she and Amy were speaking-Amy encouraging and praying and vowing we would walk every step of the way with them...the way back to living life to the fullest. Optimism bathed Amy's every word.

Then the call ended and Amy fell into my arms in tears.

There have been one or two calls since but now I am about to make one him.

He and I have grown quite close although our bond has been based primarily around our wives, fine wine, and God. He lost one wife to cancer years ago and I can't imagine how tangled his thoughts must be today. Part of the conversation will be clinical, he knows this road all too well. I'll assure him as I assured her that we will traverse this course with courage...side by side. We will be with them through the get to the best...again.

There will be no distance during these days.

His has been a hard journey too...and to find love again has been such a blessing. To have that joy disrupted so is so sad.

Eventually, I'll have to bring him back...back to suffering and salvation...helplessness and hope constantly reminding him that we will stand together...and kneel together often in these coming months.

I know my words will be of little comfort...there is no comfortable place is this harbor of the torturous unknown. To him they will be merely words right now...for me they will be a promise to him...and to God.

I pray God gives me those words now...for the time has come.

I have to make the call.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

And Now A Little Day Brightener

For those of you making summer vacation plans, you might want to keep in mind the predictions of a guy who calls himself "Pastor Harry." He's predicting that we're well on our way to the arrival of the Anti-Christ and that unless the Anti-Christ trumps him by revealing himself beforehand he - Pastor Harry - will reveal the name of the Anti-Christ on June 6th, 2006...that's 6/6/6...sort of.

Pastor Harry has a website and apparently an Internet-based radio show out of Midland, Michigan focusing on Doomsday. Tune in weekly for a heckuva good uplifting time.

One or two warnings about the website, I didn't dig too deep so there's no telling what it may contain, and also it has some really annoying sound file shouting "WARNING WARNING...etc" as soon as you enter. I had to turn off the sound of my computer to get it to stop. Anyway, this is the site.

"Pastor Harry" says several events will have to occur before the Anti-Christ reveals himself and remarkably a number already have: Ariel Sharon's stroke; Iran's decision to restart its nuclear weapons program; and the recent HAMAS victory in the Palestine elections.

Now all that has to happen in the next two months is for terrorists to blow up a mosque in Jerusalem and blame it on Israel so that Muslim leaders can declare a holy war.

He adds there's a 50-50 chance the Anti-Christ will reveal himself on June 6th...isn't there a 50% chance the Anti-Christ will reveal himself everyday? He also says we shouldn't be freaked out if he...Pastor Harry...announces a name that we've never heard of because, "He's more unknown than I." That one is hard to believe eh?

Being a loving husband, I sent this information to Amy as soon as I received it...I do have unspent vacation days after all. She responded:

Getting ordained over the Internet - $15
Having your name legally changed to Pastor Harry- $75 (+$1 filing fee, $1.50 Michigan Wolverine surcharge, and $3.00 RTA tax)
Already knowing the guy named as the Anti-Christ has GOT to be named "Wayne" - Priceless!

Gotta love that woman...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Do You You Tube? You Will

Finally people being creative with web cams...besides folks doing porn, if that's creative...Youtube...

Check out Bowie Chick....a rising Internet star.

Of course being West Highland White Terrorist owners...this video is a favorite.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Package Rage

I ache too much from moving furniture to write...I'm outraged at the pain.

It will pass.

Plastic packaging rage...that however is only going to get worse.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Moving Day

I'm in avoidance mode...typing randomly instead of moving furniture. We're not moving out of our house, but we might as well be for the amount of work we have in front of us over the next week.
We're having our foundation a little over a week. Some years ago we had the exterior of the house shored up, but thanks to no rain, clay soil, and fate's plan to make sure we never get a chance to get ahead financially, new problems cropped up and the interior of our home has to be jacked up.
For this to happen, we have to "empty" the two primary rooms downstairs, the master bedroom and our living room. We are in essence moving except we have no place to go. We're cramming furniture into rooms, piling stuff on top of stuff so men with jackhammers can tear up our carpet (not sure how we're going to recover from that process)and dig giant holes in our floor.
Amy and I are not the most organized or "neat" people to begin there's a certain amount of disarray in our home already. By the time this next week is over we're going to have set a new standard for "the cluttered look."

Then...the jackhammers arrive.

My goal is to get the living room cleared today and I'm not going to make it if I sit here and write.

Praise God and pass the ibuprofen.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Pierced...Deservedly So

I stink.

This I mean both figuratively and literally.

I returned moments ago from my daily walk and I can smell me. I once had a biology teacher who said, "If you can smell yourself...bathe!"

Not to worry I plan to do that momentarily - and if Amy comes home while I'm writing then it'll be even sooner.

However I had to quickly stop everything and apologize to Matt Robison and his family, because what I did to them stinks worse.

A couple of days ago I posted a sort of tongue-in-cheek thing mocking Matt a bit for his decision to break the world "body piercing" record. I really didn't mean anything by it but I wrote the words that if I met Matt "I would turn away." It was a bad phrase, a stupid thing to say, and something I didn't mean then or now. It was essentially a transitional phrase to get into his story.

At least I thought so.

Until I came home from my walk and noticed a new comment on that piece.

So you don't have to scroll back and leave me mid-post, this is what is says:

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't turn away from Matt. You know why? He's my son. As God's children we are not to turn away from anyone. Matt know's a lot about the Bible. He was a top Bible quizzer in his younger days with spending 8 years in Bible quizzing.

I can't really tell you why he did this. In his defense, he started on this months ago. He started on this project and saw it through to the end. His mom and I are proud of the fact he went through with it and was able to set a new record. Did we agree? No. He is our son and we love him and will always be there for him. Yes, we are excited for him.


Sam Robison

Ouch! Talk about being pierced! My own words feel like daggers stuck in places you don't puncture on purpose. So I couldn't even wait 10 minutes to post this apology. Every word Matt's father wrote rings true and I'm thankful that he took the time to write.

I'm assuming he found my puny little blog via a search engine while looking up reports of his son's feat. I've been guilted by Google.

Seriously, please know I meant no harm, but I do apologize.

And thank you Sam Robison. You've given me a well deserved reminder that this Lenten season I should spend more time looking inward and less time looking out.

"Judge not, that you be not judged."

That's from the Bible...the book of Matthew. Something I bet Matt Robison already knows.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Coin Of Riches

That's a denarius.

I bought it recently because I wanted one for a while as a reminder.

It reminds me of the parable of the the least shall be first...and how difficult the Bible says it is for the financially fixated to enter heaven, among other things.

Back in the Roman's day, one denarius was a good day's pay. That one cost me a few dollars, but to me it's worth a great deal more.

It reminds me to update you on the Gomez family. They're doing well. I spent a little time with Lee last night. She's anxious about finding a new job. Ana is working. John' already has an iguana.

Gordon's initiated an effort to get them a decent computer...we've got a couple of options there, but it's something I want to get settled soon because it's unimaginable that Lee and Ana will be able to do their college work without computer access at home. Amy also is trying an end run to see if a local office supply store will "donate" a computer, which could put a whole different spin on things.

Yeah, that old coin got me writing about the generous spirit of strangers. Stuff some of you ordered for the Gomez' from is still being us. I delight in calling Lee and telling her I'm on my way over with sheets, or flatware and she's still amazed that people care so much about her and her family.

Probably due to Gordon's recent post, in the past day I've received another contribution directly through PayPal . Gordon and I have decided to simply combine those funds when the time is right. Still I'm astounded at the kindnesses we've witnessed and I can't adequately express our thanks. Be assured the money will go to good use.

As I pondered the idea of the least being first my thoughts wandered to how Amy and I are coping in the post-Klondike era.

I moved the little dog's crates into our bedroom. That's actually working out better than I imagined. Avery is confused a bit...she still runs upstairs looking for her bed before realizing she's been relocated. Winston, who has always coveted our bedroom because it's always been off limits and because he knows it contains an ample supply of dirty socks - that's another story - is sleeping through the night which was my primary concern. He doesn't however let me get away with hitting the snooze bar. The alarm sounds and if I consider spending ten more minutes in slumber, Winston howls me out of that dream quickly. Suffice it to say the little dogs are in hog heaven. They think they've reached the promised land.

Amy and I are coping as best we can...Amy isn't crying as often...I'm getting used to the white tile in our entryway not being covered in black dog hair and growing accustomed to being able to climb the stairs without having to pass a hairy 90-pound sentry.

I apologize for the rambling nature and lack of continuity of this post...but it started with a coin from old...a coin that once was consider a day's wages. Today thoughts of generosity, coping, loss and love are the wages I bring to the table...and to be able to share them with you allows me to feel wealthy indeed.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Holy, Holy, Hol You Gotta Be Kidding Me?

Amy recently got her ear pierced...again.

I'm not big on body piercings of any form, but I'm big on Amy and as long as she limits her personal puncturing to ears I don't object...too much.

However if I ever met Matt Robison of Ottawa I'd have to turn away. You would too.

Don't believe me?'s a picture of Matt.

That was at least how he looked last Saturday while setting a body piercing record. In the span of 14 hours he was pierced...about a thousand times...on purpose.

Really. He did it on purpose.

In Matt's defense he was going for a world record and fully intended to be pierced 1200 times so as to put the record out of reach of all the other folks clamoring for the title of the person with the most holes in his...body.

However, somewhere around piercing number 500 Matt realized something...getting pierced hundreds of times hurts. Matt decided then not to go for 1200 piercings...he was going to stop at 1016 - one more than the current piercing record. You've got to give him some credit for having that much common sense.

Until you find out that immediately after he broke the record...after he had been pierced about a thousand times...he decided something else...he decided to PULL THEM ALL OUT!

I'll give you a moment to scream.

Yes, it's true after subjecting himself to 14 hours of torture so he could set a world record for driving stakes into his skin, Matt opted to spend - I don't know how long - yanking them out.

And you know what he discovered?

That hurts too!

Matt says it was never his intention to keep the piercings...he only wanted to set the world record. If he kept the piercings after all people might think he was nuts.

Personally I think Matt could have gone for 1017 piercings...I don't think it would even hurt...I suspect he already has a hole in his head.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Klondike's Way

Klondike never was the most obedient dog. During our initial attempts at dog training...he was the class clown. He didn't understand why the other dogs would gather around the big tin water trough to drink when it was much more expedient to simply crawl into it and sprawl out in the cool water. He was a party was of no concern to him if no else realized a party was underway.

Yesterday Amy and I walked the same route we walked when we "found" Klondike - I half jokingly accuse Amy of "stealing" him, but that's a story for another day - and truthfully it was odd to find ourselves on that same street considering how much the neighborhood has changed in 11 years...and considering how often Amy and I actually walk together.

Of course it brought back memories of that then tiny ten-week old dog with a ratty collar that had a broken piece of phone wire tied to it.

At first we didn't name Klondike. There were a number of reasons, but foremost among them was that I didn't want to keep him. I could tell this cute little dog was going to grow into a monster who would eat us out of house and home. Klondike however neglected all of my objections easily overlooking my efforts to disown him - I littered the neighborhood with "FOUND DOG" signs, took out an ad in the newspaper and even got on the radio begging for someone to adopt him.

Klondike meanwhile picked his spot and stayed put.

He never was the most obedient dog.

So 11 years went by...Klondike cut a path into our hearts and numerous paths through what was once a beautifully landscaped back yard. He even accepted our two, completely insane, West Highland White Terrorists without the least bit of jealousy.
We naturally assumed that since he was 10 times their size that he'd be the "alpha" dog of the pack. Wrong again...he became the most subservient of the trio...readily giving up his food, water, toys...whatever to Avery our smallest dog...our only female dog.

Klondike never was very obedient.

Anyway, during our walk Amy and I mutually agreed that today we would take Klondike to the vet and have him put down because it was obvious he was increasingly uncomfortable, wasn't eating and seemed to be disoriented a great deal of the time. We braced ourselves emotionally for the trip to the vet and tried to make Klondike as comfortable as possible in the interim. As the night wore on his condition deteriorated very rapidly reinforcing our determination to rush him to the vet as soon as possible and put him out of his misery.

I left for work at 12:30...Amy was in tears...Klondike was in a virtual coma. I vowed to get my work done rapidly and get home to help Amy take Klondike to the vet.

However sometime between 2 and 4 this morning Klondike decided on a more expedient route...he died on our living room floor.

He never was the most obedient dog.

But we loved him with all our hearts.

And we always will...

Sunday, March 19, 2006


I think I slept 20 hours out of 24 took a prodding call from Amy today to get me out of bed to church, which I'm glad I heeded, I needed to spend time in worship. I think both Amy and I are realizing that there was a lot of strain involved in hosting the Gomez family that we found ways to ignore...until we got them settled into a place where both we and they felt comfortable.

And now we're crashing.

Amy was at least conscious yesterday but I think she was quasi-sleep we're both a comfortable pillow away from a nap that could span 7 or 8 hours. Poor Lisa came down for a visit yesterday afternoon and I think the most intelligent thing I said to her was, "Zzzz I snoring?"
Being the delightful "adult" she is now...and a college student who burns the candle at both ends...she forgave my periodic drooling and snoring all the while I'm sure thinking to herself, "This has to be the most boring spring break ever!"

Anyway, Amy and I are about to embark on our Lenten walk...we're not going to set any land speed records...I think we'll just stroll and talk today and consider that sufficient. I'm big on Lenten disciplines, but this is a 40-day journey, my walk with Amy will last a lifetime. Plus it's humid as "Heck" humid or is it a dry heat down there?

Anyway I'm straying from the point, not that I'm sure I had one to begin with, except to say we're both tired and Sunday is slipping away so we're going to let it slide without feeling guilty about it.

I fear this next week will be "the one." The one where we'll have to say,"Goodbye" to Klondike. He's barely eating and we've given him every form of food imaginable. He's becoming increasingly disoriented, and it's obvious that he's uncomfortable lying down so he stands a lot... and stares at us. In the years past this has usually signaled that he needed something and since his repertoire of needs was limited to food, water, or going to the bathroom it didn't take Sherlock Holmes to crack the case. Now he's rejecting food, water he has unlimited access to...and he's apparently not rushing to get outside for "relief." So the conclusion is confusion...He knows something's wrong, but he doesn't know what exactly. It's sad and I'll confess a little creepy.

Having a big black dog staring at us all the time while we rush around trying to find some way to assuage his unspoken needs and failing almost all the time is a weird experience. Then when we shrug and say we've done all we can think of we turn around to see him standing there...staring at us again.

I am as prepared for "the decision" as much as possible I suppose...but I really don't want to think about it any more today.

It is exhausting.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Moving Moment

Six months...almost to the day.

The Gomez family moved out of our house today into their own apartment.

With the help of some very dear friends we packed the family's belongings onto a trailer (don't worry someone sensible arrived later and organized it better) and we took them to their new apartment only a couple of miles away.

Six months...almost to the day.

We went through a lot during those six months since Katrina hit. Complete strangers moving into our home with very little notice. Admittedly there were some very, VERY difficult moments...but there were also some amazing extended periods of joy...pure joy.

I can not count the number of people during these past six months who advised me - with the best of intentions - "You need to get them out of your house." None of those people had ever met one member of the Gomez family but they had already decided what was best.

I also must confess I can not count the number of times I felt the same way. I wrote about some of those hard times, but certainly not all of them...I will readily admit it was difficult.

My blog friends, Katy and Doug, have been going through a rough period in recent months and not too long ago I made a comment on Katy's blog - - that I was going to take it up with God when I get to Heaven (there's a matter of presumption there we needn't debate here) the merits of this too often repeated cliche of, "God only gives you as much as you can handle."

One of Katy's readers - forgive me for being lazy and not going back to find the exact response and crediting the author - left an astute comment essentially asking,"Where's that in the Bible?" Her point was that throughout the Bible there are examples of God giving people WAY MORE than they could "handle." In fact, her point was that strife is one of God's key strategies to grow us in our relationship with Him.

It struck me like lightning.

Quite often God does give us more than we can handle. We are dealt a full house of hassle and turmoil while the other players seem to be blessed with an easy street straight flush.

Life is hard...and many - if not most of us - fail to cope with all of its obligations: the stress, the financial burdens, medical problems, and job demands...the list goes on and on and on and on and that's only my list.

If we let it...we fail...and that's a good thing.

Okay, perhaps I should have warned you in advance...that is the hard part to accept. You have to admit you can't handle it.

Get down to your knees and finally admit you're incapable of handling it all...alone.

And then cry out for help...God's help.

That's when it happens: God says something equivalent to, "Whew! I've been waiting to love you and hold you and help you...but it had to be your choice. Free choice...remember?"

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:3

Six months...almost to the day.

There were a lot of hard moments during these past six months...frustration, anger, disbelief...but I'm now convinced the memories of those hard moments will quickly fade.

I'm equally sure that the good times will be etched on our hearts...permanently.

Six months...almost to the day the Gomez family literally had nothing but the clothes on their backs. Tonight they have an apartment of their own, every family member is in school, and they are possibly in the best position of their lives to actually grow and "succeed."

So who gets the credit?

Amy and I certainly don't. The Gomez family - although everyone applauds their efforts - didn't do any of it alone.

It was Christ's love...

It was YOU.

Your acceptance and generous spirit gave this one family another chance...I believe a better chance.

I can not begin to thank all of you...some of you gave to this family without ever even letting us know your names. Some of you have given repeatedly, not simply money, but with prayer and encouragement for them and for Amy and me.

How can we possibly thank you? How can the Gomez family thank you?

The only way I know is to say that Amy and I feel so very privileged to be a tiny part of this outpouring of love...this abundance of caring...this body of Christ.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The House Warming

I promised photos of the Gomez Family house warming. Gifts are still coming in from all over and for that Amy and I can't thank you enough. I thought it would be easier to put the photos on Flickr, of course it took me hours to figure out how best to do any case the photos are there and hopefully if you click here you'll see them in the right order. Don't use the photo stream or slide show, that seems to mess with the order. I readily admit I haven't learned all of Flickr's tricks...but this should at least give you the picture...pardon the pun.

Tomorrow the Gomez clan moves into their apartment. They're still in need of some stuff. Amy and I are contemplating one large gift if we can swing it...something they'll need to succeed. I think one last sacrifice on our part won't kill us.

My eyes are glazed over now it's time for a nap.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Small Bright Stars Shine On My Heart

Before Amy and I got married and for a good while afterwards when I was out alone with the kids shopping they'd usually ask me to buy them something to which my usual response was, "No."

That usually prompted our youngest daughter Lisa to respond, "You're mean." She didn't mean it...I knew became something of a running gag after a while. She doesn't even remember it any longer.

Another running tradition in our family is to label Christmas presents to and from different folks...oftentimes we use names from the Bible...To: Naomi, From: Ruth... To: Klondike, From: Santa..
One year Lisa gave me a gift with this label...which you probably can't read but I tried to photograph it.

It says, To:Michael....From: You're Mean.

I've carried that gift tag in my wallet for 12 years or so remind me of that little girl with the wry sense of humor.

Lisa's always been the smallest one. The youngest child with the bright eyes and smile...our Lisa.
Today she's not a child any she's an "adult" - officially 21 years old.
Old enough to do all sorts of things we've warned her against, and smart enough to make her own decisions.

She may be the youngest of our three children, and may still be the "smallest" in my mind...but she has a big heart, her eyes and smile are still bright...and her even brighter.

Happy birthday Lisa. I love you dearly.

-You're Mean

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I Coulda Been An Eliminator

I promise I'll post pictures of the Gomez family shower, but right now I'm killing time for a few minutes watching "Alias" with Amy and I want to edit some of the many photos from the shower before I post them.

Amy has been telling me about Jeff Yagher - a B-list actor with whom she went to high school and who was featured in the last episode of Alias we watched...featured for about 43 seconds. Anytime Amy sees Jeff Yagher in something...and he's been in a multitude of things...she recounts her high school "relationship" with Jeff in which they "kissed." I believe that was the extent of the fact I think his role in the episode of Alias actually lasted longer. Jeff Yagher's brother, Kevin, is also a famous make-up artist...think "Tales from the Crypt." He is the same age as Amy and was in her graduating class.

None of this has much to do with anything except I almost made it onto TV sort a serial killer. Actually, I was never up for a role or anything, but Monty Williams, a reporter I worked with briefly in Austin many years ago eventually became a speech writer for Ann Richards and other Texas politicos and that naturally led him some years later to a similar career...making up stories and writing fiction for TV shows in Hollywood.

The last time I spoke with Monty he was writing for a new "cop" show and enjoying some success...the fact that I don't remember the name of the cop show is indicative of how long that particular success lasted. Anyway, during the course of our conversation I asked him if he could do me one favor. I asked that in a future episode of the now forgotten cop show he name whatever heinous bad guy character Michael Main...or more specifically Michael "Wayne" Main.

I've written many times about my "Wayne theory" or what my family members and fellow believers call the "Wayne Axiom" but suffice it say I believe people named Wayne are predestined to lives of crime. Usually they become mass murderers and such.

My friend Monty promised he would try his best to grant my request, but alas his show was cancelled shortly thereafter...I'm not sure if Jeff Yahger even had a chance to audition.

However the memory made me think of the guy in Columbus, Ohio who is lobbying hard to be cast as a "dead guy" on a TV show like Law & Order. There are a lot of "dead guys" on TV and apparently he's actually landed a role as a corpse in a "b"...okay maybe "c" movie. Who knows...he could be off on a new career to rival Jeff Yagher's...except he'll never be allowed to kiss Amy.

Of course if there are any Hollywood horror writers out there reading this...feel free to use the name Michael "Wayne" charge.

Gifts & Gadgets

The house warming shower for the Gomez family was a huge success thanks in large part to you..people who read this blog and gave via the Internet. Some of that stuff hasn't arrived yet but Amy was able to print out a list of the items that you folks purchased so that Lee can know what to expect. A number of items did arrive already, along with gifts from church members, and several generous PayPal donations or checks sent to us directly which I dutifully converted to Wal-Mart gift cards for Lee to use once they've settled in and decide what else they really need.

I must admit, I am amazed by the outpouring of love from the people who read this blog. It's really quite overwhelming. It's one thing to know people actually read what I write, it's quite another to learn so many of you are truly good people...kind people...caring people...loving people. God's people.

I'll write more about the shower and post pictures either later today or tomorrow.

Although Amy did most all the work for the shower, I'm exhausted.

So I thought I'd take a time out for a bit of goofiness.

That's an actual product for people who tire of holding their cell phones up to their ear.

It's silly things like this that are so silly that they make me want one. Mercifully the urge usually passes...before Amy has to step in and take away my credit card.

Again, more later on the house warming party...

I don't think I can say it often enough though...thank you.

We are the body of Christ and today my friends...our body stepped up in a big way. Lee was astounded...and even John' - who prides himself on looking dour - couldn't hide his obvious gratitude.

Bless you all.

Michael & Amy

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ceding The Seed

The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field. Which indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs...

Mustard seeds are tiny lil' boogers.

In less than one week the Gomez family will be in their new home. We're all trying to get used to that idea...admittedly sometimes Amy and I feel a sense of relief...but there is also a sense of remorse.

I think we've accomplished a great deal, but we're still very unsure that we have done all we can to prepare this family to "go it alone." It's disappointing. At times I feel like we should have been able to achieve more.

To be honest, I came to grips with my frustration by remembering mustard seeds and the time when our daughter Tiffany - you know the one at Harvard - spent a semester studying in England. It was like an MTV "Real World" experience...literally. She moved into a house in another country knowing no one. She was sharing a home with a bunch of other college kids, all of whom were strangers. The house was also full of strange values many of which conflicted with her own.

At first, Tiffany felt out of place - in part because she sensed that God "must have" put her there to minister to these kids, to help them find Christ - but she wasn't sure even how to talk to them...much less relate to them on a level where they could have serious discussions about religion.

I remember early on sending her an email reminding her that once upon a time I was one of those kids with far different values, and I changed. It took many years, but God got through to me...eventually. I don't know if my email made it any easier for Tiffany but today it's helping me cope with the preparations for this latest transition in our lives.

God wasn't asking Tiffany to convert anyone. He was asking her to "walk the walk."

God and time would take care of the rest.

She was a mustard seed.

I don't know how the kids she spent that semester with developed but I do know that Tiffany changed radically. She became a more independent person who was even more dependent on God. Today she is a fearless young woman to be reckoned with...she has friends of all stripes - believers and non-believers - and she shares her beliefs proudly.

Tomorrow we'll hold our "house warming shower" for the Gomez family at church and then next Friday our plan is to move them from our house into their new home.

Lee has a foundation of faith. God has taken care of her and her family thus far and she believes He will see them through future storms that are no doubt on the horizon.

I realized today that perhaps God's intent all along was not for Amy and I to change the Gomez family, but rather it was for this experience to change us.

Mustard seeds...they sure are tiny lil' boogers.

Friday, March 10, 2006

My Old Friend Harlan And New Things Too

I don't have a lot of time...I'm running out for the evening with a friend to watch the Spurs versus Kobe Bryant and a handful of other guys dressed in purple - some folks still call them the Lakers. It will be time well spent...a great way to put a hectic work week behind me.

When I have little time and am pressed for blog fodder I can usually always count on my old friend Harlan with whom I've renewed a relationship that began and ended in junior high and didn't resume until he found my blog a year or two ago.

We communicate via email fairly regularly and besides correcting my punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors, he sends me thought provoking stuff on a regular basis.

I don't listen to NPR...I'm a commercial radio guy and NPR has never really intrigued me...I'm not a big fan of government subsidized competition, but that's a story for another day. My old friend Harlan, knowing that I don't listen to NPR yet also knowing I'm very into Lent sent me a link to this NPR story about a Priest who has a friend choose what he gives up for Lent each year.
I really enjoyed it, but that does not mean I like NPR.

My old friend Harlan also sent me these bumper stickers...which have nothing to do with anything.

One other note of a more serious nature: Lee walked in as I was writing this...she is home early. The reason: she lost her job today. It is not worth getting into, it was not her fault, but she was made to take the blame. Basically she was a scapegoat...she knows it but it is still difficult. She hides it well but I know she is feeling a little low, as anyone does when they get fired - I know I have been fired before too. She could use a little uplifting prayer.

It comes at a bad time when she is preparing to embark on a new independent life in a new apartment, but the job paid $6.50 an hour. I told her there are lots of $6.50 an hour jobs and God is going to take care of her...I think He has proven that aplenty already. However if you could say a prayer for patience, peace of mind and understanding...and maybe pile it on with an outright prayer that Lee find a new job quickly, I believe that would be time well spent indeed.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Getting The Gomez Family Going

**I am attempting to keep this as the first post on the page for a few days...there should be other newer posts after this one.**

Christ has no body on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours. Ours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out upon the world, ours are the feet with which He goes about doing good, ours are the hands with which He blesses His people. - St. Teresa of Avila

The other night at church, Lee joined us for our Ash Wednesday service and Amy and I held her hand and ministered to her personally - me muttering a few words and Amy placing ashes upon her head. I do not remember exactly what I said but I hope my prayer reflected thoughts to the effect of:

Holy Father, we are entering a season of grief...of penitence. This is my sister in Christ, Lee Gomez. I can not envision these next 40 days being any more difficult than the days she and her family have endured since Katrina but I do know she will need to walk with You. I pray Your steady hand guide her and the body of Christ be with her and her family as they rebuild their lives over this Lenten season and beyond.

Amy, the Gomez family members, and I have had our share of interpersonal struggles and drama over these past six months, some of which I have documented here. Please do not mistake our situation however - Amy and I feel a real calling from God that has remained constant and clear. We are called to help this family and are still doing so in every way we can. We love every member of the Gomez family and want nothing but for them to stand on their own again with a growing sense of the grace of The Almighty.

This Friday - perhaps sooner - Lee, Ana and John will move out of our home and into a nearby apartment - with no FEMA help - an apartment all their own. It will be an exciting day and a somewhat intimidating day for them. Despite our recent ups and downs, it will also be a sad day for the Mains. I am certain it will feel like the days when each of our kids went off to college and we realized the ties of love and shared values not withstanding, there was a new distance to our existence. Amy and I have only one regret...that we could not do more to prepare them for life on their own.

The Gomez family lost everything in Katrina, including the limited support of the father of the Gomez children...the soon to be ex-husband. So Lee, at the age of 50, is starting over with two still very dependent and naive teenagers who in truth have no clue how overwhelming this must be for their mother.

Over the past six months they have been able to gradually obtain a few things like clothes. We and other church members are giving them some furniture items but they will need others. We are trying to provide them with other assistance as needed, but they know that there will still be many needs unmet.

No matter the help they receive, rebuilding lives anew takes time...precious time. Lee and Ana are both working, both going to school and are reliant on a spotty at best public transportation system which robs them of a lot of time for much of anything else.

Throughout their ordeal Lee and her kids have held onto one thing...their pride. They frown on asking for help and are uncomfortable even applying for government assistance which is designed specifically with people such as them in mind. This was a family that owned their own home - completely paid for - had a vehicle, and all the basic amenities of life until six months ago. Today what they own can fit in the back of a pickup truck with room to spare.

Our church family will be holding a house warming shower for the Gomez clan next weekend and Amy has registered them at Target like a bride and groom because they still lack many of the necessities of life.

The house warming party will be held at our church, but I am boldly asking you to consider attending as well via the Internet - if you are in this area you are certainly welcome to physically attend, we would cherish the opportunity to meet you and share this moment.

Amy has gone through Target and selected numerous items ranging from paper towels to a dining room table and chairs. There are items under five dollars and one or two items costing a couple hundred bucks.

Target doesn't have a house warming shower registry or a registry for people rebuilding their lives from the ground up so Amy used the wedding registry as this seemed the most expedient. The bride is Lee Gomez, the groom is Family Gomez.

You do not have to be limited by the Club Wedd registry, we simply believed this would be an easy way help replace some of the many items the family lost. Feel free to browse around Target and choose whatever you wish...any donation will be deeply appreciated.

I know some of you are not in a financial position to give - we know that feeling all too well - so please do not feel guilty. However if you are able to contribute in a small or large way I am personally asking you to give it prayerful consideration. You need only to follow the link above, or this one here.

Should you want to give in another way, i.e. cash, and get a tax deduction in the process, such gifts are obviously also welcome. Real Live Preacher readers and church members from a congregation in Athens, Texas will be helping the family with their rent for the next year, paying a small portion each month as they get familiarized with their expenses and budget. I do ask that if you choose to give that way you do it through our church. The link for more information on that process is on the sidebar but also right here.

I am also leaving the PayPal link up on the sidebar simply because some folks have told me they want to give the easiest way possible. Should you choose that option, I will put the money toward a gift card ( most likely Target, Wal-Mart, or the grocery store across from their new apartment) for the family unless you direct otherwise.

Many of you have given already to this family, not only financially but with deep and heart-felt prayer. I am so thankful for those gifts and please be aware nothing is needed more by Lee and her kids than an outpouring of continued prayer. This is a new season of life they are entering full of possibilities...and rife with potential pitfalls. If you could be so generous as to include Lee and her children on your prayer list that would be the best gift of all.

Thank all of you for walking with Amy and me during this time. Your prayers, emails and letters of encouragement have carried us in more ways than I could ever express. Amy and I do feel a true sense that this is how God wishes to use us in this time, and are already considering ways to provide shelter to someone else in need in the future.

However we will not be abandoning the Gomez family, they will be living only a few blocks away, we will be in regular contact and I will keep you updated as to their progress in this exciting time. They will be the focus of our constant prayers too.

It has been six months since Katrina hit and many lives are still in disarray as is much of the city of New Orleans. There is still a lot of clutter and debris. And while some people are still playing political blame games and others have let the needs of the storm victims fall off their radar, there are people still in dire need of real assistance.

Today I am reminding you of only one such family. Their name is Gomez.

Should you be new to this blog, a small portion of their story is available for reading here. They have real needs, but they also have strong faith. Amy and I believe that faith will be recognized by the body of Christ.

Bless you for believing with us.


Michael & Amy

Got It All Figured Out?

So do you think you have it all figured out? I mean you have spent much of your life in spiritual contemplation...have you come to terms with the purpose of it all?

If so, you should go to

You can enter a contest by entering your wisdom...define the meaning of life.

Oh there is one catch - besides the fact they want your email address and you get subscribed to a free supposedly uplifting newsletter -you only get to use 25 words or less.

You can sum up the meaning of life in 25 words or less right?

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Surprising Times

I am surprised by God a lot it seems...maybe everyone else already caught on to His ways and I am only now catching up, but I do find myself constantly amazed how things work out.

I mentioned recently that Amy and I are embarking on various disciplines during this Lenten season, and although I am not certain that I spelled it out, one of those is reclaiming more of our relationship with God by reclaiming time with each other.

Anyway, the Gomez family will be moving out on the 15th (the apartment complex delayed things by five days or so) and then Amy and will have the house to ourselves for a short while before men with jackhammers invade. Our foundation is in dire need of repair and they will literally be evicting us from most of our downstairs while they do unspeakable things to the interior of our house. There will be noise, dust, and strange men walking about.

Being the intelligent, romantic guy I am, I thought this would be a perfect time to take a vacation...although we really don't have the funds to go anywhere I thought we could at least hole up together upstairs or spend every day at the movies. We really feel somewhat obligated to stay close enough to home to keep an eye on the people drilling holes in our living room and bedroom floor.

Truthfully I can not really imagine us enjoying solitude, much less each other, with a scene from The Money Pit playing out in our little love nest.

I was still kicking around options today - we could move into a nearby motel but it seems like such a waste to spend money in the same city where we live. We even considered camping out in our church Sunday school building which has showers and such.

The idea of romance in the Sunday school building however brings up an entirely new set of issues...and could quite possibly ruin our Biblical education for years to come. The more I think about it, there is a chance it could shatter the psyches of any number of people so I think I will stop thinking about that completely.

Then God surprised us...through our eldest child, Tiffany.

Our brilliant daughter who is getting her Masters at Harvard (have I mentioned I have to mention Harvard every time I mention Tiffany?) sent us a very sweet note thanking us for following what we feel is the call of God over these past six months. It was very touching and it alone would be a priceless gift.

However, along with the note she included a gift certificate for a striking Bed and Breakfast in the Texas Hill Country. It is close enough to our soon to be construction zone for us to be able to rush home if the contractors strike oil or something, yet secluded enough to give us the opportunity to feel like we are really getting away in order to have a chance to listen to God.

Since we learned today that the Gomez family will be staying in our home a few days longer, that this gift also arrived today was absolutely amazing.

As always, the timing of God is perfect.

Bless you Tiffany and Father God thank You so much for blessing our lives with such loving children.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Deeper By The Dozen

Time has come and gone...taken and given.
Life has pushed and shoved.
Dreams have lived and died.

One thing has remain unchanged.

My love for you.

Happy Anniversary Mrs. Main...I love you with all my being.

Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


After a somewhat maniacal day at the office, I have had a long nap and am now waiting for my batteries to charge up a bit before I charge out on my Lenten walk...that's literally and figuratively. My body - which does not ache quite as much as I expected - needs to brace itself and I am hoping my too often dropped handheld PC will recharge and function well enough as my MP3 player during the journey...right now it's at about 53 percent which probably exceeds my energy level.

Ash Wednesday service was wonderful...very touching...very meaningful. I should have brought a camera to capture some of the images of love in the sanctuary but it would have spoiled the mood.

Speaking of spoiled moods, Ana has not spoken a word to me in two weeks or so. She comes, she goes. I occasionally spot her and say goodbye. John' and I are getting along well, and Lee is I think simply exhausted and a little concerned about life on their own. I think she will bounce back before too long..

63 Percent charged...

I am testing a new blogging tool - Anaconia RocketPost - I can not give you a review since this is the first thing I have typed on it and I haven't posted it yet. Blogger is a complete pain to write with, but the way it embeds images makes it very hard to use another tool. It is now also for some reason putting question marks in the place of things like apostrophes, so I am reverting to writing like a Vulcan and not using contractions. So let us try this shall we?

We will see how that works.... which brings me to a dog update I suppose. First off, Klondike is still alive and kicking. We are spoiling him like crazy, and he is taking advantage of it...refusing to eat regular dog food unless we spice it up with green beans or something else.

We have to give him medicine for his various other aches and pains - the vet did not give us anything but a knowing look when she broke the news about his lung cancer - however they are reluctant to dole out more than 10 days worth of pills at a time. Apparently they expect Klondike to expire at any moment and to us he is the same lazy dog he has been for 5 years, except now he?s a picky eater.

Winston and Avery are fine. I mentioned some time back that Winston was going tri on us...tri-pod that is...he was only using three legs. We, of course, had the Vet check that out as well and her reaction was - quote - he is being lazy.

I am not sure what that evaluation cost, but Winston is now using four legs again after apparently discerning he'd been busted.

91% charged.

Well, now the big test to see if this software works, which will be highly disappointing should it fail me...and then hopefully off for my walk. Cross your fingers.

Sigh...that failed.

I now have to post using blogger. I think it may be time for a move.

I know it is time for me to get moving.

At least I am 100 percent charged.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Six Coins...No Shortcuts

I came home sick from work today which had Amy a bit worried. She's had a bug and increased pain lately, but I usually tough it out at work so when I come home early it's upsetting to her.

On the upside it made my first day of fasting a lot easier.

Anyway, I crawled onto one of my favorite spots, our "fainting couch", did my best death rattle and tried to ignore the world.

In the interim, Amy got out the camera (see above) and also posted a rather lengthy post to my blog (ahem) detailing our Lenten plans, her 30 or 40 Lenten goals, and all sorts of other stuff, which we later deleted for a variety of reasons but primarily because she's not used to editing in Blogger (which really is crappy by the way and getting more so) and was highly frustrated with its fluky behavior.

I didn't want the picture to go to waste's a great fainting couch.

In any case, I rallied a bit and mustered enough courage to go walking as I have vowed to do and now am rushing to try to get my thoughts together before we (maybe only me, Amy is still feeling poorly) go to our Ash Wednesday service.

Although it's becoming more common, many Baptists don't observe Ash Wednesday...I'm glad we do.

As I walked today I thought often of taking shortcuts, cutting my once normal route down a bit since I'm not in the shape I was in 5 or 6 months ago...and then I saw the first coin. Coins and walking are a long story...I'll be late for church if I go into it now, but take it from me it meant something to me.

Still I was tempted.

It's 85 degrees, I'm out of shape, feeling puny, fasting, can I whine a little more for you?

I was tempted a lot.

Each time I considered cutting my walk short...I found another coin.

Six coins in all...a dime and five pennies. Hey, I admitted I was tempted.

And that's when it dawned on me.

This is a season of penitence...there are no shortcuts.

...and He was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended Him. - Mark 1:13