Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 - Like Kissing Your Sister

We probably should have stayed at home. But we didn't.
Instead, Abz and I just got back from a late afternoon trip to Wal-Mart, and WOW - that place was packed. The lines were so long you'd think they were rolling back prices EVERY DAY.

Didn't take me long to figure it out- people were stocking up for parties tonight.
I've never seen crowds of people like that getting ready for New Years Eve, and with the economy the way it's been, I didn't expect the Wal-Mart crowd to have much to celebrate - or much to celebrate with! Then it hit me - that's exactly WHY they're celebrating. In fact, it's a little bit of the reason I'm celebrating, too.
In a whole lot of ways, 2009 kind of sucked.
People are throwing a huge going away party for this year that can't be over soon enough.
Goodbye and good riddance 2009.

But as I pushed my heavier-by-the-minute buggy around the store, I started to think about it.
2009 was probably just like every other year. A little bit up. A little bit down. The problem is, only the really crappy parts stick out in our memories. And I'm not sure that's fair. Yes, some really really crappy things happened. But some really great things also happened.

Early this year, a pregnancy we had been really excited about failed after about 7 weeks.
We were absolutely grief-stricken.
But about 9 months later 4 couples who are absolutely dear to us had little ones of their own, and we got to be there with them all in the hospital!
We were overcome with joy!

Two of my oldest friends got separated and then divorced from their wives this year. Guys I have not been good friends to since I moved away.
However - my only little sister got married this year. A Renaissance wedding.
And I got to write and perform the ceremony - in costume! What an honor.
In fact - I did at least 4 weddings this year (that I know of)!

I didn't get to be with my family for Christmas, but we were there for quite a while at Thanksgiving!

Around March the Batmobile finally died for good. It was the first car I bought by myself, and completely paid off myself.
Wouldn't you know, though - I got a new car! A better car. For a good price.

We bought a house this year! A HOUSE! In THIS economy! And we love it.

Over Spring Break I took some older kids to Dallas, stayed at a great hotel, went to Six Flags, ate at Medieval Times, and really enjoyed learning from each other.
We traveled to Disney World with Andrew and Raine Neilson (and in-utero Big Ben) in May.
We went to North Carolina with the students this Summer.
I got my first passport and spent a week in Brazil teaching, preaching, washing dishes, and being very humbled. My first trip out of the country besides Mexico! Certainly my longest airplane ride.

We dressed as Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler for Fall Festival at Halloween
We dressed as a wizard and a fairy and went to the Renaissance Festival.
We dressed in Victorian garb and ventured down to Dickens on the Strand.

We went to the Baylor game vs. UConn at Floyd Casey Stadium, and they lost.
We went to the LSU game vs. Arkansas at Tiger Stadium - and they won! In overtime!

Michael Jackson died, which actually was kind of jarring to me. He was a formative influence on my life as a kid.
But I also saw Derek Webb, Rob Bell, Muse, and OH HOLY CRAP - U2 in concert. Seriously bucket-list kind of stuff there.

I did NOT get an iPhone or my own copy of Settlers of Catan.

But I'm still alive.
Still married to the greatest girlfriend I've ever had. (We made 3 whole years last week!)
Cash and Pixy are the two greatest, cutest, smartest, snuggliest dogs on the planet.
I still have a job.
My parents are still around. My wife's parents are still around.
I'm relatively healthy - I'm even down a couple of pounds!

God is still better to me than I deserve, and even if he wasn't, could I complain?
Certainly not. I have taken so much good from him, I would gladly take the bad as well.
"The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away - Blessed be the name of the Lord." - Job

I hope your 2009 was epic.
I hope your 2010 is better.

May YHWH bless you and keep you.
May YHWH lift his face upon you.
May YHWH turn his countenance toward you
And give you shalom...

Grace + Peace,

Monday, August 24, 2009

You are *bleep* the father!

On no other show is the targeted advertising so blatant (or more confusing) than the Maury show.
It's kind of hilarious, and a little heartbreaking, actually.
Apparently, they assume that the people who watch Maury are the same kind of people who are ON Maury.
They need education - ANY education - fast, in the fields of court reporting, nursing/medical assistance, air conditioning repair, and criminal justice.
They also need lawyers - BAD. They need lawyers for their Social Security benefits, their outstanding IRS liability, and their injuries in motor vehicle accidents.
Lastly - they are diabetics. REALLY OLD ones.

They are age 65-and-over unemployed high-school dropouts who owe the IRS money (for taxes on income they didn't make), who have recently been hurt in an accident, and can't afford their diabetic testing supplies.

Also - and if you can believe it, this is actually more ridiculous than the other thing -
I'm pretty sure the producers of the Maury show actually ADD bleeps where none are necessary, in order to make the show seem more scandalous.
For the life of me, I cannot figure out what the *bleep* is being censored on that show most of the time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Two thumbs "meh"

So, yeah - just got back from seeing District 9.
When I first saw the trailer a while back I was like, "Meh"...
And then when it came out all the reviews were like, "Whoaa, sweet!"
And then everybody I knew saw it and they were all, "Duuuude!"
So I've been dying to go.
And then tonight on my way to pick up Abz for the movie, I talked to my Dad, and he was like, "Worst. Movie. Ever."
Which really surprised me, so I was really intrigued.
I didn't know what to think.

And now that I've seen it, I'm just like, "Hm. Ok."

After seeing it, one of my friends said that it was an "important movie".
Can movies be important?
Isn't that really stretching the meaning of the word "important"?
I guess ideas can be important.
Ideas like equality, human (or nonhuman) rights, diplomacy.
Ideas like government, transparency, and State secrets.
But not movies.
And probably not this movie.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hot Bath vs. Cold Compress

Lock-in? Over.

Lower back? Seriously injured.

Career path? Very much in question.


Friday, August 21, 2009

5:01 p.m.

If you ever find me at Panera, or the coffee shop, or in the office past 5p.m. - it's a pretty safe bet what I'm up to:

That's right - Settlers of Catan.
Part of me (and every part of Abz) wishes that Andrew Neilson had never exposed me to the wonders of Catan - but now my innocence has been stolen. There's no going back.

Have you ever played this game?
It's so stinkin' addictive. And I have such a hard time getting people together to play that I started playing online. Thank goodness it's free, or I would either be broke or divorced.

Your assignment: Go download the client right now, feed your own Catan addiction, and play with me. No kidding.

It's not the years, it's the mileage....

I've got one of those crazy Youth Ministry overnight events tonight.
We're joining with a couple of other churches (Hi, Cory!) to play Broomball at a local ice rink until 1:15, then coming back to our church to play an especially violent version of Dodgeball in the sanctuary.
Will anyone sleep? Who knows.
Will they get pranked if they do? Uh - that's kind of the rule for lock-ins.
What I DO know is that I'm probably too dang old for crap like this.
I mean, sure, it was my idea to do it, and I'm really looking forward to it - but what I'm NOT looking forward to is how I'm going to feel when I have to stumble home at 8:00 in the morning.
I'm currently taking bets on how many days it'll take me to get back to normal afterwards.
My money's on "all of them".

Ah, who am I kidding. There's no such thing as enough sleep.

Abby is having an overnight retreat with some chicks from church, so our poor puppies will be home alone all night.

Wow. As I was writing this, I got really sleepy all of a sudden.
I'm headed home to take a nap...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hunting high and low... mostly low...

We're looking to buy a house.
We have visited SO MANY houses recently, and looked at SO MANY MORE listings online that they are all starting to run together.

Like so many things, house-hunting, to me, is a really fun idea to talk about and play around with...
But a really, really, horrible, existential, soul-reaving process in which your very notions of priority, maturity, budgeting and self-esteem are blown to pieces, baked in a pie, and served back to you in relentless perpetuity.

It's also very complicated for first-timers. No wonder so many people screw it up, get foreclosed on, and ruin the world's economy.
But hey - you know - NO PRESSURE.

I say all that to say:
We actually found a house we like. It's a little farther out from work than I'd like (it's in Katy, TX), but it's very cool, within our price range, a good size, and in a great neighborhood.
We're meeting with the Realtor tonight to work out the details of an offer.
I'm scared to death. I don't understand why everybody else is NOT scared to death of committing to something for 30 years. Renting feels very, very safe to me right now.
Nevertheless! -we are pressing forward. And yes, I'm actually a little excited. There are a lot of pieces to consider, and a lot of hoops to jump through. Plenty can go wrong.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Now I can die in peace...

Reading back over the last few posts, I noticed a couple of things I had mentioned off hand that I wanted to follow up on.

Namely -

(Muse is opening)
Patrick Gilgour bought them for me as a "birthday present". As promised, he is hereby exempt from all future birthday, Christmas, and anniversary presents (You're still on the hook for baby showers, though, suckachump!).
Now I can die in peace.

Secondly, Abz and I leave early tomorrow morning with our friends Raine and Andrew Neilson for The World's Best Vacation of 2009 (so far)!! Codename: Project Rodent. We're going to Disney World (again)!!! We're staying at the plush Sheraton Vistana Villages in Orlando, and spending 5+ days park hopping, relaxing, and playing LOTS of Settlers of Catan. Wish you were there butnotreally!! Comment with your address, and I'll send you a picture e-mail from EPCOT!!

Lastly - My summer reading list.
As soon as I finish High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, I'll be reading:
and just for fun,
And hopefully LOTS and LOTS of comic books, namely the Batman: Battle for the Cowl, and Green Lantern: Blackest Night series.

What are you reading?
Also - do YOU have U2 tickets?


Sometimes... when my wife and I are getting dressed in the morning... independently of each other... we end up wearing almost exactly the same outfit. It's weird because she usually picks her clothes out first, and I don't see her until she is almost all put together.

I guess what I'm saying is that - in a really uncanny way, I think I can sub-consciously sense my wife's color and pattern vibes and misread them as original thoughts on what I'M supposed to wear that day.

This morning we both wore jeans and a green t-shirt. Sometimes she gets mad when it happens, as if I were doing it on purpose. I actually think it's sweet, and kind of hilarious. Sometimes I even change my clothes when I notice.

Let me make one thing clear: I would NEVER intentionally dress just like my wife, unless we were going as chaperones to the Parkview Baptist School Homecoming dance in 1994.
If you live with someone for a while, you start to become like them in little ways. Have you ever heard about how if women live in the same house for a long time, their menstrual cycles can start to synchronize? Two thoughts.
B) This is kind of how I think about the whole dressing-alike thing. I don't have a menstrual cycle, so maybe this is the next closest thing.

And that, friends, is what marriage means to me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spinning (Seder) Plates...

Baruch HaShem!
Happy Passover, go brain, go! followers!

A lot going on right now. I'm not really the kind of guy who gets stressed out - but if I was going to pick a time, it would probably be now.
In fact, all of 2009 so far has been in such a hurry. I don't like it. I don't think it's good to live life at such a pace.

Here's what's coming up:
- Abby and I leave tomorrow morning for a weekend in Baton Rouge. My sister is getting married and has asked me to perform the ceremony. What an honor! The catch? It's a Renaissance wedding. At a castle (in Louisiana? Yes.) With costumes. And the ceremony, I guess, is going to be in King James English. I should probably know that - I'm writing it. Anyway, there's something about our family that we enjoy getting married right around major holidays. Abz and I were married 2 days before Christmas. Casey and her husband are getting married 2 days before Easter. That's right - Good Friday. Frankly, I don't know how she pulled it off. Much of the celebration of Easter (these days) revolves around children. She is a Children's Minister at a church. She's going to be gone Easter weekend on her honeymoon. She's either brilliant or crazy.

- Sunday morning is Easter, of course, and our youth ministry is holding a Passover Seder that morning at 9:30 and 11:00. It's become kind of a tradition in our group (2 years in a row!) that is very cool. It does, however require a monumental amount of preparation, that I'm not sure I have time for (and yet here I am blogging). It's a beautiful experience that connects us with the history of our faith, our roots in Judaism, and reminds us of what it means to be in covenant relationship with each other and with God. If I wasn't so exhausted thinking about all I still have to do before I leave in the morning, I would say that I'm really looking forward to it. Maybe I can get some help from some students during our Journey Group meeting tonight.

- Easter Sunday afternoon my Young Couples small group is having a crawfish boil (OH YEAAH!) to celebrate the resurrection. I'm not sure how 5 pounds of bugs per person celebrates the resurrection - but I'm willing to go with it. Also - are crawfish Kosher? Who cares.
- The weekend after Easter? Disciple Now.

- Then a short break to write 3 papers, prepare for and take 2 finals (early) before our trip to WALT DISNEY WORLD in Florida May 8-15, 2009.

*sweat drops - sweat drops*
*worry lines - worry lines*

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Left arm for sale - hardly used....

New Rob Bell tour - Drops Like Stars - is coming to Austin in November.

U2 is supposedly coming to Houston in Sept./Oct.

Time to start saving-up-slash-get-a-second-job.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

You better be sure!!

Benji extols my back-in-the-day basketball virtues.
A lesson on how the universe fundamentally works.
A demonstration of my skillz.
All in under 10 minutes.

I used this for part of my teaching on February 8, 2009.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In God We Trust

"I don't see how we can have a separation of church and state in this government if you have to pass a religious test to get in this government. And I want to warn everyone in the press, and all the voters out there - if you demand expressions of religious faith from politicians, you are just begging to be lied to. They won't all lie to you - but a lot of them will. And it'll be the easiest lie they ever had to tell to get your votes. So, every day until the end of this campaign, I'll answer any question anyone has on government. But if you have a question on religion - please - go to church."

Sen. Arnold Vinick (R - California)

Saturday, January 3, 2009


So - funny story.
I'm doing a wedding for some dear friends tonight at 7p.m.
Last night at rehearsal, my voice was about 90% gone, which was the cause of some panic.
Since that time I have swallowed more water and more hot tea with honey than Earl Grey himself.
I'm think I'm actually doing a lot better today, but to be honest, I haven't let myself talk enough to find out how weak or strong the ol' pipes are now.
At this point I'm averaging about one cup of tea every half hour.
So my question, dear reader, becomes this:
Besides the CONSTANT URINATION - Is there a
down side to ingesting such large quantities of tea?