Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sunsets & Sunrises

As an old year draws to a close and a new year will be dawning soon, I am reminded of some words I wrote several years ago.

In a world filled with blessings from God, isn’t the sunrise among the most special? Think about it, the sunrise represents a new beginning, an opportunity to close the chapter that has preceded and enter into a new day filled with promise and potential.

Everyone takes a misstep here and there. Some of us take more missteps than we do correct ones. Everyone endures regrettable experiences, because of one’s own misdeeds or foolish choices, because they are in the path of calamity wrought by others, or because they are simply unfortunate. (It is a reality of a fallen world that innocent people do sometimes suffer.)

Yet, God, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, blesses us with the sunrise. Every twenty-four hours, a new day dawns, and the regrets, unfortunate circumstances, and ills of yesterday, while not forgotten, are history. Rather, they can be made history if our perspective is what it should be.

Sometimes, many times, we are our own worst enemy. We allow our regrets, misfortunes, and mistakes to keep us down. We allow yesterday to seep into today and cloud our view of tomorrow. Some of us, many of us forget the sunrise (if we even take the time to view it!), and we allow the darkness to linger.

Now, the ramifications of yesterday do affect today, whatever our perspective. History still speaks, whether it be a day ago or a millennium. The path we have trod has led us to this moment and will influence the steps we take ahead. But, the sunrise is God’s subtle yet profound way of telling us that the opportunity for change, renewal, and a new beginning is real. While the past will always be a part of us we do not have to be captive to it. Let us master yesterday by living anew today.

Just as the sunrise is a wonderful blessing from God, so, too, is the sunset. With the sunrise, we are greeted with a new day filled with possibility and potential. At the sunset, the accomplishments of a day passed can be considered and evaluated. However, introspection is a valuable tool that many forget or refuse to employ.

I can remember a hike to Marble Falls, a scenic waterfall not many miles from Camp Blue Haven. My good friend, Chetlen Crossnoe, and I had hiked to Marble Falls and spent the afternoon scaling the rocks and enjoying the spectacular sights and were headed back to camp. We became distracted by this and that and found ourselves a couple of miles past the point where we should have turned onto the trail that led to camp. Instead of retracing our steps and returning to the trailhead, we decided to cut cross country and use our orienteering skills to find our way back to camp. We found camp, but only after hiking about 15 miles farther and several hours longer than we would have had we followed the proper trail.

Introspection is the opportunity to retrace our steps, to look back down the trail we have taken, and to reevaluate where we are headed. Life is filled with missteps, many of which we could have avoided, and many of which would not have been as disastrous if we had taken the time to stop, think, and get our bearings. Most of our trouble comes when we keep barreling forward without any sense of caution or regret.

The sunset is a blessing. One day is drawing to a close. The long, still night lies before us. There is a moment of respite before a new, busy day dawns. The sunset facilitates, rather, invites introspection. Will we accept the gift as it is given?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008's $100 Million Movies

According to the USA Today, 24 theatrical releases grossed $100 million dollars at the box office. They are listed below, ranked in order of earnings. I have indicated which movies I have seen and included my critique in the form of a letter grade. Which of these films have you seen? What are your critiques?

  1. The Dark Night ($530.9 mil). I gave it an "A" and have already bought the DVD.
  2. Iron Man ($318.3). Another "A", and I have the DVD.
  3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($317). A solid "B", but only a weak 3 out of 4 for the series. The DVD is sitting on the shelf at home.
  4. Hancock ($227.9). A solid "D."
  5. WALL-E ($223.8). An A+, and I don't usually go for the "cartoons" (unless it's Bugs Bunny and gang). Of course, I had to get the DVD for my girls.
  6. Kung Fu Panda ($215.4). Haven't seen it.
  7. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa ($174.9). Haven't seen it; slept through the original.
  8. Twilight ($167.3). Will NOT see it; can't figure out the fascination with the undead.
  9. Quantum of Solace ($164.3). A "C-." It made me long for the days of George Lazenby . . . and that's sad.
  10. Dr. Seuss' Horton hears a Who! ($154.5). Haven't seen it, but I think Suess belongs in a book not film.
  11. Sex and the City ($152.6). Don't care to see it, but I'm blessed with a "Y" chromosome!
  12. Mamma Mia! ($143.8). Will NOT see it. See note on #11.
  13. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ($141.6). A weak "B", and I purchased the DVD. I just wish Peter Jackson had decided to tackle C. S. Lewis as well as his friend Tolkien.
  14. The Incredible Hulk ($134.5). A "C-". For me, the Hulk will always be a Friday night at 7 p.m. thing.
  15. Wanted ($134.3). Haven't seen it.
  16. Get Smart ($130.3). A surprising "B". I thought I was wasting my money when I bought the ticket, but it made for a good evening.
  17. Four Christmases ($111.6). A "C-". Had a few good laughs, but belongs nowhere near the Pantheon: A Christmas Story, Home Alone, Christmas Vacation and The Santa Clause.
  18. Tropic Thunder ($110.5). Haven't seen it, but will probably rent it. I'm sure I will need to employ the V-chip.
  19. Bolt ($102.4). A solid "B". Another animation win. I'm sure the DVD will get added to the collection.
  20. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor ($102.3). Haven't seen it. I saw the original and liked it, but these never-ending sequel series get a little tiring.
  21. Journey to the Center of the Earth ($101.7). haven't seen it, but would like to.
  22. Eagle Eye ($101.1). A "B-". Decent story, but the trailer has all the good scenes.
  23. Step Brothers ($100.5). An "F". Before I bought the ticket, I told myself that it was just junk, but I went any way . . . and was miserable.
  24. You Don't Mess with the Zohan ($100.0). An "F". Ditto the remark on #23 . . . amplified.

Thumbing through a Year's Worth of Snapshots

Today, I began one of my favorite year-end tasks. At this time during each of the past several years, I have gone through all the many photographs I have taken of my girls during the year, picked out my favorites, and arranged photo collages to hang on the walls of my house.

Photography has become a passion of mine. I am not very good at it. I know absolutely nothing about the technical aspects of photography. I can't even explain in any intelligent manner how a camera captures a scene and translates it to a digital image. I am a novice when it comes to taking pictures, but I absolutely love taking my cheap digital camera and capturing moments in time.

I like to take shots of nature. Mountains, especially. And, this past year of travel for Manuelito Navajo Children's Home has offered me lots of spectacular views to photograph. BUT, my absolute favorite photography subjects are my girls, Elizabeth, Hannah, and Grace.

I've taken untold thousands and thousands of photographs of my girls, from their very first moments of life to the moments of fun we enjoyed this past week. I know that tired of dear old dad springing the camera on them (incessantly, it must seem), but I love to capture them in so many of life's moments: from the posed to the unexpected. Yet, I know from their smiles and giggles that they love to look through the pictures weeks and months and years later. And, I know that as they grow older, they will cherish the captured moments of their lives.

As I "worked" my collection of 2008 photographs tonight, my mind drifted back to so many wonderful experiences: birthday parties, road trips, family gatherings, those unconnected moments, Six Flags, zoos, afternoons in the park, fun in the snow, LCU basketball and volleyball games, Leadership Training for Christ, Four Corners Encampment, swimming pools, and much, much more. What a blessing: a moment's glance at a photograph can take you back to the moment, to relive it again, albeit in a quick and fleeting way. And, I know 10 years from now, 20 years, even when I'm 80, that moment can be relived again.
(The photo above is of Hannah and her cousin Zachary, taken on Christmas day.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mourning the Cowboys & Playoff Picks

I watched the Cowboys get rolled by the Chicago Bears 44-0 in 1985. I saw them get stomped by the Rams 30-0 in the playoffs that same season. I made it through a 3-13 season (Landry's last) in 1988 and a 1-15 season (Jimmy's first) in 1989. I made it through the Dave Campo and Quincy Carter years. But, today, was the most frustrating and embarrassing day I've had as a Dallas Cowboys' fan.

At first I was angry. Fire all the coaches. Ship off half the players. Somehow banish Jerry Jones from the NFL. But, in the hours since, I've calmed somewhat. It was just a football game, after all. And, life goes on. And, as they say, there's always next season.

And, I now want to see something else result . . . I want a do over. I want the Dallas Cowboys to return next season largely intact . . . the same players . . . the same coaching staff . . . and, yes, Jerry Jones, too.

Looking back at the season, I see that several factors led to the collapse of this team. I lost track of the injuries several weeks ago . . . injuries certainly took their toll (think, if Romo didn't miss three games, the Cowboys would have won at least 2 of those games, and the significance of today's game would have been mute). The press (especially, Ed Werder, wreaked their havock on this team with their incessant efforts to keep the drama flowing form Valley Ranch.

I believe Tony Romo will be a great quarterback. Marion Barber, when healthy, is a beast. The line, when healthy, is the best in the NFL. I love the passion of T.O. (I'd rather him demand the ball than be complacent). Witten is a Hall of Famer. DeMarcus Ware is The Best in the league, hands down. Most of the defense is underheralded. I can do without Pacman. Wade Phillips is a great defensive coach; Garrett lost a step this year, but still has so much promise. This team, given a clean slate, can make a great run.

Print it in three-inch letters: The Cowboys will win the Super Bowl in February 2010.


Here's my picks for this season's NFL playoffs:

Week #1
Eagles over Vikings
Cardinals over Falcons
Dolphins over Ravens
Chargers over Colts

Week #2
Giants over Eagles
Panthers over Cardinals
Titans over Dolphins
Steelers over Chargers

Week #3
Panthers over Giants
Steelers over Titans

Super Bowl
Steelers over Panthers

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be the first NL franchise to win 6 Super Bowls. The Dallas Cowboys will be the first to win 7 (in 2011).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The First Great Quarterback

Before Manning. Before Marino. Before Unitas. There was Slingin' Sammy Baugh. He died today at age 94.

Sammy Baugh revolutionized the NFL as quarterback of the Washington Redskins in the 1930s and 1940s. He, more than anyone else, brought the forward pass into the pro game. And, as did many of the players of his day, he played on both sides of the ball (on offense and defense), and excelled at both. One feat stands out more than any other: Sammy Baugh once threw four touchdowns and intercepted four passes . . . in the same game! Wow!

Another great thing about Sammy Baugh: he lived most of his life (before and after football) on the plains of West Texas (near Sweetwater).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Random Thoughts

I watched Frost/Nixon on Saturday. What a great movie. It was made by a liberal film maker (Ron Howard), but I though the portrayal of Nixon was reasonable and fair. Like a lot of Americans who prefer the Republican-stream of politics, I am conflicted about Nixon. In many respects, he was a good president, but I recognize the serious short-comings in his character and recognize that as-a-whole his presidency was regrettable.


I have a lot of respect for John Walsh and his family. I am glad that they have received some closure as the kidnapper and killer of their son, Adam, has finally been determined. Read the story here.


Ben Witherington is a must-read for me, whether it be his published works or his blog. Today, he offers up another interesting blog post; read it here.


The Greatest Game Ever Played. ESPN's "representation" of the 1958 NFL Championship game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants is must see TV. I watched it Saturday night when it first aired, and caught about half of the reply tonight.

The program ends with this incredible stat: In 1958, the NFL had 12 franchises, whose individual value amounted to less than $1 million per team. In 2008, the NFL has 32 franchises, whose individual value exceeds $1 billion per team (including the Dallas Cowboys, whose value is estimated at close to $2 billion dollars . . . of course, a billion dollar partially-public financed stadium doesn't hurt the bottom line).


I'm sad. Next Tuesday is Brit Hume's last day as anchor of FOX News Special Report. He will be missed. He is, in my sometimes humble opnion, the best in the business.

His explanation for his "retirement" says a lot about his character. He's leavng to spend more time devoted to 1-God, 2-his granddaughters, and 3-golf. Can you imagine an anchor of CNN or MSNBC (or one of the Jurassic 3) saying that?

Brit, you wll be missed!

Monday, December 15, 2008

We're All Skill Players on God's Team

Football aficionados know the term "skill player." A skill player is usually designated as someone who handles the ball (quarterback, running back, receiver, tight end) as opposed to a lineman or defensive player.

I've never liked the term (perhaps because I was once a lineman), because it seems to promote the importance and contributions of certain players over their teammates . . . at least in the estimation of the uninformed. Any serious football fan knows that all 11 players are indispensable and vital to the team's performance (not necessary equally so, but all important, nonetheless). Tony Romo may get the lion's share of credit (or criticism) for the Cowboys' success (or lack thereof), but Marc Columbo's performance is important, as well. And, Tashard Choice doesn't make his 43-yard jaunt to end zone last night if Flozell Adams and his mates on the line do not get their blocks.

Most enterprises are like this. In every group, there will be the high-profile players and the behind-the-scenes contributors. The boos of an outfit often gets the public acclaim (or ridicule), but the secretary, the researcher, the bookkeeper, the custodian . . . they all play an important role in the performance of the company.

Churches are like this. The preacher is often out in front. Elders are often on the pedestal. Youth ministers are up there, as well. But, where would a church be if it were not for the secretary, or the one who faithfully unlocks the building each Sunday, or the one who prepares the communion, or the one who checks on the shut-ins, or the one who keeps the lawn, or the one who stocks the pantry, or the one who keeps the Bible class curriculum ordered, or the one who prints the bulletin, or . . . well, you get the idea.

I had the blessing of worshiping with the church in Farmersville, Texas yesterday evening. A delightful group. I enjoyed my time with them. I met a young man there who has Downs Syndrome; a wonderful person, with a bright smile, a kind heart, and a commitment to service. Each Sunday and Wednesday, he turns on the P.A. system, puts the numbers up on the "stat" board, and post the song numbers. He takes great pride in his jobs, and he serves his church well. He may not be a "skill player," but his service to the Lord's family is just as important and vital.

I love the words of Paul, as he addresses a church that is beset with division and pride. He tells the Corinthians, "But God has placed the parts, each one of them, in the body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body" (1 Cor. 12.19-20 HCSB).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

37th Presentation

In between dosages of cold and flue medicine, I spoke to my 37th congregation of the year on behalf of Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. I've made a couple hundred visits to other churches on weekdays and worshipped with many others, as well. I've also attended 11 seminars and lectureships with our MNCH display. But, thirty-seven times I've been given the pleasure and blessing of speaking to assembled churches about the work we are doing in Gallup to serve children and families in need, work in which so many churches and individuals are partnered with us.

I miss preaching for a local congregation immensely. That form of ministry was so much of my life for a long period of time. But, I have grown to love what I am now doing and have a great passion for sharing the news about MNCH and the great need that is among the Navajo people. And, after the great trial I went through last year, the Manuelito family has been a life-saver to me personally.

My travels for the year are winding down. I will spend a couple more days in Arlington (mainly to get over this crud), and then on to Lubbock for a couple of days, and back in Gallup for the weekend. Since January, I've travelled in excess of 70,000 miles and journeyed through 14 states. I've met so many good people, reconnected with a lot of dear friends, spent quality time with most of my family . . . it's been a good year, no, a great year! God is so good!!!

I'm looking forward to a wonderful holiday season and the beginning of another year of promise. My prayer is that you and yours are equally blessed . . . and more so!

The photo is another of my favorite pictures taken during the year. It is of my girls at Cloudcroft, New Mexico in March.
Okay, it's time for another round of Tylenol!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fav Pics of 2008

Elizabeth, Hannah & Grace . . . on the San Antonio River Walk in June.

Oh, How Pro Sports Have Changed!

You've heard about the latest mega-dollar contract in Major League Baseball: the Yankees giving pitcher C. C. Sabbathia a $161 million deal . . . and, during a recession, at that! Fortunately, for the rest of baseball, the biggest bankroll doesn't always profit with a championship (when did the Yankees last win a World Series?).

A story told in Tom Callahan's biography of NFL legend helps to illustrate how much professional sports have changed over the past 50 years. The story is found on page 47 of Johnny U: The Lie & Times of Johnny Unitas (pub., 2006). Callahan quotes Unitas relating the story to Steve Sabol of NFL Films.

Unitas describing his first day in the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room in the 1955 off-season (yes, Unitas was a Steeler before he was a Colt!).:

I asked the guy, "Where are the whites?"--you know, the T-shirt and the athletic supporter and the socks, the undergarments you put on before your pads. He said, "Oh, right over there on the floor." I said, "On the floor?" He said, "Yeah, over there."

Here was this big pile of socks and athletic supporters and T-shirts. You rooted around in there until you found what you wanted. And I said, "This is professional football?" "It's the way we do it"

We went out and practiced and came back in. So, I just figured you took off your whites and threw them in a laundry hamper. "No, no, you hang them up on a hanger and we turn a big fan on to dry them up for the afternoon's practice."

How times have changed! Most professional sports' locker rooms are luxurious spas compared to what Unitas and his contemporaries endured. In fact, as I firs read Unitas's story, my mind went back to the small, cramped locker room me and my 7th grade Eagles' teammates used at Lubbock Christian School. That smell could knock you out!

This past weekend, the Dallas Cowboys held an auction of items from Texas Stadium, which will host its final game on December 21. One of the items put up for sale was a urinal from the Dallas Cowboys' locker room. The winning bid? $500! Can you believe that? And, that, in a recession!!!

I love professional sports, and am a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Cardinals (baseball). I have a few memorabilia items blazoned with the teams' logos. I even shelled out $50 to watch the Cardinals play against the Houston Astros this past summer. But, the money thrown at professional sports in our country highlights some misplaced priorities in our society. Of course, to be fair, and to keep a proper perspective, the inflation in sports is outdone by many other excesses. For instance, Americans spent more on M&Ms last year than they did on tickets to professional sporting events. And, Oprah Winfrey made more last year than the entire lineups of the New York Yankees, New York Mets, and Boston Red Sox combined, together with half of the other teams in the National League!

Am I trying to make a point with this post? Not really. But, I can't believe anyone on their right mind would spend $500 for a urinal, even one "marked" by Tony Romo and Troy Aikman. I'm a fan, but that's a fanatic . . . a fanatic in need of therapy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Service with a Smile

I travel a lot. That's an understatement. I've been "home" all of 12 days since mid-September And, so, I eat most of my meals in restaurants. (H0me-cooked meal, anyone???).

I have some favorite eateries:
  • Rosa's Cafe
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Chipotle
  • Cici's Pizza
  • Spring Creek

There's other regular stops, but I visit these establishments often. Why? Consistent quality. Relative low cost. Cleanliness (for the most part). And, especially, service with a smile. Most of these restaurants excel at customer service (there are exceptions, but true as a general rule).

My travels also put me together with many congregations of Christians. I meet churches of all sizes. I meet churches that are growing. I meet churches that are struggling. A common factor in churches that are doing well? You might say, service with a smile.

Growing churches are friendly churches. They are churches that care about people: churches that love being together, and churches that go out of their way to make visitors and newcomers welcome.

Sometimes, congregations fall for the notion that church growth is primarily a matter of big and fancy facilities, or polished and well-educated preachers, or a plethora of programs and offerings. These can be important contributors to growth, but the first spark, I believe, is the people-friendly quotient. After all, the example of the of greatest people-loving person should inspire us!

Fav Pics of 2008

Elizabeth at the Rip Griffin Center during an LCU Lady Chaps basketball game in January.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From the Sand Trap

Amateur golfers are well acquainted with the Mulligan. Hit a ball into the water, no problem, take a Mulligan, re-tee your ball, no penalty stroke. As a rather bad amateur golfer, the Mulligan is my best friend . . . if the rest of my foursome is merciful enough!

So many of us would like the occasional Mulligan to employ in life--the opportunity to do-over some tough moment or unfortunate circumstance. But, life plays through.

Eighteen months ago, I thought I was driving straight down the fairway, flag in sight, but out of nowhere, it seemed, the deepest and most foreboding sand trap of my life reared its head, and suddenly I went from a good streak to an awful lie.

At such a moment there are two basic courses of action. You can flail away at the ball, hoping to pound that ball out of the sand and straight to the pin, and more than likely drive your ball deeper into the sand. Or, you can take your wedge and simply play for the fairway or green, lying up for a better view on the next shot. I must admit, I've spent much of the past 18 months flailing away at the ball: either to recapture my life as it had been (or, as close in semblance as possible), or out of an in-your-face attitude toward the ones whose foolishness (and sin) forced the sand trap. I should have been playing for the fairway.

Life will not always unfold smoothly. There will be sand traps--resulting from our own foolishness, the actions of others, a combination of the two, or simply because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It helps to know of the sand traps that are ahead, but our forewarning can often be brief.

"Gird up your loins," Peter wrote. Be prepared: the next shot, or series of shots may be tough. Preparation is good; a level head in the midst of the crisis, however, is better. The key to conquering the sand trap is a plan of action--a plan that is not irrational, motivated by unhealthy emotion, but a plan that recognizes the tough spot and knows that the distance ahead cannot be recaptured in one glorious shot . . . the mindset that it will take a series of steps to get back on track.

I'm looking for that next lie; it may only be a few yards from the sand trap, but it will give me a much better position to then shoot for the flag. In fact, I think I have already hit out of the sand trap, but now I'm in the short rough. But, I'll take the short rough over the sand trap any day. Yet, I will not be completely satisfied until I reach the green.

One shot at a time. That's my daily reminder.

Fav Pics of 2008

That's a real shark! Grace at the Albuquerque Aquarium in May.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Slow Fade" Video

The Casting Crowns' video of their song "Slow Fade" is powerful (see it here).

Fav Pics of 2008

I'm counting down the year by posting my favorite photos of my girls that I have taken this year. Here's one of Hannah and her new Build-a-Bear Huskey at Chandler, Arizona in March.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Way to go, Joe!

It's about time. Joe Gordon was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee today. Gordon played for the Yankees and Indians in the 1940s and was one of the best during that era and in the history of the major leagues. In my Strat-o-matic playing days, Gordon and his 1948 Indians were one of my favorite teams, and his 1941 Yankees weren't bad either.

Where in Texas am I?

Texas has some impressive looking court houses, perhaps none more so than this majestic structure. I took this picture yesterday. Where is this court house?

Autumn's Art

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Today's Sights & Sounds

The road took me from Houston to Fort Worth today. The scenery was beautiful. Some random experiences and thoughts . . .

Mannheim Steamroller is still the king of Christmas music in my CD player, but Amy Grant, Randy Travis and Trans-Siberian Orchestra are worthy princes and princesses.

I ate lunch in Aggieland. Now, I am neither an Aggie, nor the son of an Aggie, but I was impressed with the campus of Texas A & M University. It was only my second visit there; I was 13 year old the first time.

I only had time to walk around the outside of the George Bush Presidential Library, but that alone left me impressed. One of these days, I will be back to walk through the inside. I've been to four Presidential Libraries this year: those of Ronald Reagan (awesome! . . . with Air Force One indoors), Lyndon Johnson (not a fan, but a great library), and Bill Clinton (looks like an over sized mobile home on stilts . . . his is certainly outclassed by the others!).
My brief visit to the Bush Library included seeing the statue pictured below. It is of a herd of wild (and free!) horses trampling over the remnants of the Berlin Wall. Powerful imagery. Reagan's Library also has a section of the Berlin Wall. I guess Clinton's only memorial is the stained blue dress. (Forgive me, but I couldn't refrain.)
Ahhh, Braum's! I stopped in at the one in Hillsboro. Double-scoop waffle cone: chocolate chip and peanut butter cup . . . hit the spot. And, I've got the physique to prove it!!!

I must say, my week in Houston was enjoyable. The weather was perfect . . . and you can't say that about Houston very often. I visited there in June (100 degrees; 98% humidity); I returned in December (mid 50s to 80s; sight rain on one day). And, except for one long drive, the traffic wasn't too bad.

Anticipating another Big 12 Championship for Oklahoma. Go, Sooners!

I MISS MY GIRLS and home! 12 more days to go.

Friday, December 5, 2008

NASA Needs Windex

I took a "quick" tour of NASA's Johnson Space Center the other day. I found out you need more than 2 hours to see it all, but I enjoyed my time there. My only other visit came when I was 13 years old.

You would think with a 20 billion dollar annual budget, NASA could find someone to wash the windows!!! Fingerprints on the photos . . . argh!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

On Ike's Trail

I visited my 14th state for the year in my travels for Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. I made a quick venture into Louisiana to make some PR calls in Lake Charles and the vicinity. I once lived in New Orleans (my 1st grade year), but this was my first visit to Louisiana in over 23 years. And, this was my first time in the southwest corner of the state.

Returning to Houston for the night, I headed south out of Lake Charles to the Gulf coast and then along the coast back into Texas at Port Arthur. I saw firsthand the cruel remains of Hurricane Ike's fury. The destructiveness reminded me of the power of nature. But, I was also struck by the beauty of the Louisiana coastal wetlands.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Impatience Hurts

My grandfather would often sing a little song that I wish more people would take to heart.

Have patience, have patience,
Don't be in such a hurry.
When you get impatient,
You only start to worry.
Remember, remember,
That God is patient, too;
And think of all the times
When others had to wait on you!

These words are just the chorus, but you get the point. Patience is a virtue. It is, according the apostle Paul, a fruit of the Spirit (the product of a faithful and Christ-centered life). And, it is so counter to what we often see in the world (and, sadly, too sparingly seen in people of faith . . . and, I'm raising my hand in self-analysis).

Today, I spent a lot of time on the highways and byways of Houston, Texas, the fourth largest city in America. Without some patience, such an adventure would drive you crazy . . . and maybe off an overpass!

Tonight, some unfortunate driver became impatient and paid the price . . . a price that was exacted in some measure from countless hundreds and thousands of other motorists.

You see, this driver (unknown to me), cut somebody off, an action that led to a chain of accidents and a few crashed cars. Then, traffic became backed up . . . for miles and miles and miles. I first encountered the traffic at a standstill 15 miles! from the scene of the accident. It took me and the other cars around me 1 hour to drive those 15 miles! Argh!!!

Impatience hurts. And, often the innocent!

Tragically, the point was proven beyond a doubt this past Friday in Long Island, New York. You've undoubtedly heard the sad news of the Walmart employee being trampled to death by hundreds of impatient and greedy shoppers. All because they wanted to be the first to get a discounted big screen HD TV.

Impatience is all about self. It is not concerned about the welfare of others.

Let us learn to put others first . . . and to slow down a bit!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Lunch Break

One guess as to where I ate lunch today. The lone star is a hint.

I have been to this majestic building several times in my life, but I leave impressed after each visit. It is a beautiful place. I love to walk the halls and view the artwork and historic notices. Today's visit had to be rather quick . . . just long enough for a quick stroll, a few pictures, and a bite to eat.

You know, I am a New Mexican by necessity of my employment . . . but I am a Texan by birth and heart. I have a shirt that I wear often that says it all . . . Texas is a state of mind.

Audie Murphy . . . now that was a great American. For the uninformed, he was the most decorated American soldier in World War II . . . and a Texan. The portrait hangs in the House Chamber of the Texas Capitol.