Friday, December 22, 2006

Next Year...

I have a whole lot of fun, musings, and questions to throw out to you next year. Things such as:
my new AA group
curiosity and dialogue
reality church
circus midgets
and one of my favorite experiences in Abilene - an interview I did with a psychic palm reader

Hope everyone has a great holiday!

Type rest of the post here


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What I Want For Christmas - 2006

“Listen to me play, Daddy!” My kids love playing for me, and they play their best when they think that I am really listening. I know that there are some amazing piano players in the world, but there is nothing like watching my children squint in concentration over the piano, moving their fingers over the keys to the best of their ability, and listening to the wonderful music that comes out. Sometimes, I will sit next to them and we will play together.

Do you know how it feels to wake up in the morning, knowing that your gifts and talents are going to be used, and you feel valuable? That is what I want to wake up to – giving my gifts to something great!

"The Little Drummer Boy" is a Christmas song from 1958 (words and music by Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone). The best-known and most standard version is by the Harry Simeone Chorale.

I love this song about a little boy, who doesn’t believe he has any fine gifts that are worthy of this wonderful child that has come to save the world, but he comes anyway. This little boy gives the baby Jesus the best that he has, and when he does, something miraculous happens.

Come they told me, A new born King to see
Our finest gifts we bring, To lay before the King
So to honor Him, When we come.
Little Baby, I am a poor boy too
I have no gift to bring, That's fit to give the King,
Shall I play for you, On my drum?
Mary nodded, The ox and lamb kept time,
I played my drum for Him, I played my best for Him...
Then He smiled at me, Me and my drum.

Friends, I want someone to play for, someone to give my best to!

I hope that over this holiday season, as you give your gift-wrapped boxes and fill the stockings, you remember that there is a light, and it is worth taking the best of what you have and search for it. You may not even think that what you have to offer is worth much, but when you give your best, miracles will happen.


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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Walter Brueggemann prayer

We would as soon you were stable and reliable.
We would as soon you were predictable
and always the same toward us.
We would like to take the hammer of doctrine
and take the nails of piety
and nail your feet to the floor
and have you stay in one place.

And then we find you moving,
always surprising us,
always coming at us from new directions.
Always planting us
and uprooting us
and tearing all things down
and making all things new.
You are not the God we would have chosen
had we done the choosing,
but we are your people
and you have chosen us in freedom.
We pray for the great gift of freedom
that we may be free toward you
as you are in your world.



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Monday, December 18, 2006

Bad Christmas Ideas, Part 3

The ultimate white elephant gift - The Star Wars Christmas Album! Yes, yes, I know you are saying even George Lucas has some shred of pride and couldn't possibly have sold out to this extent; just go to Amazon and verify for yourself (you can even listen to samples of C3PO singing Christmas in the Stars, ending with the wookie giving someone a kiss under the mistletoe!)

Sorry, took me a few moments to recover from that scene in my head...

Christmas music in general has had its ups and downs for me, unless you are my wife and it is always the ups for her. In my twenties I had publicly denounced Christmas music as totally worthless. A big confession - I secretly entertained a few songs that I just couldn't let go of and might have even been caught singing them under my breath a few times. Personal favorites - "Little Drummer Boy" (that song just chokes me up) and "Do You Hear What I Hear" (although I picture that scene in Gremlins every time I hear it). And how can you not like Feliz Navidad? Ok, so I know how you can not like it, but you certainly can't help but sing it.

So I decided to come out of the Hate The Cheesiness of Christmas closet several years ago, and then something like the Star Wars Christmas album comes out. Oh, Christmas, you are such a devious mistress!


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Bad Christmas Ideas, Part 2

Socks and underwear are on the list according to this article:,20089.asp

Now, socks don't bother me that much; occasionally I actually need some new ones. Not the most exciting gift. Underwear should just never be on the Santa list, ever. My nephew actually had a way of publicly humiliating you if you were on the special end of an underwear present.

Josh B is always waiting in special anticipation for the moment. Waiting, searching for the sucker who gets the gift that is not in a box, crumples into your hands, and wallah, yells "LOSER!" as soon as you get it open. Fortunately, he usually gets a pair just so that the Loser tag is spread around.

I have a hard time imagining that special moment when you tear open the paper to find 3 pair of your new undergarments (even if they are boxers with hearts on them), look at your special someone with a sigh and puppy eyes and a "I love you" escaping from your lips.

So what are your "Nice try, but you are terrible at gift giving" moments?


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Bad Christmas Ideas, Part 1

The list could go on year round, but we'll probably just go for a couple of days (while I'm in the spirit of the holidays).

This first one isn't even funny, it just gets me upset. Check out this article on a new video game tied to the "Left Behind" series of books sent to me by my good friend Mike.

Did someone not get the memo that mowing people down with a gun is not a WWJD kind of act?

Ok, so you lose some "spirit points" if you do that instead of "converting" them. Honestly, I haven't played the game so I am relying on this article and other news sources (my pc admittance for the following rant). But, please, how much worse can an interpretation of Revelation get?

Why do we have to throw in violence just to try to get something Christian in the mainstream? It just seems like that Crusade spirit won't die. I wonder how these same people who came up with the idea and produced the game would feel if other religious groups used the same principles in a game for them?

Once again, it also shows that the categorization of people and the "us vs. them" mentality is a part of the brokenness of humanity that slides in under the gun, so to speak. My new quote from Mother Teresa in the signature of emails says it much better than I could:

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

Give peace a chance this holiday season.


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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Review of "Jesus Asked."

One of my favorite books that I have read recently is Jesus Asked. What He Wanted To Know by Conrad Gempf. The basic premise of the book is turning the assumption we have of Jesus as the Great Teacher upside down. Jesus the Great Conversationalist pretty much goes by the wayside as well.

Gempf's own assumptions are questioned when a friend points out that, by our usual standards, Jesus didn't impart a whole lot of information or end up with a large following. What information he did pass along was not always clear nor a direct answer. More questions was the standard fare when you got a chance to ask, if he wasn't downright rude to you at times.

Don't believe me? Read the gospels. Really. Don't blow through the conversations; actually take a look. How many people leave a chat with Jesus angry, disappointed, or just confused? These stories in the gospels may just be purposefully challenging and disturbing, not just to the people at that time, but to us as well. Which is exactly what Gempf hopes happens to us - no fence sitting when you have a face to face encounter with Jesus!


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Friday, December 15, 2006


Well, not in the sense of "they live right next door, on the other side of the fence" neighbors but we first ran across them in our neighborhood. This is the couple that I mentioned in the post from Feb 8 and promised to update, so here goes.

Over a year ago, we met this couple who are not exactly homeless, because they move from place to place (which may include tents, apartments, rooms, etc), but they are not exactly permanent residents at any one location. We first met them when the lady, we will call her Cecilia, asked for money. We gave it to them, thinking it was the "Christian" thing to do. Let's just say we were a little naive, and had much to learn on this journey.

Cecilia came back later, and we gave her food from our garden instead of money this time. She loved the food from the garden, but was upset that we wouldn't give her money. Several days later she brought her husband, we'll call him Carl, to meet us. Since it was afternoon, we invited them to dinner. We had a good time and spent most of it listening to their stories about their growing up, and kids that lived all over Texas. They kept coming, and every once in a while we would give them money for "groceries", a "friend's daughter who was sick", "gas money for a friend", etc. Then came the big night.

Several months had gone by. After burgers one evening, Carl said he wanted to confess something to me while Cecilia was not there. He asked that we speak privately. We went into the house. Carl then told me that he and Cecilia were hooked on drugs and he wanted us to pray for them. I said that we definitely would. I called the family inside, and we laid our hands on Carl and prayed for him. We later found out that Cecilia was not too happy that he had confessed.

We look back now and slap our heads thinking "Duh!" We wanted to think the best of them, even though we knew that they had moved twice in the couple of months that we had known them. It just showed us our gullibility from living in a world that generally ignores, or at best glances at page 12 in the local newspaper, this world.

Cecilia was none too happy because even the small amount of cash that we would give them was now nonexistent. We gave them food coupons from the store, took them to the laundromat ourselves, and provided food whenever they asked; but that was it. Every once in a while we had no clue where they were, but after a month or so they would get back in touch.

Long story now shorted: Carl is rehabing from rehab, and Cecilia is in jail in Fort Worth right now. Carl is coming over to dinner Monday and we'll discuss visiting Cecilia soon. Carl usually goes to church with his daughter now.

Our learning lessons:

1) How much help can you really provide without getting involved, deeply, in other people's lives?
It's scary, and time consuming. Did I ever wonder why so little change and transformation happens?

2) How much "fixin" can we really do to people?
Carl and Cecilia are never going to be "middle class", and is that really the goal? Would that be better than where they are at? Yeah, sorta. Cecilia dreams of sitting in front of a big screen TV.

Weigh in, good people.


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We're Back!

Is this the longest pause between posts, ever? Many things have changed over the past 8 months, and we honestly just didn't feel like publishing at the time. Now I feel like it.

Just an update on new plans - I graduated (yeah!) and now we are looking for a place to go and a community to make our new home. Is yours the one? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we are looking forward to Christmas in Virginia. If you are there, make room...

Just to reiterate why we are doing this in the first place - we want a forum to discuss, meditate, ponderate, and my own favorite, muse. So hop in and let's have some fun.


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