Thursday, June 21, 2007

Weddings and God

I'm officiating a wedding in Austin for a friend of my brother's. The bride and groom are very nice; I've had a chance to meet the groom before and he is easy to talk to and seems very sincere. I was joking around with my brother about weddings and we were discussing the eloping alternative, and I started wondering what a Vegas-type wedding would be like.

I spent some time wondering what I would say in a wedding ceremony that did not include God. At first I thought it would be very short: "Do you want to marry this person?" But the longer I think about it, the more "what if's" come into play. What are you going to do if you have a disagreement? What if a job situation arises that provides opportunities for the two of you in different places? What if you come to a time and a place in which it will be a long, hard struggle to find intimacy again? Will the answer still be "I will"?

Most of the time the answer is, "I need to know my options". So maybe the new question is, "Do you now, and forever, without knowing your options"? Are most people sincere when they make that promise? When does the answer change? Maybe we are not doing a good enough job helping people count the cost of marriage. Maybe, in our microwave age, thinking ten years ahead is just a blur anyway.

Does the current job loyalty climate mirror the commitments we have to our spouses? When I was in the business field, it was rare for someone my age to have stuck with the same company for ten years - in fact, it was seen as a failure on your part as if you couldn't get a better job with another company. I don't see a problem with that in your career, but we could see this just as well when we would invite a group of people over for lunch or dinner. We knew how many to invite because only so many would bother to RSVP, and even those that RSVP'd, a percentage of them would not show, some never bothering to let us know. When asked why they didn't show (at first I asked, but later gave this up), the general answer, not in their exact words in order to be nice, was that they had found a better option. I later found an article stating that event planners only count on 70% attendance rate. Maybe all of this is a part of the sociological ethos that says, I've got to look out for myself because no one else will. In the end, we just can't trust anyone.

From my perspective, I hold Jesus followers to a higher standard. No "maybe's", no "for right now", no "well let's just try it out and see what happens". There are legitimate reasons for divorce for safety because of abuse or disloyalty from your spouse. There are definitely legitimate reasons for not showing up for dinner. But how casually we commit. I don't want to see the person sticking it out just because they said they would, I want to see the person sticking it out because it means a new level of understanding wrought from loyalty, a deeper presence in a life of intimacy, a more valuable treasure received from a sacrifice.

I hope I learn this. It has held true, for those moments when I am not self-absorbed. For those moments when I exist to do what is best for my kids, life is good. For those moments when I exist to help my wife, life is sweet. In those moments, trust is no longer the issue. I exist as a loving person of sacrifice and, at the same moment, become fully human. Then God is back in the midst of the relationship.


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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Imago Dei

Autumn's creative juices have really been flowing lately. Check out her latest creation - I just computerized exactly what she drew.

We have gotten to spend a lot of time together. Every moment has been special, and I am continually amazed by my kids. Autumn just helps reinforce my idea that when we were created in the image of God, it was the breath of imagination and creativity that separates us from the rest of creation. Thank you God for that blessing, may we use it wisely.


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What you might hear at the Vaught household

"Room 999 has a broken robot. The robot said that a human scum is taking his gold-plated socks that had spike attachments!"

Autumn ran into the room wearing a cape and yelling that. Also, apparently you have to do a dance when you say, "room 999." Must be Nancy's genes...


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Monday, June 11, 2007

Finding New Territory

My daughter and I are in Pennsylvania this week and having a blast. Sunday evening we were in someone's wonderful backyard with a large group singing songs and hanging out, and I was sitting in a chair, watching birds and the clear sky, and thinking: "In Texas, I'd have about 20 mosquitoes on my arm right about now." There are some things I just won't miss...

But I do miss the rest of my family, and we'll miss the good people that we've met and bonded with. Texas will always have a place on my heart, even if it is the bare, dry desert-y part.

Here is my new staff picture page. When I got here, I was told, by more than one person, that I'm better looking than in that picture. I took it as a compliment.


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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Review of "Saving Fish From Drowning" by Amy Tan

Anonymous - A pious man explained to his followers: "It is evil to take lives and noble to save them. Each day I pledge to save a hundred lives. I drop my net in the lake and scoop out a hundred fishes. I place the fishes on the bank, where they flop and twirl. "Don't be scare," I tell those fishes. "I am saving you from drowning." Soon enough, the fishes grow calm and lie still. Yet, sad to say, I am always too late. The fishes expire. And because it is evil to waste anything, I take those dead fishes to market and I sell them for a good price. With the money I receive, I buy more nets so I can save more fishes."

When I saw a book by Amy Tan, a master storyteller, I was already intrigued but the title totally sold me. This may have been one of the strangest stories that I have read in a while: based on a true story of a tourist group that gets lost, it is narrated by the ghost of the woman who was supposed to have led the tour but was murdered and who was also an intriguing woman in her own right. The characters are all wonderful and real, and clash along the way to getting lost. For anyone who has gone on long trips in close quarters, you feel as if you are on that bus ride - irritated, quietly laughing at others, snickering at the inside jokes, and suffering with the setbacks.

The story grips you because you know you are heading for certain tragedy and keeps plunging toward that destination, dragging you along with it. I had one of the strangest feelings I have ever had reading this book: I didn't want to finish it because of what I thought might happen, yet I couldn't stop.

The Albert Camus quote at the front lays out the theme for the story, and for our lives: "The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding." Unfortunately, we rarely, truly understand each other.


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Monday, June 04, 2007

Prayer to Teach Us by Rudyard Kipling

Father in Heaven who lovest all,
O help Thy children when they call;
That they may build from age to age
An undefiled heritage.

Teach us to rule ourselves alway;
Controlled and cleanly night and day;
That we may bring, if need arise,
No maimed or worthless sacrifice.

Teach us the strength that cannot seek,
By deed or thought, to hurt the weak:
That, under Thee, we may possess
Man's strength to comfort man's distress.

Teach us delight in simple things,
And mirth that has no bitter springs;
Forgiveness free of evil done,
And Love to all men 'neath the sun!


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Friday, June 01, 2007


My daughter's writing is cracking me up lately. She has also been objectionably honest as well. Check out the acrostic she made of her brother Jonathan's name (I left in the original spelling):

Open to others
Nodle eater

I'm not sure I want her to do an acrostic of my name - I'd probably love 70% of it.


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