Highlights from Our Christmas in Canadian


This year we had the good fortune to spend Christmas in Canadian with my parents. Due to a very busy schedule and the fact that my Mom had knee replacement surgery this year (making it very hard for her to serve as host), it had been over a year since we made it to Canadian. On a side note, in April of 2013, my parents will mark 30 years living in Canadian. Wow! Not only that, but in less than a week, Dad is going to be retiring. These are exciting times, to say the least.

Our visit was tons of fun, as always. And, as always, we were a loud and rowdy bunch. We traveled down on Saturday, December 22, which also happened to be the day that I took my turn with the stomach bug that we were passing around within our family. Fortunately, it hit me very mildly with only one “episode” occurring during our stop at the Walmart in Amarillo. On another side note, I do not consider throwing up in Walmart on the Saturday before Christmas advisable in general. Even though I was as discrete as possible and made no messes, there were several that had to ask if I was okay. A number of folks seemed to be under the impression that the person in the closed stall that was getting sick was a small child and were quite surprised to see me emerge. Unfortunately, during the midst of the event, I was unable to correct them.

After all that fun was over, we made our way to Canadian. We had a relaxing Saturday evening and joined my parents for worship at their church on Sunday morning. Sunday and Monday were beautiful days and we spent some time outdoors playing games (washers and darts). As is our usual tradition for Christmas Eve, we had all our smorgasbord of finger foods (shrimp, veggie tray, cheese and cracker tray, chips and queso, etc.) Then, we exchanged gifts to one another. This year, the First Baptist Church of Canadian began what they expect to be a continuing tradition of a candlelight service on Christmas Eve. So, after exchanging gifts and having ample time to play with our new toys, we went over to the church and paused to remember why we celebrate and give gifts during the holiday season. After the service, we wrapped up our family’s holiday tradition by singing “Happy Birthday” and eating a a birthday cake in honor of Jesus’ birth.

It’s always hard to get all the kids to bed on Christmas Eve, but we managed to get them tucked in by 10:30. Santa made his visit after they were down and by 7:30 the next morning the kids were ready to see what big gifts Santa brought them this year. Zachary got his Pogo Stick. Timothy, his Snap Circuits Extreme. Emily, her purity ring and makeup (the vanity table is being delivered to the house after Christmas). To top everything off, we got to celebrate Christmas with snow falling outside. I think this marks the second year in a row that we have had a white Christmas. Zachary did get to play out in the snow even though we left his gloves at home. It didn’t take very long for him to surrender to the cold.

On the day after Christmas, we visited Granny Brown in her new digs at the Texan Nursing Home in Amarillo. She looked great and is very involved in all of their activities there. Afterwards, we got to go see Gran and O’Grandad. As they put it, they’re still getting by. They all remind us of the fact that it is no fun getting old but I’m always glad to get to see them and I know that in spite of all the noise and turmoil we bring along with us, they love seeing the kiddos.

All in all, it’s been a great holiday season and the good news is that it isn’t over yet. We have Lori’s family coming to visit this weekend! Thankfully, we’ll have a day or two to decompress and get the house ready for visitors. I still think that the holidays are going to end to soon but I have nothing to complain about at this point. God is good to us, much better than we deserve. We give Him credit for keeping us safe and blessing us with such a great family.

Penny is for Penalized

(cross posted on Natural Blogarithms)

The elementary school where my boys attend is hosting a fund raising contest where students bring their change to donate. Instead of accumulating donations to win for their own grade, they are putting their change in other grades canisters. The grade with the lowest weight in donated change at the end of the fund-raising wins. Pretty innovative, I think. The kids seem motivated, so fortunately for the school they are not colluding to all bring nothing which would keep their weights down. Instead they are piling in the change especially those with siblings in other grades.

Strolling through the halls, I overheard a conversation where teachers were wondering if anyone had found out which coins weighs the most so they could give more of those.  Of course, that got me thinking.  The obvious answer would be that the larger coins like the half-dollar or presidential dollar would be the heaviest.

Although, don’t you really want to have the most weight for your money?  Sure, I could put in 10 presidential dollar coins, but which would weigh more, 10 dollars in half dollars, 10 dollars in quarters, or 10 dollars in dimes?

So, of course, I had to know the answer.  Checking out the U.S. Mint, I learned the following weights for each of the coins:

1 penny = 2.5 g  which means $1 in pennies is 250 g.
1 nickel = 5 g which means $1 in nickels is 100 g.
1 dime = 2.268 g which means $1 in dimes is 22.68 g.
1 quarter = 5.670 g which means $1 in quarters is 22.68 g.
1 half-dollar = 11.340 g which means $1 in half-dollars is 22.68 g.
1 dollar (coin) = 8.1 g which means $1 in a single coin is 8.1 g.

In spite of the larger weights for the larger coins, you are still much better off dumping in those pennies.  I did learn a pretty interesting fact though: A dollar in dimes weighs the same as a dollar in quarters which also weighs the same as a dollar in half-dollars.  Pretty cool!

Faith vs. Doubt

From “Prayer” by Philip Yancey:

These things feed my faith: epiphanies of beauty in nature, sunbursts of grace and forgiveness, the portrait of God I get in Jesus, stirring encounters with people who truly live out their faith. And these feed my doubts: God’s baffling tolerance of history’s atrocities, my unanswered prayers, sustained periods of God’s seeming absence.

Yancey, Philip (2008). Prayer (Kindle Locations 1055-1057). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

What are the things in life that spur on your faith and what are the things that feed your doubts?  For me, I have much in common with the author above.  Beauty in nature from the rising of the sun to the incredible formation of clouds to the amazing grandeur of the Rocky Mountains.  When I stare at God’s creation my heart is warmed by the Creator’s glow. Even the cycle of life which embodies the challenges for survival within nature is fascinating as it forever moves on.  Complicated. Intricate. Yes, even sometimes messy.  But always glorifying the Creator.

Humanity is what complicates the system. Within us, we have the image of the Creator that allows us to sense the justice and mercy of our God. We also have a human nature bent on usurping God’s rightful place in our lives.  In the end this means there is much evil in the world. It also means that we sense injustice where there is none. How can we know the mind of God that creates a world in which rain brings for life but weather patterns that bring rain often bring floods?  How can we understand why seemingly random events like tornadoes or hurricanes strike a populated area one time and dissipate across a barren landscape another?  In fact, for me, often the most challenging thing to my faith is just how random it is. I really don’t struggle with why a good God would allow catastrophes to occur and affect good people.  I struggle with just how random these events seem to be.  And yet, God fully admits this in his own word.

So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.   Matthew 5:45 (NASB)

Book Review: Evolving in Monkey Town


Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions

by Rachel Held Evans.

My Rating:      didn't like itit was okliked itreally liked it (my current rating)it was amazing

Status:    Read from June 25 to 30, 2011

My Review:

Based on a popular blog, this book walks through a twenty-somethings evolution of faith from a fairly fundamentalist background to a more liberal and reformed approached to Christianity. I was surprised a just how much of her experiences mirrored my own. She definitely poses the more difficult questions that a Christian must deal with today. I hoped to have her tackle the questions more directly than to just have her cherish the ability to pose them. Nevertheless, it was a good read and I would recommend it to any young adult who has struggled with doubt.

Piano is harder than I remember

Since two of our Christmas gifts were piano related: a new bench for Lori’s piano and a new electronic keyboard (for practicing with headphones!), I’ve been practicing some of my old piano skills.

photo  newKeyboard

scott__69_I was fortunate enough to have made it through a few years of piano lessons as a boy and I was most definitely a band nerd in high school (see the picture, if you dare). I was even drum major and marched at the state competition in the fall of ‘92.  There was a time when music was a BIG part of my life.

When it comes to the piano, I’ll confess that I really wasn’t all that accomplished, but that didn’t stop me from trying to prove to people that I was.  Over my Junior High and High School years, I managed to learn the first 2 or 3 lines of a dozen or more songs, ranging from pop music to Popeye, the Sailor Man.  If the mood struck me, I would demonstrate (i.e., show-off) my mad piano skills with just a few bars of something real fancy.  New friends would ooh and aah and old friends would begin to wonder why I never finished a song. Truth is, I never had the discipline, or possibly the skills, to finish one of them.

On the other hand, I did learn quite a bit from my days playing trumpet, tuba and the baritone in the band.  There’s no doubt in my mind that the discipline and skills that I learned from those activities helped me in other areas as well, but even so, I often feel like those days were wasted when I’ve all but dropped music from my life today.

For some time, I’ve been meaning to take it up again.  I’m not sure exactly how, though. Currently, I’m going back through some of my previous recital pieces, lesson books, and daily piano “exercises”.  It’s turning out to be much harder that I remember.  I’m only a few days in but it’s going to take quite a while to knock off the cobwebs, so to speak.

Also, my mom has given me back the trumpet that I played in Junior High.  I haven’t started yet, but I’m considering working my lip back into shape.  Since I work at a university, I’ve also considered walking over to the band director and asking to practice on the old Tuba.  After all, I’ve probably spent more time playing it than any other instrument.

I look forward to my kids involvement in music as well.  Emily’s already close to where I was when I stopped taking lessons.  Emily’s qualified for all-city choir at school. Timothy and Emily both sing in an area chorus for which they had to try-out and get accepted.  Zachary loves fiddling with the piano and keyboard, more so than the other two, in fact. All three sing in the children’s choir at church. There’s no doubt that all of them are musical.  The icing on the cake is that Lori is a wonderful pianist and we can all still go to her with all my musical theory questions and she’ll set us straight.  I’m glad that she decided to join up with handbells at church, as well.

Music is important to our family and I hope to keep it that way.

1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous;
   it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the LORD with the harp;
   make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;
   play skillfully, and shout for joy.

Psalm 33:1-3

My Twitter – A Year in Review

twitterFor the record, I am aware that good many of my tweets over at my twitter account (and by extension, my facebook statuses) fit into the “Who really cares?” category but that doesn’t bother me, especially this time of year.  The greatest benefit to both my twitter feed and my blog come from being able to take a stroll down memory lane and reminisce on the good ol’ days.

I normally use a service called BackUpMyTweets.com to make an occasional archive of my tweets but for some reason, it is not allowing downloads now.  I’ve switch over to use TweetBackup.com.

What follows are what I thought were the best tweets of the year, or perhaps the most interesting events of the year which happened to be documented on my Twitter account, or perhaps just a few that made me giggle one more time.  Hope you enjoy.  If not, I will. Continue reading

She’s got the Cancer (probably)

sad-face-yellowIt’s pretty sad, but most likely our little beagle has a cancerous tumor on her belly.  While we won’t know for sure unless we send off a biopsy to a pathology lab, the vet said it is most likely a squamous cell carcinoma or a hemangiosarcoma.  In both cases, the best treatment is surgical removal of the tumor.  Since she also has pretty severe tooth decay, the vet recommends that we put Lucy completely under anesthesia, give her IV fluids and do both her teeth cleaning and tumor removal.  Another option would be to just locally anesthetize the area and remove the tumor.

I hate having to make the call on a pet.  After all, she’s a member of the family but she is just an animal.  I’ve always said that owners that spends thousands of dollars on treatments like chemotherapy or radiation are a little bit loony, but it’s harder to say that when your own pet is nearing the end.  We know that Lucy has lived a long life and she’s right at the average lifespan for her breed.  And yet, she’s still eating, drinking, playing and being … well, … being Lucy.

So, what do you say?  How far do you go for the family pet?  Can you put a price tag on the companionship from your puppies? $75, $350, or thousands of $$$?