Blood:Water Mission
Compassion International
International Justice Mission

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hey, Ma, I'm on that radio thingy over yonder!

So, if you haven't been following, your's truly will be on the radio "live" this afternoon. Charley, the nice guy at Cross Driven Radio talked to me a few nights ago and will be playing his interview with me on this afternoon's broadcast next Thursday's show (schedule change). Go on over to his website, and notice on the right-hand side where he tells you how to listen live over to the webcast from 2-3 eastern time on WEBR. This week you can hear Charley talking to Brody and Amy. Sharing the show with me next week will be Kristin, also from Inspired to Action. We both talk about blogging, I2A, the 40 Day Fast, and other things. If you miss the show, he'll have the podcast up on his site in a few days.

Here's the thing. I can't listen in. You see, I'll be at a rheology conference all next week, and when the show runs I be sitting in on some great talks about rheology. Even if I were at work, like on a normal Thursday, I couldn't listen; my work blocks all streaming media, so no chance. So, if you listen, please tell me I don't sound goofy and that I didn't make a fool of myself. I'll even pretend that you're right when I finally hear the podcast. Thanks.

Oh, and speaking of the 40 Day Fast, tomorrow's the last day. It has been a phenomenal 40 days, with some great posts. For my money, if you have missed a lot of posts and don't feel you can catch up with all of them, then just try reading Nancy's post from yesterday. She's not the best writer in the world, but she wrote with passion about a subject that too many of us are ignorant of or choose to ignore - the trafficking of children into sex slavery. As the father of a little girl, the simple thought of such things occurring - even in the "civilized and safe" U.S.A. - brings me to my knees with gratitude that she is safe today and in prayer for those who cry out to be rescued.

Tomorrow, we are inviting everyone to join in the fast. If you missed out, or if you want to spend one extra day in dedication, the join in tomorrow as we collectively fast. Blog about how this fast has been moving you - what have you done to join in? A big part of the idea is to move people to action. What action are you taking? Lets talk about that tomorrow. There will be a link tool up on Inspired to Action where you can link to your blog as you talk about why you are fasting.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What to do when your daughter is with the grandparents

Well, obviously, you paint her room!

When we had asked her some time ago how she wanted her room painted, we expected her to tell us pink princesses (or something like that). She surprised us and told us she wanted ladybugs and daisies. So, we painted the room a bright color, and then did nothing for a while. (Okay, I was procrastinating! Fine, I admitted it.)

After a while, I got around to painting some ladybugs on one wall. Lil'E was soooooooooo happy. But then, there was a problem.

She couldn't sleep without daisies on the wall, too. Oops.

So, while she has been with the grandparents the last few days, I've been busy with the brush. I've got daisies on two walls, and ladybugs on one of those two (the other ladybugs will have to wait a couple of weeks). On another wall, there are fluffy, white clouds. And on the wall with her bed I painted a rainbow going over the bed and clouds around it. You can see the evidence below.

Now, I may be a rheologist, and I know well the flow properties of paint as you apply it to various surfaces with sundry brushes. But that does not make me a painter. It is what it is, and my 5-year old girl will love it. Also, if there happens to be any botanists in the crowd, don't blame me for how the daisies look - I modeled them after Daisy Head Mayzie. As to the millions (ha!) of entomologists seeing these pictures, you can blame me outright. Meteorologists, keep quite - you're a rowdy lot!

And to those of you counting the rainbow and only seeing six bands - yep, I only painted six. When I was a kid, they taught me about ROY G BIV and I learned the seven colors of the rainbow. Apparently, IV have fallen out of favor and they are only teaching ROY G BP these days - which makes no sense at all. Since that's what Lil'E insists on for the rainbow, that's what I painted.

Lil'E comes home tomorrow. I know she'll be excited to see it all on the walls. And, just maybe, she'll acquiesce to sleeping in her own room, in her own bed, without putting up a fight. Well, here's to hope, anyway.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Doing just a little something . . . Impact Houston

Sometimes, you just have the perfect opportunity. Sometimes, you can do the right thing and it is so easy. Sometimes, well, sometimes it is so easy to serve and worship God by following His call to care for those in need. We had one of those chances last night, and it was a great time. But these opportunities don't usually occur without having a helping hand, that third party that makes things so easy. For Positive Post Tuesday, I want to talk about what we got to to, and who made it so easy.

Mrs. E with the girls from ImpactLast night our church took in 300 kids - elementary and Junior High age - from inner city Houston. We took them in ones and two and threes, we fed them (CiCi's pizza is quite popular with these kids), and we took them to Wal-Mart for school supplies. We bought them the pens, pencils, and paper they need in class, a backpack to carry them in, and some clothes to start off the school year in a few weeks. The picture on the right is of Mrs. E with the girls we were able to help out - one going into 9th grade and one into the 7th grade. I talked about when we did this last year and I'm glad we were able to participate again this year.

The people who helped make this all possible, who bussed 300 kids from downtown to our neck of the woods, who interact with this kids every day, are the people at Impact Church of Christ. I've been down to help them out, seen the neighborhood they are in the middle of - one that most people try to avoid for their "safety" and seen the people they help firsthand. A couple of years ago I helped paint a kids classroom in their building, and saw the kids and teachers go crazy for just having something that wasn't a plain, empty wall. I've seen their food distribution, the hungry people waiting for help, and the huge lunches they have every Sunday after worship for anyone who would come. In college, the group I was active with worked with them to bring new underwear to the homeless in the area. Underwear, which we hardly think about; but I also heard the stories of people crying to have new, clean underwear - something they had not had in years.

Impact does some awesome work, and they touch more lives everyday than I may touch in my lifetime. A good friend of mine works as a youth minister their, but feels that he has a different call in his life right now. Mrs. E passed on to me that the older girl in the picture up there is very sad to know he will be leaving. She told Mrs. E that he is the only person she trusts! Please join with me in applauding some people who can make such a difference in the lives of people. I thank God for the people of Impact.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Music Review: Joy Whitlock God and a Girl

As I mentioned in last weeks review of P.O.D.'s latest album, I just received a new batch of upcoming releases from my friend at INO Records - including God and a Girl from Joy Whitlock (also on Ardent Records). In an effort to be a little more responsive to these nice people giving me free music, I am making an effort to have all three reviewed before they hit the stores. (Also, as I've told you and them, I won't give a good review just because I get some free music. But I will give a fair review, including highlighting what some people might like even when others do not.)

Joy Whitlock God and a Girl album coverSo, anyway, I first heard Joy Whitlock's music around two years ago. God and a Girl is her first full-length album, but she has released two EP's - The Fake, in 2005, and the God and a Girl EP from earlier this year. I got some of the music from The Fake, which is included in the 14-track God and a Girl, and liked listening to it then. Living in Memphis, her sound is infused with the bluesy rock sound of the city. If you want another reference point for her sound, I would say that it is also reminiscent of Jennifer Knapp.

My quick-take on the album is that it is a top-notch effort. The music is fun to listen to, catchy without being repetitive or trite, and lyrically rich - the complete package.

Read more . . .
Joy's story is one of rebellion, one moment, and repentance. In her words, the album is a four-year conversation with God, thus the title "God and a Girl". Her struggles to become more than she had made herself to be are painted throughout this "conversation":

I just wanna get this out
I wish I didn’t know what I know
These memories won't let me go
It’s what keeps me in
It’s what locks me out
Oh faith don’t fail me now

(from "Faith Don't Fail")

When Joy Whitlock sets out to make music, she has something to say through it. But, at the same time, she has no desire to coerce, only to tell a story. "Art that’s not simply propaganda" - this is the message that greets visitors to her website. For example, when you listen to "Not Through With You" you get the feeling that it's herself she's talking about, not someone she's trying to preach at. (You can watch her live performance of this song below.) Much of the album is like this - full of energy, hope, and new-found purpose.

God and a Girl hits stores on September 16th August 19th (a busy music day, with over two-dozen CCM albums hitting that day). But why wait for good music, eh? Especially when you can get some free? First, there's the free download of "Your Face" through Joy's ecard, where you can also watch an video interview of her. But there's more: Joy Whitlock is on NoiseTrade - where you can download the "God and a Girl EP, including the songs "Faith Don't Fail", "Not Through With You", and "Behind the Scenes". With NoiseTrade you can either pay what you think fair for the album or give three e-mail addresses of friends who will be told about NoiseTrade - a good deal either way.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Finally, incontrovertible proof of original sin

Here it is.
Sour Patch Straws
As I gave out snacks at VBS tonight, with children inhaling these sour, sugar coated sugar sticks, I consumed one of these abominations. Anyone who could come up with something so vile-tasting must surely be steeped in sin from birth.

I would say that Sour Patch straws are from the Devil!

And you know what the Devil is without the "d"? EVIL! And this candy is evil!

And you know what evil is without the "e"? VIL! And, as I said, these things are vile!

And you know what vil is without the "v"? IL! And these things will make you ill if you eat them!

And you know what il is without the "i"? L! And, if God grants mercy, these detestable candies will all be burned up in L!

Music Review: P.O.D. When Angels & Serpents Dance

So I've been hinting that this is coming, and now I've finally got a review down on paper (or up on the internet, actually) for you. About three months ago I got a copy of P.O.D.'s newest effort, When Angels & Serpents Dance, and I'm ashamed to say that it has taken me this long to review it. I've listened to it several times, but I've just not had the time to really sit down and get my thoughts on the album out. This may not be as flushed out as I would like, but I want to do this review and I want to get it done before I start putting out reviews on the next batch of releases I just received Monday (Bart Millard's Hymned Again, 33 Miles' One Life, and Joy Whitlock's God and a Girl).

In short, my impression of the album is a good one. This marks the first album in a few years to feature the original lineup of P.O.D. that first found success, and the return has brought about some good music.

For those of you not familiar with the group, P.O.D. (or Payable on Death) is a hard rock band with a Christian background and lyrics that are evocative of God's message to us today. When Angels & Serpents Dance marks their first album on INO Records, a more overtly Christian label than they were with previously. They've had cross-over success, recently appearing on Leno and Carson Daly, and having been invited into many Christian venues, and have enjoyed a 15 year run thus far. There style may not be for everyone, but I enjoy it. (I know, you're thinking this is a big departure from everything your think you've known about my musical tastes. Well, live and learn - I like loud, fast and thrashin' music, too!)

Read more . . .
Their new album, When Angels & Serpents Dance, starts off with the song "Addicted", which could be surmised as a modern paraphrase of Paul's debate with himself in Romans 7.

Cause I, I'm Addicted,
To all the colors that I see, that you hold in front of me.
And you have changed, yeah you have changed me.
Why do I love you when I know, love you when I know,
Your wrong.
Yeah, that's pretty much what Paul said. And it's a sentiment that we all can relate to more than we like to admit. The song is driving, and honestly one of the best on the album.

The rest of the album is similar. Their first single, "Shine With Me", is also a good listen. (Currently you can download "Shine With Me" free by going here.) Unfortunately, it suffers from one of the two problems I have with this album. While having a good sound, "Shine With Me" ends up being repetitive in the end - as do several other songs on the album. It's almost as if they wanted an additional verse, but couldn't flesh it out and decided to add an extra chorus to fill.

The other issue I ended up having with When Angels & Serpents Dance was the guest spots. The album feature appearances from The Marley Girls, Mike Muir, and Page Hamilton. As I listen, the guest spots seem to dominate, even overpower, the songs. In the end, I found them more distracting than enhancing the album.

Despite those two critiques, I would still recommend the album. It gives a good blend of hard rock, reggae, and hip-hop with some jazz overtones to which I enjoyed listening. In the ultimate test, having had it on my iPod for three months, I've rarely skipped a song on the album. If you enjoy music with a heavier beat, then check out P.O.D's latest.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My commute to work just got shorter

Handle with CareThat's right, you heard me. Big changes around here. I have just managed to shave precious time off my commute to work. How did I do it? Well, it's simple, really.

I moved to a desk 80 feet closer to the door.

Yep, 80 feet.

That's a full 10 seconds of my walking time. I'm sleeping in, baby!

It wasn't really my choice. They've got some big rearrangements going on here. Apparently, some big wigs from the "walled city" (where the execs and marketing, and people who do I know not what reside) will be humbled and move to where I once was. Sure, my new cubical has a well-known history of leaking in the rain - but I'm good with that.

On a serious note, this move - coupled with another - has placed me far, far away from my only enemy in life. Yes, Euphrony actually has an enemy. To be precise, it is much less that he is my enemy and much more that I am his. We once got along pretty well. I don't know what happened, really, but he just plain started hating me. He would come over and gripe about everything from the music I was (quietly) listening to, to the way I drank a coke, or even the way I breathed. Basically, I was the bane of his existence - and I still don't know why. He won't look me in the eye if we pass each other in the hall, much less offer a greeting in response to mine. But now I've moved, and he moved to another corner of the labs, and I haven't as much as seen him in more than a week. Truthfully, this brings a great deal of peace to my work environment - it is something I've prayed for for a couple of years (yes, this has gone on for years).

Anyway, do you have a desk that you sit at? What does it look like - neat, decorated with a theme, or just plain?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Being the church

Last night the Euphrony's spent a few hours eating dinner and praying over a family, good friends of ours. The DeCarlo's have been friends of ours since we moved to Houston seven-odd years ago. On April 1st they laughed and celebrated the birth of their second son, Justin (his picture is on the right). And then came the diagnosis, one they had been expecting since they first saw him - Down Syndrome. So far they've had many positive reports from the doctors: no renal problems, his hearing is normal (which means communication should not be hampered). The one area that Justin has real problems is his heart.

In two weeks he goes in for heart surgery. They need to repair a few small holes in the walls dividing the chambers of the heart. There should be two valves inside the heart, but he only has one; the doctors will divide it into two (isn't that amazing!). Also he has some shunts that all infants have in the womb but go away after birth - his are still there and will be removed so blood flows better to the lungs. The whole surgery will last around 5 hours, followed by a few days in ICU and another couple of days in the hospital.

Please join with me in praying for Justin and for his parents, Randy and Danielle. One of the things we do best as the people of God is wrap our arms around those who are hurting or afraid, and show them God's love and compassion. And right now they need peace and encouragement.

Proud parent moment: As we sat in a circle and prayed last night, around 50 of us, Lil'E leaned over to whisper in my ear. I figured she was going to ask if she could go play - I'm glad to say I was wrong. She asked me if she could say a prayer for Justin. So a few minutes later, when it got quiet, I nudged her to let her know she could pray now. She prayed beautifully, asking God to take care of Justin and thanking Him for everyone who was there. And then someone else started praying, because they couldn't hear Lil'E, and she gave me the maddest look for being interrupted. But still, wonderful.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A recent conversation with my wife

Mrs. E: I can't believe you posted that. All you talk about on your blog is music or being sick!

Me: Uh . . . . you have a point there.

Am I in a rut?

Follow-up: 40 Day Fast

I've not seen many people from the 40 Day Fast giving follow-ups on how their day went, but I think I will. As we fast together, as a community, I think it good to share in the joys and trials of that fast - not in a way to brag or to say woe-is-me, but to build each other up. Feel free to share some of your experiences from fasting in the comments.

So, how did my day of fasting and praying go? I must say that yesterday was by far the hardest fast I've ever undertaken. I have fasted for longer periods and had an easier, more spiritually uplifting time. This wasn't an issue of hunger - sure, I felt some rumbles early in the day, but those settled down and I really didn't feel hunger pangs most of the day.

The hard part came from two areas - temptation and physical. Naturally on the day that I am fasting they have bookoos of food around. Temptation is definitely there when you walk by a platter filled with hugondoid muffins all day long. But then, there was also the temptation of a different sort - the feelings of uselessness and aloneness. I have to admit that I struggled heavily with these feelings all day yesterday, and toyed with the notion of ending the fast early more than once.

Then there was the physical. I had a headache, of course. That's only normal when we who are accustomed to regular meals goes without. There was the lightheadedness, too. But then I also started feel extremely weak, no energy by the end of the day. I pretty much collapsed into bed once Lil'er E was finally down for the count (Mrs. E and Lil'E went to a show downtown) and slept fitfully. Waking up this morning I wasn't sure I could make it out of bed - shaky, weak, lightheaded, pounding headache. I ate a granola bar and drank a bunch of water, to try and get something in me. I finally made it out of the house and headed to work. About half a mile from the house I pulled over into the parking lot of a Mormon church and puked my guts up (which was mostly water). Sorry, Mormon neighbors, but it had to happen. After that I started feeling a bit better.

Once I made it in to work, and partook of the Friday omelet bar in the cafe (made to order for only $1.99!) I really started feeling better. At this point, I pretty much fine, physically. I still have those lingering doubts, but I feel strongly that is simply Satan on my case.

I do want to thank everyone who commented and everyone who was praying for me yesterday. It was only through prayers and God's hand that I made it through my commitment. I don't know if anyone else has felt similarly in their fasting, but I can say that I wrestled with this all day. I know that Jehovah came out victorious, even if I feel like a train wreck.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The 40 Day Fast: My Turn - The Face of Death

This is my day to participate in the 40 Day Fast. Be sure to check out Dan, the other blogger for today, and read his post here.

I preface my thoughts by telling you the group I talk about today is not one with which I am intimately familiar. I am passionate about and work with several groups, both local and international. Many of these are being covered by other people in the 40 Day Fast. Moreover, though, I have felt the call of God to pray for and talk about this group and their work for a little while now. It was thus a natural selection for me, despite my lack of previous involvement.

There is so much wrong with this world, a fallen and broken place. And yet, there is so much that is good, too. Jehovah created us with the intention that we know life and peace, but our sin and pride changed that for ever. Pain crept into this world, and death with it; we live hand in hand with both today. Some instances are more shocking, more disturbing to our sensibilities, while others are more commonplace. But one fact remains.

We are all mortal, and we all must face death one day.

This knowledge has placed something of an instinctive fear, or at least trepidation, in us all. Contemplating our own mortality is beyond the ability of some. Many of us find it exceedingly difficult to sit with one to whom the face of death is a constant companion - our nervousness, our uncertain words, they are something to which most all can relate. All of this in the midst of what is often the greatest trial in a person's life. In times like this I often think about the opening lines of Sara Groves' song "What Do I Know":

I have a friend who just turned eighty-eight
and she just shared with me that she's afraid of dying.
I sit here years from her experience and try to bring her comfort.
I try to bring her comfort.
But what do I know? What do I know?

That is why today I am praying for Houston Hospice. I'm sure there are Hospice organizations in your area, but I will focus on Houston Hospice, as it is local and I have sat with friends in their care before and seen firsthand their work. Their mission statement says it all: "Houston Hospice provides uncompromising, compassionate end-of-life care to patients and families in our community." And that's exactly what they do.

While so many of us stumble with words, fumble awkwardly as we edge for the exit of a terminal patient's room, Hospice is by their side. They care for the person, not the illness, and do everything they can to help them and their families face what is no longer and abstraction of the future but an imminent certainty. And I am so grateful that they are there to do what I at times cannot (or, to my shame, will not) do.

There are many ways that we can help Hospice in their work. As with any group, money helps. Donations to Houston Hospice provide for patient care and for unfunded programs and community education. Hospice also needs volunteers, both trained at the level for indirect patient assistance and for interaction with the patients. Consider if this might be something God wants for your life.

But there are other ways you can help, some very simple and some very personal. Houston Hospice maintains a patient care center for those who cannot be at home but need an alternative to a hospital room. This facility provides for the families to maintain their personal hygiene. How nice would it be to personally donate some simple toiletries so the families have one less tedious detail to consider at the hour of a loved one's death?

Another, very simple, way you can help is to search the internet. Yes, search the internet. Let me introduce you to GoodSearch.
GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!
GoodSearch is power by Yahoo! Search, so it is one of the top out there. Ads on Yahoo! and Google make billions of dollars every year, GoodSearch decided that they could take a portion of that and do something good with it. Half of their ad revenue goes to charities (over 62,000 to choose from) - that comes out to about a penny a search. Sure, a penny isn't much, but it adds up over time.

Join with me in praying for Houston Hospice, for the people they help and for the people who work with them to do so well what I fail at.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Moving hearts

Yesterday, Brody told us about UNICEF. We hear about the UN programs through the news, but thanks to Brody we have a better idea what UNICEF is doing to help save children around the world.

Lori also blogged yesterday, very much from her heart. She talked about how she feels her own inadequacies, even as her family struggles with her husbands terminal cancer. If only we all felt so strongly about doing more.

Today, Natalie Grant talks about the domestic problem of human trafficking and sex slavery. It's hard to swallow, but this is not a problem for other, less refined countries; it's our problem, as well.

Also, Kjaere blogs about the persecuted church. It still happens, even today. Pray for the persecuted.

Finally, Charley has been so moved by the fast that he feels compelled to talk about it. He's been interviewing the people at Inspired to Action and some of the bloggers for the 40 Day Fast and playing it on his weekly radio show and putting it on his blog as podcasts. I talked to him for a while last night. Thanks, Charley, for do so much to talk about I2A and the 40 Day Fast.

God is moving hearts!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Music Monday: Free stuff, Cheap stuff, and a challenge

First, let me say read through to the third section of this post. I'll need your help. Now, on with the show.

Free Stuff
P.O.D. When Angels & Serpents DanceWho doesn't like free music. Kat does, even when she has to pay $7 for it. So here is some free music for you today - and it is a departure from what you might normally think of Euphrony listening to for fun. P.O.D. is offering a free download of their new single "Shine With Me" from their album When Angels & Serpents Dance. You can go through their front page to get it, or click here to download it directly. I got this album a couple of months ago, and I will be doing a review of it (I really will, I just have not had time to do it, yet). It's a pretty good album, overall - perhaps a bit repetitive at times, but P.O.D. sounds as good as ever here and they have some good lyrics to boot. Check out "Shine With Me" - hey, it's free, what's the worst that could happen?

Cheap Stuff
Cindy Morgan - Beautiful BirdSo, Kat (again) has been all over this artist. But I've not seen her mention that right now you can buy and download a digital copy of Cindy Morgan's new album Beautiful Bird for only $5.99. No, it's not free - but pretty close. Go to her online store, and you'll see the option to buy the CD for $9.99 or buy all tracks for $5.99. Now you have some more good music for your listening pleasure.

Oh, by the way, have you heard about NoiseTrade? No? Well, now you have, and consider yourself lucky. Their tag line is fair trade music, and you can download some good music from some great artists by either giving them three e-mail addresses or by paying what you think is fair. Okay, sounds fair to me. (HT: Shaun and Brody)

A Challenge
Who doesn't like a little challenge now and then? Well, here is your challenge (should you choose to accept it).

Euphrony is headed off to sunny California in a couple of weeks to attend a big rheology shin-dig. I'll even be presenting a paper and a poster at this thing, plus Mrs. E will fly up after me and we'll spend a couple of child-free days in Monterey. As part of this wild gathering of us crazy rheologists from around the globe, there will be a beach party one evening as a social event. There will be ping-pong, foosball, shuffleboard, a limbo contest (I get the giggles trying to picture some of these people I know doing to limbo), and karaoke. They have published the list of available songs for karaoke and have encouraged us to prepare for "Rheology Idol".

Now, I've mentioned before that I really don't like karaoke that much. There's the bad singing, the annoying songs that inevitably get chosen, and the "drunk" factor. (Did I mention that the conference is in Monterey, and that wine will be free-flowing at the social events? I guess I should have done that.) But in the spirit of fun, Euphrony is willing to entertain the idea of joining in the karaoke madness just this one time. The full list of karaoke songs can be read here, but I've already spotted a few that would seem to fit the mood of foolish, half-drunk rheologists singing on a beach. There's David Lee Roth's "Just a Gigolo" - that would be fun. I could do my best Geddy Lee impression and sing "Fly By Night" from Rush. I could honor the best voice in rock and roll and sing "Crying" from Roy Orbison. I could go for the crowd favorite and do "Y.M.C.A." (or not). Or I could find a buddy and sing "To All The Girls I've Loved Before" in my best Willie Nelson and/or Julio Iglesias accent. I will not consider anything from Madonna (no discussion).

So, what say you? Can you convince Euphrony to karaoke? Give it a shot! And who bust a gut laughing at rheologists partying on the beach?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dentistry of a different kind

I got this picture this morning from my friend Ellen, who is a medical missionary in Uganda. This is from a recent trip to Namawojjolo. How does this compare to your usual visit to a dentist? Let's count the differences: open air, walls are see-through, no soothing muzak over the speakers, I don't see anywhere but the ground to spit, and those chairs sure don't look as comfy as the dentist chair I usually sit in. Oh, I forgot to mention that these people do not have the opportunity for checkups every six months like most of us enjoy.

I've mentioned Ellen before here on my blog and I interviewed her for Inspired to Action a few months ago. We were even able to help her in collecting some books for a burgeoning library they are working on in Kampala. She and her group are doing some great work over there. Pray for them and thank God for people like her who choose to leave the comfort of home (and potential wealth as a doctor in the USA) to help people with their physical and spiritual needs.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The 40 Day Fast: Catching Up

I2A 40DF logo
Have you been keeping up with the people involved in the 40 Day Fast? I hope so, I really do. There have been some great posts over the last 18 days, and we're looking forward to some more great stuff. I regret not having given a blurb about each one, but I've been so swamped that I have not had much of a chance (especially with the long vacation). I have taken the time to read what each of these people have had to say, where God has been leading their hearts to action. Here's a few highlights:

  • Licia is a nurse who works in Haiti. Don't read her post, or any of her blog, without being prepared to weep for the conditions that we in the USA find deplorable but people around the world call "normal".
  • Gene and Crystal have written about the Dalit people of India. Don't know about the Dalit? Read how the caste system has declared them "untouchable" and how groups are working to change their lives.
  • Tim told us how by simply talking about how we do the things we take for granted (how to use a bank/ATM, how to manage money, paying taxes) SIFE has helped to put refugees in Tennessee on the road to economic independence.
  • Several people have talked about the importance of clean water, highlighting groups like Blood:Water Mission, LifeStraw, and Charity: Water.
  • Mama's Boy and Kat have highlighted how we can care for the needs of the elderly.
The point is simple - there are so many things that we can do, very easily, that will change the world. We can plead God to save someone half a world away, or we can implore Him to save the person a block away from our house. We just need to do something.

Have you been following along with the 40 Day Fast? I know many of my normal readers are also the people who I've worked with to organize this or are people who are passionate about what it is all about. But there others who come through this rambling mess of a blog, and I want to take this special moment to draw your attention to this. Changing the world is all about small steps, with God making the ripple we make into a tsunami of hope and love.

Look at that calendar-thingy I put on the left sidebar - you can't miss it, it's huge. Click through to the bloggers on Team #1 and Team #2 for every day, and you'll see people who want to fulfill the proclamation the "the kingdom of heaven is at hand". Read their thoughts, and encourage them if you can in their fasting for heaven's sake, for God's name. Pray that you may know God's urging in your own lives.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A rambling blog gets random visitors

So I got curious and looked at my ShinyStats today. I've never really looked at all they have to offer before, even though I've had that little link on the lower-right side of my blog for ages now. I glanced at the keyword searches that they list having brought people to my rambling posts. Below is the exhaustive list for the month of July (to date). So I'm big in musical searches (Addison Road, Nate Sallie, Sara Groves, Steven Delopoulos, and Laura Story - among others) and in car accidents. Am I really that safe if such a huge percentage of my search visitors are due to wrecks? Of course, I mentioned totaling two cars in yesterday's post - so I must talk about it a fair bit.

A few that stood out when I perused the list:

  • rabbit tsunami - huh?
  • eye molding - okay, that's just gross
  • her nipples birth story - I really don't remember blogging about that
What brings random traffic to your site?

Search Keywords

addison road 15
bad car crash 4
nate sallie in the younger days 4
brad wims 3
stavanger norway 3
the king's singers 3
bad accident 2
bad accidents 2
bad car crashes 2
car crash 2
flowbee 2
laura story 2
nate salli ruined for ordinary 2
would you rather questions 2
buttercup's baby by s.morgenstern 1
charlie brown soundtrack blogspot 1
her nipples birth story 1
if god had a refrigerator my picture would be on it...... 1
nate sallie "ruined for ordinary" youtube 1
sara groves 1
sara groves"review 1
7 tiers in heaven 1
8 wk ultrasound 1
acapella vocal band glad 1
all is well that ends well-abridged version 1
anisocoria 1
bad car accident 1
bad car accident photos 1
bing crosby 1
bing crosby - white christmas 1
bing crosby christmas 1
bing crosby christmas album covers 1
bing crosby white christmas 1
bing crosby, white christmas 1
blood:water mission 1
brant hansen + minigolf 1
car crash pics 1
carpenters - christmas portrait - 1
carpenters pictures 1
ccm album cover 1
celebrity car crash crashes 1
charlie brown christmas guaraldi 1
children dressed as musical instrument 1
christian 40 day fast 1
christmas favorites bing crosby 1
cover album band 1
crash golf 3 1
delopoulos straitjacket review 1
euphrony 1
eye molding 1
four wheeler crashes 1
gaelic in pub movie far and away 1
glad hymn thing 1
golf 3
crash 1
graduation melodies 1
hagar the horrible taxes 1
highway 6 houston accident 1
hotel empire game 1
i'm ruined for you christian song 1
inside out nate sallie album cover 1
keep eyes peeled origin 1
kid wear spiderman costume at camp 1
king's singers 1
laura story brain tumor mighty to save 1
laura story great god who saves 1
laura story photos 1
laura story words to great god who saves 1
listen to addison road 1
man cutting own hair 1
meaning of "keep your eyes peeled" 1
meaning of i'm at odds end 1
nate sallie 1
natural disaster games 1
natural disasters games 1
neil peart solo buddy rich 1
neil peart tom sawyer youtube 1
neil peart's wife and daughter 1
preventing tsunamis 1
rabbit tsunami 1
songs written by laura story 1
sonic carhops 1
stephen delopoulos 1
steve delopoulos 1
steven delopoulos straight jacket 1
the afters 1
the carpenter 1
the kings singers 1
vacation humor 1
vince guaraldi trio 1
what would you rather game 1
white christmas bing crosby 1
would you rather 1
would you rather 1
would you rather? questions 1

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

How I just saved $1300 a year (in theory)

So, do I have your attention? Good.

It was really rather simple. I just got rid of my old, gas-guzzling car. It was a good car, a Pathfinder that got me a lot of places. But at 155,000 miles, with the brakes going out, and the current price of gas, it was a good time to change. As are many other people these days.

I didn't get a hybrid (though I wouldn't mind one). I didn't even get a new car. I bought a 2007 Toyota Camry, with 21,000 miles on it. The way I figure I'll be doing around 10 miles per gallon better. With my current driving and guessing I'll be filling up at $3.80 a gallon for a while, I could save around $1300 a year in gas.

Here's a picture of my beautiful, new, plain white car.
My Camry

Of course, the last time I owned and drove a sedan I had very bad luck. Like the lady turning out in front of when when I was going 70 down the road - totaling the car. Or the time I had the squeeze play with my car getting squished between an SUV in front of me and the 18-wheeler that rear-ended me. (Yep, totaled again.) So wish me luck with the smaller car. Please!

So, what car do you drive?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Things I've learned in Tennessee

Well, we finally made it home today. After 1750 miles, ~85 gallons of gas, 3 billion hours in the car, and more lapses in sanity than I can count, we're resting in our own beds tonight. Okay, so it wasn't that bad - but Lil'er E did wake up at 4:00 this morning and never went back to sleep, so we're all a little exhausted tonight.

On a different note, here are a few things I've learned while we've been visiting in Tennessee.

  1. Tennessee has a lot more hills than Texas. Okay, so that's not so profound; but that does not mean its not true. Sure, Texas does have the Hill Country, but Houston is a coastal town and the biggest hills are the speed bumps in parking lots. Where I grew up in West Texas is even flatter (what flies out of your mouth when you sneeze from the dust significantly alters the elevation of the landscape there). So, I got used to driving up-hill everywhere I went - and the old joke of walking to school in the snow up-hill both ways actually makes some sense, now.
  2. It's harder to play the driving alphabet game in Tennessee than in Texas. You know, the game where you have to find a letter on a road sign (using cars is definitely cheating). All because of one letter - "Q". In Texas, you can find a "q" every five minutes, as you pass the next Dairy Queen. They don't call it the Texas Stop Sign for nothin'! But, alas, it's not the Tennessee stop sign. We spent an hour trying to find a "q", and nearly gave up hope and quit in the process.
  3. I've never before attended such a cool fireworks display. Oh, I've seen better fireworks, but temperature wise it was actually bearable to be outside to watch them. The July weather in Tennessee was quite pleasant, nice even, never getting above the upper 80s while we were there. This is compared to the hotter-than-hades July 4th celebrations I'm used to enduring. I'm sure, of course, that it gets hotter there in August; but in Houston in August people are known to pray for a quick death before having to go outside. It ain't pretty here (but there it was).
  4. There are some mighty nice people who live in Tennessee. We had a great time with our old friends in Jackson, and we got to spend a couple of nice days with another set of old friends in Memphis. And of course there are some very nice people in Nashville, as well. We had the chance to eat a little pizza with Brody and Kristin and their three boys. We did not have the chance to meet with Stephen or Chaotic Hammer, though - maybe the next time we are in the same geographic region we'll have more time.
  5. Other parents have some funny stories about their kids. I mean, really funny. So I mentioned our friends in Memphis. They have two boys about the age our my kids. We spent the 4th riding the trolley through downtown Memphis (past Beale, saw the site of MLK's assassination, etc.). They told us, though, about their oldest boy's growing curiosity about the differences between his own equipment and daddy's. Then they told us about finding him, with a black marker, drawing pubic hair on himself and his little brother - to be more like daddy. (This space is intentionally left blank for your laughter.)
Well, we'll talk more once I've slept tonight. And maybe tomorrow night. And the night after that, too. Pictures will be forthcoming, as well.

Do you have any good memories of Tennessee?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Just past half-way

The count, at just past half-way through the family vacation.

  • 880 miles traveled so far
  • 45 minutes of children sleeping in the car
  • 1 child who actually slept
  • 3 places we have slept
  • 2 more places to sleep before home
  • 1 Pixar movie seen by Lil'E, NatCh, and myself
  • 2 museums visited (one art and one science)
  • 1 dinner plan canceled because of 1 bee
  • 2 children waking up way too early every day
  • 1 barbershop convention, with attendees at this hotel (and singing in the lobby at 10:00 pm)
Lots of fun! I'm practically bouncing off the walls! This picture pretty much says it all.
This pretty much says it all