Friday, September 30, 2005

guys just don't have good taste in women

I posted a picture of my wife's face on-line, holding our new baby, and she said "YOU DIDN'T GET MY PERMISSION TO POST A PICTURE OF ME WITH THREE HOURS SLEEP." I didn't know what she was talking about at first, but then I found the picture. She looked beautiful. That's the reason I posted the picture in the first place. She said she looked like a smurf. Unbelievable. I said, "You know, all women are that way. If a good looking guy tells them they are beautiful or they have a pretty face or great legs or something, they say, 'Whatever.' But if their girlfriend says, 'Look at you, girl, you're lookin good!' then they wear that outfit again and again and they go shopping to find 6 more just like it." That has got to be the biggest joke in the universe. She laughed when I told her that, and then she said, "Yeah, guys just don't have good taste in women."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

the more i know

the more i know the more i love. i guess that makes me an anticynic or something. or maybe a christian.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

from above

Burlap. The stuff you make a rough tent with. Burlap goes well with mud and returns to dust if you beat it enough. And it's leaky. Cashmere. The stuff you clothe the finest sheep with. I love the name of this band: burlap to cashmere. That's pretty much me, before and after Jesus rescued me. But that doesn't really have anything to do with this post. Except for that's the band that wrote my song. My song today.

From Above
by Burlap to Cashmere

This tent not mine
My hands are on
If I had no feet to run
It would be a blessing
It would be a blessing from above

And if the trees were never planted
And the mountains not slanted
And there was no more water to part
It would still be a work of art

And in my darkest rooms I push and shove away
But in my fall He has stayed

To the sea I will love
Higher mountains I will discover
From above
From above
From above I will heal

And I am just a prisoner here
A breath away from another fear
Seasons one day’ll shed my soul
This tent not mine here in control

My emotions sometimes controls me
My pride can tow me
But as I was sent to you, I have loved
In the realms of heaven up above

And in my darkest rooms I push and shove away
But in my fall He has stayed

To the sea I will love
Higher mountains I will discover
From above
From above
From above I will heal

From above
From above
From above I will heal

Saturday, September 17, 2005

It's a boy!!!

Woohoo! I've been so busy taking pictures of our new baby that I haven't written anything. He's a miracle. He's beautiful. Caleb Garrison Coan is his name.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

complexity and simplicity

I'm thinking about the paradox of nature’s being complexity and simplicity at once. My wife will deliver a new baby in a matter of hours not days. On the one hand a baby growing inside his/her mommy is very simple. It just happens. On the other hand, how vastly complex. We have a cool baby book that tells us day by day what organs and systems have developed, what maturation has occurred, what to expect, etc. It's absolutely incredible the intelligent design of growth—not just of a human but of any animal or plant for that matter. On the other hand, things work the way they work because they should work they way they work—fingernails, hair, etc.—no one plans it out, it just simply follows the path of least resistance. Maybe that's why some people have determined that it's all about adaptation and evolution, that over time every type of creature is transformed into something most suitable for its environment.

If I take animals out of the equation and just consider the plants, it seems much simpler. They grow toward the sunlight, they perk up when they are watered, they wither in the heat. They grow around whatever is in their way. But look at babies. They turn to their mother's voice, they perk up when they are fed, they wither if they are not held enough. They just want what they want, with no real concern for what they should want or ought to do.

Somehow I think the life of a child is better, that simple is better. Jesus said I have to become like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven.[1] He also said that if my eye, which is the lamp of my body, is simple then my whole body will be full of light.[2] I was also told that simplicity is the best way to give gifts.[3] And I have been warned not to be conned out of the simplicity of Christ.[4] Most of all, the offer of Christ is a simple heart, one not divided or broken, a heart free of confusion and anxiety.[5] I heard one time that genius is the ability to make the complex simple. I wonder what word to use for the restless urge to make the simple complex.

And now I am at the same paradox but not of nature’s, but of nature’s God. I understand God to be the highest thinker, the most complex being. And yet, He says that His kingdom is about simplicity. Maybe that’s His genius. Maybe the smartest thing for me to do is to spend the rest of my days finding the simple way.

[1] Mark 10:15
[2] Matthew 6:22
[3] Romans 12:8, 2 Corinthians 8:1-2
[4] 2 Corinthians 11:3
[5] Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, Isaiah 61:1, Philippians 4:6

Monday, September 12, 2005

too simple to be true

We've read several of these Christian Heroes: Then & Now books. I overheard this one from the lunch-time reading today:

Sundar Singh (1889-1929), a former Sikh, became a Christian sadhu (holy man) and at great risk devoted his life to Christ. With bare feet and few possessions he crossed the precarious Himalayas between India and Tibet many times, sharing the gospel with Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and even thieves.

Once, on his way from Tibet back to India along the Hindustani-Tibet road, he heard of a holy man who had taken an oath of silence. Sundar made a detour to the village where the man lived and went to see him. He was immediately impressed with the fact that this sadhu was a genuine seeker of the truth. In his quest the old man had not spoken a word for six years. Sundar was eager to question him, and the old man offered him a slate and chalk.

On the slate Sundar wrote, “Didn’t God give us a tongue so that we can speak? Why do you not use yours to worship and praise the Creator instead of remaining silent?”

The sadhu thought for a moment and then erased Sundar’s question and wrote, “You are right. I’m sure God does want our praise, but my nature is so evil that I cannot hope for anything good to come out of my mouth. Therefore I have remained silent for six years. It is better that I remain silent until I receive some blessing or message that can help others.”

Sundar then told him about Jesus Christ and how His [resurrection] could change any person’s heart from evil to good, but the sadhu wrote that he found the idea too simple to be true, so Sundar parted from him without a word.

From Sundar Siungh: Footprints Over the Mountains by Janet & Geoff Benge

I think, too, that it is better to remain silent until receiving some blessing or message that can help others. And I have received such a message. The message is that your life matters to God, and He promises that if you simply turn to Jesus Christ and accept his offer of life, that He will restore your life so fully and completely that you will be glorious beyond imagination. It begins first in your heart, your deepest truest self, the one you refer to when you say “I” as God miraculously transforms your evil heart into a good heart, and then takes up residency there. From that seat of power, new Life spreads like yeast into every part of you—your thoughts, your body, and even beyond to your family, friends, community, culture, property, nature, and even the whole world.

Only until recently I thought that even as a believer in Jesus Christ my heart was bad, that it was in opposition to God, and that to believe otherwise was heretical. Why, I wonder, would the ones who propagate that not at least have the courage of conviction to remain silent like this sadhu? After all, "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." The truth is that the heart is central to the restoration of any of us. The truth is that a good heart is capable of not only retaining and producing, but also offering life to others. The truth is that some people do have good hearts, and how happy I was to find out that I was one of them! It changes everything. It changes the way I live, the way I look at sin and inconsistencies within myself, the way I look at others, the way I deal with conflicts. My heart is good, and if you believe in Jesus Christ your heart is good, too.

Too simple to be true? that simply accepting Christ’s offer of life made available by his resurrection is enough to transform a heart and life from evil to good? I think the best things are simple. Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Not even Solomon in all his glory was dressed out like one of them. Problems and conflicts and messages where lies and deceptions and rationalization have crept in are complicated. Life simply wants to live and to enjoy, to grow, and to speak. Isn't that true?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

dear ol' texas aggies

I just had this email forwarded to me. It's a memo from the President of Texas A&M, Robert Gates reporting the status of the Hurricane Katrina survivors that were taken in by the Aggies.

If this isn't Good Bull I don't know what is!

--------------------------------
Dear Scott & Trayce,

I wonder if you know a Texas Aggie or two who would like to receive this. It will warm your heart.

-DF
--------------------------------

Forwarded From: "President Robert M. Gates"
To: Faculty, Students and Staff
Subject: Relief Efforts at Texas A&M

Any Aggie of any age who believes the Spirit of Texas A&M is waning should have been at Reed Arena over the past three days.

Under an agreement with local government officials, Texas A&M has made Reed Arena available as a temporary shelter for a little over two hundred or so evacuees from New Orleans through September 9th. Probably like many parents and others, I was deeply concerned about security given what we all had read about violence in New Orleans. I only agreed to the use of Reed after being assured that the evacuees would be vetted, processed and security wanded at a facility elsewhere in Brazos County, wanded again upon arrival at Reed, and that University police and other security would be present at all times at Reed. Students who park at Reed Arena (mostly freshmen) will be parking elsewhere on campus for the week. The evacuees are escorted by non-students wherever they go.

I asked the Commandant of the Corps of Cadets, Lt. General John Van Alstyne, to take charge of this endeavor, in no small part because one of his last responsibilities at the Pentagon was taking care of displaced military families after 9/11. I also wanted a no-nonsense person in charge. He has told me that he is quite comfortable with the security arrangements. Either he or his chief of staff are at Reed 24/7.

Now to the best part. With little advance notice, Aggies sprang into action last Friday. The Corps of Cadets was asked on Friday afternoon to set up several hundred beds on the floor of Reed Arena; to help establish a structure for processing the evacuees; to make arrangements for them to shower and get new clothes; to help develop a process for medical checks; and so on. (Contrary to some rumors, the Corps was never asked or expected to provide security.) Lt. General Van Alstyne asked the Corps Commander, Matt Ockwood, for 300 volunteers to do these tasks. 900 cadets volunteered, and Reed Arena was ready after the cadets worked all night.

The first evacuees began to arrive around midnight Saturday. They had boarded busses in New Orleans that morning, had been driven to Dallas and then finally to College Station - all in one day. Of the more than 200 arrivals, most were families, including some 40 children and a number of elderly. They arrived exhausted, dirty, hungry and many in despair.

They then encountered an Aggie miracle. Clean beds (not cots but surplus beds from a refurbished Corps dorm), showers, hot food, medical treatment, baby supplies for mothers, toys for children and more. But most of all, what they encountered were a couple of hundred compassionate, caring Aggie cadets and other volunteers. The cadets escorted them to their assigned beds, and not only saw to their individual needs, but sat on the side of their beds with them, talked with them - treated them like they were a member of the family. The cadets made them feel welcome and cared about.

Sunday, when I visited Reed, I learned that the women of the Aggie Dance Team had organized and were running a distribution center for pillows, towels, bedding, personal hygiene kits, baby food, diapers and much more; that sorority women were running a child care facility for dozens of children, well supplied with toys, juice, coloring books and cartoon videos; and that plans were under way for other student leaders and students to replace the cadets, some of whom had been at Reed for more than 50 hours. Plans were underway for some of our athletes (and escorts) to take some of the evacuee boys ages 10-16 to the Rec Center to shoot hoops - boys perhaps including one I met who had treaded water under a bridge for 11 hours before being rescued by a helicopter. There is a communications room where the evacuees can use both telephone and internet to try to reach relatives and friends. The Red Cross, United Way, and other community organizations are right there on the Arena floor, and the Salvation Army is serving three meals a day. Escorted trips are being organized throughout the day to laundromats and stores. Area physicians, supplemented by the Aggie Care Team and the Health Science Center are available. Being treated with dignity, respect and compassion, our guests have responded accordingly.

Many other Aggie students are involved in the relief effort on campus, in the local community, and at our Galveston campus. Sunday afternoon, students organized a massive collection effort to gather canned food and clothes as part of the MSC's Open House. Student Government, led by Student Body President Jim Carlson, is planning other relief- associated activities, including helping organize more volunteers to work at Reed Arena the rest of this week.

By agreement with Brazos county officials, Reed Arena is a temporary location for these evacuees, and during this week, we are assured that most, if not all, of the evacuees will move to longer-term housing.

Aggies need to know that the past few days have been a high point in the history of Texas A&M as we have responded to this terrible disaster named Katrina. Seeing the desire to serve, the organizational skill, the willingness to work, the caring and compassion, and more, on the part of the Corps of Cadets, the Dance Team, the sororities and so many other students who have worked incredibly long hours - has been a profoundly moving experience. I do not know a single University official who, having watched our students over the past three days, does not choke up with emotion out of pride in these amazing young people.

And it's not just the students who have been amazing. It is also our staff, including those who today began admitting and helping up to 1,000 students displaced by the Hurricane. Faculty and administrators have volunteered as well, and also put in long hours to ensure that these displaced students can be processed into Texas A&M and their classes with speed and efficiency. I visited the processing center this morning and met many of the parents and students; I know now that they will never forget our generosity and warm welcome to Aggieland.

Aggies often speak of "the other education" here. My original intent had been to keep the evacuees entirely isolated from our students. Once assured of the safety of the students, that would have been the wrong decision. I have no doubt that the Aggie students who are participating in this extraordinary humanitarian endeavor will never forget it -- or what they are learning from it about crisis management and, far more importantly, about their own humanity and character. Nor do I doubt that the evacuees, all of whom are now wearing Texas A&M t- shirts, will always remember how these young people treated them and cared for them.

The hearts of every Aggie should swell with pride in what this University is doing for fellow Americans in trouble, and especially in what our students and staff are doing, to help those devastated by Hurricane Katrina. I thanked a University policeman inside Reed yesterday for what he was doing, and he looked at me with tears in his eyes and replied, "It's an honor to be here, sir."

Robert M. Gates President,
Texas A&M University


rock stars are people, too

Went to Thunderfest 2005 over the weekend and got a chance to interview Superchic[k] and BarlowGirl. Well, let me clarify. Courtney did the interview. I was the camera guy. And that video camera felt a whole lot like a fig leaf—the only thing standing between me and 6 girls in a room that couldn’t have been more than 4x6. Yeah. Intimidating. Thanks, Scott. Anyway they weren’t too tough on me.

It really was a great interview, and they opened up some about the real side of being on the road…of life. I always love hearing the story of a song, whether it’s a hymn or a headbanger or a ballad. There’s just something stirring about the often ugly mess that produces rich music. For me that’s true of a song whether it’s any good or not, and especially true for stuff that BarlowGirl and Superchick put out!

And of course we all felt like VIP’s when we took the stars’ bus over to the show and watched them rock the house!

When Superchick started playing something happened to the electronics that caused all their mics to blow. The event technicians worked frantically to get it re-patched so they could finish their set, but they really only got a couple of songs off. In a moment they went from being very rock star to very human as not only I but everyone felt the despair and frustration. Everyone was yelling “We love you!” and even started chanting for them and then for Jesus. I felt so bad for them and cheated out of some good music and mad at whoever was supposed to have made sure everything was wired and adequately powered . The worst part was that I heard them talking earlier about how they were saving their sound check until they took the stage because they would rather have it sound good for a half hour than risk something not getting reconfigured right. Ah! But all they really needed to get off was the one song they did: Hero. Wow. A clearly disheartened Tricia set it up like this:

Well I kind of feel the night is over before it's begun. But there's a reason for everything I guess. Thank you guys so much for being patient. And everything teaches us something if we let it, huh? By the way my name's Tricia. It's great to be here with you. It's beautiful here. Thank you for having us. Before we do this song if I can I’m gonna share a verse with you. This is Romans 12:1. “So then my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us, offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service, and pleasing to Him, this is the true worship that you should offer." And I wanna say to you guys something that seems simple but it’s just really been sinking in to me the last couple of years—that every day of our lives is a gift, and that every opportunity that we have is more than just…chance. And I believe that my life and your life, every one of you, has purpose, and that we’re here tonight for a purpose. And every day I think is full of choices that we have to make. And it gets confusing. And frustrating. But the most important choice that we have is the first one that we make every day when we wake up. We ask ourselves, ‘What am I gonna live for today?’ It’s really easy to live for ourselves. It’s our choice, and it’s the most important one that we can make, to decide that every morning when we wake up, we’re gonna say that no matter what happens today, even if most of our set gets taken up with technical difficulties, even if our plane is delayed, even if whatever happens, that I’m gonna choose to let my attitude be affected not by things around me, but I’m gonna let myself be guided by God. And I’m gonna let him use me everywhere I go as much as I can, because our choices affect more than just our lives. The decisions that you make and the way that you live your life today—it affects everyone around you. And you and I can choose to see that life is more than just what’s going on with us—there’s people around us and people that we know who are hurting and alone, and they need someone to reach out and love them. And it’s our opportunity to do what we’re commanded to do and to love people, because the choices that we make and the way that we treat people, and the way that we talk to them and the things that we say can change someone’s life forever. The choices that we make can make us heroes. This song is called Hero…

Hero (Red Pill Mix)
by Superchic[k]

No one sits with him, he doesn't fit in
But we feel like we do when we make fun of him
Cause you want to belong do you go along?
Cause his pain is the price paid for you to belong

It's not like you hate him or want him to die
But maybe he goes home and thinks suicide
Or he comes back to school with a gun at his side
Any kindness from you might have saved his life

Heroes are made when you make a choice

Chorus
You could be a hero, heroes do what's right
You could be a hero, you might save a life
You could be a hero, you could join the fight
For what's right for what's right for what's right

No one talks to her, she feels so alone
She's in too much pain to survive on her own
The hurt she can't handle overflows to a knife
She writes on her arm, wants to give up her life

Each day she goes on is a day that she is brave
Fighting the lie that giving up is the way
Each moment of courage her own life she saves
When she throws the pills out a hero is made

Heroes are made when you make a choice

Chorus
You could be a hero, heroes do what's right
You could be a hero, you might save a life
You could be a hero, you could join the fight
For what's right for what's right for what's right


No one talks to him about how he lives
He thinks that the choices he makes are just his
Doesn't know he's a leader with the way he behaves
And others will follow the choices he's made

He lives on the edge, he's old enough to decide
His brother who wants to be him is just nine
He can do what he wants because it's his right
The choices he makes change a nine year old's life

Heroes are made when you make a choice

Chorus
You could be a heroHeroes do what's right
You could be a heroYou might save a life
You could be a hero, You could join the fight
For what's right for what's right for what's right

Little Mikey D. was the one in class
Who everyday got brutally harassed
This went on for years
Until he decided that never again would he shed another tear
So he walked through the door
Grabbed a .44
Out of his father's dresser drawer
And said I can't take life no more
And like that, life can be lost
But this ain't even about that
All of us just sat back
And watched it happen
Thinkin' it's not my responsibility to solve a problem that isn't about me
This is our problem
This is just one of the daily scenarios which we choose to close our eyes
Instead of doing the right thing
If we make a choice and be the voice
For those who won't speak up for themselves
How many lives would be saved, changed, rearranged
Now it's our time to pick a side
So don't keep walkin' by
Not wantin' to intervene
Cause you wanna exist and never be seen
So let's wake up and change the world
Our time is now!

Our time is now!

Our time is now!

Our time is now!

Superchick's new album is called Beauty from Pain, and from what I’ve seen I believe it. I love BarlowGirl. Always have, always will. Great music. Great family. And they were everything I hoped they would be. And even though I knew Superchick’s music before Sunday, they weren’t the favorite of mine they are now. In the whole show, they had the least music and the most heart. And heart is not for sale—not even to rock stars.

Tricia

captivating life today

Went and saw John and Stasi Eldredge on Life Today Tuesday night. They were on to talk about Captivating, their new book. Stasi was amazing. Of course I knew John would bellow (as always) but Stasi really brought the power! I don't know what I expected, but I was in tears most of the first session. James Robison started with Wild at Heart and the battle for a man's heart that John revealed to the world (that God revealed to the world through John). Then they talked about something I have been talking about since January. The assault against women is nastier and more fierce by far than the assault on men. Period. Has been from the beginning (that garden in Eden thing). John suggested two reasons why this is true. The first was because of Lucifer's envy of Eve's beauty. He had been created perfect in beauty before he fell. And that's a big part of why he attacked her instead of Adam. He hates the beauty of the daughters of Eve as well because they still remind him of all that he has lost.

And they are beautiful! I can't remember when I began to allow myself to say that, but it's pretty recent, to my shame. Women are beautiful. What a divine thought. Their beauty is primarily (but not exclusively) how they glorify God—how they bear His image. And the hits just keep on comin' because Lucifer still hates it. He will bruise, cut, mame, mar, rape, pillage, plunder, mock, pervert, steal, kill, and destroy it any way he can. And I'm not just talking about the rampant violence from men against women all over the world all throughout time, but even the subleties of how they are deceived to hurt themselves and how we as a human race misunderstand and abuse their beauty. I posted a comment online a while back about the double-hit that beauty has taken.

So...the next morning I finished reading Job to my family during breakfast, and I was stunned at the conclusion of the book. The part about God speaking to Job? No. The part about God scolding Job's friends? No. The conclusion. The part about God giving Job three beautiful daughters who are NAMED though his seven sons are NOT, and are praised for their beauty, and are given an inheritance along with his sons! Now, I've read the book of Job many times. I am frankly enamored with it. But for some reason this part about Job's daughters never captivated me. I think it was because I had been lied to and had probably even lied to myself about a feminine beauty for so long that I read quickly over it. But this is amazing because in ancient texts and lineage in the bible girls are rarely named, and I don't know when any girl in the bible ever got a direct inheritance! But here it is stright from the page:

The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years.

Job 42:12-17

God makes sure to note that these ladies were really beautiful! (or as the KJV says, fair) In fact, that's all that was noted about them. Job names his first daughter Dove, his second Cinnamon, and his third Darkeyes. I can only imagine. And smile. And get mad too, because even though they survived Job and went on to enjoy blessed lives, their beauty was surely met with the same malice women find themselves hated with today.

Unfortunately my beautiful wife couldn't make the show. Being 9 months pregnant, she opted to watch it when it airs on September 19-21 rather than sit in a meat locker for several hours (yes James keeps that studio freezing cold). But I did enjoy the company of some of my other favorite people in the world.

here we are

Get up, GOD! Are you going to sleep all day?
Wake up! Don't you care what happens to us?
Why do you bury your face in the pillow?
Why pretend things are just fine with us?
And here we are—flat on our faces in the dirt,
Held down with a boot on our necks.
Get up and come to our rescue.
If you love us so much, Help us!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

can we help?

We drove over to Dallas to Reunion Arena yesterday afternoon to see what use we could be for the Katrina survivors who were seeking refuge there. I’m still amazed by the immensity of the natural disaster. People scattered throughout our great state—I heard yesterday that every hotel between New Orleans and here is booked, and we’re some 500 miles away! So we drove over without any idea what we would or could do, but with a will to help. As soon as we turned on to Reunion Boulevard, the cars were stacked up, the barricades were set up, police were giving orders, and we could see some of the national guard in their cammies here and there. I rolled down the window when I got to the policeman and just asked, “Can we help?” He said, “Nope. They already have all the donations and volunteers they need. They’re still taking donations at Texas Stadium, though.” I said thanks and rolled the window back up. The kids asked, “So are we going to go to Texas Stadium?” It was rather inhibitive—it looked like there were a lot of people but that everything was blocked off. I felt small, late to the party, and insignificant. Why did I come down here anyway? Who do I think I am? But then I straightened myself.

“Kids, that man gave himself away. What did he say?”
“Uh, to go to Texas Stadium?”
“No.”
“That they don’t need any more volunteers?”
“Exactly. And now I know he wasn’t telling us the truth. Why?”
“Because you never have enough volunteers.”
“Exactly.”
“Well, what are we going to do?”
“We’re going to find a place to park a mile from here if we have to, and walk over here and help these people…somehow…I dunno.”

Once we got around the corner we saw it. Someone had a barbecue lit and was cooking hotdogs. People were EVERYWHERE! And then around the corner—a place to park. For free! I have never parked in downtown Dallas for free, I don’t care what I was doing. But the city had taped posterboard over the signs saying how much it was to park, and all the gates were up.

Under the parking garage at Reunion, they had a huge area set up with donations—everything from cold drinks and food to soap and perfume to shoes and clothing to books and toys. The first thing they told us was that these donations were all just from the good people of Dallas—not Red Cross or the Salvation Army or another relief organization! Actually, those organizations were all involved, but that's not what this was. They also had a big PA system set up with some Christians running it, making announcements and music, etc. (actually I wasn’t sure what kind of music I was listening to, but I finally figured out it was Christian rap). Some volunteers were braiding hair and giving foot massages and other things like that. We all found small ways to pitch in and help. I think Benjamin was most interested in what they were cooking, but I wouldn’t let him get any of the free food—we went back to the car for some chips and crackers we brought. And then I started noticing trash everywhere. Oh wow—I thought—someone is going to have to come back down here and pick up all this trash when everything is done—but then I thought—let’s do it now. So we did that. The next thing you know the guy made an announcement that they needed 10 men to go out to the dumpster and stomp down the trash. Grace later said, “I knew that you were going to do that, Daddy.” Of course she was right. One of the other guys stomping and sweating with me said “Heh, when I was a kid we did this for fun!” “Yeah,” I replied, “And now we’re doing it for…fun!” It truly was a joy. And I had a “leg of many colors” when it was all done, and I think somehow we all escaped without bee stings. (hehe)

The kids didn’t want to leave and couldn’t wait to go back, so we made another trip last night. There wasn’t nearly as much activity as in the afternoon, so we had a chance to talk to a few people. One woman was their with her toddler who was looking through the hill of toys. He was really cute. Grace had made some pillows to give away and so we made them an offer.

"Where are you from?” I asked.
“New Orleans.”
“Wow. So where are you staying now? In Reunion Arena?”
“No, we’re living at the Crown Plaza for two weeks.”
“oh really?”
“Yes, they are giving us a free room for two weeks.”
“Sweet. And after two weeks, then what?”
“I don’t know.”

I’m sure every single person who visited us has a different story, but every story in some way converges on Katrina. And of course every story converges back to THE story…the story of God.

I didn’t actually know what was going on inside the arena until last night. We went up and talked with one of the security guards at the main door. She seemed familiar, and as we talked we figured out that we had met at the Promise Keepers events—she was posted at section 115—that was it! She told us that there were about 2,000 people there sleeping on cots who had been bussed up from the Superdome. Earlier we saw some of those folks, and also some who had their own transportation and had made it out before the storm hit. They were all looking through the stuff and filling their Container Store bags with stuff for the next leg of their journey. I took some video and a few pictures. They had a bulletin board area on the front glass where a lot of people posted stuff—looking for a place to stay, offering a place to stay. It was amazing how many people were willing to take others in, and heart wrenching when people posted “missing a loved one” signs. I’m posting pictures of some of the signs, some in English, some in Spanish. I can only imagine that every bulletin board, electronic or otherwise, within 500 miles of New Orleans or Biloxi tells a similar tale.

I feel like God has given each of us an invitation in this. For some maybe it is to wake up. For others maybe to listen to what He’s been saying for some time. For some it’s to straighten up. For some it’s an offer to make a bold move. For some maybe it’s an offer to take a risk and help someone else. There are as many invitations and conversations as there are people. One interesting sign that brought tears to my eyes when I saw it said,

We are Americans first and Texans second.

Now that I think about it, we are humans first, children of God, image bearers. Of course we would take care of our brothers and sisters.



mass


helping out


no exemption for babies


cute kids


signs


signs


signs


signs


signs


my favorite sign


signs


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signs


signs


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signs


signs


signs


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signs


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signs


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signs

Monday, September 05, 2005

am i welcome?

Mostly, I like greetings and pleasantries in other languages more than Engligh. For example, in Spanish it's adios and in French adieu, both of which translate literally "to God." But in English: good-bye. Oh well. But there is one thing in English that I like. When someone says "thank you" we say "you're welcome."

You are welcome. What a big thought loaded with meaning. It implies that you are welcome to what is mine because you are welcome in my life. What I am and what I have is available to you. You are welcome. We teach our children to say it. Not "don't mention it." Not "don't worry about it." Not "it's nothing." Not "no problem." "You're welcome."

Now, we spend a lot of time thanking God. We pray it. We sing it. We say it. And I have to wonder—does God say, "You're welcome"?