Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Heritage in Words & Pictures

Was just rootin' around in my office @ home & re-discovered some pix my cousin Wanda gave us all a few family reunions ago. It strikes me that my regular reader ; ) may not have seen these. But even if you have, much of who I am is defined by these people...

This is a not-so-great picture of one of the greatest ladies I have ever known: Martha Ferguson Madaris, better known as "Mattie"...better known to me as "Grandma." Hers was not a particularly easy life, but you'd never heard that from her. What a lady!

I have no idea who the handsome, short, blonde guy is...*smile* Let's just say you've met him...Can you tell that Dad, Jim & I used the same barber?

This is a superb pic of Charlie & Mattie, my grandparents. This was taken not long before Charlie died. Change the 'do, & this is how I remember Mattie looking for the last 20 years or so of her life. Only smiling or laughing would've been the common facial thing...

Charlie, Mattie, & their young'uns, ca. 1955. The very dashingly handsome gent 2nd from the right is who my son is named after...he's my son's grandpa, my dad, James. Gotta love the hairstyles & dresses, huh? *smile* Uncle Don, Aunt Daisy, Aunt Margaret, & Aunt Frances are the only ones still with us here. Just had lunch w/ Margaret & Frances when I was in FL before Christmas. Frances' son Gary is a year younger than I, and was one of my best friends growing up. We roomed together @ Bama, as did our Moms! (I've always thought that is pretty cool) Gary helped me come to know the Lord and helped me meet Lisa...other than that, he hasn't been all that important in my life... *smile*

Charlie--Grandpa--was a sawmill guy. He's the swarthy gent in this pic.

This is Charlie & some of his siblings. Charlie died when I was 1, but the laugh you see here (front lower left) is in line with what I've heard about him. I never met John Henry, but I do remember Jessie & Lena coming to a number of family gatherings. There was another brother named Perry (whom I met a time or two) and another couple of siblings as well. But I've always loved this picture of Grandpa. That laugh (shared w/ his wife Mattie too) was passed on down to their 8 children. And--I hope--to me and to my children too.

An earlier pic of Charlie & Mattie and their kids. The movie-star-handsome guy in the middle of the back row is my Dad. I always wished I had inherited more of his looks...oh well...

Charlie & Mattie as newly-weds just after the first World War.

The young doughboy near the end of WWI. 2 of his sons and 3 sons-in-law fought in the next world war. In this one, Charlie was a cook in France on a combat unit, and was also an expert marksman.
I love this one too even though it's rather poignant. The young teenage girl on the right is Mattie. Also in this one are her Dad, her little sister Pearl (whom I remember quite well), and her little brother Tom, whom I also remember quite well. You'll note the absence of a Mom. Remember when I said Mattie's life wasn't easy? Her mother, Frances, suffered a mental breakdown shortly before this pic was taken, and spent the rest of her days in the state mental hospital near Tuscaloosa. Thus, around age 12, Mattie went from "girl" to "grownup" in a hurry. She became the primary raise-er of Tom & Pearl. I cannot imagine being the primary caregiver of 2 little kids at age 12...And yet, nobody ever heard her complain. About anything! (Though he died before I was born, I've heard that her Dad was a great guy w/ a great faith as well. One of my aunts remembers late in his life hearing him sing the great hymns of the faith loudly just as he was relaxing by himself.) She was a remarkable lady whom I still miss hard, especially around Christmas. Hers was a life--and faith--that mattered greatly to many. I hope I grow into displaying more of her traits...

It goes on back farther, though I don't have pix. About 70-80 years before this last pic was taken, an ancestor named Abner McGehee was led to Christ by a circuit-riding Methodist preacher named Hope Hull. Mr. Hull discipled Abner in the faith, and it mattered greatly. Abner taught his kids the glory & grandeur of the Gospel. When the Civil War cost Abner his house & his farm & his fortune? Willingly ascribed to God's providence, and accepted in the uncomplaining manner that I knew in his descendant Mattie and in her children.

If you ever find yourself driving north on the interstate through central Alabama just south of Montgomery, you'll be reminded of Mike Madaris' family Christianity. You'll notice an exit or two for a rural area called "Hope Hull." (Last time I was there, they were about to build a large car manufacturing there, though it's still fairly rural.) That community used to be known in the 1830s as "McGehee's Switch." After the huge impact the preacher had on Abner, the patriarch of McGehee's Switch, he renamed the community after the one who had proclaimed the Gospel to him. Personally, every time I see the "Hope Hull" exit off the interstate, it chokes me up. It reminds me of my oh-so-deep spiritual roots and godly heritage. And it challenges me to continue trying to pass the legacy on.
And now you've seen some Madaris family pix & heard just a smidge of our shared story. Been thinking much lately about the legacy I inherited as I think through my goals for the new year.
Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah. For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Psalm 61:4-5
(p.s. - I have a very rich heritage on the other side of the family too...Stay tuned...)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Some left over whittling...

There's a great scene in The Music Man that captures a day like today for me. The older gent is sitting around, & his wife begins fussing at him for not doing anything (note: that getting fussed at part does not apply to me...*smile*). He looks up & says something like "You're wrong, woman...I'm a busy man! I've got some whittlin' left over from this morning..."

So, here's some left over whittling...in no particular order. Enjoy! (or something...)

1. Among the many utterly cool things about teaching as a career, days off @ Christmas is right up toward the top. That plus the huge paycheck...

2. James & I are heading out to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl next week! He was offered some tix by a buddy, only to discover that the "offer" meant "I'll sell you some tix"...oh well...We're going to enjoy this immensely!

3. Regrettably, #2 means that we won't be able to watch the Sugar Bowl. Let there be no doubt that I hope my Tide delivers a beatdown on the Utes. And that I expect that this will be a pretty tough game.

4. I am very excited about the Christmas Eve service @ church tonight, although I'm not thrilled to not be with my family during it. (I'll be doing my tech duties). Y'all should come, if you're in the H'burg area: 6:00 p.m., & it won't last very long.

5. Last night's bowl game was--as expected--a great game between two very good teams (TCU v. Boise St.). I enjoyed it immensely, although James' dog Beau cuddled up on me & made me go to sleep for a good part of the 3rd qtr & the early part of the 4th. (enjoyed that immensely too!)

6. Just a small amount of Christmas shopping left today--stocking stuffers, & not many of them. I'm rather impressed with myself, though I did most of my shopping by proxy. Note carefully: I did decide on the gifts to be purchased!

7. There's not a good football game on today/tonight. Notre Dame v. Hawaii = 2 mules fighting over a turnip, to quote the late great Lewis Grizzard. My only connection to this game is the hope that Notre Dame keeps their bowl streak alive. That's a losing streak, dating back years & years. Favorite stat: 85 teams have won a bowl game since Notre Dame has! Is this a great country, or what? ; )

8. I'm going to spend considerable time staring at my Christmas tree today. And remembering. I won't reach for a forced, strained religious imagery here; to me the decorated Christmas tree emphasizes the family part of the holiday.

9. I'm not offended when someone wishes me "Happy Holidays." I trust they're not offended when I wish them "Merry Christmas."

10. I thinking of continuing my home-office throwaway-fest. Badly needed. Of course, staring at the Christmas tree & napping with the dogs is pretty badly needed as well...

11. Yikes! Just noticed a couple of Christmas decs that are not yet put up! I'll fix that after another cup of coffee.

12. I'm not very happy with Lisa's presents. (to be precise: with the presents we have for her) She never wants much at all, which, ironically, makes it more difficult to buy for her.

13. Was just pondering the long, long journey we've been on since this time last year. Jerry Garcia said it best: "what a long, strange trip it's been..." Here's hoping for a boring year next year!

I have a full-on Christmas entry percolating, but just in case I don't get to that in time, MERRY CHRISTMAS! He was, He came, He lived, He taught, He died, He was raised, He left, and He's coming back! Maranatha!

Because of Christmas...and Easter,

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Horror of Christmas...

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Philippians 2:3-17

(back to bb)
An amazing passage. Note the clear connection between Christ's emptying of Himself and the application to us. I find this passage incredibly challenging and humbling. The "Therefore" connects His "making Himself nothing" ("emptying Himself" in another translation) with how we should be because of his emptying & God's exaltation of Him.

Ponder that phrase: made Himself nothing.

Imagine the throneroom of heaven, with Jesus Christ in all of His glory seated at the right hand of His Father, being celebrated by the angels and the patriarchs from Old Testament days. And then, it happens...He stands up, removes His crown, takes off His robe, looks around one more time, looks His Father in the eye, and begins descending...all the way to a woman's womb.

For 33 or so years of earth time, the throne at the right hand of the Father is empty.

It gets worse.

At the end of those 33 years, He is separated from His Father by a greater distance than that from heaven's throneroom to the middle east. There, on a cross in a hill, God the Son is tortured to death by some of those whose hopeless estate prompted His leaving the throneroom in the first place. "My God, My God,...why have You forgotten me?!" The very essence of "made Himself nothing." Separation beyond any we can imagine. My sins...your sins...the sins of all humanity...our own hopeless estate....That is what caused the godhead to be separated first by the amazine distance between heaven's throneroom and earth, and then by the far, far greater distance between total holiness & perfection and complete sinfulness & depravity.

"For our sake He made Him to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."
2 Cor 5:21

And there, ladies & gents, is the horror of the Christmas story. And its great glory. The angels sang...the shepherds marveled...Mary pondered & treasured...and Jesus was born. Under a shadow. Not just of candlelight flickering on a cave wall, but the shadow of a cross. And a grave. Born to die.

But now...His tomb is empty. His seat there in the celestial throneroom is occupied once again. The next time He leaves, He will come in triumphant, eternal victory.

The question of the season seems to be so what? Why should we, or anyone, care about all of this?

Paul gives an answer in the latter part of the passage from Philippians 2. Therefore... To conclude, how's your "therefore" doing? Need to tune up your "do nothing from rivalry or conceit"? How about your "looking to the interest of others"? What about your worship? (not just at a church Christmas musical...but your worship!) And that "grumbling & complaining"?

Some great news: it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. You & I don't have to grit our teeth, & bow up to get this done. Which is good news, as it turns out...because we can't bow up, grit our teeth, & get it done. Again, it is God who works in you...

As I say, it is a terribly convicting & challenging passage. And it absolutely is what the horror and the glory of Christmas is all about. As Christmas approaches, let the awesome wonder--and horror--of Philippians 2 soak into your soul. And let God work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure...


Sunday, December 14, 2008

After 34 years...(long, heartfelt post alert!)

After 34 years...

I miss his laugh. He had a great sense of humor.

I miss talking Bama football with him. He never went to college, but was all Crimson & White in his loyalties. He took me to my first-ever bowl game in the rain in New Orleans. Alabama (naturally!) v. Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. Bear Bryant called it the best game he ever saw. It's certainly one of my faves too, but for different reasons...

I miss traveling with him. All 50 states...Canado...Mexico...Bahamas...England...France…Holland...Belgium...Germany...Italy...Switzerland.

I miss camping with him. On the long trips to AK & CA, but also the mini-trips over the weekend or during the week in the summer to Rocky Bayou & Ft. Pickens & Grayton Beach.

I miss hunting & fishing with him. We were never very good, but we caught & killed a few.

I miss throwing a football & a baseball & hitting a tennis ball & playing ping pong with him. I don't recall ever beating him in pong, now that I think of it...Also, I recall that he never hit a backhand in tennis; he’d switch the racket to his left hand & always hit a forehand.

I miss breakfast & supper with him. Because his wife & kids were so important to him, we ate as many meals together as possible. I also miss the pre-fishing breakfasts at Joe & Eddie's, & the Saturday morning Krispy Kreme runs, & the occasional summer-day lunch at McDonald's or Burger King.

I miss watching the nightly news with him & listening to his wise commentary. There are those in our culture who arrogantly say that only the well-educated are wise. They are wrong about other things too.

I miss hanging out after school at Madaris Printing & Office Supplies & asking a million questions. He always answered them. I have been a business school professor off & on for over 20 years now, perhaps because of becoming fascinated with business things years ago as a kid in the business he founded & ran so very well.

I miss going to church with him. We went often, and it very clearly (to all who knew him) meant something to him. I also miss him serving me the Lord's supper and keeping the 3-year-old nursery. Because I’m his son, I started going to church 9 months before I was born, for which I am so very grateful.

I miss his singing. Mostly Hank Williams (Senior, of course), with some Roy Acuff & some gospel thrown in, along with some hymns. (“In the Garden” was a favorite of his, as I recall) I still love Hank, and not just because he was great. I'll never hear Hank (or anyone else, for that matter) sing "Heeeeeey, Good Lookin'...Whaaaaaat You Got Cookin?" without seeing him sing it to my Mom in the kitchen in the morning with that great smile on his face & twinkle in his eye. Steel guitars? Love ‘em; especially the ones backing up Hank on “Your Cheatin’ Heart.”

I miss him holding hands with my Mom. Which he did frequently. (She misses it too! I so thankful that Leo also holds hands with her in public.)

I miss the feel of his 5:00 shadow when he would hug me. Which he also did frequently. Because of his physical affection, I totally & completely reject the bogus lie from hell that “real men don’t show affection.” Dad was a country boy who enjoyed hunting & fishing & who was a veteran of the tail end of WW2. And he hugged all the time. I do too, with apologies to nobody. If me hugging my son or a friend offends your masculinity, then yours is a false, bogus, immature, incomplete masculinity.

I miss him making fun of how we danced at school dances. “Y’all call that dancing? Y’all don’t know how to dance…”

I miss going to the beach with him. He loved the white sandy beaches of NW FL as I do.

I miss him cooking burgers & manning the concession stand for our high-school football games.

I miss the bright green jacket he always wore to do the above (our school colors were green & white). He was buried in that jacket.

I miss him picking out songs--correctly--on the piano, despite having no musical training & not being able to read music. What a great ear for music he had!

I miss how he loved & helped his widowed mother & his widowed sisters.

Oddly enough, as painfully as I miss all of these things, it is perhaps things undone that I miss the most. Things that will never be done this side of glory. Some of which--praise God--won't have to be done there in the land of the eternal dawn...
--him taking pictures of my prom date & me--receiving his congratulations on graduating from HS/college/grad school
--rejoicing with him over being admitted to college/grad school
--hearing him say "you played well" after a HS jazz band concert
--sharing the steps of my call to ministry & to part-time missions with him
--introducing Lisa Mixon to him...and later telling him that she's the one for me.
--helping each other with our tuxes at my wedding
--calling him & saying, "Dad, you have a grandson named James after you...Lisa's doing great!" (He really would’ve cried at that one)
--him helping me move & buy a house, & then visiting us there often
--calling him & saying "Dad, you have a granddaughter named Rebecca Anne...Lisa's doing great!"
--being greeted by him with a hug when I come home to visit
--going to Alabama games with him
--going to Ole Miss games with him proudly wearing his "Ole Miss Granddad" or his “Ole Miss Pharmacy” shirt next to me wearing my “Ole Miss Dad” shirt.
--sitting on his back porch--or mine--together and wordlessly watching the dawn & the sunset

Basically, I miss his affirming me and his welcoming me as a man. I miss those terribly, and need them greatly. All of us little boys need that affirmation & welcoming.

And I deeply miss getting the chance to tell him "Goodbye..."

If you’re wondering, after 34 years I still don’t have a very good answer to the big “why?” question. I’m pretty sure I won’t get that answer this side of glory. I’m OK with that, but I still wonder. Especially on this day.

After 34 years, the wound is still just barely...barely...short of being too great to bear. But the Bible says "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones." C. S. Lewis said that if we knew what God knows about death, we would clap our hands with joy at the passing of a believer. And I do...most of the time.

But today, on the 34th anniversary of his death, I am very nearly overcome with the synergistic pains of loss, memory, and longing. Also with the awareness of how very far I am from living up to the very high example he lived before me for 15 1/2 years.

I'll be OK. Truly, I will. But not just now. Just now, I remember. And long for that which cannot ever be. The affirmation and affection of a father. I'm pretty sure he would affirm, for he always did. But I'd still give up much that I have ever had to actually hear him do so. And for another hug & smile & "I'm proud of you, son."

One day, he'll again smile that smile that made the ladies of Lowndes County, AL (& one in particular from Coffee County, AL) go weak at the knees. He'll hug me and say, "Welcome home, son...It's great to see you." And together, we'll celebrate at the party to end all parties (literally!). And...thank God!...I will never have to say “goodbye” or “I miss you” again.

For now, though, Bye Dad. I still remember. Always will. Thanks! Merry Christmas!

With more love than I can fully capture,

Friday, December 12, 2008


There are echoes. Do you hear them?

They are always faint...but sometimes they are less so.

Christmas is such a time. The echoes seem to break through quite often this season. They are heard in the music. They are seen in the lights. They are heard in laughter of family around tables piled with mounds of food. They are heard in the stillness of the night and in the silence of the early morning. They can be heard in worship services. And in the quiet desolation of the cemetery. They are heard in the joy of young children. And in the loneliness of old children.

I hear them in all of these settings. Especially this time of year.

What are these echoes? They are several things. But they point ultimately to one thing...

They are the sounds of days gone by. Cherished days, fondly remembered. They are the sounds of tears shed at partings, some temporary, some permanent (at least in this life). They are the memories of love discovered. Of Family. Parents. Grandparents. Children. Friends. Holidays. Camping trips. Vacations. Songs sung. Jokes told. Words spoken. And those wistful "things I wish I'd said," as Rodney Crowell sang a few years back.

There are other echoes too. Echoes of longing. And of longings realized. And satisfied. Of redemption when it was new and fresh. Of forgiveness. Of the amazing grace we sing about so often.

In all of these, though, there are still other echoes. Of darkness. Shortcomings. Failures. Sins. Desperation. Hopelessness, or so it seemed. These are terribly painful to recall. So painful that one of the most treasured things is that promise so long ago that "their sins I will remember no more." What a promise!

It is there, that we hear the faintest and most foundational echo. So faint that it is rarely heard, and even more rarely comprehended. This faintest of echoes goes beyond our times...beyond our shortcomings & sins...beyond even that first Christmas. It goes farther back than the patriarchs and prophets, even.

It is the oh-so-faint echo of a garden long ago. A world unstained by pain...sin...loss...death. A garden in which man spoke with God face to face without fear, unmarred by sins (his own or those of mankind at large). This echo is so faint that we almost doubt that it exists. And yet, there it is, inescapable. Especially this time of year.

This echo rings in cries for justice in the face of injustice. It rings in cries for mercy. Those garden echoes and how we respond to them are foundational to our worldview.

Without that garden, we'd have no longing for its restoration. Without the sin we inherited from there--and then lived up to...or rather, down to...in our own right--we'd have no need of redemption. Without this faintest of echoes, there would be no Christmas, for there would've been no need for it.

There are echoes. Do you hear them?


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas Songs Everyone Needs to Hear...

Ok, I admit it. I'm a Christmas goober. I love this season! Pretty much everything about it. (well, not so much the materialistic arms-race approach to buying & gatherings that so seem to have...but that's not what this post is about) I love the decorations: wreaths, lights, stockings, mistletoe, candles, Christmas trees...all of it. I love the family aspects in particular; as I write, James is about to head home from Oxford for a long (& well-deserved!) Christmas break. I can't wait! Anne & I will soon have a lunch @ either Red Lobster, Suwanna's, Rio Grande, or Crescent City Grill. Can't wait for that either! I love the friend aspects; catching up w/ former students over coffee, lunch w/ buddies,...And I hope it's obvious to my regular reader (smile) that I love the faith aspects. Watch this space for more on that.

But as I was just doing a bit of cleaning, I was listening to a very nice jazz guitar Christmas CD (Larry Carlton - Christmas at My House...highly recommended for chilled out Christmas music lovers...). In fact, I've been keeping the ipod hopping w/ Christmas music this week. This got me pondering my favorite Christmas music. Here goes...


Bethlehem Morning - The version I have is by Sandi Patti. This one makes, um, my allergies act up *sheepish grin* 100% of the time. This one makes me wish I had been sitting next to the author when he woke up that one morning in Israel & looked @ the sunrise over Bethlehem...

The Way He Came (Truth) - My allergies seem to act up frequently in this one too..."Just to think such royalty would come the way He came...no crowds, no throngs, no big parades..."

Christmas is All in the Heart (Steven Curtis Chapman) - ditto the allergies thing. Remembers Christmases past when he was a "little blond-headed dreamer", and carries that on to "Now I've my own little blond-headed dreamers..." Throat-filling material for me

Merry Christmas With Love (Sandi Patti) - Now this one is guaranteed to cause severe hay fever attacks...Christmas through the eyes of a senior adult lady who is alone at Christmas until her friends come caroling at her door. (dang...just writing that brought on an allergic reaction...)

I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm & Baby, It's Cold Outside - The one I have is Dean Martin singing; the CD is "Christmas w/ the Rat Pack;" the whole CD is great!

White Christmas (Bing Crosby, of course) - The biggest selling song (not just Christmas song btw) of all time, with good reason. Although, I've always said that it was written by someone who had never lived in snow...*smile* Snow's pretty & a lot of fun for about a half-hour; the rest of the time, it's a hassle. Still though, I do love this song.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Chick Corea's Elektric Band) - A smokin'-hot fusion jazz version that is awesome.

Little Drummer Boy (Whiteheart) - A very nice hard rock-ish take on this song.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel - by anybody; the versions I listen to the most are those by Margaret Becker or by Selah. Slow & soulful, as this song was meant to be sung.

Carol of the Bells (David Benoit) - a very nice jazz piano rendition of this one. Aside: I also like Steven Curtis Chapman's fast acoustic guitar rendition.

Joseph's Lullaby (Mercy Me) - interesting idea to examine the most unexamined character in the Christmas story.

The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole) - great performance by one of the great singers

Silver Bells (Dean Martin)

I'll Be Home for Christmas (Frank Sinatra) - possibly the saddest Christmas song; I remember that 1st Christmas when a job kept me in Tuscaloosa all by my lonesome. This song clicked pretty good w/ me that time...

O Come, All Ye Faithful - the version I love is done by 3 ladies on a hammered dulcimer, a harp, and a flute. The result is great!

Once Upon a Christmas (Selah, with Dolly Parton) - this is a song Dolly wrote, and she sits in w/ Selah. Love it!

Every Valley Shall Be Exalted - The version I love is the jumpin' funk version by Larnelle Harris, one of the great singers around. It's on "Handel's New Young Messiah" and gets heavy airplay @ casa beach bum.

Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs - again, Handel's New Young Messiah. This one is sung by Steve Green, Larnelle Harris, and Michael English. With those three teaming up, it is incredible.

(Note: the previous two Handel songs are not necessarily Christmas songs, but that's when they get played the most.)

Diana Krall's Christmas CD
Christmas w/ the Rat Pack
Nat King Cole's Christmas CD
Steven Curtis Chapman's Christmas CD
Young Messiah
Soulful Messiah
Sandi Patti's Christmas CD
Larry Carlton - Christmas at My House (aforementioned jazz guitar...very pleasant!)

There are others, but that's a good start at pondering some Christmas songs & albums everyone needs to hear. (My ipod has something like 350 Christmas songs on it...a sure signal of Christmas goober-hood!)

What are you listening to this season?

Sunday, December 07, 2008


I utterly forgot to update this blog about my trip to Houston! A thousand pardons!

Test results were good. I had a P.E.T. scan, 3 different CT scans, a chest xray, and bloodwork. Good results, as I say.

In addition, we hit all of the good eateries, which is an all-too-important part of the trip.... (a) Gringo's Tex-Mex...(b) Dimassi's Mediterranean Buffett...(c) our new find, the donut shop near Friendswood run by a Vietnamese family. (Is it bad that our trips are judged by the eateries visited? Oh well...)

My Monday out there was zero fun sir! No breakfast...no coffee...no lunch...all of those tests/scans...But oh man, was Gringo's good that night! *smile*

A rather nice visit w/ Dr. Homsi.... I realized that this was my first visit there with me as a pretty healthy guy. On all of the previous (many) visits, I've had cancer, or (early) we didn't know what it was. This one, well, it approached routine in terms of my health...

Anyway, so very sorry to leave my regular reader hanging...*grin*

Thanks for your prayers!!

p.s. - Roll Tide anyway! My love of my Crimson Tide football team is not dependent on a particular game's (or season's) outcome. The better team won yesterday, although it was certainly not the cakewalk almost everyone predicted. At any rate, I am proud of my team. 12-1 & Sugar Bowl bound is not too shabby...Bama graduates a grand total of 9 seniors off of this team. Recruiting is going well. The future is bright for us Crimson Tide types! (with all of that said, I wore Crimson when we lost 6 Iron Bowls in a row...and 5 in a row to LSU...and several in a row to Tennessee...and when we had losing records for the season. I did not switch allegiance to some other team who was winning more; fans don't do that. Congrats to the Gators, and Roll Tide!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Some wants I've been pondering...

...these are in no particular order of significance. They are in the order of "Mike's random mind processes came up w/ them this way"...)

I want to go to seminary.
I want to go to Vietnam & India & China.
I want to write a book.
I want to surprise my wife with a car one Christmas morning.
I want to replace the windows in my house.
I want to tear down & rebuild the deck at my house.
I want to complete the Chartered Financial Analyst certification.
I want to publish more academic articles.
I want to learn Polish. Or perhaps Russian.
I want to spend a month on an island in the Carribean with my family.
I want to take my family to Alaska.
I want to take my family to New York City and more broadly to New England.
I want to achieve tenure at a university. And be promoted to associate professor.
I want to take some WCU students overseas on study trips.
I want to see my children and my nieces & nephews succeed and become contributing members of society.
I want to impact the world...my world...for Christ.
I want to finish well.


Monday, December 01, 2008

If all the universe and everything in it exists by the design of an infinite, personal God,
to make his manifold glory known
and loved,then to treat any subject
without reference to God's glory
is not scholarship but insurrection.
—John Piper, God's Passion for His Glory, p. 43.

(back to Mike)
And there, ladies & gents, is why we who claim to be followers of Christ must give some serious thought & prayer to the totality of our lives.

Our jobs...our family life...our hobbies...our travels...our finances...to do otherwise is, well, insurrection, to use Piper's well-placed word.

Let us not be guilty of insurrection this week!