Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tiger den

The Tiger (who turns 17 next month) got himself a new pad.

He traded four cords of wood (about $200) for a little camper trailer that's parked in the Sanford's backyard.

It looks like a total junker, but he loves it. After spending 16 years sleeping on the living room couch he's now got his own space. He's got a mini fridge, stereo, fan, and now a window AC. Hopefully he'll blow a circuit before he blows himself up.

Plus, there's something about The Tiger that makes him really identify with the Mexican immigrants he works with. They all live in trailers like these out in the mesquite fields they live and work in. The Tiger was born and bred in Texas, but he connects with the illegals he works with. He's even picked up some Spanish over the years.

Monday, May 29, 2006

...if I had money

I wonder what I'd actually do with money if I had money to blow on trivial things...

Oh baby, I use to have money. And did I ever blow it on trivial things. Trivial is a relevant and/or flexible term. But when you don't have money, you learn real quick what's necessary and what's trivial.

It's funny to listen to the justifications we all make for trivial spending.

On a semi-related note...

Today I brought Obi-Wan a small 30cc roto-tiller that needed to be fixed. I haven't been able to get it started in over a year. Since I use Obi-Wan's big tiller for our garden, this small one is perfect for flower beds, thus I only need it twice a year. But it would be the perfect sized tiller to weed in between the rows of Obi-Wan's garden...if it would run.

Using the K.I.S.S. method (keep it simple stupid), Obi-Wan found a small fuel line that was disconnected from the carburetor pump bubble. That was what kept it from starting for the last year. I am an idiot. I saw that fuel line and assumed it was supposed to be hanging out in the open (can you see why I'm an agent as I have no marketable skills?).

But I remember thinking a few months ago that if I had money, I'd have taken that tiller to the repair shop. And those guys would have charged me at least $30 to get it running. And they never would have told me it was an easy fix. $30...down the tubes. And that's big money in my universe these days.

I guess it's good to be in a place where I have to search for alternative means and short cuts for spending money.

I hope the lessons I learn from this period in life will stick with me forever.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

the other side of the fence

This evening we went next door to the Sanford's and Manuel's backyard for a Memorial Day BBQ.

Basically, a few pieces of rotted wood can separate vast
cultural differences. And that separation is not an isolation. The Sanford's and Manuel have their way and my family has ours. But somehow we join together for BBQ and cheap beer.

Manuel's nephew Valentine was in from Austin where he drives a cement truck for a living. Plus a few of the guys that work with Manuel were there with their women.

The men sit on one side of the food table, women on the other. All the men speak Spanish except for me. The Tiger and The Bulldog can fake Spanish pretty good. But I'm screwed.

A new observation: Tejano music has got to be the most positive music on the planet. I've studied music theory in college, so I swear: there's not a single minor chord in Tejano music. Everything's happy & peppy. Spanish people have some of the lowest paying jobs and cruddiest living arrangements, but you'd never know it in their music.

I love the other side of the fence. Thank you CEO for the celebration tonight.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

I have beer

aka: Testimony #012.5

This is a real treat. I mean, I haven't bought beer in well over a year. Probably 2 years.

Now I've drank beer during that time, usually at neighbor's backyard gatherings, etc. But their beer is always bad beer.

Not that I have any right to criticize a man's beer. But when I use to buy beer, I always bought high quality beer. You know, yuppie white-boy stuff. I figure beer is something to be consumed by a standard of quality, not quantity. If I pay more for it, I will savor it and not abuse it.

But I haven't been able to afford beer in 2 years. So, woe is me.

But after our financial gift the other day, I figure I'll bite the bullet and buy my favorite beer after 2 years of waiting. I can spend money on much better things than beer. But what the hell.

So yesterday I'm out with The Bossman discussing the ways of the CEO over Nat Shermans and cheap cigars and I tell him of my plan to buy beer.

"Well hey", he says, "I was going to buy you some at the base commissary"

So...I was given a 6 pack of my all time fave. Woo-hoo!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Testimony #012

Received a huge financial gift tonight from an unexpected source. Just in the nick of time (as always) since the mortgage is due on the 1st.

I don't know how to write these testimonies. I mean, I don't want to exaggerate anything. So I don't. And I don't want to write about them in a hyper/giddy fashion like a kid on Christmas. Because it's NOT Christmas.
This is just life. Faith. Something. I think I'm getting use to it (finally). If I act all freak-a-zoid every time a prayer gets answered that would be the same as if I wasn't expecting it to be answered at all, like I was surprised it was answered. I guess.

The CEO told me he'd provide and so far he always has. Just when I need it. Always in an unexpected way (to keep me from getting fat, lazy, and wuss-i-fied, I guess).


...and in the what the hell department...

Yesterday I get a package from an Uncle of mine I have little contact with. I mean, I've talked to him about 3 times in the last 12 years. I've always liked him. He's the most down-to-earth member of my family. He's a very generous, no nonsense kind of guy who drives a tour bus in So Cal for a living. I'm told he's dying of cancer.

Anyway, I open this totally unexpected package. It was not one, but two brand new Swiss Army wrist watches (mens & womens). I mean, the things are worth like $250 a piece.

A simple note attached: "B - Thought you guys would like these. Love you. Uncle"

I called him to thank him. He had bought these with some kind of Marlboro catalog points.

Funny thing is that I needed a watch real bad about 2 months ago. But I broke down and bought some cheap-o wal-mart watch for $6.

In some ways I can't see wearing a $250 watch. I'd never have bought that for myself in a million years. But these look great. Very simple and functional (not all gaudy and frilly, etc).

Maybe I'm supposed to wear it. Maybe I'm supposed to pass them along. Maybe I'm supposed to wear it for a while then pass them along...

Thank you CEO.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Why Abilene?

Still being in Abilene after college graduation 12 years ago, old college friends assume I'm here to be part of "the scene". I guess that means the church-of-christ (coc) scene and/or the religious culture scene. Because, why else would someone honestly remain in Abilene after college graduation. A good paying job? The church scene?

Far from it.

If anything, the fair mother city's thick religious culture forces me farther away from this city's prevailing personality more and more daily.

"Abilene's the place to be trained to become a missionary. Not BE a missionary." Or...that's the vibe I read from those who were schooled at one of the three religious universities here.

If given the green light from the CEO, I'd be outta here in no time flat. I think.

Sure, despite her pathetic wages, the fair mother city has a very respectable cost of living and above average quality of life. It also seems like a descent place to raise kids. But I don't know what would make a town a bad place to raise children. One with sharp objects laying around? I don't know.

I'm here for one thing and one thing only. The CEO told me to blend in with the scenery, be real (whatever that means) and befriend the poor.

I'm not the poor's answer to anything.

Far, far from it.

I'm not sure what the hell I am.

In fact, just when i think I've got "ministry to the poor" all figured out (like I was some kind of self-appointed expert or something), my whole paradigm gets drop-kicked and all that I've learned gets thrown out the window.

But the fair mother city has more than her share of poor people around. Every city does.

Do you live in Abilene and not notice the poor? I challenge you to exclusively hang out on the northern half of town for a week or so (that means no visiting "Little Dallas" ie: the mall, Buffalo Gap Rd, Southwest Dr. area). Use your feet or bike as transportation. Or drive on as many minor thoroughfares as possible (N. Mockingbird, Grape, Pine). Go to grocery stores like Lawrence Bros on Ambler, or United on N. 10th & Willis or HEB...especially around the first 5 days of the month (that's when the govt issues checks to people on disability and social security).

The religious culture of Abilene has produced a) many churches and variants of religious non-profs, b) many church trends, c) political struggles within the churches, d) new church terminology and big words out of the mouths of local seminary students and their respecting churches.

But none of this benefits the poor and thus, kingdom of the CEO. Or so that's my input on this subject. Take it or leave it.

The poor do not exist at the fault of Abilene's religious culture. But I suspect there's a greater chasm between the poor and the church people because of this culture.

Therefore, I know the CEO has kept me here for something along the lines of "hanging with the poor". For the most part, they are an unreached people group.

But some days I don't have a clue of what I'm supposed to do about it.

I'm still listening to the CEO. And making things up as I go along.

Garden files #007: progress

Planting day: April 12, 2006

6 weeks later: May 24, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Stone messages and answering machines

Obi-Wan wanted me to take him to a doctor appointment in the morning. Then later that evening, he realized that the appointment time was earlier than he originally told me.

So he tried to call me. I wasn't home. My answering machine recorded his call which consisted of Obi-Wan mumbling "hello, hello" over and over, then finally giving up with a "guess he don't wanna talk" or something like that.

Not giving up just yet and fearful that we'd arrive late to his appointment the following morning, Obi-Wan grabbed his walker and trucked across the street to my house.

My car was in the driveway. But we still weren't home. We were out on a walk.

But as we came back home from the walk, we were greeted with the shocking sight of Obi-Wan sitting on my front porch steps. Just getting out of his house is a big ordeal, much less walking across the street to my place all by himself. And sitting on our steps...? There's no way in the world he could have got back up by himself. Good thing we found him.

He was fumbling around with some rocks from my flower bed and had arranged them on the steps.

He said, "I was trying to leave you a message. I called but you wouldn't talk to me. Then I learned you weren't home. So I'm writing a message with these rocks"

"What were you trying to write?"

"I was making an arrow that pointed towards my house. I was hoping you'd come over so I could tell you something."


Monday, May 22, 2006

Testimony #011

Filled up the Millenium Falcon today, which was dang near $50 with the price of gas and all. She may be a gas guzzler but she still can outrun the empire.

After fillup, we no longer had the money to pay a utility bill sittng on my desk. So at the pump I ask the CEO for money to pay the bill.

30 minutes later I'm home and the mail arrived. A Priority Mail envelope with no return address and a funky PO stamp with no post mark was addressed to me containing a unique amount of cash.

We thank the CEO and go on about our day.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The System (or Jesus vs. the church)

Do we worship Jesus? or do we worship the system (ie: church) in which we worship Jesus?

Feathers always get ruffled after one's religious system is questioned. Like maybe that system is more important than Jesus himself. I don't know. I do know that exposing the ills of one's religious system will make you highly unpopular. Or like Jesus, get you killed.

There's not much else I can say about the system here without pointing towards a respectful and well written report by The Home Depot Guy. Read it if you're interested.

My favorite quote of his: "I am learning however, that the system is merely a cup. The system is not truth. The system is not life. The fiber of the system is not the logos. The system is simply a vessel, and if it leaks, it is then that we all get a good look at the truth as it spills out onto the floor."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Why did I flinch?

Last night I played a gig on the 10 caliber at the Jedi Counsel Room. As usual, I set up the gear earlier that day then returned a few minutes before I was to start.

On the way in to play the gig (around 9p) I was approached by a guy who was pan handling. If I was rating pan handler's tactics on a 1-10 scale, I'd give the guy a 6.5. He was genuinely pleasant as opposed to obnoxious or demanding. Plus, he really didn't ask for much ("a buck"...ask and you shall receive). However, his approach was very aggressive as he made a blatant B-line across an intersection and hit on me in the middle of a street crossing.

I asked for his name and he said his name was Jason. I asked how long he's been in the fair mother city and he said about 8 years. I had never seen him before, which that's possible, but not too realistic.

Ultimately, I was just ashamed of myself and I don't know why. Once upon a time I knew 80% of the street regulars in town. I've been off that beat for 3.5 years and I feel that I've lost "it"...and I don't exactly know what "it" is. My relations? My touch? My heart?

I mean, I spotted the guy across the street before he hit on me and kept a suspicious peripheral eye on him. His aggressive approach made me mad, but I think I hid it well. And why was I suspicious of his needs and/or story? As if I have the right to screen every applicant who asks for something.

This has not been my ways of the past.

But it is as if judgments in my heart against pan handlers have snuck up on me in these last 3.5 years.

I don't like this.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Testimony #010

Sending my requests for provision from the CEO has become normal. Normal, as in, non-panic-ey.

Instead of, "OMG we have $17 bucks left to our name! S-O-S. PLEASE HELP"...and all sorts of sack-cloth and ash style it's just a praise and thanks to the CEO that we've never gone broke or without and oh, by the way, we ask for XXX for groceries and upcoming bills.

Yesterday my elderly widow neighbor (affectionately known as the Dumpster Nazi) who lives across the alley in back of our house, wanted to hire me to do her yard. Just like that. Out of the blue from someone I have little contact with.

I have long ago given up the pride that makes me embarrassed to do a old lady's yard for chump change, which is how I earned money when I was 15. I'm all about chump change these days. Bills get paid and groceries are purchased with chump change.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Coat of many colors

Gramma's funeral was short and sweet. I started it off with the obit reading. Her grandson Stone-Cold started a brief moment where friends and family said some words about her. The Bossman wrapped it up with a brief message.

Somewhere at the start they played a recording of Gramma's favorite song, which was something about a coat of many colors by Dolly Parton. I never heard the song before, but it was basically a song about community. Ie: different pieces of colored cloth sewed together to make a whole. Off the cuff, The Bossman worked that song's meaning into his brief message.

Gramma: she'll be missed. I am thankful for the Sanfords and their willingness to include Agent Wife and I in their family...always having us join in on birthday, weekend BBQs, Christmas gatherings, etc.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

more Sanford related reports

1) Almost looked as though Jessie (Frieda's daughter) wouldn't make it in for the funeral since she's stuck in some small town miles away. She has no car, can't drive, has no money, and just moved out from home and in with a guy she barely knows. That's got to be scary. But for her, it's her only hope of transitioning from childhood to adulthood. We've seen this coming for years.

Tonight at the viewing I learned that Gramma had raised Jessie on and off up to age 14. Never knew that.

2) Doris the Drunk Driver was drunk last night and claims that she doesn't remember any conversation with me or The Bossman. I'm not disappointed or anything. Drunk or not, I'm convinced that her true, unashamed self spoke for a life change last night. Words are powerful and she spoke a desire to change.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I think something's happening...

As The Bossman & I were hanging out on the Sanford's front porch tonight with Frieda, her sister Susie, and a few other friends and relatives, we noticed something is happening.

The experience of death and funerals always brings all of us into the vicinity of the CEO and thus, eternity. People who are lost and never give a thought of the afterlife are sobered up to eternity for a brief period.

I am not an opportunist nor do I ever like to "make things happen". But in situations like this, lost people are searching. And lost people are asking questions. Deep questions.

Frieda's friend, Doris The Drunk Driver, was present with Natural Light and camels. After we gathered some technical data on Gramma and the funeral this Wednesday, Doris pipes up with a bold statement: "I'm tired of my life. I want a change." She avoided any kind of action being done now, but indicated that she wanted to visit us.

Later on I had a brief chance to talk to Doris. She's tired of her life. Her 2 sons are both incarcerated again after being released for a former conviction. And her daughter has a life threatening health problem connected to a pregnancy. She confessed that she can't handle the stress and the pain so she drinks.

Doris repeated to me that she didn't want to take action at this moment, but that she'll come next door to my place and we'll talk soon. "Maybe tomorrow"...

And in related news, The Bossman noticed how in the 10 years he's known Frieda, he's never seen her eyes look as hollow as they did tonight. Sure, she's dealing with a triple whammy: death of her mom, daughter moving out in an ill fashion, and stomach illness. But she's searching for something.

Last Friday the agent network and I specifically prayed for Frieda's salvation. We didn't ask for doom and gloom to fall on her, but low and behold it has. And she's now searching. Hard.

These are momentous yet fragile times for Doris, Frieda, and many others.

For all agents of faith out there, I send the "request assistance" distress call for your prayers over these two friends of mine.

Thank you.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

(loss of) Mother's Day

Frieda Sanford came over this morning to tell us that her mother, Gramma, died in her sleep early this morning around 4am at a nursing home. Of course, she's pretty tore up about it.

We've known Gramma as long as we've known the entire Sanford family, which is at least 6 or 7 years dating back to the old izzy food pantry days. We even got our dog from Gramma 3 years ago when her dog had puppies.

Gramma always had ill health. But she hadn't been feeling bad or anything. Frieda talked to her on the phone yesterday.

The difficult part is that Jessie, Frieda's 19 year old daughter, moved in with her boyfriend last week about 50 miles out of town. Frieda didn't know how to get hold of her but thankfully, Jessie had called Agent Wife yesterday, and the number was still in our caller ID. I still don't know if Jessie has learned the news as of this report posting. Jessie had lived with her Gramma several times throughout childhood and was very close to her.

It looks as though The Bossman, Agent Wife, and I will conduct the funeral later this week.

Following this post are a few photos in a small attempt to honor Gramma and the Sanford family.

Gramma (in middle) with Jessie at some big izzy ministry feed bag in October 2000.

American Gothic: The Sanfords on their porch with Gramma at Jessie's high school graduation day May 2005.

Gramma at the Sanford's christmas party December 2005.

Friday, May 12, 2006


The local agent network met in real time over lunch today.

And overall, we were discussing the direction of this supposed network.

I was fine with simply gathering with like minds for encouragement, etc. It's a lonely life being a field agent. And seeing other agents is a necessary breath of air. But my imagination is limited sometimes. Thus, a gathering for such discussions is reasonable.

Somehow the four of us decided that a good starting place was to pray for people that we knew personally who had no relations with the CEO. So we did. All four of us at the same time.

I think that's a good direction.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Body life (or community 101)

My last several years within the Sunday church club, "Body Life" was a hot topic. You know, what's your gift, how do you fit in the body of christ or the body of the church, etc. It can come across as naval gazing. It probably is.

My mower gives me trouble every year. It's old. So it goes. My middle class instincts say "get a new one". My bank account says "like hell".

Other than basic routine maintenance, I know very little about engines and their up keep. Obi-Wan, on the other hand, knows quite bit about them from years as a service station attendant.

Obi-Wan is 89 and has crippled hands. I'm 35 and my hands are fine.

Like that old story about the deaf guy and the blind guy helping each other, we somehow got my mower working fine. Which saves my butt because I know that repair shop would have charged me big bucks to do the same thing.

Somehow, the locals and I create a functional body.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hanging with the former neighbors

Last night while hoeing up Obi-Wan's garden, Terry makes a cameo appearance on Undercover Lane. He's still living at the Salvation Army while his two kids Jason and Sally live in foster care in a near by town.

He gets a 2 hour unsupervised visit with his kids each week and he came by to invite our family to join them today. So we picked them up at the CPS center (my first time to ever step foot in this legendary place) and hung out at a city park for a couple of hours. It was fun.

It was great to see a former-addict dad hang out with his kids, who he really loves. Every moment counted. It kills him that they can't live together now. I cannot imagine what life is like in those shoes...being addicted to something that drives the law between a dad and his children.

We were pretty honored to be a part of their time together. I really miss Jason. For someone who has lived through the hell he has in his 14 years of life, he is really the most well behaved, intelligent, and talented kid I've ever known. No exaggeration. And Sally, you can tell that if she lived in the right circumstances, she could be a great actress/entertainer some day.

Thank you CEO for continuing our journey with Terry and his kids. Thanks for the victories in his life and raise Jason & Sally to be what you created them for them since birth.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Coltrane flashback

I use to be a huge jazz fan. I still am. But I got rid of my hord of jazz recordings years ago.

Today at the library I ran across a Coltrane compilation. Brought it home for kicks.

Songs like Alabama and the "Acknowledgement" from A Love Supreme mean much more to me from within a secret agent context as opposed to my happy-go-lucky college days.

Monday, May 08, 2006

the rest of the (Sable) story

I saw the blue sable today (also posted here), the car we had to sell a couple of months ago.

We were at the doctor's office for Agent Wife's pregnancy check-up. We were in the waiting room over an hour with Agent Offspring (18 mo), so keeping AO occupied was priority #1. A young, possibly single-looking, pregnant mom and her 4 year old girl were waiting along with us. AO and the 4 year old girl entertained each other and played nicely, which was fun to watch.

After our appointment we walked across the parking lot to a different building to get some kind of blood sample taken. On our way back to the car my brain did a flashback as I tried to remember which car we had driven today. Which is stupid because we've only had one car (the millenium falcon) for at least 2 months or so. But the falcon was parked near a familiar blue sable.

I told AW of my brain slip. Then I saw the license plate and realized that it WAS our old car.

As we loaded in the falcon for take off we saw that pregnant mom and her 4 year old daughter walk toward the sable and hop inside.

Although I didn't know that young woman, my agent instincts told me that she didn't live the middle-class american dream. Man, I can't think of a better family that should own that sable. That car was a huge blessing for us. I hope the sable is as good to that young mom (or better) as it was for us.

Thank you CEO for comforting me with the rest of the story.

Frieda update

She was treated and released last night. Arrived home around 1am. Still, it's something about an abdominal infection. That's all I know. Very glad she's home, even though she has to be hooked up to some kind of oxygen machine.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


My next door neighbor Frieda Sanford was rushed to the hospital late this afternoon. She was having trouble breathing and I overheard a medic say something about an abdominal infection.

I didn't know this until now, but she was taken to the hospital Friday morning for basically the same thing. We plan to go see her tomorrow after Agent Wife's baby doctor appointment, conveniently located in the same area of town as Frieda' hospital.

There seems to be a frequent use of 911 in the poverty culture. I'm not making light of Frieda's serious situation. She's pretty ill. But she's only in her early 40's (about 6-7 years older than me) and I know of at least 2 other times that ambulances have hauled her off since we've lived next door to her. And seriously, I've lived mostly a middle-class lifestyle since birth and I've never known any of my friends or family to call 911 for an ambulance unless they were elderly or in a serious auto accident.

Frieda obviously has health issues, mostly related to weight and possibly former lifestyle choices (heavy smoking, drinking, etc) which she has quit long ago. I suppose all that added together could make one fairly unhealthy at a moderately young age.

I have also seen people in the poverty culture use 911 and hospital stays as attention-getting tactics. A young couple once came into the izzy ministry long ago wanting a ride across town after our meal. I said that I couldn't drive them anywhere and nobody else offered. So they faked an illness and called 911, hoping to get a ride to the side of town the hospital was on. I didn't figure out what they were doing until it was too late. They thrived on all the hoopla and attention. It was nuts.

Agent S once wrote a post loosely on this subject HERE (the July 28 entry).

Also, I've been to the emergency room on several occasions with these 911 events of friends. And while there it was 'old home week'. Several of the izzy ministry family would be the emergency room was a social place to hang out. They were there for supposed health issues.

I could conclude that the poverty culture often frequents the emergency room through 911 calls due to: a) poor health due to poverty related choices and b) the loneliness that engulfs poverty, thus, craving attention. Even if that is negative attention like emergency rooms. And this is financially feasible since the government pays for it 9 out of 10 times.

I'll report more on Frieda when more is known on her situation...

these words mean a lot to me

...anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

(John 14:12-14)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Garden files #006: first crop

The radishes have joined us. Half of them.

As mentioned in #003, they are the quickest crop. Which is funny since no one seriously eats radishes. Maybe a few pieces of one in a salad. But since I've learned to grow 'em, I've learned to love 'em.

I always liken the radish crop to the CEO bringing in something real quick, like a prayer being answered. You know, like when something arrives and you forgot that you had asked for that and you take it for granted. Or chalk it up to coincidence.

I mean, I'm excited that I can eat something I planted 23 days ago. But it's a radish...

PS - I know these garden reports are boring. I'm going somewhere with these. Eventually. I think.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Abilene's National Day of Prayer: aka - the religious press conference

I'm loving the agent network of the fair mother city more and more. Getting to know these guys live and in the flesh (outside the blogosuniverse) is fun.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the national Day of Prayer hoop-la on Jack's blog - HERE, so I'll refrain from reiterating the explanation, significance, and my view points of the event.

Then, Agent S (the librarian) contacts me wondering what should secret agents do about national Day of Prayer events. So I figure...let's celebrate at the Jedi Counsel Room. There's a bunch of cynical people who hate religion and faith (in one way or another) that hang out there. Let's blend in with the scenery and see what happens.

Then...2 days ago I learn that one of the faith exhibitionist groups, the Abilene Interfaith Counsel, were having their vigil at the water-wall park...RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from the Jedi Counsel Room. Man! We're gonna have like, window boxed seats to some of the action! And we can smoke with the bitter-faiths while it's happening. This is gonna be good.

So we get there and low and behold, Jack was already in the midst of an undercover operation within the Counsel Room. We didn't blow his cover, but it was a fun gathering of 3 local agents and a handful of Jedi regulars.

I did gather some new insights to the whole National Day of Prayer ordeal.

1) If one only pays attention to the local media, one would think this gathering was something half the city attended or cared about. At the Inter-Faith group, I counted maybe 35 including 4 media reps. Hardly a news making event in my view (I have no idea how many were at the exclusively christian group around the block)

2) With the worshipper to media ratio so even, it seemed as if the whole event was SPONSORED by the media. I mean, the local newspaper (Abilene Reporter-News) building across the freaking street. And not a lot goes on in Abilene, so SOMEONE has got to create some news. I know the jewish woman who is heading up the Inter-Faith group had something to do with the AR-N editorial board at one time. But hey...this is just a conspiracy theory of mine. No evidence at all.

The whole thing was just a religious exhibitionist press conference.

3) I have no idea what the gods of Hinduism, Buddhists, and Muslims and others require of their followers. If they are to make an exhibition of prayer, so be it (when I was in South Africa, Muslims prayed with bull horns on street corners).

But Jesus tells his followers in Matt. 6 not to be like hypocrites who stand on the street (or in front of the camera) to be seen by everyone. Go away to be unseen, and you will be rewarded.

I don't see why we Jesus followers should join the marketing-fueled exhibition game of our faith.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mission: garden weasel

Today Agent offspring and I went on an outing with Obi-Wan. We had a mission to find him one of those garden tools that's a pole with some sort of spiked wheel on the end. As best as I know, it's called a garden weasel. Or maybe there's a generic name for it. He wants to be able to sit in a chair next to his garden and hoe up weeds without using an actual hoe because hoeing take a lot of energy.

I offered to go out and find one by myself but he actually felt like getting out today. So the 3 of us went to the high class "south side" of the fair mother city. Or Little Dallas as I call that region. This was such a surealistic event...Obi-Wan, AO#1, and I on a consumeristic mission in Little Dallas. I felt like I was back home in Houston growing up, but with an old man and a toddler.

First we went to Garden World, a mom-n-pop garden shop. I love that place. If I had actual money to spend on myself I might visit there once a month. But they didn't have the tool we were looking for.

Then we hit Home Depot. Obi-Wan had never been there. He's only seen it on TV. Again, no dice.

Next, the Tractor Supply store. Again, nada.

By now I'm just running in by myself and leaving the car & AC running with Obi-Wan and AO#1. You have no idea how long it takes to get the 2 of them in and out of the car.

Last we hit Lowes. No luck. I was willing to wade through Super Wal-Mart traffic but Obi-Wan was getting tired and wanted something from the grocery store on the way back.

So basically, that's it. No moral to this report. Just looking for a garden weasel and come home an hour later with a box of corn flakes.

Garden files #005: thinning

Yellow squash before.

Yellow squash after.

The part I hate about gardening is thinning. Thinning is necessary so that your plants will have plenty of space to grow and roots won't be fighting for nutrients.

But there will be this row of completely healthy plants. And some will have to go. I hate that.

My natural desire is "the more, the better". But here, like in many areas of life, the fewer the better, which will produce quality, and possibly quantity later down the line. This is similar to pruning.

In recent comments on a previous post many mentioned how lousy things happen in life and nobody knows why it might happen to one person and not another.

I have no idea why the CEO made plants grow better after they are cut back. But they just do.

Pruning and thinning is not a heartless comparison to mass tragedy of North Korean gulag victims. But maybe it's a comparison to individual transformation. Sometimes we're forced to pull back or let go of things, even when it hurts.

But somehow in the end, those events might have created life down the road.

One can only hope.

Butternut squash before.

Butternut squash after.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Testimony #009

The CEO has been teaching me faith in various ways most of my life. But in more specific ways within the last 3 years. And more specifically the last 18 months. And even more specifically the last 3 months.

To date, I have never had a bill that I could not pay. Nor has any of these bills ever been paid late.

On more than one occasion, I have had just enough money to my name to pay a bill that is sitting on my desk. But I would be tempted to refrain from paying until the CEO brings more provision from somewhere. The CEO would send messages saying: You have the money, jackass. Pay the bill. Well, the CEO didn't actually say jackass. That's my own dramatization. I'd pay the bill. Then soon after, more provision would come.

Last week we had just enough to pay our mortgage. Afterward our bank account would be sitting on empty. I knew our tax "refund" check should be coming, but I've been waiting almost 6 weeks for it already.

I mailed the mortgage check Saturday. Broke Sunday. Tax "refund" arrives Monday.

CEO - your ways are perfect and beyond me. Thank you.