Friday, November 27, 2009

What Are Little Girls Made of--Sugar and Spice and... Elephant Ears?

My daughter, Haleigh, receives the award for most Facebook hits in our family this week for this post, “So I just figured out a new way to plump up my lips.... just try my sister's method and eat a random plant.”

She was referring to Annie. Tuesday of this week, Annie was raking leaves in our yard when she saw a leaf of an Elephant Ear plant. In a tweak of Eve’s method in the garden, Annie, age seven, touched the leaf, smelled it, and then she ate. That’s when the swelling began. I was at the office, but according to family members, her lips and face got pretty big.

Judy called Poison Control, which with our children she’s probably always had on speed dial, and they said keep an eye on her, but she should be fine. She was, and she recovered. As a matter of fact, by the time I arrived home for lunch all swelling had gone down except for her lips. Frankly, they looked liked the lips of a movie star—like she had injected them with Botox. Abby had the line of the day, “I feel like I am eating lunch with one of Angelina Jolie’s children.”

What is most sad about all of this is, they should have learned from my mistakes. When I was five, Nick Pollard and I were messing around old Doctor Wheeler’s place a few miles outside of Winnsboro. Our mom’s were visiting Mrs. Wheeler for some reason, so we went exploring.

We saw a bunch of Elephant Ears plants, and thought they were wild spinach. Now, keep in mind, Popeye was THE cartoon during this era. Consequently, Nick and I began chowing down hoping to become stronger. It did not work. Instead of muscles growing, our faces ballooned. Actually, it was traumatic enough I still remember it. I don’t think we could even speak. We just kind of spit out words, slurring them like THE ELEPHANT MAN, no pun intended.

Someone, probably, Mrs. Wheeler, had the presence of mind to call Dr. Wheeler. He said, “Those boys are going to be alright. In a little while the swelling will go down.” And it did.

I have told my kids this story as a cautionary tale. Of course, one, I guess, had to discover for herself. I think I will make up a cautionary tale. “Don’t ever go out and make a million dollars and give it to your parents. It will ruin them...”

Preachers, Would You Rather Be Broadway or Hollywood?

Name a Broadway actor?

I can't either.

Movie actors are more famous.

Here's what’s interesting to me. Movie stars sacrifice their audience. They act for a camera. Yet, their work reaches more people—by the millions.

Broadway actors receive immediate feedback from their audience, yet their audience is severely limited. They impact those in the theater, who see their live performance, and that is it.

In preaching, the size of audience is typically valued highly. The larger the audience a preacher has, the more he is thought to have something to say. Like Broadway, there is something to be said for the immediate feedback a preacher receives from his audience, particularly a large one. Still, the majority of preachers will preach to smaller audiences. A few years ago, the size of the average church was 85.

Here is my word of encouragement to the vast numbers of preachers who preach to the smaller audiences. Never in human history have preachers had an opportunity to impact the masses as today. With the internet, you can impact people all over the world. Your church can post your sermon to where it can be seen and heard, or simply post an audio version. Either way, your potential audience is enormous.

Think of the movie actor who will never hear the applause in the movie theater, yet have his work impact millions. You and he have something in common. And your message can change a whole lot more lives.

25 Reasons Why This Is Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I owe some people at church an apology. Actually, my son does. I found out from his sister he was overheard the other night saying, “Yeah, Christmas! Boo Thanksgiving!” His logic was Christmas had all of the presents.

Monday of Thanksgiving week starts my favorite time of the year. For the next five or six weeks, things will be different. Here are 25 reasons why:

1. There will a different spirit in the air.
2. Enjoying more time with family.
3. Thanksgiving week promises a school break for Judy and the kids as well as two or three days off for me.
4. Thanksgiving day promises great food.
5. The Cowboys play on Thanksgiving.
6. Texas and Texas A & M always play during the Thanksgiving holidays.
7. The Fall leaves are beautiful.
8. Friends will be hosting festive parties.
9. We will experience some cold weather.
10. Our church will spend time singing and talking about how thankful we are for God.
11. Our church will spend time singing and talking about how grateful we are that Jesus came into the world as a baby.
12. Our church will have a Christmas party.
13. We enjoy days off for Christmas.
14. Christmas offers an even longer school break for Judy and the kids as well as more days off for me.
15. Yes, there are Christmas presents.
16. The pace is friendlier and slower.
17. Great movies on TV and in theaters.
18. Traditional holiday specials are on TV.
19. Bowl Games!
20. We get to enjoy New Years’ Eve celebrations.
21. We celebrate New Year’s Day.
22. More Christmas presents!
23. Our church commemorates where we have come the previous year with God’s help. ("Here we raise our Ebenezer"—see I Samuel 7:2-13a.)
24. The BCS sponsors their National Championship Game.
25. After all is said and done, we have enjoyed more family time together.

Those are a few of my favorite things. What about you?

Five things I think I think (a tip of the hat to Peter King for this idea)

1. Seth Godin had a thought provoking blog last week, which I referenced in my Sunday AM sermon. He talked about the way society typically makes decisions from the gut on major issues. Here is a link:

2. Saw the movie, THE BLIND SIDE. Good Movie.

3. Here is what I wrote last Wednesday, November 25, "Texas or A & M? With the exception of last year, A & M has been playing Texas so tough the past few years. I’m picking Texas, in a surprisingly close game that will probably cost Colt McCoy any remaining hope of winning the Heisman. That’s okay, though. He’ll gladly take the National Championship." Okay, so I was wrong about Colt McCoy.

4. The Dallas Cowboys may win the NFC East by default. I can't believe the Giants lost to Denver.

5. I don’t think TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) is going to put this in the Tyler paper, but I received word last week that Haleigh made 2nd Team All State in volleyball as a Middle Blocker. Come on, TAPPS! Am I going to have to be your PR Director? Moreover, they listed her as a senior instead of a junior. Incidentally, I write this simply as a concerned citizen without any prejudice whatsoever.

Have a Great Weekend!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Will I Teach Annie?

Will I Teach Annie?

Last week, my youngest daughter, Annie, who is aged 7, crawled up into my lap. She asked me, "Daddy can you teach me Bible at school like you do the other students?" She was referring to the fact that I teach a Bible class for high school seniors at the Christian academy where she attends.

I responded, "Sweetie, I won't even have your sister, Haleigh, until next year, so it will not be until you are a senior in high school.”

Annie’s humbling response? “Daddy, will you still be alive then?”

While biblically she had a point -- none of us know when we are living our last day -- I knew that was not where she was coming from. I knew she thought I was so old, she was not placing any bets that I'll be around here 10 years from now.

Haleigh is teaching Annie how to play the piano. Think I will be listening to see if she begins to learn how to play TAPS.

Darkest Before The Dawn

I was inspired this week reading about a coach who was pushing 50 when he finally got a head coaching job. The first two years were moderately successful, but the next two were disasters. Near the end of that fourth season, his team was playing a game with a huge amount at stake. The team had experienced a seven-game losing streak, and desperately needed a win. With less than two minutes remaining in the ballgame, his field goal kicker kicked what appeared to be the game-winning field goal and put his team ahead 17 -- 16.

There was celebration but it was short-lived. A holding penalty was called on the coach's team. The ball was moved back and the field goal kicker nailed it again. Again there was celebration, and again that celebration was followed by another penalty flag. That penalty moved his team out of field-goal range. So they went for it on fourth down and appeared to make the first down. Unfortunately, the coach watched in disbelief as the linesman gave the opponent a favorable spot. The other team received the ball, and shortly thereafter the game was over.

The coach was in utter despair. The job that he sought for his entire adult life was now in jeopardy. Moreover, his team’s dumb mistakes cost them the game. There was a long plane flight home across the country. Sitting in his seat, the coach began crying. Then he began to almost sob in the darkness. The sounds grew so loud, his assistants began shielding him from the rest of the plane, talking loudly so no one would hear him.

About 3:15 in the morning, as the plane was preparing to land, the coach began coming out of his depression. He thought back to when he had been an amateur boxer in college. Once, he had been knocked flat on his back and had to struggle to get up on his knees. Bleeding and bruised, he continued the fight. This moment felt a kinship with that moment. He knew he had to regain his composure, confidence, and direction and press on. And so he did.

Sixteen months later, Bill Walsh coached his San Francisco 49ers to their first Super Bowl win. Four more followed under his leadership, two of those as head coach. Sixteen months. That was all that separated his moment of greatest despair from his moment of greatest triumph.

I read this story in Walsh's final book called THE SCORE TAKES CARE OF ITSELF, which I downloaded on my Kindle reader on my iPhone by the way. Co- written with Steve Jamison and Craig Walsh, I have found it to be substantive and inspiring thus far. Walsh was a Hall of Fame coach, who changed the concept of offensive football and his coaching tree extends further than anyone else's. But his impact transcends the game of football. Probably no one has led the way for the hiring of minorities in the NFL more than Bill Walsh.

This week, though, I was encouraged as I thought about how many times influential and successful people found triumph shortly after their greatest moments of despair. Truly, in the triumphal life, it is often darkest before the dawn.

Math Sense

Now that I have mastered quantum mechanics (ha ha), I am turning my attention to my enormous ignorance of mathematics. I use the word “ignorance” with intention. I have spent the bulk of my life ignoring mathematics, much to my chagrin.

When I was in high school, I think I took every math course offered. At the time, I was preparing for dental school—as if—and taking math was what you did. I took two years of algebra, a year of geometry, and a year of trigonometry, calculus, and elementary analysis. I can honestly tell you that I remember—drum roll please—absolutely nothing from the courses. Four years, and I remember absolutely nothing.

I take that back. I do remember one thing. I remember, deciding in those classes, if I ever taught one day, and a student asked a question, I would never answer by simply repeating what I said the first time and then move on without making sure the student had any semblance of understanding.

I found a book the other day at a book sale—a hardback book— for a quarter. It’s called BRIDGES TO INFINITY THE HUMAN SIDE OF MATHEMATICS. It was written in 1983. What caught my attention was it was written by Michael Guillen. I first got to know him on Good Morning America, as their consultant on science and technology. He communicated so well, I was shocked to discover he was also a very good scientist and mathematician, having taught as a mathematical physicist at Cornell University.

I am hoping he, at last, can open up my mental doors to the world of math. My kids, bless their hearts, I am sure are hoping so too. I am absolutely no help with their math homework.

“Dad, what’s 2 + 2?”

“I don’t know, ask your mother.”

Five things I think I think (a tip of the hat to Peter King for this idea)

1. KLTV Channel 7 did a marvelous job on the story of Morgan Ashbreck and the ETCA volleyball team. The segment is a weekly one called POWER OF PRAYER. Morgan, teammates Hannah Henderson and Jessica Mitchell, along with Coach Diane Preston, were interviewed and were very impactful. If you missed it, here is a link:

2. The apocalyptic movie, 2012, was released last week. It is based upon the concept of an ancient Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world in 2012. This was confirmed this week when Oprah announced she is ending her talk show in 2011.

3. I finished the book, THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY, this week. Written by A. J. Jacobs—one of my favorite writers—it chronicles the events of his life as he sought to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year.

Jacobs has a sharp sense of humor. Recounting his search for just the right biblical translation, he tells of talking with a salesman at a huge bookstore in midtown Manhattan. The salesman shows Jacobs various translations, but being a secularist, points to the one Bible he thinks Jacobs might want. It is one of those Bibles that is designed to look like a SEVENTEEN magazine.

The salesman says, "This one's good if you're on the subway and are too embarrassed to be seen reading the Bible. Because no one will ever know it's a Bible." Jacobs reflects, "It's an odd and poignant selling point. You know you're in a secular city when it's considered more acceptable for grown men to read teen girls magazine than the Bible."

Jacobs describes his challenge of fulfilling the 10 Commandments, loving his neighbor, and most difficult of all, seeking to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers. All is not humor, however. He describes in devastating detail his discovery of the death of a neighbor named Nancy. Nancy lived alone and had no family. Jacobs sense of guilt is palatable. His account of Nancy is sad and depressing because it seems so real and true to our 21st-century world.

If you are looking for a book that is fun, that will help you learn more about the Bible and about biblical times, and if you want to hear a commentary on our contemporary culture from a secular Jew, this book is for you.

4. I hope everyone has a marvelous Thanksgiving next week.

5. Happy anniversary, Mrs. E. I am looking forward to our early celebration. December 10th, we will be married for 21 years. These have been unquestionably the best years of my life, and I cannot imagine life without you.

Have a Great Weekend!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Plague of the Gnats

Plague of the Gnats

A plague of gnats struck ETCA a week or two ago. Mrs. Munoz would be teaching her second grade class when, suddenly, out of nowhere, a gnat would fly toward her face. Strange. Gnats had never been around the building before.

Next door in her first grade class room, teacher Holly Shultz would find periodic irritation from these pesky insects. Likewise, first graders were constantly swatting the gnats that had begun attacking her classroom.

To the south, in the cafeteria, fifty yards and a courtyard away from the first and second grade classrooms, gnats occasionally made an appearance.

On the other side of the building, administrator Brenda Craig faced an occasional battle with the kamikaze creatures. What’s going on here? ETCA never had a problem with gnats before.

Brenda took the initiative to call the exterminator. “Sorry, Ma’am,” came the reply, “our contract with you does not cover gnats.”

And so the mystery deepened. Where had the gnats come from? What had ETCA done to offend a holy God?

And then it happened. Last week, as her students worked, first grade teacher Holly Shultz was digging through a locker in her classroom when she spied a lunch box. Whose was it? She faintly recalled seeing it before. She opened up the lunch box.

Avalanche! Look out below! All hands on deck! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Attacking Mrs. Shultz was the greatest clouds of gnats ever seen by man. She danced, and hollered, and swatted as if she were awash in a swarm of killer bees.

Students screamed and scattered. At last, order was restored. Enough so that Mrs. Shultz was able to investigate, further, the lunchbox. In so doing, she solved the mystery. The lunchbox had been long forgotten, and then suspected lost. Inside, were just enough remains of—a banana—to allow Mrs. Shultz to deduce that said banana had been the source of attraction for all of the gnats. (My personal opinion is that the insects violating everyone’s personal space were teeny-tiny fruit flies; however, I will hopefully never be able to prove my premise.)

After presumably all items involved were destroyed, order was restored and ETCA has reestablished a sense of order. And the owner of the devious lunchbox? One Timothy Edge.

When contacted by the press, Timothy’s father issued only a one-lined statement, “At least it wasn’t his underwear in the lunchbox.”

Donald Miller

Thanks to Jeff Christian and my friends at Glenwood, I had a chance Wednesday to eat lunch with Donald Miller and approximately thirty or so preachers and community leaders. If you have read my blog, you know that Miller is one of my favorite authors. He has begun a mentoring program for boys that he hopes to partner with churches nationwide in the near future.

Miller grew up without a father, so he knows firsthand the impact that void can have on a young man. Miller reminded us that 94 % of all U. S. prisoners are males. Of these, 85% grew up without the presence of a father.

Miller is serving on a presidential task force investigating this problem. The government’s conclusion—and I know this will be music to the ears of many Tylerites—government is not the solution. The federal government believes churches can do the best job of addressing this challenge. Miller is looking for ten male mentors in every church to spend a few hours a week with targeted young men. I think Miller is on to something, and I hope Shiloh can participate in this process.

Wednesday night Miller spoke at Glenwood. I thought he did a great job. He is hilarious, yet thought provoking. He proposed that the “God-shaped hole” in the human heart is an ill-conceived idea that is not biblical. Rather, he says, even in the garden before the fall, before Eve, Adam did not have his “God-shaped hole” filled by God. Something was still missing from Adam’s life, and she was Eve. I’m not sure I agree, but I am going to think about it.

Having read Miller’s BLUE LIKE JAZZ, SEARCHING FOR GOD KNOWS WHAT, and THROUGH PAINTED DESERTS, I am looking forward to reading his latest work, A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS. I’ve already read the first couple of chapters. Miller made me think and he made me laugh—out loud.

Five things I think I think (a tip of the hat to Peter King for this idea)

1. I’m preaching on I Cor. 14 this Sunday morning. Although, I hope to be faithful to the text, some, including me, may leave dissatisfied. 

2. God Bless the Single Parent. Thursday I had to take a sick child home from school. Near lunchtime I got a call that Annie was running a fever and experiencing her typical response to respiratory illness. She had started coming down with the stuff that others have been suffering from—my guess it stems from the weather we have been having. Fortunately, I was able to take my things and work at home (including writing this blog.)

Today, Judy took off since Annie is not allowed to return to school until she has cleared 24 hours without a fever. I don’t see how the single parents do it. I am intellectually aware of their plight, but it is during times like these I become more emotionally attuned to their circumstances.

3. I’ve been playing with, I mean working on, my i-phone since Friday. I can’t believe I’ve made it this long without one. What a spiritual guy I was to deprive myself for so long of such a blessing! Actually, in all seriousness, it has made me so much more functional in my ministry. And I haven’t even experienced the benefits of traveling with it yet.

4. I read this week perhaps the greatest quote ever on fame. It was in, of all things, a biography of Joe Namath by Mark Kriegel. Here’s the quote, referring to the late, great, NFL quarterback, Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas, “Fame made you money. But fame was also a form of insanity. People who didn’t know you started having feelings for you. They loved you, hated you, admired you—without ever having met you.”

5. The media continues to share the story of the ETCA volleyball team and their spiritual growth during the playoffs confronting Morgan Ashbreck’s violent injury. I am told that Channel 7 will be airing a story on Sunday night on their 10 PM newscast.

As a reminder they also played volleyball, the All-District Team was announced this week. Diane Preston received the “Coach of the Year” award. Morgan Ashbreck, Audra Wade, and Haleigh Edge made first-team all-district. Ally Beth Hannah, Henderson, Jenny Munoz and Jessica Mitchell made seond-team all-district. Hannah received the Sportsmanship award. Haleigh was voted the district’s MVP. Congratulations girls.

Have a Great Weekend!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jesus is Coming Back or—I Bought my First Cell Phone Today

Jesus is Coming Back or—I Bought my First Cell Phone Today

That’s right. As you read this, know that l have purchased my first cell phone.

My family actually owned a cell phone back in the late 90s when we lived in Brownsville. We had no long distance service on our house phone; we used our cell phone for that and as security in case of potential car emergencies. In Winters, the church owned a cell phone that I would carry around with me whenever I was working. My wife and two of my daughters currently own cell phones, which they purchased themselves, but this will be my first.

I must confess that I am very excited. I am bought an iPhone. Most of our staff at Shiloh Road have iPhone's, and I have drunk the Kool-Aid. One of our members, Brandon Deever – a great guy and very active in Kingdom ministry – is a big cog in the AT&T stores here in East Texas, so my family gave his organization some business.

We purchased one of those unlimited texting plans. Haleigh and I will have iPhone's with Internet access, Judy and Abby will have simple cell phones for texting. Timothy and Annie—well let's just say they need to be praying for the next few years before they get theirs.

I have already downloaded the Kindel App so that I can order books on my iPhone for when I travel. I will definitely need to take a class in text language. (Does anybody know where they teach one? TJC? UT Tyler?) I may even start twitting, tweeting, twittering, or whatever the heck you call it.

Who knows? This may lead to me one day purchasing a Mac computer. Last week, I was in a meeting with a group that has been dominated by PC users. You can imagine my shock when, “he who shall not be named”, pulled out a Mac laptop and begin working on it. Actually, we were all shocked. His excuse was it was for his work, but then he let loose with the bombshell that he actually had it for a year. The times, they are a changing.

Buying a cell phone is a big step for me. I'll miss the peace and quiet that comes from not having a cell phone on my person. I'll miss the savings that came from not having a family phone plan. I've been able to fly my family to Seattle every couple of years to see my sister and her family on what we saved from not having a family cell phone plan. (Sis, if you're reading this, Christmas may be the last time you’ll see us in Seattle for a while. But we’ll sure text you!) Nevertheless, the time has come.

In the meantime, you might want to start watching the clouds. The Second Coming could be at hand.

Random Acts of Kindness

Sunday morning, I am preaching on first Corinthians 13. My focus will be on how churches are loving. Of course, this passage is regularly read during weddings. However, all attributes mentioned are attributes of Jesus; hence, they should be our attributes as well. For example, Jesus is kind; therefore, we are kind.

Random acts of kindness have become popular in this country. And I am all for that. I saw on the news about a couple months ago about a coffee shop in Kansas City, maybe even a Starbucks, where each patron at the drive-thru had been paying for a coffee product for the driver behind him or her -- and the streak had been going on for several days or even for a few weeks. Laudable!

Still, it's the simple acts of kindness that can be the most moving. I remember almost a decade ago, when my family and I were living in West Texas, my daughter, Haleigh, was a first-grade student at the local elementary school in Winters.

One morning, she was late to class, carrying a bunch of stuff, and in her haste, her materials spilled and scattered everywhere. Panic stricken, she froze, and began to cry.

I was in my car in the drive-through lane observing this, and I was tempted to shift into park, leave the car running, and get out of my car to go help her pick up everything. But then, out of the building came a high school student -- and I still remember who it was – Wade Parramore. His mother taught in elementary school and he had been by her room and was now on the way to his high school, which was within walking distance.

Even though he knew he would be tardy, Wade did not hesitate. He stopped what he was doing, knelt down, picked up all of Haleigh’s stuff, and gently handed it to her. He opened the schoolhouse door and guided her in so that she could make it to class before the tardy bell rang.

That story did not make the lineup on the local TV stations’ news that night. That event was not covered by the local newspaper. Yet, isn't it funny how after all of these years, I still have not forgotten that act of kindness?


No, I did not write that. Larry McMurtry did. This was his memoir.

Larry McMurtry is a prolific and award winning author, who grew up in Archer City, TX. His books include THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, and LONESOME DOVE, which I absolutely loved. (The mini-series was equally good-the best western I’ve ever seen.) McMurtry still owns an un-airconditioned ranch house in Archer City, TX (which is near Wichita Falls) and spends a lot of time there owning and operating several used bookstores.

I once took Haleigh and Abby’s photo with him when they were little girls. He had been inside one of the stores unpacking some books. Judy and the girls had dropped me off while they went shopping. I was browsing and could not help eavesdropping as some doctoral student peppered McMurtry with questions. He had made a pilgrimage to Archer City to discover the deepest meanings of LONESOME DOVE. McMurtry clearly did not maintain the romantic view of the novel that the student sustained. McMurtry said he wrote it, and that was it—
on to the next project.

I knew that the famous author was tired of dealing with LONESOME DOVE and did not have the sentimental connection that we readers and viewers did. He wanted to focus on unpacking books. The sooner that starry-eyed literature student left him alone, the better. Finally, the student left. Half an hour later, Haleigh and Abby came in to get me.

I debated, briefly in my own mind whether or not I should do this, but I decided to go to the car and get my camera. How many opportunities would I have to take my girls’ photo with arguably the Southwest’s greatest author over the second half of the twentieth century.

I approached Mr. McMurtry, camera in hand, and asked if I could take his photo with my girls. He could not have been nicer. He dropped what he was doing, put his arms around the girls, and smiled as I took two or three shots—just to make sure I got one. He talked with us for a couple of minutes before, wanting to be sensitive to his time, I thanked him and we departed. I’ve still got those photos, I need to scan them.

I read WALTER BENJAMIN again last week. He wrote it about ten years ago. It is excellent. He describes his life, his parents’ life settling in Archer City, and he throws in little tidbits about his life as an author.

He also describes in some detail his love for books and his journey as a book scout. You might guess that I enjoyed that section.

(By the way, the Doctors’ Wives of Tyler had a benefit book sale yesterday. I found 32 gems for a quarter a piece. Hardbacks! I could not believe it, but I digress.)

McMurtry ended his memoir writing about one of the great lessons he learned concerning the fleeting nature of fame and prestige. He was lecturing [one] day at a small college in Uvalde, TX, and during a short break in a daylong effort, while back at his motel for a nap, his agent called and told him he had won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, LONESOME DOVE.

He writes, “My agent determined to communicate to me the majesty [of winning the Pulitzer.] When I finally got him off the line, my next call was from the motel office: a reporter and a photographer from the local paper were there to get a brief interview and take my picture.”

“The night before, when I drove into Uvalde, the manager of the Holiday Inn where I was staying had written on its marquee: ‘Welcome, Larry McMurtry, Author of Terms of Endearment.’ That had never happened to me before...

“But time waits for no author, not in Uvalde, anyway. As I walked up to meet the press I glanced at the marquee and saw it had already been changed. Now it read: ‘Lunch Special, Catfish: $3.95.’ Even as [my agent] was telling me how great he had made me, my moment had passed. It was a good lesson to be remembered. The Pulitzer Prize was well and good, but there was lunch to think of, and catfish at $3.95 was a bargain not to be scorned. The locals were already flocking to it, and as soon as the needs of the press had been satisfied, I went in and did the same.”

Mr. McMurtry was nice enough to remind me in that passage that even if we gain prestige, we cannot maintain prestige forever. And it is pointless to look to prestige as a source of happiness.

Five things I think I think (a tip of the hat to Peter King for this idea)

1. My prayers go out to the folks at Killeen. Two terrible shootings in 20 years.

2. A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about our ETCA volleyball team and their travails during the playoffs. There is a marvelous article about Morgan Ashbreck, ETCA and Austin Summit in today’s (Friday’s) Dallas Morning News. Columnist Kevin Sherrington talks about Morgan's injury in their volleyball playoff game, her faith response, and the faith response of her teammates and the people of Summit. It is neat to see young lights shine in this world. Here is a link:

If you are interested, the paper edition has a couple of photographs of Morgan while she is injured. I appreciate Morgan’s willingness to share those because they do provide context for the story. I wrote previously in my blog that I have witnessed in my life people who were more badly hurt in sporting contests. However, Morgan’s was easily the worse thing I have ever SEEN at an athletic event. Through it all, she was incredibly courageous.

I have Morgan in Bible class and, of course, she said nothing about the DMN interview—in class or in private. I mentioned this to her mother who told me Morgan is afraid people will tire of hearing about her. When Kevin Sherrington interviewed her, Morgan repeated told him, “This is not about me…. I did nothing but get hurt, so I'm not even the one here that it should be about.” She emailed the Dallas Morning News, again, a photo of ETCA’s team so that the paper will display it with the article.

Morgan is being typically modest. She further demonstrated this in the letter she wrote to Austin Summit. It is beautiful; it makes clicking the link or buying the paper worth it. In it, Morgan really does point toward—God, her coach, her teammates, the people at Summit Christian Academy, and others. We are blessed that they have proven worthy.

3. Great job Randy and Alex York! I am still receiving tremendous feedback on the painting they did during my sermon Sunday morning. I felt confident that they would minister to the visual learners; what surprised me though is how many adults commented they were moved to tears.

4. Can’t wait to hear the BLUE LIKE JAZZ man himself, Donald Miller, Wednesday night at Glenwood. I’ve got to teach my class, then I’ll head over. Hope I can find a place to stand.

5. I may be the only one on the planet who finds this interesting. Youtube has a great archive of interviews with notable people from televisions past. Caught some of the interview with the late Curt Gowdy. Fascinating to hear him relive his life—full of anecdotes. Another favorite is Jim McKay, and there are many more. To find them, go to the Youtube search and type something like this: “Curt Gowdy - Archive Interview Part 1.” This is a marvelous project.

Have a Great Weekend!