Thursday, November 30, 2006


I follow the Christian calendar in my preaching and worship planning. For those of you unaware, the Christian calendar starts its year with Advent (the four Sundays leading up to Christ's birth) and ends with Christ the King Sunday which is generally, but not always, the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

The Christian calendar is the narrative of Christ and his church. An oversimplified version of the Christian calendar goes something like this: the anticipation of Christ's birth (Advent), his birth (Christmas), his life here on earth (Epiphany), his journey toward Jerusalem (Holy Week), his death (Good Friday), his resurrection (Easter), the formation of the church (Pentecost) and then there is a long period of time called Ordinary Time in which certain aspects of faith are focused on, especially the mission of the church.

Essentially, the Christian calendar revolves around Christmas and Easter but it wouldn't be complete without these other festivals and sacred days.

I love this time of year. Historically, Advent (coming or arrival) was a season marked with fasting and penitence much like the season of Lent. It's official color was purple, the color of suffering. Over time, many protestant churches softened the blow of Advent by eliminating any serious talk of fasting and now many use the color royal blue which connotes the royalty of the one coming. The season is joyful and hopeful.

I don't know about you but I could use a little dose of joy and hope right about now. The lectionary texts will make it hard on me this year because Luke is its primary gospel and we all know Luke can read pretty harshly or as my sister says, "You never see Lukan quotes on Christmas cards." But alas, I do love this season as we anticipate Christ coming again.

Now I gotta find a way to communicate that to my three-year-old daughter who is enamored with Santa Claus and his reindeer!


Monday, November 27, 2006

Three Cool Things About This Week

I'm pumped about this week for three reasons:

1. Ira is mentioned in an article in a cool, trendy magazine that hits the newsstands on Tuesday.

2. My bball squad plays in the league championship on Wednesday. Because it's an early game, Sophia will get to come watch me and the rest of the MAGIC BUS.

3. Scrubs is back on the air come Thursday 9 PM!


Friday, November 24, 2006


This was the scene after my unranked Aggies beat the #11 t-sips. The Aggies did it rushing for a total of 244 yards against what was the best run defense in the nation. The Aggies deserved this win after losing close games against Nebraska and OU.

The Aggie women's soccer team keeps rolling in the NCAA tourney. They're in the quarterfinals against North Carolina. The men's basketball team just won their first in-season b-ball tourney in seventeen years and the women are coming off an 83 point victory. (Yes, you read that correctly - they beat McNeese state by 83 points!)

It's a good year to be an Aggie fan. Gig 'em, Aggies!



I was bound and determined to take Sophia to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade despite the cold, wet weather. We bundled up and took off on the F train. We got to Columbus Circle at 8:30 a.m. and got a pretty good spot between 59th and 58th streets. Sophia was very patient waiting for the parade to start. We played the "What color is the subway?" game.

"What color is the A train?"
"What color is the F train?"

After exhausting the "What color is the subway?" game, we resorted to singing TV show songs. Those standing next to us were either impressed that Sophia could sing so many TV show songs or very disappointed in me as a parent. Oh well...

About thirty minutes into the parade it started pouring. I kept asking Sophia if she wanted to leave. With rain dripping down her nose she kept turning down my offers to leave. She couldn't get enough of it. We stayed for about ninety minutes and had a blast. I love my outings with her!

We then walked down to our neighbors' house and had a Thanksgiving dinner. It was fun to get the family dressed up and out of the house. We shared a meal with fourteen others. I was amazed at how easy and comfortable these others (single folks without kids) felt around Ira. Several of them could be seen holding Ira throughout the evening. The meal was delicious, the atmosphere was laid back and the company was genuine.

We missed being with our St. Louis family (it's a St. Louis Thanksgiving year) but yesterday was pretty special all the way around.

What about you? What did you do on Thanksgiving?


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


It hit me my junior year in high school that I had no shot at playing college ball. I went to one walk-on tryout at San Angelo State University after my senior year but I was out of my league. By that time I was no longer harboring any grand delusion that I was the next Michael Jordan.

But that reality didn't quench my love for the game. Besides the two years I spent in Ft. Worth after seminary and my first year here in New York City, I've played organized basketball since the third grade. Currently, I play in a rec league in Manhattan. My teammates are three businessmen, two journalists for the Council of Foreign Affairs, a struggling actor/comedian, and a web designer. We're actually pretty good. (It's often noted that we're good only because a minister is on the team and that must mean that God is on our team as well.) Once a week I lace up my sneakers (and sadly, my ankle braces), head to a high school gym in Manhattan and lose myself for an hour with this cast of characters that would have never known each other had it not been for basketball.

What about you? Do you have an activity that you've loved your whole life in which you still participate? An activity that allows you to meet others that you would have never met had it not been for the activity?


Monday, November 20, 2006


We started feeling the pressure before Sophia turned two. The question kept coming from all angles - from friends at church, from other parents in playgroups, even from random people on the bus or subway.

The pressure stemmed from one question: Have you started thinking about what school your child will attend?

It didn't take long for us to realize they weren't talking about kindergarten. They were talking about what schools (not daycares!) we were considering for Sophia when she turned two and if not by two then definitely by three.

The pressure mounted and so we did a little research. It became evident very quickly that we, in no way, could afford for Sophia to go to school. Considering some of the top schools charge $20,000-30,000 a year the choice was made for us.

For the last year Sophia's been in a daycare three days a week. At three years old Sophia is definitely the oldest at the daycare as her peers are all in some kind of formal school. This past week, Laura and I went to the neighborhood public school to check out their preschool. It was fantastic and while we mourn that our daughter will be old enough for preschool come next September, we're glad we're zoned for a good school that has a reputation that has skyrocketed over the past two years.

As for the pressure, we still feel it. When we reveal to others that our daughter is in a daycare and will attend the neighborhood public school, our revelation is often met with pity and/or a sense that we are irresposible parents.

People come to NYC for so many different reasons but an overarching theme among the masses that congregate here is the desire to mix it up with the best of the best whether in business, fashion, art or (fill in the blank here). It's no wonder then that parents put an incredible amount of pressure on themselves and each other to get in those schools that are only a few degrees separated from the Ivy League.

Hey, I want my kids to have a shot at the Ivy League. It's just that our kids will take a different route via Public School 261. But no pressure, Sophia and Ira. No pressure!


Wednesday, November 15, 2006


In a moment of weakness I purchased a Minis Mix bag of chocolates. You know, the bags that have miniture versions of 3 Musketeers, Milky Way, Snickers, and Twix? The question I have is, Does anyone actually prefer Milky Way candy bars? In this house, they are the last to be eaten. I don't know of anyone who actually prefers them. Do you?
Maybe it's because we're out of the loop but I'm not particularly thrilled about any of the holiday movies. Am I missing something?
Aggie football? Sure, I'll watch 'em play t.u. but I'm much more thrilled about Aggie basketball in which the men are ranked 12th and the women 13th according to the AP poll. Prediction, A&M men and women will make it to the Final Four. Do you have a favorite?
Thanksgiving plans: enjoy a big meal with our neighbors. It will be a quiet holiday. We definitely don't mind that but will miss seeing family. What are your plans?


Monday, November 13, 2006

love for another woman

I have a confession: I love another woman. But not just any woman, a Brazilian woman who has burst into my world and made my life easier.

So I'm being a little facetious. Thing is, my whole family loves this other woman. Mada, that's the short version of her name, is one of Ira's nurses. Once upon a time, Mada was a regular with our family. Then Ira went back into the hospital for a long stay. And now that Ira is home again, Mada is Ira's Sunday nurse.

The minute Mada walks through the door on Sundays, I know that I don't have to worry about Ira. I don't worry that he'll be ignored. I don't have to wonder whether Ira will get his meds at the appropriate time or not. I don't worry about the administration of his nebulizer treatments. I don't worry that he won't be loved on. Mada does all this...and more.

When we come home from church (our services are in the evening) Mada has usually created some new device for Ira to make life easier for him. The apartment is generally a mess which tells us that Mada and Ira have been playing non-stop. As soon as Ira goes down, Mada starts cleaning. Not just his toys but also the dishes in the sink. That's going the extra mile!

The picture below sums Mada up perfectly. I kept begging Mada to look at the camera. She couldn't. She was focused on her baby.

I wonder what the world would look like if we all took our jobs as seriously as Mada does? I wonder how things might be different if we all went that extra mile in the work we do as Mada does? Mada comes to our home to help us take care of Ira and I'm grateful for that. But she's doing so much more: she's helping me see what it means to serve with a grateful heart.


Saturday, November 11, 2006


Laura here. Just wanted to let everyone know that Ira's MRI has been cancelled for now. It was decided that the risk of putting him under and submitting him to hospital germs was too high for now. The info our neurologist hopes to gain from an MRI is not pertinent enough to warrant subjecting him to all of that. Instead she will schedule a cat-scan for sometime in the near future. This is more than just fine with us.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

date night

Laura's back from St. Louis and the reports from there is that Harvey's recovery is slow. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Laura and I went on a date upon her return. My mom watched Sophia while a nurse hung out with Ira. We got gussied up (a phrase I've apparently inherited from my dad) and headed out.

We got on the train and went to the hospital. Romantic, huh? One of Ira's doctors just had a baby and the baby is in the NICU. Because this doctor offered us so much hope with her smile and understanding words during our time in the hospital we thought it appropriate to visit her. We were bummed to have just missed her but being on the NICU floor and watching the families interact in the waiting room was a good reminder of where we've been and how far we've come.

We then scored cancellation tix to the Jersey Boys. The show lived up to its good reviews. After the show we enjoyed a late dinner at the Spotted Pig. We felt hip eating dinner at 10 PM. It was a pretty great evening all the way around.

I'm glad Laura got to go to St. Louis to be with her family. I'm glad she's home.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

hermeneutic of suspicion

Christ's Church for Brooklyn meets in a rented space at the local YWCA. Our services are on Sunday evenings in an old work-out room that is adorned with mirrored walls. The cost of rent is pretty darn cheap for a space in Brooklyn at $100 for two hours each Sunday. So what if the space doesn't exactly inspire a meditative spiritual state, it's cheap! We've been meeting at the Y for a little over a year now.

Every first Sunday of the month, we share in a communal meal. It was only recently that someone said, "Why don't we invite the women who live here to eat with us?" Duh! It was a no-brainer. Why hadn't we thought of this earlier? Geez. Anyway, this particular Y has 210 rooms that are occupied by women of all stripes. This past Sunday we ordered pizzas, provided salad, fruit and desserts (with the help of members from Manhattan Church of Christ) and opened the doors to the women who lived at the Y.

At about 5 PM, they started strolling in...slowly. They had a look on their face that gave away their feeling - they were suspicious. As I went to greet them, I was met with question after question: Who are you guys? Why are you doing this? Who paid for this meal? Oh, you're a church? Are you full gospel? Are you Catholic or protestant? Exactly what denomination are you affiliated with? Who's the pastor here? YOU? You're too young!"

Upon hearing that we were a church, some immediately turned and left. Some came in, got a plate of food and left. Some sat, ate and then left. Some stayed and shared life stories with us as we shared ours.

I was reminded of the general hermeneutic that almost all of us operate under - a hermeneutic of suspicion. I'm no different from the women at the Y. In fact, I'm probably more suspicious for I probably wouldn't have stepped foot in that old work-out room for a meal.

This church planting thing we're doing here in Brooklyn? Well, it's kinda hard but I'm hoping that over time the suspicion of our community will give way to trust.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

good news

The word from St. Louis is that Harvey made it through the surgery just fine. They took out his bladder and prostrate. They made a new bladder using some of his colon. Harvey's recovery will be long but the prognosis seems good. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes. And thank you for the kind words some of you shared concerning Harvey.
Ira is movin' and groovin'. The kid won't stop. He scoots around on his butt and can go just about anywhere he wants. This isn't really new news as I posted this same news a week ago but I'm just amazed that Ira is where he is considering what he's gone through. I'm in awe of him.
I'm pretty much a Halloween scrooge. I don't get the whole dressing up thing and don't get excited about the prospect of knocking on doors begging for candy. Laura sorta adopted my take on Halloween. But then we went out on our stoop on Halloween night to hand out candy. Everyone on our block was out on their respective stoops. But because Ira was out, our stoop was suddenly the place to be. We had a blast. Sophia had no interest in going door to door because everyone was coming over to us. It was the most fun I've had in a while!
Have I mentioned that I miss Laura? Have I mentioned that I miss her terribly?


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

my father-in-law

Harvey, my father-in-law, was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder about a month ago. In the initial procedure, the doctors were able to remove a mass of cancer. However, results came back from the biopsy that showed an aggressive cancer in the walls of the bladder. He's having surgery on Thursday to remove the bladder. Laura, along with her two brothers, are in St. Louis.

The surgery begins at 7:30 a.m. and will last up to seven hours as they will reconstruct Harvey's bladder using some of his colon. However, if they find more cancer while he's cut open, they'll simply remove the bladder, close him up and schedule chemo as soon as possible.

I look up to Harvey - and not just because he's tall and the father of my wife - but because he's an upright man who is gentle, loving and sincere. If you give it a thought tonight, tomorrow morning or during the next couple of days and weeks, pray for Harvey and the family. Send your well wishes his way. And if you're ever in St. Louis, stop and say hello to Harvey and Kay. You won't regret meeting them and spending time with them.