Sunday, December 31, 2006

I resolve...

Are you a New Year's Resolution kind of person? Do you keep your resolutions? Do you beat yourself up if you don't?

Just curious...


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Any doubt?

It's official. ESPN confirms what we Texans have always known: the state of Texas dominates the football landscape. Check it out here. People from California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio brag all the time about their football but they live under a cloud of delusion. How can one beat these stats? Texas has:

10 Division I football teams (TEN!)
6 Heisman winners
6 national titles
3 AFL titles
5 Super Bowl wins
24 NFL Hall of Famers

And to my Alabama friends who will want to make a case for their state based upon the high school football program who has its own reality TV show on MTV, spare me. That kind of logic will lead you to believe that Flavor Flav is the best rapper in the world, Nick Lachy and Jessica Simpson were the best married couple in the world, and Donald Trump the best boss in the world.

Let's hear it for Texas football! Did I mention the Aggies play tonight in the Holiday Bowl against California? WHOOP!


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

This Little Light of Mine

This video was done in November of 2005. Ira had been home a month. He would be home one more month before going back into the hospital. Sophia loved having him home!


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Get Thee Behind Me, RSV!

RSV, you are not welcome here so go home. And one more thing, quit botherin' folks!

This time last year, Ira was in the hospital. He stopped breathing at 11 PM on Christmas Eve. We called 911. We went to a local emergency room where they intubated Ira. After hours there, we were transported to Children's. Laura and I sat by his bed as the doctors struggled to stabilize Ira. My eyes were glued to the monitor that showed Ira's oxygenation level and heartrate. We watched those numbers for hours. Hours became days. Days became months. Of the four months Ira would spend in the hospital, Ira was sedated for at least two of them.

As for today? Ira's strong, feeling great, not throwing up, laughing, making messes, getting on his sister's nerves, chasing our dog, and generally being the 20 month old that he's supposed to be. Unlike last year, it's been a very merry Christmas.

So RSV, take note, our boy ain't having it this time around. Got it?


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Happy Holidays

From our Family to Your's: May you have a peace that surpasses understanding in the year to come.

Love -- Joe, Laura, Sophia and Ira


would you dare?

The question is, would you take your child to this concert?

Only in NYC would a children's concert feature a band called Care Bears on Fire. I love this city.


Monday, December 18, 2006


I went into the city today (those of us living in the outer burroughs consider Manhattan "the city") to have lunch with the Manhattan church staff. After lunch, I headed home.

I took the 4 train at 86th Street. I switched over to the 6 train at 14th Street and two stops later got off to catch the F train into Brooklyn. The F train was moving slowly. Very slowly. I knew something was up. Sure enough, they made us all get off the train at East Broadway. That F train disappeared. After waiting for what seemed like forever but what was really about 20 minutes an announcement was made that there would be no F trains going into Brooklyn due to a "situation" at one of the stations there.

After a collective moan from those of us stranded the announcement went on to give directions as to how we could get into Brooklyn via buses - that's right, not a bus but buses. I headed up to catch a cab as I was running late to pick up Sophia from her school. I opened my wallet to find no cash inside. Then I started to look around. I was in Chinatown. I went into a store and asked for the nearest Chase bank. The man behind the counter shook his head to communicate that he didn't understand my question. I refrained from speaking louder and slower (a typical American thing to do in trying to communicate with someone who doesn't speak English), thanked the man and continued on my journey.

In looking for a Chase bank I noticed there were no cabs around. Now I had two questions: Where is the nearest Chase bank and where should I go to catch a cab? I realized the odds of finding someone who could help me with either question were not in my favor.

I finally found a bank with an ATM. At least I think it was a bank. Couldn't read the sign. I just know it had the appearance of a bank. After getting some money, I headed east. I started seeing some cabs and was able to coax one of them into going over the bridge into Brooklyn.

At first I was frustrated about the whole F train dilemma and the inconvenience it was causing in my life. But it was good for me to wander around Chinatown looking for a bank and a cab as I was reminded of how grand and diverse and beautiful this world is. It's real easy for me to be so focused on what's going on in my life that I fail to realize that there's so much more going on.

I'm just wondering if there was a way to be reminded of that without having the F train shut down? :)


Sunday, December 17, 2006


My wife tells me that sometimes I post things on the blog and never follow up. Sorry about that folks. So here are a few updates:

1. Ira is feeling better. The throwing-up has stopped...for the most part. For whatever reason, Ira's bugs (sicknesses) stick around longer than in the average joe. We were (and still are!) thankful this bug didn't attack his respiratory system. Once again, we made it through a sickness without going to the emergency room. Yippee for Ira!

2. Our basketball team won it's championship game. Each one of us got fairly large trophies. While it kinda felt silly to receive these, I think each one of us deep down were giddy about them. Those of us with significant others were forced to take our trophies to our offices. But there's no rest for the champions, we're already two games into our next season. On another note, I play pick-up bball three times a week at the Y and play with my league team once a week. I play basketball four times a week. Question: Why is it that my body hurts all the time? I'm not that old, am I?

3. You won't find the videos I'm posting on this blog at YouTube. No need for that service! You'll have to make an offer I can't refuse if you want to know my "how to" secrets. (Thanks to Sean for showing me the way.) Thanks for your positive feedback concerning them. They won't win any trophies for editing, directing, acting, etc but the grandparents are happy and that's all that really matters.

4. We've enjoyed getting holiday greeting cards from many of you. Laura and I have gone back and forth as to whether we should send a card or not. We finally decided that you already know more about us than you care to and besides, we're feeling kinda lazy this year. I've already thrown together a Happy Holidays Vlog that will serve as our official greeting. Stay tuned...


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ira Gets Around

This is how Ira gets around the apartment.

You Mean He's Not Real?

I'm having a conversation with my friend via e-mail and we're discussing the whole Santa dilemma - What do we tell our kids about him?

So let me ask you, Do you do the Santa thing with your kids? Why or why not?


gender justice?

I told you not long ago about the basketball league I play in. Great thing about this league is that when one season ends, another starts right back up. So I'm playing, yet again, with the same guys I've been playing with for the past couple of seasons.

Last night, the team we played had two women on it. Because most of the guys I play with are in business where their co-workers, if not bosses, are women and because we live in an incredibly diverse city, not much was said before tip-off about the prospect of playing against women.

The first points scored were off a nice jumper from the baseline...from one of the women. Our team settled down and quickly rattled off twenty points before they scored another bucket. At one point in that stretch, one of our big men blocked the shot of one of the women. I overheard one of their guys moan, "I can't believe he just blocked her shot. That's poor."

So what was my teammate supposed to do? What was more appropriate - Treat her like the player she was (by the end of the game, the two girls had at least eight of their 16 points) or allow her a little room because of her gender?



Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I've talked of Steve before. You might know him as the IRA LESTER HAYS wristband guy. I know him as an unexpected friend.

I met Steve during my time in Houston, Texas. In order to get a little "real life" experience before grad school, I went to work for a church in Houston. I went expecting to learn much about ministry. I went expecting to sit at the feet of wiser men and women of faith. I went expecting to learn more about which particular field of ministry I wanted to pursue. What I didn't expect and what I wasn't looking for was a new friend who would change my world.

It was evident the first time I met Steve that he and I were incredibly different. Steve liked country music, drove a pick-up truck, taught his Lab Retriever to hunt and generally spoke from the right of the aisle. I liked anything but country music, drove a Camry, taught my Lab Retriever to catch a frisbee and generally spoke from the left of the aisle.

I was engaged to Laura when Steve asked me to lunch. I went, again, not expecting much and wondering how we would make conversation. We got our Chick-fil-A sandwiches, sat down and Steve launched in.

This marriage thing you're about to do - You do know it's gonna be hard, don't you?
Umm, sure Steve.
No really, it's gonna be hard. The honeymoon will last for a while and then reality will set in.
Right, Steve.
I just want you to know that it's worth fighting for.
Okay, Steve.
I'm wondering if we can help each other fight for the good of our marriages?

And then it hit me - Steve was going to be in my life forever. Both Steve and I have made foolish decisions in our marriages. Both of us have pleaded with our wives for grace. Both of us have come out on the other side stronger and more committed than ever. All the while, both of us knew that we had each other; that we could count on each other; that we were praying for each other. Praying for the good of our marriages.

Steve and I have come to appreciate each other in new ways. We've both taken steps toward the center of the aisle. I now not only appreciate Willie but actually like his music. And if I lived somewhere other than Brooklyn, I'm pretty sure I would own a pick-up truck...but only if it were a Hybrid.

Nope, I wasn't expecting Steve during my time in Houston but I got him. And I'm glad I did.


Monday, December 11, 2006

The Jinx?

Have you heard of the SI Jinx? SI (Sports Illustrated) is known to jinx players and teams once they are put on the cover of SI. In fact, some well known athletes have turned down the SI cover so as not to be jinxed before a big match or game. Sound crazy? Probably is but one has to wonder when SI puts a black cat on its cover with the title, "The Cover that No One Would Pose for: Is the SI Jinx for Real?"

Why bring this up? Because I'm starting to feel that my blog is a jinx. I do a video blog on Saturday morning showcasing Ira's talents and bragging about how well he's doing and he wakes from his afternoon nap throwing up. Hasn't stopped since.

Need more proof of a jinx? A year ago, I prematurely announced Ira's coming home from the NICU only to realize that we were still weeks away from his departure. It was then that I learned from the NICU nurses not to speak of *going home* because the babies, upon hearing the phrase, decide to stay longer.

So is there a brooklyn and beyond jinx? Maybe, maybe not. It certainly doesn't have the legs to stand beside the SI Jinx but I'll think twice before doing another vlog or writing another post in which I boast of Ira's prowess. ;)


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Vlog On!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Age of Anxiety

I'm reading a book authored by theologian, Douglas John Hall. In the book, Hall attempts to recapture the symbol of stewardship for the sake of the church. By chapter three, Hall deems it necessary to interpret the signs of the times in order to think theologically about the role of steward. He confesses that interpreting the here and now is a risky undertaking for "Who can with accuracy say what is going on in the present? Hindsight is always easier." He goes on to say,
But the risk of discerning the signs of the times is not only a risk of the intellect. It is a risk of the self, of the spirit-body. For especially in times of great unrest and crisis, the whole inclination of the human heart is to "flee from the wrath to come." By all accounts but those of the most doctrinaire optimists, ours is such a time. The problematique of our world is so complex and overwhelming in its scope and ubiquity that it is somehow natural to eschew all contemplation of it. Perhaps the desire to escape from "reality" has never been so strong as it is in our present time.
Hall goes on to say that our escape takes many shapes and forms.
And perhaps the most escapist activity of all is religion. The forms of the Christian religion that are most popular today are those that offer the most effective techniques for escape from history. Whether they do this through 'spiritualistic' flights of fantasy or by the continuous reassurance that there are no real crises in the affairs of the world makes little difference.
Hall goes on to describe the military jets he hears as he writes and as he describes the "Age of Anxiety" in which he lives. In reading this I found myself agreeing for Hall was describing perfectly the here and now!

And then I remembered, Hall wrote this book in the late '70s and early '80s.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

CCfB Goes Live!

What are you doing here? Haven't you heard? Our church, Christ's Church for Brooklyn, finally has its own little piece of the web! CLICK HERE to explore CCfB's site.

Many props to Kenny E. who designed the website. And props to Cara P. who designed the logo. As you can imagine, CCfB isn't overflowing with money so Kenny and Cara donated their time and talents to make all of this happen.

So go on. Hurry up. Get out of here. There's nothing to see here folks. is waiting for you! And if you are as inspired as I am by the work of these two talented individuals, come back to my blog and leave a comment telling me (them) what you think!


Monday, December 04, 2006

You Heretic!

Have you ever heard of Carlton Pearson? He's a minister in Tulsa, OK. There was a point in Pearson's ministry when he was preaching to five thousand people during the week, made regular appearances on TV and at the White House and traveled the globe guest speaking in front of huge audiences. Then Pearson fell. But his "fall from grace" wasn't what you would expect. Pearson's fall wasn't due to an adulterous relationship or a money scandal. It began when Pearson started asking one very particular question: Does God, who is so loving and compassionate, really condemn most of the human race to burn and writhe in the fire of hell for eternity?

If you have the time, it's worth hearing his story on This American Life. You can find the episode (free of charge) here. It's episode 304 and it aired around this time last year, 12/16/05.


Friday, December 01, 2006


Have you ever felt trapped? Like there's no way out? I know these are intimate questions I'm asking and that you're probably not going to respond with a resounding testimony in the comments section so I'm going to assume that many of you at some point have felt trapped.

I feel like I could say a lot about this subject but it's too near, too close, too fresh. And there doesn't seem to be an end in sight...