Thursday, May 31, 2007

Resurrection crab...

Herbie the resurrection crab!Herbie the hermit crab came home with my youngest daughter the other day. Her name was drawn in the last day of school pet giveaway. She was so proud of him. She had to show him to me as soon as I walked in the door. (Actually, I'm not sure he's a him...if you know what I mean.) She showed me everything about his cage - the purple sand, the water dish, the extra shells. It was fun to see her excitement. (Only slightly less exciting was spending $23 on new sand and other "crabby" paraphernalia that night while on a date with my wife.)

A few days after his arrival in our home, his home freshly cleaned, Herbie molted. His exoskeleton looked rather macabre laying in front of his shell. Weird stuff, this molting. Kind of cool in a gross sort of way.

So out came the new "how to take care of a crab" book. What do you do with a molting crab? Leave it alone. We left Herbie alone. He didn't move for quite awhile...days! Finally, I decided it was time to check his pulse. (Actually, I just picked him up and poked him.) He didn't flinch. Since he'd been in the same place and looked rather dried up, I pronounced him dead.

The wailing began immediately. Herbie's proud owner was grief stricken. Her older sister wrapped her arms around her. (I'm proud.) They cried together like sisters should at their dad's funeral. Finally, they headed off for bed.

Just minutes later I looked in the cage. Herbie had moved. The silly thing was alive! I shouted out the good news. The once bereft girl could hardly contain herself. "Herbie is alive!" she screamed after confirming the fact for herself.

Resurrection crabs should show up at everyone's house.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Rain, rain go away...

Every day when I turn on my computer, my pesky, little WeatherBug chirps at me. FLOOD WARNING! it shouts as I bring up the floating full application. FLOOD WARNING for Sumner County. I flip over to the radar and this is what I see...

Okay...I did add the bold red Argonia to this radar image!

Every day it's the same. (Or so it seems.) I'm tired of it. I can't ride my bike! Aaaaaaaaaaargh! I can't mow my grass! Okay, well, maybe this rain isn't so bad.

A prairie reclamation project...

This is my lawn...really!
"Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam..."
A hundred years or more ago,
The wind across the plains would blow,
And all the grass so green and tall,
Would to the herds of buff'lo call.
"Where the deer and the antelope play..."
Today the grass is cut so short,
You never hear a buff'lo snort,
A cat may flit from here to there,
But never a buff'lo's derriere.
"Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word..."
I think, No more! This should not be!
We must reclaim the vast prairie!
So that's why I let my lawn go,
"Here buff'lo, buff'lo, buff'lo!"
"And the skies are not cloudy all day."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mad Pam

Mad Pam to the Max!Mad Max step aside. Mad Pam is on the loose. Actually, madpam is the name of my sister Pam's new blog. She's in Russia with her eldest daughter, Mad (nickname), visiting my bro and sis-in-law, Patrick and Christy.

If you'd like to keep up on their exploits, check out their madpam blog.

(Hopefully they'll actually have something posted by the time you click on the link.)

Sleestaks outlawed...

I watched way too much TV as a child. I was a junkie. The amount of time I spent in front of the tube would make a normal person jittery, easily distracted, forgetful…

What was I saying?

Oh yeah, I was a TV addict. I watched whatever was on.

Shows I wanted to watch – Adam 12, The Partridge Family, Emergency, CHIPs, The Muppet Show, Charlie’s Angels, Hee Haw, Hawaii 5-0, The Wonderful World of Disney, Bonanza, The Waltons, The Six-Million Dollar Man, The Rockford Files, The Bionic Woman, Sanford and Son, The Super Friends.

Shows I cared nothing for – Lawrence Welk. “Good night, sleep tight and pleasant dreams to you. Here’s a wish and a prayer that every dream comes true. And now until we meet again…Adios, au revior, auf weidersehen.....Good Night!”

Scary, huh?

You want to know something funny? What I remember most clearly from my childhood is not all the good, fun shows I could view. What I remember best is the show my parents wouldn’t let me watch. To this day my blood boils when I think of what I missed because of my overprotective parents. Oh, the injustice! Oh, the tyranny! I never got to watch “The Land of the Lost” on Saturday mornings! Well…at least not an entire episode. There were the furtive glances with the volume turned way down. Never could quite figure out what was going on. Were the Sleestaks good guys or bad guys? Could they talk? Never mind. I don’t need to know.

We all tend to want what we cannot have – what’s denied us, that which is considered taboo. And we tend to be angry at those who set the limits we push against. But what if the people in charge have our best interest in mind? I know my parents did.

Perhaps the God-created rules you and I don’t like are made for our good.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A tale of two pitchers...

There were once two young men who entered a certain small town horseshoe pitching contest. They slapped down their $20 entry fee - $10 a piece - at the beginning of the day and started flinging U-shaped projectiles at little metal posts. They won their first match, then their second. The ringers kept coming and, late in the afternoon, the duo found themselves in the championship.

Their rivals in the final round were, to put it delicately, a bit tipsy. So what did these two young men do? They decided they needed a bathroom break. "We'll be back," they told their inebriated foes. As they walked away, their opponents said one to the other, "Let's get some more whiskey." The two young men just smiled. Things were going just as they planned.

Twenty minutes later, back from their "bathroom" break, the two temperate throwers beat their besotted opposers. They chuckled to themselves a short time later as they walked away with their winnings - $60 a piece.

The moral of the story: a little self-control yields a healthy return on investment. (True story. Picture above of one of the storied "wise men" during a not-so-storied match last year.)

My hometown...

One of Wichita's TV stations recently did a couple of spots on Argonia. Thought some of you might like to see why I think my hometown is the best...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Make little dents...

Ron’s driving his pickup now. His truck was buried under three layers of carport roof in Greensburg, Kansas, until this past Wednesday. (You can kind of see the bumper under this earlier-in-the-week picture if you click on it and view the enlarged image.)

Wednesday’s when Jonathan, Jason and I came for a visit. It took the three of us - Ron and Tyler, the son of a friend of a friend, were working on another project - a little over an hour to slowly clear away the tornado-tossed rubble that once was a decent vehicle shelter. Nail-infested wood and torn-up shingles went west. Broken bricks and one 2'x3' chunk of concrete south and east. Twisted tin north. The piles were as impressive as they were dangerous.

When the last brick was thrown aside and the driveway swept clean, Ron inspected the freshly uncovered treasure. The major damage was to the bed. The cab was in remarkably good shape. A few scratches and a dent or two was all. A lot of dust. Ron was pleased. He fished around for his keys, hopped in the cab and...the engine roared to life. Slipping the wounded wagon into gear, Ron backed away from the mess that was once his home.

Later that day the truck limped all the way to Kingman, Kansas, without a hitch...or a license plate. (Shhhh! Don’t tell!) The air conditioner blew a little dust out when Ron first turned it on, but, all things considered, that’s a minor thing. Ron has a truck to drive.

Upon reflection, it seems like such a little thing to me...clearing away one pile of lumber from one man’s pickup. The city around was still a jumbled mass of pick-up-sticks writ large. No one but Ron will notice this single missing vehicle. But...Ron’s driving his pickup now.

My friends and I made a little dent in Greensburg. Others are doing the same. Together we’re making a difference.

Make little dents wherever you are.

Name dropping again...

I was corrected today. I have actually ridden with a collegiate national champion. Mark Smelser, my friend, got the gold last year. He was the reigning nation champ in the crit. Silly me! (He's still a lot better rider than me.)

His mom gave me the following report on this year's nationals...

No repeat gold medal, but [Mark] was pleased with his places. They were both [the road and crit] tough races. Very hot both days, in the upper 90s, and the detours on the road race were killers. Some of the roads around Perry Lake are under 10 feet of water; in fact the water is still rising because they can't let it out, too much downstream flooding already. We've had more rain this week, so as long as the gates are closed the water will stay up. Campgrounds and marinas are under water . . .not good for Memorial Day weekend coming up.

Anyway, since this wasn't an Iron Man competition and no amphibious bikes showed up, they had to reroute the [road race] over some gravel road sections. It was awful . . . Shimano and other support teams ran out of spare tires and wheels. And since the Mens D1 race was the last race of the day, they had the fewest spares going in. A lot of the field dropped and didn't finish.

But Mark was in a break neck sprint with the front pack. The leader was way out in front, no question. But the rest of them all crossed in a blur. We had no idea what his place actually was until we saw it posted . . ."same time . . . same time . . . same time"

And Sunday was so exciting. Another hot day and Mark ran out of water, but kept at it. He stayed in the peloton for half the race and then broke away with some others and stayed well out in front of the main pack for the rest of the race. He was in the lead several times . . . so much fun to watch! He had a bunch of friends there, and both our families were there, many of them had never watched a high speed bike race. They were amazed!

Anyway, he stayed with the lead pack of about 10 riders and was actually in front going into the last lap, but they jumped him and he didn't have enough left to get back in front. I thought it looked like he was 4th or 5th, but they were all so close, by the time they sorted it out he was 10th. But he was happy with that. He said what kept him going the last few laps was all the cheering . . . he left it all out there.

Had several interviews on Saturday, and again after the race on Sunday. He had more TV cameras around him that the winner did!

The guy that beat him for the omnium last year repeated as Omnium champ this year. He didn't win either race outright, but had enough points and preems that he won by about 25 points. He only beat Mark by 2 points last year!

But you wanna hear a sad story? While he was on the podium getting his gold medal some slime ball stoke his bike, right there on the street in front of all those teams.

Somebody went shopping for an expensive bike and found one. So while he went home with a gold medal, he didnt't go home with the bike that helped him win it. I couldn't believe it.

Anyway, we had a National Champion for a year . . .somebody else gets it this year. You should have heard the announcer . . . it was great . . . when Mark first squirted up to the front and came screaming down Mass Street he was yelling "and here come our own home grown National Champion . . . and that's why he's an champion . . ." and on. It was great. . . . they even pronounced his name right this year!!!

Fun stuff! I'm still cheering for you Mark!

Friday, May 11, 2007

A little "cycling world" name dropping...

If all works out the way it's supposed to over the next couple of days, I may be able to brag that I once rode with the 2007 collegiate nationals road cycling champ.

Mark Smelser placed second in 2006 nationals - taking fifth in the road race and first in the crit - riding for Kansas State Univsersity. (The picture's of him after last year's crit win.) That put him just two (2) points behind some guy from the University of Virginia. Don't remember his name.

After winning the overall at the North Central Conference Championships this year, it would seem that Mark has a good shot at winning the overall national title (the Omnium). We'll see. He'll be riding in the road race tomorrow and the crit on Sunday.

If you want to read an article from today's Lawrence (KS) World Journal about Mark's attempt to win this year, check it out at...

Oh, about that ride "with" Mark. It was at Camp Quaker Haven. I was new to biking and Mark was part of a group that went out early one morning to ride the trails down by the river. I rode behind Mark and watched him climb up a hill I had to walk. He jumped little bumps I struggled over. Yikes!

Go Mark!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A card-carrying leader?

Ran across this in Indiana Yearly Meeting's most recent newsletter...

An arrogant Department of Agriculture (DOA) representative stopped at a farm telling the old farmer, "I need to inspect your farm." The old farmer said, "You better not go in that field." The Agricultural representative said in a wise tone, "I have the authority of the U.S. Government with me. See this card? I am allowed to go wherever I wish on agricultural land." So the old farmer went about his farm chores.Later, the farmer heard loud screams. He saw the DOA rep running for the fence, and close behind was the farmer's prize bull. The bull was madder than a nest full of hornets and was gaining at every step. The old farmer called out: "Show him your card!"

I smile at this story, and then I hurt, because this too often describes how we do things in the church. I call it the Barney Fife leadership style. Somewhere we received a badge, or a card, or an appointment to some position in the church, and mistakenly believe that we have more authority than we really do.

Jesus, on the other hand, didn’t carry a card. He had no earthly credentials, yet the crowds were amazed by the authority out of which He lived and taught. If you are reading this you may be in a leadership role in the church. When members of your church look to you do they see a card-waving DOA rep, or do they see Jesus?

Guest Blogger, Doug

My "buddy" Phil...

Phil Vischer is one of my favorite people in the world. I’ve never met him, but I’ve watched every VeggieTales episode he produced. His quirky humor makes me laugh out loud. I love his parodies of Star Trek, Rocky, Batman and Spiderman. They take me back to my childhood.

A few weeks back, while looking to find his new book, “Me, Myself and Bob,” on the internet, I stumbled on two sites. The first was This is basically Phil’s blog. I learned all sorts of cool stuff about what he’s up to now. The second was, the site for Phil’s new media company, Jellyfish Studios. (There are some really, really funny puppet sketch videos on the site.) He'd linked to this site on his blog...and when I got there visa versa.

On the Jellyfish site's "About Us" section, I read Phil’s brief account of his "failure" at Big Idea – the company had to file for bankruptcy a few years ago – and the birth of his new company. There I was reminded of an important truth. God’s in charge and only what we do with his direction will work.

Let me quote Phil here. You can read the whole story on later if you want. This is just the conclusion.

Through the experience, Phil realized some interesting things. First, our relationships with God are much more important than our work for God. God doesn’t want us to be “busy,” he wants us to be available. He doesn’t want us to focus on “impact,” he wants us to focus on obedience. If we’re walking with Him, we’ll know when He has something specific for us to do. We don’t need to make stuff up. If we’re so wrapped up in the work we’re doing for God that we can’t even make eye contact with the person bagging our groceries, something in our lives is way out of whack.

Second, to be a Christian is to give Christ “lordship” of our lives. That’s what it means. He’s Lord, we’re not. And if we’ve given Christ lordship of our lives, where we are in 20 years is, frankly, none of our business. Where we are in 5 years is none of our business. What is our business, is what God has told us to do today, and whether or not we’re doing it. That’s it.

Phil’s “big idea” died under the weight of Phil’s own ambition. Even though it was ambition to do “good,” it still amounted to a failure to allow God to lead him on a daily basis. A failure to follow. To submit.

So now Phil is starting again, and he wanted the name for his new company to remind him every day of the lessons he’s learned. So he picked “Jellyfish.” Why? Because jellyfish can’t choose their own course. They can’t locomote. They can go up a little, they can go down a little. But overall, they’re completely dependent on the current to carry them wherever they’re supposed to be. For a jellyfish to make a 20-year plan would be ridiculous. An act of ultimate hubris. And so it is with us. Rather than crafting their little plans and laboring to force things to go “their way,” Phil and his new cohorts at Jellyfish are committed to seeking and following God’s direction, each and every day – committed to staying in the “current” of God’s will, and letting Him carry them where they need to be. No long range plans, unless they come directly from God.

It sounds a bit weird. Practically “un-American.” How do you run a company without long range planning? To be honest, we’re not exactly sure. But that’s the Jellyfish experiment.

Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” I believe it. Phil reminded me to live it. Thanks, Phil (a.k.a. Pirate Pete).

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Ted Dekker's 700 Club interview

One of my favorite authors, novelist Ted Dekker, was interviewed on CBN's "The 700 Club" yesterday. I happened to see it when I was at the hospital visiting a woman from our church. I didn't watch it then, but made a mental note to check it out on the web. Watched it this morning.

Here's the link...

Click on the "Watch Now" button. I think you'll enjoy what you see and hear. If you don't, c'est la vie! (Loosely translated that's French for "Oh, well!")

Only days to go...

With today’s early dismissal, my family's end-of-the-school-year mantra has changed. For weeks, it’s been, “Only 34 and a half days to go” or “Only 22 and a half days to go” or “Only 13 and a half days to go.” Now it’s just “11 days to go.” The half day is gone.

Everyone’s getting excited. My kids are thrilled because fun in the sun is just around the corner. They love to swim. The pool is a block away. My wife is ecstatic because when these eleven days are over she’ll become the new Kindergarten teacher, a dream come true. She’s going to be great! And less stressed...maybe. And me? I’m looking forward to coaching Argonia’s swim team and visiting my brother in Iowa over Independence Day. I haven’t been to his place for years.

Anticipating the good things ahead reminds me today - as it often does - that there is a day coming that will be better than any day I’ve ever lived. That day, the day I die or the day Jesus returns for his bride, will be incredible beyond description. Can’t wait! Okay, I can, but I’m eager for that day. No kicking and screaming from me when it comes...I hope.

This world is not my home. I’m just a passin’ through.

“He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)

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Sunday, May 6, 2007

How's my neighbor?

More on Tom and Dee, Ron and Brandon, Marjorie and Steve. Some of them aren't mentioned by name in this post from Geoff Robinson's Geoffwards words blog, but they're there. Geoff's words are powerful. Take them to heart.


Dee. Tom. Ron. Kaye. Jeff. Marjorie. Steve. Ed. Connie. Roger. Tim. Brandon. Brady. Jayne. Deloris.

These are the names of real people, suffering real loss. Some I know. Some I don’t. These are the names of people mentioned in phone calls and emails I received yesterday, people brought up in conversations I’ve had today. These are the names of people who lost their homes, their belongings, their church buildings, their businesses to tornadoes this weekend. Most are from Greensburg, Kansas. A few are from Macksville, Kansas. Tim, the last I heard, was in critical condition in a hospital somewhere. The rest were, at last report, okay…physically.

I wonder how they’re doing mentally, emotionally. And how are they spiritually? I can’t answer these questions. I haven’t talked with a single one of these folks. I’ve only talked with or heard from their families, their friends. Still, my heart goes out to them. I feel something I can’t explain. Deep sorrow. I don’t know how else to describe what I’m experiencing. Maybe it’s God’s heart breaking for these folks and the rest of their devastated communities. Can’t be sure. All I know is that this anguish pushes me to pray for Dee and Tom and Ron and Kaye and Jeff and Marjorie and Steve and Ed and Connie and Roger and Tim and Brandon and Brady and Jayne and Deloris.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)