Archive - April, 2011

The #RoyalWedding recap

I had no intention of watching the Royal Wedding. I just don’t get jazzed up about stuff like that. Pomp and circumstance has its place I suppose, just not at 3:00 a.m. CST.

But as bad luck would have it, I awoke at 3:00 a.m. CST to the sound of the theme song from “Cops” blaring from my television. And since it seems they show the same dumb, drunk criminal lying to the police over and over again on that program, I figured, what the heck? Might as well watch some pomp and circumstance.

And hey, while I’m at it, might as well post some random thoughts on the twitter at the same time:

This is one long wedding. By this time at my wedding I was already @ the reception doing the chicken dance. #royalwedding

I’m guessing they won’t being doing the chicken dance @ this one, though #royalwedding

I’m going to wait until #royalwedding is over before I make fun of the hats, because I’m classy like that.

The people outside look really happy, don’t they? #royalwedding

I wonder if one dry cleaner takes care of all these clergy robes. Bet they’re easy to spot on that automated hanger thingy #royalwedding

Okay, people. Let’s wrap it up. We have another wedding here at 6:00 #royalwedding

So now what? Reception? They look pretty relaxed to me. #royalwedding

Incidentally, I had no intention of watching the #royalwedding. I just woke up too early.

I think it’s interesting that all the women I saw were dressed conservatively (except some hats) & the most lavish costumes worn by men

Can someone tweet a pic of that tan hat that girl was wearing behind the queen, because Dang. What was that thing?#royalwedding

“If you really want something in life you have to work for it. Now quiet, they’re about to announce the lottery numbers” – Homer Simpson

Okay seriously...WTH?

@BigMama247 How can you be okay with that hat? I wonder if she’s going to have a picture of the royal couple put in that frame on her head. (in reply to: @katdish Well, better with the hat than with the make-up. And I like anything that is feather-free.)

@BigMama247 There was a copious amount of plumage & flying saucers in attendance.

@agapeguitars @BigMama247 “Do you like my hat?” “No, I do not like your hat.” – Go Dog Go (in reply to: @katdish @BigMama247 Well, I’m not Alise, but I love the hat for its Seussian qualities. That always supersedes good taste IMO.)

@SBeeCreations @agapeguitars mentioned a certain Dr. Seussian quality to it. I tend to agree. (in reply to @katdish @agapeguitars Do you like my hat?)

Getting ready for the next #royalwedding unstated flashy

Perhaps an environmental statement #royalwedding

And floral is appropriate for a spring #royalwedding

"You wanna a piece of me?!?" #royalwedding

So there you have it. I watched the Royal Wedding so you didn’t have to. Sorry/you’re welcome/TTFN!


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(Sung to the tune of Infatuation by Rod Stewart)

Late in the evening I need sleep
I can’t write and I can’t think
Put it off all day can’t concentrate
Thinking I’m making a big mistake

Laundry lies in the middle of the floor
Sheets and towels piled as high as the door
Laundry day has come and gone
Blaming it on that Psych marathon

Oh no not again
It hurts so good
I don’t understand

Should have been dressed bout an hour ago
Got a teacher conference and I need to show
I won’t wash my hair that’ll save some time
Cutting it close but I’ll be there by nine

Oh no not again
It hurts so good
I don’t understand

Managing time’s just not my gift
My train of thought is often adrift
I’m jealous of folks who get things done
While I’m goofing off and having fun

Oh no not again
It hurts so good
I don’t understand

“Procrastination is my sin. It brings me naught but sorrow. I know that I should stop it. In fact, I will – tomorrow!” – Gloria Pitzer

Dumping our junk

In our kitchen, the silverware drawer is flanked by a knife/pot holder drawer on the right and a junk drawer on the left. Actually, there are two junk drawers to its left. They weren’t intended to junk drawers. Since the kids do their homework at the kitchen table, I stocked those two drawers with pens, pencils, crayons, markers, scissors, glue and other items the kids might need to do their school work.

As I mentioned on Tuesday, we hosted a pot luck get-together on Sunday afternoon. As people were coming in and setting their dishes on the counter, someone asked me where they could find some serving spoons. Imagine my horror (and theirs, no doubt) when they opened the wrong drawer and discovered this:

The worst part is that this is not the first time this has happened. This is what the other junk drawer looks like:

Clearly, these drawers have become a favorite dumping spots for the kids.

Tuesday evening, with a recent episode of Hoarders still fresh in my memory, I decided it was time to clean out these drawers. Lest you think they really didn’t have that much junk in them, here’s what the contents of those two drawers looked like when I dumped them out on the kitchen table:

That’s just two drawers, people! Oy, vey.

Several years ago, my very organized friend told me about a book called Organizing from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life. To call a book about organizing revolutionary may seem like a stretch, but this book truly is. The problem with most books about organization are that they are written by people who are organized. Julie Morgenstern is a former pack-rat herself, so she understands what it feels like to be overwhelmed by clutter and how the stress associated with disorganization can affect other areas of your life. I don’t know what happened to that book. I think I lent it out to a friend. It’s probably at the bottom of someone’s junk drawer unread. But I do remember the acronym she discussed in the book that I apply every time I tackle a messy space, regardless of whether it be a drawer, a closet or an entire room:

  • Sort (everything into like categories)
  • Purge (throw away or put into a giveaway box things that are not needed)
  • Assign a home (to those things you are planning to keep)
  • Containerize (put like things together in containers)
  • Equalize (periodically go back and repeat this process on a smaller scale so it doesn’t get out of hand again)

So that’s what we did, my daughter and me. We sorted the pens from the pencils, the Sharpies from the markers. We put aside all the things that didn’t belong in those drawers and later put them back where they belonged.

And then we purged. We purged a lot of stuff. Dried up markers and nubs of pencils. Tiny little trinkets that once seemed like such treasures but just looked like so much junk in the harsh light of the kitchen.

I think there’s an important life lesson to be learned through this process. Things may appear calm and put together when all anyone sees is what shows from the outside:

But we can only stuff things away in the dark for so long before pretty soon the inward mess starts overflowing to the outside.

I think it’s best to approach life from the inside out, don’t you?

Not just for Sunday mornings anymore

A very different view from Sunday afternoon.

My blog friend Matt Appling wrote a great post Monday over at The Church of No People called The Biggest Failure I Know. In his typical dry and candid way, he questions how much stock churches should put into the number of folks who show up for church on Easter Sunday. You should hop over there and read the entire post, but here’s a brief sample:

“People who boast about their church’s Easter numbers always justify their self-aggrandizement by giving God credit for leading everyone to church or something. Personally, I think most people show up to Easter church because they have a new outfit they need to show off, but I guess the Lord takes many forms, including sundresses. But I have to ask: if God led all those people to church on Easter, is He responsible for them staying home the next Sunday?”

Well dang.

That’s a good question. So often we Christians publicly proclaim that when our churches are growing in membership, it’s a “God thing”. We give him all the glory, don’t we? Of course, when that’s not happening it’s considered poor taste to say, “God is ignoring us. Doesn’t He realize how much we spent on full color mailers?” But do the number of folks who show up on Sunday morning directly reflect how much or how little God is blessing your particular church? I used to think so. But now I’m not so sure. Because as much as I love Sunday mornings at our little church gathering, what happens on Sunday morning is just a glimpse of what’s going on in the life of our church. And as friendly a bunch as we are, the hugs, handshakes and how-do-you-do’s only go so far.

I’m most in awe of Jesus when we have church when we’re not in church.

Easter Sunday we hosted a pot luck get-together at our house for whomever wanted to show up. And show up they did. Some friends brought balls and outdoor games for the kids. Our backyard looked like a school field day. There was plenty of food and good conversation, which is typically the case when we get together. (Unlike me, there’s a lot of chatty people at my church.- Ha!) But what blew me away was that some of the folks that shared their Easter Sunday afternoon with us were people I had just met that morning.

In this era of instant messaging and ability to stay connected with people all over the world, I’m finding more and more people feel isolated and disconnected. People hurt. We need one other. We crave community with each other and with our Creator.

I won’t claim to know what God’s plans are for our church or for anyone else’s. But I do think He is showing us that loving God goes hand in hand with loving people, living in community with one another and serving the world.

And that church isn’t just for Sunday morning anymore. Acts 2:42

When we first planted C3 and met at our home on Sunday mornings, I used to jokingly say, “Be the church because there don’t be no church building.” Funny how that still applies even when we do have one.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend.

The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part One

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There are two types of commonly known elephants: the African and Asian elephant.  They both used to exist in great numbers across Africa and parts of Asia. Today, both of these gentle giants are endangered. Twenty-five years ago, there were approximately 1.3 million elephants in Africa, but now it is estimated that there are about 500,000. In Asia, the numbers are even less. Loss of habitat and illegal poaching are the reasons sited for their dwindling numbers. (Source:Utah Education Network.)

There is, however, one species of elephant that continues to thrive and multiply:

image courtesy of

These invisible giants have most likely been around since Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit. And while I have no biblical proof of such, I’m guessing there was at least one pair on Noah’s Ark.

Over the next few months, I plan to present a few examples of these fabled beasts and show how to ensure your elephants continue to thrive and live indefinitely. While there are a myriad of conditions which result in the creation of an elephant in the room, there is typically commonality to the environments in which they thrive.

  • The owner of the elephant is rarely its master.
  • The elephant cannot survive in an environment of open, honest communication where there are no secrets.
  • “Shoulds” and “ought to haves” are an elephant’s favorite treats.
  • These beasts feed and thrive on guilt, fear, pride and shame.
  • Ancient elephants still exist today; many producing offspring through several generations.
  • The ideal environment for a large, virile elephant is one where secrets are never openly confessed but are known by both the elephant’s owner and its master.
  • Several elephants can co-exist under one roof. The come in many shapes and sizes, as do their masters.

As previously mentioned, over the next few months I will provide examples of healthy and thriving elephants. For now, I wanted to share an example of how to kill one. I could not find a video of this song, but the lyrics provide proof that these beasts can be eliminated. Sadly, in this particular example, it also meant the death of a relationship. But that’s not always the case.

What you didn’t say (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

I can read your eyes just like a book
You tell me different, but I know that look
And I don’t have to guess what’s between the lines

So what in the world am I still doing here
You push me away when I get too near
Saying love’s too simple to analyze

So why do I feel confused
Why do I feel so used
Like a worn-out thought you threw away
It wasn’t what you said, it’s what you didn’t say

Where are the windows, where are the doors?
I haven’t the key to your heart anymore
I haven’t a clue to what’s gone wrong

‘Cause you look at me sometimes as if I weren’t there
You say you’re listening, but you never hear
The strains of silence have grown so strong

I never wanted to doubt you
But I’d be better off without you
I’m no good at looking the other way
It wasn’t what you said, it’s what you didn’t say

So look at me one last time
With eyes that still know how to shine
Hold me like you won’t let go
But you let go anyway

No one belongs where they’re not wanted
You’re just a ghost, and my heart is haunted
When I said goodbye, you didn’t even beg me to stay
It wasn’t what you said, it’s what you didn’t say
No baby, it wasn’t what you said, it’s what you didn’t say

So how about you? How well are your elephants thriving?

Way over yonder

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Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.

“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

“And you know the way where I am going.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 14:1-6 (NASB)

Way Over Yonder

Way over yonder is a place that I know
Where I can find shelter from the hunger and cold
And the sweet tasting good life is easily found
Way over yonder, that’s where I’m bound

I know when I get there, the first thing I’ll see
Is the sun shinin’ golden, shinin’ right down on me
Then trouble’s gonna lose me, worry, leave me behind
And I’ll stand up proudly in true peace of mind

Talkin’ about, talkin’ about
Way over yonder is the place I have seen
In the garden of wisdom from some long ago dream

And maybe tomorrow, I’ll find my way
To the land where the honey runs in rivers each day
And the sweet tasting good life is so easily found

Way over yonder, that’s where I’m bound
That’s where I’m bound, talkin’ about, talkin’ about
Way over yonder, that’s where I’m bound

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ~ John 14:27 (KJV)

All we are saying is give Peeps a chance

I’ve never been a big fan of Peeps candy, but last year I found a fun and calorie-free way of enjoying the sugary marshmallow treats. Enjoy:

What can we learn?

  • That we can enjoy Easter candy without having to eat it.
  • That I am easily amused.
  • That maturity is mostly overrated.
  • That Cadbury Creme Eggs are vile and disgusting. (Okay, we didn’t really learn that, but they are…)

(And yeah, that’s me giggling in the background. Sorry/you’re welcome.)

Mushrooms, anyone?

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I live a very comfortable life. Truth be told, many people live in want of things that I take for granted. I think most of us take things for granted until we lose them or there is a threat of losing them. I don’t pretend to understand why I have so much when others have so little. But the verse “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48b) doesn’t escape my attention, either. I know I have a responsibility to help others.

I suppose I should be content to live a life many people would envy, and for the most part, I am content. But there a certain restlessness in me that has always been there. Probably always will. I think a big part of this restlessness is an adventurous spirit. No, I don’t want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane or bungie jump off the side of a bridge. I’m not that kind of adventurer. What I desire is to do something in a way not done before. Whether that be writing, or painting or heeding God’s call. I want to be different. I want to ask Why not? where others ask Why? Even if it is from the confines of suburbia. Erwin McManus summed up this desire in the following passage:

For years, I have made it my mission to destroy the influence of the Christian cliche “The safest place to be is in the center of the will of God,” but just this week my wife Kim introduced me to one of the earlier uses of this adage. It’s found in the diary of Corrie tn Boom (concentration camp prisoner)…And although Corrie lived to tell the story, (her sister, who quoted the adage) Betsy died in the midst of it…Actually, God’s will for us is less about our comfort than it is our contribution. God would never choose for us safety at the cost of significance. God created you so your life would count, not so that you could count the days of your life..

The Church Communication Network sent me an invitation to do a session on leadership at one of their national conferences..I would follow one of the most credible experts…I was honored..both excited and nervous as I prepared to follow the main speaker . Somewhere in his lecture he started to say something that totally threw me.. Point blank, he instructed, “Don’t be an innovator, be an early adopter.”

Hearing that created a crisis for me since I place an extremely high value on innovation. At Mosaic, the community where I serve as lead pastor in Los Angeles, we don’t describe ourselves as a modern church or postmodern church, a contemporary church or emerging church. The only description I use is that we are an experimental church. We volunteered to be God’s R&D Department. Anything He wants us to do that other churches do not want to do or are unwilling to do, we’d like to take on…

The speaker went on to explain that the innovator is the guy who eats the poisonous mushroom and dies. The early adopter is the guy right next to him, who doesn’t have to eat it. He can learn from the innovator’s misfortune. Made perfect sense to me. That’s why he’s the man. Curious to me was my perception that he had pretty much been an innovator, the kind of guy who had eaten some pretty bad mushrooms and just happend to live to tell about it.

Before I knew it, it was my turn. Whatever I had planned to talk about was irrelevant to what was banging around in my head: Should I stop being an innovator?….But my mind wouldn’t stop there: What happened if everyone became an early adopter…Without innovators, who could we depend on to die?

With all this running through my brain, I let my talk go where the lecture and perhaps God’s Spirit guided me. After thanking him for his amazing contribution to the Body of Christ and for mentoring me through his books and ministry, I went on to thank him for a new metaphor for my life.

I am a mushroom eater.

Erwin McManus, The Barbarian Way

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being an early adopter, but as McManus says, without innovators there would be no early adopters.

Someone has to be willing to die.

So, what about you? Are you a fan of mushrooms?

This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Adventure, hosted by the lovely and talented Peter Pollock. For more posts about adventure, please visit him at

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Student protests


Last Thursday morning at 11:52 am, I received a call from my 13 year old son. With chants of “Save our Teachers” in the background, he informed me that he was standing in front of his school protesting the firing of teachers from his school and other schools in the district. He did not ditch class, he walked out of school during his lunch hour. I told him I supported his protest as long as he did so respectfully and went back to class after his lunch break was over. He did.

Several local news stations carried this protest as well as others throughout the district. The State of Texas is facing mass budget shortfalls and education will take a heavy hit. Katy ISD announced plans to cut 550 jobs within the district. Of these jobs, 500 teachers were lost to attrition or lay-offs and 50 administrative jobs were cut. If these figures seem lopsided to you, you’re not the only one. But more about that later. The following letter was sent out to all students via email from the Superintendent of Katy ISD following Thursday’s walk-outs:

Dear Students,

Today, some of your peers decided to take a stand to have their voices heard in protest of teacher lay-offs. I understand that many of you are upset over losing great teachers, and I too feel the same frustration. This entire process has been one of the toughest challenges we’ve faced as a school district in recent years. Therefore, I want you – our students – to understand how we got here:

The State of Texas is facing an education budget shortfall of as much as $10 billion over the next two years. This means that school districts all over the state will not receive a significant amount of money. For Katy ISD, we’re estimating a loss of approximately $50 million. However, by Texas law, we cannot reduce teacher pay to save jobs. And, by Texas law, we cannot use funds for new school buildings to pay teachers. This is why we have had to face the difficult task of cutting back on programs and laying-off staff members – both teachers and administrators.

Texas law requires us to notify teachers of their job status at least 45 days before the last day of school. So, even though the state has not announced a final dollar amount that will be cut from our schools, we are forced to make difficult staffing decisions before April 19. This deadline is what drove the announcements this week. These layoffs are necessitated by the projected shortfall in state financial support-not due to job performance. My hope is that the state does not cut as much as is currently projected, allowing us to hire some of these great teachers back.

Our goal is to spread the cuts as much as possible so as to not severely impact the classroom, classroom support, student learning experiences and other services that have made Katy ISD one of the top school districts in our nation.

You are Katy ISD, and I admire you for wanting to have your voice heard – and for caring about our great teachers. We are continuing to work hard to balance this situation, and I ask that you be respectful of your teachers and your principals as this time is very difficult for all of us.

Please stay focused on your academics and finish strong in this last stretch of the 2011 school year.


Alton Frailey
Superintendent of Schools

Having been in this district for several years, I was unimpressed with the letter as were many students who received it. More protests were carried out the following day, and yet another email was sent out:

Information regarding student protest:

· Students’ voices have been heard and messages have reached the state leaders
· Their point is appreciated and has been made
· Behavior observed/occurring now on behalf of students in not peaceful or focused but disruptive and not safe
· Further disruption of the school day will result in disciplinary action

I applaud the kids for standing up for their teachers. What I don’t appreciate is feeling like our kids are being used as pawns in some power play between the state legislature and the local school superintendent. Based on several news stories and interviews I read and viewed on television, it seems the teachers were approached by administration staff during the school day and told they were getting laid off. They then had the option of completing the rest of the day or going home. The district had substitute teachers on hand if the teacher chose to leave for the day. Many chose to leave, many visibly upset and in tears. I question why the district carried out these layoffs while the children were there to witness them, especially when Friday was an early dismissal day for students and they could have waited until after 12:40 when the kids had left for the day. Of course, the news media had mostly cleared out by then, too.

Katy ISD only spends  49.7% of each dollar on the classroom.  The Administration makes a lot more money than the teachers.  Add this to the fact, that over 80M is sitting in a bank account in the district, and you see just how ludicrous the actions were of this administrator.  There is zero requirement for 80M to be in the reserve funds of the ISD.  Yet, he still wanted to make political points. (Source: /Texas for 56: Katy Schools Suffer As Superintendent Wields Power

Here’s a few statistics via Texas Education Agency.

  • For every public school teacher in Texas, school districts have one non-teaching staff position.
  • State-wide, teachers earn an average of $9,000 a year less than “other professional staff,” $22,000 less than school administrators and $38,000 less than central administration staff.
  • The turnover rate for teachers is about 15%, with almost 38% of teachers having less than 5 years teaching experience.
  • Superintendents on average take home six-figure salaries, with the highest-paid superintendent, Thomas Carroll of Beaumont ISD (19,000 students), earning $346,778 per year – nearly 2 ½ times more than the Texas governor!
  • Superintendents typically enjoy a number of perks, like an expense account, retirement contribution, car and housing allowances, bonuses, and more.

There’s so much more to this mess, but this post is already too long. Thanks for letting me vent.

It seems to me that if we could eliminate a few more admin jobs and stop building these Taj Mahals they call administration buildings, we could afford to put more money back into the classrooms. I understand the need for administrative and support staff, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a t-shirt that said, “If you can read this, thank an administrator”.

End of long winded rant.

What type of rhino would you be?

rhino stencil

Some of you know I was working on a art project for my daughter’s 4th grade class last week. Each year, the school holds an auction to raise money for the PTA. In years past, the most popular items have been pieces of pottery decorated by the kids. This year, they decided to expand this concept to other mediums. Some grades still did pottery projects. There were also decorated benches, quilts, and painted canvases.

In years past, I have donated small rhino canvases (the school mascot) to be auctioned off. I’ve painted sports themed rhinos, superhero rhinos (Spiderman was my favorite), girly-girl rhinos, Sponge Bob, Harry Potter, Dr. Seuss, camouflage rhinos and many more. I even painted a rhino that looked like a Louis Vuitton purse. I don’t do that anymore, but I did offer to paint the rhino canvas for my daughter’s class.

I won’t go through a blow by blow of the process, just the basics. 1) Each child was given an outline of a rhino I created with a stencil and was instructed to personalize it any way they wanted. 2) I xeroxed the rhinos then transferred each image onto a canvas using graphite paper. 3) I completed the rhinos to look as close to their original artwork as possible.

Prepared canvas

Arranging the rhinos

Copying the rhino images onto canvas

When I sent the blank rhino sheets for the kids to decorate, I also sent pictures of some of the rhinos I have painted in previous years. I wanted to give the kids some ideas about how they might want to decorate their own. A few kids used my ideas, but most of them personalized their rhinos to reflect something about themselves. I was very impressed with what they came up with:

Of all the great rhinos the kids sent me, I did have a favorite. Mostly because while other rhinos reflected a hobby, sport or other interest, this particular rhino was a reflection of the artist, a self-portrait in rhino form. I hope this suggests that the artist is a rugged individualist and comfortable with who she is:

Or maybe I’m just a proud mama…

How would you decorate your rhino?

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