Thursday, December 31, 2009

Song of the Week and the New Year

I’m a little bit nervous about the start of 2010.  It’s highly likely that I will be furloughed in the next week or two and will probably be cut-off through the first part of March.  I’ve considered going to Houston for work, but since it should only be for 6-8 weeks we’re still weighing what I would make against the cost of travel and lodging.  I’ll probably just stay here and try to find some day labor or sell a kidney.
Leslie and I have been really focused for the last year on taking better care of our money, sticking to a budget, and getting out of debt.  Reminds me of a line from a George Strait song…”I’ll be paying the rest of my life for the few good times I had.” 
This will be a setback, but I don’t think we’ll starve. 
If we can make it through March, then we should be okay until Jones decides that she’d rather go to a university than cosmetology school.

This week’s song is also my 2010 resolution theme song.  It was a hit for John Anderson in 1981, but is seen and heard here performed by its writer Billy Joe Shaver, one of my favorite songwriters of all time.  I hope you like it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Eve and Day

On Christmas Eve we let the girls open one gift. It's always new pajamas. Thanks Gran-Nola and Papa.

Santa came! Georgia received her pink booster seat(says rock and roll all over it!), Polly Pockets, slippers, and a new cup and plate. Annie received a large coloring book and fat crayons, doll with accessories, new shoes, and a new cup and plate. Jones received a High School Musical doll house, HSM dolls, slippers, and a new plate and cup. Highlight gifts for Justin were books, overalls, moccassins, slippers, an Eric Peter cd, and a metal shelving unit for the garage. Highlight gifts for Leslie were New Balance shoes(AA narrow, thanks J), B&BW gift card, new hangers, maternity pjs, an ice cream maker, a purse hanger, scarf, and the shelving unit too.

Our good friends, Irv and LouAnn, had invited us over for Christmas lunch. I was told not to bring anything, but to enjoy the morning with the girls and to take lunch off. So nice!! Thank you Irv and LouAnn for a delicious meal and for the fantastic company. Thank you very much! We love you!

Friday evening we had Christmas dinner with Jimmy, Shirley, John and Sheila. Thanks to Jimmy for smoking brisket, sausage, and sweet potatoes. Yum! Here are some pictures of the evening. We were able to spend all Saturday together too. The boys went to the lake for a couple of hours while the girls had a garage picnic on the new foam mats and a nap.

Much love and thanks to Grandpa and Grandma Hilton, Gran-Nola and Papa Crawford, Mimi and Jazbo Brown and John and Sheila Delony!

Slap bracelets

Kirsten and Madalyn came over to exchange Christmas gifts. Madalyn gave the girls a Shamu Little People set to share and gave each a slap bracelet. I took Georgia's and showed her how this bracelet works. Annie went to crying! She backed up all the way to the front door and would have nothing to do with her bracelet. She will now carry hers around but will not wear it.

Monday before Christmas

I have three things to share with you from this particular Monday.

1. Monday morning around 7:00 Justin was leaving for work. Jones was still asleep and Justin went in to pat and kiss her goodbye. A few minutes later Jones was up and clinging to Justin and would not let him out the door. She is crying and grabbing and kicking and clinging onto Justin. I am trying to pry her off of him. I had her go to her room to calm down and when she was finished she could come have breakfast. She came out calm and we went about our morning. We were getting ready to go to the gym and I went into the girls room to get Annie's socks. What I saw was red on the ceiling and on the fabric hanging on the wall! Jones had colored them with red chapstick. I got her a rag and made her scrub. As she was scrubbing she began singing Salvation Belongs to Our God. It's hard to punish and be mad at a four year old who is signing to God!

2. Annie locked herself in the bathroom for the first time. I can not unlock the kind of doorknobs that are on our bathrooms. Annie remained calm brushing her teeth and adorning herself with headbands. Thanks to our great neighbor, Brad, for coming to our rescue.

3. Here is a picture of Jones and Georgia's afternoon of dress up.

Prince of Peace Luthern Preschool

Otherwise known as Princess Pea Preschool to Jones. Here are some pictures from her Christmas program. We will get the video uploaded soon.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reader Profile #4

Dave and Lisa Noble have been faithful subscribers to TOTP since its debut.
Lisa and her family attended church with Leslie in Amarillo, and I got to know her during the short time that I lived there.   I always thought she would have made a great nun if she were Catholic.  (I mean that in a nice way)  Fluent in Spanish, virtuous, prays without ceasing and no vices that I know of.
I've never met Dave.  I think he's from Vermont or one of those other Yankee states, but I like him anyway.  He's a weatherman, a real one, not one of those suits in front of a TV camera.
They are one of those weirdo couples who met and courted over the internet.  They moved to Alaska soon after they were married, and they were blessed with their first child this year.  I hope they live in Alaska long enough for us to save up enough vacation time and money to go for a visit. 
If you'd like to get to know them better or see great pictures of what life in Alaska is like, you can visit them at .

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Song of the Week

When we were living in Nashville Ryan and I had the opportunity to attend the first ever performance of Andrew Peterson’s Christmas production, “Behold, The Lamb of God.” My sister and Bro. John are in Nashville this week and will get to see the 10th annual performance tomorrow night at the Ryman Auditorium.  
My time with the Dominicans and four Christmases with a prego wife have made this song one of my favorites.

“Labor of Love”, Penned by Andy Peterson, Lead Vocals by Jill Phillips.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Reader Profile #3

This week’s reader profile is of a trio rather than an individual. I’m not sure how much they keep up with TOTP. I don’t think they’ve ever commented on-line, but they have each delivered comments in person from time to time, so I know they check in once in a while.

Our congregation at Western Hills is blessed with a trio of full time ministers. And not one jughead in the bunch. I like them all as individuals and they really compliment each other as a group.

It is one of those situations where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, although each part is quite impressive in his own right. The most impressive thing about them as a group is that they genuinely like each other and each respects the roles the others play in the life of our church family.

Scott Meyers, our Senior Minister, does the preaching. I once heard that there are two kinds of preachers: Those who know what they want to preach about so they study to find pieces of scattered scripture to support their point, and there are those who preach on the scriptures they have been studying. I prefer the latter and Bro. Meyers fits the bill.

There are a lot of morons in the youth ministry business and I’m proud to say that Brandon Baker is not one of them. He doesn’t have silly highlights in his hair, doesn’t plan ski trips, and doesn’t isolate himself or our youth from the rest of the church.

Scott Seela, our children’s minister, was one of the first people we met when we moved to Temple. My kids admire him so much that they take turns pretending to be “Mr. Scott” as they lead our house in songs from our home stage, a.k.a. the fireplace.

There is a link in the side bar if you'd like to learn more about these guys or Western Hills.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Mornings

I occasionally try to take a picture on Sunday mornings. I don't always remember or have the time. Justin and I have discussed how 52 Sunday pictures would make a creative photo album. Everyone is dressed up and clean and it makes an interesting picture of the girls wardrobes. Here is today. Annie is wearing a 12month outfit that she received her on her 1st birthday (thanks Andrea!). Georgia is excited that her dress has a hood and she picked out her tights. Jones dressed herself and is wearing navy tights with black shoes. Fun mornings!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Here's to hoping for good son-in-laws


I’ve heard my Grandaddy use those words when talking about weathermen, politicians, and people who own Mercury outboards. It made me laugh a lot when I was a kid and, for better or worse, I began to see if I could spot the jugheaded morons of the world at an early age.

The other day I heard Leslie get on to one of the girls for calling something or someone stupid. I understood her intention, but I asked her what word she would rather them use instead of stupid. No, I didn’t contradict her in front of the girls. That would be bad parenting. She said she didn’t know, but that she didn’t want them to use that word. Those of you who know my wife know that she doesn’t use nasty words like stupid, hate, idiot, etc…
I told her that I wanted my girls to recognize stupidity and idiots when they came across them and that I really didn’t mind them using those words if they learned to use them appropriately. And, yes, I do believe that they have appropriate uses.

I’ve heard a lot of people say a lot of poetic things about their hopes and dreams for their kids. Any of you remember that gay song about the watercolor ponies?
Well, I’ve written all of that to confess this: My most frequent prayer for my girls is that they don’t end up marrying jugheaded morons.
I guess it would be more tactful to pray, “Lord, let not my children be unequally yoked.”, but I believe the Lord knows an idiot when He sees one and I hope that He will help my daughters to recognize and steer clear of any that come their way.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Song of The Week

This week's song is by Paul Overstreet. If you aren't familiar with him, I'm sure you are familiar with some of his songs. "Forever and Ever, Amen", "When You Say Nothing At All", "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" are among his more famous ones.

This week has been a little gloomy around here, so I thought I'd choose something that makes me smile. I hope it does the same for you.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Reader Profile #2

In addition to the Song of the Week feature, I’ve also been intending to resume a series of posts profiling different TOTP readers. I began, or rather had intentions of beginning, this series last November when I did a post about Ryan Scott. For those of you who are new to TOTP or if you’d just like to review, you can find that one in the archived posts section, Nov. 8, 2008.
I’ll try to do my best to profile a different reader each week. If you’d like to know what I really like to think about you, let me know and I’ll move you up to the top of my list of to-be-profiled. If you don’t want to be profiled, I’ll probably do it anyway and you can just be mad about it.

If you ever read the comments section of TOTP you will notice that Carrie Tungate is the most frequent commenter. Or is it commentator? Or commentess? Must not be commentess because I got a red squiggly line under it when I typed that which usually means that I misspelled it or it isn’t a word. Sorry, Betty Friedan.
Anyway, without Carrie’s permission, I’m going resume this series with her.

With the exception of my sister, Carrie is the nearest to a female version of my personality that I’ve ever met. She is one of those rare wives that doesn’t annoy the friends of her husband. It’s my opinion that she is a good wife and mother because she is a good daughter, reinforcing in me the importance of raising my daughters in such a way that they will one day be good wives and mothers themselves.
I’m thankful for her friendship with my sister and that she has become a friend to my wife as well. I’m glad she married Adam and takes good care of him.
Carrie can sing, and I’m glad that she shares her gift of song with the rest of us. I had the privilege of recording some songs with her for my sister’s wedding. She also did the background vocals on Delony’s platinum selling, Room for Improvement. She is a member, along with her father, of Lone Prairie. You can see one of their performances in the utube clip below.

Monday, November 30, 2009


One of my favorite things about this blogging stuff is that you never know who is reading. Since I’m sure there are some TOTP readers who may not know it yet, I’d like to announce that my wife, aka “Fertile Myrtle”, is due to deliver our fourth kid in June. My intuition tells me that this one is a boy. Not because we were “trying to have a boy”, or would be disappointed with another girl. The signs have just been there, including the clincher today. You see, my sister is pregnant too and I figured since we were having kids so close together that they would both be of the male gender. My sister just called and confirmed my suspicion, so now I can officially post this post.

This post is also to introduce a new feature here at TOTP. I think I’ll call it Song of the Week. I know that I’ve posted songs on here before, but I’m going to do my best to post a good one every Monday. Please chastise me if I ever shirk the task.

In tribute to John and Sheila’s news and to all the other new or want to be parents out there, here is Brad Paisley’s “Anything Like Me”.

I hope you like it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fall Outing

There was frost on the ground when we got up Wednesday morning, but the sun was shining and I didn't have to go to work until later that afternoon so I took Jones and Georgia on an outdoor adventure.
We went to Miller Springs, where water from Belton Lake is released through the dam and moves on down the Leon river. Because of the rains we've had over the last month they were releasing at a pretty good clip. You can see the current moving in the pictures.
This was the best outing I've ever had taking both of the girls at the same time. No fussing, fighting, arguing, or complaining. Georgia cried once when she got her hook stuck in her thumb, but I might have done the same under similar circumstances.
The sun warmed things up and created a beautiful fall day. We saw buzzards, blue herons, and cardinals. We snacked on apples, muffins, M&Ms, popcorn, animal crackers, and kool-aid. We found a giant tree that was so tall it went "all the way to the top of the sky!" Georgia collected rocks. Jones collected snails and crickets. We even caught a catfish that we took home for our lunch.
Good times.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Great Romance

Let me start by confessing that I believe in the Providence of the Lord.

In 2001 I moved to Nashville to work for Aquinas College, a small Catholic school run by a congregation of Dominican sisters.
I wasn’t sure what to expect being around a bunch of nuns. I soon learned that rather than a bunch of spinsters or ugly girls who didn’t have much choice in the matter of celibacy, these were women who lived their earthly life as the bride of Christ. It was like they couldn’t wait for the trumpets so they just eloped. It wasn’t that they shunned marriage or motherhood. To the contrary, I often saw them elated to the point of giddiness with news of romances or in the presence of children (especially babies).
Sadly one of the older sisters, the chair of the Education Dept, died unexpectedly that winter. I went to the convent for the funeral and was taken aback to see her open casket in the middle of the sanctuary of the convent. There she was laying there with a copy of the vows she had taken some 50 years earlier rolled and held tightly in her hand. She had remained true to her beloved and had gone to join Him in the by and by.

A couple of months later, just before I moved back home to Texas, I went to see Derek Webb perform at 12th and Porter and heard his song “Wedding Dress” for the first time. (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the song there is a Utube link below) It is a song sung with lamentation and confession that really convicted me that night, at a time in my life when I was concerned with the path of my life, unsure of my career choice and my future.

In 2002 I moved back to Texas, met Leslie, wooed her, and proposed. Of course she said yes. It was around this time that Latayne Scott released her book, "Shout of the Bridegroom", that she co-wrote with R. Glenn Greenwood. For me, as a betrothed man, this book came at just the right time. It made me see the story of Jesus and his love, his wooing, and redemption of His church as the bride of Christ in a new light. It was like the book was watering the seeds of thought that had been planted during my time in Nashville. So much so that our chosen wedding vows, which we borrowed from a Catholic ceremony and Dan Scott did an outstanding job administering, highlighted the parallel of our marriage covenant to the covenant relationship of Jesus and His bride, the church.

2008- I read Francine Rivers’ “Heart of the Lion” trilogy which led me to read her book, "Redeeming Love". I highly recommend all four books.

2009- In my previous post I mentioned that I’ve been reading Ted Dekker’s Books of History. I just finished White, and through these books I have once again been reminded of “The Great Romance”: That Christ pursues us, woos us, and rescues us to take us home and show us off as His bride, “blameless in His sight” to the Father. If you haven’t read the Circle Trilogy you should.

My point is: In the same way the Passover lamb was a reflection of Jesus hundreds of years before His sacrifice, our ‘till death parts us marriage covenants here are representations of our eternal marriage covenant with Jesus. It’s a lesson that has been pointed out to me again and again since 2001. I hope that you will think on it, that your marriages will be enriched by it, and that you will see your relationship with Jesus in light of it.

For more on representational thought or to get your copy of any of Latayne’s books please visit her website. (link in the sidebar)

To hear Derek Webb’s “Wedding Dress” click here->

I’ll close with the words from verse 3 of “The Love of God”, a song from 1917 that I never had heard until just a few years ago…..

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the earth of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forever more endure
The saints and angels song.

FM Lehman

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sesame Street

Sesame Street's 40th Anniversary was today and we celebrated by going to Rosa's for taco Tuesday and then to the Mayborn Planetarium in Killeen. The Planetarium featured a free 30 minute show with Elmo, Big Bird, and a new Chinese character Ming Ming Choo or Zhu Zhu Choo (or something like that). Annie snuggled up wanting to go to sleep when the lights went out, but was mesmerized by the size of the screen and by seeing Elmo. She stayed awake for the entire show. Jones sang along, Georgia danced and Madalyn eagerly clapped and pointed at Elmo. It was also a great educational video too. Lots of counting, naming stars and learning words in Chinese. Georgia can tell you all about the Big Dipper now. On the way out, everyone received an Elmo doll wearing a book backpack. Annie did not want to leave. She stayed at the door, knocking on the door, saying Elmo, Elmo, go in, Elmo. So precious.

Justin is not a big fan of Annie's big bow. I think it's adorable. Any opinions out there?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Morning

After a month of working only 3 or 4 times a week as a switchman in the freight yard I've been back working on the road at a frantic pace for these last three weeks and haven't spent much time near the computer(or home). But this morning I'm at the hotel in Ft Worth with no wife to wrestle, kids to pester, breakfast to cook, or fish to catch and thought I'd sit down and doodle on this keyboard in the "business center." I know doodling is not the right word, but what do you call it when it's a keyboard instead of a pen?

More work means more money but less fishing time. Some would call that a catch 22, but I don't. I've never read the book, so I don't feel that I should just borrow its title because I think I know what it means. I also don't know why people call trash cans, "File 13". It's kind of annoying, but I'm easily annoyed. I also don't like the phrase, "We've been playing phone tag."

Among the books I've never read, but plan to read: Catch 22, Moby Dick, Swiss Family Robinson

I've been reading Ted Dekker's Books of History over the last few weeks. I've read Saint, Black, Red, and Showdown in that order. I plan on reading White next, then Sinner and Green. He is a fantastic storyteller. His books are fiction, yet full of truth.

Woody came down last weekend for a fishing adventure. He had to leave after lunch on Saturday, so we left the house at 3:30 to allow for a full morning of fishing.
4:00 am..42 degrees..full moon --We ran about 3 miles across the lake, caught bait, put out some jugs. We were going to crank up and go to a different spot to rod and reel fish, but my motor wouldn't start. I've had the motor for almost a year and never had any trouble with it. We made the most of a bad situation and ate our breakfast of vienna sausages, Fritos, and bean dip. We fished where we were for the rest of the morning but only caught a couple. I had a full charge on the trolling moter battery so we made it to another park. My dear wife came to our rescue and then we had lunch at the Mexican joint.
A few days ago I had the time to do some tinkering (I am not a mechanic) and changed out the spark plugs and lower unit oil. I took it to the ramp for a test and it fired up on the first pull. Ran better than ever.

Annie say's "I do!" whenever someone asks a Who wants... question. She has the best little girl voice. Makes me smile. She can walk up my legs while holding my hands and do those flips now too.

We don't have any guests lined up for Thanksgiving, so I'm extending the invite to all of you TOTP readers. RSVP in the comments section.

I'll post again soon. On the merits of country music.
Until then... "Grab your partner, pat her on the head. If she don't like biscuits, feed her cornbread."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 09

Halloween evening we went to Jamie Huddleston's house, Trinity Church with Eric and Christy Allerkamp and kids, and then back to our neighborhood for door to door trick or treating. The Allerkamps, Northrups, Paynes, and Vaughts went around the block with us too!

Jones was a "fancy" pink princess, Georgia was a "plain-o" pink princess, and Annie was a "cute" princess!

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