Thursday, August 28, 2008 comes college football...

Tonight is the first slate of college football games for 2008 (2 or 3 games on tv?) and I look forward to watching some of it at my parents' house. I am also fired up that i will be with my folks still on Saturday, as one thing I miss from my childhood is my dad and I keeping up with football scores all day long (although I think we have an outing planned...but I'm excited for that, mom, when you read this, don't say, "oh, Ben would rather us not go to the new park"...ok, hidden family message over). It usually started that morning as we read the newspaper, commenting on a few of the big games (and sometimes taking the time to do a mini-competition where we made predictions on EVERY game), then once games started on TV late-morning ,we basically spent the day jumping between games (commercial? no prob...just go to another channel...). And most of this occurred before the advent of like, oh, 8,000 sports TV options...

It should be a fun season! GO FROGS!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

wow...compared to last year, I am a BLOGGING FOOL!

This is post 71 of 2008. All of last year I only managed 67. And we still have 4 months in 08...imagine the possibilities!

Thanks again to all of you who read this haphazard (aka, there is no specific theme or agenda to this blog...I write about anything!) collection of musings.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Seeking What's Truly Important

First off, I am so grateful to have caring, godly parents that still love their "little boy" of almost-34. While I do seek to continue to grow as an adult, I suppose I've been raised to be willing to swallow my pride and seek wisdom (instead of gritting my teeth all the time and just "doing it all myself"), and I'm grateful I can go to my mom and dad seek their counsel, knowing they will always listen, always encourage, always gently challenge, and always give me thanks to them...without it, I may not be as willing to remember "hope" as I am this morning...

It has been awhile since I've "worked on my soul", I confess. I often read facebook profiles of friends, and see their personal "favorite book info" and read things like, "Really, the Bible is the main book i get into...", and go, "Aw, crap...why can't I be like that right now?" But I've just let busyness and external circumstances take over too much these days. The non-stop-ness of summer. "Wild cards" thrown in my path that mess up my "system". Frustration over my wife's lack of finding meaningful employment as a teacher. Various other catch my drift. But yesterday afternoon I sensed God telling me "STOP! Be with me..."

So I picked up a book by Doug Fields called, "What Matters Most". It's main premise is about becoming able to say "no" more often, as opposed to being a non-stop people pleaser and saying "yes" to all things, and thus sacrificing the things that matter most. Now, I actually think I'm ok at saying no, so while there may be some of that still in the book for me to digest, I'm not sure if I'm a guy who is always saying yes blindly. But, the book does also deal with how we sacrifice our souls for the sake of busyness, almost trying to convince ourselves that if we "do" alot (even in the name of Jesus), we are doing right. But I don't think that's the case...

I've seen myself and others be too effected by all this, this quest to just "do more" and how it dulls our true hearts for God and God alone. The youth pastor that adds more and more programs, events, and meetings who thus sets himself up for failure as the expectations and requirements to keep the machine going result in no personal time with God, a lack of passion to truly worship, and a "throwing under the bus" of family and friends. The Christian that works so much that when faced with a decision of work, God, and friends...God gets thrown out. The mom who goes from point a to point b to point z-squared, and has allowed herself to get that busy when she maybe should have asked for help from others so she could focus on restoring her soul a bit.

Well, all of those have been me. I've fallen prey to "doing", to trying to meet often unrealistic expectations I have for myself (or that I think others have for me...and they are likely often unfounded), and to getting so "meh" in my seeking of God as a result that even when I am able, I choose not to... So, I am asking God to restore my soul, as scripture says He will...I am seeking to find peace again...and I am going to remember all those truths that I've known and trusted in the past.

Back to my parents, there is a story many know of a time several years back where I was in a time like this, kinda being "mopey", etc., and I told my mom, "Momma, I know right now every fiber in your being wants to throw about 57 scripture passages at me...It's not that I don't believe them, but I just don't want it right now..." The next day in a pseudo-accountability group, I told them about that conversation, and a member, one of our pastors and my personal friend Gary, smiled at me and said, "But Ben, Truth is Truth and if you say you believe it, it doesn't matter if you don't feel like hearing it or not."

To this day I am eternally grateful for that word of wisdom and challenge! I have never been so ho-hum about God's truth again...even if I struggle to be motivated to seek it like I have been lately.

So, I am going to spend time with the list of scriptures my mom sent me yesterday, remembering what Gary said.

Finally, Doug Fields, in the book I'm reading, shared a passage from Jeremiah in the Old Testament that I'll leave you with today that has really made me ponder: This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." (Jeremiah 6:16)

Are you needing to stop and look around like I do right now? Are you seeking ancient paths that you profess to believe and have faith in? Are you seeking God's good and perfect "way"? And are you heading in that direction (and thus finding peace in your soul)? That is my prayer for myself and any of you who are with me...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why Fall is my Favorite Time of Year REMIX

To steal from Jon Christopher of (go there NOW!), since I am inspired by freakishly cool weather for mid-August (a high of 81 today? In North Texas on August 19?), I am going to post a "remix" of one of last years' posting. I call it a remix because while much of it will remain unchanged, I may "update" a few parts (or add comments, or whatever). Enjoy!

Why Fall (aka Autumn) is My Favorite Time of Year

Recently I was asked what my favorite season is. Below are some "haphazard, off-the-cuff" reasons the time from late-September thru late-December is my choice (in no order):

Two words: football (especially when some of the northern games start having snow). And it seems like this year (2008), I am even more geared up than normal, checking out pre-season games, etc.

I love leaves changing colors...where I grew up (Houston) this doesn't happen as much, but in N. Texas it at least happens a bit more, and it's great. So beautiful.

My weekly routine gets more "normalized". Summers are simply CRAZY in my life as a youth minister. Don't read that as "bad" or "unbearable", just crazy... Any personal schedule is basically thrown out due to events happening at all times, several big events to plan and run, etc. Fall in this youth minstry does take alot of planning (maybe more this year than normal with some re-done/new stuff), but still, once September gets rolling, most weeks "look the same"...and it is a welcome change.

My favorite "weather day" is partly cloudy (maybe even a bit overcast at times, but still "bright"), breezy, 40s in the morning and upper 50s and 60s in the day. Clear, cool nights where a fire can be burned. And in 2007, many fires were burned in our upgraded fireplace...looking forward to it again in 08!

I love how the weekly cool/cold fronts start coming down late-Sept., and how the first "real one" knocks high temps into the 70s...and how everyone acts like it's freezing suddenly (sweatshirts, etc.). Ironic thing is within two months, 70s are "hot". And last fall (2007) was warmer than I'm hoping for a cooler 2008.

My favorite month in general is in the fall: November. Weather is all over the place: sometimes still warm (but not hot), occasional storms, leaves blowing, and even the shot of the true "cold blast", with wintry precip a chance. Nov. also has my fave holiday: Thanksgiving. In addition to the best average weather guarantee of any holiday (to me at least), I love the food, being with family, the football games all weekend, and I also get to usually see my old friends from home. Oh, and as long as Aaron (best childhood friend) is in town, PUNTBALL (I'll explain that sport we created soon..hopefully after I get to play it this year as I don't believe we did in 07...BE IN HOUSTON THIS YEAR, AARON!). And best of all about Thanksgiving to me? The stress of "Christmas time" doesn't seem to exist (I love Christmas, too, but for some reason that is often a stressful time...lots of travel, making sure everyone is "seen", parties to plan, etc.). Turkey Day still retains at least some "laid-backness", even though tons of folks are around.

Baseball Playoffs. I do enjoy baseball, but I love the playoffs. I enjoy few things more than getting home on a cool night, letting the breezes flow through our house (windows open, of course), eating dinner, and watching postseason, INTENSE baseball. I don't even care who the teams are. I will admit that for some reason my 2007 "baseball playoff passion" was a bit more subdued...we'll see about 2008.

I love going to the Castles' (my in-laws) house in the fall. It will be somewhat different this year as the Castle's moved into a new house, but I bet it will still be enjoyable. Jeannetta decorates a ton, it still has a yard with trees, etc.. I love raking big piles of leaves (due to the trees) and letting Jax go crazy in them. Also, one of my fave things to do with Dennis is go in the garage while he's "tinkering around" (and the door is always open), wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, and watching/talking college football (there is a TV out there). That didn't happen much in hopefully it will more this year.

I get to wear "my uniform" in comfort: jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt. If it's cool enough, I can even wear one of my beanies...

Daylight Savings Time Ends. For some strange reason, I like it being dark at dinner time...well, not too dark (aka if it's been cloudy or rainy a ton...then it's just depressing...)

I get to start watching the Charlie Brown Specials (either on TV or DVD), with no reprocussions. I just love those...and so does Jax. Something about the song "Linus and Lucy" makes my heart smile...reminds me of the innocence of childhood. In fact, if nailed down to truly find the song to represent "me", it would be "Linus and Lucy" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.

Halloween is fun again since I have a child now. Plus, one of the great things about Weatherford is a GREAT trick-or-treating street called Lee that is wide, on a slope, with old homes and big porches that get all decorated...HUNDREDS of families out in a safe environment. Whenever we decide to leave Weatherford, that night and street will be one of several things I will truly miss.

Fall colors/decorations. Pumpkins. red/brown/orange/yellows everywhere (I love earthy colors). Candles that smell great (one of my favorite smells is "spice", like pumpkin spice or cinnamon).

You get to start some of the "Christmas Stuff" before the season gets too crazy. Lights, trees, other great smells (another favorite is "pine/christmas tree"). And I LOVE going to places like Garden Ridge Pottery and just walking around the Christmas section (or other stores with huge holiday sections).

MLS Cup in November (hopefully either FC Dallas or Houston Dynamo are in it this year!)

That's all I can think of for now...but I am READY for fall! It's just too warm cold fronts: COME ON DOWN!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Things I Learned from Building Jax's New "Fort"

For Jax's 4th birthday present, we bought him a "fort"/swingset-thingy that needed to be built. It is finished, looks good, and I will admit I'm proud of it. And thus, here are some musings about what I've learned (or been reminded of) in the process):

I may not be "Bob Vila" (aka, one who is a natural fix-it guy), but I do really well using directions. I know some folks that either a) get really confused following an instruction book in building things or b) feel like they are "less of a man" by using them, so they just ignore them. I, on the other hand, can build/fix just about anything provided very detailed instructions are provided. I think this fort was the same way. It came together generally well with a few "hiccups" that were remedied fairly quickly, even though I will admit one resulted in a call to an 800 number haha...

I can be a control freak if not careful. That statement may shock some folks who know me, but trust me on this... I had lots of good help in this project (Chris and Andrew White, Missy, etc.), but there were times I wanted to "do exactly what I tell my adult volunteer leaders on mission trips to NOT do" by just doing all the work/re-doing someone elses work. But for the most part (only exception is when something had to be disassembled due to the wrong wood being used...honest mistake), I have not changed any of the work that was done by others, even if I would have done it "differently" (read, "better in my book"). I felt as if that would be disrespectful... But, I will tell you, my double-secret inner control freak wanted to come out at times...

As I've alluded to before on this blog, I am not nearly as patient as myself and others may think I am... From getting really ugly/disrespectful with Jax the first night of the build (wow I was a jerk) because he wouldn't just let me work, to almost losing my cool in ugly ways a few times, to not realizing my "tone" was condescending to Missy a couple times (even if in my mind i was really not trying to be condescending at all), to throwing a stake across the yard (that's right, a stake...way to go safety boy...) when a comment about the fort's location was made (it was just REALLY bad wasn't even a horrible comment...), you get the picture...

I'm more patient (and really relied on God for this patience) than the above paragraph indicates. I shouldn't be "proud" of this (because it would be, well, prideful), but I can say that I truly felt inner calm at times when all criteria should have meant, "freak out, Ben!" Sometimes I needed hindsight to see it though. Some friends came over Friday for dinner, for instance, seeing the results of "day two", or as I called it to Jax, "your Death Star that is not yet fully operational" (I know, I have ruined my kid already with my love for Star Wars), but still partially usable (slide, rockwall/ladder, and platform were built). The wife, Ginger, asked me, "So, how many cuss words were said so far?" I thought, and was able to honestly say, "Well, I bet I came close a few times, but you know, I don't think I ever did..." NOT saying that to say "yay me!", but instead, YAY GOD for molding my heart so I would be compelled and able to keep my cool...

There are few things better than hearing your wife say, "Wow, I am really impressed." My wife Missy is just so great, and loves me for the wierdo I often am. But, one area I wish I was "more" of is in the area of building/fixing things... And it brought a smile to my face to hear her say she was really proud of the job I did.

There are fewer things better than knowing your son can hardly contain his excitement for the creation going up in your back yard. Jax simply couldn't wait for the fort to be built. Sometimes it was a struggle (like when he just wouldn't get out of the way so I could finish some "element" because he was already playing haha), but let's just say I LOVE hearing his chatter outside as he imagines being in a castle...or flying a starship...or spying on the neighbors with his binoculars :-).

So there you have it. A satisfying, eye-opening, experience. Feel free to come play on our fort!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Vacation Recap

Well, The Davis Family rolled back into Weatherford Saturday night, revelling on the success of our trip. Some highlights...

*** Day one at Sea World: a LONG day (open til close...9 am-8 pm), but overall a good one. Started with a dolphin feeding, then the sharks and clydesdales. Jax really enjoyed the sharks and the reef, even picking out "characters" from "Finding Nemo"... "Look, Mr. Ray! Dory! Bruce! NEMO!" Then went to ride Jax's first roller coaster, Shamu Express (kiddie me). He enjoyed it, was proud, but it was a bit rough..."I bonked my head but I'm ok". Then off to the Lost Lagoon waterpark. Fun splashing around a bit in play pools, wave pool, and the big "playhouse". As the day rolled on, we tried to see as many shows as possible. Waggin' Tails was cute (basically a bunch of trained "rescued" land animals), the ski show (with amazing Chinese Acrobats and "face-changer" pre-show) was fun, and of course, Shamu was impressive. At the end of the day, we visited two "special" shows, one involving sea lions, a walrus, and a sea otter spoofing all the shows (VERY funny) and a "Shamu Rocks" show to close the evening with lots of good loud music. Overall, a good day, lots of walking in oppressive heat (and carrying Jax), and enjoying the absolute wonder in Jax's eyes...a few times I even caught myself getting a bit emotional watching Jax have a ball... And only a few times did we want to throw him to the gators (haha).

*** Day Two, Sea World and the Austin's: We got out a bit later, with the main goals of a) seeing the only show we missed on day one (Cannery Row Caper), b) spending lots of time in the waterpark, c) myself getting to ride the "Steel Eel" (kind-of a coaster nut...), and d) a visit to the store to let Jax pick out a fun souveneir. Let's say only "b" and "d" were accomplished due to Tropical Strom Eduoard coming through mid-afternoon...but it kept temps down so that was a welcome thing. We all enjoyed lots of stuff at the waterpark though, and it was a much more "relaxed" day. For dinner we met our good friends Scott, Shannon, and Chase Austin at their place in Shavano Park for fajitas. Always good to see them.

*** Kerrville: What can I say, we basically were lazy and I read alot of pointless novels. It was PERFECT.

All in all, a succesful trip we ALL needed. Jax got to be our kid again, and we were able to really focus on him. Missy was able to "stop" as was I. Some very good (and needed) conversations between us were able to occur. Oh, and preseason football started...woohoo!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Unplugging for a Week

Well, it's almost time for our trip to Sea World/Kerrville. As a result (and some external factors, like computer maintenance, are at play), I will be "unplugging" until next Saturday, and I believe it will be a good (if difficult at email/blog/facebook!) thing. I pray it allows me to enjoy the week, listen to God, be an attentive father and husband, etc.

So, after I return, be looking for things like:

**** Vacation Recap

**** The Rangers Game with Gray/Howeth/Josh Hall/ Kyle G.

**** "Enjoyment vs. Fun"

See you on the flip side!