Monday, April 21, 2008

Yetis rejoice?

Yesterday, Allan finished up his series on Habakuk. Despite significant trials in his future, Habakuk declares his faith in the Lord:

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Shanna and I were on our way back to Fort Worth Sunday morning. We had traveled to Vernon for our niece's wedding shower Saturday night. So we missed the sermon, which I know was great. I wasn't able to get the full details but Allan had requested everyone to bring their cell phones to service yesterday. I know, strange, but you have to know Allan. Anyway, he had those with phones send the scripture to someone. Shanna received it twice. Once from Mrs. Brownstone and once from Jennifer Green. The one from Mrs. Brownstone came through as it was written in Habakuk. However, the message from Jennifer had a strange twist. See, she lived in Alaska for a time while her husband was working the oilfields there. I'm assuming, based on her message, that she was able to see the abominable snowman while there. I had always assumed they were just legend but according to her they exist and they share our faith. Here was the message from her:

"Yeti will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."

It makes me wonder if these creatures are real and if she attended church with one/some of them in Alaska.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ten Things Wednesday

Ok, it's supposed to be Ten Things Tuesday but I forgot to do this yesterday. Mrs. Brownstone guilted me into doing this as apparantly the only other man participating is Skelty. However, I signed up to do this last Wednesday and I just couldn't make myself do 'Ten Things Tuesday' on a Wednesday. While mowing the yard yesterday I remember it was Tuesday and I needed to get this done. But after finishing the yard, planting a new flowerbed, watching American Idol and getting everyone settled in bed I forgot. So here I am, posting Ten Things Tuesday on Wednesday anyway.

Ten Things I'm Thankful For:

1. Shanna. She is a wonderful wife, mother, friend and servant. Convincing her to marry me was without a doubt the best thing I ever did. To say I married out of my league would be a tremendous understatement.

2. Salvation. Like Shanna, God always forgives me when I screw up and he'd be the first to tell you that is more than a few times a day. Shanna could vouch for this but usually she won't.

3. Family. I've been blessed with 4 wonderful kids, great parents, a fabulous extended family and great in-laws.

4. The ability to do yard work. Let me clarify. I don't particularly like mowing the grass. If the city would let me I'd consider having the entire yard paved. But they won't so I'll get out and push the mower every week (or so) until November and be thankful that I'm physically able to do it.

5. Friends. We've got the kind of friends that people dream about. You know, those friends who will come over in the middle of the night if you need them to.

6. Dawson's feeling better. Until this morning, he was running a fever that would hit 104. Last week our dentist Dr. Jay (ok Dr. Corley but he's Shanna's cousin and I can get away with calling him Dr. Jay) discovered that Dawson has a tooth with an abcess. It needs to be pulled to make way for the new ones but he wanted to clear up the infection first. We couldn't get his fever to break and were concerned that the tooth was the cause. The pediatrician really felt like it was just a virus that needed to run its course. Turns out it was. He's feeling better today.

7. Ron and Su's new grandbaby. Our friends from Oklahoma City recently took guardianship of a young girl they met through their inner city mission. It's not their biological grandbaby (they're in their 30s) but I know it will be loved and spoiled as if it were.

8. Church. These are very times exciting at Legacy and I feel blessed to be a part of everything that's going on there.

9. Spring. I like the warmer weather. It may be a sign that I'm getting older but I'm going to deny that for now. Winter is ok in Texas but after living in Colorado winters here can be a little boring. I'm ready for pool/beach/lake weather. I'm ready for everything to green up and start blooming - even if it means yardwork.

10. Shanna. Definitely worth mentioning again.

I'll try to remember this again next Tuesday. Let's all remember to count our blessings everyday.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Officially "pre-teen"

Dillon's 12th birthday was March 23. According to many other parents with slightly older kids, it sounds like we've got one more year of him being somewhat normal. I tell them Dillon is very smart and advanced for his age because he quit being normal quite sometime ago.

Really, he's a great kid and we enjoy giving each other a hard time.

Since his birthday fell at the end of spring break, Shanna thought it would be good to give him his gift a week early, as spring break began, so he'd have the week to enjoy it.

What do you think it was?

1. GI Joes
2. Clothes
3. A set of encyclopedias
4. A cell phone

If you said cell phone you're a winner! 12 years old and 'wireless'. We had pretty much decided to wait until at least 13 before we set him up with a phone. He was doing his best to convince us that all of his friends who were sporting phones basically viewed him as underprivilidged and pre-historic. This really kicked in at the beginning of this year when he began middle school. So, I like to think he knows that we didn't cave right off the bat just because we wanted him to 'keep up with the Joneses.'

Our primary rationale was that as summer begins he will be entering the youth group at church. There will be activities going on all the time that will require drop offs and pick ups at various locations. It will be nice to have a quick phone call from him rather than parking at the church for undetermined amounts of time waiting for the youth group to arrive from an event. Plus we knew this would be more of a necessity next year as he enters more early morning and after school activities.

I heard someone say that you know you're living in the 21st century when you've got three phone numbers for each of your family and friends. Six people in our family..........

During the week, Dillon paired up with his friend Andrew for an 'airsoft' birthday. Andrew's birthday was earlier in March and they had planned on this for several weeks. So one very windy and slightly cool afternoon, we met at the park for hot dogs, cake and airsoft wars. What more could a 12 year old boy want?

FYI, airsoft guns shoot these small plastic pellet/bb like things. The boys are safe - always in protective goggles. These things can't break the skin but they do sting enough to keep me and Dawson on the sideline.

Happy 12th Dillon - we (a whole lot of us) love you!

Friday, April 11, 2008

April Showers from a power washer

Wednesday night I was at the office late getting ready for a client review meeting Thursday. Shanna had spent the day working out, cleaning house, shuttling kids - pretty much the normal stuff. She emailed me about 5:30 to see where I was and how I felt about staying in, i.e. skipping church.

She knew we shouldn't but I was not going to make it not matter what. I still had an hour or so to finish the report and then was off to OfficeMax to have it prepared for presentation. She was wiped out and the thought of getting four kids bathed and fed in an hour was just too daunting.
So we skipped.

I got to the house about 9 and happily ate the salad she had prepared for our dinner. We were in bed by 10:30 - a little early for us and an obvious sign of how tired we were.

Casey, our almost 14 year old foxhound, was up at 3:15am. This was a little early for her bathroom break. She has a built in alarm system to notify us of her need to go outside. No barking or whining is necessary. She simply gets up and starts cautiously walking around the den. A few seconds of her paws hitting the wood floors is all it takes to wake us. Imagine Lord of the Dance performed by smurfs with all the dancers performing to a different song and you have an idea of what the sound is like.

So I get up to let her out and as I enter the den from the bedroom a wind hits the house like I've never heard before. I'll admit, I panicked a little. It had to have been 60-70 mph (the weatherman later confirmed this).

Our office sits up on a hill and our computer guys constantly stresses how important it is to get our server shut down when a strong storm is approaching. I hear our computer speakers belching out static everytime the lighting strikes so I run over and shut down the computer.

Oops. How can I check the radar now? I just shut down out internet. I'm sure Dish Network is not working in this mess. So I head for the Blackberry (yes I can call it my Crackberry as I am addicted). I pull up the radar and there are so many colors over our county that it looks like a bad abstract painting.

Lighter. I need to find the lighter in case the power goes out for good. Hey, maybe we've got a flashlight that works - meaning the kids didn't leave it on after the last time they played with it.

In walks Dawson and Delanie - go get in bed with mom I calmly say. Delanie heads that way whimpering - she doesn't do well in the morning or when her sleep is interrupted. I think Dawson just headed back to bed. He tends to take these things in stride. Dillon never got out of bed although he admits the storm did wake him which is a true testimony to the strength of it. Dakota's always in our room by 2am anyway.

Lighter - check. Flashlight - check. Let's give the Dish a shot. Hey it works. The radar is on and the weatherman is giving a perfect explanation of all the splashes of red, yellow, green and purple on the screen. Storm's moving fast - very fast. Strong wind, multiple rotations along the front line of the storm. I sit in the chair and watch until everything blows over - about 4am.

Everything's back to normal - except Casey. She's got heart failure so anxious moments like this tend to get her worked up. Plus she's still got to go out but there's no way she's going out in this. Finally the urge overtakes her fears and she quickly heads into the backyard and right back in. Total time out had to be less than 8 seconds.

Finally get some sleep off and on starting about 4:30. On the couch with one hand on Casey on the floor next to me.

Luckily, we sustained no damage. Our fence on the northside had a couple of panels fall over but they've been falling over for at least a year. So far, I'm taking a hardline stance on this one. I bought all of the fence on both sides last time (Shanna says last two times - she may be right) and I'm not going to do it again. My dog's pushing 14. She doesn't venture very far and if she does it's not very fast. Our neighbors on that side are trying to sell the house. I don't know them as they haven't lived there very long. I do know I had to escort the North Richland Hills police into my backyard a few months ago to see if there were any drunk teenagers back there. According to the officer several climbed the fence, knocking it down again, as they fled the underage party next door. None present in our bushes.

So I'm assuming that either the owners, or the new buyers will want to strike a deal to get the fence replaced. We'll see. Until then I'll keep wrapping it up with bungee cords.

So like I said, we had no damage. Many neighbors were not so lucky. Two houses down had a huge tree fall hitting the house and damaging their truck. As I drove Dakota to school it was a pretty eerie site and I realized just how lucky we were.

Here's some pictures from Allan Stanglin's blog on April 10. They live about a mile from us. Their neighborhood, from a damage standpoint, looked pretty much like ours. If you want to see larger images use the link to his blog above.

Hopefully everyone made it through the night safely.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Jesus Card

Following up on the previous post, as promised, about complaining to God. In the first chapter of Habakuk we find him whining to God in a tantrum like manner. I have extensive experience in identifying tantrums and whining. 4 kids - enough said.

Anyway, the question came up in our small group about complaining to God. Should we, shouldn't we, why don't we...?

I'll admit at first I didn't think it appropriate - especially the way we see it in Habakuk. Who am I to go griping to God about what's happening to me? Like most of us, I could go on and on about the things that I think are wrong in the world, more specifically, my world. I could rant and rave about this and that while God just sits there in his infinite wisdom and listens.

When I'm finished with my tyrade and gasping for breath he plays the Jesus card.

He flashes an image of Jesus hanging on the cross and our 'conversation' is over. I've been trumped and rightfully so. It doesn't take an explanation like we see in Habakuk. It just takes a simple image of the sacrifice of his son and in an instant I realize what I see as issues, as trials, as hardships are ultimately the result of me being wrapped up in me.

I respectfully remove myself from the discussion with a "thanks for clearing that up."

So, I shouldn't complain to God, right?

Not so fast. What about the relationship between a father and his son? He knows we struggle and he knows we succeed. We don't have to tell him - he knows. But he would still like to hear about it. Our speaking (praying) to him is an integral part of that relationship. Isn't communication vital to any relationship?

So this is where I am for now and am still contemplating. I will share with God my triumps, my joys, my happy moments. But I will also go to him with what troubles me, with things that just aren't right. I will take my complaints to him and ask for his guidance, ask for clarification, ask for wisdom. And I'll do it in a way that never (note correct use of never) places the blame on him.

I'll start by praying that I can foster this same kind of relationship with my kids.

Tap the brakes Habakuk

Allan Stanglin has started a three week sermon series over the three Old Testament chapters of Habakuk. Each morning's sermon will tie into our small group church discussion that evening.

Sidenote: Legacy adopted a weekly small group church program in January of this year. We meet in small groups (oh, that's why they call it that) in each other's homes.

This week we concentrated on the first chapter. Our group focused specifically on how we react when things aren't fair. Also, the concept of complaining to God. More on that later...

From Habakuk 1:

2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.

The entire passage screams "WOE IS ME" but for a moment we talked about the statement from verse 4 - "and justice NEVER prevails."

I doubt Habakuk lived in a time when justice never prevailed. Perhaps it was seldom seen by him but never is one of those words that usually isn't accurate from a frustrated person's point of view (note the use of the word usually). We just have those instances, those times of life when things just aren't going our way. Words like never and always and nothing seem to enter our vocabulary but they aren't truly accurate when you step back and take a look.

So this week we've adopted Habakuk-isms (awkward, I know) at our house in an attempt to curb our use of such exagerations.

Case in point. With spring and it's rains, we've been noticing some small ants coming in around the back doors. They're not swarming or taking over the house, they're just going about their business. Shanna does a tremendous job of keeping the house clean but I'm sure word has gotten out in the ant community that we have four kids. To an ant kids=crumbs so they've made their pilgrimage. The lack of 'easy pickings' on the floor has led a few of them onto the kitchen cabinets. The traps are obviously attractive as the dog has eaten a few. The ones that weren't eaten by the dog seem to be doing the trick.

But one day Delanie walks in from school, notices a few of the invaders and declares "There's ants EVERYWHERE!" To which Dillon calmly replies in almost a whisper "Habakuk."

Hopefully this drill will become permanent and keep us all a little more in touch with reality. If it does I'm sure it will have tremendous effect on how we view our life and how we interact with others. Just think how confrontations with others would go if we didn't use phrases like:

You always/you never
I always/I never

Try and keep it real. If you don't, keep it away from Dillon. He will call you out on it with a subtle "Habakuk."


This blog has been compromised!

I've actually been able to keep up with this blog thing for a few weeks now. The original intent was to keep my precious mother and sweet Aunt Pat in Memphis up to date with Byrnes family things/photos. Not that it was just for them but I knew they'd be checking regularly for updates.

Shanna has let the address slip to a few other family members but apparantly word has gotten out. I was checking comments today and looking forward to another post from Pat. But the recent comment wasn't from Pat.

It was from Jennifer Green.

She is of the impression that I was attempting to keep this site from her and her xbox wife cronies.

She is probably right, at least a little.

So the strictly Byrnes family atmosphere of this blog may be subject to change depending on Mrs. Green's efforts to publicize it. Family members viewing this site in the future may be sucked into occasional vortices of ribbing, ridiculing, sports, current events, various opinions etc. Please stay tuned - the original mission will still be carried out!

To Pat: Jennifer bleeds Volunteer orange like you and Harold.

Let's see what happens....

March 21 - Nanny's birthday

Today we celebrated Nanny's birthday. She is....hmm, how do I put this? It was a monumental birthday. Yeah, that's good. She is an established member of the AARP. Ok, now we're getting somewhere. She could star in a documentary titled 'WWII Baby Boomers - The Early Years'. She gets her first social security check this month. Still a little vague.
She could easily pass for 50 but she's not. She's a little older than that but not yet 70. It's actually half way between those two.
Hopefully I've been able to give an accurate description without getting myself into trouble by letting everyone know she just turned 60.

Happy Birthday to the original Super Nanny!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

March 7th - Sherman Snow

On Thursday March 6 I was planning on heading up to Texoma Youth Camp. For the past 4 years or so I've been involved with the camp by helping in whatever way I can. In November I became the treasurer but I really have more fun going up to the camp and getting my hands dirty with whatever project I can find. I had planned to go up to get some fallen branches cleaned up. Unfortunately the snowstorm, and ultimately Shanna, prevented my leaving Thursday.

So Friday we woke up to sunny skies and clear roads. The warm temperatures from earlier in the week had prevented anything from sticking to the roads overnight. I headed out for the camp but today I had a passenger - Dakota. Shanna's parents live about 30 minutes from the camp so Ann (aka Gran) asked if Dakota could come up for the day to play with her in the snow.

And play they did. Sherman, located northeast of Dallas near the Red River, received about nine inches. They stayed out side for amost an hour making snow angels and having snowball fights. Finally, Dakota fell back in the thick white blanket and said "Gran, I'm tired."

His nap that afternoon was almost three and a half hours.