This is what we do for the joy of the King,
For His peaceable Kingdom,
For a world in despair.
And this is why we bring any hope we can give,
Any bread from the table,
Any touch of His hand.
This is what we do.
This is where we go.
This is why we sing.
This is how we live.
This is who we are.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happiest Place On Earth - 'Specially With Grandkids!

Thursday was a terrific day.  Lyn and I took Haley and Lexi to Disneyland and we all had a picture-perfect morning together.  The weather was great--warm and sunny and "fresh."  The park was crowded, but manageable. We ran into Pluto and Chip by the Alice in Wonderland ride.  Haley got to ride the Matterhorn and LOVED the "scary bear that roared." Lexi rode her first roller coaster ever. AND we got by spending under $5. Unheard of!  Oh yeah--we got free parking even!  I was going to park at Downtown Disney like we always do, but we thought it would be good to drop off Lyn and the girls at the Timon parking lot at the front of the park.  We got our little yellow drop-off slip for the windshield, but all the attendants disregarded it and directed us to a parking space. I wasn't about to slow down the whole process by making a scene, so we parked where we were told!

I can't wait until miss Emily is old enough to join her cousins for a day with Mickey, Donald, and the grandfolks!

Haley wanted to push the stroller.  So we made
our way to the gate area.  Mamaw Lyn led the way!

We went straight to the Matterhorn.  Haley had been talking about it all morning.  She and Lyn stayed in line there and Lexi and I went to Alice in Wonderland.  Lyn and Haley got through the Matterhorn in time to join Lexi and me in the Alice line (which moves mega-slow)!  

After Alice we ran into Pluto.  Haley never knew a "character" she didn't love.  Lexi, is more skeptical.  

This was as close as Lexi would get!

Chip was just a short distance away from Pluto.  We had to visit him too.

Lexi moved in closer to Chip than with Pluto, but when his hand
touched her shoulder, she wanted him to remove it a.s.a.p.

Next stop ToonTown and the little play area there.
This is the girls in the crawl-in pumpkin.

This was so fun.  Lexi never really knew what hit her.  
This was her first-ever roller coaster.  She really enjoyed
it--was ready to ride again, but we didn't have time.  :(

These two pictures are from Goofy's house.  Both the girls
really loved Goofy's piano.

Haley looks like she practiced one too many scales!

Actually, they were arguing about who should drive.  But 
it LOOKS like Haley's carsick!

Time to leave . . . This hitch-hiker was hard 
for Papa-Don to take!  :)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Adam Back In The Day . . .

Many of you HB readers met our nephew, Adam Reid (from Las Vegas) a couple of weeks ago when he was here to lead worship for OverDrive.

Well, when I was digging around for video clips of Lyn's grandma the other day, I came across this great vintage video of Adam from Christmas morning, Tampa, Florida, 1990 (I think).  I wouldn't normally do this to an innocent, unsuspecting relative, but since it's so cute (great freckles!) I couldn't resist.  I'm sure his "kinfolk" will appreciate it!  It's only 17 seconds long, so look fast!  :)

Here's to youth!  

P.S.  It's early Saturday morning.  Lyn and I are off to help Brian and Jennifer (and Emily!) move in their cool new condo!  It's really pretty!  We're so happy for them.  

8:04 pm - I couldn't get this to upload this morning.  The move went great.  Jen and Brian's new home is beautiful.  They're going to be so happy there!  Wish I had pics to show, but I forgot to take the camera this morning.  :(

[Note: That little "click" Adam gave wasn't typical.  He was a bit shy at the time.  A few seconds later he "performed" one that nearly peeled the paint off the wall!  Talented kid!  :)    ALSO, Adam's little sister, seen on her mother's lap, got married in October to the son of one of my JBC students!  Talk about feeling old!!!]

Friday, March 28, 2008

Nearly Had A Heart Attack!!!

I was checking out some alternative templates for my blog.  Suddenly I lost ALL my links, pictures, etc.  Scared me silly.  Fortunately, I stumbled on a way to get it all back.

Phew!  Close call!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pearl Holmes - 1908-2008

Yesterday afternoon Lyn and I got word that her 99 year-old grandmother, Pearl Daymond Holmes, went home to be with her Lord. Interestingly, Kristi and Haley were with us at the time the call came. (We were on the way to see the new Dr. Seuss movie, Horton Hears the Who.) In our car rolling down Harbor Boulevard was Pearl's granddaughter, her great-granddaughter, and her great-great-granddaughter.

Grandma Holmes was a wonderful, vibrant woman.  I always enjoyed hearing the stories Lyn told about the times she'd spent with her on vacations when she was a girl: the walks they took together; the games they played; the shopping they did; the snacks they ate. 

Pearl was a hard-working woman who knew and respected the value of a dollar.  She had a great sense of thrift as well as a great sense of humor.  She loved books.  She loved her cat Dinah.  She loved walking around the lakes of Lakeland.  She loved shopping.  She loved her family.  She loved her Lord.

One thing I always appreciated about Grandma Holmes was the way she welcomed me to the family.  I never felt the least bit like an outsider with her. I always felt a connection to her--partly because she and my mother shared the name Pearl.  (It was Mom's middle name.) She and I seemed to hit it off from the beginning, and it was such a sad thing for me to see her health begin to fail about 12 years ago.  

She had a love-hate relationship with the camera--especially the video camera.  I have attached some very grainy video clips of Grandma Holmes to this post.  (I sat in our family room at 3:30 this morning, aiming our digital camera at the TV while an 18 year old video tape played on the screen. THEN, I loaded the clips to my computer and compressed the dickens out of them in order to put them on the web. So please forgive the 3rd generation "ickiness" of the video/audio quality.) Anyway, Pearl gave the impression that she NEVER wanted to be photographed or filmed, but when a camera was pointed her direction, her antennae were always up and she'd slip into a subtle pose mode.  She'd feign annoyance, but I know she really enjoyed it.

The first video is even WORSE in quality, because it was the family sitting around WATCHING a video of Grandma "performing" in her kitchen. I couldn't find the original version. (Wamp wamp) I call the clip "A Star Is Born!" She was lecturing me about the positives of bananas--the one fruit I truly hate.  She was also giving me tips on finding good deals on bananas at the local Publix grocery store.  You probably won't understand a word she says, but you can get a sense of her pre-Food Network savvy.

The second video was taken at Christmas around 1990.  You can get a feeling for what Grandma was like when she was in her prime.

Even though we've known the day of her departure was quickly approaching, it's still sad to think that she's no longer among us.

Haley was so sweet today as she tried to comfort Lyn in the car.  She told her that one of these days she'd get to be in heaven with her Grandma and she could hug her and kiss her and spend lots of time with her again.  Bright little girl!  (In the words of Horton, "A person's a person, no matter how small!")

And she's absolutely right.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Great Memories - Easter 2008

Easter weekend was jam-packed with fun and work.  Since Kristi, Curtis, Brian and I had to be at church early Saturday afternoon to prepare for rehearsal and the Saturday night services, we all gathered at our house around noon.

When everyone's there, our place is quite "cozy" but that makes things interesting!

Haley and Emily having some quality "Cuz Time"

From the time Kristi and Jennifer were very young, we've had the tradition of making an "Easter Bunny Cake." Lyn found this great recipe over 30 years ago--only involves a regular cake mix (2 9" round pans--ears and bow tie cut out of one), coconut, jelly beans, and red licorice strings.

Of course, the tradition is being passed on to the grandchildren. As you can see here, Haley LOVES the idea!  In the video below, the girls help Lyn decorate.  By the way, when we had the cake after Easter Dinner, Haley did the honors of cutting it--basically major surgery on the poor bunny--and single-handedly devoured 95% of the jelly beans!

Happiest Cook On The Planet

Jennifer and Emily enjoyed some fun time
 with Lexi admiring her cousin.

We had 5 services over the weekend--1 Saturday and 4 on Sunday. Because Sunday was such a long morning (call time was 7 am  and we finished about 1:20 pm), we spent a lot of time in our greenroom/office area.  Our totals for the weekend were over 5000!

The Green Room

Lexi spent Saturday night with us.  (Haley spent it with Grandma  and Granddad Templeton). This is the first time Kristi and Lexi saw each other on Easter morning.

Lexi and Mommy

A tired moment for Curtis.  Putting the "green" in the Green Room

This is Simone, our sweet cellist who plays in our string quartet.  Wish we could afford these women every week!

The girls help Mamaw-Lyn decorate the traditional Easter Bunny Cake

Emily Playing On Her Easter Bunny Quilt

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Some Thoughts On THE PASSION

Yesterday was a day I sorta dreaded.

One doesn't really "look forward" to a screening of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. On the other hand, I knew that seeing it again would be a great blessing to me.

There were many little things about the film I had forgotten.  In fact, there was one HUGE thing I'd forgotten:  the subtitles!  Just before the showing, my friends Sammy and Paula Gallo were telling me they'd decided not to bring their grandson because of all the sub-titles.  I actually "remembered" the film being in English!  Duh.  How does one forget something that significant? Especially when he's a drama team leader and a movie buff?  I guess I had been so caught up in the storytelling of the film that I'd released my mind from the technicalities or something.  

Anyway, it was an amazing reprise experience for me.  I think in many respects the film is a telling of TWO passions:  Jesus' and Mary's. The depiction of her suffering as a mother presented the Story in a way that was all the more heartbreaking.  The superimposing of the flashback of her running to her fallen son (as a boy) to her fallen Son (the Lamb of God) almost undid me.  As did the scene where she instinctively made her way to the exact spot over the temple dungeon where Jesus was imprisoned overnight.  And her carefully cleaning up His blood from the floor of Pilate's courtyard.  Gruesome but somehow beautiful.

In seeing it again, I also decided that Gibson chose a feminine Satan (who looked in many ways like a distorted version of Mary) very intentionally.  Perhaps to a Man who was struggling with the reality of an imminent and brutal death, the Garden temptation to give up on His Mission might have more success if the tempter reminded Him of His mother.  

One final take-away.  We "Protestants" are often critical of the Catholic "obsession" with the crucified Christ.  We have harsh things to say about all those crucifixes hanging on walls and around necks.  We prefer to glorify the empty cross and the empty grave--and have good reason to do so.  However, I can't help think that contemplating only empty crosses--especially smooth ones, or gold ones, or jewel-encrusted ones--allows us to mentally censor all the worse-than-nightmarish realities of Jesus' suffering. Perhaps we need to occasionally forgo the neat-and-tidy for the grim-and-brutal, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us.  Crucifixion was certainly no picnic.  But it makes picnics possible.

I'm probably not going to watch this movie again any time soon.  But, the next time I do, I hope that I will once again be made more grateful for the amazing Gift that I--all of us--have been given.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Amazing Discovery I Made Today

Tonight while I was browsing through the Drudge Report online, I came across an amazing link he calls "World Front Pages."  It's sooooo cool!  There are front pages from most of the daily newspapers across the country and around the world.  You can read the entire newspapers (or at least their websites) with the click of an HTML button.

For instance, I found todays front page of the Orlando Sentinel the newspaper I grew up with in Florida. 
Then I found the Knoxville News Sentinel  that we read when I studied and taught at Johnson Bible College in Knoxville.  It was the paper we read when Kristi and Jennifer were born.

As I said in an earlier post, I'm reading the Bruce Catton books on the Civil War.  I first read these books back in 1980/81.  That year, on a weekend trip with one of our singing groups from Johnson, we traveled to the Atlanta area.  I stayed in a home with people who were serious students of the Civil War.  (Atlanta, of course, had a major role to play in the war.)  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had put together a collection of every front-page from every Sunday edition of the Constitution from 1860-1865.  (The collection had been released in 1961 for the centennial of the beginning of the War.) ANYWAY, they gave me a copy which is one of my most treasured positions.  

Here's today's front page of that major paper!  (The political position has changed a smidge in the last century.)
Of course, if you read Russian, you can find Moscow's daily.  (I could have shown Paris, Warsaw, Prague, Vienna, and any other major city's newspaper, but you get the idea.)  I really think this is cool!
On a much more mundane level, I made another discovery today as well.  I decided to wash the NASTY floor mats from my car.  I sprayed the stains with Spray-N-Wash, set the washer for delay and pre-soak. When I came home from the gym this afternoon, I had beautifully clean car mats. I was stoked!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Speech

I didn't get to hear the Obama speech yesterday.  I did read the transcript, however.  In spite of what anyone may think of the man, he sure can craft a speech.  (Whether or not he wins the nomination or general election, I can't help but think this speech will be referred to as a rhetorical landmark in the future.)

Location.  Location.  Location.  First of all, I thought it was brilliant that he was speaking ACROSS THE STREET from where the Founding Fathers of our nation penned our Constitution.  Since I'm still involved in reading the Catton books on the Civil War, I was particularly moved by Obama's comment about the context of the creation of the Constitution.  He said,

"The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished.  It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations."

Then, when he said that his wife had "within her the blood of slaves and slave-owners," I realized again how incredibly unique this presidential campaign is in our nation's history.  

This morning the Senator was interviewed on Good Morning, America. As a musician, I was REALLY fascinated by his metaphorical observation about the difference between black and white perceptions of our nation.  He said he thinks when white people contemplate America, they do so to the mental accompaniment of a marching band playing Sousa.  When black people consider their country, the musical "underscore" is usually provided by a soulful jazz group.

Regardless of the public opinion on what Mr. Obama "shoulda, woulda, coulda" done over the years with regard to Trinity United Church of Christ and its controversial (over-the-top) minister, he certainly responded eloquently and thoughtfully yesterday.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Yesterday--Fun With Lexi and Emily

I tried to post this last night, but the picture refused to upload.  (It's from a trip to the park a couple months ago, but it could easily have been taken yesterday.)

Yesterday Kristi was really under the weather...she couldn't really talk at all and Lexi just wasn't up to dealing with whispers.  So Papa Don went over to spend some time with Thing 2.  We went to the neighborhood park and had a blast.  We hit the swing set first and sang as we swang.  Swinged.  Swung.  Whatever the heck the word is. Then we did the slides and climbed the steps. She's so much fun. Before we went back to the house we did some more swinging/singing.  I fixed her a bit of lunch and watched her play with her "computer" a while as Kristi and I shared a couple cans of Progresso Minestrone!  Mmmmmm--love me some soup! 

Then off to work for the afternoon.

Last night, Lyn and I went to Jennifer and Brian's to help them pack up their kitchen.  (We picked up some In-N-Out first.)  They hope to close on their new place Monday...maybe move in next weekend. We're so happy for them.  Of course, I got to have some fun quality time with Thing 3 (Emily Brynn) for a while.  She's so adorable.  A bundle of perpetual motion--always kicking her little feet and "shadow boxing"--it's no wonder she hasn't hit 13 pounds yet!  She works off calories as fast as she takes them in.

My only regret of the day was not getting to see Haley.  She was off to Big-Girl school, so I was only 2/3 complete.  But it was still a fun day.  

Love my girls.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

HOUSE - Behind the Scenes

Our nephew, Adam Reid is visiting with us this weekend.  He's leading worship in our OverDrive service tomorrow.  Anyway, we're sitting here watching an episode of House, one of our favorite shows.  While we were watching, I found this YouTube video of bloopers and out takes from the series.  If you like the show, you'll enjoy this!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Bittersweet Day

Yesterday was a little tough for me.  I didn't realize it until this morning because I was so busy yesterday.  Anyway, my nephew called me to tell me that we'd received a firm offer on my mother's house--the house she lived in for 54 years.  We decided to accept the offer, so I assume that with a cash transaction, the house will belong to someone else in about a month.

It wasn't much of an "estate" really.  Actually, it was an E-X-T-R-E-M-E-L-Y humble home--one of those "pre-fab" houses that was built as a shell. They paid the outrageous sum of $3200 for it!  On a 30-year loan!  (I think the mortgage was something like $25 a month.)

Anyway, it was located on a beautiful, huge lot. I was 4 years old when we moved in.  My mom planted a little oak tree in the back yard--it was basically a twig she stuck in the ground.  The tree is now absolutely massive, spreading shade over most of the backyard. (Keeping it trimmed is a major enterprise.)  I loved that backyard.  I spent hundreds of hours swinging on the swing set my dad put there for me.  My mother talked to me about heaven one day by the clothesline while she cut my hair.  (I never went to a barber til I got to college!)  I'll always treasure that conversation.  I was probably only seven at the time.

One of my earliest memories was of my dad (NOT a carpenter) and mother (NOT a carpenter's assistant) attempting to hang sheet rock on the walls and ceiling.  It was actually quite funny at the time.  I think that was the first time I heard my dad use his one and only expletive! (Through the years, he only used it on rare occasions, and he usually said it in a whisper.  An oddly precious memory.)

Anyway, 54 years is a long time and it's sad to think of it no longer being "home."  Lyn wanted me to think about us buying it ourselves, but the house is in serious disrepair, needing loads of serious attention (and loads of money to get it in shape).  I'm ready to say farewell to 1904 West Sunny Street, but it's still a tough thing to do.  Without Mom or Dad living there, it sorta lost its "soul" anyway.  (By the way, we buried my dad 16 years ago this week, so that makes the situation all the more bittersweet.)

Thank God for memories and photographs and the reality of occasional drive-byes in the future.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chillin' After Church On A Beautiful Spring Day gotta love the PDT!  When Daylight Savings Time rolls around, there's always the dread of losing that hour's sleep, but it's worth every red eyeball to have that extra daylight each day--especially out here in California where days just seem a little shorter to me.  (When I lived in Florida as a kid, the days were plenty long just on Standard time...I think it was the fact that FL was closer to the western edge of the Eastern Time Zone.)

Anyway, today was a great day at church.  The weather was perfect--especially considering what's happening back east with the snow and ice.  Yikes!

Haley and Emily bonding.  Emily
sat in her play station while we ate lunch.  
She was as happy as a little pig in the sunshine.

The whole clan gathered here after church.  (Everyone but Kristi who had a luncheon with the Louisiana Global Outreach team.)  Lyn made a great tri-tip and Lexi once again exhibited her amazing appetite for everything:  bread, meat, grapes, tomatoes, corn, broccoli, and a little potato.  Haley ate well too--especially since A-1 Sauce was available for the beef!

After lunch we all gathered at the patio for Bubble Time. 
 Emily (who turns 4-months old this week) even got 
into it, they tell me, but since I didn't observe it first 
hand, I'm taking everyone's word for it.  

Lexi's just beginning to get the hang of bubble blowing.
As you can see from the video below, she has a little way to go 
up the learning curve yet!  SO FUNNY!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Who Said Christians Can't Have Fun?!! Ole!!

Okay...I promise to delete this pretty soon.  Sorry, Bruce and Billy! I was just going through pictures on my computer and came across this one from Haley's 3rd birthday party in January '07.  It made me laugh out loud. The theme was "On the Farm."  Bruce and his duck hat fit the theme.  Not sure about Billy's sombrero. I guess he was just getting ready for the Mexican hat dance!

Friday, March 7, 2008

For the Love of Abe

I'm re-reading the wonderful Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War trilogy by the late Bruce Catton. Amazing books.  Part of the fascination I've always had about the Civil War I attribute to my grandmother....or at least to her home decorating.  She had a portrait of Abraham Lincoln that she proudly displayed in her back hallway--which led to the bathroom.  Every time I used the facilities at her house as a boy, I passed by old Abraham.

Our 16th president was such a bigger-than-life kind of person.  If there was ever a human being who lived according to some divinely established destiny--in spite of heartbreaking personal tragedies--I believe it was Abraham Lincoln.

This picture is one of the early Brady
 portraits--before the beard!
I love this portrait of Lincoln and his youngest son Tad.   Lincoln's firstborn son, Robert, is the only one of his four sons who lived to adulthood.  
Lincoln's second son was Eddie; he died at age 4 from pulmonary tuberculosis (1846-1850).

Lincoln's third son, William, died at the White House at age 11, on February 20, 1862 (less than a year after the beginning of the Civil War.) He apparently drank contaminated water and developed typhoid fever. His death caused an inconsolable grief in Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln.  She never really recovered from this great loss.  To lose not one but two children before they reached puberty would be catastrophic for any parent.

Tad died at age 18, also from tuberculosis.

This is one of the famous portraits of Lincoln as president

This portrait was the inspiration for the five-dollar bill

Lincoln inspecting the troops during the War
About 20 years ago, my cousin gave my dad a commemorative belt buckle (which he in turn gave to me.)  The buckle was presumably made from large cannons of the Army of the Confederacy.  It was supposedly commissioned by Mary Todd Lincoln and distributed to all members of the U.S. Congress on the occasion of Lincoln's funeral. I've tried to find out about its authenticity, but no one seems to know anything about it.  I did find one like it on E-Bay, but it wasn't considered particularly valuable.  

Seems to me it ought to be worth a fortune!  Oh well. 

In the pictures below you can see the two views, front and back. 

Valuable or not, I will always treasure it.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Don't Groan, Please

With apologies to all my drummer friends . . .

A drummer, sick of all the drummer jokes, decides to change his instrument.  After some thought, he settles on the accordian.  So he goes to the music store and says to the owner, "I'd like to look at the accordians, please."

The owner gestures to a shelf in the corner and says, "All our accordians are over there."

After browsing, the drummer says, "I think I'd like the big red one in the corner."

The store owner looks at him and says, "You're a drummer, aren't you?"
The drummer, crestfallen, says, "How did you know?

The store owner says, "That 'big red accordian' is the radiator."

Hmmmmm . . .

I refer you to my post of February 10.  It's the one "political" post I kept on the blog.  I just think it's very interesting that things have turned out as they have.

Interesting article about the situation on

Beware of                    mud!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Attention Recyclers!!

I'd love to see this "Trickle-Down Environmentalist" in person! I wonder why so much of this was shot in a grocery store.

Monday, March 3, 2008

If You've Ever Read A Book . . .

I have my dear mother to thank for my passion for books.  

A few weeks before her death last September, it became obvious to me that her life was quickly drawing to a close, because she was no longer interested in reading.  My nephew tried his best to get her interested in a book or even a crossword puzzle, but her passion for words and ideas were gone.  I think that broke my heart almost as much as seeing her lying in her bed in the nursing home.

You see, my mother LOVED reading.  One of my earliest memories in life was of sitting in her lap and sharing a book through her eyes and voice.  Or lying in bed for before my Sunday afternoon nap, listening to her read the Sunday comics to me, pointing to the words in the little balloons of each frame of the cartoon.  It was an unbelievable early treasure for me to explore.

A few years ago I came across another book by Anne Lamott, whom I quoted a couple weeks ago on this blog.  That book is Bird By Bird. It's a book on writing, technically, but it's more "inspiration" than "how-to."  On page 15 of the paperback version is one of the greatest passages I've ever read, and in a way it took me right back to my mother's lap.  Here's what Ann says:

For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth.  What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you.  Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave.  They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.  They are full of all the things that you don't get in real life--wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat.  And quality of attention:  we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention.  An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift.  My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I'm grateful for it the way I'm grateful for the ocean. Aren't you? I ask.

Yes, I am, Anne.  Yes, I most certainly am.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Me and My Gal

This picture was taken yesterday right after lunch.  Miss Emily is such a cutie!  (I cropped the picture so you didn't have to see the chocolate in one of my teeth!  I didn't want to upstage the princess!)  

In the video below, Emily is bonding with a cuddly lamb that plays "Jesus Loves Me." Definitely a million-dollar memory!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Direct TV - Now THIS is a funny commercial!

Kathy Bates and James Caan . . . reprising their MISERY roles with a twist!