About ME

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Mansfield, Texas, United States
Mr. E is a Christian, Husband, Father of 2, former Army Officer and Texas Rangers Baseball fan.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Books I've Read in 2011

Due to a heavy work load with my job as a teacher, moving and looking for full time work, the number of books I read this year, decreased slightly. Maybe I can get the numbers back up for next year.

Books I’ve Read in 2011

1. God Attachment: Why You Believe, Act, and Feel the Way You Do About God - - Dr. Tim Clinton & Dr. Joshua Straub

2. Scarlet (King Raven Trilogy - Book 2) - Stephen R. Lawhead

3. 10 Great Dates to Energize Your Marriage -- David & Claudia Arp

4. The Evolution of a Creationist -- Jobe Martin, PHD

5. Tuck (King Raven Trilogy - Book 3) -- Stephen R. Lawhead

6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service -- Ian Fleming

7. Bridge to Terabithia -- Katherine Peterson

8. Love and Respect For a Lifetime -- Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

9. Pirate Latitudes -- Michael Crichton

10. Crocodile Tears -- Anthony Horowitz

11. You Only Live Twice -- Ian Fleming

12. The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living Life With a Grande Passion --
Leonard Sweet

13. The Man With the Golden Gun -- Ian Fleming

14. Inkheart -- Cornelia Funke

15. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM -- Robert C. O’Brien

16. A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant, Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Contemplative, Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed-Yet Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished Christian -- Brian D. McLaren

17. Into the Wild -- Jon Krakauer

18. Alice in Wonderland -- Lewis Carroll

19. Onward: How Starbucks Fought For It’s Life Without Losing It’s Soul -- Howard Schultz

20. The Associate - John Grisham

21. Read, Think, Pray, Live: A Guide to Reading the Bible in a New Way - Tony Jones

22. A Treasure Deep - Alton Gansky

23. Beneath the Ice - Alton Gansky

24. Submerged - Alton Gansky

25. Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back -- Todd Burpo

26. Scorpia Rising -- Anthony Horowitz

27. A Stolen Life: A Memoir -- Jaycee Dugard

28. Bad Kitty Gets a Bath -- Nick Bruel

29. No More Cotton Candy: Energizing Your Spiritual Life with More of God’s Presence and Power -- Jim Hennesy

30. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats -- T.S. Eliot

31. The Confession -- John Grisham

32. Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed -- Patricia Cornwell

33. Chasing Darkness -- Robert Crais

34. Contrary to Popular Belief - Joey Green

Friday, November 25, 2011

What I'm Thankful For - 2011

I am thankful for my beautiful bride, Jamie, who told me just yesterday she would take care of me, "even if my mind was gone." Some times I think she's doing that now!

I am thankful for my son, Caleb. God has great things planned for him.

I am thankful for my daughter, Rachel. She is so full of love for everyone; especially the kitties.

I am thankful for my job. It's not easy being a teacher; however, the few times you witness the look in kid's eyes when they "finally get it," makes most of the bad times, go away.

I am thankful for our two kitties, Scout and Ramey. They are always there for me after a bad day.

I am thankful for my best friend Brent. If only we could retire and watch Ranger games all summer long.

I am thankful for our new home in Mansfield.

I am especially thankful for the LORD God Almighty, who loves me despite the fact I am such a idiot.

There is so much more to be thankful for; however, I need to go. Things to do you know!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Adjusting to a Life in Mansfield, TX

It has been one month since my family and I moved to Mansfield, TX. I finally have a new full-time job teaching 7th/8th Grade Math at Red Oak Jr. High School. So far I am enjoying it. My wife, Jamie and I are trying to car-pool to work on Mondays and Wednesdays to spend more time with each other. (She works in Waxahachie, TX at the Ellis County Children's Advocacy Center.)

We found us a great rent home in Mansfield and as of today (Oct. 22) our home in Longview, TX is under contract to close on Nov. 2nd. This will eliminate our mortgage payment, allowing us to use my salary to make larger payments toward our remaining debts. Dave Ramsey would be happy.

The kids are still enjoying home school, although they do miss getting out to mingle with other kids. We are looking into getting Caleb a car, so they can get out during the day while Jamie and I are at work. We are also looking for a new church home. We have visited a couple of great local churches and plan on visiting a couple of more before we narrow down our choices and try to settle in somewhere. We are hoping the kids get involved with the youth group and Jamie and I can get plugged into some good classes or small groups to make some new friends.

The only bad thing that has happened since we have moved here is my blood pressure has gone back up and I am back on blood pressure medication. I guess the stress of the move, the stress of teaching/disciplining kids at school and me not eating healthy, have triggered the rise in BP.

We are slowly unpacking and turning this rent house into our new home. We have an option to buy and the neighborhood is great. Maybe once we get most of our remaining debt paid off, we will see about buying this home.

Good luck to the Texas Rangers on going to the World Series for the 2nd year straight!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Homeschooling the Kids

The 2011-12 school year has started and Jamie and I have decided to home school the kids.

Rachel, who is entering grade 9, has been signed up with Connections Academy, a free on-line public school.

Caleb, who is entering 11th Grade has been signed up with Alpha Omega Academy, an on-line private school.

We have been considering this for sometime and the pending move to the Waxahachie area just made the decision easier.

Both curricula are highly rated and are accredited with the state. The kids can learn at their own pace and could graduate earlier than they could in public schools.

In other news: Continue to pray our house sells quickly so our family can be reunited soon.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

2012 Presidential Candidates Update!

Apologies to those who could care less about politics, but for some reason the subject fascinates me. I am not an official member of any political party and I still believe that the problems we have as a nation cannot be blamed on any one political party, but squarely on "WE THE PEOPLE" who let our own elected officials do the things they do without holding them accountable. That said, here is a current update on who is officially running for President of the United States for 2012. (The two major parties only at this time.)

Democrats (1) -- President Barack Obama. No other Democrat has chosen to run against our sitting President to this point.

Republicans (10) -- Michele Bachmann (Current U.S. Rep. from Minnesota), Herman Cain (Former Federal Reserve Banker and Businessman from Georgia), Newt Gingrich (Former Speaker of the House and former Rep. from Georgia), Jon Huntsman, Jr. (Former Gov. of Utah and former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore and China), Gary Johnson (Former Gov. of New Mexico), Ron Paul (Current U.S. Rep. from Texas), Rick Perry (Current Governor of Texas), Buddy Roemer (Former Gov. of Louisiana), Mitt Romney (Former Gov. of Massachusetts) and Rick Santorum (Former Governor of Pennsylvania).

Please choose your candidates carefully!

NOTE: Shortly after this post was posted, Former Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty announced he was withdrawing from his campaign for President.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Jamie!

Happy Birthday to my beloved bride, Jamie!

Always yours, Mark

Friday, August 12, 2011

My August So Far!

Good News -- We have an official offer on our home. Bad News -- They are in the negotiation phase and we may not be able to move before the start of the new school year. This means kids may start school here in Pine Tree and then transfer about a week into the school year. This also means I will have to wait to fill out applications to substitute until we move, so it will delay getting sub pay for a little while longer. Come on people, settle on an offer and let my family move.

Almost all of the packing is done for the house, with the exception of items we are currently using. I need to get a few more boxes lined up to throw things in the day before we move.

In case you haven't heard, we are in the middle of a heat wave here in Texas. Longview has set a new record for number of days over 100 degrees. Whew! I'm sweating just thinking about it.

Caleb (my 16 year old son) has officially obtained his driver's license. Just in time, as he may have to drive one of our cars to our new residence.

I am behind on writing more on my book...Maybe I can squeeze out another chapter before we move. I just have other things (like moving) on my mind.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm Tired of Getting Booted Out of My Own Home

My family and I are getting routinely booted out of our own home. Darn those people who want to look at house to see if they want to buy it. (Ha!)

Even though we are supposed to have 24 hour notice before someone looks at our home (it is for sell by the way), we are getting calls with less than 4 hours notice. At least we get notice.

It is frustrating when you are in the middle of trying to cook, or clean, or just take a nap, then you have to get up and get out of the house for an hour. What can you do in an hour?

Well here is what the kids and I do in an hour...

1. We read at Books-A-Million for a while.

2. We just walk around Wal-Mart and they try to keep me from impulse buying something.

3. We go to a local pet store called, Wet Pets and Critters, and pet the kitties, bunnies and puppies. Mainly the kitties.

4. We get a snow cone or maybe a frozen yogurt.

5. We go for a walk around the park or just sit in a neighbor's yard.

It is actually a good thing that we get kicked out for a while, because it means people are interested in looking at our house. It has been on sale for about a month. We, the family are ready to be reunited and start our new life in a new place.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How About Those Texas Rangers!

How About Those Texas Rangers?

My favorite baseball team, The Texas Rangers, have now won 11 games in a row. They now have a 4 game lead in their division and I am hoping they are on their way to another trip to the World Series.

I have been a Ranger fan since they first came to Arlington in 1972. I remember going to games with my dad, sneaking into a game to keep my ticket (just autographed by Rickey Henderson) from being torn in half, skipping college classes to watch Nolan Ryan pitch and going to games with my family.

Keep it going Rangers!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Starbucks Coffee Updates

Earlier this year I posted how Jamie and I have started working our way through the blends of Starbucks Coffees. Here is an update on what we have already tried...


Organic Blue Java

Organic Shade Grown Mexico

100% Kona

Komodo Dragon

Cafe Estima.

Next in line is Aged Sulawesi Kalosi

I have added a Coffee of the Day gadget to my page, so you can keep up with what we are currently drinking. My favorite so far is Organic Shade Grown Mexico. Jamie's Favorite has been the Organic Blue Java.

Jamie and I enjoy drinking our coffee together in the mornings.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fresh Memories and a Cold Breakfast (Tears of the Singer, Chapter 2, Part 2)

Enthusiastic laughing caused Josh to look away from his hot breakfast. Two young men, teenagers judging from the slightly bagging pants they wore. They were rapidly talking and laughing about the double dates they were going to have that evening. One of the young men caught Josh's attention. His messed brown hair reminded him of someone. He looked closer, trying not to stare. "Eric," he whispered to himself. His mind immediately drifted back in time.

Eric Chambers had been Josh's best friend since Kindergarten. He was impressed with Eric because he ate paper and could run really fast. They did almost everything together. They even took guitar lessons from Josh's grandfather together; at least until Eric learned percussion in the Jr. High band. It was with Eric that Josh first discovered his unique ability. His "gift" as his father called it. His "curse" according to Josh. One evening after watching Caddyshack, Josh and Eric came busting through the door of Eric's home, just like the two young men who just entered Lexi's Breakfast and Beds. They were still laughing about the Baby Ruth "doodie" in the pool, when they noticed Eric's mother standing in the entryway to the living room with tears in her eyes. Laughter turned to tears as Eric's mother struggled to tell Eric that his father had been killed in a car accident on his way home from work. Eric was devastated. Eric had been very close to his father, even closer than he was with Josh; now he was gone. Eric's relationship with his mother had been strained the past few years, as Eric had taken a lackadaisical view of God and religion. His mother was very big on Jesus and it hurt her to see Eric laboring with his own relationship with God. They had many arguments about it and they had grown distant.

Two days later, Josh and Eric were sitting on the edge a creek behind Josh's house. Josh had been trying to teach himself the latest hit song from the radio, when Eric arrived. "Have you talked to her yet?" Josh gently asked his closest friend, as Eric sat beside him.
"I don't know what to say to her," Eric said without emotion, "She doesn't understand me at all." "You need to say something to her," Josh pushed.
"Don't you think I know that!" Eric yelled.
Sensing his friend's anger, Josh backed off. He decided he would play a song that his grandfather had taught him. As Josh began to play he closed his eyes and prayed that God would heal his friend's heart. The soft tunes of the song filled the air. It sounded like a cross between a country-western song and a folk song from the sixties. His grandfather had taught him the song as soon as he mastered all the cords. The song had no words, but Josh had been experimenting with a few verses. After a few seconds, Josh began to sing softly; however, the words he had written were not the words that were coming from his mouth. He sang words he couldn't understand. To Josh it sounded like he was mumbling. He tried to stop, but he couldn't, the words kept coming and the guitar kept playing his grandfather's song. He suddenly felt the urge to cry, he tried to fight it; he had to stay strong for Eric. Despite clinching his eyes tighter, tears began to flow from his eyes. What would Eric think? Was he possessed?

Finally he stopped singing and the music stopped. He opened his eyes to see Eric staring at him with an astonished look on his face. "I'm sorry, Eric, I didn't mean...," Josh started to say.
"What is that?" Eric interrupted, pointing to the ground to Eric's left.
"What is what?" Eric asked, puzzled.
"That...that right there." Eric stammered and continued to point.
Josh looked down. Next to his left leg, was a small glowing object. He reached down and picked it up. It was pulsating blue and it was in the shape of a tear. "Where did this come from?" he asked. "You," Eric said.
"What do mean me?" Josh asked.
"You," Eric said again, "You started playing your guitar and then you started singing about my dad, my mom and me and then.."
"I did what?" Josh was confused, "I wasn't singing about that, I was singing...well, I was singing...well, I don't know what I was singing, but I wasn't singing about your family."
"Yes, you were," Eric said firmly, "and when you started singing about us, I looked over at you and you were crying. I mean you were really crying. Then suddenly that...that tear thing came out of your eyes and fell on the ground." Eric was speaking quickly.
"This came out of me? You've got to be kidding?" Josh couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"I swear man, it came right out of your eyes." Eric was staring at the glowing tear. He couldn't take his eyes off it. "Can I see it?" Eric asked.
"I guess so," Josh answered and handed Eric the tear.

As soon as Eric touched the tear, Eric felt like he was full of static electricity. He felt like every hair on his body was standing on end and his arms and legs felt like that do when they go numb from lack of circulation. He started to see pictures in his head. He could see his mom at home. She was sitting on the couch looking at a picture of Eric and his dad. She was praying and crying. He could hear her plainly saying, "Oh, God please help me. I am scared. I don't know what to do. I love Eric, but he hates me, or at least I think he does."
"I don't hate you mom," Eric wanted to scream. "I can't replace his father, Lord, what do I do? What can I say to him? We need each other and we need you. Please Jesus, help us both."
At that moment, Eric could hear, see and feel his mother's grief and fear. He suddenly knew exactly what to say to her. He had to let her know that he loved her and that everything would be all right.

Eric's vision was interrupted by Josh shaking him. "ERIC...ERIC!" Josh was yelling. "Eric answer me!" Eric's numbness wore off.
"I'm fine." he mumbled. "Wow, what happened?"
"You went into shock or something," Josh was now speaking quickly himself, "You went all rigid and this funny grin came over your face. I thought you were having a seizure or something."
"It wasn't like that at all," Eric said, reassuring Josh. "Look, I hate to leave you right now, but I really need to go speak to my mom."
"Are you sure you are OK?" Josh asked concerned.
"I've never been better." Eric answered quickly, "I gotta go," and he got up quickly and left.
Josh was left sitting alone with his guitar and a lot of questions in his mind. What had just happened? Stunned, he slowly got up and walked back towards his house. He promised himself he wouldn't say a word to his parents until he figured out what was going on. He was a little afraid.

The next day Eric told Josh, how as soon as he got home, he hugged his mother and told her how sorry he was for arguing with her. He told her that he loved her and that they were going to be OK. He told Josh how he and his mother and talked all night long and how they had expressed to each other the fears they had and how they had prayed together. Eric said that tear had saved his family. Josh later learned that, even thought the tear had long lost its glow, Eric still kept it in a box under his bed.

"Honey, are you all right? You haven't touched your food." Jamie was standing over him with a look of concern, her smile was gone.
"I'm fine, Jamie, thanks!" Josh wondered how long he had been sitting there. "The waffles are fine." he said.
"Okey..dokey," Jamie said, "Just let me know if you need anything." her smile had returned.

Josh's stomach growled. He cut off a slice of waffle and put it in his mouth. Josh's mind was full of fresh memories, but his breakfast was cold.

Tears of the Singer is a book that I am writing. I am posting new segments from time to time and when I am finished I will publish it as a whole for the public to buy. For those who follow my blog...you can read it for free, or you can follow it on Goodreads, even if it is one little piece at a time.

Click here to read the Prologue.
Click here to read (Chapter One, Part 1)
Click here to read (Chapter One, Part 2)
Click here to read (Chapter Two, Part 1)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Morning at Lexi's (Tears of the Singer, Chapter 2, Part 1)

"So how do you do it?" Thomas inquired again.
"Could you drop me off at Lexi's?" Josh asked, ignoring the question for the second time, "I'm really tired."
Catching the hint, Thomas sighed, "Sure." They rode the rest of the way in silence. A few minutes later, Josh stepped out of Thomas's truck, took his guitar and backpack and mumbled a quick, "Thanks", to his early morning benefactor. "God Bless!", Thomas said loudly and then he drove away. His faded blue pickup made a left at the next blinking yellow light and was gone.

Lexi's was the name of a small hotel-diner in Hubbard. It's official name was Lexi's Breakfast and Beds. An unusual name for sure, but it's owner Lexi was an unusual person. Lexi, short for Alexis, was a woman about 4o years old. She had a tremendously bubbly personality, except in the mornings; at least until she had her coffee. She had reddish brown hair and wore colored scarfs or handkerchiefs in it to match her colorful choices of clothing. If her coffee didn't wake you up in the morning, her loud friendly voice and her bright clothing would. She refused to call her place a motel because it sounded trashy. She refused to call it a hotel because, in her opinion, it wasn't big enough. Bed and Breakfast sounded cliche, so Breakfast and Beds it was.

Josh opened the door to the "Beds" section of the building and trugged wearily up to the front desk. Tonight's clerk was named Ashley. As Josh opened his mouth to ask for room, Ashley spoke first, "You staying for just the rest of the night, or tomorrow night too?" She was gruff in her tone, but not rude. "If you wanting breakfast, the diner opens at 6:00 sharp." Josh, needing to catch up on some laundry, decided to pay for the night, plus one. "You look familiar, have you stayed here before?" Ashley asked, as she handed Josh the key to his room. "It's been a while back." Josh replied with a slight yawn. Josh took his key and headed upstairs to where the only 10 rooms in the place were located. He unlocked the door to room 4, stumbled inside, fell onto the bed and drifted off to sleep.

The next morning Josh awoke to sunlight streaming through the window. He looked at the clock. It read 8:28. Reluctantly he slid out of bed and trudged over the bathroom. He took a long shower and saved. He put on his least wrinkled clothes and went downstairs for a late breakfast. Lexi's was busy as usual. A sign at the entrance read, "World famous waffles served here. Please wait to be seated." He laughed to himself at the sign and wondered, in which world.

The dining area had a full kitchen separated from the rest of the restaurant by a bar from which some customers sat on bar stools. There were several booths along the walls and near the windows, with seven to eight tables in the center. The wait staff was made up of young ladies all wearing aprons of various neon colors. It was a seat yourself style diner. Josh scanned the crowd. Lexi, was busy behind the counter serving coffee to the local postman. She was wearing a neon pink apron. In her hair a bright pink scarf. Their were three other waitresses on duty this morning, they all looked as if they were in their early twenties. The first was a thin brunette who wore neon green. Her name tag read Meg. She was busily scurrying back and forth between the bar and the tables and booths closest to the far wall. Meg seemed to enjoy her work and was constantly engaged in conversation with her customers. The second was a shorter girl, also brunette, who wore neon blue. Her name tag was smudged, but he heard one of the customers call her Elisha. She covered the center part of the diner. She too served her customers with a cheerful attitude. The third was a average sized young lady with blond hair. Her apron was neon purple. She served the booths along the windows and the area closest to the entrance. Josh chose a booth with a window seat.

Josh had barely sat down, when the purple clad waitress approached with a glass of water. Her name tag read, Jamie. She had blue eyes and a smile that was a bright as her apron. "Morning!" she chirped and handed him a menu, "Would you like to try our world famous waffles?" "Does it come with eggs?" Josh inquired. "It comes with whatever you want, sweetie," Jamie said with a smile. "We can do eggs, bacon, sausage, you name it, we can make it." "Then the waffles it is," decided Josh, "and I want my eggs scrambled please." "Bacon?" Jamie asked. "Sure," Josh replied, "and some coffee." "Sure thing, honey, I'll have it right out." Jamie took the menu and with a quick bounce she was off. All of the waitresses had huge smiles on their faces as if they didn't have any problems at all. Even the two cooks in the kitchen looked as if they were smiling as they worked over the hot stoves. There were not many places where the employees enjoyed their work so much. Lexi's was one of them.

Josh looked around the restaurant. In Meg's area sat three gentlemen who were probably farmers. Two of them wore overalls. All three of them wore caps, one of which had the typical John Deere logo and colors. From what Josh could hear, they were talking about the lack of rain and the concerns they had about selling their corn. At a table in Meg's area sat a man in a business suit. He was reading the business section of the Wall-Street Journal. Josh surmised he must be a local banker, because who else in the small town of Hubbard would even subscribe to such a paper. One of the table's in Elisha's area had a mother with a small child. The mother looked worn down from lack of sleep. Her infant slept peacefully in a portable car seat/carrier next to her. The baby would stir from time to time in response to a couple who was talking loudly at the table next to them. The mother would give irritated glances over at the couple when she thought they may wake her child. The couple looked to be in their early sixties and they were reading the local paper, The Hubbard Herald, or at least the woman was reading the paper. Her husband looked as if her were just listening to her read it to him. They were arguing about how one of the local elected officials was misusing funds to give Christmas bonuses to his attractive office assistants. Josh's observations were temporarily halted as Jamie suddenly appeared with a cup of hot coffee. "Here you go dear," she said, still smiling, "cream and sugar are on the table. Your waffles should be ready in a few." She was off as quickly as she appeared.

In one of the booths near him, sat a young couple who were engaged in a conversation about a recent trip to the nearby city. The young man was looking deeply into his partner's eyes as if every word she said was a much needed breath of fresh air. There were rings on their fingers. "Newlyweds," Josh thought. No other man would pay such attention to his wife's conversations that way. They were in love. Josh was jealous. He remembered times when he thought he was "in love;" but it was all a lie. No one really loved him. They just pretended. They lied to get close to him, not because they loved him; they lied to get one of his tears. How he hated his "gift." "Sometimes I wish I could go away!"
"Go where?" Josh was startled. Jamie had once again suddenly appeared next to him, this time carrying a plate of hot waffles and eggs. He realized he must have been thinking out loud. Jamie sat his breakfast down on the table. "Wishing, you were somewhere else?" Jamie asked. "Just remember, no matter where you go, there you are," she said, still smiling. "You need some more coffee, extra syrup?" "No!," Josh replied sharply, a little irritated at himself and Jamie, "thanks." Jamie never lost her smile, it was as if his rudeness didn't phase her at all. "You just hollar if you need something, ok?" and off she went to help a new customer. Josh picked up a fork and started to poke at his waffles.

Tears of the Singer is a book that I am writing. I am posting new segments from time to time and when I am finished I will publish it as a whole for the public to buy. For those who follow my blog...you can read it for free, or you can follow it on Goodreads, even if it is one little piece at a time.

Click here to read the Prologue.
Click here to read (Chapter One, Part 1)
Click here to read (Chapter One, Part 2)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Courageous, Star Trek, and This & That for the Week!

I can't wait for this movie to come out! It is Courageous, from the makers of Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof. Opening Day is September 30!

The next chapter of my book should be posted soon for you to read; I have been busy watching the newly re-mastered versions of Star Trek: The Original Series on DVD. I bought all three seasons on Monday and I have been watching them, when I should be writing. I promise to have Chapter 2 (at least Part 1 of Chapter 2), ready to read by the time I go to work on Saturday.

Our house is now officially for sale. I am hoping that it sells quickly so we can move to the Dallas area. It's tough when the entire family is only together for the weekends. We need to be together again! Keep praying that a full-time job for me comes through in that area as well.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Reluctant Ride (Tears of the Singer, cont...Chapter 1, Part 2)

The Singer entered into Ramey-Jem's nearly empty parking lot and paused to shift his backpack over his shoulder. A few minutes after that evening's show, one of the wait staff, named Rosemary, had told him that C.J.'s son, Justin, may have cancer. C.J. was waiting to hear from Justin about the results of test that had been run earlier that day. He knew C.J. would never ask for one of his magical tears for himself; especially after he had already received a tear 2 years earlier, when they had first met. C.J.'s mother, Althea, was still heavily grieving the death of her daughter 39 years after Jem's death. Althea would go into periods of depression that would keep her locked in her room for months. It was a heavy burden on the family. When C.J.'s father died, he and his wife, took on the task alone. The stress of having a depressed mother living with the family became such burden that C.J.'s wife had left him and his only son. C.J. was on the verge of suicide when the Singer appeared at his club looking for a gig. That night C.J. received one of the Singer's miracle tears. C.J.'s life changed forever. This was the Singer's third visit to Ramey-Jems and it would be his last. He would miss C.J.

The Singer walked towards the unpaved road that led to the main road into the nearby town of Hubbard. The only vehicle left in the parking lot was an old faded blue pick-up truck with a rusty white top. The hood was up and the owner was tinkering with the engine. The Singer was glad he walked everywhere he went. He didn't have to worry about car trouble or the price of gasoline. Unless he was sick or injured in some way, he could always leave or stay where ever he wanted. He was in control of his own destiny, at least when it came to transportation.

The Singer had just gone far enough down the road, to escape the flickering fluorescent lights of the parking lot when he heard the truck's engine crank. The truck pulled out of the lot and started down the road towards him, the headlights cast his shadow in front of him. As the truck neared, the driver slowed down and moved along side him. The passenger side window rolled down, "Need a lift?" the driver asked. The driver was wearing a San Francisco Giants baseball cap over thick dark hair. The Singer tried to ignore the man and kept walking. "It's a good 5 miles into town you know," the driver persisted. The Singer knew how far it was into Hubbard, he had walked it before with no trouble at all. "It's not a problem you know," the driver insisted, "I'm heading through town anyway." The Singer stopped. Normally he would just keep walking. He enjoyed his time alone, but tonight...tonight he was just tired. The truck stopped beside him. "So, you gettin' in?" the driver asked.

The Singer opened the passenger door and slid inside the cab. He placed his backpack between him and the driver, creating a barrier between them, and positioned his guitar between his legs. "Thanks," he said softly.
"My name's Thomas by the way," the driver said with huge grin on his face, "Thomas Morrill." He then extended his hand out towards the Singer. When the Singer did not respond, the grin faded and the hand pulled back. Thomas put the truck into gear and started forward. "You do have a name don't you?" Thomas tried to make conversation. The Singer just sat silently and turned his head slightly to the right away from the driver. "That is mighty fine thing you do you know, with the tears and all that." The Singer shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "How do you do that?"
Not wanting to discuss his so called gift, The Singer replied, "Josh." It was almost a whisper.
"Pardon?" Thomas wasn't sure he had heard the Singer at all. "My name is Josh." the Singer said a little louder. "Nice to meet you Josh," Thomas smiled and extended his hand again. This time Josh, The Singer, shook it.

Tears of the Singer is a book that I am writing. I am posting new segments from time to time and when I am finished I will publish it as a whole for the public to buy. For those who follow my blog...you can read it for free, even if it is one little piece at a time. Click here to read the Prologue and here to read Chapter 1, Part 1.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

And the GOP Candidates Are....? (So Far)

The Republican list of Candidates who hope to oust President Obama, is growing. The number is now up to 10.

Here is the List of Republicans who have officially declared their candidacy so far... (By the way, no Democrat has filed to run for President against current President Barack Obama!)

Michele Bachmann -- U.S. Congresswoman from Minnesota

Herman Cain ... Former Federal Reserve Banker and Businessman from Georgia.

Newt Gingrich ... Former Speaker of the House from Georgia

Jon Huntsman, Jr. -- Former Governor of Utah and U.S. Ambassador to China and Singapore.

Gary Johnson ... Former Governor of New Mexico

Ron Paul ... U.S. Congressman from Texas

Tim Pawlenty ... Former Governor of Minnesota

Buddy Roemer ... Former Governor of Louisiana

Mitt Romney ... Former Governor of Massachusetts

Rick Santorum .. Former Governor of Pennsylvania

I am sure there will be at least two/three more before it's over; however, these are your Republican choices for the moment.

By the way I am neither Republican or Democrat, I am just very interested in politics.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's 3:00 a.m. and All's Well! (Tears of the Singer cont...Chapter 1, Part 1)

"It's 3:00 a.m.! " shouted C.J. as he locked the doors of Ramey-Jem's. The four remaining employees responded with a tired, yet enthusiastic, "And all's well!" C.J. Allen has been the proud owner of Ramey-Jem's for over 35 years now and the customary yell and response has been repeated every night since he closed the doors for the first time. Even his managers continued the tradition when C.J. was on a rare trip out of town. The parking lot, which moments earlier was full of cars, mostly pickup trucks, was starting to empty. Hours earlier the cars occupants had filled the club to capacity. They arrived angry, hurt, anxious and troubled. All of them had left at peace, profoundly changed by the magical tears of the mysterious stranger and his "song." It had been a full house tonight; "the Singer" was in town.

C.J.'s light brown skin was finally starting to show the wrinkles of age. His hair finally showing a touch of gray. His father, Charles Sr., had owned the place for 20 years before passing away in his sleep. Charles Sr., had purchased the club at auction, when the previous owner went bankrupt. It was rare at the time that a black man could own a club in the South, but C.J.'s father added some improvements, changed the name to Ramey's and he had made it work and now C.J. proudly carried on the family business. He had inherited Ramey's from his father and had added Jem to the name in honor of his sister. Jem Allen passed away when the family home caught fire the day after Christmas, when C.J. was 15. Jem was only 12 years old. His family grieved for years. It was " the Singer" who had finally brought relief to C.J. and his mother. It was a miracle. Ramey, by the way, was the name of his father's pet cat.

As the remaining staff, continued their closing duties, C.J. looked over to the corner of the stage. The Singer was packing his guitar into his case. This was the third time the Singer had visited Ramey-Jem's. He always took cash as his payment, never a check. C.J. was not even sure what his real name was. He might have mentioned his name the first time they met, but that was a couple of years ago. He was a young man, but he rarely smiled. He had the look of someone who always had a lot on his mind. The Singer wore a worn down pair of boots, which looked like they used to be a nice pair of alligator skins, a pair of blue jeans, a wrinkled white shirt and a faded brown leather jacket. "Where you heading next?" C.J. called out to him. "Not sure," the Singer mumbled, as he snapped the case shut. The Singer had never been much for words.

Ramey-Jem had seen it's share of famous folks. Clint Black, Don Williams, Alan Jackson and even Merle Haggard had performed on the small stage. All of them bringing fans and followers with them; but none of them packed the house like the Singer did. After all, they didn't have what the Singer had to offer. While the others provided entertainment, the Singer provided more. He offered something special; hope. Hope in the form of something so small.

The Singer moved towards the main exit. C.J. unlocked the door for his guest. "You sure you don't want to stay the night at my place tonight? Ruth (C.J.'s wife) will fix you up a mighty fine breakfast." "Thanks," the Singer replied wearily, "I'd better get going!" The Singer started out the door and then stopped. He turned around and put out his hand. C.J. took the Singer's hand and shook it. As they shook, the Singer pass a small "gift" to his host. "Had a feeling you might need this tonight," the Singer said. C.J. looked down. In his hand was a small blue crystal in the shape of a tear, it was glowing faintly. "How did you know?" C.J. replied, as tears started to well in his eyes; but the Singer had already stepped out into the darkness.

Tears of the Singer is a book that I am writing. It has been a while since I have written. Thanks to the encouragement of a co-worker at Starbucks, I am restarting my project. I will post new segments from time to time and when I am finished I will publish it as a whole for the public to buy. For those who follow my blog...you can read it for free, even if it is one little piece at a time. To read the Prologue, click here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Together Again (at least for the weekend)

Last Monday my wife, Jamie, started her new job in Waxahachie. My daughter also started her week at ACU Summer Camps. The week before My son Caleb was at ACU Summer Camps and my daughter was spending a week with her cousin. That meant two weeks with at least two different family members gone. Last night we were all together. The kids are finished with camp and Jamie is home for the weekend. We are together again; until Sunday afternoon, when Jamie returns to her Aunt's house to start her 2nd full week at her new job.

The only news about selling our home I can update you on is, that our roof is about to get fixed. After 7 years of arguing with insurance companies about the horrible state of our roof, they have finally agreed to have it fixed. Insurance will pay to have the roof fixed; however, there is damage to the support beams that hold the roof up and insurance will not pay for that. To fix the "decking" alone will cost nearly $3000. That is money we do not have. We are hoping to pay for the decking repair out of the profit we make from selling the house or from the escrow taxes we will get returned to us from the Mortgage Company.

Meanwhile packing is still ongoing, (the wedding china is next on the list), with boxes and other items being moved into my dad's storage building or a rented storage space. We are having a garage sale next Saturday to sell furniture and other items we wish to get rid of. Keep praying that our house sells soon and that a school calls me to work for them full-time. I want our family to be Together Again soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

If I Were a Candidate For President

As early as my Junior year in High School, I have had a desire to run for some kind of public office. At first it was to become President of the United States someday. Then I decided that the intrusion of the press into my public life would just be to annoying to deal with. What I do in my personal life is no body's business! That said, I still wouldn't mind making a run for U.S. Senate or for Governor of Texas. (if Rick Perry can do it, anyone can!) I would have to convince my bride, Jamie, to support me though. She is convinced that being an elected official would change me fundamentally. She is probably right.

Still I can't help wondering what would be the major issues I would push for. Here are a few.

1) My number one campaign issue would be the national debt. The government of the U.S. needs to show fiscal responsibility. We cannot continue to live as a debtor nation for much longer. We have to stop borrowing money and learn to live off a budget free of needless pork projects. We need to have a plan to pay off the national debt even if it means making cuts that will hurt. We must make paying off the national debt our number one priority over all other issues. I would veto all budgets passed by the Congress unless they have a substantial amount of money set aside to pay off the national debt, which now stands (as of typing this post) at $ 1 4 , 3 4 8 , 7 1 7 , 6 0 0 , 4 1 5 . 5 3 .

2) My second campaign issue would be to repair the infrastructure of the country. The roads, highways, overpasses, bridges, and canals that are essential for transportation in the United States are in much need of repair. It is estimated that the majority of the bridges/overpasses in the United States are on the verge of collapse, yet we continue patch them up as best we can and pray they don't fall apart and people die. We also need to repair the majority of the dams, levies, gas lines, oil lines, aqueducts and water/sewage lines. We have already seen the damage caused by failed levies in New Orleans and along the Mississippi River. Many of the major water lines that feed fresh water to our major cities have leaks that flooding communities and wasting 30-40% of the water that is supposed to be reaching the cities.

3) My third campaign issue would be to repeal most the major treaties that we have with other nations in regards to the use of the United States military. The United States may have the best military in the world, but we cannot and should not protect every other nation in the world at the risk of putting our own citizens in danger. We cannot afford to keep fighting long-term wars that other nations of the world could be handling on their own. We must protect our own borders and secure our own national security first.

4) My fourth campaign issue would be to beef up border security and to revamp our immigration laws. I am all for allowing citizens from other nations moving to the United States in order to live a better life; however, we must be responsible for who we allow to come into our nation and in what numbers. We must find a responsible way for those seeking citizenship to file the necessary paperwork and to become citizens within a reasonable time frame. We must also not be afraid to deport those who have entered the United States illegally. I realize that may result in sending back a huge chunk of our work force, but is an essential step in securing national security and for the proper utilization of taxes and for fair representation in Congress. If you want to live in the United States you must apply for citizenship in a legal manner.

5) One thing I would also suggest, and it is probably the most controversial; is that citizens would no longer have to pay an income tax, until the government learns to live off a balanced budget. If the government cannot spend our tax dollars responsibly, then we should not give them any more money to spend. I realize that this may make it harder to pay off the debt or fix our crumbling highways; but if a person has the right to withdraw their money from a failing bank, then they also should have the right to have the option to pay taxes to our government until the government can properly account for where that money is going and for what purpose.

Of course there are many other issues I could comment on, but these are my Big 5 issues. If you want to know how I stand on other issues, then feel free to leave a comment and I will answer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Week Alone With the Boy

This week I am spending a week alone with my son Caleb. (Jamie is in Waxahachie with her new job and Rachel is in Abilene at MPULSE with ACU Summer Camps.) Yesterday we went grocery shopping for the week; knowing we currently do not have a huge budget for groceries; he suggested we buy lots of soups, Ramen noodles, sandwich fixings and one frozen pizza. It reminded me of living life in college, when you tried to eat cheap and save your money for when you had a date.

Caleb has picked up the Dave Ramsey philosophy that Debt is Stupid. He so wants to avoid getting student loans and avoid debt that he strongly wants to attend College of the Ozarks, where you can work off your tuition and fees rather than have to borrow money.

This weeks I plan to have Caleb help me mow the yard and continue our "pack and store" momentum, as we prepare to sell the house and move. I also hope to continue to get to know him better. Caleb is a fantastic young man, who is developing his own faith in God/Jesus/The Spirit. He makes me laugh with his deep sense of humor.

Caleb really wants to find a job, but the potential move is hindering that, as he doesn't want to get a job and then have to quit to move with short notice. (Maybe he can get a job at Brookshires sacking groceries for a couple of weeks, they hire summer help all the time.) He also wants to get his driver's license, but we are putting it off until we move so we don't have to pay the fee it takes to change the address on his license. Plus we can't afford the raise in insurance rates until we know exactly what our new financial situation will be once we move.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tears of the Singer (Prologue)

The following is the Prologue from a book I am writing called Tears of the Singer.
The book is based on a song by the same name that I wrote while in college.
(This was one of my original first 5 posts. I am re-posting it now, just because!.)


The air was thick from cigarette smoke drifting up from the area around the stage. The soft strains of music filled the backwoods bar. There was a larger than normal crowd this night. “The Singer” was in town. Other singers had visited before, some famous, some not, but no one drew an audience like “the Singer.”

People came from towns and farms miles away just to listen to the Singer. Not just ordinary people, but people with problems they just couldn’t seem to take anymore. People with worries and concerns that kept them awake at night. Worries about how to pay bills that pile higher every day. Worries about family members or life-long friends stricken with illnesses like cancer. People with questions that needed an answer. “Why can't my wife quit drinking so much?” “What does my husband see in his secretary that he doesn't see in me?” “Why can’t I keep a job?” There were people with fears of abandonment and death. People so overwhelmed with depression that it seemed to smother them. All of them were here tonight. All of them, looking for the miracle.

The crowd sat silent, mesmerized by the appearance of this singer. They wondered could he help them where it seemed God had failed them. They prayed the prayers of the desperate and asked the questions of the lost. “How can someone so young and disheveled help so many,” they would ask themselves. “Can he help me?” “When will he sing the song?”

Suddenly the sounds they were waiting for flowed from the stage. This was it. The Singer was singing the song. There was nothing outwardly special about the song. It was just a simple melody, sung from the heart. But it beckoned them forward. At first there was a little pushing and shoving, but it calmed down quickly for they knew the Singer had enough for everyone. They stood there speechless. Some cried gently as it came their turn to receive the gift. The gift that would make all their worries, fears and sadness fade away like the mist rising from a lake.

They were waiting for the Tears of the Singer.

Monday, June 6, 2011

ACU Summer Camps & Other Stuff.

Over the next couple of weeks, the kids will be attending ACU Summer Camps at Abilene Christian University. Sunday we dropped off Caleb at Kadesh, the camp for High School ages. Next Sunday we drop of Rachel at MPulse, the camp for Jr. High ages. It's makes for 3 long drives (drop off, pickup/drop off and pick up) but we feel the camps are worth every penny we spend to send them there.

Jamie and I will continue packing for our eventual move. Boxes are stacking up and we are getting ready to move some of them to my parent's house for storage until time to move. The kitties think we are building a castle just for them. We still need to pack up Jamie's "office area", scrapbooks, several items in both kids rooms and several books and misc. stuff in our room. We are waiting to pack, the two main televisions, the DVD's, the bathroom and the kitchen last.

For those of you who read this blog...keep praying that God reveals my full-time job to me soon and that our house sells quickly, so our family will not be separated for very long.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Packing, Packing, Packing

The packing is underway! The Realtor has been consulted! We are going to move!

The kids start ACU Summer Camps on Sunday, Jamie starts her new job in Waxahachie, TX on June 13th and we are going to have a garage sale to get rid of excess furniture and stuff we don't won't to move with us. Things are getting busy.

In the meantime, we will use what time we have together as a family packing things up. I will keep working at Starbucks until the house sells or I get another job in the Dallas area.

The cats seem to think the packed boxes are castles for them to climb, play and sleep on.

My son is a little concerned that we have to pack up his X-Box and other game systems. We have to do that to show our home to potential buyers. The only things we plan on leaving until the last minute are the beds, clothes, essential toiletries and kitchen utensils, one television, one DVD player and the DVDs, and the Nintendo Wii (so the kids can play some games until the last minute). Of course the washer and dryer and our freezer full of meat will have to wait as well.

The dining room table (and chairs), the computer area and a few chairs will stay behind to help "show" the house. Everything else must go!

I am already tired!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Go Roughriders!

Today the family and I went to see the Frisco Roughriders (The Texas Rangers' Double A Team). As part of Friends and Family Deal we got four tickets, four Roughrider baseball caps, and four $5 dollar food vouchers, all for under $50. The manager of the Roughriders is Steve Buechele. He is a former third base man for the Texas Rangers. I remember watching him play when I was in college.

We let my son Caleb drive part of the way to Frisco and back to get him some experience in driving in "Dallas" traffic. He has his learner's permit and he hopes to take his actual driving test for his license later in June.

The Roughriders defeated the Tulsa Drillers 9-3; however, we did not get to stay for the entire game. My daughter, Rachel, got sick during the game and we had to leave during the 5th inning. We still had a good time being together as a family though.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I really hate Oliver!

Oliver is the nickname that I have given my OCD, or recently I have expanded it to be the name I have given my personal demon. Just like the ravens who devoured the seeds planted by the sower in Jesus' parable, Oliver is trying to steal away the good words of comfort that God gave me yesterday.

I rebuke you Oliver, Satan and any other demons that try to steal God's word from me! God has a plan for me and this transitional time in my life and you will not distract me from His words of truth!

In the meantime, I am substituting for the last time this school year. I am watching a teacher's Biology class while kids take their final exams. YAWN! I am having a hard time staying awake. At least I'm earning $70 for my efforts.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

HE Already Has in Mind What HE is Going to Do!

For the first time in a long while, I sat down and read the Bible. I am trying to practice Lectio Devina. (click here for more info) I started reading, out loud from the Book of John Chapter 6. The chapter starts with Jesus about to feed the 5000. As directed by Lectio Devina I read the first few verses out loud several times trying to let God give me a word or phrase to meditate and pray over. Here is what stood out to me;

Chapter 6, verse 5 -- "When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, 'Where shall we buy bread for those people to eat?' He asked this only to test him, for HE ALREADY HAD IN MIND WHAT HE WAS GOING TO DO."


With Jamie, my bride, accepting a new job in Waxahachie and all the effects of this (moving, selling the house, me finding a job (still) and the kids starting a new school), I have a lot of questions. I am sure Philip (and the other disciples) had lots of questions for Jesus as well, when 5000 people needed to be fed. Despite the questions I have, I do not need to worry; MY JESUS ALREADY HAS IN MIND WHAT HE IS GOING TO DO!

If Jesus were right here next to me at this moment, I could see/hear him asking me, "Mark, how do plan on finding a job and a place to live in Waxahachie, when you still have a house to sell in Longview?" All the while he is smiling on the inside, knowing that already knows what he plans to do with me and my family.

Sadly, like Philip, I sometimes forget who my Jesus really is and I respond in a similar way; "Eight months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite." -- Philip or "Eight months wages would not even come close to getting what we need to fix up our house to get it ready to sell." -- Mark English.

My Jesus has a plan. He knows what he is going to do. I need to pray to him that I have faith and despite my negative attitude, he will do what is good for me and my family.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Changes are a Comin'

Yesterday (Tuesday), my wife, Jamie, accepted an offer to work for a Children's Advocacy Center in Waxahachie, Texas. It is the perfect job for her qualifications and it has benefits. Now, I need a job in the Dallas area. I have applied for several school districts in that area and I am hoping that one of them calls for an interview soon and that a new teaching job will soon follow.

Our most immediate concern in the meantime is the selling of our house. We will have to contact a good Realtor in the area and put our house up for sell. I hope it sells fairly quickly. Having a full-time job offer for me will give us a great starting spot to look for a new apartment or duplex to rent.

If God chooses not to have me work full-time before the end of the summer, we will just have to find an apartment close to Jamie's new job and I will sign up to substitute teach at the local school districts and see if I can transfer my Starbucks job to a Starbucks location in the Waxahachie area.

Pray that this new transition in our life goes smoothly, that our home sells quickly, and a school offers me a full-time teaching post soon!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hobo Dinners

One of the favorite meals of our family is what we call a "Hobo Dinner". Preheat oven to 400 degrees. You will need about 1/2 pound of hamburger meat (for each dinner), some sliced potatoes, onions and baby carrots. Add the meat and veggies together, along with any spices you may wish to add, and wrap it together in aluminum foil. Place the dinners in a cake pan or cookie sheet with an edge (to avoid spilling juices) and cook for about an hour.

It is a healthy treat your whole family will enjoy.


I love watching the squirrels play in our yard. Something about them makes me feel peaceful. I like watching them chase each other up and down the trees. I like the sound they make when the run across our roof. I even break for the squirrels as they make their suicide runs across the streets.

Not, sure why I am blogging about squirrels. Maybe I just love the way God designed them.

This morning I watched some squirrels as they jumped from one tree to another. The "leap of faith" they take as they leap from one small swaying branch to another, takes "total faith" on their part, that the branches will hold their weight and keep them from falling. Maybe God reminds us all that sometimes we need to take a "leap of faith" and trust that He will provide a steady branch for us to land upon.

(Also check out my new gadget, added to the left. It is called Interesting Quote of the Week.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Prayers for Tornado Victims

I woke up this morning to see that another city has been devastated by a tornado. This time it was Joplin, Missouri. Early reports say that over 35% of the town was destroyed with a death toll around 89.

Earlier this year towns in Mississippi and Alabama were devastated by tornadoes.

It's hard to understand why things like this happen and my prayers go out to those who are affected.

My hopes is that through the efforts of professional meteorologist and groups like Twistex, Vortex2, and the Storm Chasers can help local meteorologist and the National Weather Service to increase the warning times for towns in the paths of tornadoes.

On a side note: recently an outbreak of severe weather in my part of East Texas brought part of the Storm Chasers cast, in the TIV2, through the Tyler/Longview area.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Books I've Read So Far in 2011

I have always been an avid reader. In 2009 I read 49 books and that prompted me to try to read 50 in 2010. I read 59. So once again I am trying to read at least 50 books in 2011. Here is what I've read so far.

Books I’ve Read in 2011

1. God Attachment: Why You Believe, Act, and Feel the Way You Do About God - - Dr. Tim Clinton & Dr. Joshua Straub
2. Scarlet (King Raven Trilogy - Book 2) - Stephen R. Lawhead
3. 10 Great Dates to Energize Your Marriage -- David & Claudia Arp
4. The Evolution of a Creationist: A Layman's Guide to Conflict Between the Bible and Evolutionary Theory -- Jobe Martin, PHD
5. Tuck (King Raven Trilogy - Book 3) -- Stephen R. Lawhead
6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service -- Ian Fleming
7. Bridge to Terabithia -- Katherine Peterson
8. Love and Respect For a Lifetime -- Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
9. Pirate Latitudes -- Michael Crichton
10. Crocodile Tears -- Anthony Horowitz
11. You Only Live Twice -- Ian Fleming
12. The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living Life With a Grande Passion -- Leonard Sweet
13. The Man With the Golden Gun -- Ian Fleming
14. Inkheart -- Cornelia Funke
15. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM -- Robert C. O’Brien
16. A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant,Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Contemplative,Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed-Yet Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished Christian -- Brian D. McLaren
17. Into the Wild -- Jon Krakauer
18. Alice in Wonderland -- Lewis Carroll
19. Onward: How Starbucks Fought For It’s Life Without Losing It’s Soul -- Howard Schultz
20. The Associate - John Grisham
21. Read, Think, Pray, Live - Tony Jones (currently reading)
22. A Treasure Deep - Alton Gansky
23. Beneath the Ice - Alton Gansky
24. Submerged - Alton Gansky -- (finished 5-23-11)
25. Scorpia Rising -- Anthony Horowitz (currently reading)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's the End of the World as We Know It?

I am sure by now you have heard of the religious group that claims that Judgment Day is coming on May 21, 2011. I am also fairly certain that you have also heard that the world as we know it will come to an end on December 21, 2012, according to ancient Mayan Prophecy. One thing I do know for certain is that the world as we know it will someday come to an end. When this will happen I do not know.

The Bible tells us that one day Jesus will return to claim those who believe and at that time the Earth as we know it will be destroyed and replaced with a New Earth. (Isaiah 65:17, Matthew 24:35, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1). When will this happen? God has kept that a mystery. When Jesus was in human form on Earth, even he said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36) If Jesus, who is God, was not allowed to know when God's Judgement Day will happen, what makes man think that they know when the end of the world will come?

Many people and religions have wrongly "predicted" when the end of the world would occur; Heaven's Gate, Jehovah's Witnesses, and many others have done do. Because of these predictions many people have reacted with fear and have done some very irrational things; including mass suicide. I believe that if you have a true relationship with the Lord God and his son Jesus, then you have nothing to fear from "Judgement Day." In fact you should celebrate it's coming.

As for me I have faith that God really will return one day to claim his own and he will destroy Earth and create a New Earth. God could come within the next 5 minutes for all I care, I am ready to meet God face to face. I wish many others could feel the same way.

The only thing about these groups and their "predictions" is that it just adds one more log onto the fire to be used by those who wish to persecute God's people, to prove that we are crazy and we have no clue what we are talking about. Christians have a hard enough time following the only two rules Jesus has ever asked us to follow; Love the Lord your God, and Love your Neighbors as Yourself. We don't need groups like Family Radio making things worse for those looking for the truth.

Update: 5-24-11, The Family Radio preacher, Harold Camping, has since changed his prediction to October 11, of 2001 as the day of Judgement. Obviously his second prediction of May 21, came and went with no Rapture in sight. He originally predicted the Rapture in 1994. Maybe the third time is a charm?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lectio Divina

As part of my efforts to better read, understand and live God's will, I have started to read a book called Read, Think, Pray, Live by Tony Jones. In this book Jones teaches how to use a technique called lecto divina. Lectio divina takes scripture and uses four steps to bring the Word of God to life.

Step 1 is called Lectio; in which you select and read a passage.

Step 2 is Meditatio; in which you meditate or think over.

Step 3 is Oratio; in which you speak or pray.

Step 4 is Contemplatio; in which you contemplate.

I have just started reading the book, so I can't give you details (yet) over how each step works. I have heard good things about this technique and I can't wait to try it. Anything that improves my relationship with God and helps me hear His Words more clearly is a good thing. I will let you know more as I read on.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Home Improvements 2011: Part 1

This summer I am committing myself to making a few home improvements. Our home needs several things "fixed" in order to help us love our home more and prepare it for possible sale, if my future new job requires a move.

The first thing I plan to do is remove some bushes that are in the front of our house. My dad is coming over this week and we are going to pull up several bushes and fill in the holes with some good soil so I can plant some flowers in their place.

Later this summer I plan to paint the trim of the house, the garage and the shutters. I also plan to replace some faucets in the bathrooms and kitchen.

Sometime this week I plan to have a contractor or two over to give us estimates on some home repairs that need to be done. I will take these estimates to the local Property Tax Assessor and see if they can lower the value of the home to help ease the ever rising taxes. Our home is not worth the value that is placed on it by the Tax Assessor. We need a new roof, the outdoor door trims need replacing, the floors and carpets need replacing and we need some electrical work done as well. Once I have a complete list of estimates, Jamie and I may look into getting a home improvement loan to fix our house.

Here's to a busy summer!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Angry Birds

A new Internet sensation has captured my attention. It is a new online game called Angry Birds. It is very similar to another game I like to play called Crush the Castle 2. In Crush the Castle 2 you use a catapult to hurl logs, stones, etc...at "castles" in order to kill the people on the inside. In Angry Birds you use a sling shot to hurl birds at "pigs?" who are hiding behind barriers. I like the way the birds go "poof" once they have been launched at their pig foes. Both games are fun ways to use strategic thinking. Have fun!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Problems with Blogger!

I've been having some problems with Blogger.com the past few days. It seems Internet Explorer is having trouble connecting to my dashboard so I can create post and edit my pages. I had to use Google Chrome in order to connect. I may have to make Google Chrome my main browser and transfer all my favorite links to that browser!

Upcoming Movies I Wish to See in 2011

2011 promises to be yet another good year for going to the movies... Now that Thor is out, the summer movie season is upon us. So far this year, a tight budget has limited my movie going; however, I have seen a few. The best movie I have seen so far this year is Rio. It is a great family film full of music. I am still waiting to see Thor. Here is a list of some other movies that are coming in 2011 that I wish to see, along with their projected release dates. (Saw Thor on May 19)

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides -- May 20 (Saw on May 28)

2. Kung Fu Panda 2 - May 26

3. X-Men: First Class - June 3

4. Green Lantern - June 17 (Saw on June 28)

5. Cars 2 - June 24

6. Transformers: Dark of the Moon - July 1 (Saw on July 11)

7. Winnie the Pooh - July 15

8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - July 15 (Saw on July 15)

9. Captain America: The First Avenger - July 22

10. Cowboys & Aliens - July 29

11. Courageous - September 30

12. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - December 16

If for some reason I can't catch these movies at the theater...I can always watch them on Netflix.

Updated on July 7, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Us V. Them!

This Spring/Summer is once again turning into a prime season for fleas. Even though our cats are indoors, somehow they have contracted fleas again. Bummer! So, the battle is on!

We have already treat the cats with Frontline Plus monthly, as directed. We also comb them regularly with a flea comb. We have given them a bath and bug bombed the house. Still we have fleas...(we know they have eggs...)

Two weeks later and now we are ready for Round 2...First we give the cats Capstar Oral Flea Killer and wait about 30-45 min. Then we will do another extensive vacuuming, sweeping mopping campaign followed by a second round of bug bombs. We will also follow this by using a homemade Flea Trap (a light bulb suspended over soapy water) for a few days after to catch the little devils. We will also, once again, wash all our sheets and blankets.

Hopefully this will put us on the winning side. Why did God make fleas anyway?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

King and Queen of the House

As you can see we have cats! They are the King and Queen of the House.

The original kitty is named Scout (aka: Fuzzball). Despite the addition of a new kitty, he is still Ruler of the House. We think he believes we got HIM a new cat when the new kitty came along.
He gets his way often because he captured the heart of my wife.

The newest member of our household is Ramey-Jem (aka: Girl Kitty). She joined us almost one year ago. She gets her way a lot because she purrs really loud when she's happy (we like that) and she meow's loudly when she wants something. She's even trained my daughter to turn on the faucet in the bathroom so she, the cat, can have a drink of water

We love our kitties very much and most of all they love us!

Bed & Breakfast

My wife, Jamie, and I love to go to Bed & Breakfast whenever the budget allows! So far we have visited eight of them. Our most recent visit was to The Jones House Bed & Breakfast in Nacogdoches, TX. It was a fantastic place to stay. That evening we dined at the local Fuddruckers and we spent the rest of the evening talking together. We don't get chances to talk as often as we like, with busy schedules and all, so this was a treat.

The next morning we used our "breakfast vouchers" to go eat at the Hotel Fredonia. The breakfast omelets were delicious.

We hope to stay at another Bed & Breakfast soon!

Other B&B's we have stayed at include; The Woldert-Spence Manor in Tyler, TX, Roseland Plantation in Ben Wheeler, TX (near Tyler), Oaklea Mansion and Manor House in Winnsboro, TX, White Oak Manor in Jefferson, TX, Wisteria Gardens Bed & Breakfast in Marshall, TX, Dowell House in McKinney, TX (Really liked the hot tub here!), and the Durning House in Van Alstyne, TX.

Paperback Swap

Just a quick post about a web-site my wife and I have been using to aquire books we wish to read and pass along books that we no longer have room for. It is called Paperback Swap.com.

We have already used this FREE site to find several books we have been looking for and to pass on several books we just didn't need anymore. The only cost to you is the postage required to mail a book you have posted to give away. All books you request are mailed to you, postage paid by the sender. How cool is that!

For every book you send out you get one credit to use to order a book you want. You also get one free credit for joining and posting the required number of books needed to get started. There is no monthly fee or any other charges.

Have fun and good reading!