What we have been up to

14 10 2008

I haven’t posted in the last week, but it’s not because we haven’t been doing anything.

First, on Friday October 3, I took the day off and took my family to the State Fair of Texas.  We saw the dog show.  A few of us rode the big ferris wheel.  My 4 year old is scared of heights so he stayed on the ground with my mom and our newborn daughter.  All the comic book heroes made a guest appearance and my kids got to meet many of them.  We went through the farm exhibit where the kids get to “plant” and “grow” their vegetables and “milk” a cow, etc.  But, the highlight (at least for our 2 year old) was the firetruck.  They had a line of police and fire vehicles.  We went back 3 or 4 times for my son to climb back into that firetruck.  He loved it!

Then on Tuesday October 7, while the rest of the country was watching a presidential debate, my family was at the first mavs preseason game against the Washington Wizards.  It was fun to go and enjoy the atmosphere and not worry about the game so much.  We all had a great time.  We rode the train there and back and my 2 year old kept pointing out the window and saying, “Another one choo choo train”.  We finally realized he was seeing a reflection of the train in the buildings.

Which leads me to this last weekend.  We went with some good friends to the pumpkin patch.  We had a great time.  Here are some pics…


Jury Duty on earth

24 09 2008

Yesterday I participated in my civic duty as a Collin County resident in the state of Texas.  I had to show up to the local court house and wait to see if my name got called for one of the 2 jury panels needed for the day.  It wasn’t.  They took the first panel of 25 right away.  Then we all sat there while one woman worked with 8 or 9 different people to either postpone their service or cancel it altogether due to some affliction or another (I didn’t really understand the ones that were allowed to leave without rescheduling because the summons I received in the mail clearly spelled out every acceptable reason to get out of jury duty – all they had to do was mark the appropriate box, send it in and then just not show up).  Anyway, she finally got around to calling the second panel of potential jurors and then let everyone else go home.

So, what did I do while I sat there waiting?  I read a few pages in the book “Jesus for President” by Shane Claiborn and Chris Haw.

Consider the irony of these words that I read as I sat in a courtroom waiting to see if I would be selected on a jury to decide the fate of an accused criminal:

Some might read the popular phrase, “My kingdom is not of this world,” and mistakenly think that Jesus

meant, “My kingdom is not in this world.”  But Jesus was speaking more about essence than location.  In other words, he was talking about the “real world.”

Jesus said this while on trial for insurrection.  His kingdom had finally collided with the kingdoms of Herod and Pilate, and they wanted answers.  Since Jesus’ birth, he had been at odds with the establishment.  They wanted him dead ever since the rumors about the other King of the Jews.  Because of this Jesus had, for the most part, stayed on the fringes of public life, insisting that the kingdom he preached and represented be undetectable to the powers.  But now he had paraded into the center of power, flipped over its tables, and hosted a public and critical teach-in, creating the conditions for his arrest.  Now under government control he is questioned:

Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

“Am I a Jew?”  Pilate replied.  “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me.  What is it you have done?”

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders.  But now my kingdom is from a different place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king.  In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate…

From then on Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar.  Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out … “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews…

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

John 18:33-38; 19:12-15.

…His Kingdom is not of this world because it refuses power, pledges a different allegiance, and lives love. In a world where truth had become smothered and rulers don’t even know what it is anymore, Jesus embodies a truth that will set us free – even Pilate.

That’s the kingdom I want to be a part of.  Reading those words while sitting in a Collin County courthouse just drove home the point.

I miss my little buddy

25 07 2008

Our 4 year old is still up at the lake with my parents.  He will be there for another 10 days or so.  He is becoming quite the little fisherman.  He called a couple days ago and told us about his catch of 13 fish.  Today he called and had caught 23.  I asked if any of them were big ones.  He said yeah, but some were small and they had to throw them back!

I am glad he is having fun!  But we miss him down here in Texas.

Meanwhile his little brother is spreading his wings a little down here without him.  We purposely waited until this period of time to start potty training him.  And, he is really doing a great job with that.  In a week, he is going pee-pee regularly on the potty now without accidents.  Of course we have to religiously put him on the potty every 45 minutes, but he goes right away when you put him on there.

Poo-poo…so far is a different story!

Why I don’t trust car salesmen

8 05 2008

Car SalesmanWhy is it that I cannot trust Auto repair or auto parts establishments?  It seems like everytime I have to get any work done or buy any new parts for my car, I just get stressed out because of the lack of trust that I have for any of these places.  Nobody has been able to earn trust from me.  And, the irony is, that I would absolutely love to give my trust to someone, anyone, who is willing to do what it takes to earn it.  But, so far, I haven’t found it.

Here in Texas we have to get our cars inpected on a yearly basis to ensure that they are road worthy and do not pose a risk to ourselves or others on the road.  What really aggravates me (and ultimately leads to even more distrust) about having to do this is that most of the places that offer the inspection service are (gasp) auto repair shops.  They are IN THE BUSINESS of finding problems with your car, and they SURVIVE by convincing you to pay them to fix it.

I have found a place called “Inspections Only” that only does inspections (duh).  I love the idea of separating the inspection service from the repair service.  And, in fact, I am willing to drive quite a distance out of my way just to take my car there.  Well, this year, they found a legitimate problem with my vehicle – one of my tires needs to be replaced before they will give me a passing inspection sticker.

So, now, I am forced to shop around and buy a tire within 15 days so I don’t forfeit my inspection fee (and so I don’t get a ticket).  Which brings me back to square one.  I need to find a store that does only tires or I run the risk of “discovering” yet more problems with my car.  So, I am going to Discount Tire because they only do tires/wheels.  Luckily, in this case, there is one right close to my home.  But, contrary to Inspections Only, where the inspection pricing is set by the state, I have the added element of having to make sure they are not price gouging me on tires.  So, I must now undertake hours of research just to be minimally confident enough to go into Discount Tire armed with the knowledge of what tire I think I want and at a price I think is fair.

And, Discount will probably tell me that I need an alignment…which they don’t do.

Anyone else seeing the problem here?  And we wonder why no one trusts a car salesman.  He is just the first person that you have to decide whether or not you can trust in the hopefully long life of that car that he sells you.

I wish that I could find someone who I know I can trust that does it all.  He sells you the car.  He maintains it for you with regular oil changes and new windshield wipers and new tires with frequent rotations.  He repairs what needs repairing (and only what needs repairing when it needs repairing).  He inspects it and licenses it for the road.  And, ultimately, he buys it back from you when you are ready to buy the next one from him.  Oh, and the best part, he does it all for a fair price.  Notice I didn’t say he does it for free.  I would be willing to pay for this as long as I KNEW I could trust him.

That’s the key…TRUST.  And, I don’t know how I can give my trust to any establishment in the automotive industry.  I am sorry.  I know there are decent honest hard-working people out there that are doing fantastic jobs for their customers.  I just don’t know who you are…and deep down, even if I did know you, I wouldn’t truly know for sure if I could really trust you 100%.  Sorry.  Honest, I wish I could.