Monday, August 29, 2005

Natural Instincts and Dead Elephants

After the tsunami hit earlier this year, my wife noticed something interesting. Although many people were killed, there were no animal carcasses to be found. The animals, sensing the coming storm had made it safely to higher ground.

I saw a 60 minutes report recently about a nomadic group of sea dwelling people who live around the area that was hardest hit by the tsunami. They all survived. These people have not been touched by what we call "civilization". They have retained their connection to nature (like the afore mentioned animals) and therefore noticed the storm coming and made it to higher ground.

In the early 20th century during the off season for circus performers, many lived in a town called Peru, Indiana. For about four months out of the year these performers and all the circus animals rested in Peru and prepared for the next tour. In 1913 a huge flood demolished Peru. When the people realized the severity of the coming flood, they freed the animals and headed for (you guessed it) higher ground. The elephant trainers swam under the water (which was as high as an elephants thigh!) , unchained the elephants and left for safety believing the elephants would naturally flee too. The problem was these circus elephants had been fully domesticated. Their natural senses had been bred out of them. Instead of going to higher ground, they went to the homes of their handlers and waited to be fed and saved. When the waters receded, the trainers came back to find dead elephants in the doorways of their homes.

My responsibility as a follower of Jesus is to bring other people to Him and let them discover the God who knit them together in their mothers womb. It's NOT to bring them to "my" church and train them to perform on circus Sunday. In that case, I'm simply taking what is natural and organic about a relationship with Jesus and breeding domesticated church elephants. And when the storm comes, they will die. I must allow them to get to know Jesus and let nature take its course. ANYONE who honestly seeks God WILL find Him. ANYONE who humbles himself before God WILL be lifted up to higher ground.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Good Week

Saturday morning reflections on the past week have resulted in much thankfulness.

Great report from the doctor. All is normal. In fact Stephanie is measuring almost exactly the same as she was at this point with Rainey. She will see the doc every two weeks, but that is only a precaution.

Rainey met her new teachers and some kids in her new class and she is excited for school to start next week.

Steph is at the Women of Faith conference in Dallas this weekend, so Rainey and I had a date last night ("Herbie Fully Loaded" and Chile's) and are planning a fun Saturday together (after dad blogs and mows the lawn).

Dad left for the Sudan on Tuesday. I always worry a bit about these trips, but I'm thankful for his willingness to go and that his health allows it.

Received the okay to take Steph with me to the Zoe conference in October! I went solo last year and really wished she was there. I'm very excited for her to join me this year.

Joel Quile will be preaching this Sunday for the first time as our Senior Minister! I'm excited about this on so many levels. The Quile's are a wonderful family and a great addition to our church. Joel is a good friend, creative and confident leader and just the kind of Spirit led person we need in that role. It also means our ministry TEAM is ready to move forward together instead of having one inexperienced minister struggling to simply maintain.
note: I've received a lot of credit for hanging in there through some tough transitional times at church. I appreciate the props, but the real troopers were two women, my wife Stephanie and our administrator Karen Black. They got to hear my grumbling and complaining when nobody else was around. Thanks for letting me bend your ear and talking things out when I got a little sour.

Yup, good week. Sometimes it's nice to simply reflect and give thanks. Now I'm off to mow the lawn.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Half the way Home

Had another sonogram today. Little munchkin was moving around a lot. Heart rate 146, measured 19 weeks and 3 days. We're half way to full term!

We are far enough along to find out the sex and the verdict is...we decided not to find out (sorry BST). We didn't find out the first time and it was fun, so we are holding out again. We also enjoy torturing friends and family.

Rainey went with us today. It was her second time to see her new baby brother or sister. The first time we had to wait a little while so we got some treats to make the time go by faster. She was really excited to go again which pleased me. But when we got started she whispered in my ear, "Aren't we going to get any Skittles?" When I said no she tried to act interested anyway, but the magic was gone.

From the profile, this baby seems to have Rainey's nose which is a blessing. Cute noses are a strong trait on Steph's side of the family not mine (no offense Rose).

We meet with the doc on Thursday and if all looks good they will take us off the "at risk" pregnancy list. Thanks for your continued prayers!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Mowing the Lawn

Any kid who grew up in Texas whose daddy wasn't rich enough with big oil money to hire a service (see Texas stereotypes and myths) knows how to properly mow a lawn.

When I was a kid I hated yard work. I thought I'd hit the jackpot when I found out I was allergic to most everything in the yard. That was my ticket out, right? Wrong. I soon learned that not only was my dad also allergic, but that because he had a D-r-period in front of his name he could supply me with all the drugs I needed to control the allergies. If he was going to tough it out, I was going to tough it out.

Mowing was not really a problem, but I never could control our old edger. That, couple with the fact that dad liked to do yard work at the absolute worst times of the day like before noon on any day during the summer or anytime on Saturday, made me loath the whole thing.

Somewhere along the way however, everything changed. I found the secret to joyful lawn care. Mowing allows for two happy things:

1) You can't hear the phone and nobody can talk to you as long as that mower engine is revving. It's the best time to think and pray. Seclusion in the midst of craziness.

2) The wonderful feeling of accomplishment. I get a little taste of what my forefathers must have felt as they worked the land in days gone by. I love looking back at what has been mowed, seeing where I've been and knowing I've made things look better. Immediate gratification!

It also helps that my edger is much easier to use than dad's old one.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I Dreamed of Winter

I got my hair cut yesterday. I enjoy getting my hair cut, it relaxes me. In fact, I have been known to fall asleep right in the chair. Yesterday was one of those times. It was the end of a long work day and I found myself sitting there in the barbers chair in that place between consciousness and true sleep.

It was cloudy outside and for some reason I thought it was winter. I began to look forward to walking out of the shop and feeling the cool breeze blow through my freshly cut hair. I was looking forward to a Saturday full of college football and an NFL Sunday afternoon. I couldn't remember where I had put my jacket, but I knew I would need it. I was feeling rejuvenated, I was feeling excited, I was feeling JOYFUL!

Then I woke up.

I felt my body go limp. I slid out of the chair and made my way out into heat. I got into my steaming car and waited for the AC to kick in. I drove home, stuck my head in the freezer and dreamed of winter.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


I'm not afraid of needles. They don't make me queasy, I don't cry when I'm stuck and I don't mind seeing blood, mine or anyone else's. However, we at the Bailey house have had more than our fair share of shots lately and we hereby declare we are tired of them.

Stephanie was forced to take two injections a day for weeks, but thankfully that is no longer the case. Just in time for her good news however, it came time for Rainey's 4 year old shots and Ike's (our dog, that's NOT him in the picture) yearly vaccinations.

Rainey was brave all through her 6 shots and then held Ike's paw as he received his 3. I'm proud of them both and Rainey is proud of her Sponge Bob and Dora the Explorer band-aids!

Come to think of it, I'm the only one in the family who hasn't been pricked in awhile. Hopefully, I'll get to miss out on the fun.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Four Years Ago Today

We just concluded a weekend full of birthday celebrations! Big Daddy (that's him in the picture getting blue hair from Rainey) and Gran came down from Idaho and we partied both Friday night and Saturday.

The theme of this birthday was camping. Those of you who know me know that this could not have been my idea. Camping in my world involves motor homes or better yet, Hiltons (the hotels, not the sisters). Nevertheless, we put up tents, unrolled sleeping bags, made s'mores and had a great time.

Rainey loved her new sleeping bag, two tents, three dolls and new bike. The gift list goes on and on but you get the idea.

It all got me thinking about what happened four years ago today (cue dream sequence music).

Four years ago today I planned on working late at the office with some clients. Stephanie had been at the pool doing her water aerobics and decided she wanted chicken for dinner. Then the craving turned toward watermelon. Then she decided maybe instead of dinner, she would just go into labor!

Fortunately, my clients were concerned about my casual attitude when I told them I might need to leave them if Stephanie called. They insisted I leave immediately. Had I not done so, I might not have made it in time. When I arrived home, the contractions were about 6 minutes apart, but Steph did not want to leave yet. When they got to five minutes, I talked her into taking a drive. We arrived at the hospital less than three hours before Rainey arrived.

Four years ago today everything changed for the better. Four years ago today I became a Dad. Four years ago today I met my sweet baby girl, my girlfriend, my secret best buddy. Four years ago today I learned about a kind of love I could never have imagined. And now, Lord willing, we'll get to do it all over again in a few months. Only this time with a big sister. Happy birthday Rainey! Do you know how much I love you?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Cool Picture on a Hot Day

This picture was taken outside of our church building earlier this year. I'm posting it for two reasons: 1) Because it's so hot here now! 2) Because I just took the time to figure out how to post pictures.
It worked! Wow, this opens up a whole new world to me!

Swim Nazi

Author's Note: I do not pretend to understand the devastation the Nazi party wrought in the first half of the 20th century and my use of the word "Nazi" in this blog entry is in reference to the "Soup Nazi", a funny character on the comedy series Seinfeld. Also, no animals were injured during the writing of this blog.

Last Sunday my three year old (I know Rainey, you're almost four) daughter would not enter the pool without her swim vest and goggles. By the next day, she was diving, sans swim vest and goggles, five feet under water to retrieve a brightly colored stick and then swimming to the edge of the pool. By Friday, she was jumping in at one end of the pool and doing the breast stroke to the other end. All of this, thanks to the Swim Nazi.

Rainey spent one hour a day for five days being told that she WOULD do all of these things. She was not given a choice. The Swim Nazi was in charge and she WOULD do as he said. Face in the water, three breast strokes meant face in the water three breast strokes, and you would keep trying until you got it right.

There were no parents allowed for the first four days, but on Friday we were welcome to watch.

I watched as the Swim Nazi yelled at my precious princess, "Who is the teacher?"
"You are" she answered.
"Who is the student?" he continued.
"I am" she responded. And then she proceeded to do whatever he told her to do.

Last night our family went swimming at my brothers pool. Rainey jumped in, swam around, played with her cousins and had a great time showing off for everyone. I was thankful for the Swim Nazi. Stephanie and I are at peace now when Rainey is around the water. She can handle herself if she accidentally falls in.

I was also reminded that we all need people like that in our lives sometimes. People who care enough to do whatever it takes to help you improve. People who challenge you to grow. People with the foresight and wisdom to show you tough love. Maybe it's a teacher or a business associate or an accountability partner. Don't automatically balk at these people. Listen to them. They may just save your life.

Pregnancy Update: NO MORE SHOTS! Steph has been taking two injections a day for weeks now and was told yesterday that she could stop! She is very excited about that. Everything looks good at 16 weeks. Again, we appreciate your prayers.