"I asked for a car; I got a computer."

Looking for a commentary that uses big words and ponders the deeper meanings of various topics? Well...you've come to the wrong place. This blog is all about extolling the greatness of Christ, the joy of marriage, the rollercoaster ride called parenthood, the supremacy of the 1980's...and doing all of it at a fifth grade reading level!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Campbell's Take A Field Trip

We interrupt this tribute to unsung heroes of Abilene to detail the trip Elijah, Noah and I made yesterday.

It was recently announced that all children in day care or headstart programs must have a Hepatitis A vaccination on or before September 1. I called our pediatrician, the GREAT Tim Martin, who informed me they don't have the vaccine at the office -- I'll have to go to the Health Department.

So I loaded the boys in the minivan and we headed off to the other side of town for what I THOUGHT would be a quick visit. Uh............no. Instead, I began a two-hour journey into the Pit Of Despair (thanks to "Princess Bride" for that reference).

One would think that the HEALTH Department would office in a place that looks....well....HEALTHY! Instead, they office out of an old elementary school that could use a good scrubbing. But if it saves tax dollars, I can overlook that. As I coax the boys around the corner and up to the front door, we are accompanied by two Abilene Policemen and their "guest" -- a young, disheveled man, wearing an orange jumpsuit along with handcuffs on his wrists AND ankles. Nice! Elijah immediately asks, "Are you going to jail?" The only response is a slight chuckle from one of the officers.

As we walk in the front door (letting the convict in first), we are greeted by a nurse passing by the doorway who gestures with her hand and says, "Check in with her." Problem: There is no "her" to be found. So the boys and I stand there for a while when finally an elderly lady comes slowly from another room. She sits down at a chair behind a card table and asks how she can help me. "I'm here for a Hepatitis A vaccination for my sons," I replied. "Okay," she replied, "did you bring them with you?"

This is going to be a long morning.

I introduced my sons to her, and she gave me some paperwork to fill out. As I'm doing this, a blood-curdling scream comes from the room next to us...a scream that I would liken to something from a horror movie in which an unwary victim is being fed into a woodchipper feet first.

Elijah, already traumatized by the fact that he's getting a shot, looks at me with absolute terror in his eyes. I, too, am a little shaken up by what I've just heard. The nice lady senses the concern we are having and says, "Don't worry - it's just one of the people from the State School."

This is going to be a VERY long morning.

I finish my paperwork, take a number (we got "15"), and I'm directed to a waiting room. There are a slew of folding chairs scattered about the room, and people of varying socioeconomic backgrounds filling the room. In addition, there are (at first count) seven students from the State School, and (at first count) three chaperones. There's also a TV playing Disney Channel. Unfortunately, there is no sound coming from the set. I ask one of the nurses if she can fix the sound. She informs me that someone muted the sound, and now they are unable to unmute it. So the boys and I get to enjoy a stirring episode of Rolie Polie Olie with no sound.

About this time, I hear someone yell "THREE." Hey, that's great...we've only got 12 more to go! Fifteen minutes later, the same voice yells "FOUR."

I begin to contemplate the fact I may never see my wife again....

Somewhere between "NINE" and "TEN," Noah, whom I affectionately refer to as "Legion," becomes extremely antsy. So I go to get a stack of the registration forms and some pencils so he and Elijah can draw. While Noah is drawing, Elijah begins to engage in a staring match with some of the students from the State School. One of the "chaperones" nearby is also staring at Elijah. All of a sudden, the "chaperone" begins to flail his arms wildly, bob his head up and down, and giggle like a little boy. Elijah looks at me and says, "Daddy, there are some strange people getting shots today." As it turned out, two of the people I thought were chaperones were actually State School students. One chaperone for nine students?!?!?!? (As you'll find out later on, other people in the room were thinking, "They only sent one parent for those two little animals?!?!?!)

He then began to take an inventory of all the students in the room. "Daddy, why is that man wearing a football helmet? Daddy, why does that lady keep hopping up and down? Daddy why does that lady keep screaming? Daddy, why doesn't that man quit staring at me?"

I explained, "Sometimes people are born sick. And even though they have birthdays, and their bodies get bigger, they're always going to be two years old." So my 4-year old son, who is a great minister to me, said, "Daddy, we sure are lucky. Let's pray for mommy's baby to not be born sick like that." So we did...and daddy cried a bit.

Tomorrow (or whenever I carve out time to type), I will elaborate for both of you who read this, on our quest to actually GET a vaccination.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Abilene's Unsung Heroes, Part II

Here is part 2 of my "almost debut" in the Abilene Reporter News
In the summer of 1990 Melody Moore took part in Opportunity Camp, an inner-city outreach that paired students from her church with at-risk kids from the Abilene community for one week. At the end of the week, Melody couldn’t say good-bye to her new friend...and her passion for reaching out to the community was born.

Damon Parker spent the summer of 1990 doing mission work in Haiti. At the time his goal was to attend Texas A&M and study to be an attorney. But after spending a summer with four ACU students interning in Port Au Prince, he felt called to minister to those less fortunate.

Fifteen years later, Damon and Melody remain faithful to their passion for ministry. Married in 1997, this husband-wife ministry team has been serving the Abilene community as ministers at the New Life Church of Christ. Their attendance has grown from 8 at their first worship service (five of which was their own family) to an average of 70 worshipers. They have also given up meeting at the Cobb Park pavilion in favor of their own building on Cypress Street.

New Life is not your average congregation. “We have issues most congregations have never experienced,” Damon says. “Most churches don’t have members selling crack – we’ve had that before. Most churches don’t have the ethnic and socio-economical variety that we have, either. Many of our members can’t afford a ‘Sunday best.’ So folks are invited to ‘come as you are.’”

Those expecting to simply fill a church pew at New Life are brought to a new way of thinking. Members of the New Life Church are expected to take an active role in the ministry to the community. “We’ll give you a couple of months to check us out. After that, we’re going to ask you to get busy,” says Melody.

The Parkers’ ministry involves their whole family. Damon and Melody, along with their four children, are committed to the people of their church’s community. “I love watching my children interact with the other kids of the congregation. They don’t see them as different. They see them as their friends. They’re a big reason this ministry has been successful.”

Their connection to ACU has had a great influence on the Parkers’. Damon is currently working on his second degree from ACU, a Masters of Divinity. “The reason I went into the ministry is because of the summer I spent with four ACU students in Haiti,” says Parker. “And Melody and I have received a tremendous amount of mentoring from Charlie Middlebrook and the other ministers at the Impact Church in Houston.”

Damon sums up the joy he gets from being apart of New Life. “I enjoy seeing families that we’ve helped bring other families that need the Lord. And I love looking out over the congregation, seeing rich and poor, black and white, young and old worshiping together. And I can’t help thinking, ‘This is what God wanted.’”

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Abilene's Unsung Heroes, Part I

The content of this pantheon of literary skill reached the eyes of influential people...and I was tasked to write about unsung Abilene heroes for a special insert of the Abilene Reporter News. Unfortunately, my work fell victim to the editor's knife, and my essay was left as kindling for the fire.

However...embracing a "glass is half full" attitude (a rarity for me), I look upon this not as a defeat...but as four blog entries!!! So both of you may now sit back, relax and "enjoy" the first installment.
Her job title is Case Manager, but Charlene Walker defines her role with Christian Homes of Abilene a bit differently. “I’m an advocate and a champion for birth mothers.”

Known to everyone as “Squeaky,” Walker has spent the last 20 years with Christian Homes of Abilene working with mothers and fathers who have decided to put their babies up for adoption. Some call it a job. For Walker it’s her passion. And it’s her ministry.

“Squeaky believes in the ministry of Christian Homes. And she’s an example of how you make a difference in someone’s life,” said Margaret Ballew, Director of Public Relations for Christian Homes of Abilene.

Walker’s ministry began almost thirty years ago after completing both Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Psychology at Abilene Christian University. After graduating, she worked with mentally challenged youth at the Abilene State School for more than two years. She then spent another six years in a similar role at the Skyview Learning Center in Stamford.

When Walker learned of an opportunity at Christian Homes of Abilene, she quickly jumped at the opportunity. “I’ve always been in ministry, and I wanted to use my skills AND my degree to work with the whole family, not just the kids.”

Walker estimates she has witnessed at least 750 births in her years at Christian Homes. She loves the opportunity to witness new life, but she is also humbled by the sacrifice these mothers make.

“It’s the Hannah story all over again,” Walker says, comparing the sacrifice these mothers make to the Old Testament story of Hannah and Samuel. “These mothers demonstrate the love of God to me over and over. They have chosen to give life. And not just that, but they have chosen to separate themselves from their child in order to improve the life of their baby.”

Walker spends most of her days on-call for Christian Homes. When she isn’t working one of her cases, she finds other ways to serve the community. Walked is active in both the Colonial Ministry and the Emmaus Project, ministries of her congregation, Highland Church of Christ.

But her greatest passion is the hundreds of birth mothers that she has worked with over the years, many of whom came to her in desperate circumstances. “Nothing gives me more joy than to see one of these moms make a change in her life.”

But Walker says she isn’t interested in analyzing her clients’ past. “My responsibility is to love these ladies the way God loved me. And to let them know that every day is a new day. Their baby isn’t a mistake – God made that baby for a reason.”

Monday, August 22, 2005

Jealousy Sets In

As sick as it sounds...I wish I was a college freshman again. I love my wife; I wouldn't trade her or my kids for anything. But I'm extremely jealous of what almost 1,200 students on the campus of Abilene Christian University are about to embark on for the first time.

I could dive into a plethora of memories from my four years here in Abilene...but I don't want the three of you who read my blog to fall asleep at your PC. Suffice to say that ACU came around at a time when I was in need of encouragement, sprituality, and direction...and mercifully God directed my path to ACU.

Today was opening Chapel. It marks the 100th year of ACU's history. Much has been said and written about the men and women who made tremendous sacrifices in order for this school to survive. I, for one, will remain forever grateful for what those men and women did that allowed me to spend time on this campus.

So until someone creates a Time Machine that will allow me to go back in time, be a freshman again...and ask Shannon McKnight out before that rotten ol' Mitch Wilburn got to her...I'll be content to work for the greatest University in the world!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Sad Farewell

Today, Abilene Christian University says "good-bye" to its most prized employee. No, I'm not talking about President Royce Money. I'm not talking about our VP of Development, John Tyson, or any other member of the President's cabinet.

I'm not talking about any member of the faculty...though each of them are extremely valuable in their own right. I'm not talking about anyone from Campus Life or the other organizations that so ably guide and mentor the young people on this campus.

I'm talking about our campus operator...Kim Quile.

Those of you who don't work at ACU might think this is a failed attempt at satire on my part. But for those of us who work at ACU, it's quite easy to defend this claim. After all, Kim, to many folks, is the voice of ACU.

Before I came to ACU I worked for seven years at EDS in Plano. The majority of my customers were small credit unions in the Midwest -- simple and friendly. So I shuddered every time they would call in through the EDS toll-free number...as they were always greeted by the familiar hurried, impolite, brash, I-just-got-off-my-8th-15 minute-smoke-break voice of the EDS operator. What a way to start a phone call!

I don't have any statistics to support how many phone calls Kim Quile fields in a day...but I would dare say it's well into the hundreds. And each of those folks are greeted with the same cheery, Spirit-filled, joyful voice of Kim Quile.

It's quite likely that each person Kim Quile spoke to was not happy. But I am confident that by the time Kim had rerouted their call they couldn't help but be in a better mood...as she always signs offs with familiar, "...and I hope you have a blessed day."

I don't think we'll have to work in Heaven (PRAISE GOD!!!)...but if we do, I hope the Lord employs Kim Quile as Heaven's official receptionist.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I Can't Think of a Good Title For This Entry...

...so I'll just start blabbing.

This morning Robin called me at work and said Elijah wanted to tell me something. Usually this means that Elijah has done something wrong, and that he is about to be punished...so I was prepared for the worst. So Robin puts him on the phone. "Daddy, will you come home please?"

"Why," I asked?

"Because I didn't get to tell you 'bye,'" he said sadly.

He was playing a video game when I walked out the door this morning. I said "bye" as I passed by his room -- but he was honed-in on Ms Pac-Man, and I don't guess he heard me. So he thought I had left without saying "bye."

And when I told him I was already at work and that I couldn't come home he started crying. "I just wanted to say good-bye," he cried.

Well...I live exactly 1.3 miles from my office. And even with construction it takes me five minutes to get home. So I jumped in the truck and drove home. Elijah was standing in the garage waiting for me (in just his underwear - a blog topic for another day). When I drove up he ran out to me, opened the truck door, gave me a big hug, and told me, "Bye!" Then he stood in the driveway waving at me until I drove out of sight.

I guess I could've stayed here at my desk and worked...but I wouldn't have traded that trip to the house for anything.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Okay...I'm naive when it comes to Blog games...but evidently the game of "Blog Tag" is sacred and cannot be ignored. So I will play (not that anyone is going to read this!):
1. What were three of the stupidest things you have done in your life? Gee, narrowing it down to three is tough. I would have to say: (a)Leaving a job at an up-and-coming software company back in 1994 for "greener pastures." (b)Throwing a water balloon at a car driven by the Fort Worth Golden Gloves Middleweight champion...and promptly getting my butt kicked. (c)Once calling Robin "Jennifer" (old girl friend's name).

2. At the current moment, who has the most influence in your life? While God is in control of my life...the individual who has the most influence on my life are my two sons...along with baby #3. All the decisions I make are for them.

3. If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to only pick up five people to dine with, who would you pick? First of all, let me say that I'm glad I finally got a time machine that functioned. I'm tired of always getting stuck with the broken ones!!! To answer the question I would say: (a)Jesus; (b)Martin Luther King, Jr; (c)Edgar Allan Poe (dude, he would be a trip to hang with); (d)Joey Ramone; (e)Jackie Robinson. How's that for a random group?

4. If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be? (a)Financial security that would allow me to take Robin to all of the places she wants to travel to. (b)An opportunity to spend a day with my biological mother and father. (c)Peace in the Middle East

5. Someone is visiting your hometown/place where you live at the moment. Name two things you regret your city not having, and two things people should avoid. Two things I regret my city not having: (1)A GOOD mall; (2)An On The Border restaurant. Two things people should avoid: (1)Super Wal Mart on a Saturday afternoon; (2)Rosa's on Tuesday after 6:00PM.

6. Name one event that has changed your life. Getting married to Robin.

Monday, August 08, 2005


So I'm sitting at my desk this morning, and the phone rings. It's my beautiful wife who is traveling back from Sherman after spending a weekend with her family at a reunion in Oklahoma.

"Happy fourteenth anniversary," she says proudly.

"It's our thirteenth," I snapped.

"Oh well," she replied. "It FEELS like fourteen!"

Which is one of the reasons I LOVE my wife. She doesn't get all wrapped up in that mushy stuff about getting dates and gifts right. And in honor of our thirteenth anniversary, here are the top 13 reasons I have the greatest wife in the world!

13. She LOVES Hamburger Helper
12. If it wasn't for her, I never would've learned to LOVE exercising.
11. She has mastered the lost art of the mid-range jump shot.
10. She is a wonderful mother to my two sons.
9. Her idea of a hot date is Taco Tuesday @ Rosa's.
8. She insists that our family own a truck.
7. I don't have to make the bed in the morning.
6. She believes that "Clearance" means things should be 75% off...or more!
5. She stays on her side of the bed...most of the time.
4. I can still make her laugh...occasionally.
3. She suggested we get a lock for the bedroom door.
2. Even 8 months pregnant she is absolutely stunning.
...and the number 1 reason!
1. She refuses to ready my blog...so I won't get in trouble for #3.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Do Over

I don't know what the word is for the male equivalent of a "chick-flick" would be (possible blog topic)...but the movie "City Slickers" certainly would fall under that category. I was "lounging" in my hotel room last night, and this classic show came on. So I popped some popcorn, grabbed a bottle of Diet Coke (w/Splenda), and watched.

In the film, Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, and Bruno Kirby take time to extoll the greatness of the "do-over." The "do-over" played a huge role in our backyard kickball games. Inevitably someone would kick the ball into our overgrown Magnolia tree. Everyone would scream, "Do-over," thus sending the batter/kicker back to the plate...and sending me into the garage for a variety of missiles to throw at the ball in an effort to resume the game.

As I ponder the phrase "do-over," I'm reminded of a couple of folks who could use a do-over.

-Michael Jackson: Ol' Jacko should've thought through the invitation list to some of those sleep-overs. He also should talk to the guy that stole his real nose.
-Uzzah: The young man in 1st Chronicles 13 who saw the Ark of the Covenant falling and said, "I got it!"
-The parents of former Kansas City Royals firstbaseman Willie Mays Aikens: POSITIVE that their young son would be the next great slugger, they set him up for failure by naming him after the "Say-Hey Kid." You can come up with your own combinations of names...but I think Pat Putnam Aikens would've been more appropriate.

I'm sure there are others...but my feeble mind is drawing a blank.

The phrase "do over" has a deeper meaning to me. Although the theme of "City Slickers" is far from any religious overtone, the message of "do over" is a central message of Christianity. We, as Christians, get a "do over" because of the blood of Christ. Unfortunately, this gift from God has been treated by some as the right to live an anything-goes, do-what-you-wanna-do life. But this "do over" is not a free pass to keep kicking the ball up in the Magnolia tree. The Father didn't send his son to earth, watch him die, then live without him for three days so that we can continue in our old ways. Instead, He asks us to become something new.

Romans 12:2 - "Do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING OF YOUR MIND, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."