"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!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Thirty-six years ago today...

...an 18-year old girl walked into a small clinic in a run-down part of Fort Worth. Since I never knew her, I can't imagine the thoughts and emotions that day brought for her. Maybe she was an emotional wreck because of what was about to happen. She may have spent a tear-filled night, staying up all hours pondering the decision she was about to make. On the other hand, it may have been an easy decision. She may have been relieved to get rid of the burden she had been carrying around for nine months, and was ready to get back to her normal routine.

Whatever the circumstances were on that day, I am thankful for that lady...because she gave me life.

In fact she gave me life twice. She gave me life when she made the decision to endure her unwed pregnancy and accept any humiliation or embarrassment that being a single, pregnant woman might bring. And then she gave me life when she decided that she wouldn't be able to care for a baby in the way that it deserved to be cared for and gave me up for adoption.

I was raised in a simple home, but I never wanted for anything. I have been blessed with two Godly parents who have done more for me than they will ever know. I have an extended family that is a blessing to be around. I have a wife and three beautiful sons that keep me smile on my face and cause me to marvel at how much one can love someone else.

I don't know who she is, where she is, or what she thinks about each year when this day rolls around. So a shout out to that sweet lady wherever she may be -- and a line from the song Signs: "I'm alive and doin' fine"...and thanks!
In other random January 31st news:

This could be the greatest day in baseball history...as Nolan Ryan, Jackie Robinson, and Ernie Banks were all born on this day. Me...well, I never made it off the Junior Varsity!

Also a big day in rock'n'roll...as Scott Ian (Anthrax), Phil Collins and K.C. (yes, the Sunshine Band guy) are shaking their bootie to celebrate their birthday along with me.

...Scotch tape first hit stores in 1928
...the U.S. launched its first satellite, Explorer I, in 1958
...in 1992, Howard Cosell announces his retirement.

Gee...pretty boring day.

Monday, January 30, 2006


This is something I probably don't say enough...and I KNOW I don't show and/or tell my wife of 13+ year that enough, either. She's a wonderful mother, LOVES to watch basketball, she's a great kisser, and she enjoys a good dose of Hamburger Helper as much as I do!

I can provide you with several lame excuses as to why I don't communicate this adequately. Most notable is that Robin and I three kids, two of which are EXTREMELY high maintenance...and a third that is well on his way to being so. So we stay pretty busy around our house. There are others...but I won't bore both of you with them.

The reason this topic is on my mind is that this past week I learned of two couples that are my age (that I know!) are splitting up...or at least are on the verge of splitting up. The reason: the husband had to run out and find him a girlfriend.

A quick note to those of you who have wandering eyes and other wandering body parts: If you wanna screw up your own marriage, please choose a different way to do it...because YOU AREN'T DOING THE REST OF US MARRIED GUYS A FAVOR!!! That little seed of suspicion that you plant in the mind of your wives' friends is devastating to those of us who ARE interested in being married and who ARE investing in giving our children the type of home that God intended.

But I do appreciate your jolting reminder that it's my job to ensure that my wife has 100% faith that I am honoring the vows I made on our wedding day. But the help you guys could lend me would be greatly appreciated.

So please, go get some counseling (it's dang-sure less expensive than the attorney fees and child support you're about to pay), take your wife on a date for an evening or a weekend (heck, I'll watch your kids for you -- free of charge!), or have yourself neutered (you're on your own with that one)!

In the meantime let me enjoy my wife and my marriage!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Lessons in Sharing

While I try to make Elijah and Noah sound like high-maintenance young men (which they are!), there are some very simple things in life that bring considerable joy.

One of those things is going to the mailbox.

Elijah and Noah love to run down to the curb, open our dilapidated black mailbox, and peer inside. They'll thin divide up the loot between them and scamper back up to the house to let Mommy and/or Daddy distribute the mail accordingly. This past week's mail delivery brought little tears to my eyes on two separate occasions...as my boys (once again) taught their father some valuable lessons.

On Monday Elijah got his first magazine. My father-in-law is the world's greatest handyman, and subscribes to a multitude of such periodicals. One of the magazines he subscribes to gave him a free subscription to give to a friend. Knowing how much Elijah likes mail, he signed Elijah up for 12 months of "Handyman Monthly."

When the first issue arrived on Monday, Elijah was ecstatic. He quickly sat down and started looking through all of the pages. He came to a picture of a large, lavish bathtub...the kind his mother has been hounding me for since we were first married. Elijah, knowing how much his mother loves to take baths, told her, "Mommy, I'm going to build this for you." Robin informed him that those cost a lot of money. So Elijah went to his room, got his piggy bank and Spider Man wallet, emptied on the floor in front of Robin and said, "Here, you can use my money to help buy it." (For the record, Elijah is also going to build me a tractor!)

On Saturday, the boys once again went through their routine. This time, Noah returned to the door with a birthday card from "Grandma Mart" (his great-grandmother). Inside the card was $30! When Noah opened the card the money fell to the floor. Noah quickly bent down and picked up the cash - holding a $20 in one hand and a $10 in the other. Then he looked at the money, looked at his brother, handed Elijah the $20 and said, "Here Elijah, I share wid you."

Maybe I'm wrong...but I think this is the sort of thing Jesus had in mind when He said, "Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Longest Day

Today "little" Noah is three years old. We started the day off with our little family tradition. On the morning of a family member's birthday we ditch the cereal, toast, oatmeal, etc., in favor of cake and ice cream! I'm sure publicizing this will further delay my "Parent of the Year" nomination...but I gotta be me!

As I was waking Noah up this morning I reflected on the day of his birth...January 17, 2003...the day that proved to be the longest day of my life.

Robin and I awoke at 4:00AM in order to be at Wilson N. Jones hospital in Sherman by 6:00. Robin's C-section was scheduled for 8:00...but all that pre-op stuff takes forever. This was to be Robin's second C-section. Robin labored for twelve hours with Elijah before a drastic drop in heart rate (the cord managed to wrap itself around his neck) called for an emergency C-section.

Many of Robin's friends had talked about what a breeze their planned C-sections had been. So while she was still a little nervous about the procedure, there was little apprehension about what was to come.

It was a typical January morning. Cold, but not unbearable. The hospital was eerily quiet, but at least we got to walk right in and get settled. Everything in the pre-op went smoothly, the doctor came by to calm any last-minute fears, we said a prayer together with our family that had gathered, I put on my scrubs and my shower cap, and we were off!

I came into the operating room to the sounds of Elton John (Dr Bost has seen him in concert several times). I'm not a big Elton John fan...but if that's what it takes to get the job done right then I'm on board. I've got the video camera rolling in one hand, and the 35mm ready in the other to help document history. I interviewed Robin, the anesthesiologist, all of the nurses, and even Dr Bost. The mood in the room was jovial...just the way it should be on such an exciting day. The anesthesiologist kept peeking over the curtain (cuz I wasn't about to do that!) to give us a running play-by-play of what was going on...and all the while we were having a good time.

But all of a sudden the room went quiet. The anesthesiologist looked over the curtain again and said, "Okay, you'll feel a little pressure." He then looked at Dr. Bost and the other doctor that was assisting him. They both had a look in their eyes that I didn't like. It's the same kind of panicked look that parents get when their child comes home from school and asks, "What does *$&%& mean?"

I looked at Dr Bost and the other doctor. Both of them had begun to sweat. I looked at the anesthesiologist, and he looked at me...and he knew that I knew something wasn't right. "A little more pressure here," he said, patting me on the back. I looked back over the curtain, and the second doctor has climbed up on the operating table to work on Robin and the baby. Robin senses that something is wrong and asks, "What's going on?"

"Oh, you've got a big baby here," came the reply from the anesthesiologist. "A lot of pressure...but the baby is almost here."

Now I'm not a "the-glass-is-half-empty" kind of guy...I am a "the glass-is-half-empty-and-it's-because-it-has-a-crack-in-it" kind of guy! But for once in my life I try to look at things in a positive light...though there are visions running through my head of what is happening on the other side of that curtain...and none of them are good.

I'm jolted back to reality by the words "it's a boy." But it's not the proud declaration that you see in the movies...where the baby is held up screaming at the top of its lungs. It's more of a matter-of-fact statement as the baby is quickly passed to a nurse and taken to the a table.

I followed the baby and the nurse, keeping the video camera going and snapping a couple of still shots. The nurse has an oxygen mask over my new son's face while she's cleaning him off. "Great, he's got my nose," I remember calling to Robin. I turn to look, and I can see the panic in Robin's eyes...because she doesn't hear any crying. "He's good looking. He's a little bit on the blue side, but at least he's tanner than I am," I joked...hoping it would help brighten the mood.

"I need some help over here!" Those are words you never want to hear a doctor or nurse say...especially when they're working on YOUR wife or YOUR baby. Noah wasn't breathing. A second nurse joins in the effort to get things going. After what seems like an eternity (in reality, it was about 60 seconds), Noah lets out a squeaky whimper. It's not exactly what the nurses are wanting, but it makes Mommy and Daddy feel better.

They rush him off to the nursery, and I turn to check on my wife. They're still working on her...but she appears to be okay. She tells me to got watch the baby.

By the time I get to the nursery they have two I.V.'s in baby Noah's arm, an oxygen helmet around his head, and he's resting inside an incubator. Great -- I can't even hold my son. The family starts gathering outside the room wanting to see the baby...but no one is allowed in. The doctor stops in to share with me everything that has happened. I'll spare you the gorey details, but it has to do with scar tissue and umbilical cords. As he leave he tells me how lucky we are -- a generation ago, both Mother and Baby would have died.

So I sit by Baby Noah's bedside...praying and singing. I ran through every worship song I could think of...so I began to sing the entire U2, REM, and Ramones catalog as well. In between songs and prayers, I would go out and visit with the family and give them updates on how things were going and play with Elijah. Then go back inside the nursery and hang out with my new little buddy

Finally...about 7:30 that evening Noah's vital signs were at the point that they felt comfortable taking him out of his little incubator and helmet. So I got to hold him and love on him. I introduced him to his mother...but she was enjoying her "Dimorol Cocktail" and wasn't able to carry on much of a conversation. Family hung out until 10:00 or so, and then everyone went home. I managed to send out a couple of emails to friends and co-workers letting them know how things were going...and when I looked up it was past midnite. I hadn't eaten all day, and I needed to get out of the hospital. So the nurse came and got the baby.

I drove down the main strip in Sherman and found the only thing opened 12:30 was a Taco Bueno. I went up to the counter and ordered. The lady looked at me (I had forgotten to take off my scrubs) and said, "Wow, you look tired. Must have been a long day at the hospital." It was at that moment that the day's events came at me in full force...and I broke down and sobbed at the counter in Taco Bueno. Poor girl -- I don't think she knew what to think.

Although day one was stressful to say the least, the rest of the days have been a tremendous blessing. And I thank God for my healthy family.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Scales and Memories

Elijah and I went to the doctor a couple of days ago. He had to get a couple of shots to bring all of his immunizations current. Fortunately this trip to the doctor went much smoother than the last one!

Before administering the vaccination, they measured and weighed Elijah -- forty-eight inches tall; 52 pounds. "That's a pretty good-sized ol' boy," I thought out loud. "Oh, that's pretty average," came the nurse's reply. She could stand to get a little closer to average herself!

ANYHOW...that prompted me to remember a day almost 30 years ago. I was in the first grade at Westcliff elementary School in Ft Worth. My teacher, Mrs Meyers (whom I adored), rolled in a big chalkboard and a scale one day. "We're going to work on averages today," she said. Most of the kids in the class had no idea what an "average" was...but already being a baseball stat nerd, I had a good idea of what that meant.

"One at a time, I want everyone to come up here, and I'm going to weigh you. Then I'll write all the numbers on the board, and we'll add them up together."

My heart instantly sank. I looked around the room and knew this would be a painful exercise for me. You see...I was the fat kid. From the time I was in Kindergarten 'til the time I was in 7th grade, I was always the fattest kid in the room.

The first year I played tackle football (2nd grade) I was absolutely unstoppable. Not because I was a gifted athlete (ask anyone that has ever seen me play ANYTHING, and they can attest to that)... but because I weighed at least 20 pounds more than the other kids. The first year I played soccer, the other kids (and their parents) called me "Truck." In middle school football, they had to get pants from the high school for me to wear. That wouldn't have been so bad...except for the fact that everyone else had white pants, and my pants were BLUE!

I have vivid memories of going to JCPenney to shop for jeans...and searching for size 16-Husky with my mom. I would try them on...and they would be at least 10 inches to long, but the waist would fit. So we would buy them, and mom would hem them up. About every couple of months she would have to let the hem out...so by the time a couple of school years had passed, the legs on my jeans would have several rings around them.

There are other things I could elaborate on, but I won't beat you down with that.

So the weighing process begins. One by one, students walk up to the front of the room, hop on the scale, and Mrs Meyers would write their name and their weight on the board. All the while, students in the room are talking or doing homework.

Then it's my turn...and the room turned instantly quiet. I slowly plodded to the front of the room. It was at that instant that I think Mrs Meyers realized this may not have been such a good idea. I distinctly remember almost a sorrowful look on her face as I prepared to step on the scale. You could hear a pin drop in the room. Every students' eyes were glued to the chalkboard...kinda like people intently watch a horror movie, anxious to see what happens next.

I took my shoes off (because we all know that shoes add at least 10 pounds to your weight) and stepped on. The numbers on the scaled seemed to spin for hours...finally coming to rest just to the east of 80 -- EIGHTY-ONE POUNDS!

With everyone else Mrs Meyers had called out the number...but this time she simply wrote the number on the board. I bent over to put on my shoes as the "8" and the "1" went up beside my name. I didn't want to see the facial expressions of my classmates.

"WHOA!" was the general response...along with a few giggles. I was embarrassed...but not devastated. After all, being the biggest kid in the class meant I could also kick some butt. So no one tore me up too badly.

Later that evening, the phone rang -- it was Mrs Meyers. She called to apologize to my mom and then to me. I hadn't mentioned it to anyone at the house because I didn't think they would care. But it meant a lot to mom and to me to get that phone call.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dabbling in Randomness

I attended the National Conference of Youth Ministries this past week in Nashville. I didn't get to see much of the city...nor did I see anyone famous...but I did make one observation. Nashville has more Waffle House restaurants than any city in America! Now I love Waffle House...but are there that many people in Nashville that need therapy?
Why is it that when your children are on their best behavior there's never anyone around to see it? But when you make a 7:30PM trip to Wal-Mart, and your children feel like they're on a casting call for Dennis The Menace, Part II, you run into EVERYONE you know?!?!?!
Coaching -- a noble profession. But isn't it strange how the best coaches have never coached a day in their life? Every great basketball coach is sitting in the stands! NONE of them are down on the floor. NONE of them are spending hours upon hours reviewing game film, planning practices, conducting practices, or mentoring kids. It's only the ones who couldn't make it in another profession that have taken up this way of life.
I absolutely despise the large university that is in Austin, TX...but I firmly believe the nation was treated to the greatest football game in college football history last week. And as great of an athlete as Vince Young is, he IS NOT an NFL quarterback.
Picture of the day: Elijah and Noah informed me that they're going to be in a rock'n'roll band when they grow up...which I'm sure is a delightful thing for their mother to hear. They've already got their on-stage regalia ready to go. It appears they're going for the grunge, Seattle look.
I'm trying to read more. So I'm starting off my morning by making my way through the New Testament, then reading something else in the evening. I've been working my way through "Power Of A Praying Parent." As you can tell from the picture, I should probably read that through a few times.
An announcement was made in church on Sunday that there was to be a special collection taken up to help residents of a nearby town that were affected by a huge wildfire. Half of the money was going to the local Church of Christ -- that congregation was going to use the money to help their members who were affected. The other money was being sent to the Baptist congregation -- they were reaching out to the "unchurched" of the community. Hmmm......where's my WWJD bracelet?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Best of 2005

I always thought that my parents were full of it when they would tell me, "You know -- the older you get, the faster time flies."

Well...they're right!

2005 has come and gone...and while most of the year has seemed like a blur, there has been some adventurous, exciting, and momentous happenings this past year. So following are a couple of things that stood out to me in 2005.

ACHS over Sacred Heart: I finally got a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream when Robin invited me to coach with her this year. I think my wife is an outstanding coach...and I got a chance to witness this firsthand as she guided the ACHS girls basketball team to a 20-12 record and a trip to the TAPPS 2A Regional Finals. The pinnacle of that journey was when our girls beat Muenster Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart had won the past seven state championships, and has a tremendous reputation around the state of Texas. So it was an absolute thrill to travel to their gym and beat them by three points.

Illinois over Arizona: Continuing with the basketball theme, I've never seen a basketball game quite as exciting as the NCAA Regional Final between Illinois and Arizona. I think Arizona had a 15-point lead with less than 5 minutes remaining...but Illinois managed to chip away at that lead, send the game into overtime, and earn a trip to the Final Four.

Good-bye to Grandy: After a 10-year battle with cancer, we said good-bye to my grandfather. I grew a lot during the process. I spent time in a hospice unit (what a beautiful spirit the people at All Saints in Fort Worth have); I watched my father care for his father-in-law in a way that words can't describe (my dad is incredible); and I had the opportunity to eulogize a huge part of my childhood.

NCAA Div II Nat'l Track Meet: For two days, some of the greatest athletes in America came to Abilene to compete in the national track and field championships...and I had a front row seat at the finish line. Even though I was technically "working" I spent a considerable amount of time taking in the experience...and being reminded of exactly how slow I really am! The final race (the men's mile relay) was especially exciting as ACU came from behind on the final lap to win.

Hurricane Katrina: Wow! What a devastating experience that was to behold! And not only did it affect me and countless other adults, but it affected my oldest son Elijah. For the first time in his life, Elijah recognized that people were suffering. He knew that kids like him didn't have a house to live in...or toys to play with...or food to eat. How special it is to see the compassionate heart of your children.

Jacob Makes Three: September 12, 2005 is the date that Robin and I were outnumbered. But what a tremendous blessing young Jacob Martin Campbell has been to our family. His brothers love him (a little too much), he's been as healthy as any parent could ask for, and his little smile makes his mother and I so proud. Now if we could just figure out how to pay for his college!

Well...that's just a few of the things that made 2005 special for me. I'm sure 2006 will be full of surprises!