"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!

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Reason I Run

We had Noah's birthday party this weekend. Nothing like getting fifteen 3 and 4 year olds together for a little sugar rush. Good times!

My mom and dad drove into town for the party. They take great pride in the fact they have yet to miss one of these little extravaganzas (what can I say - my mom is a former teacher, and you know how teachers just LOVE perfect attendance!). Anyhow, Mom has gotten into this mode of cleaning out her house of clutter...so every time she comes to Abilene she has a box full of items for me. It usually consists of old newspaper articles, stuff I made when I was in second grade, etc.

This time, however, I was pleasantly surprised at some of the items that were in there: My hood, cap and gown from my college graduation; a $50 savings bond that my grandfather gave me when I graduated high school (now worth $64.28 - woo hoo!); a book of coins from the year of my birth (1970); some old pictures of my family; and a slew of other items from my days in college and high school.

I also ran across and envelope that said "School Pictures." It looked too small to contain a photograph, and it didn't feel like it had anything in it. But I made the fateful decision to open it up anyway...with Robin standing nearby. What emerged from the envelope caused such a stir of hysterical laughter on the part of my wife that that I thought I was going to have to get out the Campbell family defibrillator.

It was my 6th grade and 7th grade class picture.

I have often recounted to folks that I was a fat kid...but I've been slow to provide documentation. However today, in a fit of humiliation, I proudly provide both of you with support of my claim that I was a big 'un!

After Robin managed to gain control of herself, she said something to the fact of, "But you were still cute." Uh...yeah. Sadly, the picture on the left (my 6th grade year) bears a striking resemblance to the character Englebert from the original "Bad News Bears" movie (remember - the fat catcher?).

So, dear friend, THIS is why I run, consume Veg-all and pineapple as part of my daily diet, and sympathize with most of overweight America.

And if you listen closely....you can still hear my wife cackling! THANKS MOM!!!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Prayers For A Friend

Today I simply want to ask both of you to pray for a friend of mine. Don Booker is in a hospital in Houston fighting for his life. What once was thought to be a bad headache as emerged as hydrocephalus. Surgery was performed on Don to help relieve the pressure on his brain...but he has never woken up from the surgery.

Don has a wife and two teenage boys and a slew of family and friends that desperately want Don to stick around for a while.

So would you please stop down for a moment and pray for him? For more information on Don go to: www.caringbridge.org/visit/donaldbooker


Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Oops...I spelled that wrong. I meant to say "four." Noah turns four today. What a joy and a blessing he has been. While it's true that he is probably going to be the one that pushes the envelope, he's also the most loving and compassionate to his mommy....which, of course, simply makes her melt.

I've always been fascinated to see what celebrities share the same birthday as I do...and how that relates to patterns of greatness. For instance, I share a birthday with baseball greats Nolan Ryan, Ernie Banks, and Jackie Robinson. And, of course, my high school baseball exploits are legendary!!!

So I was curious to see who Noah shared a birthday with You can imagine my excitement at finding that he was born on a day of greatness. His birthday keeps company with the likes of Benjamin Franklin, James Earl Jones, Anton Chekov, Jim Carrey, Muhammad Ali, and Dwayne Wade. So I figure he is destined for greatness as an orator, author, entertainer or athlete.

Of course I continued to read down the list...and he also shares a birthday with Al Capone, Andy Kaufman, and Kid Rock.....YIKES!!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Ice Storm of 2007

Okay...first of all, can we tap the brakes a bit and stop referring to this weather event in Abilene as an "ice storm." To me, an ice storm means inches upon inches of freezing rain, sleet and snow with power lines snapping and an entire city brought to its knees.

Anyhow, we heeded the advice to "travel only in an absolute emergency," so Robin, the kids and I were cooped up in the house from Friday evening through Monday evening. While we enjoy being together as a family, here are a few observations about our extended weekend.
  1. I am a grown man with a college degree. Elijah is in Kindergarten. So why the heck can I not beat him on this stinkin' football game he got with his Gamecube?!?!?! We have played 8 times, and I have failed to beat him once!!! He keeps telling me "it's just a game," which makes me even angrier. But Monday afternoon was the final straw...as he asked me, "Daddy, would you like me to let you win?"
  2. Worship was cancelled on Sunday due to the ice, so the Campbell's held worship at the Gill Drive Church of Christ (also known as our house). Noah led the singing...complete with a rousing rendition of the Wise Man/Foolish Man song. We raised our hands several times during the song...so I guess you could say the Holy Spirit was moving. Elijah prayed. Graham crackers and Capri Sun were the communion emblems. And for good measure, I took each one of my kids out on the front porch and spanked them - just wouldn't seem like Sunday worship without a good beating.
  3. Good football games on this weekend...at least that's what I heard! Not bitter - just busy!
  4. Monday was MLK Day. I asked Elijah if he knew what that meant. He knew that MLK stood for Martin Luther King, Jr. (remember, he's G-T!). I then explained how MLK wanted Black people to be treated the same as White people. He looked at me funny and then went into some commentary on blond-headed children being the best and the rest being killed. I told him it sounded like he was getting Hitler and MLK mixed up. Then he wanted to know who Hitler was...so I told him to go play his Gamecube.
  5. The MLK Day Parade was cancelled in Abilene on Monday. Wonder how long it will be before Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson blame a white conspiracy for the ice storm.
  6. By Monday evening the Campbell's had had WAY too much togetherness. Cabin Fever was setting in...so we made a trip to Wal-Mart. This is a friendly reminder to those of you who haven't figured it out yet. If your family is getting on your nerves...the LAST PLACE YOU NEED TO GO IS TO WAL-MART!!!!!
  7. Does anyone else lay awake at night listening to your heater running and start muttering, "Please turn off, please turn off, please turn off..." And it never does!

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Scaredy Cat!!!

Elijah and Noah claim they're afraid of the dark. I ain't buying it...as I know the total disdain they have for bedtime.

So I'm making a last ditch attempt to get them to go to sleep a couple of nights ago, and Elijah begins his melodramatic monologue on his fear of the dark. Using my best fatherly voice I explained to him that there's nothing to be afraid of. My exact explanation was, "Things in the dark are the same as they are in the light...only they're...darker."

Now....both of you are thinking, "Geez, what an idiot." Not so fast, oh kings of criticism. My carefully crafted response worked...as it so totally baffled Elijah that he had to lay down just to ponder what the old man had said.

I give each of them a hug, tell them "good night," and I'm almost out the door when Elijah springs up in bed and says, "Daddy, were you ever afraid of the dark?"

"Uh...yeah. Good night!"

"Daddy, what else were you afraid of?"

While some of us parents mistake this as inquisitiveness and the quest for more information, children know exactly what this is. It's called STALLING!!!!!

"We'll talk about that in the morning, on our way to school," I said. And I left the room.

It was then that I began to ponder all the things I was afraid of growing up...and, in some case, am STILL afraid of to this day. Don't laugh!
  1. Having My Head Cut Off: I might as well start with the most shocking one first. When I was in third grade there was a mass murder that happened in Fort Worth in which all five victims were decapitated. I just knew that my family would be the next one this guy would go after. So to make sure he didn't come through my window I carefully aligned two boxes full of thumbtacks around my window sill. And it worked -- I still have my head!!!
  2. Tornadoes: In Texas, April showers bring lightning, wind, hail and tornadoes. It's a fact of life that every Texan must deal with. I, unfortunately, was not able to deal with it. When the clouds would boil and the thunder would crash, I'd run to my room, crawl under my bed and cry. Of course, the only thing that would make this worse would be some sort of weather bulletin flying across the TV saying that Tarrant County was under a Tornado Warning. It was then that I would start dragging mattresses off the bed and shove them into the bathroom. While I was in the bathtub praying and crying my parents were calling a psychologist.
  3. Flying: I must confess that, even after logging hundreds of thousands of miles of air travel, I am still a little afraid of flying. I say a prayer as I step on every plane, I pray for the pilot as we taxi to take off, and I recite the 23rd Psalms during every takeoff.
  4. Monsters: Contrary to what all the nay-sayers think, monsters do exist...and they lived in my closet! But as every child knows, monsters can only "get" to uncovered parts of your body. I was fortunate to secure the use of a snorkel sometime around Kindergarten...and I would fall asleep at night with the covers pulled up over my head (regardless of how hot it was) with only the snorkel peeking out from under the sheets. Though this made for an uncomfortable night's sleep, it did keep all my limbs in tact.

I'll spare you the rest of the details on other childhood fears...but a special shout out should go to deep water (I still don't swim very well), mice, snakes, heights, and Santa Claus.

Please feel free to share your fears...and let's work through these traumatic times together.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Chip Off The Old Block...Kinda!

So I meet Robin and the boys at our traditional Tuesday evening eating establishment, Rosa's, and Robin is absolutely beaming. "I've got some exciting news to tell you," she says hurriedly.

I immediately rule out the possibility of a 4th Campbellite being on the way...as we had spent the entire holidays at either her parents and my parents and...well...you know...you just CAN'T (can you?). Anyhow, so I start mulling over in my head what this exciting news could possibly be. She orders...and then is about to tell me her news...when our dining partners arrive.

"I'll tell you later," she mumbles out of the side of her mouth.

That's not fair! You can't tell me you've got something exciting to share and then make me wait. So I'm scarcely able to enjoy my dinner because I'm entranced on what it could be that Robin has to share.

Did a rich uncle die and leave one of us as his sole heir?
Did the Dallas Cowboys get rid of Terrell Owens?
Is our TV stuck on ESPN?
Is KISS doing another "farewell" tour?
Did our cable provider get rid of HG TV?

These and a plethora of other great moments are flying through my mind. As we're driving to the house Robin says, "I'll tell you when we get home - I don't want the kids to hear."

Uh-oh! Maybe Victoria's Secret had a clearance sale??? I was prepared to order every kid upstairs, slide a pizza under the door, and tell them not to come down until the sun rises!

So we pull into the garage, the kids hop out, we pile through the utility room, and Robin makes a beeline to a piece of paper on the kitchen counter. "What's that," I ask? (I'm well known for asking the tough, hard-hitting questions).

"This is what I wanted to tell you about - it's Elijah's G-T application."

I feigned excitement the best I could for a span of two to three seconds. But seeing how Robin was so excited, I had to ask the next "tough" question.

"Uh...what's 'G-T'?"

She shook her head as though she'd just been struck by an anvil. "Duh - it stands for 'Gifted and Talented'. He's made it through the preliminary screening, and he's being invited to apply for the Gifted and Talented program at his school."

Pretty exciting stuff...but I'll hold off on contacting the folks at Harvard and Yale until after he completes Kindergarten. And this just goes to show that Elijah got both his athleticism AND his brains from his mother.

Gee - I wonder if he's even my child!!!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Jacob's First Haircut

You know that when your wife’s family starts referring to your youngest child as "Joe Dirt” it’s time to get the boy’s hair trimmed.

So that was one of our little adventures over the Christmas holiday. We were in the thriving metropolis of Howe, TX – home to Robin’s parents…AND to Jan – quite likely the greatest woman to ever wield a pair of shears.

I dread the first haircut…because in the Campbell household, the first haircut is a theatrical production of the highest order. Every filming device must be secured, so I trudge to the car with digital camera and video camera in tow. I also must tote a box of Kleenex. While my wife is most assuredly the emotional rock of our family (I, in turn, carry the title of emotional WRECK), the first haircut renders my wife into a blubbering, sobbing mass of uselessness. She sees this as their first leap from “baby” to “boy.” (I, on the other hand, declare they have made this leap the first time they’re in the bathtub and locate their "wing-ding").

So off we go…and my wife goes from being “mom” to “movie director.” I am instructed to take a variety of shots of varying poses. Take his picture walking to the car. Take his picture getting into the car. Take his picture sitting in the car. Take his picture getting out of the car. Take his picture trying to get back in the car. Video him (from the rear) walking up to the door, opening the door, walking in, disturbing all of the ladies getting their manicures and pedicures. Etc., etc., etc. It took John Hughes less time to direct "The Breakfast Club" than it takes for Robin to photograph her children getting their hair cut.

Finally, after investing four hours and three memory cards full of pictures, Jacob is in the chair and draped with the plastic apron. The squirt bottle hasn’t even begun to spray and Robin is already getting misty-eyed. I, on the other hand, continue to film away…but all the while I’m preparing for my other role. For in a short while, I am to become the “Human Restraint Mechanism.”

Rewind to almost five years ago when a young Elijah Campbell ventured to the same location to receive his first haircut. Granted, Elijah is our emotional child (gee, wonder where he gets that from)…but one would have thought the child was having his tonsils removed sans anesthesia! No sooner had the first drop of water touched his little head when he began to scream and wail like mourners at James Brown’s funeral! Before all was said and done I wound up sitting in the chair holding his arms and desperately dodging hair, scissors, and Elijah’s bobbing and weaving head. The folks that rate the movies would’ve given this event a PG-13 rating due to the sheer volume of foul language and violence.

Noah’s first foray wasn’t much better…though far less blood was shed. It was, however, entertaining enough to make into a music video – set to The Cure’s mini-hit “Boys Don’t Cry.” (One of these days I'll post that on YouTube).

So the cutting begins…and continues…and continues. Jan is met with very little resistance. “What child is this,” I exclaim aloud, myself now overcome with emotion and reaching for the Kleenex! Eventually, a little assistance is required once the hedge trimmers are brought out to make the final run-through.

Once the damage is complete Robin quickly reaches for her now grown-up boy and tearfully hugs Jan. Dutifully, I turn off the video camera and snap the final pictures.

Now if I can just get 20th Century Fox to buy the rights!

Random Holiday Observations

Just a few rambling tidbits concerning the entire Christmas/New Year holiday:

  1. Is there anything more fun than watching your kids run into the room to see what Santa Claus brought them!?!?! Elijah asked Santa Claus for a Nintendo Gamecube…and Santa easily secured this request. Noah, on the other hand, had asked Santa Claus for a treasure chest. Santa was a bit perplexed by this one, but got a little help in finding this cardboard treasure chest complete with a pirate costume and other accessories – eyepatch, sword, dagger, axe, headband, etc. He was tickled to death and has spent most waking hours with at least a portion of this costume on his body. Jacob got a whiffleball bat – BIG mistake!
  2. Who decreed that it’s good luck to eat black-eyed peas for good luck? Why cant it be good luck to eat chocolate cake or ice cream? Why isn’t it good luck to eat chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes. Heck, I’d even settle for a variety of other vegetables to eat for good luck…as long as they don’t taste like dirt!!!
  3. Are either of you uncomfortable watching Dick Clark on TV. I think what he is doing is admirable…but it is positively painful to watch him. That being said, it’s equally painful watching Ryan Seacrest. My wife tells me he’s good looking, but c’mon – is he funny??? I don't get him...but I guess that's why he's making millions doing what he's doing and I'm...well, I'm making less than he is.
  4. Spent New Year’s Eve with some old friends of ours from our days in McKinney and had a blast. The best part of the night was playing this new board game that one of them brought. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was hysterical. I LOVE games like that – Scattergories, Outburst, SceneIt (Robin got me the ESPN version for Christmas), Trivial Pursuit, etc. A special shout out to other old reliables like Skip-Bo, Uno, Spades, and “42”.
  5. How long is too long to leave up your Christmas lights? Christmas tree should come down the day after the last gift has been opened…but I think Christmas lights are acceptable up until the playing of the BCS Championship game.
  6. A shout out to LSU for making my holiday season complete by putting a good ol’ fashion butt-whoopin’ on the Failing Irish of Notre Dame.
  7. Only 349 more shopping days ‘til Christmas!!!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Man, I bet NO ONE has posted anything about New Years Resolutions on their blog yet!!! I’m not big on this type of thing…so let’s just say I’ve set some goals for myself to accomplish in the upcoming year. Following are a couple of those goals:

1. Read the entire Bible: I realize this is a popular resolution among Believers…and, admittedly, I endeavored to do this last year. Unfortunately I was not disciplined enough and quickly got off schedule…WAY off schedule. My “excuse” was that in my quest to READ the Bible I wasn’t taking time to truly study and search for what the deeper meaning was. Oh yeah…I also got to dadgum lazy!!! But Robin got one of those “read the Bible in a year” Bibles…so I’m going to try to be disciplined enough to follow that schedule AS WELL AS be a good student of what God’s word says.
2. Run A Marathon: I’ve run two marathons…but as I approach 40, I feel the need to accomplish something physically challenging. I figure this is the cheapest kind of mid-life crisis for a guy to have…as I can’t afford a sports car (as for the other sort of mid-life crisis…Robin has nothing to worry about. I love her more than the day I married her…and besides, no “young thing” is looking for a dumpy dude with a small bank account, a bald spot that resembles a plus-size yamulke and a minivan). Anyhow, back to my goal. Before children, this was a significantly easier thing to accomplish. Not so much any more – specifically because of the amount of time required to train. Granted, the daily runs of 5-6 miles aren’t that big of a deal – I can get those done early in the morning, during lunch, or late at night. It’s the long runs of 15, 18 and 20 miles that are difficult to incorporate. As slow as I run, you’re talking about investing 2-1/2 to 3 hours on a Saturday or Sunday. And then, once you’re done…you’re DONE! You’re outta gas! And my three sons cannot accept their father sitting on the couch recovering. They have to have a playmate that’s in his late thirties, has bad hair and answers to “Dad,” “Daddy,” “Dada,” or any other of a variety of names yelled at a high volume.. So this will be difficult, but I will find a way! (Oh, and I’d like to do one in a fairly exotic place so I can take my lovely wife with me – she can play while I sweat. See goal #4.).
3. Stop Swearing: I know this probably comes as an absolute shock to both of you, but I have the ability to drop a four-letter word occasionally. Granted, I don’t do it in front my children (I let my wife do that!). In fact, rarely do I do it in front of other people. But it’s a terrible habit I’ve battled since high school. So, in order to combat this, I have created a couple of jars (located at home and at work) that will receive a quarter for every tidbit of “unwholesome talk” that proceeds from my mouth. At the end of the year some lucky organization, to be determined at a later date, will receive this money. (Note: This entry is being written on January 3, 2007…and the jar already contains $1.00. I’m off to a bad start!!!).
4. Become Debt Free: Dave Ramsey is my hero. He helps hundreds and thousands of folks each year become debt free. Robin and I aspire to be two of those people…and by the end of the year, we want to be in that position. I’ve got a plan laid out in my mind, which will be on paper soon, and we’re going to get this done. So watch out eBay – HERE WE COME!!!

These aren’t all of my goals, but they’re the ones that I can share without looking like too much of a buffoon or a sap. If either of you have recommendations on other things I should be pursuing I’d love to hear it!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Lessons From Uncle Dave, Part III

A Time To Be Restored
Robin and I had the opportunity to visit with Dave in the hospital a couple of weeks before he really started to go downhill. As we were leaving Robin hugged him and asked if there was anything we could do for him. He said, "I really want to be baptized." That was music to Robin's ears...as it was something she had been praying about fervently for a long time.

So we made arrangments to come back the next day to baptize him. It was a Sunday afternoon. Dave was hooked up to more electronic devices than I had ever seen...so we had to improvise slightly. While Robin and Tracy were getting things ready with the nurses, I had a chance to visit with Malorie, Dave's 7-year old granddaughter, about what we were going to do.

"So what does this mean," she asked me?

"Well...this is your Opa's way of showing God that he's sorry for the things he's done...and, from now on, he's going to live every moment for Him."

Malorie thought about it for a moment then remarked, "So God is proud."

"You bet He is."

"And I'll bet God is very happy, too."

A little lump grew in my throat. "You know, I don't guess God has ever been happier with your Opa than he is today."

So we baptized Dave as best we could. We prayed over him, we cried over him, and we rejoiced with him...because he had been restored.

Webster defines restored as "being made new." What a perfect definition...and what a great feeling. And while I rejoiced with Dave and the assurance that he had of a home with Jesus in Heaven, I also rejoiced in the opportunity that God gave me to grow.

More than one person expressed apprehension at the curious timing of Dave's confession, repentance and baptism. Sadly, there are many Christians that are not big fans of the "eleventh hour" quest for salvation. Some of us who have heeded the Great Commission and strive to perform the will of Jesus seem to think that there is a minimum amount of service necessary before your restoration can be regarded as authentic.

But Christ obviously knew that would be the case. In the parable of the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), Jesus mentions the anger and jealousy of those who worked a full day. When they saw that those who had worked only an hour received the same payment as them they were appalled. To be honest I had never given much thought to that parable until I heard of the reaction some Christians had to Dave's conversion.

It made me sad.

No...it made me angry.

But I can't let garbage like that rob me of the joy of knowing that Dave was restored.