Thursday, December 30, 2010


Like I have pointed out many times, I made one New Year's Resolution many years ago. It was never to make a new year's resolution. I have done a pretty good job keeping that one safe. One of the reasons I do make them is because I know I will never keep whatever I resolve. If it is enough of an issue in my life that I admit I need to change something, then I should just change it and not put it out there for every one to know it bothers me when I do whatever it is I say I should not be doing.

However, in searching through all of the blogs and websites I come across, I am constantly looking for entires that make me want to respond. One that moved me, JC Wert shared a plan he has for the year 2011. He calls it the Mustard Seed Year.
I can not claim to have that equal committment as he, but he spurred me to seek changes in my life.

So, here are areas I HAVE TO ADDRESS this year. Not to be cool or be like anyone else. But by not addressing these areas, I can do myself tremendous harm, physically and otherwise.

1. Address the health situation. I should not just sit there and watch the Biggest Loser each week, feel sad for the eliminated contestant and be inspired by every one's story. I have to make some changes in my health situation. These are more than aches and pains any more. They are life affecting symptoms. I need to do the Big Two when it comes to healthy eating. I HAVE to EAT LESS and MOVE MORE. What a concept.

2. I love the books of Michael Connolly, James Patterson and Robert Crais. But in order for me to grow as a person, I HAVE to read more meaningful books this year. I have a short list of books I need to tackle this year that includes Mike Batterson, Francis Chan, Andy Stanley, Chuch Swindoll, John Macarthur, Ben Arment and John Burke. I pray I am not just dropping names but I truly seek out what they have to say.

3. I like to pray. I like to let God know how He is doing. I like to let Him know what I need and expect from Him. I HAVE to learn how to be a better listener. God is telling me stuff every day. My hope is that I learn to listen.

4. God has put Jean and me in a church that feeds us very well and allows us the opportunity to serve in many areas. We are blessed in what we do. We drive onto the campus and feel a sense of protection. God is letting us know that every thing is okay and He is control. I HAVE to make myself more available.

5. I HAVE to become more of a Second Chance person.

6. I HAVE to find myself a mentor. Every one needs an idol, a mentor, a friend, a partner and a pupil. I HAVE to be open to finding that mentor.

JC Wert has jumped into his Mustard Seed Year. I hope and pray 2011 is a year of change and growth for every one

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I am sitting here, enjoying my apricots and pistachios that Santa has added to my stocking for so many years, reflecting on 2010. One thing I have learned as I have aged is that there is no such thing as New Year's resoltions. Or turning over new leaves or Old Lang Synes. January 3rd is a day in my life just like October 3rd and April 21st. Days that God has given me to do what I can and lament over what I should have.
But we all take time to look back on our year and I am no exception. One thing that stands out this past year is that death visted me more than any other year. Early in the year, my grandmother died at 101. It was not fun watching her die. It was not fun watching my mother watch her die. I realized that as my grandmother got older and more dependent for help, and knowing my mother will need more asistance now, it sure would be nice if we were younger so we had the strength to better help them.
I did not watch my friend Rick die. It was sudden, shocking and, to this day, so dificult to believe. There isnt a day goes by that something does not remind me of our times together and what he meant to me.
Right before Christmas, another kind of friend died. We watched him die. Our dear Sheldon got hit by a car, doing what he loved to do, Run. It has been a tough time for me. God gave me Sheldon to keep me company while I was out of work. It is ironic that God took him away after Sheldon knew I was safely back to work. He was mommas boy and my buddy all rolled into one.
At the end of this year, all of our children still do not get IT. They are all wonderful people and, in their own ways, are very loving. I pray that God will touch their hearts and cause them all to make that leap of faith in 2011. I love them all or I wouldnt pray that.
The biggest disappointment this Christmas season was the Spielberg, Action Figure, Kapowie build up for the Christmas eve services by so many churches that I follow around the country and respect so much. It is, afterall, one of the most important events to celebrate as a Christian. No need for such a build up.
Those are five areas of disppointment and concern from my year. But what a great year it was. I am back to work. Thanks to the prayers of family and friends and hard work of a few friends, I am back at ASU. I am happy for that.
Out of the death of our friend Rick, I was able to reacquaint myself with some very dear friends from the way back machine. For that I am grateful.
In spite of the unnecessary build up, I think the Thanksgiving and Christmas eve services at Central were wonderful. Sometimes, I am glad that they remember that we really need some good time as a family. And, in the eve, eve service a gentle invitation from Jeremy for others on the outside to be able to join the family. And, oh what a family it is.
This was not a perfect year. We are not a perfect couple. We do not have a perfect relationship. But I can not believe that any two people can be more in love with each other as Jean and I are. I cant believe she loves me and I can not believe how I fall in love with her again every morning. Being with her just makes all the negative not so bad and the good times even better.
I look forward to more ups and downs this coming year. But I know God will be there through it all.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Looking at this thing, I see I havent made any entries since the end of October. It is not that I did not have anything to say. It is that I have not taken the time to write those thoughts down.
Today I have so many thoughts going through my mind and my heart is crying, again. Today we said good bye to our boy, our doggy, our puppy, our little friend. The guy who stayed with me all the while I waited to find a job. He slept with us every night and was always here when we walked in the door, tail wagging, telling us what he did while we were away.
We got Sheldon from the pound. He had been running through traffic and the police said they had to spray him twice to subdue him enough to get him to the shelter. That is probably one of the reasons he was always a little leary when my male friends from our Bible Study walked in each week.
My brother and a few others have already said God gave me Sheldon to get me through that time I sat at home, waiting, hoping. He kept me out of the deeper depression I would have gone into if we didnt get him.
But Sheldon was a momma's boy. He would snuggle next to Jean on the couch, in bed. He would wait for her outside the bathroom when she was in the shower and if the door was open, he would put his nose around the curtain to see that she was okay.
Sheldon was a prayer warrior. Every week at Bible Study, we would be in discussion and at exactly 8:20, he would begin to, well it wasnt a bark and it wasnt a growl. It was more like him telling us, OK it's prayer time.
The one thing we were so afraid of is when he had the chance, he would out the gate and run through the neighborhood. We knew if he ever got out on Southern, it would be dangerous for him. He loved to run. He would do laps in our back yard. He was taken off the streets running. He would had run to his death if we didnt have him this very short time. Last night he ran. It was dark and he got disoriened. He ran out on Southern and was hit by two cars. Jean and I both saw him get hit. Nothing we could do. He left us running, something he loved to do.
God allowed us to save him from the streets and from the pound. And while he was with us, we believe our boy saved me from a deep depression.
This was our house, Jean and mine, before Sheldon got here. Now that he is gone, it is still our house. While he was here, this was his house and we just got to stay here. He gave us back our house and after the tears are dried, he has left two people very much in love with each other, and with him, with many happy, happy memories.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Little Girl, You are Out of Your Mind

There is an episode in Acts 12 when Peter gets arrested and his friends pray that he will be released. He was released supernaturally. It must have been a coincidence. When he went to the house where his friends were praying that they would see him safe, the girl at the door, first, did not let him in she was so surprised. Then she ran and told the others that Peter was at the door. They told her she was out of her mind seeing such a thing.

Boy do I know how they feel. What happens when something you pray a long time to happen actually happens? What happens when God actually gives you what you have been bargaining with Him for?

When I was praying to God for Him to give me something, I made some deals. I made some promises. I vowed some different things would happen. Guess what? God gave me what I was asking for. Now What?

Now, it happens. I need to come through with some things. I need to make good on some promises. Only time, my heart and God's knowledge will tell if there was a differnce. You usually dont share the deep issues you barter with God for with others.

Sometimes it seems that getting the answer you really wanted is tougher to deal with than when He has other answers for you.

Now, the real work begins.

Friday, October 15, 2010

FACEBOOK: What I learned during my time in Facebook

Questions answered
Serves a purpose
Stay in touch with friends and family
Find old friends
A way to spend time during the day
Joining in fun games
Information gatherer
Social media is good
Fun to share thoughts and stories and work together

Questions those answers presented
What purpose
If they wanted to stay in touch, wouldnt they call or stop by?
They tried to run away in the first place
What other ways can we wasteour time?
The games appeared to be scam generated
How much is really useful?
How many billions is that guy worth?
Building that tower in babel was fun too, until someone got hurt

I have a telephone. I have email. If they want to, they will call.

Monday, October 4, 2010

LETTERS TO AND FROM VIETNAM: Reflections of Rick Still Happen

It started to happen last week when Arkansas almost beat Alabama in college football. It got a little stronger as the 49ers continued to lose each week in pro football. It hit its peak yesterday when the Giants won the National League pennant. It doesn't take much, but, yes, many things still make me think of my friend Rick.

It may be little things like when I was over near ASU last week and I saw a Fed Ex truck drive by. There were so many Fed Ex employees from different locations at Rick's memorial service. Yes, a few of them raised their hands when it was asked who had their cars worked on by Rick.

Last week, Jean asked me if I would ever go visit the grave. Even though carrying the casket to the site was one of the toughest things I ever have done and we have both feel burial is not the way we want to go, I had to tell her that, yes, I have thought about visiting the site.

One of the biggest things that make me reflect on Rick is when it comes to sports. Rick and I had a life long habit of rooting for different teams. We loved to hate the teams the other liked. He didn't even like ice hockey, but he would root for the teams he knew I didn't like just to bug me. That rivalry was passed on to the next generation. When our children went to different high schools, I am sure he had Sam go to Mountain View because he knew it would bring disappointment to the Memberto household.

One year, while Sam still played for the Toros, Mesa beat them in the annual rivalry game. Melissa and I got the key to the high school room at church and decorated it in Jackrabbit colors and the group, in which Rick was one of the leaders, walked in and sat in the midst of Purple and Gold for the entire class.

One of the things that I looked forward to during the year I was in Vietnam were the letters I got each week from Rick. During the baseball season, I got weekly reports about how the Giants were so good and how much he hated the Dodgers. The best, however, were the letters I got during the football season. The 49ers, his beloved 49ers and the LA Rams, yes kids, they used to be in Los Angeles, were having up and down seasons. They fought it out to the end against each other. The weeks the 49ers were on top, I received such fine letters of encouragement. Rick telling me how good life was and how he loved that his team was on top. The weeks, however, when the Rams were doing well, the letters turned to ungodly(yes they included even cuss words)venom about how terrible, evil forces were in the world.

The love that he showed me, even while I was away, helped me get through some tough times. He was always around when I was away. I always knew how to find him for an encoraging word, a loving diatribe about our teams, something to share about his family, his church or our friendship.

Yes, even now, reflections still come to mind about my friend Rick. The pain won't go away soon. But the memories sure will continue to make the reflections fun and loving.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I have mentioned before that I am a fan of Tomorrow's Reflections, the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan, one of our teaching pastors at Central. He made a point of bad starts and good results in his most recent offering and it got me to reflect on some other bad starts in history.

It made me think of Dodger Stadium. To this day, it is still known as the Crown Jewel of Baseball. Right before it was opened, someone noticed they did not add drinking fountains. So, they had to add the fountains. Sure, if people got thirsty, they could always go to the concession stands. But they felt it was the honorable thing to do to add the fountains.

My dad would go to the stadium and, along with many other people, would stand behind the left field pavillion and watch the game through a chain link fence for free. Sort of an updated version of the knot hole gang. When that was discovered, the chain link was quickly replaced by other fencing and the freebies were gone. Score one for free water, take a point away for having to pay to get to the free water fountains.

Some of the early concerns and problems could have caused many people to not want to return to Dodger Stadium, other wise known as the Crown Jewel of Baseball. But millions have attended a game there and millions still do each year. It is good that someone's first impression is not always lasting. they are important but not lasting. I am glad God has given me, at least, a chance to overcome people's first impressions of me. it hasnt always worked out well, but there is that chance.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I don't know if I have mentioned this. But I have had some free time this past year. I was just sitting around the other day and said to myself, "Self, what are your favorite war movies? You know, the ones you think about watching again and again when you are in the mood to watch war movies".
So as not to disappoint myself or keep myself waiting, I compiled a list for myself. I will publish that list. I am not so presumptuous to think anyone who reads my list may be inclined to add their own. But, hey, stranger things have happened.

GREG'S FAVORITE WAR MOVIES: (not in any particualr order)
1. Kelly's Heros
2. The Great Escape
3. Hell Is For Heroes
4. The Best Years Of Our Lives
5. Sands Of Iwo Jima
6. Here To Eternity
7. Hell To Eternity
8. Guadelcanal Diary
9. To Hell And Back
10. Casablanca

Friday, September 10, 2010


I know we have all heard, and probably used, the term, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place". Eugene Peterson of the Washigton Post just used it in describing a situation that the President is in. I wonder how that became a negative term.

It seems if we are between the Rock and a hard place, wouldn't that mean we are between Jesus, the solid rock and the firm ground that we should build our house, or live our life?

Psalm 18:2 says, "The Lord is my Rock and my Fortress and my Deliverer, my God and my Rock, in whom I take refuge. My Shield and the Horn of my Salvation, my Stronghold." That sounds like a good place to be.

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus tells us to build our house on solid ground, the rock, so to speak. Not on the sandy, unstable ground. That way, when the storms come, which there will be many in our lives, the house will stay standing.

That tells me that being between a rock and a hard place is a good thing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

OH GOD, revisited

I remember when the movie, The Last Temptation of Christ came out. It caused quite an uproar in churches. Pat Boone led demonstrations. Church groups picketed theaters that chose to show the movie. Athough some critics thought it was a good movie, it was not a blockbuster and all the picketing did was give the movie free publicity on the 6 oclock news.

About that same time, a movie called Oh, God came out. A comedy that depicted god as a wise-craking, cigar-smoking old man with cute glasses. It had some very funny parts to it and it was received well enough to have a sequel. I am not sure if the other movie about the cruxifiction of the savior had a sequel.

Someone finally pointed out the hypocricy of condemning a movie that depicted Jesus as being married and other unbiblical points and church people flocking to a movie depicting god as a wise cracking man with glasses.

I was thinking about that incident so many years go over the week end. I had a concern. But I guess I am the only one. I thought that it was odd, to me, that church people would condemn another religion building a building dedicated to a religion that isn't Christian while they embrace a wise-cracking man with glasses "preaching" a gospel that is not Biblical. The cutsey woman with morals and Christian beliefs embraced him as one of her own.

I guess I am the only one.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Have you ever pretended that you were in front of a camera as you were preparing a meal? Kind of narrating what you are doing, which step are you on and how delicious the food will taste? OOPS, Am I really the only one? Oh well.

I was making a sandwich for Jean's lunch today. Turkey and cheese. Very simple. Mayo, cheese, turkey and bread. I am narrating (to myself. I dont want her to think I am the rest of the way crazy).

I get to the part where I tell the audience, yeah right, that she likes her sandwiches cut in half. I take out the knife and proceed to cut through the bread and meat. I dont tell my "audience" that I am having a problem cutting the bread with our small bread knife. I certainly dont want my "TV fans" to know I am not an expert in every little aspect in food preperation.

I finally get the sammich sliced and put both parts in the baggie for transport to the fridge at her office. Not the freezer, which is another story and not about me. So why would I even share it if it isnt about me. As I tell my "audience" how to seal the bag and let them know it is important to wipe off the mayo from the knife, I slide the knife along a paper towel and turn it ever so slightly and cut my finger. Not a gash where blood squirts three feet. It is one of those that you look at your finger and wait........for the wound to appear.

The "wound" did appear and a little, tiny cut did, in fact, require a small bandaid. Here is my question...... Should I have demanded that the "camera man" turn off the camera at that point? Or continue to shoot the scene to help my "loyal audience" see how I handled the situation?

The trials us POTENTIAL superstars have to go through to be what we are.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I am not much of a reader. I try, believe me. But, as much as a Robert Crais mystery can hold my attention and I read the book in a couple of sittings, when I pick up a book of "substance", something that will help me in my walk, it only serves as a night light that helps me fall asleeep.

Having said that, I picked up a book written by one of the speakers at the Leadership Summit this year. Jeff Manion wrote a book on that area we all spend time in. That area between everything is going well and "wow, I am glad we got through that. I know, for some, we never get to the later destination. The area in between is called THE LAND BETWEEN. Like I say, for some, that is where they have spent most of their time.

He used a line from a Philip Yancey book, Reaching the Invisible God. It goes like this...."Life is difficult. God is Merciful. Heaven is sure". I loved that quote. We all lite on one of those spots. Sometimes we dwell too much on the fact that life is difficult and forget that God is merciful and this will not last eternally.

I am not reviewing the book except to recommend it for anyone who is going through something (oops that's everyone) that it will take some faith and patience and, most importantly, trust that God will see us through whatever it is.

In this world we will have tribulation, troubles, problems, poor decisions, bad neighbors, unforgiving relatives, mean bosses, lazy employees. But we should be of good cheer, because Jesus Christ has overcome this world.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


There was an old song by Ian Whitcome with a chorus that went something like, Life is cruel, life is hard, Don't cha get crazy, life goes on. Aren't we always reminded of that.

The Facebook page honoring our friend Rick has all but gone silent in these past few weeks. But if you think that is because we have stopped honoring him, or we have forgotten him or the hurt has gone away, think again. Greg Laurie, who's son past away almost two years to the day our friend died still hurts. He asks please do not ask, hey how are you doing? Has the pain gotten any less? No, the pain is still there two years after the death, it is as deep as the day he first heard of it. No, the pain has not gone away. No, we have not forgotten. Yes, we still honor him.

I have picked up one lesson from this time. In my reflections of my friend Rick, I thought of the fact that Rick never told me what to do. He never told me he disapproved of what I did or in the decisions I had made. The closest thing to a commentary on my life I remember him saying was he was glad I was a happy drunk. That was the night we to see Jimmy Buffett together.

No, Rick didnt preach. He had trouble being in front of people giving talks. In fact, he was more famous for falling asleep during talks and sermons. One time he actually fell asleep and started leaning into the speaker as we sat in a circle. Did I ever tell you he made us Laugh all the time? He didnt give sermons. HE LIVED OUT ALL THE SERMONS YOU EVER HEARD. Growth, Grace, Forgiveness, Charity, he lived out every lesson you were taught. Perfect? No. But Godly, yes.

My lesson from these past few weeks, or at least one of them, is that just like he never told you to live like him ( all he showed you is to be yourself just like he was always himself, real), he would not want me to give up just because he isnt here on earth with me anymore. He would want me to live my life being myself, not perfect, but forgiven.

Life canbe crazy, life can be cruel, life can be hard. But lets not get crazy, life does go on. Our lesson should be to pick each other up and live our lives alongside each other.

Friday, July 30, 2010

THE INNOCENT AGE Reflection of Rick, taking the fifth

If you ever have a chance to listen to the old Dan Fogelberg song, The Innocent Age, please stop what you are doing and hear the lyrics. It is a song about the group, Buffalo Springfield. They were a group during the mid to late 60s. They were part of the soundtrack for our group. They broke up and went in different directions about the same time the San Fernando Baptist youth group was breaking up and going in different directions. The Springfield never broke apart. They went in different directions. They still are friends. But they have their lives away from the group. That is the same as the San Fernando group. Pay particualr attention to the line about following the dreamer, the fool and the sage. We had all of those and more in that group. We didnt have a leader, we had a dreamer, a fool and also a sage, and more. Rick was in the middle of that group. At times, he was a dreamer. At times he was the fool. And at times, I have known him as a sage. Oh to relive those days of innocence. I would love to be spending my summer days and nights with the dreamer, the fool and the sage and more. Back at the start, it was easy to see, none to own to and nowhere to be, except to be with the dreamer, that fool and the sage, and more. Ricky, after all these years, you paid to help us recapture the innocent age.

Capture the moment
Carry the day
Stay with the chase
As long as you may
Follow the dreamer,
The fool, and the sage
Back to the days of
The innocent age.
Storybook endings
Never appear
They're just someone's way of
Leading us here
Waiting for wisdom
To open the cage
We forged in the fires of
The innocent age.

Back at the start
It was easy to see
No one to own to
Nowhere to be
Deep in the heartlands
A sad memory
Calls to me.
(Calls to me)

Fretful horizons
Worrisome skies
Tearful misgivings
Burning your eyes
Yearnings unanswered
Reckon the wage you
Pay to recapture the innocent age.

Back at the start
It was easy to see
No one to own to
Nowhere to be
Deep in the heartlands
A sad memory
Calls to me.
(Calls to me)

Fretful horizons
Worrisome skies
Tearful misgivings
Burning your eyes
Yearnings unanswered
Reckon the wage you
Pay to recapture the innocent age.

FRAYED ROPES Refelctions of Rick Back and Fourth

My Reflections of Rick continue. So many times during the day, I see something or hear something and I turn to whoever is near me, usually Jean who feels she knows him as well as I do because of all the stories I have told her, and say, "Oh there was a time that Rick......" or, "I remember when Rick....."

Rick did not handle sorrow real well. He was so full of fun and laughter and joy and smiles that when we did experience some form of sorrow, a death, the leaving of our pastor, dealing with a wrong decision by one of us or a kink in a relationship, Rick was saddened. He never wanted any of his friends to fail. He did not want any of his friends to be sad. He never wanted to see any of his friends to feel sorrow in their life. I mentiond to some people the other night, I think one reason that God took Rick so soon is that He wanted to spare him of feeling the way we all feel right now when members of his army of friends began to die. But those are my random thoughts.

Four very old friends got together after the service the other night. Two of his very oldest friends who grew up in the church we attended, Marcel and Floren Suetos, Pastor Fred Snider, who was our spiritual leader, and myself. Fred and I spent the entire service wiping our eyes. Oh those allergies in AZ. We sat in my living room and took turns telling Rick stories. So many laughs. Some stories we can share with you when you are old enough.

Fred reminded us that when Rick did well in RISK, oh the very few times he succeeded in that game, as he moved his armies into the country he just conquered, he would use his best James Coburn voice from the Magnificent 7, turned to his conquered friend and say, "You Lost".

I had many friends back then and have had many friends since. But my Magnificent 7 were Kenny, Floren, Marcel, Fred, Ricky, Rick and Joel. Like the original Mag 7, some have died. But we have overcome the bad guys and will be remembered for that.

Our lives were like the twine that weaves together to make a rope. Some of those pieces have become frayed by the useage. But the strength of that rope is greater than the weakness of any of its pieces. There was no glue to hold us together. The God of Creation, Grace and Forgiveness had wound us together to be strong.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ALL WE LIKE SHEEP HAVE GONE ASTRAY Reflections of Rick times 3

I know Rick did alot of teaching over the years. My chikdren tell me of his Sunday School lessons and his Bible Studies. Mostly, he was good at sharing himself and what he had learned along his journey. I heard him speak a few times, but I never heard him give a sermon. But his life was lived as the application of every sermon you ever heard.

We sang in the youth choir at San Fernando. Howard Weller was the choir director. He was so old school baptist. But he sure showed all the patience God had given him when he led the youth choir. Later, Floren took over leading the youth choir. We had three tenors. Rick, Marcel and me. Marcel would stand in the middle. The only way I could carry a tune is by hearing what Marcel was singing and my voice would follow his. Marcel would sing with a finger in his ear. Rick asked him one time why he did that. Not wanting to make Rick feel bad, Marcel told him that by putting a finger in your ear, you can hear yourself better and stay on tune. So, for the remaining time of our youth choir days, Rick and Marcel would stand up in the choir loft, singing with a finger in their ear. Rick, following Marcel's reasoning, to sing better. And Marcel? Well it was later pointed out to Rick that Marcel had done it for all those years so he wouldnt have Rick throw him off with his singing. Rick took that, along with everything else that came his way, in stride. He knew he would not be the singer Marcel was. As much as Rick loved music, is it any wonder that he married a woman with one of the best voices he or I ever heard?

The first Sunday of every month, we would have communion at San Fernando. It was always set up the same way. The pastor, Ray Murray, would stand behind the communion table and give a short communion meditation. The deacons would sit on the platform on either side of him. We thought they were up there to keep an eye on us the entire service. The communion would always follow the same format. Pastor Ray would read a passage from Isaiah 53. "A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief." Then he would pass out the trays with the crackers on them. Then he would recite further in chapter 53. "All we like sheep have gone astray."

One Sunday, Rick turned to me and made his hand to look like a hoof. He looked in my face and said,......"Baaaaaaaa". I lost it as did the others within ear shot. We tried not to laugh out loud. We held our hands over our mouths, we snorted like we were all coughing, at the same time. The rest of the communion service was a blur. After the, after they had supped, they sang a song and went out, we ran out of the church so we wouldn't face any more dirty looks from all the deacons up on the platform.

It took maybe six months to get through a communion Sunday without some laughter or smiles. When Jean finally met Rick, she asked me, "so that is the guy who said Baaaa"? Recently in church, someone quoted Isaiah 53:6 and Jean and I looked at each other and smiled.

So many people today do not have fun in church. It is a duty to attend. It is one of many choices to do on a Saturday night or Sunday morning. It is something to stay away from because it is no fun and we dont get anything out of it. Rick made church fun. Rick was one reason that I looked forward to going to church while God was maturing me into realizing why we go. Did I ever mention that around Rick, there was always laughter and smiles... and Joy?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


In all the years I knew Ricky Partain, he never walked on water. Some of us thought he could if the situation arose. I saw him at the beach, in the ocean, riding the waves as we would go body surfing. He loved being in the water.

I saw him on water skis as we learned to ski. It took us both awhile tolearn as Marcel and Floren would glide on their skis. Rick and I would spend alot of time eating water, gliding, sort of, on top of the water. Later, after we moved out here, partly to be closer to Rick, he would take us out to the lake and I would watch, in amazement, how well he skied. I have very good mind fotos of the days at Canyon Lake, he and I jumping off the cliffs. the short ones. And skiing from behind his boat. The first place he took us to when we visited was to go tubing. So, yes, I did see him on top of the water quite a bit. But he never walked on water.

I saw him at Roger's pool, learning to stand on top of a surfboard. It was back in the days when boards were 9 feet long. We tried to jump off the shallow end onto the board to see if we could stand on it. As we took a rest, Rick decided to try one more time. He ran and jumped on the board. He called out to us, "Hey, look at me". As we looked over, he fell back and the board shot up in the air like it was shot out of a cannon. It landed on the diving board across the pool. We didnt use Roger's pool to learn to surf any more after that. Rick was better off body surfing.

One time at 1000 Pines, our mecca all through high school, we had a diving competition. You would announce the dive and then proceed. Rick announced he was about to do a swan dive. As he jumped off the board, Marcel called out a very good QUACK. Rick lost it and looked like a bird shot out of the sky. No Points for that dive. But lots of laughs and lots of fun. Did I tell you that around Rick there were always laughs and smiles?

Oh yes, there was one time I saw him walk on water. Or so it seemed. We were up in the mountains, hiking along a creek. The creek was not very deep, but, none the less, you would get wet if you stepped in it. Someone came up to Rick to show him a small, very small, harmless at that, snake that they had caught. Rick screamed and his only escape was across the creek. As he ran, it appeared he was running atop the water. So, yes, I did see Rick Partain walk on water, so to speak.

Only two people are on record as walking on water. That phrase is reserved, now, for those who would measure up to the status of our Lord and Peter. It is true that Rick never walked on water. But he did know where the rocks underneath were to stay dry. He depended on all the rocks he encountred throughout his life. The Clemo Partains, the Merle Shorts, the Dan Foos, the Dave Falconers, the Rick Johnsons, and all the other men who helped shape him into a little bit of all of them to be who he was, and will always be to so many of us.

Monday, July 26, 2010


There has been a lot of things already said about my Friend, Rick Partain. And, approriately enough, much more will be and needs to be said. This will not go away for a long time. Rick made too great an impression on all the lives he touched for us to feel normal for a long, long time. I do not sit down here to say the right thing, or the best thing, or the most memorable thing about Rick. Most of the things I have heard this past week from others have been my very thoughts. Just had someone else say it for me.

This is more for me than any one else, mainly because I dont get reactions from what I write any way......

The first time I heard the name, I was part of a YMCA flag football league. We were told by guys on another team that it was a good thing thatwe didnt have to play a certain team of guys from Patrick Henry because they had a guy named Partain, just Partain, who was great.

When I first got to San Fernando, Rick was the first friend I made. We were about three weeks apart in age. We had so many similar interests. And we both loved to laugh and make others laugh.

We loved to play sports. He still was very much involved playing with guys 30 years his junior. But in the high school days, we played whatever sport was in season. Softball in baseball season, football until it got too dark to see. And basketball. We used to call his jump shot the "Oops shot". Because everytme he would shoot, it missed the mark by so much that he would say, OOPS.

I was thinking that so many people are known by only one name. Pele, Madonna, Wayman, Lebron, Koufax, Mays. We all knew Ricky Lamar Partain. But you didnt need to say the entire name. Because all you had to say was, Partain. that was enough to bring a smile to my face and everyone else got that warm feeling that we were in for a good time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I think it is important to check out blogs by people from different walks and viewpoints. One Blog I try to follow on a regular basis is from Jeremy Jernigan, a teaching pastor at Central. His views on scripture are right on, he has interesting friends, he enjoys sharing from his vantage point on being a young father (wait for the teen years my young friend), and although his alligences to the Yankees and Buffalo Bills are tough to comprehend, at least his passion for both teams is commendable.

One ingredient to his blog is OTR, his series of interviews with people you and I may never meet. A recent installment was with Brett McCracken, who is a writer and reviewer. One question Jeremy usually asks is should we use a different word other than Christian. Mr. McCracken gave an answer I really appreciated. Just because a word has baggage, it should not be set aside. Every word has baggage. I might add that every person has baggage too. I think IF SOMEONE DOESNT HAVE ANY BAGGAGE, HE HASN'T BEEN ANYWHERE. I liked the interview as I have enjoyed reading all the previous ones. Keep up the good work Jeremy. I still say you need your own TV show.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Now, my fear of and lack of skill with PDAs is legendary. My aversion to them is well known and my previous post bore that out when I had a touch pad device for all of 40 minutes. Therefore, what I have to say can be interpreted as jealousy or sour grapes. But, here it goes.

Did you read Mitch Albom's article in the Sunday paper? The one about how parents encourage their kids to bring their cell phones to summer camp? So they can stay in touch? While the kid is away at camp? The kid is at camp. Away from you mom. That is one reason to go to camp. Now, we know being away from your facebook or myspace page for a week, or not being able to tweet for allthat time could make you unknown by the time you get home. But, come on. Leave the device at home. The camp staff will let you know if there is an emergency. If you do not trust the staff, find another camp. Like thousand pines baptist camp. Oh, I loved that place. We went there when we still hand wrote letters and we had to wait days to get an answer.

The other evening, we went to dinner with some of our children.let me say this, we went to dinner and some of our children were in the same restaurant. Five out of six of them spent the entire time texting someone not present. Well, I guess I had nothing to say, but we will never know.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Well, I entered the smart phone era today. And quickly went back to the 20th century. It is time for a phone update. I waited for this day because I wanted to turn in my flip top phone and get something fancy. I got one of those touch screen jobs. I brought it home, took it out of the box, opened the directions. It took a few minutes to find the part in English. Then, I proceded to try to figure the thing out.

After an hour of looking at the thing, I decided I am not ready for a smart phone. YOU HAVE TO BE SMART ENOUGH TO USE ONE IF YOU WANT ONE. So, I took it back. I figured I could not live with myself if I allowed myself the pain I experienced for that hour for the next two years of phone ownership.

What I got, in return, was a device that (1) receives phone calls, (2) allows me to dial out going phone calls, and even (3) sends text messages. It will take some time to figure that part out. but i will have this phone for two more years.

Now, I hope I get some calls soon and I hope I push the right button so I can speak to the person who calls me.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Perfect Ending

Something hapenened this week that was a great example of how important baseball is to real life and how it mirrors real life. An Umpire missed a call. The story should have ended right there. A human being made a mistake.

Baseball is a timeless game. No clock running. Played by two sets of individuals who are human, who sometimes are successful, and most times not. It is guided by human beings. Those in the supervising aspect of the game make wrong decisions. it is the most human of any endeavor in reallife.

When an umpire misses a call, and i say it is so rare, it may or may not effect the outcome of that particular game. But if it does, another game is played within one or two days. it is truly a lesson of pcking ourselves up and moving on with real life.

With TV contracts, unqualified people becoming owners and even commissioners, we are watching the gran old game fall a victim to the same fate of all the other sports. When it becomes automated, what do we have to look forward to? Do we slip a tape in and watch the super-graphics?

I am sorry the young pitcher was deprived of the honor of pitching a perfect game. But in its inperfection, Baseball can continue to be the perfect game.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

1909 - 2010

We were in California last week for my Grand mother's memorial service. Many of her grand children stood up and offered a memory of her. She was a dancer for many years. Ballroom champion as a matter of fact. I remember she was so happy when ballroom dancing was made a demonstration sport at the Atlanta Olympics.

She was a princess, all of her life. She demanded attention every time she walked into the room. These were a few of my thoughts from last week....

My grand mother was a dancer, a baker (her lemon bars were great), she sewed much of the costumes for her dance group, the Strutters, in her 90s.

She was born a Catholic. She did not follow the religion by their book. But she would never turn away from that religion. But, she was one woman who transcended her religion and had a tremendous faith. She was a prayer warrior. As I lost my religion, so to speak, she continued to pray for me. Her prayers were answered. In her last days, as the system was shutting down, she cried out to God. I asked her if she loved God and believed that Christ was her Savior. She knew she was dying and she made her peace with God.

She was wittty until the end. I did not get my love for sports from her. However, we shared a good sense of humor. I wont live to be 101. But we all can learn to live a life for god for as long as we do have from Bea Bea, my grand ma Bea.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Well, it has been a little over a year since we all made the trek to grand ma Bea's 100th birthday. Recently, at 101, she had a pace maker put in. No, I do not know the answers to the questions you are thinking right now. For that reason, and the fact I miss the back massages from BeBe, I am going to Santa Maria Sunday. Hopefully, I can give my Mom a little help in caring for grand ma.
I know my brother is there and has everything under control. But perhaps he needs a break too.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


We were driving home from a very nice early, pre-birthday dinner the other night. We came upon a car and we both wondered what it was. It was small, rather generic looking. When we got close enough to see the emblem, we found it was a Mercedes Benz. If not for that label, we would not have been able to guess correctly. We talked about how Mercedes and Volvos used to be so unique in their design. Now, they just blend in and do not make a statement on the road any more.

It made me think back to the harshest indictment I ever heard about me. I was still at the Postal Service. I was in a small group and I attended church weekly. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, on the outside. A guy who delivered mail to a member of my small group started talking and the small group member asked if he worked with me. He said yes, but he didnt even know I was a Christian. What an indictment of the way I witnessed in the world. I am hoping my days of being an undercover Christian are past me. I know there are times people would have their doubts. That is something I need to work on.

I need to be like the older Volvos and Mercedes. I need to be unique in my design and, more importantly, in my performance, or the way I present my Jesus to the world.

Monday, April 19, 2010


We were watching TV last night. We found ourselves switching channels. We are not Country Music fans. but we visited channel 5, CBS and the Country Music Awards show. Just then, Toby Keith began singing a beautiful song and it turned out to be a tribute to Wayman Tisdale who died almost a year ago after battling cancer. Earlier in the week end, we heard a song called Wayman's Smile, a recording by his friend and sax player Tom Braxton.

I am not one who believes God routes out every step I take each day. but i am glad "something" led me to turn the remote to that show at the very time Toby Keith began the song.

Not many "celebrity" deaths have made such an impression on me as the death of Wayman Tisdale. He was a fantastic basketball player, playing the last few years of his career with the Phoenix Suns. He was quite a jazz performer, brightening any room and stage with whoever he was playing. He was a force on stage and his love for God showed through every circumstance. I could never say we were friends, having only met him a couple of times. But I am glad God has continued to remind me of his death and has reminded me that we never know how much time we have and we need to be that light for every one we meet. If I can only do that for the people I meet each day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


As many times as I have voted for John McCain, I still dont know what he has done for me. I know how bad his opponents have all been. I know he has more experience and integrity and grit than his opponents all have had. I know he is able to jump on the most opportune bandwagon going at the time. But I have never heard an original thought from him. As I make my plans to again vote for him in the next primary and election, here is what I would tell him and other politicians posing as public servants...

Senator, without mentioning your opponent's name, please tell me what you plan on doing for me. Senator, without referring to the current stand by your party, please tell me what you plan on doing for me. Senator Kyl, without telling me what you dont agree with, please tell me what you plan on doing to help make my life better. Congressman Mitchell, without being so nice of a guy, please make a stand. Senator Pierce, without making such a hard stand, please show me you can be a nice guy. Debate moderators, after you ask a candidate a question, if they mention their opponent's record, turn off their microphone as they have forfeited the responsibility of answering that question.

Jesus said He would do something and then did it. He would have made a terrible politician, but, oh, what an example of being a servant He was.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Believe in What?

This is something I came across in our study of John..... I cut it up a bit and added a thought or two. But the original thoughts from John Macarthur stand....

There's a whole theological school now that's developing and their thesis is "faith in faith." Isn't that good? They have faith in faith. They believe in believing. And you'll say to people well, you know, this and that ... and they'll say, "Oh, I believe ... I believe." What do you believe? "Oh, I believe ... I'm a believer." A believer in what? "Well, I just believe. I believe that God is in control ... I believe." Oh, that's real good.

You know something? Faith in nothing is nothing. It's zero, zilch, nothing. It doesn't mean anything to believe in believing. You know, I like it ... you've heard the song, "I believe for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows." Oh, in the first place, that's a lie. "I believe that somewhere in the darkest night a candle glows." Tremendous. "Every time I hear a newborn baby cry, or touch a leaf or see the sky, then I know why I believe." (Gee didnt we sing this in youth choir?) You believe what? Don't push me. "I believe." Well, goody-goody. You see, that's the kind of attitude that a lot of people have ... I believe. You believe what? Usually when somebody comes to you and you ask them a question they say, "Well, I believe that's it's over there." That means they don't know. If you can't believe in something and on something, you're believing is ridiculous. Who cares whether you believe a candle glows? Who cares whether you believe a flower grows? That's irrelevant. God's not going to say to you someday, "Well, enter into My Kingdom because you believed the candle glowed." No, no ... that's so ludicrous it's inane.

No, no, no that's not the point. The point is at the end of verse 45 "they believed ... what? ... on Him." You see, faith is nothing unless it's placed in Jesus Christ. That's the whole point. Peter said, 'Neither is there salvation in any other, there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." If a man does not put his faith in Jesus Christ his faith is meaningless. And what cuts the ice is faith in Him. John 1:12, "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on ... what? ... His name." Christ is definitive. There aren't options. You can't just believe any ole thing you want, that's ridiculous.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I recently read somewhere that the greatest burden we put on ourselves is to try to make it all about ourself. The pressure we put on ourselves when we make all the problems going on in the world about us. All the trials we are going through about us. All the wrong decisions others make about us. Just everything that we come in contact with being about us makes for too much pressure and puts us in an unsolveable dilemna.

No matter how we got into a circumstance, no matter who's "fault" it may have been, no matter how low we may feel we are, it is not about us.

When His friend, Lazarus was dying, Jesus pointed out that the circumstance was not about his illness or, ultimatelyy, his death, but it was for God's glory and that Jesus might be glorified. It was about God. Earlier, He was asked who's "fault" it was that a certain man was blind. Jesus said it was not about him or his parents. But it was to show how God would work in his life.

I find it much easier to be going through tough, uncertain times knowing it is not about me, but about how God will be with me as I go through them. It is also good knowing I am with someone who sees it the same way.

Monday, April 12, 2010


In One Particular Harbor, Jimmy Buffett laments about having too much..."I used to rule my world from a pay phone, ships out on the sea. Now times are tough, I got too much stuff. Can't explain the likes of me." Or something like that. Never could get a quote exactly right. (disclaimer: I know that is not the album cover for One Particular harbor. But it shows the pay phone).

I remember when one phone call on the only availiable type of phone, was made and details of our evening were set. I stood outside waiting for my friends to pick me up and we were out for the evening. I kept a quarter aside in case I had to call my dad to pick me up. Of course, he said never call him from a police station, call my mother instead. I heeded his warning until the calls from the station had become much more costly.

Now, there is tweeter, texxxing, emails, gmails, IMs, someone sent a picture of the outside of a friend's house to let them know they were outside waiting. I know I will never have a smart phone because I am just not smart enough for one.

All that "stuff" has only made relationships obsolete. There is no need for close relationships any more when you can brag abut having 200 friends on facebook. When I see someone, i cant ask them, eaten at any good restaurants lately because I already saw what they had yesterday taken on the droisy Iphone, thing-a-ma-zinger and posted on twister.

I am glad Jesus did not use texting. from martha, Laz is dead. From JC, Noprob, b there soon.

I am glad God is the same yesterday, today and forever.... insert smiley face here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

High Brow Dog

We love seeing Sheldon watching TV. Last night, he went crazy watching the dog show. He goes to the TV and then looks behind the screen to find the dogs on the screen. Then the funniest, he goes outside to find the dogs. Is that cruel of us? I hope not. We love our doggy and he has added alot to our home.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


In the Bible Study we attend on Tuesday evenings, we came to the passage in Ephesians that tells us that we were chosen by God to be holy and blameless and adopted by Him before the creation of the world. And besides that, for His pleasure and His glory. And it is so human to think we had something to do with that choosing. But, joyfully, it was God the Father who drew me to His Son, Jesus. Takes away a lot of the pressure to do it all on my power. That is cool.

It did get me to thinking how the conversation went when God preordained me to be His own. In light of all the politics that decides so much of our lives on earth now, I worry that the creation was delayed because of the debate in Heaven. I mean here is God, ready to create the world and before that creation He chose me to be in His family. I wonder if the vote was a split decision, like two to one or something like that. Makes me think my response to what He did for me should be more of appreciation and obedience rather than questioning everything I dont understand.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Family Issues

Wow, people, this was a family discussion. Rick Warren was speaking to his congregation. There are needs in every family. If some in the family take it outside the family, it is not his fault. The guy doesn't benefit from the funds. He takes no salary.
Here, at Central, the exact areas of need that Rick Warren shared about are hurting as well. I know some people feel better giving "their" money to ministry rather than buildings. I feel it all goes to good whatever the designation may be.
It is still a fact that all areas of ministry, as well as all areas of the economy, are lacking. Good thing God is bigger than all the squabbling.

Friday, January 1, 2010


First off, I didn't know a gala mean't suits or tuxes. I was not the only one who was not "dressed up". I didn't stand out but there were few enough of us that we were noticed. Jean bought a new top and I had on a new shirt. But I haven't seen that many ties in a long time.

Second, after a very "dry" year of not much Smooth, I have to thank Brian Bromberg for inviting some of his friends, and some of our favorite smooth jazz stars, to bring in the new year. Richard Elliot, Rick Braun and David Benoit are three of our favorites. As chance would have it, sitting at our table was the morning voice of the KYOT, Melissa Sharpe and her husband.

And at midnight, I could only reflect on how thankful I am that I am starting another year with Jean.