Play Ball, Amarillo!

Amarillo Baseball, MLB 1 Comment »

It’s a done deal! It’s really happening! A 30-year stadium deal has been signed and the press conferences have been held! The San Antonio Missions of the historic Texas League are moving to Amarillo for the 2019 season, bringing professional affiliated baseball back to the panhandle for the first time since 1982!

Yes, those above sentences deserve all those exclamation points! Professional baseball in a brand new $45.5-million stadium in downtown Amarillo? Seventy home games in a city that cools off to the 70s and lower 80s when the sun goes down? Real minor league baseball just three miles from my office in this church building? The Rangers AA affiliate, the Frisco Roughriders, playing two or three series per year in my city?

There are only 30 of these teams in the entire world and this significant one from this prestigious league is moving here!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Right now the team is affiliated with the San Diego Padres — that could change, but it’s not likely. The AAA team in Colorado Springs is moving to San Antonio and will take over the Missions nickname. Our new team, the current Missions, will hold some kind of a naming contest to determine the moniker for our local club.

We can’t go with alliteration because all the “A” words are stupid. I don’t want it to be some really generic name like Eagles or Bulldogs or Tigers. It would be cool if it were a panhandle-particular animal, but the rattlesnake has already been used to death by bush league teams here and the prairie dog just sounds weird. I’m scared to death the name is going to wind up being weather-related.

But that’s later.

Today, we celebrate the official return of real, genuine, professional, affiliated baseball to Amarillo!

Peace,

Allan

For the Dads

Stanglin Family No Comments »

“There’s nothing I’ve learned from being a father that I couldn’t just as easily have figured out by setting all my money on fire.”


I’M KIDDING!!!!!

Little Middle, Gray Hair, and Jake

Allan's Journey, Central Church Family, Texas, Valerie No Comments »

A quick hit from Arlington as we wrap up the final leg of our family vacation. We had a marvelous lunch today with Valerie and the sweet family who is housing her while she serves as a summer intern for the student ministry at Pleasant Ridge Church of Christ.

Our old friends, Mike and Traci Thatcher and their daughter Bella, actually signed up to keep Valerie this summer before anybody made the connection that she belonged to us. We ran around with the Thatchers for a while during our brief stay in Arlington while I was working at KRLD during the early 2000s. We were actually the first babysitter Bella ever had! Now she and Valerie are sharing living space and really forming a wonderful friendship. Carrie-Anne and I are so grateful and feel so very confident that when Val’s car won’t start or the youth minister announces to the church that he’s taken another job in Abilene, Mike and Traci are there to take care of our little middle. (I have no idea why Valerie insists on wearing that Kappa shirt in the photo up there; she was wearing it before she met Mike, so I can’t blame him.)

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While we’ve been away, John Mark Beilue, the highly respected columnist for the Amarillo Globe News, wrote a really nice story about Jake and Stevie Reeves’ hospital room wedding. You can click here to read his column. By the way, Jake is home now recovering from his surgery, learning how to manage his newly-diagnosed diabetes, and trying to tolerate diet root beer.

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My once-every-five-weeks faith column for the Amarillo paper was also published last Saturday. It’s about ear-hair and God’s promises in Isaiah. You have to read it to understand.

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And I’d love to recommend to you two books I’ve read during this ten-day vacation. They’re both excellent.

First, the largely untold and completely forgotten story about the world’s first-ever serial killer, in Austin, Texas during the mid-1880s. The book is titled The Midnight Assassin, written by Skip Hollandsworth, the famed editor of Texas Monthly magazine and the writer of the screenplay for the excellent movie “Bernie.” Skip did his research for almost two decades — and it shows. The book is a fascinating study of the events surrounding a dozen killings in the capitol city of mostly African-American servant girls. The murders were all extremely gruesome — one every couple of months — carried out in the middle of the night in the exact same way, and caused a panic throughout Austin that spread to all parts of the state from Gainesville to Galveston. The murderer was never caught. The mystery was never solved. And less than two years later, prostitutes were being killed in the middle of the night in London. Yes, Jack the Ripper! And, yes, most people at the time believed that Jack the Ripper and the Austin Assassin were the same guy! At the very least, most agreed that Jack the Ripper had been inspired by the Austin killer.

Hollandsworth produces hundreds of quotes and clippings from 130-year-old newspapers, police records, court documents, and journals that link the two. He also examines the question “Why do we know so much about Jack the Ripper but almost nothing about the Austin killer?” from every angle. And he pays very careful attention to the historic detail of every scene. These Austin murders were taking place during the construction of the capitol building, during the time when electric lights and telephones were transitioning from experimental to commonplace, during the construction of the very first dam on the Colorado River, and during the world expo in New Orleans when business leaders first began billing the wonders of our state with the slogan “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” The politics of all this was directly impacted by these murders that hung over the city and the state and had to be carefully managed. It’s so interesting. And, if you’re familiar at all with Austin, maybe you’ve wondered about those 130-year-old light towers that are scattered all over the city. Yep, they were erected in reaction to the midnight murders. If you’re a Texas history buff or a murder mystery fan, you absolutely cannot go wrong with this one.

And, Love Does by Bob Goff. I’d like to describe to you what it was like listening to Bob Goff’s 40-minute keynote address at the Pepperdine Lectures this past May. But it would be impossible. All I can accurately communicate in this space is that Goff loves God and he loves people. Passionately. Frantically. Maniacally. Hilariously. If you read his book, you’ll agree. If you read his book out loud, at double-speed, laughing at yourself after every fourth sentence, then you’ll have a better idea about his keynote.

Peace,

Allan

Five States in One Day in One Van

Stanglin Family No Comments »

(As always, you can click on the pics to get the full size. This is not like subjecting you to a 200-picture slide show of our family vacation on the paneled walls of my living room — this is slightly less annoying.)

The family summer vacation is winding down with a long return trip from Orlando to Amarillo: ten days, five states, three thousand miles, in one very old minivan. We embark on the final leg today in our last set of clean clothes, unshaven, a little sunburned, and with sand still lodged in some questionable places. This was the first summer vacation in which not all of us were present — Valerie is working as a youth ministry intern at the Pleasant Ridge Church of Christ in Arlington this summer. So, yeah, that’s a little weird. Time is getting away from us. Quickly. Man, we’ve got to enjoy these family vacations.


But we did our typical every-four-years Orlando vacation. We caught “throwed rolls” at Lambert’s Café in Gulf Shores, Alabama and spent a wonderful day on the beach there together. We also caught a really strange rock band — Voodoo Gumbo — doing some interesting covers of the Stones, Poison, Michael Jackson, and Foreigner. We found a brand new Chuy’s in Orlando (Yes!) and worshiped with a wonderful group of Christ-followers at Celebration Community Church just four or five miles away from our condo.


And it rained. Every day in Orlando it rained. Sometimes it started at 5:00 in the afternoon, sometimes it started at noon. But every afternoon and evening it rained.

However, that didn’t dampen our spirits. Much. We stayed away from Disney and spent two very full days at the Universal theme parks. We rode the best roller coasters (Hulk, Dragon’s Challenge, Rockin’ Rockit, Mummy, Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall), walked around in amazement at the new Harry Potter addition, saw the cheesy Jimmy Fallon thing, waited in long lines, did two or three too many 3-D virtual rides, and ate a lot of very expensive fast food. We got wet and dried off, we took a lot of corny pictures, we ran the wrong way down moving sidewalks, and we had dinner at the world’s largest Hard Rock Café.


We ate Krusty Burgers and drank Buzz Cola at the Simpsons!

We also drove up to Cocoa Beach for a day and just spent another day hanging out at the condo.

Now we’re driving back home via a little weekend detour in Arlington with Carrie-Anne’s mom and a chance to enjoy a meal and an hour or two with Valerie.


 

 

 

 

 

I treasure these vacations with Carrie-Anne and our daughters. Fifty hours in the van with no data on the phones, all crammed in together, is just about the only time we have anymore to give each other our full undivided attention. When we find a good radio station we sing Tom Petty and the Eagles together. But in between those times, we talk. And laugh. We share memories from vacations past, we delight in seeing new things, we make plans for the future, and we dream a little together about what might be. We evaluate our current situations and we talk about possibilities and options for all of us. We smile broadly at the really great things that bless our lives and we look intently for the grace of God in the not-so-great things.

Valerie’s probably out for family vacations now. By this time next year Carley will be a high school graduate. Who knows what these will look like down the road? Who knows that maybe we haven’t already taken our last family vacation? Weird. It happened fast. I suppose we’ll still travel without kids, right? But singing “Texas, Our Texas!” as we cross the border back into the Lone Star State won’t be the same if it’s just Carrie-Anne and me.

Speaker-phones!

Peace,

Allan

Ooh-ooh, That Smell

Central Church Family No Comments »

How do you get a bunch of five-year-olds to fifth graders to get the Word of God inside their hearts and their souls? How do they read the Bible in a way so that the Word becomes a part of who they are? How do you help them truly experience the sights, the smells, the tastes, the experience of being in a boat with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee? Well, you start with a bucket of sand, a pitcher of salt water, and a dead 14-inch trout.


It’s Vacation Bible School week here at Central and, as always, Mary and Sara and their crew are focused on interactive, hands-on, experiential learning. Greg is taking the kids through an escape room. Adam is leading the kids through different methods of prayer. Tanner and Ellie are playing soccer with the kids. Valerie Gooch, the director of Panhandle Adult Rebuilding Center, has brought Allison with her to tell our kids about serving the homeless. Benny Baraza, the fabulous principal at Bivins Elementary, is making fidget spinners with our kids. And I got to help our children learn to read the Bible using all five our senses, to truly get the text inside us.

The passage was Luke 5:1-11. Jesus teaching the crowds from Simon’s boat. Put yourself in the crowd. What are you hearing? What are the smells in the air? Is there sand in your shoes? Do you hear the constant rhythm of the waves? Jesus tells Simon to get out into the deep water and lower the nets. Put yourself in that boat. How rough are those nets on your hands? How slippery is the deck of that boat? What does a fish smell like and feel like? What do four thousand fish sound like when they’re flopping around on the bottom of the boat?

The kids were great and I had a blast. Thanks so much to Sara for locating and organizing my weird list of requested supplies. Thanks to Mary for working so hard to pull off another great VBS. And thanks to all the kids who gargled with salt water, got sand under their fingernails, suffered rope burn on their hands, got splinters from the oars, and smelled and touched that nasty fish.

And my apologies to the Sunday morning Bible class that regularly meets in Room 22. I’m afraid that smell is going to linger for a while.

Peace,

Allan

A Wedding in Room 408

Central Church Family, Marriage 1 Comment »

I was honored to perform the short wedding ceremony today as Jake Reeves and Stevie Couch got married in his hospital room at Northwest Texas. Already a dozen people have asked me, “Is this a first for you?” And my answer is, “Yes, this is a first for me! The groom was wearing a Texas Aggies shirt!”

I was the emergency pinch hitter today. Stevie’s long-time preacher / family friend was in town to perform the wedding Saturday night. But Jake was in the ICU at Northwest, in the process of being diagnosed with Diabetic Ketoacidosis and being treated for life-threatening acid levels in his blood. The decision was made late last night to go ahead with the wedding today, in Jake’s room, right before a probable surgery to remove a couple of cysts that are exacerbating his problems. But the designated preacher was already back in Seminole. So I was very privileged to get the call late last night.

After the inevitable jokes and one-liners — Don’t they have a cure for cold feet in this hospital? — Chris gave Stevie to Jake and the two exchanged solemn and eternal vows in the presence of God and in the name of Christ Jesus. No, this isn’t how they wanted to get married, or where, or when — none of this was according to their long-time plans. The truth is, though, none of that matters to our Lord, who sanctifies their marriage to reflect his eternal glory. And it doesn’t matter to the parents of the bride and groom nor to Stevie’s sisters or any of the other witnesses who affirmed the marriage with their own vows to help nurture and protect this holy union at all costs. What matters is that they have promised to give themselves to each other and to give their relationship to God.

In one special way, the location for this quick wedding was fitting. Jake and Stevie, both paramedics, actually met for the first time at Northwest Texas Hospital. Now they’ve been married on the fourth floor and someday they might have a child on the third floor.

No cake for the groom today — it may be a long, long time before he gets any cake. But if you’re dropping by the hospital to visit the newlyweds, you might take him a diet root beer.

Peace,

Allan