ZZ Top in Amarillo

Allan's Journey, Carley No Comments »

“We’ve been coming here to Amarillo for five decades! Same three guys! Same three chords!” ~Billy Gibbons, founder and lead singer and lead guitarist for that little ol’ band from Texas, about halfway through ZZ Top’s first set during Friday night’s concert at the Amarillo Civic Center Auditorium

One of the things I miss about living in Dallas is the live music concerts. Big bands just don’t swing through Amarillo. So we didn’t hesitate when it was announced three months ago that ZZ Top was extending their Tonnage Tour with a stop in the panhandle. Carley and I got our tickets quickly and she asked a couple of her friends on the Canyon High School golf team — Kayla and Makenna — to join us.

I’d seen ZZ Top three times prior: twice at Reunion Arena during my college years and again about ten years ago when they opened up for Aerosmith at Starplex. But this show was going to be extra special — I was going to share it with my youngest daughter and it was going to be in the tiny Civic Center Auditorium that only seats 2,300. I can’t believe they’re playing this tiny venue!

And, yeah, the whole experience was classic ZZ Top — a stripped-down stage, the bare-minimum on lights, simple chords, easy lyrics, understated choreography, fuzzy guitars, obligatory references to Amarillo and Texas… and super LOUD! What a blast! I reminded Carley and her friends that when ZZ Top’s biggest album came out — Eliminator, the album that put them on the mainstream map in 1983 with those catchy songs and tongue-in-cheek videos — I was a 17-year-old junior in high school. Just like them. And then we sang those hits together with Reverend Billy G, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard in our little civic center auditorium. “Got Me Under Pressure.” “Sharp Dressed Man.” “Gimme All Your Lovin’.” How cool is it to pump your fist in the air with your daughter and shout together, “Go get yourself some CHEAP SUNGLASSES!!!” They also covered Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” and surprised us with “16 Tons” and “Act Naturally,” featuring a guest steel guitar player whose name I didn’t get.

The girls got their t-shirts. I got to see one of my favorite bands again and didn’t have to drive six hours one way to do it. And I got to share it with Carley. That’s a pretty good night.



Fear the Frog

Carley No Comments »

We spent one of Carley’s official college visit days today at TCU. I’m not certain why TCU is at the top of her list of choices for her higher education — she does have a lot of purple clothes. But we spent a good four to five hours there this morning touring the campus, listening to the spiel, taking pictures, visiting with recruiters, and buying a discounted Horned Frogs T-shirt.

I think she loves the history of TCU, the beautiful old buildings, the sprawling trees and colorful flowers that highlight the landscaping, and the uniqueness of the school mascot. I think having a football team in the Top 25 also adds to the allure. And being in a big city also seems to be a plus.

Either way, we met some nice people today and ate good Mexican food at Los Vaqueros on West Berry. Pretty good day.



A Legal Adult

Carley, Texas Rangers No Comments »

carley8giftOur youngest daughter turns 17-years-old today. Carley Renae, our little bear, is regarded now as a legal adult by the statutes of the great state of Texas. Our baby. Gnarles. The tiniest of marsupials. Seventeen? Yeah.

I know that a lot of parents tell their children, “You’re always going to be our baby girl.” And, in a lot of ways, I do still see you, Carley, as our baby. I’m still a little surprised when you talk about going to a friend’s house or doing something at school and I don’t have to plan how you’re going to get there and back. My heart catches just a bit when you come home talking about sizing your Senior ring or sending SAT scores to your top five colleges. The way you talk so effortlessly about advanced mathematics and physics and psychology causes me to shake my head. Your ambitions, your plans, your relentless ways of pursuing what you want catch me off guard. All of those wonderful things remind me that you’re seventeen, not seven.

carleybearbirthday5Of course, you still drink a tall glass of ice cold chocolate milk every single night before you go to bed. You still like for your back to be scratched or your hands to be held. And you still giggle and oooh and ahhh over cute puppy dogs and furry kitty cats.

But, yes, you are an adult today, Carley.

You’ve overcome so much by being our youngest daughter. Most all of your clothes have been hand-me-downs. You’ve always had the last pick on rooms in a new house, seats at the table and in the car, and where we’re going out to eat. Your baby book is by far the smallest and thinnest of all the Stanglin girls’. (Sorry; do we even know where it is?) It’s tough being the youngest.

golf2015But, wow, you’re definitely not our baby anymore. Carley, you have turned into a beautiful, talented, compassionate, brilliant, hilarious, young lady. You reflect the character of our God who created you. And you make your mom and me so incredibly proud of what he is doing in you and through you to his eternal glory.

Happy Birthday, Bear. Thank you so much for blessing our lives and our family with so much joy and love. Thank you for giving us that, and so much more, to look forward to in the future.

I love you. And I’m very proud of everything you are and everything you’re going to be.



12odorThe Texas Rangers’ magic number for clinching the American League West Division title is down to twelve. I’m worried about our bullpen, Dyson doesn’t give anybody much confidence, and until last night each of our starters had struggled in their past couple of starts. The offense is certainly there. But pitching is what counts if a team has hopes of advancing in the postseason. They can win a five game division series with just Hamels and Darvish. But they’re going to need a third guy to step up if they’re going to get back to the World Series. And today I don’t know who that is.



First Day Pics

Carley, Carrie-Anne, Valerie No Comments »

Today’s the first day of school and I must join the rest of humanity in posting a few pictures of my children. Give me a break; you know you’ve already done it.

Valerie has transferred this year to Oklahoma Christian University: the home of the Eagles, the former home of Enterprise Square USA, and the place where Carrie-Anne and I met and fell in love. The whole family piled into a couple of cars Friday to deliver Valerie to Edmond, to her new dorm room at Tinius Hall, and to meet her new roommate, Aimee, who lives in Childress.


It’s at once wonderful and strange when your daughter enrolls at your alma mater. Valerie’s Bible professor this semester is a Delta brother I went to school with at OC, Jeff McMillon, and her history professor is her uncle, my sister Rhonda’s husband Geoff. There are twice as many buildings and ten times as many trees on campus as there were thirty years ago. Goldie’s is gone and I can’t even find Johnnie’s or Pumps. But OC still feels like a wonderful community of smart and caring Christians who will support and encourage, teach and challenge, shape and guide our daughter.

As for Carley, today begins her Junior year at Canyon High School — she’s an upper classman! Still playing golf, still completely obsessed with her grades, still totally driven to be Valedictorian, still incredibly social and motivated to spend time with her friends and, yet, still unbelievably void of any desire to get out of bed before 11:00 am.

I sang the song at 6:15 this morning. She rolled over and groaned.




Carrie-Anne is beginning her third year as the culinary arts director for Canyon and Randall High Schools with three packed out classes. She has really grown that program into a regional powerhouse around here and they’re having to turn students away.

For Whitney and me, nothing much changes. We keep the same routine we’ve been managing all summer: getting up, going to work, and wondering why the Rangers can’t win a weekend series against a last place team.



New Jobs & Old Friends

Carley, Stanglin Family, Valerie No Comments »

BigTexans2Valerie and Carley are now both working for the city of Amarillo’s most widely known tourist attraction: The Big Texan. Yes, the home of the 72-ounce steak that comes free of charge if you can eat it and all the appetizers and sides and dessert in one hour or less is employing our two youngest daughters. Valerie is serving, Carley is hosting, and they’re both keeping alive every Texas stereotype you can imagine for the hundreds of foreigners (anyone outside of Texas) who eat dinner and kill time in the giant gift shop. Carley is instructed to greet all guests with a hearty, “Howdy, y’all!” They wear cowboy boots and cowboy hats and serve up huge steaks and country sides and a lot of sweet tea. They are not yet toting guns or riding horses.

All three of our daughters are now hard-working, tax-paying, productive members of society. Yee-haw!


What a glorious weekend with two great and dear friends, Chris and Liz Moore. They rode their twin Harley Davidsons up here from Mesquite on Thursday and stayed with us through Sunday afternoon. They rode the Palo Duro Canyon, spray painted a heart on a car at muddy Cadillac Ranch, and spun a couple of times around Lake Merideth. We ate catfish together down in Umbarger, grilled fajitas, stayed up way too late, prayed together, and laughed and laughed and laughed.


When we moved to Dallas-Fort Worth in 1999, Chris and Liz just happened to be sitting at the end of the pew we chose at the Mesquite Church of Christ — for the record, yes, they were there first and had been there a long time. We walked in to church with an almost seven-year-old Whitney, a barely two-year-old Val, and six-weeks-old Carley in a car seat / carrier. We plopped down on that same row with the Moores and they immediately welcomed us with their generous hearts and joyful sense of humor. Somehow, we clicked. And we’ve been clicking with them for 17 years now and counting.

Chris and Liz, we love you and your sweet family. We’re so grateful for the time we were graced by God to spend together this past weekend. Let’s see each other again before Tulsa.



Instrument of God’s Peace

Carley, Christ & Culture, Prayer, Stanglin Family No Comments »

Mom70We spent all weekend behind the Pine Curtain in Liberty City celebrating my mother’s 70th birthday. As our children get older and our schedules become less predictable, getting the entire family together is becoming more and more difficult. But it’s always worth it. Dad grilled burgers in the rain, we played football and Frisbee and board games, we ate a ton, laughed a lot, and worshiped together as a big family yesterday morning at the Chandler Street Church of Christ in Kilgore.

The highlight for Carley was probably getting to drive the Impala. My dad owns a fully restored 1960 Chevrolet Impala that belonged to my grandfather. It’s a beautiful turquoise head-turner: huge fins on the back, wide whitewall tires, rocket-style tail lights, wrap-around windshield, add-on AC, and plenty of chrome. The younger kids all wanted to go for a ride and, somehow, they returned to the house with Carley behind the wheel. I’m not sure how she talked her grandpa into letting her drive, but it was pretty cool.




I received an email from Jerry Taylor last week. Totally out of the blue. Completely unexpected. No context. No explanation. Just a couple of short sentences from a great man of God whom I respect and admire.

“One person has said about the current political season that this is a time of moral reckoning for every American citizen. It can better be said that this is a time of moral reckoning for every Christian in America.”

That was it. Nothing else. Short. Simple. Yet penetrating. And provocative.

ShoutingI wonder about those in the United States who declare themselves to be Christians and, at the same time, are personally and emotionally invested in the race for president. As the shouting grows louder, as the insults become more pointed, as the fear tactics reach ridiculous levels, how do Christians participate in the process without personally joining and even contributing to the rancor of the political campaigns? I’m sure it’s possible; I just wonder how. It seems to me it would be maddeningly difficult.

Is there even one political YouTube video you can recommend that only builds others up without tearing anybody down? Is there even one political email you can forward that only encourages people without insulting or disparaging others? If you put a candidate’s name on the back of your car, are you telling everybody that you agree with that candidate’s position on everything and that you stand by his or her tactics? It must be really difficult for a Christian to engage this thing and still hold true to our calling as ambassadors for Christ.

I’ve been thinking about the opening lines of an ancient prayer that’s been attributed to St. Francis. The prayer petitions God to empower the one praying to be an instrument in the world of God’s peace. The one praying is asking God to work through him to show the world a different way

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is error, the truth;
where there is doubt, the faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s getting the forwarded videos and emails, who’s thrust into the conversations at meal times, who’s bombarded with the rhetoric while waiting in line at Wal-Mart or while I’m getting my oil changed. How do you answer that hateful email? How do you reply to the mean-spirited video? How do you respond to the insults that disparage entire groups of people?

What it requires is discipline. Diligence. A refusal to join the rage. A commitment to combat the evil with love and grace. A constant awareness. A continuing asking of the question: Am I acting as an instrument of God’s peace?

Christians have to be intentional about sowing love where there is hatred. We must carefully choose words that build up, never injure; we must speak to forgive, never to hurt. We have to look through the lens of Christian hope in the face of so much despair. We must be full of joy when so many around us are filled with hate. And it’s not going to happen accidentally. We have to do this on purpose.