Category: Stanglin Family (page 1 of 14)

Recreating the Laundry Hamper Pic

The first picture was taken twelve years ago when Valerie and Carley were six and eight-years-old. We were living in Kyle and Marti Futrell’s rent house on Mission Hills Road in Marble Falls while I was going to grad school in Austin. The laundry hamper in the master bath was a favorite hiding spot and they played in there often. I have no idea where the ivy on the counter came from.

The second picture was taken today, right after lunch, just before Valerie headed back to OC. Valerie and Carley are eighteen and twenty and they don’t fit in tight places the way they used to. The ivy is twelve years older, too.



Faithfulness of Family

There were 20 of us crammed together for parts of three days and two nights at Stanglin Manor over the Christmas weekend. My sister Rhonda and her family from Oklahoma and Arkansas, my sister Sharon and her husband from Dallas, my brother Keith and his family from Austin, and our parents from behind the Pine Curtain all made the trip to Amarillo for everything that makes a Stanglin Christmas special: air mattresses and sleeping bags, egg nog and Pit, Mexican food and Oreo balls, Chipmunks and Chet Atkins, Ping Pong and football, and over-the-top chanting and ranting during the gift exchange.

Friday night we feasted together at Abuelo’s, the adults on one end of the just-long-enough table reminiscing about growing up together in The Grove, laughing until we were crying; the younger adults wondering what was so funny and then doing those unmentionable things with the uneaten food they always do when we’re out together at a restaurant. After dinner we opened gifts — everybody came away with some form of a puffy and/or fuzzy vest — and trained our new nephew-in-law Logan in the finer points of filling all quiet spaces with obnoxious noise. On Saturday we ate and played games and ate and watched football and ate. Then we divided up into four teams and took in the escape rooms at Amarillo Escape and Mystery. My team of Valerie, Sharon, Isaac, and me were in a relatively easy room, but we still struggled to get out with just seven minutes to spare. Sunday we all worshiped together at Central, ate a quick lunch, and everybody headed their separate ways. Except my parents — they stayed through Monday morning to share our Christmas Eve and Christmas morning traditions with the girls.






I thank God for my “only slightly dysfunctional family” as I referred to them during Sunday’s sermon. I’m grateful for all the shared experiences — the good and the bad, the things we laugh about and celebrate as well as the things we regret. I praise him for the love we all have for each other and the great time we have when we’re together. I love the chaos and the uncertainty when we’re all in the same place at the same time. I enjoy the noise and the chatter, the life of the whole thing. I’m thankful for the good kids, the bright futures, and the faithfulness of it all. Faithful to the traditions that hold us together. Faithful to putting other things aside and making the sacrifice to drive to Amarillo. Faithful to love and care for each other’s spouses and children. Faithful to forgive and encourage, to laugh and to cry together.

Today, our family of five heads downstate to Arlington for another parts-of-three-days-and-two-nights with Carrie-Anne’s side of the family. It won’t be as loud or as chaotic, it won’t be as crowded or as messy — I wonder how it can be so much less organized yet so much more calm and certain. Everybody on C-A’s side lives in DFW and they all go home and sleep in their own beds when the family time is over. But, again, the word is faithfulness. There’s a faithfulness to family that I appreciate more and more. The faithfulness to keep coming together. The faithfulness to stick out the tough times and grin through the good times. Faithfulness to take everyone in the family just as God gave them to us and to love and protect and understand each one just the way he wants.



Happy Thanksgiving

Mom and Dad up from East Texas and Valerie home from OC.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us around the same table in the same house for the first time in a long time.

Grace & Peace,


My brother, Keith, and I went to a lot of Texas Rangers games back in the day. We’re ten years apart — but still shared a room and slept in bunk beds until I moved off to college — so during the best of those times I was 18 or 19 years old and he was eight or nine. We’d jump in my “metallic blue” Nissan Hardbody, grab a couple of Ultimate Cheeseburgers at the Jack in the Box on Buckner Boulevard, and fly down I-30 to old Arlington Stadium.

Parking was free when you could find a spot behind a warehouse on Randol Mill, a game program was a dollar — those really were the good old days — and the bleacher seats were five dollars each. Keith and I would usually wind up in the aluminum rows in left field.

And there was a lot of room out there. The teams were terrible — the Rangers were still ten years away from their first division title and first playoff appearance — and attendance was worse. A lot of the time it felt like there were only a few dozen of us in those outfield bleachers. But we went faithfully, as often as we could. We cheered on Bobby Witt and Charlie Hough, Pete O’Brien and Steve Boooooo-chele. Keith named himself the president of the Chad Krueter fan club and we killed time in the late innings of blowout losses by chanting his name.

One night the Rangers were actually winning. I can’t remember who they played or what night of the week it was, but I do remember there were only twelve of us in the left field stands. And one guy about twenty rows up from us was very, very, very drunk and very, very, very loud. He was about as obnoxious as you can imagine — sloppy drunk — and giving everybody in the zip code a running commentary on everything that was happening in the stadium.

In between the eighth and ninth innings, they started running the out of town results across the scoreboard: Yankees beat the Angels. Twins over the Mariners. Giants down the Cards. Astros won.

The Astros won. I can’t remember who they were playing — I’m certain it didn’t matter. But this drunk behind us took notice. The Astros had won, his Rangers were winning, and he took that opportunity to bellow his Lone Star pride. In the sloppiest, spittiest, slurriest way possible, he shouted at the top of his lungs, “Texshas Shports!”

He went on and on — now that I’m writing this I’m afraid it’s probably not as funny as I remember — about the Rangers and Astros and how Texas Sports dominate. No shirt, no shoes, this guy was gross. And he was fired up about his rooting interests in his home state. Cowboys and Oilers, Mavericks and Rockets and Spurs, Rangers and Astros. Everybody’s awesome in Texas and all Texas sports are the best in the history of the universe. “Texshas Shports!”

Last night, at 10:45 pm, my phone lit up with a text from Austin. It was Keith. “Texas Sports.”

Yes, I was rooting for the ‘Stros in their World Series against L.A. The Astros have been my second favorite team for the entirety of my life. It’s always been easy to cheer for Houston. They were in the National League, so no threat to my Rangers. And when they do well it makes Texas look good. It was the same way with the Oilers, they were always my second favorite team. I dreamed of an all-Texas Super Bowl between my Cowboys and Bum’s Oilers, an all-Texas World Series between my Rangers and those rainbow Lastros. Honestly, I’ve got a lot in common with that bum in the Arlington Stadium bleachers.

So, I’m wanting the Astros to win this thing last night, but I’ve got mixed feelings about it today. I’m glad a Texas team upset the heavily favored Dodgers. I secretly felt satisfied that Yu Darvish imploded so historically for L.A. These young Houston ballplayers are fun to watch. How can you not like them? But I’m sick that Houston won a World Series before the Rangers did. I’m still suffering from PTSD relating to 2011. And how do you cheer for a team in the Rangers’ division?

I texted Adam Gray, the long-time Astros fan on our church staff, early this morning: “Congratulations. I wish I knew what it felt like to feel like you felt like last night.”

It looks like the Rangers are in for another three or four year stretch of really bad baseball while the Astros appear poised to contend for several more titles. I have only one consolation today. Texas Sports.



For the Dads

“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.”


Five States in One Day in One Van

(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.




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