Category: Stanglin Family (Page 1 of 22)









While you might have been following the U.S. Olympic trials, Carrie-Anne and I were following our very own Evie Granado as she dominated again at the Team USA Gymnastics Championships. Evie, whom I’ve nicknamed “Three Events, Three Gold Medals,” won the Youth Elite 11-12-year-old trampoline championships at the trials in Minneapolis. She’s too young to go to Paris this time around, but she’s in the same gym as the ones who are, and completely blowing away those her own age and a little bit older. Man, you should see these videos of Evie flying and twisting around the rafters of that convention center!

Evie and her parents were part of our wonderful small group at the Central Church in Amarillo and we miss them dearly. But it’s so much fun to keep rooting her on from long distance. At the Olympic Trials this weekend, Evie won the national championship in trampoline, took second place in double-mini trampoline, and finished first in overall points–good enough to earn a top spot on the Junior National Team. Evie competes in the Portugal Cup this fall and, I’m assuming, will keep winning and winning and winning until she makes the USA Olympics Gymnastics team for the 2028 summer games in L.A.


Dr. Keith Stanglin (some relation) was in Midland this past weekend, putting on a church leadership seminar at the Downtown Church of Christ. Keith is the executive director of Center for Christian Studies in Austin and the preacher at University Avenue Church of Christ right there in front of the U.T. campus. He came in Thursday evening, his colleague Todd Hall and his wife Cara joined him Friday morning, and we had an absolute blast just hanging out with them all weekend. The seminar, “Leading Through Cultural Change,” was excellent. The ping-pong was exhilarating. We laughed a ton. And my claim when it comes to my brother and me is still true: I got the looks, he got the brains.



I’ve been posting very slowly in this space my thoughts on Josh Ross’ new book Coreology: Six Principles for Navigating an Election Season without Losing Our Witness. Today, I want to share with you this fifth core principle that helps us keep the Gospel story straight and the roles we play as followers of Christ during a heated national political season.

#5 – I will practice hospitality as a way to learn, grow, and invest in other people.

Near the end of his book here, Josh reminds us that the local church should be the place where people can talk about anything. “There should be no issue or topic,” he says, “that the church can’t provide space for as we attempt to navigate faith and culture. We would like to think,” he continues, “that the waters of baptism and the bread and cup hold the power to keep us united through it all.”

Josh asserts that disciples of Jesus should be Gospel-driven, and not issue-driven. This is why it is essential, he writes, that we develop principles in our lives that keep us rooted in the heart and mission of Jesus. And this fifth one, hospitality, is a big one.

In the Greek language of the New Testament, hospitality is philoxenias. Philos means “love” and xenos means “stranger.” So, to be hospitable is to be a friend to a stranger, or maybe even to make a friend out of stranger.

You already know my table theology. I believe that our God intends for meals around a table to be the way we both experience and express the Good News of his salvation. You know that more than 70% of Jesus’ parables are about food. In the Gospels, especially in Luke, Jesus is either talking about a meal, on his way to a meal, eating a meal, or just leaving a meal. And followers of Christ should be intentional about these meals in our contexts today. As Hirsch and Ford say in their book Right Here, Right Now:

“If every Christian family in the world simply offered good conversational hospitality around a table once a week to neighbors, we could all eat our way into the Kingdom of God.”

Nowadays, opening our homes and/or spreading a table in an act of Gospel hospitality is difficult even with our friends. But what about the strangers? What about for our neighbors or other people we don’t know very well? Josh claims that our culture has messed up the way we think about strangers. Instead of seeing people as a gift to the world, we see people as a threat. So, your circle of who you count as friends is going to shrink. And that means those people outside of your bounds get less empathy and fewer resources.”

To help support his point, Josh quotes from “Reaching Out” by the great Henri Nouwen:

“Our society seems to be increasingly full of fearful, defensive, aggressive people anxiously clinging to their property and inclined to look at the surrounding world with suspicion, always expecting an enemy to suddenly appear, intrude, and do harm. But still–that is our vocation: to convert the enemy into a guest and to create the free and fearless space where brotherhood and sisterhood can be formed and fully experienced.”

When we lower our defenses, when we remove our facades and peepholes, when we begin to be truly present with one another, then the healing power of the Gospel can begin its work. Take the risk, expand your table. You have more to offer the world than you think. You have more to receive from the world than you think. What do you have to lose? As a Christian, a citizen of a different Kingdom, choose the table over the comments section. You may not leave the table of hospitality in total agreement on every issue, but you can leave knowing you have more in common than you at first thought. You have more space for empathy, compassion, and service than you had when you were still hungry.



Bad Day to Be a Tree

I was sitting at their kitchen table early Saturday morning, drinking my Diet Dr Pepper and reading about the Mavericks’ Game Four blowout, when my son-in-law Collin came around the corner and proclaimed, “It’s a bad day to be a tree!”

Carrie-Anne and I were visiting Carley and Collin at their home in Flower Mound as part of a longer trip to see my parents in East Texas. My three siblings and our spouses all met up in Liberty City Friday to surprise our folks with a barbecue lunch to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. The mini-vacation turned into a work trip when, three weeks ago, the incessant rains and windstorms in DFW took out a massive tree cluster in Carley and Collin’s back yard.








There were five trees growing out of one massive stump in the corner of their yard where their property meets their neighbors’. Each of the trees had been growing since the early ’80s and were between 30-40 feet tall. The saturated ground finally turned them loose, destroying three fence posts and two sections of fence panel and ripping out a main sprinkler system line. One of the trees landed in the neighbors yard, one took out another fence post and two more panels, two fell into their massive Magnolia tree, and one rested against the corner of their house.








Collin and I took it all down and out on Saturday with a 14-inch chainsaw and a machete. We only suffered two “mishaps” and one near-death experience. The scariest part was getting on and off their roof with only a six-foot step ladder. The fun part was bonding together over our shared tree-annihilating prowess. The longest part was the clean-up. Carrie-Anne and Carley joined us to haul every bit of it to the front curb where the City of Flower Mound assures us it’ll be picked up soon.

Following a brief recovery and some cold showers, we ate a wonderful dinner together at Mi Cocina at The Star in Frisco and then took in the RoughRiders game at the Frisco ballpark. The RoughRiders were hosting the Amarillo Sod Poodles, so C-A and I embraced our mixed loyalties and enjoyed the whole experience.








We were especially blessed to worship with Collin and Carley at their church in Flower Mound Sunday morning before they treated me to my favorite Father’s Day lunch: the Buffalo chicken tenders at Cheddar’s.

It was a beautiful weekend all the way around. Fabulous. For everybody except that tree.


If I were still making predictions about the NBA Finals, I’d say something about how the Celtics don’t have any pressure on them tonight in Game Five. Sure, the Mavs exploded Friday and destroyed Boston in Dallas, finally looking like the team that breezed through the first three rounds. Yes, Luka set the tone by refusing to complain to the refs and by embracing his defensive responsibilities and the rest of the team followed. Absolutely, it looks like the Mavs have finally figured it out. But it’s too late. Dallas can’t win four straight. Jayson Tatum admitted as much yesterday, saying something like, “It would be nice to close this out at home, but we don’t have to win Monday. Monday is not a must win. We only have to win one of the next three. There’s no pressure on us.”

Okay. There’s no pressure on either team tonight. Boston is expected to win to complete the “Gentlemen’s Sweep,” and Dallas is expected to lose the series, if not tonight, then certainly on Thursday.

But what if the Mavericks win a close one tonight? It’s possible, especially if Porzingas is not out there for the Celtics. Everything is clicking now for Dallas in their last five quarters. Kyrie has found his shot. Gafford and Lively have found the rim. Luka is not messing around. There’s an energy now they were really lacking in the first two-and-a-half games. What if they win tonight?

Now, it’s 3-2 and the series shifts back to Dallas and ALL the pressure is on Boston. The Celtics CAN’T lose Game Six because that would force a Game Seven and NOBODY wants a Game Seven because anything can happen in a Game Seven. If this thing comes back to Dallas, who is the pressure on? Not Dallas!

If I were still making predictions, I’d pick the Celtics in a tight one tonight to win their record 18th NBA championship. But if Dallas wins tonight, nobody’s trusting anybody’s predictions anymore.

Go Mavs.


Does It Feel Wet Outside?

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Ralph Strangis…

All our church ministers and staff, all the Opportunity Tribe kids, and the Mission Agape folks just spent an hour or so enjoying the eclipse together. We chewed Eclipse brand gum, ate lots of Oreos (Ryan concocted some far-fetched eclipse connection), and generally cracked eclipse jokes, made fun of each other, and laughed the whole time. Kim brought out her mystical Mayan stone, Pam produced an impressive array of shadow-casting kitchen utensils and disco balls, and Jim asked several times when it was appropriate to leave an eclipse party and not seem rude. J.E. wanted us to change into our Nikes and track suits (at times, it did look like we were all waiting to be lifted away), we all overplayed the darkness and cool down factor, and at one point Dan asked if it felt “wet” outside. I must have heard and/or overheard fourteen explanations of refraction and at least that many descriptions of how this eclipse is or is not similar to what we experienced back in October.

Some of us were disappointed that the dogs didn’t speak in tongues and no birds dive-bombed the parking lot. Turns out the animals don’t really freak out as much as the humans.


The NCAA men’s basketball tournament concludes tonight, but Carrie-Anne clinched our family bracket Saturday when UConn took down Alabama to advance to the Final. As soon as the clock hit 0:00 on that game, C-A sent her little victory bitmoji through our family text, much to almost everyone’s delight. If UConn wins tonight, Whitney will finish in second place. If it’s Purdue, then Valerie’s husband David takes the silver. I need Purdue to win just so I won’t come in last. My March Sadness began weeks ago.

As for our office bracket here at GCR, if UConn wins, Tim and Cory will finish 1-2. If Purdue wins the title, Kristin takes our office contest and J.E. comes in second.


We have turned MidWeek into MixWeek at GCR by combining all our Wednesday night kids programs, youth worship, and adult classes into one big “Running the Race” series. We kicked it off last Wednesday with GCR Olympics, featuring a massive Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament and an egg-throwing contest. The young people led our church in worship–we sang their songs their way– and then we spent 30-minutes or so mixing it up together with the games.

The idea this past Wednesday was to partner up with someone at least 20 years older or 20 years younger and compete against other similar pairs. By the end of the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament, we had half the church on one side of the gym and the other half on the other side, all cheering for their representative in the final match. Same deal with the egg-toss. Then we gave out medals and ate popsicles together.








This week, the young people will again lead us in worship, and then we’re going to spend 30-minutes or so in some formative Christian practices. We’ll have nine or ten prayer stations and Scripture stations in and around the Worship Center–some ancient practices and some brand new ways to engage God together in Word and Prayer.

The overarching goal is to intentionally put our children in front of our older adults and for our older adults to pour into our children so we can all learn what God wants us to learn from each other. We are putting ourselves in situations with our church’s children so God can teach us what we need to learn and change in us what needs to be changed to become more like them. And more like him.


I’m not going to write anything about the Rangers. Not yet. Out of the gate, they look like they’re going to be an even better team than they were last year. But I don’t want to jinx anything. For now, I’m putting all my energies into the Stars and their promising Stanley Cup pursuits. Lankford can keep hitting 100-mile-per-hour lasers off his bat, the Rangers can keep averaging seven runs per game, and Bochy can keep whispering into his bullpen. I’m not going to say anything about it yet. Go Stars.


Over the Christmas break, I bought a two-dollar Whoopee cushion with the four-million tickets we collected during a family trip to Cinergy. Now Whitney is pressing the cushion every time a player misses a free throw during the NCAA tournament. Every game. Every miss. “Pppphhhhrrrrrppphhhh!!” It makes me giggle. It makes Whitney laugh so hard she can’t breathe. It wears Carrie-Anne plumb out.




Spring Break in Marfa

Carrie-Anne and I both grew up in North Texas, lived for nine years in the Hill Country of Central Texas, and spent ten years in the Panhandle. We’ve done just about everything there is to do in Texas. We’ve lived in the big cities and the tiny towns. We’ve spent time doing some of the coolest things in the neatest places from Dalhart to Brownsville and Texarkana to Midland, from the Gulf Coast to the Piney Woods to Palo Duro Canyon. Somehow, though, we have managed to live our lives as proud Texans and have never visited the Big Bend. Until now.

Like most things we do, this happened at the last second. Carrie-Anne booked the Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa Monday morning while I was in my church staff meeting, telling my co-workers it looked like we were staying in town for the Break. By Monday night, we were eating a wonderful Mexican food dinner at Angel’s and heading out to the shoulder of Highway 90 on the east side of town in search of the fabled Marfa Mystery Lights.

We didn’t see them.















We spent all day Tuesday in quirky Marfa, taking in the art scene at most of the galleries scattered all over town, and even some of the strange outdoor art installations you can find here and there. We climbed the old rickety wooden stairs to the very top of the historic Presidio County courthouse and took lots of pictures of old hotels and the water tower. Then we hoofed it over to Alpine for the Museum of the Big Bend on the campus of Sul Ross University. From there it was to Fort Davis where we hiked all over the restorations and ruins of that pre-Civil War era army base in the shadows of the Davis Mountains. We ended our first full day by taking in the Karaoke at Planet Marfa, a wonderfully weird bar and grill a few blocks from our hotel. We were thoroughly entertained by one guy named Dustin who thought he was Garth Brooks and a filming crew from London who were in Marfa doing a documentary about something and kept singing British Punk and the Beatles.












On Wednesday, we got up early and drove to Big Bend. Wow. When you’ve only got one day at the largest national park in the U.S., we did it right. The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive wound up and down and around the most beautiful vistas highlighting the grandeur of the Big Bend, from the park entrance all the way to the mouth of the massive Santa Elena Canyon. You get an idea of the scale of the canyon by noticing Carrie-Anne on the trail in the lower right hand part of this picture. And, yes, I had to climb over the safety rail at one point to take a picture on the edge of a ledge about 70-feet above the river.








We hiked way up and then way down the rim of the canyon, engaging fellow Texas Rangers fans who were sporting World Series gear and exchanging pleasantries with some students and alumni from Fort Worth Paschall High School, where Carrie-Anne graduated a few years ago. Then we drove over to the Big Bend State Park for a three-hour canoeing trip down the Rio Grande through Dark Canyon. Due to the 20-year drought and the rapidly decreasing river levels, I think we did as much pushing and pulling as rowing. But it was a beautiful and mostly relaxing trip through some of the most breathtakingly glorious scenes I’ve ever encountered in our Lone Star State.















Most people don’t realize that the world-famous, world’s smallest Prada store, Prada Marfa, is not really in Marfa. It’s a half-hour drive away on the western outskirts of a little town called Valentine. So that’s what we did first thing Thursday morning–an hour-long round-trip drive to take some pictures in front of a disorienting art installation, an exclusive luxury brand store in the middle of nowhere. Nowhere. So weird. And kinda cool. We took pictures with a couple from Vancouver who have been traveling the U.S. in their camper since October. They take pictures of their adventures and their kids post them under Boomers Gone Wild. The high heeled shoes and purses in the store are genuine articles from Prada’s 2005 line, the year the Prada Marfa store went up. There is also a can of glass cleaner on the back windowsill that somebody should have been using.






We saw a couple more museums in Marfa Thursday, including the Ballroom Marfa which is featuring an exhibit by Guadalupe Maravilla, who came to the U.S. border in the 1980s in the first wave of unaccompanied and undocumented children to show up in Texas as a result of the Salvadoran Civil War. His bus, complete with grasshopper legs, giant gongs, stock pots, statues, and cooking utensils, tells the story of his hard life. Fascinating. And really strange.






A little more sightseeing and shopping in Alpine on the way home–three books for me, one silver ring for C-A–and our Marfa/Big Bend Spring Break is in the books. Yes, we do plan to return to the area soon, maybe even next Spring Break. We want to spend another day or two in Big Bend and we are determined to see those blasted Marfa Lights. Our canoe guide told us those lights appear 16% of the time. He claims he’s been there more than 90-times and he’s personally seen them twice. He told us about those two times. He described in detail what he saw. We want to see it, too. So, here’s the heads-up for our family and our co-workers. I’m giving you a year’s notice instead of a two-minute warning. We’re going back to Big Bend for Spring Break 2025.



OT in Big D

Our oldest daughter, the precious blue-eyed angel, turned 31 on Saturday (YIKES!) and we celebrated by attending the Dallas Stars game at American Airlines Center. It was supposed to be a surprise but she ruined it about three weeks ago, Whitney was snooping where she shouldn’t have been and discovered something she wasn’t supposed to know. To her everlasting credit, she quickly confessed. But then she spent the next 20 days worrying about which Stars socks she was going to wear to the game.

We got to Dallas Friday evening, early enough to spend some quality time with our youngest daughter Carley and our son-in-law Collin. Mexican food at Christina’s in Lewisville hit the spot and a Saturday birthday brunch at First Watch was exactly what we needed to get us through to the pizza we were planning to eat during first intermission.

It was our first time to see the recently installed Dirk Nowitzki statue outside the AAC. Magnificent. Loyalty never fades away. Perfect.








We splurged for really good seats at the top of the lower level, near the face off circle on the visitors side. Four young men from Canada sitting behind us had flown in Friday from Ontario to watch their Edmonton Oilers. Beauty, eh? The rest of us in our section were Stars fans and we were reminded again why there is nothing in all of sports like NHL hockey. The first period was eerily quiet as 20,000 people almost silently watch the two teams size each other up. The whole crowd is locked in. Nobody moves. Everybody’s eyes are on the ice. The anticipation is building. It’s really remarkable. Then the explosion of six goals scored in the wild second period had us on that roller coaster. Dallas up 1-0, then gives up the equalizer in about 40-seconds. Dallas down 2-1 and then ties it up on a power play goal. It’s 3-3 heading to the final period. Dallas killed off a crazy five-on-three power play late in the third, and it felt like Game Seven of the Conference Finals. The whole place was going nuts, you couldn’t hear yourself think. The Stars hit the post twice on shots at the other end, and wound up going to overtime. Less than 30-seconds into the extra frame, Wyatt Johnston got out of position and was whistled on a very tickey-tack hooking penalty. Edmonton went on the power play and, seven seconds later, it was over. Edmonton won it 4-3.

Hockey is the only sport that gives you a true sudden death overtime. And it always feels like death when you’re on the losing end. It’s so sudden. That arena instantly went from a million decibels to zero. In a flash. The whole thing is a three-hour heart attack.

I blamed Whitney for choosing the wrong socks.



Lights from a Limo

Both the younger girls and our sons-in-law were in Midland for theĀ  long holiday weekend to observe the Stanglin family Christmas traditions. We brought our daughters up decorating the tree on a certain day, watching certain Christmas movies, drinking egg nog and Dr Pepper at certain times, and those things naturally evolve into traditions we’ve done our best to keep. But I’ve only realized recently that we’ve raised three strict legalists! These girls are pretty hard core when it comes to our Christmas traditions–there’s no budging on any of it! We watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” the day after Thanksgiving, not Albert Finney’s “Scrooge.” We eat Mexican food after we decorate the tree, not on Christmas Eve. So I really didn’t know what to do for Sunday night.

On Christmas Eve we go out to Longhorn Steakhouse and then drive around the city looking at the best Christmas lights, before watching “Scrooge,” eating popcorn and drinking the Dr Pepper Nog, opening the new pajamas, and reading “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” I’m telling you, it’s a production. There’s a silly Stanglin family dance that happens after the movie, too, but I’m not detailing any of that here.

Well, this is the first time we’ve had seven people to accommodate. We can’t fit seven people in any one of our cars and we can’t take two cars to look at lights–that won’t work. We thought about borrowing a church van and then quickly remembered what our church vans are like. So what do we do?

We surprised the whole family with a limousine!

It was worth the price as soon as we opened the front door and everybody saw it, idling in front of our house, waiting to escort us on our Christmas Eve adventure. Those first two or three minutes were awesome! We took the pics, piled in, plugged in the traditional Stanglin family Christmas CD, and laughed and sang all the way to Longhorn Steakhouse. We pretended to be celebrities. Somebody made a prom joke. After we ordered, we watched the Dolphins drive the length of the field and kick the game-winning field goal against the Cowboys on Collin’s phone (yes!), ate a fantastic meal together, and then rode all over Midland looking at the lights.

It feels like a one-time thing. I need to iterate here in writing that it was definitely a one-time thing. This was a special memory, not the start of a new tradition. By this time next year, surely we’ll have a new church van.



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