Category: Stanglin Family (Page 1 of 21)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Peace,

Allan

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.

Peace,

Allan

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.

Peace,

Allan

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.

Peace,

Allan

The Rangers Ride & Tyler’s Throat

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to D.D. Lewis…

The stupid Rangers. What a crazy day-by-day ride it’s been with this team, especially over the past six weeks. The Rangers held first place in the AL West for 148 of the first 149 days of the season, then fell into third place with 20 games to play, then regained first place and held it for the final nine days of the regular season, only to lose it with a shutout loss in Seattle on the season’s final day. Texas needed to win two out of four games in Seattle to clinch the division title and a first round bye in the playoffs. Instead, they lost three of four, got blanked in two of those losses, and are playing the Rays in Tampa this afternoon in the Wild Card round. How does the number one offense in MLB — number one among all teams all year in batting average, runs, and home runs — with a division championship and playoff positioning on the line, get shutout by a team that got eliminated from the race the day before? That’s the nature of the roller coaster ride the Rangers have been for the past month-and-a-half. Stomach churning ups and downs, disorienting twists and turns, nausea-inducing loops and corkscrews, exhilarating highs and devastating lows — I’ve never experienced anything quite like this. And I’m expecting it to continue. The Rangers will play a best two-out-of-three at Tropicana Field, where the Rays had the best home record in baseball, and we won’t know what to expect each of the next two or three afternoons until we’re caught up (or down) in the middle of it and it’s too late. I love roller coasters. But there’s a dread in my head and my gut tells me this one crashes and burns quickly. Maybe I’m tamping down my own expectations so I’m not too fried when it ends. But most of me feels like it’s already over.

My biggest gripe with Jerry Wayne’s ownership / general managership of the Cowboys is how, over the past 27-years, he has systemically lowered the bar for this once proud franchise and its fans. He’s touting Ezekiel Elliott now for the hallowed Ring of Honor. Shouldn’t a guy win at least one divisional playoff game in his career before he’s enshrined with the likes of Lilly, Staubach, Dorsett, and Emmitt?

The red zone issues are going to be the downfall of this current Cowboys team. He calls it the Texas Coast offense because he wants to control the ball with runs and short passes, but McCarthy’s roster isn’t built for it. I know you can’t pay Elliott the money he was making just to specialize as a short yardage back, but Dallas does not have the guy to muscle into the end zone from down close. Plus, the Cowboys receivers are all quick and fast, but they’re thin as rails and not designed to post up for contested balls in the paint. Dallas’ best option inside the 20 is running it with Dak, but that will get him injured. So, until one of those new-ish tight ends steps up, it looks like a record-breaking year for the Cowboys kicker, but no playoffs.

I’m not feeling great about Steven Tyler’s situation. Aerosmith has canceled all their concerts for the remainder of the year, including the November 7 gig at AAC in Dallas for which we are holding seven tickets, due to the lead singer’s fractured larynx. A fractured larynx?!? Does a 75-year-old man even come back from that? If he fractured it by singing those high notes at the end of “Walk This Way” (I’m only guessing; it could have been any of those high screeching notes in any of their songs), how does it not happen again the very next time he tries? I’m worried that my promise to take our two younger daughters to see Aerosmith before Tyler dies is not going to happen. I’m also worried about the process for getting my money back when they inevitably call it quits.

Our move from the gym back into our newly remodeled worship center at GCR Church this past Sunday was a tremendous success. All 485 of us walked from the Family Center, through the breezeway, into the Gathering Space, and down to the worship center as several of our brothers and sisters read aloud from the Psalms of Ascent. As we approached the south rotunda, we could hear the sounds of the Christians singing songs of praise from the inside. Jim and Brenda and a few others welcomed us with bright smiles and enthusiastic eyes. I was surprised by the emotion I felt at that moment, just feet away from the new room, surrounded by people I’ve barely known for two years. During the walk over, I was personally distracted by the many details of my job that were swirling in my head — how many songs has Cory sung, how much time do I have, I need to change out my mic pack for the different room, where are Carrie-Anne and Whitney? And then I heard the singing, I saw the faces of my co-ministers, and I choked up. Our church unity was on full display. The accomplishment was right in front of us. The grace of our God was so evident. Our Lord was very good to us during the nine months we worshiped in the gym. He is good to us today. And he is blessing us together in the future. Praise him.

Peace,

Allan

Gut Punch

Over the years, I have watched a lot of bad Rangers baseball at three different Arlington parks. I’ve seen it all. I’ve experienced some awful stuff. But nothing like what Whitney and I endured against the Astros Monday and Tuesday. The soul-crushing sweep was overwhelming. Houston was up 9-0 Tuesday before the Rangers could get through their order one time. Including last night’s 12-3 drubbing in which the pitching matchup for the ages was relegated to overrated status by Yordan Alvarez in the first inning, Houston hit 16 homers and scored 39 runs in the three games.

The worst part of being there in the stadium is that by the final couple of innings, there are 20,000 Astros fans in the building and 43 Rangers fans. It’s terrible. At the very least, Whitney and I can say we were there in person when the super fun, out-of-nowhere, exciting 2023 season came to an end. It’s over. You can see it. You can feel it. Body language on and off the field. The pressure. The frustration. The deer in the headlights look. This team is cooked. And so is the season.

Texas has lost 15 of their last 19 games to fall from first to third in the AL West and currently out of the playoff picture altogether. Adolis Garcia injured his knee last night leaping unsuccessfully for another Houston homer. Mad Max only lasted three innings last night, giving up seven runs. Nathan Eovaldi is very much a question mark and there are no guarantees Josh Jung will return any time soon. And that bullpen is unsalvagable. I think it’s over.

Otherwise, it was a great getaway for the Whitster and me. After Monday’s game, we ate dinner with our dear friends Chris and Liz Moore at Pappasito’s. On Tuesday we spent some time with Carley and Collin at their new house and ate lunch together at Underdog’s on the new Flower Mound river walk. And before Tuesday’s game, we hooked up with good ol’ Jim Gardner for some excellent brisket tacos at Texas Live! These are some of our best friends and most influential people in our lives. And it was a joy to hang out together again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The baseball part of the trip didn’t go so well. It was historic in its gore.

The Rangers do play eleven of their final 20 games against the teams directly ahead of them in the wildcard standings. So, yes, they are playing meaningful baseball in September which, back in April, we would have taken in a heartbeat. Three games back in the division and half a game back in the wild card race? In September? Absolutely! Now, because of the team’s unforeseen success, the expectations have changed. This is disappointing. A gut punch. On paper, it’s still very much within their grasp. But I think they’ve run out of steam. I think it’s over.

Peace,

Allan

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