Astros Playoffs!

Here’s the deal: the Astros don’t make it to the playoffs often. That’s a crazy understatement, but hang with me! So when they do, it’s a BIG deal.

We kept up the stadium food, with chicken in a waffle cone with mashed potatoes. It’s a real thing at Minute Maid Park!

And had nasty nachos again. On “stadium plates.” With a tomato, cause I’m only SO fun…(they like to eat them like apples instead of cut up. It’s weird.)

The Astros introduced these crazy uniforms in 1975, which is “arguably, the most radical uniform redesign in major league history.”

They came to be known as “tequila sunrise” after the famous cocktail:

So when we make anything Astros, it’s tequila sunrise, aka, just mix red, yellow and orange together and Brian’s thrilled!

(Which has me wondering why we don’t make these?? Hmm. It’s on my to do list as of just now!)

These were cake batter truffles.

Brian decided to make Astros bread. (No, he doesn’t cook. Or bake. Well, he makes what the kids say is the BEST EVER mac and cheese. From the blue box…)

I had to fight to not take over and micromanage. Apparently I’m a control freak.

He did it!!

He was VERY proud! It turned out great!

  

He then spent the next 30 minutes telling me how hard it was to make things homemade! 🙂

Astros in the Playoffs!!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!

We bleed orange around here, so while the Astros are in the Playoffs, it becomes a holiday!

We did stadium food on days they played in the first round. But of course, food at the stadium costs money. Insert Brian’s job: make money!!

Astros money

Everything we sold always cost $100, but isn’t that about right for stadium prices? 🙂 Just teaching the kids real world lessons!

I made pretzel hot dog buns. They were delish, but I hate when I do that to myself cause now I set the bar too high…on stinking HOT DOG night, aka “Mom’s not cooking night!” Ugh!

We also did nachos…with JUST those round chips and that gross non-cheese that everyone in my house loves. Ew. They thought it was the greatest ever.

And orange popcorn in Astros cup hats:

They didn’t love it. Said it was too sugary. WHAT???

And then tequila sunrise cookies (instead of the annual candy corn ones these are supposed to be!)

‘Stros are moving on, so it’s back to the drawing board for more Astros ideas!

Summer Vacation: Indianapolis and Detroit

We stick our heads in any funny pics we see!

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And yes, Berkley is in her pajamas. And yes, they are fleece footies. And yes, it’s July. She would live in them all day everyday year round if I let her.

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Also, we ride statues.

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We spent an afternoon in Indianapolis just passing though. I can’t remember why the kids were upset at Brian for some silly reason, but they were all walking with me and I was pumped!

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Yelp has been our friend on this trip. We found a crepe place for lunch!

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Also found a unique ice cream shop

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They freeze your ice cream in front of you!

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Then we saw a sign on the highway advertising the world’s largest rocking chair. We are so in for this!

It didn’t disappoint:

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Buuuut then we realized this was a whole TOWN of “World’s Largest”

Wooden Shoes:

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Wind chime:

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Top:

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Mailbox (with working flag!)

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Gavel:

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Pencil:

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Bird cage:

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Not world’s largest, but still cool! It’s made from an old gas tank

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Also a night in Detroit cause the ASTROS were there!

Vacation 2017 - Caught a Carlos Beltran foul ball

Vacation 2017 - Detroit

We actually blended in here cause the Tigers are the same colors!

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Summer Vacation 2017- Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls wasn’t as impressive as we thought it was gonna be:

Vacation 2017 - Thought falls would be bigger

Kidding, it was awesome!

Niagara Falls

I love these people

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Her stinking head fit in the bars. Made me anxious.

Niagara Falls

His wife is one lucky girl…

Niagara Falls

Berkley is so weird.

Niagara Falls

In this one Boo is licking my arm…why??

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

We watched from the top, then went down and did the boat tour, cause I think it’s a law you have to go on the boat ride at Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls

Brian laughed at me and took my pic. Less for the memory and more to mock my hoodie tied so tight, but good golly it was misty!

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However, it IS true that he looks cooler than me without his on…

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Niagara Falls

I realized recently that Brian spends a lot of time like this: helping all of us climb off stuff!

Niagara Falls Niagara Falls

Annnd I think that’s all the pictures they have in them for the day! To be fair, it was well after dinner time and we ran out of snacks…:)

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Astros vs Yankees…aka Good vs Evil

This is Brian’s happy place.

Texas 2016

We may or may not have moved our entire trip back a week cause the original dates we picked the Astros were on the road and we wouldn’t get to go see them play. No worries, we moved everything so we could catch a game. Unfortunately, they were playing the Yankees when we were in town…which is only a little better than them being on the road!

It’s the 8th inning. Yankees (we’ll call them the Evil Empire) were winning. An Evil’s fan (just shortening it a little more for ease of reading of course!) starts talking trash a few rows in front of us. As you can imagine, he’s not being gracious. Beckham even said “They are even winning, why is he being that way?”

Someone throws a peanut at him.

They miss.

But Evil fan isn’t happy about this (and has also had 8 innings to drink to his heart’s content, which he took full advantage of) and starts talking smack to a poor guy he targeted behind us as the thrower of the peanut that started it all. It escalated quickly. I saw security running towards all this and even thought “We won’t need them, this always dies down before anyone every really fights…”

I was wrong.

Evil fan proceeds to climb over the seats to get at the guy behind us. Sadie Piper is RIGHT in his path. I grabbed her and practically threw her over to Brian who was quickly ushering the other two kids to the aisle and told them to get up the stairs.

They escorted Evil fan out and all was right with the world again.

First thing SP said to Brian (while she was still shaking, poor girl) was, “THAT’s why we don’t like the Yankees, right Dad?”

 Texas Trip 2016

Springers’ vertical is amazing! Here’s Becks giving it his best shot

Texas 2016

Tal’s Hill…it’s last year. Don’t mention this to Brian, it’s a very sore subject.

  Texas Trip 2016

Doesn’t get better than Blue Bell ice cream in an Orbit (mascot) bowl! If we lived in Texas I would have said it was overpriced. Since we live in Kansas, I say it was a bargain no matter the price!

Texas 2016

 Texas Trip 2016

Then a few more days with family!

Texas Trip 2016

Duck (Brian’s dad) always has puppies. He didn’t let us down this time either!

Texas Trip 2016

Tricks Vicki, aka Big Foot, aka Brian’s mom!

Then one more friend stop in Dallas at a waterpark with George and Kasey and their cute boys!! A super fun day!

Texas Trip 2016

Pondering the Astros 2015 Season

So some guy brings a stuffed moose to the games, not a moose head, but the whole moose. It just reminds me that I need to step up my game in life.

I received a text on Tuesday evening before what would be the last game of the 2015 Houston Astros season. It said, “I ended up with an extra ticket to tomorrow nights game. I realize it’s a long shot, but wanted to know if you might be interested in going with me.” Well, let me think about…YES!  I never dreamed I’d get to attend an Astros playoff game, especially a final game in a series game.

My peoples at the game. #Astros #crushcity

Honestly, I hoped to win, but expected to lose. Two nights earlier my Astros melted down late in a game that would have won the series. That event swung momentum away from the Astros.

The environment for the game was electric. Oceans of blue shirts in every direction, a few scattered orange shirts, most of which were actual roaming concession men and women. I think we did all agree that the silver lining on this this evening was that no matter the result, it wouldn’t be the Yankees moving on having already slayed them.

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The seats were amazing. So amazing that Paul Rudd (Clueless, Ant Man) was sitting in front of us. The Astros lost and even so it was one of the best sports experiences I’ve ever had. Thank you Charles for giving me this memory.

The last few years I’ve watched a least a few innings of most Astros games due to MLB.tv. I’ve seen us lose so many games that this year made me uncomfortable. Early on when we were in first place in the West I took a screenshot thinking those days were numbered, but the guys kept that lead most of the year.

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While on vacation this summer we realized the Astros were in Cleveland and we were somewhere near there so we drove to watch a game. That evening Javier Brackamonte the Astros Bullpen catcher tossed balls to Sadie Piper and Berkley, made their day. Sadie Piper later autographed her ball with Spring and Altuve’s names while Berkley personified her’s giving it a name and taking care of it.

In the summer John Vandewater moved here via the Army and upon coming to church I learned he too was an Astros fan. It’s been a long time since I’ve been anywhere near another Astros fan.

The lone bad news with the Astros this year is that Tal’s Hill is slated for removal. I know it’s quirky. I know it’s strange and makes our field seem like a putt putt course, but it’s ours. It’s Houston and to remove it makes me so sad. You know, Keep Minute Maid Weird! Our new owner has given us a great group of players, but it’s been at the cost of no longer playing in the National League and removing the most interesting part of the stadium.

There were some great moments this year. Biggio became the first player to enter the Hall of Fame as an Astros (Nolan Ryan foolishly went in as a Ranger). Also this year Mike Fiers pitched a No Hitter, Altuve had 200 hits, Keuchel put together a string of games that might win him the Cy Young Award. McHugh won 19 games and just about everyone hit at least 10 home runs.

The Players we have are amazing, they performed like pros and celebrated like children.

ClubAstros

George Springer started “Club Astros” after victories. Club Astro eventually had a smoke machine, mirror ball and strobe light. He also instituted karate chops in place of high fives and some weird bowing thing with the outfielders.

Jose Altuve has proven to be the little engine that can hit 200 hits every year. The guy is so consistent and shows that he can play this game at the top level even though he’s the smallest in the league.

evan gattis

Evan Gattis makes me feel like we’re all being had. Like a bear wandered out of the woods and brought a stick with him and we’re like sure, bears can play. They call him El Oso Blanco (The White Bear). He does not use batting gloves, no tape on his bat, huge beard. At some point in the season the team was feeding gummy bears to anyone who hit a homerun (this is why this team so fantastic!), well he hit one and after he ate a white gummy bear they accused him of cannibalism.

Dallas Keuchel has this strangely clean cut mountain man beard. Colby Rasmus looks like he should be in a garage band, Carlos Correa turned 21 during the season and should win the rookie of the year. He said when he got his apartment in town that the realtor showed him that he could see Minute Maid Park out the window so he can wake up in the morning and if the stadium isn’t on fire he knows he has to go to work. He says every morning he looks out his window and when he sees the stadium isn’t on fire, he gets to go play baseball.

So 2015 is over and I got to say after suffering so many losing seasons it was an absolute blast to watch these guys and can’t wait to see watch them play again next Spring.

This little team called the Astros

Some people are fair weather fans. You can call Brian a lot of things, but he’s a legit Astros fan. Here are his hats:

Astros hats

AND he continued to wear them even the three straight seasons the Astros lost over 100 games (which is hard to do guys). He claims each one of these hats is “totally” different than the others…

This was what he requested I make last year for his birthday “cake”

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And we have re-created Tal’s Hill in both of our yards…

Why, yes that is Minute Maid Park, Tal's Hill, a toy train on fence to right and a flag pole on the hill. #astros

We made the #Wiffleball field #Texas style, with a flag pole on the field. #astros #MHK #ManhattanKS

He stuck by the boys and their new plan to use analytics and young guys and hits to win. Here’s a good article from a few years ago explaining the strategy of the Astros. And claiming it will work eventually: “There’s no reason the Astros can’t be competitive next year, at .500 by 2015, and then become legitimate contenders in the AL West in 2016 and beyond.”

So when the Astros made it to the playoffs this year, it was sooner than expected (cause we totally would have taken winning half our games this year as a victory!!). This is how we felt about that:

Astros Playoffs Photoshoot

Astros Playoffs Photoshoot

Most people supported the Astros with us when they played the Yankees (of course!)

Astros Playoffs Photoshoot

But we ran into opposition when the team we played next was the “hometown” Royals. So we were the outsiders, but it’s cool cause we are used to that. Sadie’s class had a “blue out” to support the Royals. She was the one in orange that day! And Becks wore his jersey to school 4 of 5 days last week.

Sadie's class had blue out today to support the Royals. Of course we filed a discrimination case. #astros #CrushCity

Beckham and his sweet teacher had a no talking to each other thing going on, but that didn’t stop him from showing his Astros support on his school work:

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(I’m just impressed with his correct use of the apostrophe!!)

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We picked up the kids from school a little early for the Friday game and had them “earn” their Astros money for a ticket inside and concessions (can’t have them free-loading!). Pick up sticks, get $400 Astros money!

Astros Concessions Cropped

Astros Concessions CroppedHere’s the money Brian made:

Astros Money KeuchelAstros Money AltuveAstros Money SpringerAstros Money Correa

Astros Money Gattis

We sold concessions: drinks, popcorn, candy

Astros Concessions Cropped

Astros Concessions Cropped

The “problem” with fun events is that now it’s expected that they have concessions when we would watch the Astros (they even saved their money to use again)…and our boys went further than I planned, so we had to get creative.

The Astros dug out is young. And immature and really fun and one of the many reasons we love them so! One game they celebrated home runs with gummy bears! So we ran with that and threw gummy bears when we scored!

Astros gummy bears 2015

Astros gummy bears 2015

Astros gummy bears 2015

Berkley eventually got smart and just collected them from the ground while the bigs tried to catch them

Astros gummy bears 2015

Mr. Casteel invited Brian to game 5 in KC so he got to go root on his ‘Stros!! (you can see his rally cap, which didn’t work, shocker, but always worth a try!)

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More importantly, he talked to Paul Rudd!! Him and I go way back: I’ve had a crush on him since Clueless!! (swoon…)

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So we didn’t win, and now we will back the Royals, but we also had the best time rooting on our team! Yay for a really fun season! Now we wait impatiently for them to be back in the Spring!

And I leave you with SP’s drawing of Dallas Keuchel: 

Sadie Piper drew a picture of Dallas #keuchel #astros #cyyoung

Cleveland Rocks. Sorta.

While we were in Chicago Brian realized that the Cleveland Indians were playing the Astros the next day. We aren’t geography buffs, but Google Maps is, and we realized how close we were to Cleveland, so we took a detour and hit up Cleveland!

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Cleveland is no Chicago, it felt more like a city you would love if you had grown up there, but otherwise, not much to report.

In it’s defense, all we did there was go to a baseball game tho! (and props to them for having affordable tickets!)

Lakeside 2015

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When we would go on vacations growing up, my dad became the “yes man.” He put on his vacation head (and wallet) and would spend a little more to make the memory worth it. So Brian and I went with that thinking…and I didn’t tell him how much this bag of cotton candy cost cause only one of us should have to carry that burden of knowing what we paid for that smile right there! 🙂

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This is no Orbit, but we don’t care, they love pics with mascots! 

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Nor do they pass up anything you can get on.

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Being fans of the visiting team is more fun than going to home games I think. Cause the home team has 20,000 people rooting for them. The Astros in Cleveland? Let’s just say there aren’t 20,000….20 maybe? 🙂 (but we were sad we didn’t pack any Astros shirts so we couldn’t show our pride as well)

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But you could stand right next to the bull pens and watch the pitchers warm up, which was really cool. Since we were one of the few camped out at the Astros’ one, one of the managers threw up a ball to Sadie. She proceeded to get it “signed” by Jose Altuve (one of her favs)…but she did it the way Brian got one “signed” by RA Dickey:
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She also scored a George Springer “autograph” too…

Seems legit

Story of our life trying to get a cute picture. If it’s just one kid I need to adjust I can do it…I didn’t have it in me to address all of these issues!

Lakeside 2015

But these boys pulled it off! 
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Did I mention it was bobble head giveaway night? Cause now we have five bobble heads of a random Indian player. Yay…

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My Identifiers

In the Summer of 2013 I found myself in a position where for so long I had been working towards finding funding from a donor for the church plant and when God gave us that, everything went public. The 48 hours afterwards were exciting, but then I felt between two worlds. I was still a youth pastor for Redeemer and I was now laboring as a Church Planter for Manhattan. I was torn between these two mentalities and identities. What was hard to keep in focus was that neither of these identities were my true identity. That as a Child of God.

I am a damned sinner destined for glory because of  my gracious savior. If I can know that in my heart moment by moment then life can be lived well. If not, I’ll waste it.

So as I thought about my primary identifier I also thought about what else identifies me, this is my list of identities I recognize in myself:
Christian: I wasn’t born with this identity, I was reborn with it.  This is my primary and most important identifier. The rest could disappear and so long as I had this one still I’m ok. This is the one that will last through eternity, the one that assures the forgiveness of my sin and my place in the family of God forever. It means most basically that Jesus bought me with his own life. He has given me faith to believe that Jesus is my savior and I am now a follower of Jesus, who is my king.

Man: I have male anatomy and I was made by God to show forth masculine characteristics as God, and not culture, defines them. This provides me a role in marriage, in society, in the church, in relation to women and other men. It’s an identity my culture wants to erase and one which my culture leads me to often feel shame for, but it is a God given identity that goes beyond mere anatomy. It means I must lead in places God has placed me, it means I must protect those who can’t protect themselves and offer care and compassion to those who need it.

Son: I am the son of Henry Harrison Hough from Charleston, Missouri. I am also the son of Vicki Sue Anderson from Toledo, Ohio. My dad is a traveling speaker who uses labradors as a visual illustration for obedience. My mother has been a sixth grade English teacher since I myself was in the sixth grade.

Brother: I have two older brothers who I love deeply. I am often saddened by the distance between us both physically and relationally. I am a brother which ties me to these guys for the rest of our lives no matter how alike or different we are. They are both medical doctors making me the least educated child with my M.Div. Truth is I’m secretly (not so secret anymore) really impressed by them being doctors.

Step Brother: I also have a fantastic step brother named Matt. He’s a gifted musician and uses his gifts to assist the people of God with worship in Houston. He challenged my next identity at first and I resented him for it, but quickly came around to consider him a true brother despite my placing him in a separate identifier.

Youngest: I am the youngest of three boys. I grew up the youngest which gave me the nurturing experience of being the youngest. That means I couldn’t tie my shoe until like 3rd grade, wet the bed way too long, learned about sex before my peers and basically everyone did everything for me most of my life leaving me forever less capable of functioning like an adult. My job as the youngest was very simple: Be funny and tattle on people.

Husband: This is one my favorite identifiers. I am the husband of Laura Elaine Hough, the most amazing girl I’ve ever met. We aren’t big on public expression of affection for each other cause that sort of thing makes people gag and if I’m honest when people gush about their spouse on Facebook I question how real the words are. Now to break my own rule, I love Laura soooo much, I love being her husband because she is everything I dreamed a wife could be and I really mean that. As a husband I am called to care for my wife, to lead her and nourish her, to protect her and provide for her. She makes all my husband responsibilities an absolute joy to fulfill. One of the best bits of advice I can give is marry well. Marry a sibling in Christ (the “in Christ” distinction is important unless you’re in Arkansas) and walk through life together.

Father: We have three children. Beckham, Sadie Piper and Berkley Boo. Being a father is hard. It means playing games that just aren’t fun (and some which are), it means disciplining and nurturing when already tired. It means discipleship of a child whose ability to think and interact is changing nearly every day. Being a father is fulfilling though, I love to talk with them and care for them and laugh at them; and hugs from a child are pretty much the greatest thing ever. I remember the joy of being a father when I come home and the crazies run to me with huge hugs.

Hough – Family name means something. With it come positives and negatives, it’s a shared identity that, people assume I’m like others who also are identified as Houghs. My own life also serves to redefine the name going forward. I like the name, I liked in sports being called exclusively Hough, even most of the girls I knew used to call me just Hough. It connected me to Charlie Hough which gave me a love for the Knuckleball and it now connects us to Julianne Hough and Derek Hough who are dancers and actors.

Ex Youth Pastor: This identifier is often one of a cheesy guy with too much caffeine. It doesn’t garner much respect from anyone and seen by some as the bane of the church today. I however found it was a fantastic role to serve the Kingdom of God. Though it Laura and I have made so many great relationships with students and families and seen them grow and mature. There is such joy in this that though I’ve never loved the title and prefer the role we serve in today I do miss the opportunity to have this role in the lives of students and families at Redeemer. As time has gone by I’ve also found this to be one of the more heartbreaking identifiers as we see students we care about grow up and struggle.

Teacher: I only half own up to this title. On our second day in Kansas I was given two different classes to teach, that year it was 7th and 8th grade Bible. I taught every year since then. My last year I only taught four days a week, two 75 minute classes, two 50 minute classes. Teaching is both miserable and fantastic. Trying to teach students who don’t care at all because of apathy or only care about their grade is depressing. But seeing some of those same students come alive and care or teaching those who wish to learn is an absolute rush. It’s been one of the more time consuming parts of my life for seven years, but I was glad to have the experience and I think it put my seminary training to good use.

Astros Fan: This is one of the dumber identifiers. I am a fan of the Houston Astros. In fact my earliest memories include cheering for the bright rainbow version of the Astros. It is a memory of mine connected to my grandfather who like the Astros as well. Currently being an astros fan is a bit embarrassing with how bad they are, but they are my team and I love to root for them. They have a number of Christians on the team which make me all the more excited to see these guys mature as players and people.

Soccer Fan: This used to put me in a tiny little sub group of people, but each year the number of soccer fans seems to grow. I follow and support the Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City, Manchester United and still have a soft spot for FC Dallas. I miss playing the game.

Bicyclist: I grew up riding bikes, but I’m really in the seventh year since rediscovering the joy of bicycling. I like to ride for adventure, not sport which is why I call myself a bicyclist and not a cyclist. I also refer to my Bicycle as a Country Cross Bike and it has a name. You will never find spandex on me, that’s my way of showing love for neighbor. I love bicycling and find it to be like therapy to just get out and ride.

Counting Crows Fan: This one honestly doesn’t seem to fit me. I don’t really like rock music, but I can sing along to nearly every song the Counting Crows have ever performed. I discovered them in High School and then rediscovered them in college and have been obsessed ever since.

Obsessive: I tend to get obsessive about subjects or products or teams or food and then learn everything there is to learn about them before moving on to something else. I wish this wasn’t how I functioned, but it is. I used to think everyone functioned this way until Tony Felich helped me understand I’m messed up.

Texan: This is my nationality. Some claim their Irish or Italian or Russian ancestry, ours is Texan. I’m not sure my children realize it isn’t really a nation. Seriously.  To be fair, it was a country from 1836 to 1845 and it has functioned like a country to this day with it’s own electric grid and general autonomy so I feel quite justified in this. I am one of those people who loves America, but really I am a Texan first and foremost. However, we love being missionaries to the United States and have no intentions of every returning to the homeland.

Weird: I think most people are weird and like the title of being such. So the question isn’t so much are you weird, but how are you weird? You learn this from what people comment about you. Wearing soccer socks on Sundays under my nice pants I’ve been told is weird. Putting half and half with sweetener in my tea is apparently not a normal practice. Wandering around town at times in a Monk Robe is apparently not normal. Also the joy I get from awkward situations I’ve been told is a little strange. So that’s that.

Church Planter: This is a new identifier, like youth pastor it has a bunch of cheesy associations with it that I’ll try to avoid. Like I won’t call you “buddy” or tell you how we need to “just love on people” or  explain how we need to “live incarnational lives” because let’s be honest, unless you start as God you can’t come down as a man.  I do like the title though, the work it points to is one of amazing purpose and value for the town of Manhattan and the kingdom of God. I love it because it puts us in a place of utter dependence on God to provide in every way. It’s scary and I often feel unskilled for this role and ill equipped for this role, but it is an identification I’m excited to continue to grow into.

Pastor: This is the day to day function of a church planter. It’s administration, and serving, it’s praying for the congregation and those we hope God will work salvation in. It’s making bulletins and preparing sermons. It’s lonely at times, it comes with a weight that I never understood as an assistant pastor, although I used to think I understood. It’s constant second guessing, it’s depressing when people under our care struggle. It’s sweet fellowship with those who minister along side us.

I love to know other people’s identifiers, if you have put them down in writing let me know, I’d love to read them.

Houston Astros Birthday Cookies

 

For my birthday every year Laura makes something desserty with the theme of a sports team or something I’m interested in. In the past it’s been FC Dallas Cookies or Astros Cake  even WCA cookies. This year she made a Hall of Fame worthy collection of historical and current Houston Astros jerseys. Even has most of the current roster in numbers.

She so outdid herself this year, I have no idea what she is going to do next year.

Laura made the best #Astros cookies ever for my birthday. #mlb #cookies @astrosbaseball

This is the team that started on the night before my birthday. Including new rookie George Springer in right field.

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Dexter Fowler in a throwback jersey

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From 1962-1964 the Astros were named the Colt .45s after the gun.

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Cookie Springer

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Rainbow Jersey from the 1980s

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1965 Astros Jersey with shooting star on the front.

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Chris Carter in current orange jersey

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This is the rainbow side current Sunday jersey, my favorite.

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More #Astros cookies. I love them

This was their logo in my childhood.

Dallas Keuchel in throwback Colt’s jersey