Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Mother's Legacy

Whew. We just did a whirl-wind tour of Dallas. 900 miles in 30 hours! I mentioned in my last post about some of my inner formation that were shaped by my father. This wouldn't be complete without mentioning my mom, Linda. She raised the three of us pretty much by herself, and there's a lot of me that I owe to her, too. There's no way to "capture" Linda Bishop with words. She's a woman that you just need to meet.
My mom is the 6th of 7 kids. A native of Ohio, she has retained much of her "Yankee-ness." I know that our family up north thinks we talk like Texans, you can tell my mom is a transplant. From her fake whistle (she yells, "Fwee-oh-Fweet.") to making creole burgers, much of her life growing up made it into our lives.
Her life has been pretty amazing. She's been a physicians assistant, a dance instructor, a collections specialist, a baseball/softball coach, our PTA room mother, Santa Clause, and a myriad of other things. With my dad's absence during my childhood, mom often played both roles, and did so remarkably well; like one of those successful movie moms in the after school specials. I remember once, when my dad had quit coaching my little-league baseball team, The Cubs, mom took over. During batting practice, we beat her shins black-and-blue! She would play Santa Clause for our school classes, and we never knew it was her. An amazing woman.
She is a lady with a huge heart. When we were growing up, she would not let us have a dog. We thought it was because she hated dogs. It turns out, it's because she has a huge heart. She didn't want to have to deal with a dog dying, or explaining it to us, or the other myriad things that could happen with a dog. Her love of people and her heart would cost her lunch most days. As she went to work in Dallas each morning, she would hand her lunch to the homeless guy at the corner by her work. She didn't have money to give him, but what she had, she gave. She's always been a giver. I learned to think of others because of her.
When my dad left in 1984, she went back to work trying to make ends meet for us. A single woman working a minimum wage job to pay for our large house, swimming pool, and refinanced vehicles, my mom never gave up or gave in. She is tenacious. To this day, she's tenacious. And, as with anyone, that's good and bad. Thinking about what she instilled in me, this tenacity always comes to mind. She modeled for me what it means to take charge and get after it. Many of you who know me and her will recognize this. It's something I love about watching her live life. No excuses, no whining, just get the job done. But, it's also something that keeps us from asking for help, admitting when we're wrong, or graciously losing an argument! And all of you who know me will recognize that!
Something else she taught me was to give my all, and when that runs out, give some more. My mom was the neighborhood "flop house" mom when I was a teenager. There were numbers of kids who lived with us as alternatives to running away. I could name at least ten people who lived with my mom at some point because they had nowhere else to go. Even though we didn't have enough food, or the A/C wasn't working, or whatever the crisis was at the Bishop home, there was always room for more people! I learned that it's important to take care of one another inspite of a lack of resources. The flip side is that I've been burned a couple of times by people close to me who knew I would bail them out. It leads to cynicism and a little bit of jading, but we keep giving.
My mom introduced me to Monty Python. Some of you may be asking, "Who's he?" "He" is one of the greatest comedy troops to ever perform. As a little boy, I would watch "The Holy Grail" with her, and listen to her lament the fact that she always fell asleep just after the french taunting when they catapult the cow over the wall. She is a woman of great humor and quick wit. I owe that to her, too. And, as you can imagine, that has gotten both of us into trouble a time or two.
I never have wondered if mom was proud of me. I've always known that she is, regardless of what I'm doing. I remember calling her from camp one year while I was in college. I was a yell-leader and was learning to do gymnastics. I called her the night that I did my first tumbling run; a round-off, back handspring, full back. I was jazzed. When I told her what I was doing, and what I was learning, I asked her if she was surprised. He response was, "No, you've always been able to do whatever you set your mind to. The only thing that ever surprised me was you becoming a minister."
She drove to my college graduation. She drove to my grad-school graduation. She acted handicapped at my high school orientation. She has a love of life, a great sense of humor, and a huge heart. Ultimately, whenever I've needed her, she's always there. She doesn't have much, and there are others in her life that need her greatly, but if I ever have need, I know she's there. Mom, if you're reading this: Thanks. For all you do, and all you've instilled in me, thank you. I couldn't be the man I am today without you. You've always been there for me. I love you.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Father's Legacy

The holidays always seem to bring moments of reflection for me. Forgive me if this seems a little narcissistic, and really long...
I'm sitting at Aroma's, and one of my friends (Cal) is talking about birthdays. He was talking about his birthday, and that he was born in 1937. It spun me off into another train of thought...My dad was born in 1932. I think about my dad often, but usually around his birthday, and around holidays. My dad, Jack Bishop, was an Old Spice wearing truck driver. He was what's called an OTR driver. "OTR" means Over The Road. He would be gone for long stretches at a time. To this day, when I smell diesel fuel or Old Spice after shave, I am taken back to memories of dad. Just after we moved to Texas, we went through a stretch where he would be gone for months at a time. So, I remember very little of what we did together when I was a little boy. I remember the smells, and that he had a mustache that tickled when he kissed me.
One big thing I remember is going to the drive-in movies in our van to watch Godzilla movie marathons. My mom, little sister and little brother would be asleep in the back of our conversion van while dad and I watched Godzilla destroy Tokyo in some movies and return to save it in others. I would cry at the end of each movie that Godzilla died in. To this day, if there's a Godzilla movie on, I've already seen it numerous times, but watch just the same.
I also remember when my mom had back surgery, and I was very young, watching the original Dracula movie (Nosferatu) and being terrified! Mom was at the hospital, and I had talked to her earlier on the phone (yes, we had phones back then. They were just rotary). But that night, after dark, when dad and I were sitting in the downstairs den, I had to call her again because I was freaking out! I've always been a fan of Dracula movies, shaped no doubt by my parent's love of that genre.
I remember watching Dallas Cowboy's games even though we lived in Ohio. I was born in Cincinnati, and should be a Bengal’s fan, but the Cowboys are my team. My love for sports started early. I started playing baseball and football when I was 7. Dad would agree to help coach my teams. He always made sure I had the latest and best equipment. At age 10, I had a Max-pro enameled helmet with our team logo encased just like the pros of that time had. Even though I was the one of the smallest kids on the team, dad taught me to be aggressive, and never give up. He seemed so proud of me as I excelled at every sport I played. And, there were days where I didn't excel, and caught all kinds of flack from him. My greatest embarrassment came when I let a ball go through my legs at second base. He chewed me out and pulled me from the game. At age 10, I led our Pop-Warner league in tackles (again, being one of the smallest kids). I had 254 tackles that season. The closest kid had 100 and something. Dad was really proud. I got stars to sew on my jersey for the tackles. When I was 11, I went out for an elite football team in inner-city Dallas, The Oak Cliff Mustangs. You had to make the team. It wasn't an "everyone plays" kinda team. I made the team (I was one of two white kids on the team). He was proud. And even though is was a little boy, I began to realize that dad loved me when I did good, and didn’t necessarily love me when I didn’t do good. He was that kinda guy. I heard him say over and over, “Play to win, or don’t play at all.” To me, this became a life motto that quickly became a win at all costs philosophy. To this day, I cringe thinking about that exchange during my baseball game.
Well, on the family front, dad wasn't the greatest of role models. My mom was his third wife. He had 8 kids, of which I was number 6. I was the first of my mom's kids, and grew up with a little brother and little sister. I met one of the older kids once, and don't even know the names of 2 of the older ones. When I was 13 years old, my mom and dad divorced, and I never saw him again. That was the trigger event for a long and sorry road I chose to walk down as a teenager.
Dad died when I was 19. I never got to say goodbye, and never got to share with him that Christ had changed me and could change him, too. I carry that with me, and will regret not making a greater effort to find him and share Christ with him.
When I was 24 years old, while sitting at a desk in Dr. Dickens’s Christian Ministries class in grad school, I realized that much of what I loved (movies, sports, coffee, etc) came from something other than shared experiences with my dad. As a little boy, I began to realize that I had my father’s attention and approval when I performed well, and that I had his wrath and ire when I didn’t. Certain events became things I loved because I garnered my father’s attention and approval, as any boy would. Certain events became things I hated because I could never perform well enough to be loved and accepted by him. The perplexing thing is that I still find myself asking if dad would be proud. My “win at all costs” mentality about sports and life wasn’t because I’m just that intense. It was because, even after his death, I was still seeking his approval. Not only was I still seeking dad’s approval, but I found myself transferring that same concept of life to God: that I could have God’s attention and approval if I was a winner. But that’s not the case at all. Without God, I could never be a winner. With God, I am a winner. Period. I may have failures in my walk, but God does not base His approval or acceptance of me on my performance. He bases it upon the Son whose blood I’ve been covered by. When God looks at me, He sees His Son, Jesus, in whom I dwell. There is a freedom that comes in that realization. Now, I can play to play, play to enjoy, and play to my heavenly Father’s enjoyment. I can also allow my son to play, give his best, and simply enjoy whatever he sets his hand to.
Why this, and why now? Well, holidays are often times of reflection, and I wanted to simply ask you to reflect on a couple things:
What have you transferred to God from your past that isn’t really Him?
How have you been striving for approval, from either God or man, that is striving in vain?
How do you portray God’s acceptance to others, especially your children? What legacy are you leaving for the world and for your family?
I hope that the greatest miracle of all this Christmas is that you will have a God encounter with the Christ child who came to set you free, to show you God’s love, and to empower you to share it with others.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My friend, Roy, turned me on to an internet service called bloglines. It is a web site that receives rss feeds from blog and news sites. What does that mean? it means that you can use this web site to keep up with who has updated their blogs without having to subscribe to them. For those of you on xanga, that/s no big deal. But for the rest of us, it allows you to open one web site and see who has recently updated without having to surf every blog you follow. I've been using it for about 5 days now, and love it. You can find out more at . Be sure to include the "s." There is a different service called

The Holiday Open House

Here's an update on the Holiday Open House:
Last night we hosted a neighborhood open house. Last week my son and I went door to door and invited folks from our neighborhood to come to a party at our place. Maybe its a lack of faith, or just pragmatic world view, but I expected no one would show up. And, as of 5:25 last night, Caryn and I had decided we had a lot of food to eat... That's when it happened. A rap at the door. It was Jerry, a neighbor from down the street. We greated him, and invited him in. As we got to know him, another knock at the door. It was Tory and Lee, a young couple with a new born daughter from the east end of the block. Next to arrive were Nathan and Elaine. Nathan is the worship leader for The Journey, and Elaine is a teacher. Then, Scott & Amanda and their three kiddos made it by. They are friends from The Heights. And last to arrive were the Jumpers. Ralph and Mary Lou. And we had a great time! It was well worth it. I know many of you were praying for us last night, and I want to thank you. Even though we handed out about 100 invites, I am still pleased with the turn out. Out of last night's festivities, every couple asked about The Journey, and plans are rolling for a late spring Block Party. It was a very pleasant evening getting to know our neighbors.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Manger - Peace on Earth

Our shopping is done. Decorations are up. Wal-Mart is insane! I'm blessed to have a wife that finished our Christmas shopping well before the mad rush. She also had a great idea this year for our decorations: we have a life-sized manger as the center piece of our decorations. It holds the place of prominence in our family room. She and I had talked about positive ways to reinforce for our kids the real message of Christmas, and this was the central piece. We felt it imperative to help our children really grasp Christmas. Our daughter, Cayla, just turned 4, and Jeremiah is 5. They are bombarded with commercials this time of year telling them that there are a lot of things out there that they should want for Christmas. So, if they don't get the right message at home, they won't get the right message at all. Oh, sure, they may hear people talk about giving, or peace on earth and good will towards men. They usually ask about the Salvation Army ringers outside the shops. But Christmas is more than just peace between men, and hearts focused on each other. Christmas is about God making peace between Himself and humanity, and the showing of His good will towards us. That is the greatest of the Christmas messages. And the manger offers us a great opportunity to help them understand that.
We're doing several things this season to help our kids understand that Christmas is about God, and His intervention into humanity's timeline. Today we delivered presents to children whose parents are in prison. I decked out in my biker leathers, and rode with about 30 other bikers and Santa as we went around Lubbock delivering presents to boys and girls. Jeremiah and Cayla were able to actually hand out some of the presents and tell other boys and girls, "Merry Christmas." I was proud to see them wanting to give out the presents. And, at every home, Santa told the story of the candy cane, and talked about Christ's provision for man kind on the cross.
Earlier this week, we went door-to-door to invite our neighborhood to come to a party at our house on Monday. As we did that, Jeremiah and I met Mrs. Greer, a widow that lives three houses down from us. She lost her husband of 50+ years back in May, and this is her first Christmas alone. Jeremiah and I decided to adopt Mrs. Greer into the Bishop family.
Each night this week, we will discuss different people who were there at Jesus' birth, using our miniature manger scene, allowing the kids to tell us what they know about the characters.
And, there's the life-sized manger. It's made of rough wood, using thick rope to hold it together. It's filled with raffia (real hay would kill my allergy-ridden family!). Baby Jesus rests peacefully in the manger, along with a cross that reminds us that He came to die. Under the manger, presents wrapped in gold seem to be offered to the baby. However, on closer examination of the presents, each is labeled with something that Jesus brought to us on that first Christmas. Eternal life, forgiveness, grace, mercy, joy, peace, and love are just a few of the gifts of the God-child. And, this year, as the Bishop family unwraps their gifts from under the tree on Christmas Eve, we will also unwrap the presents of the manger, focusing on the gifts we've received from Christ and talking about their significance to us. Let me encourage you to make the baby of the manger the center of your Christmas. No matter what age you are, it serves as a great reminder to everyone that Peace on earth and good will were realized through the Christ child.
How about you? What did Christ bring you through His birth, death, and resurrection?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Is He Worth It?

As I was reading Parke's blog this morning, I got to thinking about the circumstances surrounding John the Baptizer in Matthew 11. I really want to pour out some thinking here because of the place in life some of The Journey's partners find themselves in. There's not nearly enough room or time to do this adequately, so forgive me if I make a couple of leaps. I hope you'll leap with me.
In this text, we find out that John's been inprisoned. From prison, he hears that his cousin, Jesus, and Jesus's disciples have been working miracles. John sends his disciples to Jesus with a question that exposes a condition we all have, a very human condition. He sends his disciples to ask Jesus if He really is the one who was to come. Now, I know it's not in the text, but I can see this progression of events in my head. John has heard about the miracles. He's spent his adult life (at least) announcing the coming of Jesus. But now he's in prison probably facing death. And so, in spite of everything he has seen, and what he is hearing, doubt comes. Even John the Baptizer could doubt. His question strikes me as a need for affirmation; "Has it all been worth it?" John's circumstances have overwhelmed him, and in a human moment, he needs a word from Jesus. And, as always, Jesus proves that it is indeed worth it. Jesus tells John's disciples, "Report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." (NIV) Verse six is puzzling. Is John falling away? Is it because of Jesus? My opinion: the greek word that the NIV translates as "fall away" is the word skandelizo. The word really means to offend or shock. We get our english word "scandalize" from this word. It is in a passive voice here, meaning that someone is being offended or scandalized or shocked by someone else. In this passage, it could read, "Blessed is the man who is not offended/scandalized on account of me." Jesus response speaks to the heart of John's question. John's disillusionment clouds his memory. His circumstances begin to block-out what he has believed all his life: that Jesus is the Messiah. And at the heart of his question is a cry of "Am I going to be shocked/offended because I gave my life to this cause and it turns out you're not who you say you are?" MAN! Have you ever been there? Life blind-sides you, and suddenly you begin to wonder if Christ is worth it. Is Christ worth your life? Is He worth the hurt? Is He worth the tears? Is He worth the sacrifice? If He is, where is He in all this? That's the scandal facing all humanity, isn't it? The shocking, scandalous, offensive message of Christ is that there is something greater than ourselves, even when we don't feel like there is. Even when we feel that our circumstances are unfair, unjust suffering, there is a King who is worth it. I can imagine Jesus saying back to John, "Remember what you've heard. Hear the testimony of what others are seeing and know that I AM, and it's been worth it." The call to suffering is offensive. It is shocking. It doesn't make sense. Shouldn't the righteous flourish? Shouldn't the faithful be rewarded and esteemed? When I read this passage I am reminded that those who lose their life for the cause of Christ will find it. The world says that's a crock. Jesus simply points to the cross. What more scandalous event has there ever been? When you're in that dark night of the soul when the doubts come, look to the cross. Remember what you've seen. Remember what you've heard. In spite of the circumstances, Christ is worth it all.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Once Again Unto The Breach

There's been a great major development in my life that I want to share with ya'll! I just became the part-time Youth and Small Group Pastor at The Heights Fellowship here in Lubbock. I'm excited to be once again charging to the summit of the mountain in Student Ministry. No matter what else I'm doing or called to, I have a passion for students. Young people are the greatest ministry field in my opinion. There is such a great opportunity to shape them, and to make a difference while their lives are still more potential than actual. Not only can I help build a student ministry from the ground up, but the Small Group stuff will really sharpen my skills for The Journey. Being a ministry structured around small group ministry, The Journey will benefit from my involvement at The Heights. And, one of my closest and oldest friends, Mike Martindale, is the Pastor there. With him, me, and my friend Matt Wideman (the worship guy), it'll be amazing if we stay out of jail! The Heights comes along at a great time for me, too. Most church planters are bi-vocational. My dilemma has been that my skill set has been shaped by 17 years of student ministry and a Bachelor's and Master's degree in ministry. While all invaluable to me, they don't qualify me to flip burgers at McDonald's, let alone find a job that can support my family! Being bi-vocational in serving two churches makes great sense! The Heights provides me the means to do The Journey without fretting about finances, and The Heights gets a 17 year student ministry veteran to build their student ministry. A symbiotic relationship has been formed. And I'm really jazzed!
My only concern with doing this was to have enough time for my family and for The Journey. Most of you know me well enough to know that if I have free time during the day I feel like I've squandered my time (unless I spent it playing X-box, then it is time well spent! Hahaha!). I've been looking at the 168 hours I have each week, and here's the results: The Journey takes up about 45 hours of my week in conversations, reading, planning, prayer and dreaming. I'm sure that it takes a little more than that, but that's a fair estimate. I sleep about 6 hours a night, or 42 hours a week. So far, we're up to 87 hours out of 168, leaving 81 hours still out there. My ministry at The Heights will require 30 - 35 hours a week. With all of this going on, that still gives me 46 hours every week (or roughly 6.5 hours every day) for my family. Have you ever really looked at how you spend your time? I was amazed that I could do a full-time and an almost full-time job, and still have ample time for my family! And, on top of that, with some of the overlap, I will be able to utilize some of that time for dual purposes. For instance, The Journey will have an opportunity to be a part of the Angel Tree Toy delivery next Saturday, December 17th. It'll be a great time of ministry, but also a time to spend with my children doing meaningful family ministry as we deliver toys to children in need.
I guess the catch here is to be frugal and intentional with my time. I want to encourage you to check out how you spend your time. Write it down, check it out, and see if you like what you find. Maybe you will discover that you have more time than you realize, and that you can enjoy life and still maximize your time. Or, maybe you'll realize that you have a lot of time requirements, and you use your time well. Either way, I encourage you to check it out and let me know what you find!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cloning Culture - Killing Life

I was just reading my friend, Elaine's blog, and it directed me to an article at from Relevant Magazine that piqued my interest. You may enjoy the read. But it brought to mind a conversation that I've had a couple times in the last week. The article is titled "Mimicking The Mainstream." What is it about our culture that the modern church feels it has to mimic? I know that most Christ-followers talk a great game about the evils of the world, "ungodly music," and other hot topics, but we still feel compelled to a copy-cat mentality. And I wrestled with this all the time in Student Ministry. My Youth Minister always said, "You can never out party the world. They have more disposable resources committed to entertainment than the church. Don't try." And that shaped much of my philosophy of Student Ministry, even though it cost me a couple of "jobs." "We need more fun stuff." "We need more fellowships." What we really need is more Christ, and that doesn't require a budget or programming. It requires genuine, Christ-centered, integrity relationships. Sorry, I digress.
Why does the community of faith feel that copying the world will bring people in? Why do we think building a coffee bar will impact the unsaved? I think there are some things we are missing.
The first is that its not the coffee bar that brings the people in. It's missional thinkers who utilize the tool to build relationships that bring people in. Of course, many of you know my thoughts on "bringing them in." We should take Jesus with us out to the culture. A topic for another time. Although sometimes birthed in good intentions, I think that the modern church thinks that the buildings are for Christ-followers to enjoy and remain sheltered from the "bad world out there." And, in an effort to keep the givers happy, the facility becomes a broken tool. It becomes a holy huddle. The church begins to legislate policy that makes it harder for the community to utilize the facilities. And we lose site of the original intent of the facility: to facilitate ministry to the world we copied!
The second factor is much more insidious. How do you copy life and not lose something in the translation? If you've ever seen "Multiplicity," you understand this concept. It's why human cloning hasn't been accomplished yet. With cloning, life seems to take hold, and then dies for no apparent reason. Most of what the church copies gets "sterilized." It loses the organic feel of life. It becomes like processed cheese food in a world of better cheeses. It's becoming more and more amusing to me to watch the church try to copy life out there and bring it in here. I can almost here the discussion: "Lots of people go to concerts. We should have a concert." "You know, coffee bars are very popular. We should have one." "Kids love to hang out on Friday nights. We should have alternatives for them to hang out at on Friday nights." But you can't make life happen. You can't take something that is chaotic, organic, wild and bring it into the controlled environment and make it flourish. It either dies, or it takes over like a transplanted weed. My friend, Barry, mentions this in his most recent post on The Lost Art Of Farming. What a shame that we feel we have to bring life under the roof of the church so it is safe to be involved with, or so that we can control it, or record it's growth.
I think the biggest factor in all of this is that the church seems to lose people to the world. We send people out from our Sunday gatherings unprepared to live life as Christ. They are well prepared to attend something, but ill-prepared to answer questions, interact with Hale-Bop cultists, or give an answer for the faith they have. In an attempt to draw people, we have dumbed-down the faith with entertainment and spoon-feeding. And so they end up being OF the world instead of IN it. We send out babes to the slaughter instead of farmers to the harvest. At best, disciple-making has taken a back seat to fellowship among the believers. At worst, disciple-making has been kicked to the curb for better seats, comfortable facilites, and safety. In the article mentioned above, Tim quotes a theologian named J. Gresham Machen. The quote reads, “Christianity must pervade not merely all nations, but also all human thought… instead of obliterating the distinction between the Kingdom and the world, or on the other hand, withdrawing from the world into a sort of modernized intellectual monasticism, let us go forth joyfully, enthusiastically to make the world subject to God” (Christianity & Liberalism)." The imperative facing the faith community has always been living life among the world in such a way that Christ is lifted up so that He may draw all people to Himself. Only by shifting our focus away from attender-making to disciple-making can we make the transition to effective ministry and worship. I'd like to see churches do one of two things: Either build a facility that is of value to the community so that life comes in and grows there, or divide their resources among the body and send them out to live life on its terms. One such community expression is FRWY cafe. Years in the planning, this missional faith expression is making a difference in their culture. I love what their Pastor says. “When we planted a church, the original idea was to start by building a community and then develop a cafĂ©,” explains Pernell Goodyear, pastor and ethos-shaper. “We wanted to create a place that is neutral ground, public space. We asked what it would take to create a place that is normal, that would reach people in our culture.” They landed on launching a cafe that is also a church rather than a church that sponsors a cafe. Or, what would it be like if a church had a capital funding campaign that redistributed all the money raised to their members to spend building relationships at local venues? Imagine FBC Anytown saying, "This morning we reached our goal of $500,000 in our fund, so we bought all or you a $1,000 Visa gift card to spend building relationships! Go now and make disciples with these resources."
So, what do you think? Tired of cloning culture and killing life? You are the only one who can change it. What will you do?

Monday, December 05, 2005


Well, I'm back. Kind of. The last week has been a whirlwind of working out, indoor soccer, teaching, and speaking at a retreat (which included 12 hours of driving for me, and paintball!). Shout out to my friend John Young, the youth pastor who blessed me by allowing me to be with his kids this weekend. Hang in there, Bro.
Anyway, I've been sitting here staring at the screen thinking about what to write for nearly an hour now, and there's just nothing there. I realized that I've been drained with all that I did this week, and my brain is in recovery mode. It's been one of those days where I can't think of the right words for simple things. It's been one of those days where right in the middle of a coherent train of thought, my eyes look out the window, my brain sees a vehicle go by and says, "Ooo shiny truck. pretty truck." And the coherent thought is lost! So, I'm just letting you know that today is recovery day, and I'll be back in full swing tomorrow. Check back then for something "normal" for my blog. I'll be back in my right mind tomorrow, I promise., look! Pretty bird...pretty bird...