Sunday, September 25, 2011

Texas Rangers Clinch the A.L. West!

Since the Texas Rangers are now playing in the 3rd game of the the American League Championship Series, I suppose I should finally finish post about the game in which they clinched their spot in the playoffs. So, on Friday night, Sept. 23, I met a bunch of my Cypress friends at the ballpark for what would be a great ballgame against the Seattle Mariners. Traffic was a bear, and by the time we got there all the regular parking lots were closed, so we had to park FAR away! As we walked toward the stadium we saw one of the little rickshaws and tagged him down. It was WELL worth the $5 per person for him to drive us up to the stadium, although he may disagree. Three grown women in a cart meant for two made for quite a load - he was dripping sweat by the time we got there. But thanks to him, at least we made it before the 5th inning (it was already the 3rd by the time we arrived at our seats).

(squeezing into the cart)

Since I already said the Rangers are currently playing in the ALCS (I'm actually watching game 3 right now!), you know the results of the game. But what I haven't said is how perfect the night was - the weather was so comfortably cool, we were able to wear jeans. I don't know that I've ever worn jeans to a baseball game, because it's always so hot! But not this night - it was fabulous! And the atmosphere was amazing, full of anticipation. I had lots of fun watching the game, cheering for the home team, and hanging out with friends new and old. And the fact that the Rangers won just makes it that much better.And after the game, the fans were treated to an incredible fireworks show over the stadium. At this point we didn't know whether the Rangers had clinched the West or not - we were one game away until the Oakland/LA game was completed later in that night. But everyone was in the mood to celebrate, and there's no better way to celebrate than with fireworks. (And this definitely made up for my disappointing 4th of July fireworks experience.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'll Fly Away

Last Friday I had an amazing adventure. You see, last year I went to the Plano Balloon Festival, and my friend Dena said I should have told her I was going because her brother was there with his balloon and I might have been able to help crew. Well, this year I remembered that and told Dena I definitely wanted to help crew the balloon. So I took Friday off from work and set out for some fun. I got to Plano at 6:00 a.m. - it was still dark out! - and after the pilots' meeting we headed for the field. I got to help Rocky, Dena, and Shack unload, set up, and inflate Rocky's hot air balloon. It was really cool to be so close to all the balloons going up.And then the adventure really took off, literally! Though it was windy and Rocky had initially said he wasn't going to fly that morning, after the balloon was upright he told me to get in the basket, Dena handed me my camera, and off we went! Oh my, it was fabulous! Our takeoff was really easy, it was hard to tell when we actually left the ground. And it was amazing to look down over Plano, Allen, and Frisco, to see the other balloons being inflated below us and flying all around, to hear the burner as Rocky periodically added more heat to keep us in the air. It was just incredible! And then, it was time to land... And land we did! Rocky pointed out a field in the distance and said he was going to try to set the balloon down there. As we got closer and closer to the ground, the winds picked up speed. Rocky told me to stow my camera and hold on, and then we touched down. Actually, we hit... HARD! We bounced up and Rocky cut the burners because of all the wildfires we've been having in Texas. And Rocky said, "Ooh, I almost lost my britches!" Then we hit again, and the basket tipped on its side and the balloon pulled us across the field. We were sliding on our side, my shoulder was digging into the ground as we slid, and Rocky had landed on top of me when we landed. It seemed like we slid for minutes. When we finally stopped moving, Rocky asked if I was okay and whether I had broken anything. I told him I was fine and said "Do you still have your britches?!" We laughed, and then climbed out of the basket to wait for the chase crew to arrive. You can see our "drag" in the picture below. I stuck around in Plano for the rest of the day and we went back out to the field that night with full intentions of setting up the balloon again for the balloon glow. Unfortunately, a big storm came through and we had to leave. But I went back up on Saturday afternoon to try again. The winds were really bad and so Rocky decided not to set up his balloon, but a lot of the others did, and I thoroughly enjoyed being out there among the balloons, seeing them glow, hearing the burners, and fellowshipping with the pilots and crews.

Flight stats for my first hot air balloon ride:
Pilot - Rocky Bailey
Balloon - "Fly 'N Again"
1 hour 15 minute flight
20+ mile flight (from Plano to Frisco)
1500 feet high
15-17 knot winds upon landing
50 foot drag

After the flight, Rocky read the Balloonist's Prayer, tradition for celebrating a first flight -

"May the winds welcome you with softness.
May the sun bless you with its warm hands.
May you fly so high and so well that
God joins you in laughter.
And sets you gently back
into the loving arms of Mother Earth."

Well, all of it applies except for the part about a gentle landing! I was so grateful to Rocky and his crew for welcoming me and allowing me to join them for the weekend. I had a blast meeting everybody, and I'm already looking forward to my next flight.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Week of Remembering

For me, this week every year is a week of reflection and remembering. This year the reflection was even more profound with the tenth anniversary of September 11th being so highly publicized. It seems everyone was reflecting on where they were ten years ago when the terrorist attacks took place. I was at work at SWBTS. My boss came in shortly after 8:00 and asked if I had heard about the first plane crashing into the tower. I turned on the radio and soon heard of the second plane, so I hurried over to the student center to watch the news footage on the tv. I saw the twin towers fall and the breaking news of the other two plane crashes, one into the Pentagon (in the same vicinity where my dad's office had been a few years back) and one in the Pennsylvania field. I joined my SWBTS classmates and coworkers for prayer in the chapel. My patriotism ran strong, but my faith swelled stronger...

Today is a less-observed remembrance, but important and powerful nonetheless. One friend posted on facebook that today is "A day to remember friends gone too soon, a day to remember lives spared for God's purposes, and a day to count the blessings of friends, the goodness of our Great God, and His faithfulness to those who grieve." Twelve years ago, on Sept. 15, 1999, a gunman entered my church, Wedgwood Baptist, during a youth rally and took the lives of seven young people (injuring seven others), before shooting himself. Like other significant events (such as 9/11 and the Challenger explosion), I clearly remember where I was when I heard about the shooting - the fact that I was called into work at LifeWay that evening kept me from being at Wedgwood that night. In a day before everybody had cell phones, it was a nightmare trying to get in touch with friends to make sure they were alright. I left work as soon as I could and hurried home to watch the news coverage late into the night. When my home church heard about it, they recorded an interview with me to play on Sunday morning - I spoke about Ephesians 6:12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Wedgwood was dealt a staggering blow that September day, but the Lord has worked for good even in the pain and grief. Today we recognize the blessings even as we remember the pain.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Brodie says "Roll Tide"

It's that time again, my most favorite time of the year - it's time for college football! The season started last Saturday with a resounding Bama win in their season opener. Today they're playing Penn State in what could be a difficult out-of-conference game. But I'm confident in my Bama boys. Brodie is too. He will be wearing his Bama bandana for every game this year, since last year Bama won every game that he wore it and lost every game he didn't. But he also now has an adorable little puppy jersey. He looks so cute in it! Right now his hair is so long that it sticks out from the front of the jersey like a man with too much chest hair - it's hilarious! And he's got his "roll tide" and "touchdown" tricks down pat. I can't wait to yell "touchdown!" at a Bama score and see him jump up and hold his front paws in the air. Did I mention that I love college football? ROLL TIDE! :)