My Leg is Famous

Well, not really. Okay, kinda. is one of the blogs I check out daily. Jon, the creator / author / creative genius behind Stuff Christians Like took another guy’s great idea in a whole new churchy-direction. Some time back, Christian Lander debuted his blog, Stuff White People Like. By the beginning of July, his book was available in bookstores nationwide. If I understand the history of SCL (the accepted acronym for Stuff Christians Like), Jon was inspired by the White People website, thus, SCL was born.

A few weeks back, Jon decided to host a Tattoos for Jesus contest. Now, I am not a pro like Los, so I am able to enter. I emailed Jon a picture of the Celtic cross on my leg and sent it in. Of the hundreds of entries, his panel of judges picked what they considered to be the thirteen best.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know that the simple Celtic cross on my leg is that serious a contender. I love it, but I don’t know how it will compete against the dude with an angel on his back, the dollar inside an icthus fish, the Jesus outline around a dove and couple of roses, the guy with alpha AND omega on his forearms, the stained glass angel stomping Satan’s head, or this flaming dove (my personal favorite). 

So, my leg is now featured on Stuff Christians Like. If you want, you can even vote for me by going here and leaving a comment for tattoo #10.

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Last Lecture

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Last Lecture Prof Dies

Randy Pausch died today. A professor from Carnegie Mellon University who was diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago, Pausch became a sensation on the interwebs when video from his “Last Lecture” began making the rounds. Apparently, the idea of a “Last Lecture” has been something of a tradition in the sacred halls of academia. When making such a speech, professors take one last opportunity to say what might have been previously left unsaid. Never has the title been more appropriate than in this case.

I have been challenged by this man and his words. The fact is, all of us will one day die… but some of us never truly begin to live. To quote Thoreau,

“…I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Pausch had the privilege of knowing that the end was near. My father-in-law did as well. (He was diagnosed with cancer and lived eleven months before dying. He was only expected to make it for six.) Some of us will get a diagnosis, but for others, death will come quickly without warning and without asking for our permission.

Because of this, I encourage you… don’t leave anything unsaid. Don’t leave anything undone.

I would write more, but I am going to hug my kids.

P.S. – I have excerpts from the video over there to the right. Check it out if you haven’t already seen it.

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Los Getting His Tat on L.A. Ink

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Why I Have Man Crush on Los

I am not sure when I first stumbled across, but I know when I first became aware of Carlos Whittaker.

Last fall, my bride and I were watching an episode of L.A. Ink on Tivo when this guy got what had to be the most awesome piece of the night. He came in and explained to Hannah that he wanted an arm piece that showed the conversion of Saul. He had some artwork that served as her inspiration, and was she ever inspired by it! He explained part of his story over the course of the segment, and he walked away with what has to about the coolest tat I have ever laid eyes on. (My idea for a big “M” on each buttcheek pails in comparison, even though it would allow me to do naked cartwheels while spelling out “WOW MOM WOW MOM. For the record, I have shared this idea with my mother… she was quite underwhelmed.)

So, fast forward to some point this past spring. I was checking my Google reader, and someone had posted a link that day to How in the world had I missed this blog up until this point? I consider myself somewhat tech savvy, and I have been following blogs for a while even if I have been negligent in posting on my own. How in the world had and Los flown under my radar?

For those of you who don’t know, Los is the nickname of Carlos Whittaker. He was on staff with a church in California for a decade before moving to Atlanta to join Buckhead Church, one of Andy Stanley’s campuses. He is the blogger behind, a little corner of the web with about 5,000 daily readers.

I added the site to my feed and began to check it daily. After he mentioned his bride several times, I added her blog as well. (That has been interesting, because it is always fun to get two sides of the same story.) I eventually started following him on Twitter, and I eventually added him as a friend on Facebook. It is time for me to admit it.

I totally have a man crush on Los.

Now, don’t go freaking out, I am still the same heterotiger I have always been. This isn’t a sexual thing in the least… it’s just a mancrush

You might find yourself asking, “Why?” I offer the following as some of the reasons I have identified.

  • He started out as a teacher. (I can definitely identify with that. I am still in the classroom.)
  • He was on staff at a church that required him to set up chairs in a gym. (Hello? Church at Silver Springs meeting at Fitness South. I was glad when we moved to a theater simply because those seats were already in place!)
  • Previously mentioned way-cool arm piece. (Check out the video over there on the side bar.)
  • His bride has his initials tattooed on her. (I have been trying to convince Miranda to do something similar. Heather did it willingly… Miranda is coming around to the idea!)
  • He is a Mac user. (Have you made the switch?)
  • He has mad video-editing skills. (I’m learning, I’m learning!)
  • He shaves his head. (After seeing a picture of Mike Weaver, I tried to convince Miranda that I could pull it off. “I’m not nearly as big as he is! He shaves his head and wears funky glasses… I could so make that work.” She then informed me, ever-so-lovingly, that the back of my head would look like a pack of Oscar Mayer Weiners. I never did it.)
  • Daytime sex is still on the menu at his house, even with the kids home. (Sigh)
  • He longs for nothing more than to be a part of an authentic body of believers living life together.

That’s the real reason… the last one. That has been my heart’s cry for years now. I have been granted tastes of such community… and they only make me want more. I long for it, I search for it, and I pray to be used as an agent to help create it. 

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Today, I Crave…

  • More time with my bride. (I get some time with her tonight thanks to Gunter and Mary!)
  • More ink. (I am telling you, tattoos are addicting.)
  • Reese miniatures. (Well, not just today… most days!)
  • An A in Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education.
  • A super-phat 24″ iMac. (Coming in August!)
  • An iPhone. (November!)
  • More of God and less of me.
  • A closer friendship with my brother.
  • To be done setting up my classroom.

What about you? What are you craving today? Leave comment love and share it with us all!

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Twitter: Wonderful Tool or Just Another Distractor?

I honestly don’t know when I first became aware of Twitter. I suppose at some point in the past months the sire began to creep into my consciousness, but I don’t recall when I first discovered it. I remember reading about on various sites. Los over at Ragamuffin Soul was using it, my friend David was using it, and I even read about a church that used it in a creative way during a worship service.

So, I signed up and began to tweet myself. (Wow… that sounds almost naughty. It’s not. A “tweet” is a message on Twitter, and it can be used as both a noun and a verb.) I discovered some friends on there to follow, and I even had a few choose to follow me. I figured out how to integrate it with my Facebook account, and I discovered that I could tweet with my cell phone by sending a text message. (Wow… again that sounds naughty. I know I have been teaching ninth grade for a long time… maybe I am just stuck there developmentally?)

And now I love it. I don’t have a huge following or anything, and I am not following some vast number of people. I just think that the concept is great, and it allows for great communication among a group of people in a quick time. I felt that way even before I found this article on that tells about an American student in Egypt who was arrested as he was taking pictures at a demonstration. As he and his translator were being taken to jail, he was able to shoot a one word message on Twitter: ARRESTED. Within seconds, his network of friends and supporters were working to get him released. Before he had even arrived at the jail, his friends in the States and in Egypt were working for his release.


I have been wondering about the implications for the classroom. I truly believe this has the potential to be a useful tool. After all, most of my students and many of their parents use both the web and text messaging. Right now, I am planning to set up a separate Twitter account for academic use. At the beginning of the semester, I will give the students a handout showing them how to sign up for an account and how to follow me. I will also send a handout home to the parents explaining the same. I will then use Twitter to update parents and students alike about assignments, projects, and the like.

Just last month, I did some research about various parental notification systems. There are some incredible ones out there, and most of them aren’t cheap. Some are web-based; others use auto-dialers. Some brag that they offer dozens of languages so that messages make it home in a form that the parents can understand. The goal of all of these systems is improved communication between schools and parents. After all, we all know that informed, involved parents can vastly improve their child’s chances of academic success. 

For the record, my goal as a teacher is not merely to improve the communication between parents and the school, but also between parents and their children. Who knows? Maybe my shooting out a tweet that reads, “Great job, 3rd block! You did great today!” will spark some conversations around dinner tables.

To be completely honest, I found the article referenced on the blog of Susan Brooks-Young, a leader in the educational technology realms. Thanks for pointing me toward it, Susan!

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The Exploding Car (or Why Tiffany Never Went Out With Me Again)


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I originally shared this story as a comment on another post. After what D$ has been posting over on Clouds in My Coffee, I decided that I needed to share a story of my own. I have taken the original post and updated it just a bit. Again, I offer this disclaimer: This story, like many, truly deserves to be told and not merely written. Furthermore, it should be told by my sister as she brings a unique perspective.

A couple of years before I got married, when I was still in college, I had a date. This was not just a date, mind you, it was a first date. I was supposed to pick up Tiffany Abbott at her home in Enterprise. From there, we were going to go to a wedding in Troy.

I know, I know… a wedding isn’t exactly the ideal setting for a first date, but it was a church member and as a staff member at a small country church, I was expected to be there. After the wedding, we were going to Montgomery for dinner and a nice evening together.

At the time, I drove a 1984 Buick Park Avenue that looked a lot like the one pictured above. I had many affectionate names for this car that would seat 8 comfortably… the land yacht, my little ghetto sled… but I generally referred to it as my Hoopdee. That Saturday afternoon, I washed and waxed the Hoopdee, filled it up with gas, got a shower, and went to pick up Tiffany. (Incidentally, the Hoopdee got about 12 miles per gallon. At today’s gas prices, that is about three miles per dollar.)

The church was about a half hour or so from her house, and we had a pleasant enough conversation on the way there. I was witty and charming, and Tiffany laughed at all the right times. There wasn’t a single bit of that awkward silence that often accompanies first dates.

About halfway to the church, I noticed cute little clouds of smoke seemed to be coming from the rear of my car. Dad has always stressed the importance of watching one’s gauges, so I did. They didn’t show a darn thing.

About two-thirds of the way to the church, the cute white puffs of smoke became great big, black, billowing clouds. I was killing mosquitoes in three counties and doing irreversible harm to the ozone layer. I noticed that the gauges still showed that everything was fine, but even I, the single most mechanically-retarded person you know, could tell that the gauges were obviously missing something important. Where the heck is the Big Black Billowing Cloud Button, anyway?

I pulled over to the side of the road and popped the hood. Sure enough, there it was… an engine. That is about all I could tell… except that it smelled pretty bad. I wasn’t sure what I had done, but I was pretty sure I was going to hear the phrase “burnt up an engine” later that evening from Dad.

Some kind people picked us up and gave us a ride to the church. Everyone I knew in the community was at the church for the wedding anyway, and my parents had gone out of town for the day. I was pretty much stuck until after the wedding.

I sat there during the whole wedding dreading the conversation I was going to have with my father. “Dad, do you remember my car?” “Yes, son.” “Dad… do you remember the engine that used to be in my car?”

Tiffany was great. Throughout the whole wedding, she kept patting me on the hand and telling me that everything was going to be fine. “Don’t worry, Blair. I am sure everything will be okay.”

She lied.

After the wedding, we walked out the front of the church. One of the my deacons came up to me and told me, “Blair, that man over there is looking for you.” I looked in the direction he was pointing and didn’t recognize the man who was apparently looking for me.

As I walked up to him, he hitched up his overalls as heasked “Are you Blair Andress?”

“Yes, sir,” I replied.

He continued with, “Did you leave a car parked down the road?”

Oh, crap. I knew I had pulled the Hoopdee completely off the road, but somehow or another someone had hit it. Not only had I burnt up an engine, but someone had hit my Hoopdee. Dad was going to kill me.

As soon as I could speak, I told him, “Yes, sir… I left my car down the road.”

“Well, son…. it caught on fire and burnt up.”

It caught on what and did what?

The most intelligent question I could come up with was, “The whole thing? The whole car… burnt up?”

“No, son… just the front half of it.”

We got in this volunteer fireman’s truck, which smelled like a curious combination of fishbait and hot garbage. A spring from the seat was attempting to violate me, and Tiffany and I both had our feet on a tacklebox. As he drove me AND MY DATE back towards the remains of the Hoopdee, all I could do was shake my head numbly.

Tiffany had given up trying to reassure me.

As we got closer, I could see the pillar of smoke. We came over a hill and around a curve, and there she was. The burnt remains of my Hoopdee. The front tires had exploded. The paint had been baked off the entire front half of the car. The front windshield was smoked up and cracked. In short, the Hoopdee had gone out in a blaze of glory.

I ended up borrowing a car from a friend, and I took Tiffany with me back to my parents’ house. My parents weren’t home yet, but I wanted a witness with me. (I felt like Dad would be less likely to kill me if there was someone else around who might be called on to testify.) Once I was home, I called my sister, who lived next door. I tried to explain what had happened, but I struggled to get the words out. She finally figured out what I was talking about and told me to take Tiffany home. I did, and Kim came over to keep me company until my parents came home.

Dad called before they actually made it home, and he could instantly tell something was wrong. When he asked, I told him, “Dad, we’ll talk when you get home.”

“Son, I think you need to tell me now… so get started.”

So I told him. I had just gotten to the part about the white puffs becoming big black clouds, and he interrupted me.

“Crap, son… you burnt up an engine, didn’t you?” he asked loud enough for my sister to hear.

Kim literally fell in the floor as she laughed and told me, “That’s not all you burnt… tell him, Blair… tell him!”

Obviously, Dad didn’t kill me. I assured him that I had kept check on the oil, coolant, and everything else I could possibly check. I convinced him that this was just a freak accident that defied all that we know about mechanical things. He convinced me that white puffs of smoke are bad, even if the gauges say otherwise.

At this point, I have to explain why my sister’s version of this story is so much better than anything I can write. You see, when I had started telling her what had happened, she totally misunderstood. I didn’t know this until years later, but for some reason, she got the impression that I was calling her because I had been on a date and had a horrible sexual experience. I am not sure exactly what she was thinking, but apparently her mind was in the gutter when I kept moaning and saying over and over… “Kim… the Hoopdee burnt! It burnt, Kim… I can’t believe it.” I am not sure what she thought the Hoopdee was, exactly… and I am not sure I want to know.

When I began to tell her that I was scared of how Dad was going to react, she replied, “Now, Blair… you don’t have to tell them everything…”

“Kim, I think he is smart enough to NOTICE!”

“Not necessarily, Blair….”

When she tells this story, she can draw it out forever. People that know Matt and me have a hard time believing it, but she really is the loudest of the three of us, and possibly the most dramatic as well.

For the record… I never went out with Tiffany again.


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Twenty MORE Questions for Blair

I originally did this back in 2005, so I suppose almost three years is long enough to wait before trying it again.

I promise to answer the next twenty questions posed to me in the comments section of this post. No matter how off the wall, outlandish, theological, or personal they may be… I will answer them…. honestly.

Leaving a question is simple. All you have to do is fill out the comment form with your question, including your name and email address (which will not be published), then click on “Submit Comment.”

So who will be first?

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A Stroll Down Amnesia Lane

One of the joys of social networks such as Facebook and MySpace is the reuniting of old friends. I am on both, and I have found friends from years ago. With some, I exchange pleasantries, but the years have had their toll and the best part of those friendships would be the memories we share.

With others, it is different. I have found that with some of the old friends with whom I find myself chatting, the years melt away. Instead of feeling as if decades have passed, I find myself laughing the way I did in junior high school.

One of those friends, a dear friend that I have known since seventh grade, is learning how to use Facebook. She posted something on her wall this week that I didn’t notice until she sent me a message asking me to read it and respond. In that very public forum, she felt the need to apologize to me for what she perceived as being unkindness in the past. She chose to apologize in a public forum, and I am choosing to respond in a similar fashion.

Dearest Celia,

Your words were so incredibly sweet, my friend. I had not seen your post, and had you not told me, I would not have gone looking for it. On Facebook, people tend to write on the walls of others and not on their own walls. Unless I happened to get nosy and start reading the entire contents of your wall (which I, like many Facebook voyeurs, sometimes do), I most likely would not have noticed.

Please know that you and I apparently remember things differently, for I don’t think an apology was necessary in the least.

So how do I remember things? Well, let’s see…

In seventh grade, I met a girl. I honestly don’t recall how I first met her, but I do know that a friend of mine named Billy liked her. They were even going together, though, like most junior high couples, they went nowhere together. One night, they had a fight and broke up. He wanted me to play the middle man and try to help him out by calling her, so I did. She and I talked for a while, and even though I was starting to like her myself, I convinced her to at least talk to Billy.

When she and I got off the phone, I called Billy and told him to call her. He did, and then he called me back to tell me about the conversation. He told me that they had gotten back together because he had fake cried on the phone. That made me so mad, so I called her and dimed him out.

She dumped him. After what I deemed an appropriate time (probably twenty minutes or so), I asked her to go with me.

For two weeks over Christmas break, we went together… and went nowhere. In fact, she was out of town the majority of that time, and the very first thing she did when she got back in town was dump me. Oh, well… I deserved it. I did act like a fink toward Billy, I suppose.

We did remain friends, and we had our own little routine for the rest of that seventh grade year. Pretty regularly, at break, I would grab her rear end. After all, we were in seventh grade. Girls were looking curvier than ever before, and the boys were quick to notice. Unfortunately, she was not that happy with my grabbing. In fact, she usually grabbed my forearm and dug her nails in. Without loosening her death grip, she would start heading down the hall, and I would follow along just to try to preserve some of the flesh on my arm. She would let go, and my arm would slowly begin the healing process. For a smarter person, the scars would serve as a reminder not to grab this particular young lady’s rear, but I was not smart. I was hormonally retarded… and I always returned. Like a moth drawn to a flame, I simply couldn’t help myself.

Luckily, she and I went to different schools for the next two years. If we had not, I am certain that my forearms would remain scarred to this day.

That was twenty-five years ago. Over those twenty-five years, the friendship that she and I have shared has been cyclical. There have been times of great closeness and togetherness followed by times of distance. In junior high and high school, the distance was because of different friends, activities, or romances. In more recent years, it has been miles, jobs, and families.

The cycles of togetherness have been wonderful. In junior high, it was long talks on the phone. (I still remember her parents’ number even though I haven’t dialed it in years!) In high school, she took me to a formal. She may not realize this, but she was the first woman I wore a tux for. She went with me and a group of friends to Shipwreck Island, and she and I spent the day enjoying ourselves all over that water park! I worked at a camp in North Carolina one summer, and I will never forget the look on her face when I made a surprise visit home. I also remember the hug she gave me when she ran up to me that night.

After college, she and I were workout partners. We were also the best of friends once again. Neither of us were dating anyone, so we could always count on the other one being there. We saw movies, we had dinners, and we just enjoyed ourselves.

The other night, she sent me a friend request on Facebook. I accepted, and the next thing I knew, she and I were chatting on there. I found myself smiling and laughing the same way I have countless times over the past twenty-five years. Over the past week, we have discussed her children (four) and mine (two), her husband, my wife, and the journey that has taken us from where we were to where we are. I have told her how I love the incredible woman that she has become and how I love the Jesus that I see in her, and she has told me that she is proud of me and all that I am accomplishing.

And now she is trying to apologize.

For what, Celia? For being my friend? Friendships are like marriages… they stick together through thick and thin, good times and bad, sickness and health. You owe me no apologies, my friend. You have brought smiles and laughter for twenty-five years.

You have been my friend, and for that, there is no need to apologize.



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