Sunday, December 26, 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and what a night it was. The day started like any other though because Christmas was on Saturday we had the whole day off. We had a few last minute shopping and a few more packages to wrap, then I took off for a good long run. We loaded up the car and headed off to Austin to be with my sister-in-law and her family. Arriving without incident at about 6:00 PM, we came upon an empty house. A little perplexed, we texted them and found out there was a little communication error. It seems that when Luana talked with her sister she told her we were coming on Saturday and they had arranged time with their friends from Colorado. Here is where the adventure began.

We decided to get a bite to eat and thanks to the I Phone we found a nice place not too far away. After a leisurely meal we decided to take in a movie and again thanks to the I Phone we found a show and located the place, turning on the GPS and headed out. We were a little short on time but were right there when we realized that the movie theater was not where the little red dot on the GPS said it was. By then it was too late, so we settled on a new movie and a new theater. We had an hour to get there so off we went. Unfortunately the red dot on the GPS was off again and we finally had to go old school and stop at a gas station to get directions. We finally got there with 5 minutes to spare. We got out of the movie at 11:45 and then had to try to find a hotel. No one at the theater knew where one was and so back to the I Phone and we finally found a La Quinta. We just knew there would be no place in the inn. But there our luck changed - we had a room, unlike the first Christmas.

It was certainly not the Christmas Eve we expected and not like any other one we had ever experienced. Thankfully two good things happened. We really had a good time and laughed a lot at our mistakes and made a bad situation good. The other thing was that God in His grace kept me from getting mad and losing my temper. That would not have happened just a few years ago.

Friday, December 24, 2010


As I was meditating the other morning I started thinking about the holiness of God and what exactly that meant or looked like. We read in Revelations where the four living creatures and the elders are always singing over and over "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty". So here are my thoughts. The English word means to be free from sin; pure; sacred. The greek word is hagios which literally means to be set apart. It is to be seen in apposition to the word koine which means common. So how does all of this relate to God?

As I thought I wondered what it is that sets God apart. And I kept coming back to the two most important aspects of who God is - namely that He is powerful and He is good. No created being can boast that he is all powerful. Many have power (though all of their power is given by God) and in our eyes that can look almost limitless, but held up next to God it is pathetic. But God's power is unlimited and that sets Him apart from anyone or anything else in the universe. Related to that is His majesty and splendor and when one looks at Him in all of His glory, he cannot help but cry out that there is no one like You - You are holy, set apart from everything else. Here on earth we do not see Him that way most of the time, though at times we get a glimpse. Therefore we do not really appreciate His holiness. Isaiah got a chance to see Him and saw the true holiness of God, and what did he do? He fell on his knees and face thinking that he was doomed because he saw his own sin in comparison to God's purity. It is a lot different than when we compare ourelves to each other.

That brings me to the other characteristic of God - His goodness. Power is one thing and it is expected for after all God should be all powerful or He would not be God. But what is so unexpected in an all powerful God is His total goodness. That just blows us away when we really think about it. We have never seen absolute goodness, though once again we occasionally get glimpses of it. That also sets Him apart from any other being in the universe. It is impossible for us to even comprehend all that it means and all that it looks like. His goodness is manifested to us in many ways including His love, mercy, grace, forgiveness and compassion. When we get to heaven and see the absolute goodness of God, we will fall down before Him like the living creatures and proclaim His holiness.

Then of course there is the aspect of His purity. We cannot really comprehend what absolute sinlessness and purity looks like. Once again it brings us to our knees and in a lot of ways terrifies us because we see our own sinfulness in comparison. Even the angels are in awe of the purity of God. It is not clear if they are capable of sin (certainly at one time they were, hence the fall of Lucifer), but I think, and this is my opinion only, that they recognize a difference in their purity and that of God's. In summary, all of this separates God from the rest of the created universe and leads the creation to bow in awe and sing holy, holy holy.

Christmas Essay


Jesus, I cannot imagine what that moment must have been like, that moment when you stood at the threshold of heaven, ready to step through the veil of multiple dimensions of existence into our world. What was it like to realize that you would for the first time ever be limited in any way. And how much more difficult was it that you knew you would be totally helpless and in the hands of a teenage woman. Jesus I cannot imagine the love that brought you to this threshold, the faith in your Father that he would see it through or the hope you held out for all mankind that prompted you to take a deep breath and finally step through.

Jesus did you know that when you took your first breath,
That it was you who gave breath to all life.

Jesus did you know that when you drank the milk from Mary’s breast,
That it was you who sustain all creation.

Jesus did you know that when you took your first step,
That it was you who would one day heal a man who could not walk.

Jesus did you know that when you said your first word,
That it was you who spoke and the world came into existence.

Jesus did you know that when you held Joseph’s hand,
That it was you who hold the world in your hands.

Jesus did you know that when your diaper was dirty,
That you had left heaven and perfect purity.

Jesus did you know that when you cried in need of a nap
That you are a God who never sleeps or slumbers.

Jesus did you know that when your mother held you in her arms,
That it was you who hold us in the shadow of your wings.

Jesus did you know that when you at 12 asked the teachers about the law,
That it was you who gave the law and fulfill the law.

Jesus did you know that when your father died,
That you are the father to the fatherless.

Jesus did you know that when you ate bread at your table,
That you are indeed the bread of life.

Jesus did you know that when you drank water from the well,
That you are the living water and those who drink from you never thirst.

Jesus did you know that when you would drink wine,
That you are the new wine of the new covenant.

Jesus did you know that when you fell and cut yourself and bled,
That one day your blood would cleanse people from all their sins.

Jesus did you know that when you learned how to read,
That it was you who are the beginning of wisdom.

Jesus did you know that when you put on clothes,
That at one time you had wrapped yourself with all majesty and splendor.

Jesus did you know that when you looked out at the stars at night,
That it was you who set them in their places and gave them names.

Jesus did you know that when you saw the sun rise and set each day,
That it was you who set the times and seasons.

Jesus did you know that when you played with your brothers and sisters,
That at one time you enjoyed perfect fellowship with the Father and Spirit.

Jesus did you know that when you saw people in your village die,
That you would one day raise the dead.

Jesus did you know that when you went to weddings,
That you would be the bridegroom for the church, your bride.

Jesus did you know that when you worked as a carpenter,
That your heavenly Father is always at work.

Jesus did you know that when you rested on the Sabbath,
That you are Lord even of the Sabbath.

Jesus, at what point did you know who you really were? Was it an incredibly difficult burden to carry? Did it affect how you lived your life, how you worked, how you related to others, how you served? So what is that you are saying to me? At what point did I realize who you are? Has it affected how I live my life, how I work, how I relate to others and how I serve? I think I am beginning to understand. We can not know you and ever be the same again.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


^ The winners!!!!!^

And the losers-----

The girls in their aprons.

Making the cookies.

You just can't do it and not laugh.

The new generation of cookie decorators!!!!!

It is intense work.

It requires a lot of concentration.

And a steady hand.

But you have to be creative as well.

Like father like daughter.

Yummy yummy yummy, I got cookie in my tummy.

Mommy and son - sweet Christy and jayden.

The final product!!!!

It is tradition in the Sudan family that every year about this time we have the Sudan cookie decorating contest. It has become quite a fierce contest over the years and the decorating has become more elaborate. The addition of in-laws has added another dimension and now with a new generation of the Sudan clan coming along it is even more fun. This past Sunday (19th) we held it at the Ogdens in Dallas and Christy is so sweet to allow us to destroy her house while doing this - flour and sprinkes and icing everywhere. Mary Beth won for the second year in a row but Jason got most creative for an x-ray of a stocking and Luana placed honorable mention for the first time. Christy got second place and Amy third. Jayden even decorated his own and EK participated by eating anything she could get her hands on. Thanks to all for another great year.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Multicultural Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving we went up to Dallas and had a fairly traditional day in some respects but very unusual in others. This Thanksgiving was a multicultural experience. In addition to our crew, we had a young man from Boston who is in Dallas doing Teach Across America. They knew him from their church. Then Jason invited his friend from Iraq that he has gotten to know, and he and Alex invited two Chinese girls they have befriended. So we had people from three foreign countries. My kids did not learn this from home. Yes we often invited people outside our family but they were usually friends or K-life leaders but not foreigners we barely knew. I love that they feel free to do this and shows again how much further they have progressed beyond Luana and me.

We went up on Wed. and Christy made a delicious Lasagna from her prairie Home cookbook. Then the next morning we did our traditional run in the Turkey trot. Jason and I were joined by the Websters - Cathy, Jimmy and their daughter Anna Lee. I was amazed and pleased that I was able to do the whole 8 miles even though I had only run 4 miles prior to this - and all of it without chest pain. (that is another blog)

We ate at Amy and Blake's and Mary Beth did some bang up decorating (Christy had to work). The feast consisted of the usual turkey and dressing with gravy as well as broccoli and rice casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, Caesar's salad, pistachio fruit salad and rolls. Then they topped it off with an all star dessert lineup of chocolate chip pie, chocolate cake, a coffee pie, dipped strawberries and a couple of others that I cannot remember. Amy had come up with a number of verses on being thankful to keep our hearts in the right place and we had good table conversation.

All in all it was a great time and I want to thank all of the girls who chipped in to make it a great success

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In Laws

Two blogs in one day? What is this? Do I have too much time on my hands? Whatever!
Now I know that for a lot of people in-laws is a dirty word. Fortunately that has not been the case for us. I have always gotten along very well with Luana's parents and she did with mine as well. But that is not the occasion of this blog. I am speaking of the new set of in-laws we inherited when our kids got married. We have three sets now and I am pleased to say that we are blessed to have wonderful in-laws who love God, love their kids and reared them well. Of course for us it was relatively easy since we were friends with Christy's and Amy's in-laws before they even started dating.
This weekend Jason's in-laws, the Parks were in for the Baylor-A&M football game and stayed with us. Now we have always gotten along well with them but it seemed like there was always some major activity and we did not get to visit in a relaxed manner. But this weekend we did and is was delightful to spend time with them. I am so thankful that Jason has that as well as I am thankful for the Ogdens and the Marables. It makes things so much easier during holidays and with grandkids. Some holidays we spend together with both sides of the families, and we can share the grandparenting duties without feelings of competition. Just one more thing for me to add to the list of thigs to thank God for.


My family and I occasionally send each other questions to think about and we have e-mail discussions about them. Recently, as a part of a study I was doing, I posed the question as to what were the basic beliefs needed to be considered a Christian. I received good input and I have thought about it a lot and here is what I came up with.
1) That God is (that He exists)
2) That He created the world (in whatever way)
3) That Jesus is the Son of God
4) That Jesus is fully man and fully God
5) That He died on the cross and was buried
6) That He rose again on the third day
7) That faith in Him is the only way of salvation
That is pretty much it. Now there are a lot more things that I think are important and we should believe, but these are the things that if you do not believe I would not consider you a Christian. I invite discussion and am open to changing my mind on a few things, but you will have to make a compelling argument.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


This past weekend my youngest daughter had the privilege of going to the Marine Corps ball with a young Marine who grew up in Waco. She loves to get dressed up and loves all of the pomp and pageantry so I knew that she would love this. As I expected she had a ball (no pun intended) and loved the Virginia countryside as well. One thing that I had been praying for her was that she would feel beautiful when she was all dressed up. She is beautiful so I knew that it would not take much but I wanted her to feel that way. Well she did say that she felt beautiful so I was very happy. That got me to start thinking about daughters and hence my blog.

I love my son very much and would not trade him for anything (see last blog), but I just love daughters and I am very fortunate to have three of them. Being a guy, i wasn't sure how I would be able to handle daughters. I had two brothers and only one sister, but she was somewhat of a tomboy back then (growing up with three older brothers, what would you expect). Now she is really prissy and you would never suspect the other. At any rate I did not have much experience. But God gives grace to those who need it and He was gracious in teaching me how to rear girls.

One of the things which is almost universal among girls is that they want to be told they are beautiful, and growing up the most important person to hear that from is their dad. I'm not sure how well I did that back then but I did learn the importance and have tried to put it in practice. But it has to come from the heart because girls are very perceptive and know when you are lying. My girls are all beautiful physically but even more so are beautiful people, so it is not hard for me to tell them. The other thing daughters need from their father is to demonstrate the Father heart of God. For all of you new fathers, these two things are the most important gifts you can give your girls. Of course not every girl has a father around and many that are grown did not receive that from their father. But God is gracious and He can make up for what is deficient.

Each of my daughters is so unique in their gifts and personalities, and each with a part of me in them which I can really relate to. I especially love spending time with each of them one on one. They are not only fun to be with but they teach me things even in my old age - I am so amazed at their maturity. I know I was not that way at their age. So let me close by praising God for daughters and thanking Him specifically for my three.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Father and son

I am very blessed to have a son who is not only a great kid (man) but one who also enjoys the same things that I do (obviously it is possible to have a great relationship with your son even if you do not have similar interests). This weekend I took off Friday and left early with Jason to head to the Ouachita National Forest in southeastern Oklahoma. That's right, I said Oklahoma. You probably were like me and thought of Oklahoma only in terms of prairies and the dust bowl. Well there is a part that is truly beautiful with thick forests and real mountains and this time of year, fall foilage.

We loaded up all of our camping gear and headed out. The trail was really pretty and easy at first but then got tougher as we headed up Winding Stair mountain. As we headed back down we stopped and set up our tents, built a fire and ate. Then as wolves howled in the distance we gazed up at the pleathora of stars. The next day we hiked about 16-17 miles through pine and deciduous forests with lots of color, up and down mountains, across streams and ended at Cedar lake where we camped again. Jason kept the conversation going hitting me with questions from politics to religion and sports and to how I was treating my wife. I was more lighthearted with questions like what is the B in LBJ.

Finally we left Sunday morning and drove back along the Talihena Scenic drive, one of the most beautiful drives in the USA. See the pics.

Monday, October 25, 2010


EK in her cheerleading outfit
The Websters
Me and MB
The whole clan of migrating Forresters mixing with Sudans

EK and her doll. She would not put it down.

EK and her Mom

EK going down the otter slide. She loved it!

Jason, Jimmy, Cathy, Luana

Every year during Baylor Homecoming there is a migration of our good friends from Houston, the Forresters. This has been documented for over 20 years and National Geographic is planning on doing an article on this particular species. At first there was only the northern migration from the Houston area. Lately there have been reports of Forresters migrating down from Dallas.
It has been a fun tradition and every year we do the same things - fiesta dinner on Friday night, followed by the bonfire (though this year we opted for the Rangers game), then the parade Sat. morning, lunch at McAllisters (though we changed to Schmaltz's this year), then the football game and finally relaxing back at the house telling stories on each other. I love that our kids all get along so well and all love each other.
This year we missed Larry, and on our side Blake and Christy and Jordan and their family. An added benefit was that we got to see Luana's sister and husband who were here as their daughter, Anna Lee goes to Baylor. Amy and Mary Beth came early so we got to take in the zoo before it all started. The game was great as Baylor won and became bowl eligible. There was a big thunderstorm and we all got soaked, but those who endured to the end got to go on to the field to celebrate.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Family time

The weekend before last we went up to Dallas to see all of our kids and grandkids and for Jayden's soccer match (if you can call it that) as well as Campbell's dedication. It was a great time spent watching the above mentioned things as well as the Rangers and Baylor football. We also went to the dallas arboretum which was beautiful though crowded. We got some good pumpkin pics. I got to play tennis with Jason, run, do a lot of eating (Christy made a delicious meal of fajitas and as usual was decorated right out of Martha Stewart (though I am told it was mostly done by Mary Beth who may resent that comment). We are so blessed to be so close to our kids and that they still enjoy being with us.