Now, it has been quite a while since I've been back to my old summer stomping grounds in El Paso, Texas. I went there for 7 summers, working with the children's missions organization GMTC: Gospel Ministries To Children. Ben Dowdy, director of SWGMTC El Paso, shot me an email and a phone call to let me know that my dear friends, Chad and Cody Kitchens, had just lost their mom, Annie Kitchens. I still don't know what happened to bring about her physical departure from us, but I know that she was a believer and that she was an incredible woman, a woman that I used to call mom. I had stayed with the Kitchens numerous times during my times in El Paso. One of my most found memories of Annie was when she, Chad, and I were listening to some dc Talk and they said that they liked their old rap stuff better than their newer rock phase (this was a while back); they both then introduced me to The Pirates of Penzance. I love my brothers, Chad and Cody, and I want to be there for them if I can be. So, with that said, I contacted Ben Dowdy, asked if he knew anyone's place I might be able to crash at for Friday night (the memorial service is Friday at 6pm), and he offered his place to me (even though it is 30 minutes from where the Kitchens live). I gratefully accepted, so I took tomorrow off from teaching at DVHS, and I am headed to El Paso in the morning. I am going by myself, with our only vehicle, but Amy has her parents in town, at least, and they have car seats for our kids if they need to go anywhere over the day that I will be gone. I am thankful that the LORD let me have this time where I can go and be with my brothers in El Paso, even though it is going to be a time of mourning while there. I love these guys. Pray for their family, please, and for my safety, as well as for Amy's sanity in dealing with the kids while I'm gone (Aidan's been quite a pain these past few days, "bless his heart").
Tonight, I dressed as Santa Claus. The christmas choir concert was tonight at DVHS in the performing arts building where I spent a lot of my time as a high school student. This time I got to play the big man in red. I think this first picture should be more of a plug for the Apple iPhone than simply a picture of how I looked in the suit.
You even get to have a picture of my girth (with added pillow in the mix).
Gotta love a close-up.
I got to go out on stage, answer a question about how long it took to get down here, and then pass out candy to the crowd. It was a lot of fun. I answered how long it took me to get down here with, "Well, the reindeer are on strike right now." Scott Sims (the DVHS choir director, husband of my first choir teacher back at NCCS, and father of a friend of mine - whom I've not seen since early high school) asked me why that was, and I responded, "This time of year they always want more hay!" I got plenty of groans for that one. Woo doggie! The elf pictured above is actually one of my math students at DVHS. We nicknamed him "Elmer the Elf," and he said he had to have been sniffing glue to think this was a good idea. While funny, it just wasn't as "school-appropriate" as would have been allowable. Good thing he only said it to me backstage. Heh heh.
The Suns (13-4) traveled to New York to take on the Knicks (5-11). The Suns scored another high thirty-point first quarter (37) and lead by 8 at the break. The Suns let the Knicks back in a but before the half and only lead by 4. The Knicks came back out, ready to play, and by the end of the third quarter, the Knicks had cut the Suns lead to 1 point. The Suns, lead by Grant Hill and Amaré Stoudemire's 28 points a piece, rallied in the fourth and earned 30 points in the quarter to win the game by 11, 115-104. Stat had a double-double by adding in 12 boards to his 28 points. Nash had another 15-assist game. The Knicks did have 6 players in double figures scoring, but the Suns still had 5 of their own (almost 6: Nash scored 9 points). The next game is tonight in Indiana to take on the .500 Pacers (9-9). GO SUNS!
The Orlando Magic (14-4) were in town to take on the Suns (12-4). Dwight Howard had a killer night with 30 points and 23 rebounds. He is considered the front runner for the MVP this year at this early stage in the game. Two other Magic players had 18 and 25 points, but the Suns kicked it up a notch and 6 players had at least 15. Bell had his biggest game of the season with 20 points as the Suns' high scorer. Nash had 15 points and 14 dimes; Stat had 19 points and 10 boards. The Suns had a 15 point lead after the first, a 10 point lead at the half, and again a 10 point lead after the third; then they lost it. The Magic came back and made the fourth quarter a hard fought battle for the Suns to sneak out a 110-106 victory. The Suns could have easily lost this one with their let up in the fourth quarter. I'm getting concerned again about that become consistent just like last year. The Suns still got the win, and that's truly all that will matter come playoff time. How great of a series would it be to have the Suns and the Magic in the Finals?