Thursday, May 29, 2008

Magic Cubes and Prayers

This weekend we had a “Family Movie Night”. We made sure we had plenty of microwave popcorn and then headed out to Blockbuster. Our goal was to find the perfect flick to stimulate the collective Pannell brains for an hour or two. My job, as the titled “adult” of this legislation was to ensure that the flick selected was one that would appeal to everyone in the family. In other words, the newest Ben 10 or Power Rangers may not make it far with the female Pannell demographic, and Barbie Mariposa would probably be a flop amongst the male Pannells. So, I was to delicately navigate the aisles and lovingly reject ideas until we could all agree on the one that I tricked them into thinking they selected! :)

The winner this time: “Mr.Magorium’s Wonder Emporium”. It was a lovely little movie. In fact, I loved it. Me and my wife were enthralled. The kids didn’t quite get the deeper meaning of it all, but it was visually beautiful enough to keep their rapt attention. One scene in the movie REALLY moved me. My friend Matt calls moments like these “echoes of something more”. He is referring to times in media where they may not say it, but God is alive in the background of things. This scene in the movie was one of those times.

The girl in the movie (played by the lovely Natalie Portman) was stuck in a rut. She couldn’t quite figure out her life and was stuck trying to write a musical piece. So, her friend, the magic Mr. Magorium (played expertly by Dustin Hoffman) gives her a gift to inspire her. It is a large wood block. But he tells her if she believes in it, it will help her figure out what she is to do. She knows it to be only a block of wood, but accepts it gratefully and throws it to the side. After all, how can a wood block solve her problems?

Later on in the movie, she is desperate for “something”. So she sits down with the cube. Staring at it she says “OK. You are supposed to have all the answers. Sop would you please just fix things? Just show me what to do”………and of course, nothing happens. So after waiting just a few seconds, she angrily stands up proclaiming “I knew you couldn’t help. Fine! I’ll just go and do it myself!”

WOW! What a powerful moment in the both the plot of this storyline and in most of our lives! How many times do I treat my Heavenly Father like that? I believe he has answers but I only come to Him when at my ropes end. And then, I expect Him to act on MY whim and immediately give me clarity. And how many times when we do not see an answer right away, do we storm off saying “Fine. I will do it myself!”

I believe we treat prayer like this far too often. Instead of using it as a tool to line ourselves up with God’s will and plan, and to patiently listen to His voice, we want it to act like a cosmic ATM, spewing out nuggets of blessing at our every whim!

In the movie, only when Molly began to fully BELIEVE in the power of the cube did it respond. When she wholeheartedly threw herself into believing in the total power of the cube, the cube responded and came alive. Then, she was able to see everything clearly.

I think you get the point….there is immense power in prayer. The answers are there. God is in control. You and I……well, we just gotta’ believe.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

few of my favorite things....

list of things that made me happy recently:

In the land of women
I found this quirky little indie-flick and WOW! It had me emotionally drained by the end of it.

This little drink is yummy to my tummy (the "Red Drive" is awesome)

Speed Racer
go see Speed Racer!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Most fun I have had in a theatre since....well in a LONG time!

For Alice Cooper
I found ol' Alice's radio show at night. It is the MOST random thing I've ever listened to!

the lemonheads
Year after year since about 1991, this band's music has always made me happy and just been "there for me"...long live Evan Dando!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just try looking at these....

........... and not smiling! :)
My little girl brings SUCH joy to life. She is already at 2 (almost 3) such an energetic presence. She literally brings joy and energy to a room. She amazes me. I have such fun with her, and she is SO DANG GORGEOUS! I love you Merrick Harper Pannell!

Lawson Boyce McCord

My precious nephew was born recently. It is my baby-sister's first child. It was a very rough pregnancy, with many complications for her and baby. He was born 5 weeks early, but is home now and doing great. Check him out. He's beautiful!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Jesus is Lord

how is this for a cool story???????


Jesus is Lord

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

NBA Live and God

My son has re-taken to a basketball video game lately. When he was younger, I would play with him, and would actually turn his team to “computer controlled” letting him think he was playing. When he got older I’d let him play, but he couldn’t quite master the controls. So, I’d intentionally pull defensive players away from him letting him score, making sure I let him win. So you can imagine my surprise when I played him recently.

The boy is good! I have now played him 3 times. And, each game, he beat me. This is nothing new for us, except for the fact that I was trying. I was trying hard! Suddenly he gets it. The buttons and combinations all make sense. He is driving past my defense, making reverse shots and throwing alley-oops. Despite my best efforts, I cannot beat him. He’s taken the little bit of control I slowly gave him and turned it into incredible talent. He was learning when I wasn’t aware of it!

Kids are amazing like that. They learn so quickly, even when we think they aren’t. As Christian parents, we should take this to heart. Often, when we don’t think we are teaching, even when we think their “controls are turned off”, kids are actually in the game, soaking everything in.

We’re always to be teaching our kids. Because, they are ALWAYS learning. So, we must be on guard. They are going to learn whatever they see. Just because you may not be sitting over a Bible, every second with our kids is a chance to teach them God’s ways. Every word and decision is a chance to show them Jesus.

And here’s the deal: they will be “playing on their own” before we know it. These kids are sharp! Go sit in any Sunday school class or youth group lesson and see if you aren’t amazed with the knowledge you will experience! Our children will grow in faith in accordance to what “game” we constantly put them in. They will be “controlling their own team” before we know it. Which team they play on largely depends on which team we showed them when we thought they were not looking! We are called to bring our kids up “in the training and instruction of the Lord”, in all that we do. It’s a big task. I pray we are up to it!

Oh and more alley oops from Parker to Duncan!

NBA Live 08

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Beautiful boy

My son goes to “Kindergarten Round-Up” today. He gets to meet his teacher for next year, and hear a little about what school will expect. It is very exciting, but also VERY sad. I just cannot believe the way that time is moving. How is my first born child starting school?

To be honest…it is breaking this Daddy’s heart. I know that he has to grow up. I know that he has to experience life, even the hurts and heartbreaks, but I am not ready for that! I want him to still beg me to sleep with him every night. I want him to still snuggle with his Spidey blanket and suck his thumb when tired. I want him to still need my help getting dressed. I want him to always think kisses from girls are gross. I want him to always choose being with me over friends.

I am proud of the boy he is. He is SO smart. He is loving. He is strong. He knows God. And I am excited to watch who he will become and all the great things he will do. Yet, it is hard letting go little by little each year.

I am so thankful for my kids. My daughter is so beautiful. She is growing old too. Three comes next month! Around the same time, I will have a new daughter. I am grateful for these blessings….and I pray that God teaches me how to always cherish EVERY moment.

Jude….have fun in kindergarten. Be a good boy. Daddy is so proud of you. And yes…I will sleep with you tonight.

Option B

Is this the other option? Yesterday I posted a sad story about a church that I think has it quite wrong. Here is another story TOTALLY opposite, but still quite sad to me and "wrong" to me. What do you guys think?


Monday, May 12, 2008

a few of my favorite things....

The list from last week:

Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper was my vice this stressful week!

Achingly beautiful and heartbreaking. I cry with each page

Michael Scott
Once again, God Bless Dunder Mifflin...... "H&R Block. Who even knows what they do?"

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dwight for VP

If McCain would do this, he'd totally get my vote!


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Makes me feel shiny and happy....

Thanks to my sugacane brutha' for sharing this with me today. If it does not make you smile, check your pulse

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

All Apologies

sorry for whining so hard yesterday...........hope you'll all still love me

Monday, May 5, 2008

Crop Circles

Last week was one of the hardest I can remember in my short 34 years. I want to share it with you, not in an effort to capture your pity (though that may be nice too), but to share what maybe I have learned from it.

It’s been a tough year for us. It’s just been a lot of separation, loss, and general stresses of life, coupled with pregnancy and a big move. And then came last week…….. My wife and I were scheduled to fly to LA and drive to Malibu Tuesday morning for the Pepperdine lectureships. It was a trip we had looked forward to for a LONG time. Jessie had been feeling bad for a few days, and each day it got worse. By Monday night she was so ill we knew she could not go. The struggle was wrestling with whether I should go or not. We decided that it would be good for my soul and ministry, and besides Jessie’s mom was already in town to help with the kids, so I should go. I got to the airport at 6:15 am. I quickly found out at the counter that my license had expired some 7 days earlier (unbeknownst to me). So after pleading they decided I could fly but would have to undergo “extra security”…fun fun :). But, I remembered the rental car I was to get in LA. I called the company and they would NOT let me get the car. So, I had to move my flight back until 4:30 that afternoon and go spend time at the DMV….always a pleasure. Not a great way to start out.

But I got that out. Shortly later, both of my pregnant sisters went to the Dr. and/or hospital with possible serious complications. One found out she had a bad infection, and the baby was measuring WAY bigger than she should, so diabetes is a concern. The other had been on strict bed rest and things were getting worse….she actually was showing signs of labor and was put in the hospital for a few hours for more intense testing. So, there was some stress there.

Several things happened on the house we were to be moving into on Saturday (3 hrs after we were to fly back in from Malibu), including finding out that a contractor had dropped the ball and we would be getting NO kitchen on time. Jessie was getting worse and went to the Dr. to find out she was having some preggo issues coupled with stress and flu. Still, I decided to fly…….not feeling very confident in it at all.

The flight left on time and was good. I just felt weird, like I shouldn’t be there. I wanted Jessie with me. I wanted my family to be okay. I just wanted some peace. But, I landed on time and even got to finish reading a book on the plane. The luggage was there immediately and I caught a quick ride to the rental car agency. My car was ready and perfect and I hit the crazy roads outside of LAX. Much to my surprise, finding Peperdine was a CINCH and I got there in about 40 minutes. Things were looking up at last!

I got checked in at about 7:45(I had never been there before…WOW it was nice!) and was feeling better. I ran out for some dinner and called the Jay, our pulpit minister from church that was also there. I decided to meet him in a class at 9 p.m. that sounded quite interesting.

The class was great! I was finally getting excited about the rest of the week. About 12 minutes into the class my phone rang and was it was Jessie at home. I went to the hall and answered it. My wife was crying, sounding terrible and surely in a mild panic. Now, it seemed my son Jude was being taken to the ER with some serious bladder problem and pain. WHAT THE HECK?!?!?!?!?!? He was not doing well, and Jessie was depleted. She asked me to come home.

Stressed and shaken I ran back to the dorm and started making calls. I was able to get a flight out at 9:00 the next morning. So….long story short…..just some 12 hrs after getting there I was checking back into the airport to come home. It cost a lot of money and turmoil.

The flight back home was heavy. It was a pity party. Why are we having all these trials? What are you doing God? Why am I facing this garbage? I had SO many questions! What I wanted to know most was this…. “WHAT IS IT YOU ARE TRYING TO TEACH ME.? PLEASE MAKE IT CLEAR SO THAT I CAN LEARN THIS LESSON AND GET ON WITH THINGS!!!!”

One verse kept playing over and over in my mind….John 16:33 “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE,”… and this is the part that was playing over and over …but TAKE HEART! I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD!!” Like I said…those words were swimming in my head all over the place. But so far, they were in my head only.

As I was going through this thought process, I was looking out the window. Have you ever been in a plane and seem the plots of land below? They look so cool from way up high. They are perfectly formed into awesome patterns. Crops have clear borders and colors. They are organized into squares and circles. Cities too. From 10,000 feet it all looks laid out perfectly. They look like the perfect organized grids with NO problems in getting around. Funny thing is though; at ground level…it looks totally different! You would never know that you were in an “organized system”. Traffic, trees, etc…they blur that vision and what we see is chaos and busyness. Only when we can separate ourselves from it all and fly way above, can we clearly see how it all works and how it all works out perfectly as planned.


It hit me then and there. This is what I am going through right now! I am “on ground level” and it seems like chaos. Life is blurring the line of vision and NOTHING looks or seems organized at all. But, if I can have the trust, faith and discipline to put my life in the hands of the Father and let him “lift me above” this all, I can clearly see that it is all going to be okay, and that it is part of a huge and perfectly laid out system. All I have to do is find the way to fly so that I can believe this. Life is going to be okay! God laid it out perfectly long ago. Yeah, wrecks, power outages, construction etc will mess up travels and directions briefly, but they will always be worked out in time.

“Take heart! I have overcome this world” began to leave my head and sink in to my heart. I believe that Jesus is with me. I believe that God is in control. I am trying to learn. I am trying to listen.

few of my favorite things was maybe one of the worst weeks ever in Pannell history, but here are a few things I enjoyed:

Strictly Ballroom
A classic favorite to the rescue...Long live Baz Luhrman!

consolers of the lonely
Thank you Raconteurs for the wonderful new album...long live Jack White!

Best of Wil Ferrell
Laughter is the best medicine for sure....long live the cowbell!