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In Honor of Peter and Vanessa Bugbee (A Poem)

When God at first made man
Having a glass of blessings standing by
Let us (he said) pour on him all we can
Let the world’s riches, which dispensed lie
Contract into a span

But what the Godhead knew
That Adam yet had sight to ascertain
For all the wisdom that he was imbued
There was still left a dark, unhappy stain
For he was one, not two

Amidst the grand review
As all the beasts were made to walk a span
Then Adam felt what God already knew
That lonely virtue did not fit the man
Though all his thoughts be true

And as man felt his need
Resounding loud and deep within his soul
The first few wisps of supernatural sleep
Spoke of provision that would make him whole
A joy to touch him deep

At sight it became plain
As Adam first spied she of fairer face
That spans of blessing often bear a name
And there beneath the canopies of grace
Perfection knew no shame

And though they rent to dust
Every goodness save for God alone
An image still was placed within their trust
A shadow of the love that would atone
And make the unjust just

And we in weakness
Through generations ever passing on
Seek to trace what renders angels speechless
The gospel of our Savior, Heaven’s Son
Who as His bride would claim us

It is of this delight
The present joys would dare anticipate
As bride and groom employ to give us sight
Of our eternal, ever happy fate
And futures ever bright

For the Occasion of Peter and Vanessa Bugbee’s Wedding
Upland, CA
June 16th, 2012
by George Herbert & Nate Brooks




While being shown around the Southern Seminary fitness center complex, my tour guide began listing the equipment that the school has available for us students to play outdoor sports. Football? Yep. Soccer goals? Yep. Cornhole? Yep.

This revelation left me with one burning question: What exactly is “Cornhole”? While it didn’t appear in Rick Reilly’s book entitled Sports from Hell, the name itself  leaves me having a very hard time imagining “Cornhole” as being a sport played alongside polo by the rich and famous. This question plunged me into a veritable quest to unravel the mystery that is Cornhole. I now present to you “The Cornhole Song.”

Peaches Paradise

Every year the Cornerstone Youth Group travels to Sultata, CA to work at Gleanings for the Hungry. Gleanings is a peach processing plant that takes donated cull peaches from local supermarkets and turns them into dried fruit to be shipped to hungry people across the world. The plant is operated by youth groups like ours who come and run the machinery for a week at a time. During our week at Gleanings we processed 650,000 pounds of peaches (which is approximately 2.1 million peaches.) It’s our tradition to write a parody song about our experiences….and here’s the semi-catastrophic result.

Finding My Name on

Throughout my entire life I’ve always assumed that there has to be someone out there dumber than I am. Today Rick Reilly of dismantled that illusion. They say everyone has 15 minutes of fame. Good to know mine went towards a noble cause.

(For explanation of the picture, read the article.)

Umpires in the News

If you’ve had any exposure to the media over the last four days, chances are you’ve heard quite a bit about the perfect game that wasn’t quite. Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers was one out away from pitching the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history (which is the last 135 years) when first base umpire Jim Joyce missed the call on a close play at first base. Rather than having tossed a perfect game, Galarraga now owns the most famous one-hitter that the MLB has ever seen. Even more surprising than the missed call has been the character shown in the reactions of Galarraga and Joyce – understanding from the pitcher, regret from the umpire. Sports errors and character are usually not mentioned in the same sentence.

I’ve spent the last two summers umpiring baseball in Omaha, Nebraska. I’ve probably seen 20,000 pitches from behind the plate and an equal number from the field. Consequently, I have a little bit different vantage point than most sports fans talking about this event. The day after, I was watching a video clip on, where a baseball expert was dissecting how Jim Joyce could have possibly missed the call. It was his opinion that Joyce made a critical error when he watched the ball hop towards the second baseman, rather than keeping his attention focused on the area where the play would develop – first base.

I don’t know if this particular commentator has any umpiring experience. I doubt it given his critique, but I want to be fair and say I don’t know. The first lesson you’re taught as an umpire is “keep your eyes on the ball.” The only exceptions are on tag-ups and deep fly balls where you have to make sure the runners tag the bag as they’re running. A great example of this is on an attempted steal of second base. The play will be at second, and yet the base umpire doesn’t turn to look at the base until the ball is traveling past him. I leaned why when I came inches from getting pegged by an errant throw from the catcher. You always keep your eye on the ball, or else it will probably hit you.

I’ve heard several other critiques of Joyce since then. That he should have consulted with the other umpires. But doing that is abdicating your job and selling out your partners. They’re too far away to see anything. And you never appeal unless a manager directly asks. Even then the partner will back you 100% unless it’s a foot-off-the-bag situation. Or that Joyce should have been on the side of the pitcher, where any close play would have been an out since he was on the verge of pitching a perfect game. While that sounds great, as an umpire you try very hard to keep yourself oblivious of anything other than the play developing before you. To do anything else is biased, and that’s a very slippery slope to start heading down.

What I didn’t realize until I started umpiring games myself is that timing plays a huge role in being a successful umpire. Baseball is a game of split-second plays, and that requires split-second calls. When you’re behind the plate, from the time the ball hits the catcher’s mitt, you have about half a second before you have to make the call. If you delay any longer, it looks like you’re unsure about whatever call you make. And managers don’t exactly let you get away with anything that looks like indecision.

Likewise, you don’t think about a safe/out call. You react. And sometimes that reaction is wrong. The thump of the ball hitting the glove and the thump of the foot hitting the bag are almost, but not quite, identical. In a split-second decision, it’s easy to mix up the sounds and the sights. I know because I’ve done it, just like I’ve called a fastball right down the middle of the plate a ball because my timing was off and it was too late by the time I realized that the pitch was really a strike.

I don’t remember where, but I read one really insightful comment during the week: nobody feels worse about this than Jim Joyce, not even Armando Galarraga. That’s really true. The plays I remember most vividly are the ones I got wrong. The balk/fair ball/foul ball play in the Hooper tourney. The safe/out play at first at Kelly Field during the Runza Spring Classic. The hit batter/not hit batter/dead-ball tag out during the state tournament at Sandlot Field.

Nobody has higher standards for umpires than the umpires themselves. They’re a group of people who pride themselves on knowing a rulebook that was designed to cover every situation that could ever happen on a baseball field full of managers trying to circumvent the rules to gain a competitive edge.

I was just a baby umpire, and I have an immense amount of respect for the pros. They spend the whole season on the road, away from their families, living from hotel to hotel. It’s definitely a thankless job, but without them we would be without sports, and that would make life a little less fun.

Hangin’ with Dr. Mohler

Friday night I was invited over to Al Mohler‘s house. He and his family live in the president’s mansion (a word not accidentally chosen) next to the grounds of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Okay, so there were about 200 other people invited that night as part of the preview weekend at the Seminary, but let’s not dwell too long on the petty details.

The way I figure, it’s all about getting that “inside story” from a celebrity. Something that won’t appear in any book or on any talk show, but rather is just a random piece of the person’s life. Mohler and his family stood at the door of their home greeting all of the preview students and families. While shaking hands he asked me where I was from. “San Luis Obispo, CA area” I replied. At that point he got rather animated and pulled his wife and daughter over and said “He’s from San Luis Obispo!” I was expecting a “Where exactly is that?” response, not a interrupting-other-people’s-conversation-with-his-daughter-and-wife response. “What’s the significance of that?” I asked with a smile and a shrug. Mohler then proceeded to tell me about a Fourth of July vacation they took in my stomping grounds.

While stopping for gas on the Fourth, a woman approached Mohler outside the convenience store. Looking up at him she exclaimed, “You are the ugliest man I have ever met! You are so incredibly ugly!” I had to laugh at the reminder to be humble, Mohler interjected. The woman was quickly shooed away by a cop with “a thick Jersey accent.” The cop said something akin to “Don’t worry about it, she says that to everyone who goes into the store. She’s crazy.” Mohler inquired as to where the fireworks were going to be that night and the Joisey cop responded, “Ah nah. Wee don’t have no fireworks heere. It sceers away da boidees.” Yet another Fourth of July foiled by the Snowy Plover bird colonies.

Later in the evening I was poking around Mohler’s 40,000 book personal library when I walked into a room where he was informally answering questions with about 15 prospective students. I stood back and listened for a while, but decided to join the fray when I realized I was stuck in the room until the crowd packing the two entrances thinned out. I like to ask questions that help me view such men as people with real lives in situations like that. I can go find something Mohler’s written to answer any doctrinal questions I have, and that kind of setting doesn’t afford enough time to give the details necessary to ask a life-situation question.

So I asked “What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?”

I thought he might say “Yours,” but instead replied “It was on the day that I was to be announced as the president of Southern Seminary. I had been up for about 72 hours straight, being grilled by the board of trustees, flying to different places for various meetings. I was 33 years old and incredibly young for the job. I was about to meet with a very hostile press for this announcement when a reporter asked me ‘You’re 33 years old, what do you plan to do about that?’ I turned to him and said ‘I plan to age.’ And let me tell you, that is the promise I’ve kept most faithfully over the last 17 years.”

So there you have it, my experience of hanging with Dr. Mohler.