Did Santa visit you?

The conversation was via my cell phone to my parents’ home phone, Christmas Day:

Dad: Did Santa visit you?

Me: Yep. Did Santa visit you?

Dad: Yes.

Me: Did he leave a lot of coal?

Notice, I left off the crucial phrase “in your stockings.” I think if I had said “coal in your stockings”, everything might have been a little clearer. I’m not entirely sure that I didn’t say it, but we’ll assume I didn’t.

Dad: What?

Mom: No, we didn’t get much gold.

Me: What?

Mom: We didn’t get much gold.

Me: I guess I need to spell it. I said did you get much coal, you know, C – O -…

Mom: …L – D. No, it hasn’t gotten cold yet. It’s cool, though. It’s supposed to get cold tomorrow.

Me: No, COAL. Did you get much COAL?

Mom: Oh. Well, I got a few things from Kohl’s.

Me: No, no! COAL. C – O -A -L!

True story.


June will be here before you know it

Having not written in about two forevers, I have a backlog of stuff crowding my brain. Stuff. Not important things necessarily, just things I’d like to write about.

Then, of course, as I go to put the thoughts to words to blog post, the things – like baby spiders – and, yes, there’s a story there – scatter willy-nilly.

Let’s start with the title of this post, which is all about July. Yes, I know it says June, but follow me here.

I’ve noticed over the course of years that July, in my particular ebb and flow, tends to be the month where the least is expected of me and subsequently I have the most free time. I haven’t done a strict time analysis on this to test whether this is fact, but on purely subjective reflection I believe it to be so.

July is usually the month of National Bible Quiz Finals. Several times I have been privileged to attend, as I was this year in St. Louis.

In my youth pastor days, July was always a good month for a missions trip.

It was also the usual month for youth camp.

July contains Independence Day. It’s a slow time at church, with many taking vacations.

It was July when I took a month off from church and drove – with our family of six – across the United States, first to a National BQ Finals, then to a conference in Seattle, before driving back to Florida.

When July comes, I know there will be slightly less to do, slightly less busy-ness, slightly longer daylight hours. July is what I would call the heart of summer. Ironic, since July also contains the birthday of Summer – number three monkey.

However, I also look at July as the last breath before…most everything. In August, everything – school, church, home, family – starts getting busy. And it won’t stop until next July. Before you know it, it’s June again.

So, before we get into that, I’ll get into this. Coffee. Ice cream. July.


A place for everyone and everyone – eventually – in their place

Welcome to the relocated and renamed blog, formerly known as RevMcGator.

The original RevMcGator blog was an experiment. It was a way to see if I could run a blog and what it would become. It wasn’t my first attempt at a blog. Back in…the day…I signed up for AOL’s initial offering of weblogs. I created one on my AOL account, but I didn’t know what to do with it. It still exists, as an empty place on AOL’s servers I suppose.

Then I learned about Google’s Blogger system, where you could set up a free blog and easily give it style and structure. What I’ve learned the last couple of years is that blogs are easy; content is hard.

Most of the blogs I subscribe to have a particular theme and I read theme for one purpose. For instance, I am subscribed to Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like. It is a humorous blog built around one theme.

I’ve tried to give RevMcGator some structure by categorizing my posts in three categories – Rev, Mc, or Gator. Rev is the pastoral side of my life. Mc pertains to the family and personal things. Gator posts have to do with sports, hobbies, and the like.

That’s still pretty broad, so I’m continuing to cast around for the right theme for this blog. In the meantime, I’ve transitioned to SarcasticMonkeys. Let me tell you what you’ll find here and why.

The big idea for having this site was to have one place for the whole family to have their own space. Whether or not they ever use it, I wanted Trudi and each of the children to have their own webspace. So far I’ve only got Sam’s up and running, but in the days ahead I plan to have a blog for Trudi, Shae, Summer and Sawyer, too.

“What would I do with a blog?” Anything you want. Or nothing. The point is to have to the option. Sam likes creating videos, so his site is video-oriented. Trudi, Shae and Summer like to write, so I will be creating a more traditional writing-type-blog. And Sawyer…I’m not sure, but we’ll do something.

Look around. See what you like and don’t like. Feel free to comment (although the comments are moderated and we might not post your comments.) I’ve been playing around in this web space for awhile, trying to find what will work best. I installed Joomla and WordPress and uninstalled them both and came back to WordPress.

The name was a family consensus. I gave everyone their choice of some names, and they all liked Sarcastic Monkeys the best. Our humor tends to be a little sarcastic. And we’ve always referred to the children as “our monkeys.”

We hope you enjoy our new home.


Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner [Mc]

The last week has me thinking about vision, and not in the metaphorical sense that churches and ministers often talk about. You might have seen my Tweets or Facebook status about what has happened, but here’s the whole story.

Several weeks ago – and I won’t get the timing of events before this week exactly right – our friend, Annette, told Trudi about a contest in the newspaper from a local ophthalmologist with a prize of free Lasik surgery. Trudi has talked before about how much she would like to have that done, but it is quite expensive. As much as she would like to have it done, she also loves me [:)] and asked Shae to write a nomination letter to get me into the contest.

They didn’t tell me they were doing this. Here is Shae’s letter:

“My dad has worn corrective lenses since he was a kid. He’s never complained, except for muttering under his breath when he lost his contact on the bathroom floor or when we found a picture of him in his third grade “Harry Potter” look… which is not good, since he was rocking those owl-eyed specs decades before the little wizard ever existed. He’s been a good sport about getting short-changed in the eye department, but when my mom read the blurb in the News-Press about this prize, we both knew we wanted to win for Dad.
So we did a little digging. I’ve never seen my Dad budge without his contacts or his glasses. From the moment he wakes up, he’s wearing something to help him see. I knew his eyes were bad, I just didn’t know how bad until we called his eye doctor. As it turns out, my poor father has 20/400 vision, plus an astigmatism. According to the doctor, without corrective lenses, he can’t see a hand in front of his face. I may be eighteen, but I still haven’t lost the sense of seeing my dad as a superhero who can fix anything, so it was a shock to hear that without those clunky lenses, he would be considered legally blind.

I’m nominating my dad because I love him and because, frankly, he deserves it. He’s been a pastor since 1990. His job is to help others, whether they’re a long-time member of the church or just a visitor passing through. He’s wonderful at his job, but he’s even better as a dad. He gave us his sense of humor, his values on right and wrong, his love of chocolate, and his brown eyes. I love those eyes because they’re his eyes… and mine. He’s done so much for everyone else, so I would love to be able to do this one thing for him. Please pick my father, Reverend Tim McDaniel. Let him ditch those Clark Kent spectacles, so everyone else can see the Superman that we see.”

Okay, obviously she stretched it a bit. I’m not Clark Kent, Superman or even Jimmy Olsen. Although, I might be close to Jimmy. However, the part about my eyes is true. Without glasses or contacts, I can’t focus beyond about six inches. Other than that, it kind of sounds like I’m a doddering old guy. Which I might be.

Anyway, the Giving Eyes contest is offered by Collins Vision and Dr. Michael Collins. He is a rather young-looking doctor who specializes in Lasik surgery. Ann, a very nice lady from his office, called in late April to say that I was one of four finalists. She was very excited for us and seemed to be really impressed by Shae’s letter.

The next thing to be done was to be examined, to find out if my eyes were eligible for the Lasik procedure. My appointment was yesterday, May 28. To prepare for the appointment, I had to go for a week without my contacts, wearing only my glasses.

Wearing my glasses is annoying, because they aren’t up to my current prescription, and wearing them is just bothersome anyway, but I was happy to do it, because of the possibility of winning the contest.

At the same time, I went into this without much expectation, not because I didn’t want the prize, or because I doubted that I might win. Recently I was reading Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational (see the link on my sidebar), and he was talking about how we are prone to acting in certain ways, especially when we take “ownership” of things. There are good results to taking ownership, and there are not-so-good results, especially when we take ownership of things that don’t belong to us. The funny thing is, we can easily take ownership of things ahead of time. That’s the whole basis of advertising, getting the consumer to picture themselves in ownership of what they’re trying to sell.

I didn’t want to “own” a prize that wasn’t mine. As a result, I kept my expectations down. Paradoxically, I fully expected to win. I can’t explain why, other than I thought Shae’s letter was really good and I had been told that the other finalists had been self-nominated.

Yesterday I went to the Collins Vision office, where I was treated very nicely and got to meet Ann, Dr. Collins, and the rest of the office staff. Dr. Collins’ assistant ran several tests on my eyes, and he remarked that I seemed well-qualified for Lasik.

The last thing he did was dilate my eyes and sent me out to the waiting room. As I sat there, a tall man came in and announced himself to the receptionist as Gary Danielson. For those that don’t know, he was quarterback of the Detroit Lions back in 1976-1984, and currently is the lead analyst for CBS Sports’ Southeastern Conference football broadcasts. Both of those things are important to me, since I am a Lions fan since before he was quarterback (Greg Landry) and I really enjoy his commentating (along with Verne Lundquist) on the CBS broadcasts.

How cool, I thought. I wanted to say something, but didn’t really want to bother him, especially since I didn’t have anything particularly interesting to say. In the end, I left him alone, since no one else in the waiting room seemed to know who he was. I did Tweet that he was there, though.

Eventually I went in and met Dr. Collins, who was very nice, and he did further tests on my eyes. These were the most painful. He had to shine very bright lights in my eyes, which with my eyes dilated, was like poking the sun in my eye.

After he was finished, he confirmed that my eyes were suited to Lasik. However, my left eye, which seems to be my dominant eye, is weaker than my right eye. He said that he doesn’t think my left eye would be able to be fully corrected to 20/20. Because I am at the age where my close vision isn’t perfect, he would normally fully correct my dominant eye and leave the other eye less than fully corrected for distance so that I wouldn’t need reading glasses. But, because of the weakness of my dominant eye, he wouldn’t suggest that for me, choosing rather to fully correct both eyes.

This morning, bright and early, Ann called. I was chosen as the winner! She said the surgery date would be July 10 for what normally would be a $4900 procedure, but will be free to me. This is an advanced Lasik procedure that is $1000 more than their regular Lasik.

The problem is that I am scheduled to leave on July 11 for National Bible Quiz Finals in St. Louis. Ann said she would check with Dr. Collins, because a post-op check-up is necessary. She also mentioned that they had checked online and found my Twitter account. They saw my Tweet about Gary Danielson, which they thought was “cute”, and hoped to get an autograph for me.

Later, she contacted me and we’ve set the date. Unfortunately, my trip has messed up the July date, and surgery is now scheduled for Friday, September 4th. It’s disappointing to wait, but it’ll be great when it’s here.

That’s the story. I’m a winner. I’ll keep you up-to-date here. God is good to me.


Reunion [Mc]

When I saw the name of my sister-in-law come up in the caller ID on my cell phone, I silently prayed that there would be some reason she was calling me in the middle of a Sunday night service other than the one that I knew was coming. Julie and Trudi’s dad, Holton, has been battling cancer for some time, and his condition was steadily growing worse.

Trudi was scheduled to fly to Asheville on March 5th, on what would be Holt’s 74th birthday. We knew he didn’t have much time. We didn’t know how little time he actually had.

As I made my way from the Production Suite at the church down the back stairwell, Julie confirmed what I had already guessed. Holton had peacefully passed from this life at 6:30 pm, February 22, 2009.

Trudi and Julie had been with their sister, Christi, when she had passed away 2 1/2 years ago. Her death had been unexpected, but they had been able to rush to her side to share her last few hours on earth with her. When Christi finally slipped into the arms of Christ, no one had to tell them that the end had come.

But on this night, Trudi was part of the offering counting team at church. Julie, Casey, their brother, and Holton’s wife, Jan, had been unable to reach Trudi, as the noise of the counting room drowned out the buzzing of her cell phone.

I stopped before entering the counting room, quickly called our daughter, Shae, and told her to pray for her mom. And me.

This is one of those things you dread ever having to do.

What do say? I prayed again for the right words, and gently opened the door.

Trudi was in the rear of the room, entering checks into the online deposit system. The other four members of the counting team were chatting about something. I have no idea what. I knew that the rest of the family had left messages on her cell phone, but I didn’t want Trudi to see her phone before I had a chance to get her out of the room.

“Do you have some gum?” I asked, trying to act innocent and normal. It wasn’t really working. They could tell I was a little uptight about something. I wanted to get into her purse so I could slip her phone out.

“In my purse.”

I couldn’t find the gum. I found a mint and put it into my mouth.

“Would you check my phone? I thought I heard it buzzing a while ago.” I found the gum.

“Um…yeah.” I pulled the phone out and slipped it into my pocket.

“Who called?”

“Um, it’s okay.” I’m not sure if I specifically lied, but I definitely left her with the impression that no one had called. Suddenly, I was unsure what I should do. Maybe I could just wait until we got home in thirty minutes or so.

I walked out of the room, and paced for a minute. No, I needed to get her out of the room and let her know so she could call Julie and Jan and Casey and begin the process I knew we would all go through over the next few days.

As I went back into the room, I moved over to the corner, where I knew Trudi couldn’t see me. I tried to silently let the other counters know that they needed to take over for her, then I asked if I could talk to Trudi outside.

Lots of questioning looks from everyone followed us into the hall. Church would be ending soon, and I knew I had to give her the opportunity to get out of the building first. I gave one final plea for the right words, and knew I had none. All I could do was look into her eyes.

As it turns out, those were the right words.

“What is it?” Then the realization came. “Did my dad pass away?”

Later, when I went back to the church to pick up Sam, Summer and Sawyer to take them home, we sat in the parking lot while I tried to explain what had happened.

Sad? Yes, I said. For us. But not for him. He’s happy to be free of pain. He’s happy to be whole and well. He’s happy to see Jesus face-to-face.

There were several pictures of both Holton and Christi that I had to choose from, but I ended up with this one of Holton and Christi’s son, Jason. It was labeled as being of Holton and Christi in my computer, and even though it’s Jason, not Christi, I believed it was her, because Christi always seemed to like things that weren’t “girlie” – motorcycles and cleaning off her roof come to mind.

But it’s still a great picture of Holton. This is the easy-going, down-home guy I knew. He loved to have fun. He loved his grandchildren.

I’m sure Holton and Christi are enjoying a great reunion.


Famous Google-Wide [Mc]

Even though I’ll be posting this picture on Facebook, I thought I’d post it here, too. The picture is from Google Maps, in street-view mode. On the skateboard is Dalton. Well, we mostly call him Dalton, even though his name is Russell and that’s what a lot of people know him as. We know him as our “son/brother/friend/the-kid-who-comes-over-and-eats-our-food.”

Dalton is graduating from high school this year. Immediately after that, he is scheduled to head off to the Marines. We’ll miss him.

Wonder if he’ll take his skateboard?


Who You Really Are [Mc]

Saw this great video on the Ragamuffin Soul blog. Great for a few reasons.

It’s a great follow-up to my previous post about the President. What a wonderful tribute by two who know him best.

It is also thought-provoking for any dad, but especially any dad with a public title. I’m in the ministry, on staff at a church, so I have one of those titles. Pastor. Different than a president, but with some of the same pitfalls. You can forget who you are. You can forget what – and who – are really important. And you can forget that while you try to change the world and try to bring change into your sphere of influence, the greatest purposes are found under your own roof.

That’s as introspective as I intend on being for the next couple of days. happy birthday to me. tomorrow.


More to come [Gator]

Where do I begin?

A great, great, great day to be a Florida Gator. From the moment that Major Wright separated Oklahoma’s Manny Johnson from his senses, it was a wonderful thing to watch the Gators capture their 3rd National Championship. [The picture is from]

And there’s more to come, we think. It’s good to be on top. It’s good not to be Florida State or Miami or Notre Dame or Tennessee or many other teams that can only look up from their position far down the mountain.

One of the best things about this was being able to share it with my children, having been able to attend games with them this year, so they got to experience what a championship season is like. It’s good.


The Kodak on Vimeo [Rev]

Among the new things I’m trying this year is Vimeo, a video service that is much like YouTube, but allows free upload of HD content. I shot this HD video at 60 frames per second on the Zi6 at Sammy’s basketball game last night. When I play it back, it doesn’t look very good on Vimeo on my computer…don’t know how it will look on yours. (The video on my computer, straight from the camera, is amazingly good.)

Also, the preview here is only 400X300. When you click the link and go to my Vimeo space, it’s in full resolution.

Sammy playing ball from Tim McDaniel on Vimeo.


Non-Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving!

No, not Happy Turkey Day. The only happy turkeys are…well, you can’t be a happy turkey. Either you’re dead or you’re still a turkey. Not a great choice. The point of the day is not to celebrate turkeys, it’s to celebrate thanksgiving…you know, the giving of thanks.

And it’s not just the giving of thanks, but giving thanks to our Creator, our Maker, the One who provides life and all the good things we enjoy.

Like turkey (and dressing and mashed potatoes and football and the Gators and – you get the idea).

To repeat myself, we don’t celebrate turkeys, we kill them.

That would also make this a good day to kill the Turkey Spirit. That would be the attitude that doesn’t give thanks, that takes things for granted, that complains at everything, that is awed by nothing.

That’s the intro to this clip, which is perfect for Thanksgiving, and which I may use the next time I preach about complaining.

(Honestly, this has to be one of my favorite clips ever.)

Oh boy, oh boy!

Doesn’t she have that look on her face?

Happy Birthday to my best friend, my partner, my {blush} lover, my wife…the Lovely Trudi celebrates the day the world was blessed with her.

And we celebrate, too.

More with me than without me

A little sympathy for Trudi today…she’s spent more of her life with me than without me. We’ve been married 22 years today; she was only 21 when we married. Obviously, she didn’t figure out how to get her fingers out of those rings quick enough. (Odd games photographers play, don’t you think?)

It’s been a great 22 years.

Number Nine

Happy Birthday, Sawyer Layne!

As I’ve said before, she’s a delight to her family and everyone who knows her. Kind, generous, sweet…okay I’m getting mine in early for our little family tradition. (What family tradition, you ask? I’ll blog about it some other time.)

Nine years have gone by quickly.

Happy Birthday, Shae!

Another huge milestone in the McDaniel family. Shaelyn Cherie turns 18 today. Unhappily for us, she’s not here with us in North Fort Myers, but away at the University of Florida. (School begins on Monday.) She’s only been away for a few days, so we are still trying to adjust to her not being here. I’m sure there will be other birthdays that we won’t be able to be with her, but this is the first, so it’s a little more difficult.

We’re very proud of this little girl of ours, who has grown into a wonderful young lady. We are excited about how God will use her and what He has planned for her.

[And a very happy __st birthday to my OLDER sister, Cherie. Yes, that’s where Shae got her middle name.]

She’s a Little Lioness

Trying to describe someone can be difficult. It seems like you would need words to describe every moment of their life, because each one is different and reveals something else about them.

Try to describe someone with just one word, and you can come up many words short of really capturing who they are.

I’ll try it anyway with our Summer, who turns 12 today. The word I’ll pick is energy.

We are mostly a family of phlegmatics, with some melancholy on the side. For those of you who haven’t read personality books, like those from Florence Littauer and Tim Lahaye, the phlegmatic personality is most compared to the ox – slow, steady, reliable. The melancholy personality is concerned with detail, precision, and having things just so. They are also liable to be slow.

Summer gives our Phleg-Mel family a push. Although she has some of the same familial traits, she brings zest and power into the mix. When she’s happy, you know it. She loves to go full throttle, she loves to do things, she loves to try new things, and she loves to love.

Just look at that bright, energetic smile, and you might know what I mean. Even if I didn’t use enough words to fully describe it.

Happy Birthday, Summer!