Friday, August 31, 2012

Central Presbyterian Church

Texas was still a wild frontier with few settlers, and many dangers from Indian raids and hostile Mexican soldiers nearby in 1836, when Texas won its independence. This was the environment that the first Presbyterian church in Austin was organized by Rev. Wm. Y. Allen, with only six members, on October 13, 1839 at Bullock's Hotel.

Abner Cook, who went on to build many famous houses in Austin, such as the Governor's Mansion, the Neill-Cochran House, and the Pease Mansion, built that first church in Austin, a small wooden building on the SE corner of Lavaca and Bois d'Arc (now 7th Street), which stood until 1844, when a tornado destroyed it. After several years of meeting in various locations, Cook rebuilt a wooden frame church at the original location in 1850.

Not long after Texas joined the Union in 1845, the United States and Presbyterians became a country and a church divided. When Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860, Southern states began to secede from the Union, and Texas joined that secession movement on March 16, 1861, which is said to have broken Sam Houston's heart. On April 12, 1861, the Civil War began. The presbytery of Central Texas had dissolved its connection with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., and the Southern Assembly was formed in late 1861. The conflict of the war left many with bitter feelings toward those who had supported the other side. In 1866, a minority of 13 members left First Presbyterian Church, and maintained allegiance to the Central Texas Presbytery and the Southern Assembly. That division lasted 123 years (until 1983). It was at this time in history, after years of discussion, the northern and southern denominations of the Presbyterian Church voted to approve unification.

Rev. Richard A. Thompson (1986-1995) arrived, saw that the church was surrounded by tall buildings, and felt that the church must heighten its profile and let their light shine. Thompson initiated a capital improvements program, community outreach programs, banners over 8th St, and the historical marker that stands in the courtyard today (pictured below). He broadcast a series on public affairs known as "Austin Faith Dialogue". Then came the mid-80s, with a state-wide recession known as the "Oil Bust."

Rev. Greg McDonell was called as the new pastor in January 1997. Under his leadership, the church has grown again, and is well-known for its welcoming and mission spirit. The Interfaith Arts Festival and the church music programs are important parts of the character of Central. Under Greg's leadership, the Mission Statement Deliberately Diverse and Fully Inclusive was adopted, and Central's story is an ongoing one of family and creativity. Many great years of exciting service to the city and to the Lord lie ahead!

photo by Kevin Surbaugh


This congregation traces its roots to October 13, 1839, when Austin’s first Presbyterian worship service was held at Bullock’s Hotel. Present that day was builder Abner Cook, elder in the first Presbyterian church organized in Austin. He helped acquire this property for the Presbyterian Church (South) following a post-Civil War split in the church. A sanctuary was completed on the site in 1874.

This congregation was known in later years as Southern Presbyterian Church, the Free Presbyterian Church, First Southern Presbyterian Church, and Central Presbyterian Church. It has counted among its members many individuals important in the life of the denomination and the City of Austin, including Gov. Francis R. Lubbock; William Sidney Porter (O. Henry); A.N. and Jane Y. McCallum; Dr. George Clark and Rebecca Kilgore Stuart Red; and U.S. Attorney General Thomas Watt Gregory. The Rev. Richmond Kelley Smoot played an important role in the national denomination and in the development of the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

This congregation was instrumental in organizing five Presbyterian churches in Austin. It continues a program of ministry, outreach, and cultural events.
photo by Kevin Surbaugh

photo by Kevin Surbaugh

200 E 8th St, Austin TX 78701  

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mural at Fox 7

My wife won a mug from Fox 7's morning show. When we went down to pick the mug up we stumbled upon this mural. We had make sure the general public knew about this beautiful mural depicting several sites in downtown. Especially visible is the State Capital building. The station is within a couple blocks of the Capital.

photo by Kevin Surbaugh

119 E 10th Austin, TX 78701

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Site of Temporary Texas State Capitol of 1880’s

photo by Kevin Surbaugh

Built, 1882-1883, to replace the previous Capitol, which had burned in 1881. Until the building was completed, the orphaned Texas government conducted business in the county courthouse and jail across Congress avenue.

The three-story brick building – third Texas Capitol in Austin – was used five years. During this time it witnessed the passage of strong legislation to aid education and to halt fence-cutting, which, in 1883, had exploded into a range war. Governors John Ireland (1883-1887) and Sul Ross (1887-1891) both served in this building.

In 1883, the University of Texas held classes here for its 218 students until campus facilities were completed. On another occasion, cattle baron Charles Goodnight loaded $100,000 in cash in a wheel barrow and had it hauled to the Capitol to force settlement of a land dispute, but officials refused his offer.

After the present Capitol was finished, 1888, this structure was used as home of Austin High School. Studios for music teachers, and for various offices. When it burned, Sept, 30, 1899, curious spectators sat on the fence around the new Capitol to watch volunteer firemen, hampered by low water pressure fight the blaze. The old building was razed soon after and the bricks were used in structures throughout Austin.

in Bicentennial Square near the Old Bakery and Emporium at 1006 Congress
it is one of eight (8) historical markers in this Square.  The Governors Mansion is also next door on Colorado. The State Capital is across the street on 11th, The square itself sets on the corner of 1th and Congress.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Trailer Food Tuesday is Tomorrow

Have you heard? There is a new monthly event happening here in Austin? It's the greatest thing, well; to use a cliched term, since sliced bread. 
Austin has long been known for it's Food Trailers. They are among the top places visitors must try when buying their food while in town.  Now on the last Tuesday of the month there is an event called Food Trailer Tuesday.  The event started last month on July 31, 2012.
Here is a the current 2012 schedule for this great event:
  • Aug. 28, 2012
  • Sept .25, 2012
  • Oct. 30, 2012
  • Nov. 27, 2012
Some of the most popular food trucks that are expected to be there each month are:

  • Dock n Roll Diner
  • The Peached Tortilla
  • I Coal Haus
  • Chi'Lantro
  • Hey Cupcake
  • Yum√© Burger
  • Be More Pacific
  • The Seedling Truck
  • The Evil Wiener

So be sure to check it out tomorrow night and every month 5 - 10 pm and every month, again on the last Tuesday of the month at the Long Center for the Performing Arts 701 West Riverside Drive (at the corner of S. 1st Street). Admission is free, but be sure to bring money to spend at those food trailers.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

8th Annual Bat Fest this Saturday August 25, 2012

photo courtesy of Bat Fest website
One thing that Austin is known for the bats that live under the Congress Avenue bridge. That is why eight years ago While you can see the 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerging from under the bridge at dusk any day of the year. On Saturday August 25, 2012 from 5-Midnight you can celebrate the bats with 2 stages of live music, more than 75 arts & crafts vendors, delicious food and drinks, fun children’s activities, a bat costume contest and other bat activities, according to organizers. The best part, it's all FREE!

The organizers do make the following advisory:
Because bats are wild animals, it is hard to predict exactly when the emergence will begin but the flight usually begins between 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. The emergence can last up to ½ hour as 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats head out for their nightly flight. Bat Conservation International will have a festive booth on the bridge helping celebrate Austin’s favorite furry flying friends!
While the event itself may be free you will have to be prepared to pay for parking. Better yet ride your bike there or ride the bus.  In addition the vendors will be selling food and wares for you to purchase. So be prepared to open your wallets there as well.  So bring out the family and enjoy the festivities.  See you there.

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Austin Chronicle's Annual Hot Sauce Festival

The Hot Sauce Festival, sponsored by the Austin Chronicle, began in 1990. Since that time it has become the worlds largest drawing 15,000 spectators and more then 350 entrants each year. This year the festival will be this Sunday, August 26 at the Fiesta Gardens (2100 Jesse E. Segovia St.) here in Austin.The all day event will feature vendors, live music, and a raffle as well as the main contest.  It is an event to see. So come on out and check it out.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Austin Zoo

Austin Zoo is a non-profit rescue zoo. In 1990, it was known as Good Day Ranch, owned by Jim and Cindy Carriccio. Good Day Ranch was home to a handful of domestic farm animals. By 1994, according to a brochure given to visitors, the quiet ranch was becoming quite the little business. At this point they were renamed as the Austin Zoo. They house a number of domestic and wild animals that range from monkeys who have spent their entire lives in laboratories, former circus animals, to exotic birds and animals kept inappropriately as pets. Austin Zoo is more a sanctuary then a traditional zoo. Which means you can actually get closer to many of the animals. Their message is that wild animals are not pets.

The zoo even has murals, like the one painted on the side of the Black Bear habitat.

photo by Kevin Surbaugh

10807 Rawhide Trail
Austin, TX 78736

The Brown Lemur were fun to see.
photo by Kevin Surbaugh

February 1- October 31

Open daily from 9:30am – 6:00pm (No entry after 5:00pm)

The gift shop closes at 5:00pm

November 1- January 31

Open daily from 10:00am – 5:30pm (No entry after 4:30pm)

Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day

The gift shop closes at 4:30pm

Below is the Silver Fox
photo by Kevin Surbaugh
Children (ages 2-12)  $5.00

Adults  $8.00

Students (with Student ID)  $6.00

Military (with Military ID)  $6.00

Grandparents/Seniors  $6.00

Member Guest  $5.00

Animal Food (Goats, Sheep, and Deer)  $2.00

The Panther is a beautiful animal to see.
photo by Kevin Surbaugh

Handicapped Accessible:

Somewhat. The office which serves as the front gate has ramps in and out of the front door, but the doors are barely wide enough for a chair. The trails in front of the cages are gravel and even have steps making it difficult for handicapped person to make it through the zoo grounds.

The Tigers are a sight to see.
photo by Kevin Surbaugh
This goat was eager to be petted, in the petting zoo area, as well as maybe receive a treat.
photo by Kevin Surbaugh
Official website:

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Related Links:
Trip Adviser

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Old Bakery and Emporium

The Old Bakery and Emporium, in Downtown Austin, is an historic building. The Old Bakery operates as a Consignment Shop, Visitor Information Center, Art Gallery exhibiting local artists 50 or better and even houses a museum, the Lundberg-Maerki Historical Collection.

Historic Building

Photo by Kevin Surbaugh

Old Bakery & Emporium
1006 Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701

Historical Marker
Photo by Kevin Surbaugh
Old bakery built 1876 by Chas. Lundberg. Bread then was not sliced or wrapped; children and maids waited with baskets to take home loaves hot from the oven. House specialties were sponge cake ladyfingers, glazed kisses, almond-meal macaroons.

A front balcony (since razed) permitted a later baker, Henry Maerki, to photograph parades, including one in 1901 for U.S. President William McKinley.

Now Austin Heritage Society’s tourist information center

Located to the right of the front door

photo by Kevin Surbaugh
The Old Bakery was the office of the Bicentennial Affairs during the celebration of the American bicentennial in Austin. Festival events, projects preserving Austin’s heritage, and its gift to the nation “a bold plan to preserve, restore, and enhance Austin’s waterways and the open spaces around them” were sponsored by Austin patriots of 1976.
Above is a replica of the marker recognizing groups and individuals for outstanding contributions to the American bicentennial celebration in Austin, Texas, by the Heritage ’76 Committee.

Located to the left of the front door

Visitor Center/Art Gallery/Museum & Consignment Shop

9 am - 4 pm

Official Website:

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

August in Guatemala

Sorry that it's been so long since my last update! It's been a busy past few weeks, and here's what's been going on:

Elias is currently finishing up his senior year of high school right now. This is his last month of classes, and so he's really busy finishing up lots of final projects and preparing for final exams in the coming weeks. He's excited to be so close to graduating!

Benjamin continues to work at his new job of inventory management at a label making factory. The company makes everything from soda bottle labels, to hotdog packaging, to different types of sales stickers. He's really enjoying the new job experience and being able to use his accounting degree.

Proverbs 20:5: The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. 

The guys have been with us for about eight months now, and we feel like we're only now starting to really get to know them. They're brothers, but their personalities are very different. They both struggle with not knowing their fathers and the abandonment of their mother. These experiences have affected them deeply and have created walls in their hearts that keep others out. It takes lots of time and patience and love and prayer to break through. I'm so grateful for the conversations we've been having lately with them and the glimpses into their hearts. Would you please pray Proverbs 20:5 for us? We want to be used by God to minister to their hearts. Please pray for them as they live and grow with us. Please pray that God would give us love and wisdom in ministering to them. And please pray for the guys that come in the future to live with us, that even now they would be getting to know God as their Heavenly Father.

Last month was crazy as we found out that there was a problem with Yuli's residency in the US, and so we had to quickly fly back to the States before July 1st. I returned to Guatemala shortly afterwards, and Yuli stayed with my parents until things got sorted out. (thanks Mom and Dad!) It ended up taking four weeks for everything to get sorted out, and we're happy to have it resolved and be back in Guatemala together. Yuli's pregnancy is going well, and we're expecting a girl to be born in mid November. It exciting to be getting ready for our first baby! It was hilarious a few nights ago to watch the guys get freaked out when they saw Yuli's stomach move as our baby moved around.

My mom took advantage of Yuli's return to Guatemala to fly down with her in order to visit us. It was lots of fun to introduce her to our guys and to the kids of Casa Shalom as well has spending time with her and Yuli's family together. My mom has always been a great source of spiritual guidance and encouragement, so it was so wonderful to have her here with us!

The construction continues to progress well, and now the walls of the house are just about finished. Next week we're going to start on the preparations for the cement roof. We have to first build a huge wooden mold that the cement can then be poured into. It's so exciting to see it all getting finished, and we're still hopeful that we'll be able to move into the house by the end of the year.

Thanks so much for all of your prayers and support for us in Guatemala! God has given us an incredible responsibility to be His witnesses to his children in Guatemala, and we feel honored to carry His name.
Brent & Yuliza

Monday, August 13, 2012

Romney-Ryan an Energetic Team

It has been a while since I wrote here and it is time to once again begin to share my thoughts.  Recently Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, named Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his Vice-Presidential running mate. I think this may be a good choice and I why om a few miniutes

Balanced Ticket

First, however, I want to address the one negative. Usually a Presidential candidate wants to balance the ticket. Not only philosophically but also geographically. While Congressman Ryan is from Wisconsin, he is still from the northern/north-eastern area of the country. The South and west isn't represented. Sure Wisconsin might be considered upper Midwest, it is that upper part that concerns me. It is in my humble opinion, geographically close to Massachusetts (where Romney lives and served as Governor) and Michigan (the state where Romney grew up).
Photo from Fox News

 Conservative Leadership
Now lets look at what really matters. Why I think he is a good choice as the VP nominee.  Paul Ryan is a strong conservative leader. He is a Catholic (like that matters, but some people like knowing a candidates religion).  He has been in Congress since he was elected in 1998, when two-term incumbent Mark Neumann retired from his seat in order to make a bid (unsuccessful) for the U.S. Senate. Ryan won the Republican primary over 29-year-old pianist Michael J. Logan and the general election against Democratic opponent Lydia Spottswood.  In Congress he became best known for a budget that would make some harsh cuts to a staggering unbalanced budget. Ryan's budget seeks to reduce all discretionary spending in the budget from 12.5% of GDP in 2011 to 3.75% of GDP in 2050. 

Obama's campaign released an email statement within a few hours of the announcement, criticizing Ryan. Saying in part,
Congressman Paul Ryan is best known as the author of a budget so radical The New York Times called it "the most extreme budget plan passed by a House of Congress in modern times."
Which with the economy in the shape that it is in, we need some extreme, across the board cuts. Obama likes to claim that Republicans will damage Medicare. The truth is under Obama, more illegal aliens are getting medicare and other welfare benefits (because they know how to lie and game the system) while those Americans who need it most and are honest about their finances are disqualified.  Take for example the lady who only had income from her Social Security of $1, 0211. Her husband unemployed, and not drying unemployment.  Together, they earned $20 to much for Medicare. This at a time when the Obama administration for the first time ever didn't give a cost of living increase to Social Security recipients.

The fact is we are spending to much money and just as we in our private lives have to face the music when we send to much and cut expenses, sometimes drastically.  The same is true or us as a country. The country has to find was to slash the budget and get us back on track so that we can once again be fiscally sound.  Obama has a pour record financially, just look at the Countries bond rating.  For the fist time under Obama we lost out AAA credit rating. All because of the wasteful spending, and refusal to make the deep  cuts so that we can meet our obligations.
Personally, one area to cut would be to pull out of all these conflicts around the world. Obama promised we would within the first year of his administration.  That hasn't happened. It is time we got Afghanistan and let these other countries take care of themselves.  We don't need to be the world's police force, getting involved in Libya, Syria and/or Iran.  That alone would save billions of dollars, perhaps trillions over the course of one presidential term.

 The Clear Choice

Let's face it, all we have seen from Obama is lies. we certainly haven't seen the "Hope" and "Change" that he campaigned on four years ago.  Which is kind of interesting. Looking at the previous Democratic President who was from Hope and the current Democratic President who campaigned on "Hope", I would rather the previous one. Which is saying a lot, considering I worked on campaign's opposed to former President Clinton. The same as I will campaign against this current President.  One thing I hate is liars and Obama has proven himself to be just that, a liar. I have issues with Romney, but comparing him to Obama I have to go with Romney. To me with Ryan on the ticket, Romney is the clear choice to be the next President.

My name is Kevin, and that's what I think. What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Walnut Creek Park

photo by Kevin Surbaugh

12138 N. Lamar Blvd. 78753
(Park is actually located between  Lamar and Old Cedar with entrances from both roads)

Phone Number:
photo by Kevin Surbaugh

This park has 1 reservable area.
(512) 974-6797

Park Hours:
5a.m. - 10 p.m.
photo by Kevin Surbaugh

Pool Hours:
Daily Noon - 7 p.m. Recreational swim

Park Admission:
There is no admission fee for the park itself.

Pool Admission:

  • $3 adults 
  • $2 1-17 
  • $1 11 and under
Park Amenities:
  • Barbeque Pits 6
  • Basketball Courts 2
  • Off-Leash Dog Area 1
  • Picnic Shelters 1
  • Picnic Tables 26
  • Playgrounds 1
  • Softball Fields 5
  • Swimming Pools 1
  • Trail Miles 15
  • Volleyball Courts 1

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Are You Willing to Sacrifice Your Dream

In chapter 5 of "The Dream Giver," by Bruce Wilkenson, he descibes how Ordinary faced a choice. He could give his Dream back to the "Dream Giver," or he could keep it. Ordinary struggled with this idea. He really didn't want to give up his dream. Eventually though  he did. He left his journal behind, since he was no longer going to need it and crossed the river into the "Land of Promise." On the other side he found that the "Dream Giver" had gave him back his journal with a new entry.
Ordinary, I am giving you back your Dream. Now you can use it to serve me. Now you can achieve truly Great Things. And I am with you always.
We must all learn to sacrifice our entire lives. including our dreams, if we are going to be blessed by God. The thing is we must want God more then our dreams. He must be first in every aspect of our lives. For me and my dream, I believe God is calling me to have a little convenience store thay follows the Chick-fil-a model (of being closed on Sundays). I truly desire my dream be used to serve Him.

go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Merriltown Cemetery

photo by Kevin Surbaugh
This burial ground has served the surrounding area since the early 1850s. Most of those interred here lived in the Merrilltown community, which Captain Nelson Merrell (d. 1879) established when he settled here in 1837. He operated the post office and a store in the community. Captain Merrell deeded this property to trustees of School District #9 in 1856 for use as a burial ground; he also deeded land for a church and school. Merrell served as Travis County Commissioner (1852-1859) and assisted with the construction of Congress Avenue; he is also recognized as a Texas Ranger for his work in leading a group of Rangers in protecting Austin from attacks by Native Americans.

The oldest marked grave in Merrilltown Cemetery is of Julia Merrell (d. 1852), the young daughter of Nelson and Rachel Merrell (d. 1862). Another noted burial here is of Lemuel Summerwell Woodward (1813-1891), another Travis County Commissioner (1860-1864). Others interred include community leaders and veterans of military conflicts dating to the Civil War. Cemetery features include curbing, vertical stones, obelisks, a Woodmen of the World grave marker and Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) grave markers. Merrilltown residents maintained the grounds until 1982, when the Round Rock School District was named the cemetery’s trustee. In 1996, the Calvary Worship Center assumed this charitable trust from the school district, and today continues to care for the burial ground. Although this area was annexed into Austin, Merrilltown Cemetery persists as a reminder of the Merrilltown community, and serves as a record of this area’s pioneers.
14901 Burnet Rd Austin, TX 78728


photo by Kevin Surbaugh