Monday, July 30, 2012

North Litchfield Beach - pit stops!

As we said goodbye to the beach and ventured back through the back roads of SC, we came across a pit stop where the "El Cheapo" gas station advertised "butt meat" and "liver puddin." We felt that this was too good to pass by so we stopped for boil peanuts and to tank L up. The boiled peanuts were slightly below average, but the diversity was high as the clerk was from India. For lunch we stopped just past Columbia where we frequented the chipotle (for K's dietary restrictions) before we hit up CFA.

Our chipotle bathroom experience was memorable as I ventured in solo with Luke and Ava Marie.  As we were in the men's, the men went first followed by Ava Marie.  The scene that unfolded was memorable.  Luke having done his business now proceeded to the sink to wash his hands while Ava Marie climbed up onto the commode and clung precariously to the seat which was not designed for an almost three year old.  Watching her dexterity on the lid, I failed to notice that Luke had applied liquid soap all the way to his elbows as if scrubbing in for a surgery.  I immediately stepped in and began to ration the liberal amount of hand soap that Luke was applying, out of the corner of my eye I watched Ava Marie shift to the side of the seat where she could better stabilize (smart!) in order to concentrate at the task at hand.  Having positioned herself, she began vigorously applying herself.  At that moment Luke, feeling satisfied that he had sufficiently washed his hands and elbows discovered the jet powered drier.  The moment his little fist punched the drier into action, I knew that we were all in trouble!  The sound reverberated with a deafening roar off the concrete floor.  Her concentration completely derailed, I watched as Ava Marie's hands instinctively shot from their Vulcan grasp to cover her ears.  She rocked precariously and decided it would be best to keep one hand engaging the seat and the other covering an ear.  As she doubled over to escape the sound, she let out a screech joining the jet powered drier.  To resolve the problem, I immediately began barking orders into the tumult!  "Ava Marie, it's ok!  Luke, don't touch the drier!"

Once relative calm had been reestablished and Ava Marie had been coaxed to proceed, we began to wait.  As Luke's bathroom break was complete, he decided it would be a good time to exit.  I  explained in earnest to Luke that we had a no kid left behind policy and that he had better not open the door.  We would hang out till his little sister was finished.  I saw in his minds eye that his hands could use a little more drying, I emphatically told him no.  I began to wander how much of the proceeding tumult could be heard by the very patient man outside, who I imagined was contemplating how using the ladies would impact his manhood.  For good measure, and the sake of my fellow man waiting outside the door contemplating gender suicide, I beseeched Ava Marie to hurry.  Formative instances like these are probably why most don't like to be rushed in lieu.  As we waited, I found myself asking Ava Marie for the third time "are you done yet?"  Finally she nodded and we headed toward the sink, while I kept my eye on Luke who was hovering by the door and who I feared would attempt a quick escape.

Thinking again of the unfortunate man who was waiting for us to vacate, I quickly dashed some water over Ava Marie's hands omitting the application of soap.  Maybe it was being second to use the commode, maybe the ear shattering dryer, maybe her daddy asking her 5 times if she was finished, but at the omission of hand soap Ava Marie came undone!  We made a quick, but not to quiet exit.  Luke pulling me toward the exit and Ava Marie pulling me back toward the bathroom.  I managed a dignified nod to the obviously relieved gentleman as we exited to continue our 900 mile journey home.

North Litchfield Beach - third times a charm!

I was dreading the 17 hour ride with three kids under five from Benton IL through ATL through Columbia to Litchfield Beach.  Surprisingly the two night transit went quickly with the help of sunflower seeds and two portable DVD players - I think I got stickers and a picture book when I was young. We've come a long way!

 Our third "beach" vacation in 4 years, we appear to be keeping pace with our kid production. We established an am beach rhythm with the kids. The kids got more adventurous each day and were the adult's entertainment. Luke was inseparable from his "cutlass" pirate sword from uncle J and aunt S. Ava Marie has started to respond to adults by saying "uh-huh, uh-huh!" She was not quite as bold as her big brother in the waves but was not shy at working grandmother's puzzle. L hated the beach crying (more of a high pitch squeal!) and pulling his feet up everytime he would touch the sand or water, but as consolation - like his granddad - he discovered watermelons and loves them.

During our family picture foray we encountered a white crab - not sure if Ava Marie or the crab will ever be the same.  Both freaked out! The crab tried to escape while Ava Marie shrieked at the top of her lungs (even though daddy was holding her 4 feet off the ground). Fortunately no one had to go to the ER . . . swimmer's ear (1st year), stingray (2nd year) . . . K and I enjoyed two late night walks on the beach and went shopping while grandparents watched the kids . . . should probably watch your wives and husbands too!


Monday, May 21, 2012

A Time Gone By - St. Louis (Marriage Conference)

This was our third marriage conference in four years. We had to laugh, maybe God was trying to tell us something? The ride from Benton to St. Louis is pretty and relaxing - the green of the corn field would be interupted by the bronzed yellow of the wheat and then the green would resume. In stark contrast East St. Louis is one of the more impoverished places I've ever seen - almost ghostly.

We arrived at the Millenium hotel a day early. The hotel had several things going for it: close the arch, a great view, and a swimming pool. In the morning K went to see her good friend Lisa while I went for a jog to the other side of the Mississippi river and through the park at the base of the arch. Constructed in the 60s the arch brings to mind the ability of modern engineering and at times a cheesy sci fi movie (the skin of the arch is metal and it is a little random :)

After a little exploration which took me from the basilica on the river up through a string of parks and hotels and after the lady at the kiosk shut down my request for more informational fliers, K and rendezvoused and ate at a fun Italian restraunt cadi-corner from the court house and then hoofed it 10 blocks to Union Station in the heat . . . Our dogs were barking!

Union station was like being imported into rouring twenties. All of the opulence of the robber baron's and the grandure of the industrial revolution seemed to be encapsulated in this grand old building. When we arrived the porter informed us that on our return we could take the metro. Wish I would have known this before we walked the 10 blocks. We wrapped up our time in St. Louis at the arch (I napped and K read). All in all St. Louis is a quiet, medium size city that looks back to a time of prominence in our nations history.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Real World - Wilmore, KY

The man was wearing a pair of cut off jeans, a black v-neck tee from the early 80s, and a well worn pair of fabric crocs. He got out of his cherry red mini van and in tow was a young girl. As I watched him in the reflection of the gas station window pane, I thought to myself, "whose that dorky dad?" Katherine did not appreciate as I shared my thoughts as she wondered where that left her being married to me - the dad in question. We were in rout to our sister's graduation in Wilmore KY when I caught a glimpse of myself in the windows of a gas station.

It had been 9 years since we had last been in Wilmore. Four worlds removed (Benton, Dallas, Atlanta, and Lafayette) and three kids later, we could only remember bits and pieces of our last trip. A bed and breakfast with a double bed, squeaky springs, situated next to a railroad track were some of my faint memories of our last trip. As I watched "aunt" Becs graduate (way to go Aunt Becs!!), I reminisced on my past graduations. Like our first visit to Wilmore they are a little fuzzy . . . My high school gym, open houses,and anticipation of college; the Purdue marching band, Elliot Hall, and a sea of graduates, wondering what the next step would be; Prestonwood, my professors, the commencement speaker that encouraged us to stay close to Christ and His Word, pictures with Luke in my cap, and again wondering where we would go next . . .

The time in Wilmore was filled with CFA, a giant play ground, slumber parties with "aunt Becs, cartoons (we don't get any tv), and happy reunions with Grandmother and Granddad. I did manage to get one run in around Asbury College, bringing ever closer to home the fact that I have "graduated" from the fairy tailed halls of academia and find myself mid stride in the "real world" that the honorary speaker warned the graduates they were facing.  A world where my highlights now consist of watching Ava Marie have her hair French braided by grandmother, helping little Hadden fall asleep on the car ride home, or navigating the playground with Luke leading the way!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Rocky End to a Smooth Start

By dawn we were at the GA line, breakfast in Chatanooga, lunch in Nashville, and around 3pm we were in Illinois. All in all we fared well on our 10 hour drive, but were wiped out by the time we joined the Auten's for dinner. Arriving to our suite we found it filled with snacks and goodies; a reflection of things to come - Rock on!

The weekend was a blur. Saturday was spent being surveyed by three different groups in three hours - highlight was being on stage with K answering questions from the church body and sensing that the deacons were on the same page with an attitude of ownership that I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by! These things always have the potential of being rocky, but we both felt the Lord allowed a very smooth and "easy" Q and A time. Saturday night the gym was filled for the Valentine's banquet. Two hours later we left with faces hurting from smiling and laughing so hard (though we had already commented that our grinners had been hurting from all smiling we had done in the morning :). This church loves to laugh and had a ball with their slightly sacrilidgeous "church ladies" who MCed then roasted their "young" pastors (me included) in a not so newly wed game. I'm not throwing stones (small rocks), but these ladies didn't pull any punches! Girldles, worst habits, IQ comparisons, breath ratings . . . suddenly remembering now that the mid-west culture is very much say it how it is! Good times!

Sunday morning, I woke up exhausted! My introvert batteries were screaming - by noon, I must have shaken 1,000 hands (the church ran 450 + at the services). Conversations varied from background to the weather - one lady informed me that she had longjohns on (see above concerning mid-west culture :). I was completely innondated by names . . . there are 5 Kays in the choir alone. The vote was 99% in favor of calling us - going to need a rock for my collection. I chalked up the 4 "nos" to the church ladies. After a celebratory lunch we hunted for houses - came away thinking we will need to be patient. By Sunday evening I was depleted and a little nervous; this would be by far the largest crowd I have ever preached too (350+). I broke out the rocks which got a good response. K said that I was a little fuzzy in the middle of the message, but all in all I delivered! In other words, "You Rock!"

Monday we began the trek home - 45 minutes from a home a semi threw a small rock which zinged the corner of our windshield. I watched as the nick grew from a dimple into a 6 inch crack - meaning it would have to be replaced. Amazing how the little things in life have the greatest potential to drive you off your rocker!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gate E16

My Rock was waiting for me as usual at gate E16, but this time my rock would return with me. By my calculations this is my sixth or seventh trip to DFW during the last two years with AL. I acquired my rock shortly after transitioning to Apartment Life to memorialize a dream that God had called me to put on hold - as usual I struggled and God blessed despite His initially disenchanted servant.

Running parallel with my own journey, I had had a plan for this rock two years ago that didn't come to fruition. My memorial stone was to ride home with me in my carry on bag until the TSA agent informed me that I couldn't carry on small boulders onto the plane. Having become emotionally attached to my igneous friend, I couldnt abandon him (yes, this one is a male) so I placed him strategicly in the DFW airport landscaping at E16.

By coincidence one of the themes for our staff meeting was rocks of remembrances. As I wrapped up my presentation to the senior leadership, I brought out my rock and shared how God had been faithful during my two year season with AL. I then requested that my rock be shipped to GA where it can be joined with the rest of my rock collection as we prepare to make the jump to S. Illinois.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Seven reasons to study James

1. One of two books of the Bible written by a brother of Christ - imagine always being compared to your older brother who happens to be the Son of God! :)
2. Likely the first book penned out of the New Testament corpus ("wik" it).
3. Short and straight forward - 5 chapters.
4. Luther called it a "right strawy epistle!"
5. Addresses problems we face today - trials, dysfunctional people, and our own pride.
6. 60 imperatives packed into 108 verses; a plum line realigning our lives & bringing God's economy in focus.
7. Called "Proverbs of the New Testament"

The Crossroad's class will be launching into the book of James over the next few months. In an attempt to chew steak (see previous post), if you would like to get more out of the God's Word please consider taking the following challenge (SBX style)!  We will be starting next week with James 1:1-18 (pages. 22-26).

Tall - read James 3 times in a week
Grande - work through the James study (prior to Sunday) - see link "James study" on the right side of blog under Crossroad's Bible Study
Venti - James study + memory verse - see table of contents in study material

Fillet Mignon or Gerber "baby" food?

Every Sunday morning American Christians get up and enjoy one possible two doses of the Word of God.  While this intake of God's Word is designed to be a compliment to a week filled with self study of God's Word, it is highly probable that for many this might be the only intake of God's Word. 

To those that I have had the privilege to teach I enjoy likening the homily/lesson of pastor/teacher on Sunday morning to Gerber baby food - it's easily consumed, delivered by another, and there has been no effort on the part of the receiver in the preparation - in short they are consuming what has been "pre-chewed" by someone else!  Imaging eating baby food all your life - the growth would not be impressive (convicting?)! 

I like to say, Gerber is for baby, but the end game is Fillet Mignon - much better!  The goal is to grow up and  learn to "chew" your own food!  Those that learn to "chew" God's Word for themselves (2 Tim 2:15) will find that the "pre-chewed" doses of God's Word that were once their only sustenance as "babes" in infancy becomes a delightful dessert or to complete the word picture the "icing on the cake" after a nice steak!