Saturday, March 31, 2007

Staying at home for real

My last post (15 days ago) I extolled the wonders of being able to take a (virtual) trip while at home. Since then I’ve been confined (more or less) to living at home here in the real world.

A quick update on the weather. Most of the snow has gone. Linda spent yesterday afternoon in her “garden” raking leaves and general cleanup. We actually have some spring blossoms poking up and she heard her first robin. Spring is here –although we’ll likely get a few nasty days yet.

I also want to make a prayer request for Erin Hallam. Erin is the daughter of Verna Ray who is a dear Christian lady in our congregation. Erin has leukemia and is currently hospitalized with pneumonia. The prognosis is uncertain --

I have at least 4 major commitments on the go and that has kept me from having any time to wander around the INTERNET. I have been “lurking” on my Berean list browsing through the daily digests of activity but not participating. I haven’t visited any of my blogging friends. Sorry about that folks (of course most everyone has probably given up on coming by looking for me)

Job #1: My teaching (the course title is Understanding and using Information Technology in business) at Algoma University takes about 15 hours per week with class prep, assignments, tests etc. In addition I have been working with a couple of other people on a proposal for an a course on applying statistical analysis for improving industrial process and this has required a couple of meetings and some proposal writing.

Job #2: Getting a new car and getting it rigged as a tow vehicle that we can haul behind the “BBB” (they are referred to as dinghies or toads by RVer’s). We picked up the HHR 2 weeks ago (I guess I’ll have to have Linda give her own spin to those initials – they mean Heritage High Roof because it is based on a 1948 Chevrolet panel truck body – What about it folks anybody want to suggest a name for the HHR?? ) Yesterday we got it back from Christie campers with the towing hitch having been installed on the front end. After a bit of research I concluded we needed an auxiliary braking system for as well and was fortunate enough to get a “Brake Buddy” on sale through Sicard’s (the RV dealer where we bought the “BBB” -used – three years ago.) So aside from some minor details - that job is now complete. It is an expensive proposition but I hope in the long run it will be worthwhile. It will certainly give us more freedom to take in sights while we are traveling

Job #3; Preacher Evaluation (these jobs are listed in the order they have come up and don’t reflect importance or priority). Actually this has been an ongoing job since last fall but it really heated up in March. For 4 weekends in a row we have had someone “trying out” for the preaching role at Pinehill. In addition to organizing the “logistics”, coordinating the interview and evaluation process, Linda & I have hosted 2 of the couples in our home. So all that has taken a fair bit of time.

The weekend of March 11-12 we had Kevin & Nancy Cleary in our home for the weekend. Kevin is currently attending the East Tennessee Scholl of Bible & Missions in Knoxville.

From March 16 to March 26 we had Paul & Michelle Hillier in our home. Paul spoke & taught both Sundays (March 18 and March 25) as well as visiting with people during the week and teaching Wednesday night. Paul is a graduate of the Sunset’s International School of preaching (Edmonton) and is currently working (at a “secular” job) in Red Deer Alberta

This weekend we have Jon Knutson (he is being hosted by Barb King) from Bramalea . Jon is a recent graduate of Rochester Christian College in Michigan.

Ever heard of the phrase driving your car until the wheels fall off? On Sunday March 18 we had an incident that made me recall something that happened last year. A year ago today (March 31) we were in San Antonio Texas visiting the Alamo and taking a tour of the Riverwalk district – mentally recuperating from the scare we had when our we had a mechanical failure in the motorhome suspension that left us stranded in the middle of an intersection for 5 hours (Click HERE and scroll down for details).

The reminder came as we were driving Paul & Michelle to the church building on Sunday morning (March 18). I had been experiencing some type of slight “shimmy” in the front end of our old car, had checked (not closely enough it turned out) and not seen anything visible. As we were driving along the “shimmy”got worse and then we heard a bang and the front end started shimmying terribly –Fortunately it was at slow speed on City Street and there was a place to pull of the street into a parking lot. We got our and discovered that there was only one nut holding on by a thread that was keeping the front wheel on. (The bang was the one wheel bolt that was still tight breaking off. We found it and another nut a couple of car lengths back from where we stopped. The other 2 nuts were nowhere to be found.). I don’t know why they came loose or how long it had been happening but I think this may be why we seemed to being prevented from taking the car when we went to Kingston in February – God does work in mysterious ways!!

Job #4 Preparing to " launch" the “BBB”. We are planning a trip to BC leaving sometime in April and returning in June. This generates a very long list of things to be done, ranging from getting the BBB out of storage and getting a few repairs and general checkupto arranging out of province medical and cellphone coverage. -- we took the BBB to TMS truck service centre last Tuesday and it is still there waiting for some parts—main thing was repairing exhaust leaks through the “manifolds”. Linda has started organizing clothes. Still a long list and too little time!!

Well I need to wrap this up and get on with my work - I’m including a few miscellaneaous things that I did come across before I got “ grounded”

March 14 & 15 Notes on my virtual tour to Texas, North Carolina and other places unlknown

I visited “outnumbered – the story of lisa and her guys” – a new blog to me –I got there by a link on Bobby Cohoon’s post – Lisa provides a newsy overview of the life of a Christian mother with 3 young sons. Not sure where she lives but it is warm enough that the bulbs are poking up in her flower garden. Linda is dreaming of that day here but it will be a while –even with a 2 melting days and water running all over yesterday it will likely be a month before all the snow is gone—and we’ll be away when the garden is first ready for working.

Neva asks –What would you do if …. You knew the world would end in one week?
In a similar vein Bobby Cohoon uses the fact that North Carolina has been having tornado drills to suggest the need for “A Jesus drill”

Finally, I had an email from Rayburn (March 30) (he is the brother of Roger our former preacher) telling me about he decision to leave his position as the regional coordinator for Youth for Christ in Southern Ontario. In his letter had some quotes that I found very interesting and I’m passing on. I had known Rayburn almost allhis lifesince he is my cousin (2nd or1st once removed depending on how you do it) but had only really gotten toknow him after along conversation at his Mom & Dad’s 50th Anniversary in November (click HERE and scroll down)

Quotes by Andre Gide, a French novelist who lived from 1869-1951 and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947.

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.

It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.

Rayburn was particularly taken by this quote:
One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.

He felt that this quote along with the following 2 stories from he Bible were leading him to seek a new direction his life’s work.

Genesis (chapter 12) talks of Abraham being called by God to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household, and then it says “and go to the land I will show you.” In the book of Hebrews in the New Testament it says this about Abraham’s response to God: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Heb. 11:8)

The other story is in the New Testament, and it’s that famous account of Jesus walking on the water. In Matthew’s record he includes this experience between Peter and Jesus:
Peter – “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”
Jesus – “Come ahead.”

Rayburn concludes “I’m struck by these stories as they present us with two ordinary guys who decided to follow the prompting of God within them to step out into the unknown and follow to a place that they hadn’t been before.”

It seems to me that this is the calling that God places in front of each of us. We can ask each day to be kept safe in the security of the known –but eventually life will overtake us and we will be forced to face the unknown or we can start each day with the prayer of Isaiah – which was the theme of Paul Hillier’s lesson’s when he was here “Lord Here am I –Send me”

God Bless

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Taking a trip while staying at home

Well I’m actually going to post again this week.

I have had a bit of a lull (from 500% more than I could do down to maybe 495%) in the demands on my time and I have used it to doing some “virtual road tour” .Laterin the post I give you a "guided" tour and tell you some things I learned while visiting other blog sites.

First a quick update on our “real” journey

Coincident with spring forward, we appear to have turned the corner on winter. It has been relatively mild –hitting 10C (50F) yesterday with some rain. The snow has dropped tremendously and most of the streets and driveways are bare. The downside is that all the grit and grime is showing up and the snow is turning black or brown.

Yesterday we were out and finalized arrangements with Christie Campers to install the tow hitch for our “new” HHR (If you click and follow the link you will see what it looks like. I mentioned last time that the color wasn’t one we would have picked but I’m not disclosing that until I can have a picture of it to post)

Christie’s had to order the tow bar parts and it’ll likely be done week after next. We also did our walk at the Steelback Centre. Both times when we came home Linda stood outside for a long time taking in the smell and sounds of spring approaching and gazing at her “garden” planning what she wants to do there this year.

Speaking of the new car, we were supposed to get it to-day but it has been delayed until Friday due to some administrative problems with getting the ownership (title to the US folks) transferred.

Part of the reason I was able to take some time for a blog tour is that we have 3 young preachers visiting to “tryout” over the next 4 Sundays so my teaching load has dropped. We will have the second couple arriving this Friday and staying for 10 days so that will add some “load” to our time available for other things on our “to do list”.

We are now only a month away from our planned departure -- heading west to visit Kevin & Sarah – we expect to be there for 3 or 4 weeks and returning home by June 15 and a tremendous amount of preparations remain (including getting our taxes filed before we leave).

I have to finish up my AUC course and give the exam April 12—I’m behind in grading assignments and the mid-term.

I’ve also taken on a major role in the “preacher selection” process which is taken a lot of time preparing interview guidelines and evaluation sheets and questionnaires.

One of the reasons I’m doing most of this preparation work for the selection is that Barb Hotchkiss had major surgery a month ago and Lloyd (the other elder) has been tied up at home caring for her.

Barb has had a difficult time with the incision healing properly. Linda has been there a number of times changing the dressings and giving her advise. Yesterday they returned to a surgeon who “lanced” the incision and packed it to allow it to heal from the inside. It may still need to be completely re-opened. At least in part this has come about because the surgery was done in London and there was a miscommunication between London and the Sault about the need for home care nursing when she got home. It was only after a week when there were signs of infection that Linda was instrumental in having their local doctor order homecare – but it seems that was too little too late. Pray for Barb’s recovery.

To-day’s “goals”- do some catch-up on email (Wilma – maybe I’ll get to your question today), get caught up on the household finances, and work on my course backlog. Of course we have services this evening and there are other incidentals like eating & exercise that come up so I’ll likely not get all this done.

Well here’s my blog tour - I hope you find it interesting

March 12 – Danny Dodds talks about the labels Christians apply to other Christians and asks to be labeled

John Dobbs points to a heart grabbing post by Lee Hodges -- I warn you DON’T read this and watch the video if you will be offended by the harsh realities of the life that many young girls experience every day in North America – and DON’T read it if you aren’t prepared to have your conscience torn by the searing contrast between the way many Christians interact with the people of the world and the way Jesus interacted with them.

I had an interesting conversation with Linda (who read the post & watched the video) and my niece (18 year old university student who had heard the song) – about the “impact” on them.

Linda thought there was a “sublimal” message in the repetitious use of the one word in the title – and she wondered if that message might reach girls (such as our grand daughter) if they just got a little unhappy with their parents. My niece just said it was a “poorly done song” and she didn’t like the way they sang it so it was a “terrible song” -- nothing to do with the words or the message – she says that’s all she cares about in music—not the “message”. This reinforces something that I “fought” with my kids about when they were growing up because they said the same thing but I know that if you listen to something over and over again you can’t help but take in the message. Linda said she had experienced a similar thing with a young girl in her Sunday class. The girl’s aunt was concerned about the explicit language in a song that the girl liked. When Linda asked the girl about it her response was ”but I like the music and the rhythm of the song – I don’t listen to the words”

Two questions –
1) Is this “I only care about the music not the message” the predominant reaction of younger people? And if so, is there anything we can do to help them do some critical thinking about the ”validity” of the message.
2) If you listened to the video mentioned above what do you think the message is?

Continuing the tour after that little "detour".

March 13 – Trey Morgan talks about the importance of Dad’s and how to be a better one

Trey also posted an interesting YOUTube video about inviting a co-worker to attend church services (Just click (sometimes it takes 2 clicks) on the “arrow” in the picture at the beginning of his post to watch this – )

John Dobbs tells about the daily prayer Mother Theresa introduced for workers at the Calcutta orphanage. He also mentions a couple of ladies (the M&M’s) who are back cooking for the workers at Central. They were there when we were there last March. Great ladies with hearts of gold.

As the final stop on my “trip” have a look at Dee’s “flighty” post about her interview with Scooby the parrot

God Bless

Monday, March 12, 2007

Preachers and Blogging Friends **Revised**

** The comment belowlabelled with ** was added March 13**

This will be a fairly short post of some “random” things. (Well maybe not so short now that I’ve finished it)

We just finished a fairly busy weekend – the first of 4 weekends of “preacher tryouts. We had a very nice young couple Kevin & Nancy Cleary here this weekend. They both grew up in the church in Southern Ontario (Hamilton/Port Dover) and Kevin is attending the East Tennessee School of Preaching.

Friday Paul & Michelle Hillier arrive from "out West" and they will be here for the next 2 weekends (and the week in between) – (the extended visit was planned largely because of the distance they were coming). Paul and Michelle are relatively new to our fellowship. He took the Sunset School of Preaching at their "international" program in Edmonton Alberta. He was recently the preacheratSt.Catherines but for a variety of reasons decided to leave that work last fall.

On April 1 we will have Jon Knutson – again a Southern Ontario native from a family with deep roots in our church heritage.

My last post was about the “anniversary” of my first post in March 2006. I had comments from 5 people who I have “met” as a result of getting into the blogging world, Click on their names (or their blog names) below to go to their excellent blogs. Each has a different style but I love them and their encouragement.

Neva (in Texas) I just “met” recently through a referral by someone else. She writes eloquently about the realities of the Christian journey. Her latest (March 10) post titled ”Facilitators of Forgiveness” is an authentic challenge to forgive as Jesus forgave. Neva – Keep dancing (because you can’t just walk) in the light of God’s love.

Tim Archer (Abilene Texas) I came into contact with through our mutual participation on the Berean list (and maybe because he was a visitor at other blogs that I frequent - I don’t really recall for sure) . One thing I do know is that the “half-baked” thoughts he cooks up in his “kitchen” are much better “tasting” (but at the same time often require some serious “chewing”) than most of my full blown ideas. His latest posting on March 4 asks “Have Christians forgotten that their first allegiance is to God?” . Tim, keep on “baking”- I like the “aroma”

Bobby Cohoon (North Carolina) is also on the Berean list and I often link to his postings from there. But I also think I may have initially visited with the “Little Sorrel” (Bobby- what’s up with this name?) through links on other sites. Bobby has an uncanny ability to move from common everyday things and events “Here in the Real World” into a very compelling spiritual lesson. See his latest post (March 12) (Duct Tape, Bailing Wire, Superglue and Nails) for an example. You’d probably never guess from the title that it is a lesson about Jesus on the cross. His previous one is drawn from North Carolina’s fame as a “racin’” center.

Dee O’Neil Andrews (Picayune, Mississippi) with her Wind Vane Chronicles has a special place in my circle of blog friends. I connected with her through John Dobb’s blog early on. She was displaced by Katrina (from Sliddell Louisiana). One of her adventures that I have been following over the past year is the building of her dream house with her husband Tom. She talks about that in her Letter to her readers posted to-day. What I like most about Dee is the way she openly shares her life and her faith. She shares her joys and her sorrows, her health challenges, her encounters of the “worst kind” with others and her graciousness –but most of all she shares her love for Jesus and her desire to follow him. She also hosts a very neat blog Grace Notes filled with great stories about people who extend grace (gifts of themselves) to others -mostly strangers. In many ways I feel like I’ve known Dee all my life – and we’ve never actually met except in “blogland”. I always come away from reading her posts challenged to be more like Christ and encouraged that there is indeed Hope even when things might seem hopeless. Dee keep those Wind vanes showing us direction – You are the best!!

The last one to comment was my friend Bobby Valentine. Of this group Bobby is the “baby” (in age only-nothing to do with his maturity or temperament). Based on his profile he is close in age to my oldest son (b. 1969) – and he was married in 1992 – same as my son. Bobby is a scholar and a prolific writer concentrating on the history of the Stone-Campbell restoration movement -as for example in to-days post which tells of an “union movement” in 1827 and the story of God in the Old Testament(or as he calls it the Hebrew Bible) – see for example his series on Deuteronomy in October 2006. Bobby started his “Stoned-Campbell” (never did quite figure out this handle Bobby!!) blog in April 2006 – a month after I started. I visited his site very early following a link from John Dobb’s “Hope Remains”. I have left numerous comments on his site (although not so much lately) and he has left several on mine. I know I’m missing lots of good stuff when I'm not able to visit everyday – but one thing about Bobby’s writing is that it isn’t (usually) light reading and so when I go there I like to have time to cogitate on what I am reading. From my files I know he visited my site as early as June. When I first started visiting him and getting to know him I found out he was in Milwaukee Wisconsin which is practically next door and that gave him “neighbor” status. He moved to Tucson at Christmas and I have kidded him about abandoning the North but he is such an interesting writer, I couldn’t hold that against him for long. I have read his book ”Kingdom Come” written with John Mark Hicks and found it interesting and helpful –both in terms of understanding some of my “restoration” heritage and in terms of a unique look at God’s kingdom here on earth. Bobby –what can I say – keep writing my friend and Shalom. And blessings to you and Pamela –the “pretty woman” in your life.

** Insert March 13 **
** I should have mentioned that in addition to these 5 who commented on the "Anniversary" post I have been encouraged by many other bloggers (mostly Christians with roots in the so-called RestorationMovement) and by my participationin the Berean Spirit list onYahoo groups. Most of my blog contacts I owe to John Dobbs ("Hope Remains") (see below) and his extensive list of blogs. I believe God lead us to Pascagoula last year and it has (as I've said) before been a life changing experience. The long-term impact of those changes remains to be seen but certainly my involvement in blogging is one of those changes.

** I also have received "off-blog" encouragement from other family and friends and I am grateful for that. One of the most active commenters by email has been my cousin Wilma and I have grown in my appreciation of her inquisitive mind and passion for Jesus (I hope thatothers who have sent me emails and talked to me personally aren't offended but it wouldbe impossible for me to make a complete list so I'm going to leave it at that - God bless each one who has read and commented - good or bad --I do this for myself but it is good to know that it touches others as well)
** end of insert.

Elsewhere, John Dobbs talks about his progress in the “battle of the bulge” (Congrats John – keep it going!!) but admits that he will be checking out his favorite “feeding troughs” while at the Tulsa Workshop – an annual event for him. I remember that he was away to Tulsa when we left Pascagoula last spring so we never really got a chance to say “Until we meet again” (Click on the link to see my March 24 2006 post for the story of our last day in Pascagoula) . However, maybe that was good because we seem to have maintained a strong “virtual” connection through blogs, email and our mutual participation on the Berean list. Since he was using the church bus to travel, he was generous enough to let us use his van for the last few days we were there.

Regrettably, I haven’t been following any ofmy favorite blogs to closely lately because I’ve been going in circles too much !!. (see post before last about wheels). Ever hear the “sickl” joke about the child who was going in circles and was crying about it so his mother says “Shut up kid or I’ll nail your other shoe to the floor as well).” Anyhow – we managed to close of (or almost close off) one of those wheel stories. We finalized a deal on a “new “vehicle on Friday which we will pick up on Wednesday. It is a used 2006 HHR (Chev) – Linda says its our “gangster car”—It is similar to the PT Cruiser and the body design is based on a 1948 Chev Panel truck

It can be towed 4 wheels on the ground behind our motorhome, the seat satisfied Linda’s comfort requirements –the color however is a little “out there” for us but we just couldn’t see shelling out another 2 grand to get the one that was the color we liked. I’ll leave you hanging until I can post a picture.

Well that’s it for now folks. Again with all that’s happening it may be a while before the next one but don’t give upon me.

God Bless

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Year in the life …

March 3 2006 I posted my first entry in Whitfield’s journey. (Click on “first entry” or click HERE).

That post opens with a picture from February 23 showing the “BBB” sitting in our snow lined driveway ready to head south to Mississippi.

The last picture shows it sitting beside the Central church of Christ in Pascagoula Mississippi on March 2nd.

The “snow picture” is pretty representative of what I see out there today (except the “BBB” is sitting in storage and we are not planning to leave soon. )

John Dobbs sent me an email last week updating me on some of the people we had met while there (Thanks John!!) and kindly pointed out that it was in the 70’s and very nice there (although they did get some “weather warnings” later in the week with a ”killing tornado” hitting Enterprise Ala (haven’t checked a map so I’m not sure how close that was).

Anyhow he certainly made us think that it might be nice to be back in our “spot” there and helping out with the continuing work on “healing” the scars of Katrina – both physical and spiritual.

Alas it seems God wants us to remember what a Sault Ste. Marie winter is like after missing 2 months of winter in each of 2005 (when we went to Phoenix) and last year to Mississippi and Texas - as described in “Whitfield’s journey” entries for March & April.

I have 2 short observations –
One is that when I go back and read through the blogs I sometimes am amazed at the number of things we did this past year and the changes in my thinking and approach to spiritual matters that has evolved out of those experiences.

Secondly, it just doesn’t seem possible that a year has elapsed but it is true - 12 months – 52 weeks (and a bit), 365 days … (well enough math –you get the point) , 111 posts (this one will be 112), many adventures – and much routine living and a blink of an eye and here we are March 3 2007.

Amazing!! (Reminds me of my version of the saying—how time flies when you are having fun and even when you aren’t!!)

This is a very short post because (as I posted in a comment on Bobby Valentine’s blog this morning) those spinning wheels have turning into an overwhelming list of “must do’s” that have left me feeling like I’m spinning in mud and getting stuck.

However, I couldn’t let the anniversary pass without at least some comment.

It may be a while before I get a chance to come back and update you on events and thoughts as we “blaze” through the second year of my record of our journey but I do appreciate those who have continued to drop by and especially those who have left comments

God Bless