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BREAKTIME!

Monday, November 20th, 2017

I remember my grandfather talking about break time. He worked for USS (when it was still a viable entity) as a welder. He looked forward to breaks. Those were the days before cell phones when breaks were spent laughing and eating. Not like now. Pull that phone out and start texting and maybe take a bite between texts. Grandad used to pack his lunch and I would sometimes be there when he did. Two slices of Roman Meal bread with ketchup only in between them. I’m not sure if it was because of frugality or because he just liked it. I can think of better things to put between two slabs of Roman Meal bread (which I still like a lot) than ketchup. Jo thinks it is hilarious (and makes sure others know) that I sweat (nose and forehead) when I use ketchup. (Note: My uncle (grandad’s son) just reminded me about the mustard-between-two-slices-of-bread sandwich).  Memory is the first thing to go.

Anyway…grandad looked forward to taking some time to ease his tired muscles and joints from the grind of welding by relaxing. He was an avid Pirate fan and would listen to the night games if he worked the night shift with his transistor radio connected to this huge battery by a gumband. (Go look up Pittsburgh-ese for what it is).

I’m taking grandad’s suggestion. I’m pulling away for a few days. I have a couple busy days leading up to Thanksgiving, but the biggest plan is for Thanksgiving Day. The church is serving a dinner from 11-1:00 to the community. We have done it for the last 4 years and each year it has grown. What has really grown…and this is the part I’m directly involved in (Jo does the meal)…is delivery. So far we have over 40 deliveries of Thanksgiving meals to make. It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun. The people pitch in to help. I get to organize and send them out. All the folks have to do is call in for a meal and we will “jimmy John” them their meal.

The best part of the week though is Friday. Janna and Braden will be coming in for the weekend while Jason works on their bathroom. I think that is a pretty good trade-off!! I’d say Jason can take all year but I don’t think that would fly very well. 🙂 They will be here all weekend. Yeah…I will be preoccupied.

I’m going to pre-program my weekend post. It will come out White Friday. (Why do they call it Black Friday anyway? Because you lose all your money?).

Anyway, have a great Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for many things: Jo, Tami, Janna, Braden, Jason, OVCF, my family-at-large, my friends, and for you.  Blessings to all and to all a… Oops wrong holiday.

Otherwise

Monday, November 13th, 2017

I used the following poem in my sermon yesterday. I think it says what needs to be said without a bunch of commentary. It was written by Jane Kenyon and was quoted in Alter Ego by Craig Groeschel (pages 151-152)

I got out of bed on two strong legs.

It might have been otherwise.

I ate cereal, sweet milk, ripe, flawless peach.

It might have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill to the birch wood.

All morning I did the work I love.

At noon I lay down with my mate.

It might have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together at a table with silver candlesticks.

It might have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed in a room with paintings on the walls, and planned another day just like this day.

But one day, I know, it will be otherwise.

Kenyon wrote this poem in 1993, upon learning that her husband, Donald Hall, had cancer. Ironically, it was Kenyon, not Hall. who died a year later after a fierce and swift battle with leukemia. “Otherwise” came unexpectedly. But Jane Kenyon didn’t miss the blessings of God in each day. She learned the art of gratitude.

As I said, no commentary needed. Enjoy the blessing of today!!

Dubious

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Some memories are, shall we say, dubious. My post today is in memory of one of those dubious anniversaries-ones that remind you of something you are not so fond of.

One year ago today this happened to me.  The date is today. The day is yesterday. So I guess it depends on how you look at anniversary’s as to how you will see this. Doesn’t matter though. It happened and it began a spiral downward in the health department but it also began a very, very slow process of spiritual awakening and renewal (which actually took on a more earnest effort in February.

I wanted to ride yesterday and today but the weather has not cooperated (nor has my life). I was busy from the time I got up to the time I laid my head on the pillow yesterday. Today, we host Dine with a Doc and then Jo and I are taking off for Sandusky, OH to visit her sister. Things are really improving there and we need to help her get a new washer/dryer (and be there for the delivery) and get her duplex ready for when she comes home.

I wanted to ride past the scene and stop for a moment of gratitude for God’s protection. I realize some will say, “Well, if God protected you why did He allow it to start with?” Fair question and all I can say is, “I don’t know. He could have but chose not to.” But I also don’t think He put His finger on the driver and said, “Hit him!” Some people are either just evil or distracted. I consider His protection because it could have been worse. He missed my spine by two inches. I shiver at what the two possibilities are with that. Yes, I just had surgery in July which was required due to a bone fragment laying on a nerve in my spine, but the reality is I could have been paralyzed with 2 more inches. So, in my case, I relish God’s protection.

The saga is ongoing. I suspect they will never find who did it. I am okay with that. He/she has to live with it. Will I ever be back to the way I was? No. Physically, I now have limitations. Mentally, I sometimes relive it and realize how close I came. Spiritually, it began a good process. It still has not been settled with the insurance company (and who knows when that will be? I refuse to get a lawyer.) So it is before me. Or is that behind me?

No matter how you look at it though, it is a dubious anniversary. One I’m grateful to be celebrating. And I can also say I love Jo more today than I ever have. She’s my “knight” in shining armor. I put her through the wringer this past year and she stood solid as a rock. Cried a bit. Okay…a lot. But she stood strong next to me. For that, I will always be grateful.

Jo’s sister does not have wifi so I may be out of the loop for the next couple of days. I’ll use my phone to approve comments but I despise using it to make comments. Please be patient. And thanks for your prayers.

RestAway

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

This has been “one of those years.” I’m not complaining, mind you, but informing.

November 5th: my first bike wreck. I was hit by a hit ‘n run driver on my left cheek. The lower one. 🙂  Seven weeks were spent sleeping in my recliner because I could not lay down.

February 17th: my second bike wreck. This one I have no clue about except it ended up in a broken collar bone, 3 broken ribs, a face plant and a split helmet. Yeah…thank God for the helmet.

February 22nd: surgery to repair the collarbone. More sleeping in the recliner.

July 24: Back surgery to correct back from November 5th hit ‘n run. The previous 2 months I was unable to sit in a chair or couch except for the dining room table. I slept 2 hours at a time then roamed the house between sleeping spots.  The surgeon cleaned out arthritis, shaved some spurs, shaved the disc, and found a bone fragment resting on a nerve. A sweet relief almost immediately. I still have some residual (and may always have it) but least I can sleep in bed and sit in my recliner!

Enter a friend. “Bill & Jo, (name of husband) and I, would like to give you a gift and hope you will accept it. You have been through so much and we feel led to offer you a week at a timeshare. You pick the time and the place and we will make the arrangements (and pay).” She hands us this h-u-g-e book of possible places-from Alaska to Hawaii and from coast to coast- and says, “Choose.” Since Jo has never seen the beach (except as a little girl) and it doesn’t matter to me (I wanted Alaska) we chose Daytona Beach after our first choice of Destin was not available.  I told someone several weeks ago we were going to Florida “if it was still there.”

We fly out Monday morning, October 2nd from Indianapolis, and will come back home Monday, October 9th.  If something good can come out of something so ugly as two bike wrecks and 2 surgeries, it has. Jo & I have reconnected in a way we have not known for some time. Like many marriages, we had allowed things to build up and take the place of meaningful communication and time with each other. We loved each other but had allowed other things to take precedence.

People have asked us, “What are your plans this week? What are you going to see? Where you going to go?”  The answer is easy: we have no clue. We have no agenda. No preconceived plans of where to go and what to do. Rest. Reconnect. Relax. Restaurants. Read. That’s it. If something strikes our fancy…then we will do it. It will be the first time in 44+ years of marriage we will be taking a vacation where we know no one.

So…I am unplugging all week. I’ll see you when I get back. I am unconcerned about things back here. Ryan and Diana will be fine without me. Ryan will be preaching Sunday. Until then…I will see you later…here or in the air.

 

WHEW!

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Life can be so many things.

Sometimes it is running so fast you seem to barely be able to catch your breath. WHEW!

This past week has been like that. As I mentioned in this post, we took off Monday for Sandusky, OH to see my sister-in-law.  We arrived home late afternoon on Thursday and immediately started doing laundry. I have developed an allergy to some common chemicals which means I have to take my own towels, bedding, etc and the first thing we need to do is wash them when we get home. Friday was catch up day suspecting this weekend would be super busy.  I was correct. We hosted Matt & Laurie Krieg from Hole in My Heart Ministries (more info to come).  So slowing down has not been an option.

Jo is making plans to return to Sandusky sometime this week to see her sister (who has been moved to a rehab place where they can clean and dress her wound, administer antibiotics, and give her therapy for walking). She will be there 6 weeks. All that with a view to our leaving for a much-needed vacation on October 2nd. Someone in the church graced us with a timeshare as a gift so we are taking advantage of that! I’ll share more about that in a later post.

I am thoroughly expecting the WHEW to turn into an Aaaahhhh (sigh of contentment) during our time away. Thanks for being patient with me while away, but most of all for praying for Jo’s sister. She is not out of the woods by any stretch but is making strides toward healing.

Absence

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

After a funeral this past Friday an hour away.

A trip Saturday about an hour away for an 11:00 (I was originally told 10:00) graveside service.

An afternoon at Spencer’s Apple Butter Festival where the church had a booth.

A Sunday which includes preaching 2 services, a birthday party of one of the young boys who only wants Pastor Bill to show up (his dad’s words), and a Grace > small group study.

I will heading out Monday for Sandusky, Ohio. Jo’s sister lives there and is in the hospital so I am taking her to deal with all of that. She is meeting her brother, who has already made the trip from Alabama. She does not have wifi and I’m not too sure about her internet, so I am guessing I will be incommunicado at least through Thursday. If I can make it to a Panera Bread I will try to add some “highlights” to your life. 🙂

If not, I’d like to ask prayer for our travels and also for what needs done there (which at this point we aren’t sure of).

Humbling

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

On this Labor Day weekend I salute all who work, those who labor honestly and do all they can to take care of their family. But in all our work there is also something we need to be aware of. It is in this story:

When George Mallory was once asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he famously answered, “Because it is there.” But in a personal letter to his wife, Ruth, he revealed even more about what drove him. “Dearest…you must know that the spur to do my best is you and you again…I want more than anything to prove worthy of you.”  George left a meaningful legacy that proved worthy of history’s remembrance. But George’s son John wrote something that has challenged me. Proud of his father but sad too, John wrote, “I would so much rather have known my father than to have grown up in the shadow of a legend, a hero, as some people perceive him to be.  (copied from The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine- page 78)

Sadly, we live in an age where “making a living” or “making a name for ourselves” seems to be much more important than making a name with our children. The mountain “was there” but so was his son. It is far more important in my eyes to be a successful father in my daughters’ eyes than to be rich, powerful, or well-known.

Take time this Labor Day to reflect on what you have been blessed with. Work hard at what you do. But don’t forget there are people whom you come home to who don’t care if you are a CEO or a common laborer. Being a hero in their eyes is the prize worth pursuing.

Broken

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Several years ago I read a book by Ed Underwood called When God Breaks Your Heart. Ed had a severe case of leukemia which manifested itself in skin pealing from his body in scratch-defying itching, a bloated body and countless other problems. In one chapter entitled Snake Oil (aptly titled due to the subject matter) he included several quotes. One was “Christians tell me they don’t know what to say, and then they open their mouths to prove it.” Another was “Hurting people are petty people.”

There comes a time in everyone’s life when strength is gone. We find ourselves on the last bit of will or desire to do much of anything, even living. Life falls apart and sometimes we just don’t know what do, where to turn.

I like what the late A.W.Tozer, a Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor once wrote:

It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.

My sermon this Sunday is titled “More Power to Ya” and my original plan was to show this video. While driving to Ohio this past Monday, I heard this song on my Spotify. I’m using it instead.  Prayers would be appreciated.

I made over a four hour trip yesterday (Wednesday) to visit with a couple I married back in 2000. I received word that Mike had cancer all through his body. He has asked me to perform his memorial service so I went to visit but also to talk about that service. I’d like to ask you to pray for Mike and Sheila. The pain for him will become excruciating and the loss will be numbing for her. Thanks.

Whirlwind

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

The definition of a whirlwind is:

“a small rotating windstorm of limited extent”

“a confused rush: whirl  *a whirlwind of meetings

The weekend and then yesterday was just that. Have you ever asked yourself “Where did the summer go?” Well, I had one of those weekends. Busy from the get-go I flew through the weekend with barely a stop. Sure some of it was my doing: I rode my bike some on Saturday (it was a tough choice but I twisted my arm). But the rest of it was just part of the tornado of my life.

But Monday (yesterday) was way out of the ordinary. I woke up at the normal time (3:50) which some people call “O dark 30.” My back pain takes away any chance of me staying or laying in bed to relax. So I got up, had my devotion time, and got Jo up to go the Y.  After a shower and short reprieve, we took off for Ohio (a 4 hour trip made longer by old people stops) 🙂  We picked our grandson up and then turned around and came back home with him in tow. He is going to spend a few days with us. (The big discussion last night was which movie to see: [DespicableMe3 (Gag) or Cars3 (Yeah)] Bet you can’t tell which one I am voting for!!  After the movie is lunch, then he loves to play the Wii (since the Y is closed). I’m hoping for a ride. I get a one day reprieve, although I do have to make an hour away trip to our church camp to visit some campers. Then Thursday, we get to do the whole “drive to Ohio to drop him off so we can turn around and come back” drill.

You know what? I would do it all again just to have some time with him because I know he will soon be getting to the age of “I don’t want to spend any time with my grandparents.” So I’ll take it while I can.

And what do you plan to do on your 4th? Or what did you do on your 4th?  I’m going to miss the salmon on the grille. 🙁

ProblemSolved

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Jo saw this and sent it to me. I laughed.

There are all kinds of leaders and all kinds of people. Some are “take charge” kind of people. Some are “sit back and see what happens” kind of people. Some are “bull in a china shop” type of people. Some are very “laid back” kind of people. Some are “bury their head in the sand” kind of people.  And there are some who are “go with the flow” kind of people.

I am an extreme extrovert. Jo is the opposite. But God has made us this way and put us together for some “odd” reason. She needs my “get-up-and-go” influence and I sometimes need her stabilizing “just slow down” influence. She needs my “here, let me introduce you to my wife” approach and sometimes I need her “let’s just wait to see how this develops” approach. We make a good team.

One of the things that makes me the most upset is when I hear her say, “I’m not a very good pastor’s wife.” WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! And I tell her that. She thinks that way because she doesn’t fit the mold of the “model pastor’s wife.” I’m sorry to say my late mother was one of those and never gave Jo a chance. No, she doesn’t sing solos; lead a ladies Bible study (although she can); speak in public (in front of big groups…although she has done a superb job on Mother’s Day); play the piano; or take charge. She prefers quietly encouraging me in the background, being a fantastic mom and mamaw par excellence; typing the Power Point each week; and a whole host of other things.  I wouldn’t trade her for the world or for any amount of money nor for any woman on the face of the earth.

We make a great team. I’m honored she still wants to be my wife. 🙂

And it is amazing how a post develops because all I started with was a funny saying. (And for the record, that saying describes her. I suspect that is why she sent it to me).