Thursday, September 30, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

It has been a busy day; interesting also. I started early with some reading and quiet time, followed by breakfast with the family. They left for school, and I went for a hilly 7 mile run from Spice Valley over past Bryantsville and back. I wore long sleeves and gloves; been a long time since that happened. I took the gloves off after the first mile, but they felt good for a little while.

I came home, read a little more, cleaned up, and headed out for the church building. The food pantry was open and busy. Right as I was leaving to go teach my classes at OCU-B, a woman who was very upset wanted to talk to me. We talked a little while. She was grieving the loss of precious loved ones and was in all kinds of financial difficulties. She’s at the end of her rope. We talked for a while and prayed. I sent her to a place that I think can help her.

Classes were good today. My students were focused and full of questions regarding suffering, injustice, and God’s approach to warfare in the Old Testament. I confessed, “I don’t know,” a lot today. I told them that I have many of the same questions but that I have come to the conclusion/decision that trusting God is the best option. There is no world view that has all the answers. The Story of God is what I believe and choose to live by. It makes sense to me.

Today I spent about an hour talking with a young alcoholic. He battles the stuff and often loses. We talked very openly about it all. He goes to AA, but his accountability partner also struggles. I think he needs to change guys. I told him that I am also going to start asking him every time I see him if he has lapsed. He wants me to. He has had a really rough way to go for quite a while. The tough path takes him back to the bottle.

I made a quick trip to Sam’s this afternoon to buy a lot of meat. I am going to smoke for the football team. Pork shoulders and brisket should do the trick. Tomorrow is the day to smoke while I do a lot of study. It works out pretty well. I have the smoker positioned so I can see the temperature gauge from my office window.

We had a meeting later in the afternoon about our Give Thanks 4 race on Thanksgiving Day. We are have a little trouble getting Mag 7 to update the website and activate online registration. We still have plenty of time but would like to get some things in place really soon.

Time for popcorn, followed by ZZzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The last day of the Persimmon Festival is one of my favorite days of the year. While I don’t participate much in the festivities all the during the week, I go all out on the last day. It begins with the 5K and ends with the parade. In between there is a lot of relaxing time with family and friends.

My day began pretty early. I went to the race early to deliver brochures for our Thanksgiving Day 4 mile race, and I found out that a huge number had pre-registered for the Persimmon 5K. This meant I had to go make more brochures; turns out I still did not make enough. Oh well. There were about 250 participants!

Racing a 5K while training for a marathon is an interesting thing. Covering the distance is no problem - have to run about 8.5 5Ks to do a marathon. While training for a marathon you do some speed work but nothing close to what you should do for a 5K. They are still fun to run, because they are over pretty quickly. I covered the course in 21.22, which is 8 seconds faster than last year. I was happy with it. One of these days I want to train for a 5K and break 20 minutes again.

One of the neatest things of the race was reconnecting with Benny Hickok. We used to work together at Hoosier Uplands and had the best time! He has turned into a running machine. He does ultras now (100 milers) and still ran a 20 minute 5K. Wow!

The kids races were a delight to watch. My little great nieces did really well. Little Anna finished 4th in the short race, and Emma won the 800 meter race! See her flying through the air with the greatest of ease?

The parade was good as usual. Roger, our deaf neighbor (see photo above) hung with us. He seems to really enjoy the company. He loved the old cars and trucks in the parade. Ben, Rebecca, and my dad were all in the parade in various capacities, so it was nice to see them go by.

The weather was simply perfect for all the activities yesterday!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Life comes at you fast! So says the commercial and so says me. This week has been a little faster than some.

I took a quick trip to Nashville on Tuesday. That has made everything else a little more difficult to accomplish this week. I went to Lipscomb for a meeting regarding the Hazelip School of Theology and its process of being accepted into the Association of Theological Schools. Boring to most but exciting to me and others. While at Lipscomb I got to see one of the greatest people I know, Earl Lavender, and my beloved son Luke. It was a good trip, even though quick.

My work at OCU-B continues to go well. The class discussions are amazing. Unencumbered by any concern about what others might think, some of the students ask hard questions about life and suffering and confess the difficulties and struggles they have. It is one of the best places to share the Good News of Jesus. I pray for faithfulness.

Saturday is the Persimmon 5K. I'll run it for fun. Marathon training and 5K's are not a very good mix, but it will be nice to do something different. I won't be super fast, but who cares? Saturday is one of my favorite days of the year. I love the 5K, the parade, the fun and festive atmosphere. Luke is coming home for the weekend, so that just enhances the experience.

Today is going to be busy. I'm trying to get my sermon, slides, Life Group discussion guide, and my Sunday morning class all prepared. Focus. Focus. Hey, look there goes a squirrel! I have a little trouble with ADD, or whatever it is called.

So fall is here? Hmmm, doesn't feel like it just yet.

OK, I'll stop for now.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Yesterday was Monday. I don't usually experience the Mondays that a lot of people talk about and dread; don't usually have any problems with Monday. In fact, since they are as far as you can get from Sunday, I find them kinda relaxing; not feeling much pressure from the sermon and classes yet.

Yesterday I experienced what most people dread, I think. I did not sleep well at all Sunday night. I had a bunch of stuff on my mind that just would not go away, plus my legs were restless, very restless, like frog legs in a frying pan. I think the 150 miles of running in three weeks might have been a contributing factor.

I made myself stay in bed until 6 a.m., which threw off my routine. I decided to scale back my running plans, and eventually I scraped them all together in favor of rest. I was getting a lot done in my home office, so I kept working. I pushed to the point that I decided to not check in at church; didn't have time before going to OCU-B.

Once I got to OCU-B I realized that the quiz I had prepared for the day was on my desk at church. Priding myself on quick thinking/problem solving I said, "No problem, I'll just read the questions off my computer and they can write answers down on a sheet of paper." I get into my OCU-B office and open my computer bag. Guess what's missing? That's right, I forgot to put my computer in the bag.

It was about this time that I also realized that I had left at home my lunch and mid-meal snacks for the day. "Wow," I said to myself, "I think I am experiencing a Monday." My first class met and went OK, but in the middle of the class I made a major decision. Thinking this could be my last day on earth, since so many things were pointing in that direction (see above), I decided that I would throw caution, and my strict running diet, to the wind and go to Arby's. With an "eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die" attitude, I ordered a combo meal, complete with Pepsi! Man, it was good! I felt so naughty and so alive. It must have been sinful.

Now, here it is Tuesday. I am glad. I think the guilt will go away at some point.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Family Fleet

I know everyone is fascinated with all aspects of my life, so I thought I would give you a glimpse into another new area. This could be the most interesting one of all. We own a whole fleet of vehicles!

Rebecca drives a Ford Focus. This car originally belonged to her older brother Lester. When he entered high school I made a foolish promise. I told him if he graduated with a 4.0 that I would buy him a new car. [I was thinking that 4.0=full ride scholarship; wrong.] Well he did it, and I had to honor my word. He let me off the hook and was satisfied with a fairly new Focus. When Rebecca was ready for a car, Lester generously gave her his car in exchange for a truck that was not worth as much.

Let’s see, next would be our new ‘98 Ford Taurus station wagon, acquired last week (see previous post). She’s a real beaut, and it has already provided much happiness for others. I know this because everyone simply laughs when we tell them about the car. Kedra W. Griswold. This is now what my lovely wife is being called. Why, you ask? Because her car is a lot like Clark’s in Christmas Vacation. If anyone needs a Christmas tree hauled this winter, we have roof racks.

[Today, our deaf neighbor Roger came over. He brought his dog with him. As we were talking, he looked over his shoulder. I thought he was looking at Kedra’s car. He said something, and since his speech is a little slurred, all I heard was one word: crap. I thought he was talking about Kedra’s car, so I motioned for him to repeat himself. He then clarified that Benji his dog had just relieved himself in my driveway, next to Kedra’s car. I don’t think any of this means anything in particular.]

My precious reddish-orange truck is next, I suppose. I love this thing. It has 230,000 miles, two major dents–one made by Luke and one by Kedra, leaks oil, has a starter that sticks, no AC most of the time, and a few other interesting and unique qualities. It’s been a great ride so far.

Lately I’ve been driving the family’s pride and joy, the 4th member of our fleet, The Beastly Bronco. This started out as two vehicles; the boys with the help of Brent Fields made it one. The original $300 spent has been repeated several times over. Luke rolled it and then cut the top off. It’s had an interesting life. I love driving it. One day when I was going down the highway, a bunch of girls pulled up beside me and started hooting and hollering and giving me the thumbs up. Kedra W. Griswold thought they were making fun of me, but I know better. I just look stunningly good in the Bronco.

Now, aren’t you excited that you know more about me? Now you can impress your friends with your new found knowledge.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday is the day that I try to get ready for Sunday. I've been thinking/studying toward sermon prep all week, and today is the day I strive to put it all together. In my collaborative approach to preaching, the Wednesday evening discussion of the text is key. Last night's class was interesting and helpful. We talked about God's wrath, especially as it is revealed in Romans 1.

In addition to sermon completion I hope to get my slides for the slide show completed, a Life Group discussion guide ready to print, my Sunday a.m. class prepared, including a handout. It's a lot but I think I can do it today. I have to stay focused.

I am really wanting to take Friday off. I used to take Fridays off, but lately that hasn't happened; Thursday's work spills over to Friday. I can't seem to get everything done. I know I need Sabbath time, so I will pray for a good day today. I did not sleep very well, due to a cold. I think the Guatemalan coffee I am drinking is going to help me get through! ha

Today is a day off from running. I'm sitting on 24 miles for the week and hope to have another 50 mile week before its over. I will either do 4 or 6 tomorrow, followed by 20 or 22 on Saturday. Monumental is 7 weeks from Saturday, so I am entering a very crucial time of training. I have about 5 weeks to really work and 2 to taper. I hope to see some significant improvement in the next few weeks. I need to.

We are now the proud owner of a Ford station wagon. Unbelievable! Ben is devastated, and Rebecca just giggles. Kedra is happy with it, and I am OK with it all. Our van blew a head gasket right before we left for Honduras in July. We had our mechanic put the "stop leak" stuff in it, and it has held. We don't have a car payment and didn't want one, so we decided to spend 2K on a car. It's a long story but we traded our van (full disclosure of problems) for this little wagon that looks pretty good. It's a "stepping stone" car; next time we will upgrade a little further. My truck has 230,000 miles, so I am thinking I may to replace it sometime. I've been driving the beastly Bronco some. It always gets interesting looks. Now that I think about it, people are always staring at me.

OK, time for breakfast...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In a moment...

Last night, right before halftime of the JV football game, a player on the opposing team took a really hard hit. After everyone unpiled, he was left on the ground by himself, clearly hurt. What unfolded in front of an increasingly quiet crowd was the initial treatment of a head/neck injury. The trainer ran out and held his head motionless. Coaches came alongside. Dad comes out of the stands, and then mom runs to the scene. First-responders arrive with their flashing blue lights. Finally the ambulance arrives. More than forty-five minutes after the collision he is carried away to a (at least for me) tearful, respectful, hopeful applause.

Right before they carried him off the field, I saw the player’s little brother come alongside the stretcher. Maybe his older brother is his hero; maybe his enemy. Probably both at times. After little brother looked at his older brother immobilized, he walked away,clearly crying. His mother, their mother, comforted him in her arms. I could tell the mom was trying to be strong even in her own struggle with what was happening.

Surely everyone in the stands was thinking what I was thinking. Is he paralyzed? Will he be OK? I think a lot of prayers were being offered, probably by a lot of people who rarely pray. Probably every parent was thinking also what I was thinking: that could be my son on the ground. Every parent probably wanted to run onto the field and hug and hold their sons.

It was one of those sobering moments in life where you suddenly realize the fragile nature of our existence. Just in a moment, a twinkling of an eye, everything can change. People who are healthy and whole can, in a moment, be changed in people who are totally dependent on others for every aspect of life. The unthinkable becomes a new reality.

All these thoughts should lead me to live carefully and thankfully in each moment, taking nothing for granted. That’s what I am going to strive to do today. Lord, held me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday Night

Well, here we are again. I consider Sunday evening the end of my work week, and at the same time it becomes the beginning of the new one. As I finish up with the wonderful small group that meets in our home, my attention turns to next Sunday's lesson and all the things that have to be done to make that happen. Plus I make a list of all the other things that I hope to do this week. I am still adjusting to the new busy-ness, but I am getting there.

In the morning I will leave the house after breakfast with the family. I will leave in running clothes and go do my Monday 10 miler. Then I'll go back to church for a quick shower, a check-in at church to see what's going on and maybe get a couple of small things done, then it will be time to head to Bedford to teach my classes at OCU. Following that I will make a quick stop at the gym to work on core strengthening and stretching. I'll get home around 4 and do a few little things, eat supper, and head out for Ben's football game.

We have lots of sports this week. Ben has football on Monday and Friday, and Rebecca has volleyball on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. On Wednesday we have church, so every night this week is busy, which is the way it has been for a little while. It will be over in a few weeks, so I'm not complaining. Well, at least not much! ha ha.

I've started a new sermon series about sin. I'm intrigued to see where it's going to go. I am asking the Lord for guidance. My thesis is that we don't take sin very seriously, and since we don't take it seriously we don't appreciate salvation. We cheapen the grace of God. We'll see how it unfolds.

There are lots of things going on this week. I'm working with some families who are really struggling. One is about to lose their house to foreclosure. I found out today that maybe they can prevent it. I hope so. They are living without gas right now. They lived without electricity all summer. I think we would all be surprised by the number of similar stories of people living in our neighborhoods.

The Monumental Marathon is 8 weeks from yesterday. I am cranking out 50 mile weeks presently, hoping to hold together. My biggest challenge is to increase my speed in training. It is going to be easier to do with the cooler weather.

OK, need to go. Five a.m. is going to roll around here before long, and I have several things to do before I can go to bed.

It's been a good day.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It's Raining!

I like rain just about any time, but today's is especially special! I missed the last little rain we had a few weeks ago, so it has been several weeks since I have even seen the stuff.

I had a breakfast meeting at 7 and then I went for a 7 mile run in the rain. I actually got pretty wet before it was over. At one point I ran into the edge of town. Some lady in a housecoat shouted from her porch, "You're gonna get wet!" I replied, "That's OK; it feels good." She laughed, and I ran away thinking, "that was a little odd." Oh well.

Now I am trying to finish off a sermon from Genesis 3. Interesting chapter! All of life's problems have their origin there. Really. We are still suffering because of the actions of Adam and his wife Eve. And we still do what they do: rebel, disobey, cover up, hide, and then blame others. The blame-shifting is almost humorous. The man says that it's God's and the woman's fault, and woman says it's the snake's fault. They all get cursed, and we all still feel it. We are still living east of Eden.

The promise of the Story of God is that we will again have access to the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God. The Story begins with such access and it ends, in Revelation, with access restored, thanks to the wonderful work of the Lamb of God. In the meantime we suffer from time to time and always long for redemption.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Trying to get in the flow

The 2-3 weeks have been a huge adjustment for me (and I’m not complaining). Kedra took a full-time job at the high school, which means I don’t have communication access to her like I have had for most of our 26 years together. The other person that I talked to the most, my friend and one of my partners of Capstone Ministries (ReGen Store), also took a job at school, so I can’t talk to him during the day, which was when we used to talk a fair amount.

Coupled with those adjustments was the transition from the slow pace of summer to the fast pace of teaching 2 classes at Oakland City U. and teaching 2 new classes at church. Then added to those time commitments (prep and execution) are football and volleyball. Ben has games on Mondays and Friday most weeks, and Rebecca often has 2-3 games each week. Wow, no wonder I am having trouble keeping up with everything!

Last week I totally forgot a meeting and then last night, for some reason, I didn’t click that I needed to be at church at 6 p.m. Oh well. Like the title says, I am just trying to get in the flow of everything. I’ve been waking up early lately, like 4.30 early. It’s crazy but it helps get a lot of reading and studying accomplished.

My running is going well. I had a 50 mile week last week and should do the same this week. I’ve also managed to get on the bike for 40 miles this week. The old body is holding up pretty well; just a few aches and pains here and there. So far nothing has been serious or changed my training plan. I am getting more mentally focused on the Monumental Marathon which is only 8 weeks from Saturday.

Today I had a sad experience. A person I am trying to help was about to lose her house to foreclosure. We thought we were going to be able to save it, but it was too late. She and her family have to move out and will have to move in with some family for a while. I like these folks. They are really trying hard to make it on their own. He lost a job and couldn’t find one for several months. That’s how they got so far behind. They lived without gas and electricity for several months. They didn’t ask for help; pretty determined folks. I hope we can help them get going again.

There are lots of other things going on, but I am too tired to talk about them right now. Everything seems pretty good. I am really enjoying my work at church and with OCU-B.

I’ll try get a little more consistent here. I like doing this, because it helps me think through what I do. I have also become active on Facebook and even Twitter (awb330).

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Wow, the time sure flies! I am still adjusting to everything I’m try to do and trying to maintain down/quiet/renewal time. I’m getting there.

Labor Day weekend was great! I really concentrated on relaxing and having a good time, yet staying caught up with things, which requires a fair amount of reading. I had some enjoyable long runs with my friends, an 18 and 10 miler (Sat. and Mon.). I got on my bike for 20 miles Monday afternoon. It was nice!

Cut some firewood,
and smoked some meat.
It was all good.
The weekend was complete.

Yesterday I took my deaf neighbor to Bloomington for a lung biopsy. He only weighs 93 pounds. He eats little and smokes a lot. He’s had cancer before, and I am very concerned that he has it again. We had to be in Bloomington at 6.30, so we left pretty early. I enjoyed the time. I stayed with him most of it, and got some reading done while he was gone.

It was interesting interacting with all the medical personnel. They are not used to dealing with deaf people; there is always an adjustment. I tried to help write notes when I could. The first person that took us back from the waiting room asked about my relationship to him. I told him I was a neighbor. She, in a very raspy, smoker voice, kept saying how nice it was that I was doing this. I finally told her, “We follow Jesus and believe that’s what he wants us to do (help people).” She quickly added, “A lot of people don’t.” I think she follows Him also but she didn’t say.

The second nurse was in a hurry and seem frustrated that my neighbor couldn’t talk, although she was very kind to him. She was a little short with her fellow workers. The doctor was very kind and careful with him. The doc told me that he and my neighbor emailed back and forth about things. The nurse that helped transition to leaving was very gentle and kind. It’s just interesting to observe everyone doing their job.

Well, I need to be in my classroom about right now! Bye.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Shine like stars

Do you like to complain? I am so good at it at times that I think it must be a spiritual gift! I actually know better, and it is one of things I battle the hardest in my life.

In Philippians 2 Paul says that we should do everything without complaining and arguing and that we should "shine like stars" in a sin-darkened world. That's quite a call and challenge! We are called to be positive, joyful people, but it's not the superficial "everything's great!" approach that ignores the reality of problems and pain. The approach Paul calls for is rooted in a very painful reality, and in spite of it, we can be joyful. That's what my sermon is going to be about this week. We had a really good class last night that is going to help in my preparation.

Yesterday was a really good day; busy but good. Lots of things happened but the most memorable moments came from my OCU classes. Both classes gravitated toward the hardest question concern life and God: WHY? The mother who lost her only son to a murderer asked it. As a community-building exercise I asked, "What is your greatest fear?" Some said spiders, others heights; predictable stuff. The woman who lost her son said, "my greatest fear happened, so now I don't really have any." Wow.

We talked about how to really understand Jesus today. In the course of the conversation I mentioned that the church is called to show Jesus to the world. This led to a great conversation, though somewhat depressing, about hypocrisy. One person in the class has lots of visible tatoos. She is seeking to better understand God, but she is put off by "Christians." She said that people (Christians) in Wal-Mart sometimes make comments about her and that she will "go to hell for all those tatoos." She says it happens a lot. Makes me sad and somewhat sick. We have lots of work to do.

Speaking of we load a semi with 700 bags of BHRP corn that will be shipped to a 3rd world country. Then I need to work on the sermon I mentioned above. Today is my "off" day from running, but I will try find time to ride my bike for a while as cross-training.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

How's it going?

Fast? Seems that way to me, but that's OK. Let's see, where was I in my story? Oh yeah, we went to the football game Monday evening. Ben re-injured his ribs early in the game, continued to play, and then finally stood on the sidelines for the second half. I don't know how long he will be out. We got beat 54-0 or something like that. I am really, really getting tired of getting whipped in football... And volleyball. Sports, when you lose all the time, is mostly unsatisfying. I tell my kids that they are not defined by sports. This is good.

There are a couple of things that I wanted to tell you about. One is a new ministry that kinda got started over the weekend. For a long time Brent F. has dreamed of a ministry involving cars. We, Brent and the Capstone Ministries board (think ReGeneration Store), sat down a few months ago and dreamed this thing out. Long story short: we are seeking donated cars which we (Brent,volunteer mechanics, and Capstone funds) will fix up and then sell at very reasonable prices to people in need. Reliable transportation, or the lack of it, is a huge problem for people living in poverty. We want to help remove that problem. Over the weekend we received our first car! Brent and I loaded it up on Sunday afternoon, and he got it running Monday evening. Soon we will have for sale a 1987 Volvo!

The other thing I want to tell you about is one of my Oakland City U classes. It only has 7 students, which is nice for building a community of learning. To do that I spend some time early on trying to find out about the students. On Monday I asked the students who they most admired and why. The first girl spoke about her grandfather and began crying. She loved him so much but he died recently. This started off a poignant and powerful parade of raw grief. One student talked about the murder of her one and only child, a son. I am always struck by how much pain and tragedy there is in life. We hide it most of the time. My prayer is that my class will help reveal a God of compassion, and while we cannot answer the "whys," perhaps we can develop some trust in God.

Yesterday was another busy and productive day. It ended with a long volleyball game that lasted until 9.30 last night. Lots of stuff going on with lots of people. Reach out to someone, walk with them, and encourage them.

Today I have a 10 mile run scheduled, classes at OCU, several calls, a lunch appt. (hopefully), reading/studying, and a class at 7 p.m. It doesn't sotp until about 8.30 tonight, and that's OK!