Thursday, February 28, 2013


There is an old Ray Boltz song entitled, "Thank you for Giving to the Lord." The song has several verses that imagine a person standing in Heaven, surprised by people who are there because of his/her influence.

At the time, the influential acts of the imagined past seemed small, insignificant perhaps, and certainly not noteworthy. Yet:

One by one they came
Far as the eye could see
Each life somehow touched
By your generosity

Little things that you had done
Sacrifices made
Unnoticed on the earth
In heaven now proclaimed

I can think of people who have said things and done things to/with me that made a huge difference, yet I am fairly certain they had no awareness of their influence and impact at the time.

Maybe I should tell them?

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

Thursday a.m.

Good morning Thursday! I hope we get along well today. It's kinda cold out there, and my office was 51 again this morning. Thanks to a couple of heaters, I am now enjoying a balmy 67. Those heaters, coupled with a couple of cups of Honduran coffee, make everything just fine. I wish I was in Honduras this morning, however, where it is probably 60 degrees moving toward 80 before the day is over. My guess is that we are going to jump from this below average weather to above average. It seems like that happens most years around here.
Yesterday got hectic on me. I was smoking four shoulders and two chickens and trying to study. That old line about interruptions being my ministry really came into play, more than usual. It's all good. A lady called who is heating her place with an oven and electric heaters. Hopefully she will get fixed up today. Made me feel better about my heat situation. At least I have a fireplace and an inefficient, expensive electric furnace as a backup.
Speaking of my heat situation, I sent a friendly note to my local agent about everything. He got right on it. The engineer gave a verbal report for the adjuster to go ahead and do the deal. I think I could be getting on the repair guy's schedule today. Hopefully that will mean a repair in a week or so.
I better get busy. Thanks for coming by.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Future Peace

Gilda Radner died of cancer in May of 1989. She, among other things, was a comedienne on Saturday Night Live in the late 70s. Her painful path to death produced these words:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next."

The longer I live the more I embrace the truth and wisdom in her words. Don’t take that to mean I have no faith or confidence in God. It’s just the opposite. I really try to live by this rather profound bumper sticker statement:

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.

For a long time I’ve been in a process, painful at times, of relinquishing control. I cannot control much of anything beyond my attitude, and I have a hard time with that. I can’t control any other person.

Most things in my life have been different from what I at one point imagined. I actually find peace and joy in that. We simply don’t know much about the future, beyond that fact that God is in it and promises his children blessings. These ancient words of Isaiah (chap. 64) are worth believing:

Since before time began
no one has ever imagined,
No ear heard, no eye seen, a God like you
who works for those who wait for him.

I don’t know what happens next, but God’s promised presence is enough for me.

Wednesday morning

Good morning! It's Wednesday and will be all day long, and it is the long day for me. Today will be different, however. I'm smoking meat today for an event on Saturday. Today was the best day I could find to do it, and even today presents a few challenges along the way. Thanks to modern communication means, I can take care of just about everything from here, out of my nice home office. It was a balmy 53 degrees this morning when I arrived.
If you are keeping up with my furnace saga, then you will recall that yesterday an engineer arrived to inspect my chimney, to basically make sure that everyone is being honest. He drove from Grand Rapids, Michigan to do the inspection. He was late, due to the winter storm he had to drive through. When he left my house, he was headed back to Michigan, back through the storm. It's a shame what a few cheating people do to all of us.
I liked the engineer. When he was walking across my basement and came to the section where my bikes and equipment are, he stopped suddenly, "Whoa! Wow, look at this!" He rides some back in Michigan. We talked about that for a little while. Then he went to work. Sure enough, everything was just like we said it was. Now we wait up to 10 days for his report. Then after that we will get scheduled for repair. We have not had our main source of heat since Feb. 8. Seems crazy to me.
Yesterday was a really good day. I had a couple of different things going on that were interesting to me and helpful to others, I think. I'd have to kill you.
Last night was Tempo Tuesday. I did OK, just a little slower than I had hoped, but it was about all I had. My tempo splits were 6:55, 6:57, and 6:53. That's a 6:55 average. I hope to move that down to 6:50 soon and then keep moving south by a few seconds.
OK, better tend to the meat thing and get prepped for study and a few other projects this good day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Words are so powerful in so many ways.

What follows are some words that can change your life!

They are fairly simple to say and so challenging to practice.

I wonder what would happen if we took every thought captive and then would not release it into further thought or release it into words until it met the standard found in these words?

Here they are, found in Psalm 19:14.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

I am really going to try live by this prayer today.

Tuesday morning

Finally found a picture that describes me, my intellectual capacity, and my work! I'm talking about the bottom sign! You should travel through my mind sometime. Wow, it's an adventure. I was thinking about a related thing yesterday. Isn't a good thing that we don't have balloon captions above our heads that reveal our thoughts, you know, like in the cartoons? Can you imagine the trouble we would get ourselves into if people could see our unfiltered thoughts? ha ha Whew! Of course all my thoughts are pure, so I'm just talking about you.
Well, good morning Tuesday. How are you? This is the day that we take another step toward restoring the main source of heat in our house. We are getting by OK, but it has not been super fun. I've noticed that my office, in the basement, maintains a cave-like temperature of around 51 degrees. The one morning that it was really cold out, it dipped to 48. Ben's room is in the basement, so he has been sleeping in the upstairs guestroom for the last couple of weeks.
The step we take toward repair today is the arrival of an insurance-directed engineer to look at our chimney to see that it is, indeed, not usable. Then, I guess, the engineer will generate a report for the insurance company, and then, I suppose, the insurance company will finally give the repair guys some money and a "go-ahead" on the project. I think the repair guys work at least a week ahead, so I'm guess we are looking at another week+ before we are back to normal.  By then it could be really nice weather. I hope so.
It was a good day yesterday. Up at 4 and asleep at 10. In between those two times, a lot happened. I was able to get past my normal day to day "to do" list and knock out a couple of significant long term "to do" items. What were they? Hey, I would have to kill you if I told you. I'll just say it involves taking over the world.
I ended my activities last night in the pool. I did 900 yards. It was so hard to leave my Lazy Boy chair and a warm fire in the fireplace. I kissed Kedra good-bye and muttered, "I want to be an Ironman." It only happens one training event at a time. She told me to hang on. She returned with an iron and said, "Get busy ironman." Some of the above is true.
Tempo Tuesday tonight! Those words create a weird mixture of dread and excitement. I dread them, but once the run is over, I feel so good. It's that crazy discipline thing again, isn't it? Reminds me of this (in Hebrews 12:11):
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Serenity Prayer

Around seventy years ago, Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian, included in a sermon a prayer he wrote. That powerful prayer became popular. It still is. It’s used by lots of groups and lots of people.

You are familiar with the first part, but the second part of the prayer is equally important and powerful. Praying this prayer is a great way to start a week that will be full of all kinds of things.


God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.


Monday morning

Well, hello Monday. How did you get back so fast?

I suppose I could say it's in preparation for what takes places early on March 10th, but that's not the real reason I got up at 4 this morning, an hour ahead of schedule. I got up because I felt like staying in bed any longer was not the best use of my time. I wasn't sleeping well, so up I got. It's going to be a long day I think, but the upside is I should get a lot done. Did you get my little reference that we "spring forward" on March 10th? That's coming quickly.

Rebecca made it home for the weekend. It was so good to see her. She won't be back until Easter, but we may see her before then. I am planning a trip to Lipscomb for a meeting in the next couple of weeks.

Saturday morning was a nice time to run, so I took advantage of it to do a 13 miler. It went well, and I enjoyed it. I am staying right at my 30 mile-per-week goal. This time last year I was cranking out a lot more than that. I was getting ready for the Boston Marathon.

This is going to be a busy week, and it started yesterday. I had an afternoon funeral in addition to my normal duties on the only day of the week I work (so funny). This week I am going to smoke a bunch of meat for a fundraiser, plus there are a few other extra things going on.

I hope your week gets off to a good start and goes really well!

Friday, February 22, 2013


An 80-year-old woman was arrested for shop lifting. When she went before the judge he asked her, "What did you steal?"

"A can of peaches."

The judge asked her why she had stolen them.

"I was hungry."

The judge then asked her how many peaches were in the can.


Thinking for a little while, the judge said, "I will give you six days in jail."

Before the judge could actually pronounce the punishment, the woman’s husband spoke up and asked the judge if he could say something.

"What is it?" the Judge asked.

The husband said, "She also stole a can of peas."

* * *

I guess the old fellow had some issues and also forgot this:

1 Peter 3:9 — Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

I understand.

Friday a.m.

Good morning! The schools are on the highly coveted 2HD - 2 hour delay. Kedra and Ben love these things. They get 2 hours off and do not have to make the day up. They did not want to miss the whole day, because they have a few Fridays and Monday coming up in March and April that are "snow make up days." I don't know if it is very bad out? I'll being working in my nice home office, which was 51 degrees this morning. That's a lot better than 48!
We found out from Luke yesterday that he is not coming home this weekend. That was a little disappointing, but he is going to come home soon. Rebecca is still coming. It will be nice to see her for a little while. I think this semester has been hard on her. Readjusting from her experience in Costa Rica, I think, has been a factor.
I made a lot of progress on my sermon yesterday, but I did not finish. I didn't get much of the other stuff done either. I think/hope things will come together quickly this morning. A lot of times the stuff I write/work on comes to life for me after it has sat for a little while.
Yesterday was a pretty productive day, even if I didn't get my Sunday stuff done. I cranked out 5 more miles, right before the rain/sleet came. It was good to get it in. Last night I was a panel member on an "end of life" forum. I was surprised that we had a decent crowd for that kind of thing. I figured the weather would keep everyone away. I was hoping to leave the forum to swim, but the swim got canceled, due to the weather. 
I guess I better get going. I want to get everything done this morning. We have a 12 mile run planned for in the morning, and I may do a few this afternoon as well. I need to get on the bike. We'll see...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Never Too Old

I saw an article recently about a woman who quit smoking. She is 102 years old, and she had been smoking since 1931. That’s more than 80 years of sucking on 2-3 cancer sticks per day.

I guess those warning labels don’t apply to everyone? Her family estimates that she smoked around 60,000 cigarettes. Wow!

Why do you quit smoking at 102? Certainly not for health reasons. Her family talked to her into quitting because they were concerned she was going to burn her house down. She got a little careless where the ashes were falling.

OK, there are all kinds of things to think about this story, but the thought that came to my mind is this. You are never too old to quit, or maybe to start. Yes, I know, an 80-year-old is not going to be an Olympic athlete, but you know what I mean.

You are not too old to stop a bad habit, to repair a relationship with a child, to do this or that. You are not too old to start a new habit, to change your ways to better ways, to do this or that.

C.S. Lewis said, "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."

Stop today! Start today!

Thursday a.m.

Good morning! I hope you are well on this new day. My office was 48 degrees this morning, but that's better than the 17 degrees outside. It's now up to a balmy 55. My right hand is cold and not wanting to type this, so we'll see how we get along this morning. I was in contact yesterday with the insurance company and the person who is going to fix my chimney. We are making progress, but it's slow.

So are we going to get some ice tonight? Sounds like it. I hope it holds off for a while this evening. I have a couple of activities that I would like to see happen.

Today I get to try make the Day of Atonement into an interesting sermon. This could be one of the bigger challenges of late (ha ha). The stuff of Leviticus is so far removed from the way we live. Yet there is a depth and richness that we need to appreciate. I have a feeling it could be a long day today and tomorrow, wrestling this thing to the ground.

Rebecca and Luke are coming home this weekend. I am so excited about seeing them. The time is always too short, but it will be great to have them for a little while. I have a trip to Lipscomb coming up in March, so I should get to see them again soon. Luke has trips scheduled to Guatemala and Liberia, and Rebecca is going to Mexico for a spring break mission trip. Luke's trip to Guatemala is to lead a group of students on a mission trip, and the one to Liberia, which is still shaping up, is for work.

OK, I better go thaw my hand. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Some of us who are older like to point out that "back in the day" not everyone got a trophy. Only the winners got trophies.

Now everyone gets one. I’ve coached little children who hoped they would lose their tournament game so they could get their trophy sooner rather than later. Ha ha.

Trophies for all seems to be a part of a move to make sure that children develop good self-esteem, which is not bad. Right? Some wonder, however, if we are not creating narcissistic monsters who will not be able to handle the realities of a harsh world.

On the other end of things, we do not want children (or adults) who hate and reject themselves, who feel like they should have an "L" tattooed on their foreheads to signify they are losers.

How do we strike the balance?

I find the most helpful thought is that God considers me his beloved child. Even though I am terribly flawed and sin often, he still loves me and allows me to be in relationship with him through grace, mercy and forgiveness.

Thank God.

Wednesday a.m.

Good morning! Let me reveal something about myself this morning. Ready? I have a good relationship with 25 letters of the alphabet, but I don't know Y. Hey, I heard that yesterday and thought it was funny. Of course most of what I think is funny is met with, at best, groans. Usually it is met with blank looks. Here's something else for you. I am wishing it would warm up!

We still do not have our main source of heat for the house, which is a wood burning furnace. I'm waiting on the chimney to be repaired. Heating our home presently is quite a challenge. I am using a fireplace upstairs and turn on the expensive electric furnace a little bit each morning to knock off the chill in the rest of the house. My office is usually 50 degrees when I get up. It's up to 57 now, so I am basking in the heat.

I talked to a good friend yesterday about work, creativity, etc. It was a good conversation about preaching ministry and its unique challenges. The older I get the more I see everything life is about faithfulness. I just try to keep doing the right things in the right way. Some days are better than others. Some days you fail, but you keep doing and keep being. Each day presents a new opportunity.

Creativity is such a funny thing. Sometimes it's there. Then all of a sudden it's gone. "Wait! Please, I'm begging you! Come back!" I've read a book or two about creativity. While you can't force it, there are things you can do. Basically you keep reading and thinking, loading up with information. I read a lot, and I think that helps. I try to read a book a week. I think somehow all the stuff that goes in through reading becomes a part of who we are. It has to do something. Right? I try to read fairly widely. This is easier, thanks to a lot of books that are free (or cheap) on Kindle. I get tweets and Facebook posts from groups that point to free Kindlle books.

Last night was Tempo Tuesday, and it was a cold windy evening. Bill suggested, in part due to the weather, that we change things up a bit. He suggested 1 mile cruise intervals, meaning, after a warm up, we would run 1 mile, rest 1 minute, and then repeat. My triple tired legs from Monday, liked the idea. I was not especially even, but I'll take what I did. I did 6:45, 6:39, and 6:50.

Today it's more study, more visits, more meetings, and a few more miles. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Stare at the lines below and most of you will be able to read them.

7H15 M3554G3
53RV35 7O PR0V3
D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!
1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5!
1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG
17 WA5 H4RD BU7
N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3
R34D1NG 17
W17H 0U7 3V3N
7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17,
C3R741N P30PL3 C4N
R3AD 7H15.

Interesting. It makes me think about how easy it is to change our perception of things, maybe even calling evil good and good evil.

Romans 12:1,2 — Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Tuesday a.m.

Good morning! I'll confess to you that I'm not much in mindset to write right now, so I don't know what's going to end up on this page. It's funny how desire and creativity come and go. I live in a world where creativity is crucial and yet it cannot be forced. I think most preachers will tell you that having to stand up once a week and say something of substance is something that rarely leaves his mind. That's not a complaint. It's just challenging at times.

Yesterday I took the day off. Kinda. I studied some about the Day of Atonement and contacted a few people via electronic media but basically tried not to do too much. Some people had the day off yesterday, due to Presidents' Day, so a few of us gathered yesterday morning to run 5 miles. It was a little quicker, which was nice.

As the run ended, Bill and I talked a little bit about riding. I joked that I was going to have Kedra take me to Paoli and that I would ride home with a strong tailwind. Well, that little comment led to one thing and then another. The next thing you know, Bill and I are at Huck's in Orleans unloading our bikes out of his car. We rode about 22 miles to his house. It was a quick ride (for me anyway), except for the few westward portions. Wow, it was windy!

After a few hours at home, the 8 o'clock hour drew nigh. Fighting the urge to stay in the Lazy Boy chair, I got up and made my way to the pool. 800 yards from a tired body -- I'll take it. I love seeing the triple in the log book.

Today, it's more Day of Atonement stuff, plus a graveside service. There will be lots of other things happen as well. As I've said before, most of what I do I cannot talk about. Not that I would have to kill you or anything like that. ha ha. Oh well. Off I go...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday prayer

Here’s a good Monday prayer from The Message, Psalm 36:5-12.

God’s love is meteoric,
his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic,
his verdicts oceanic.

Yet in his largeness
nothing gets lost;
Not a man, not a mouse,
slips through the cracks.

How exquisite your love, O God!
How eager we are to run under your wings,
To eat our fill at the banquet you spread
as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water.
You’re a fountain of cascading light,
and you open our eyes to light.

Keep on loving your friends;
do your work in welcoming hearts.
Don’t let the bullies kick me around,
the moral midgets slap me down.
Send the upstarts sprawling
flat on their faces in the mud.

Monday a.m.

Happy Presidents' Day! I always wondered what Mt. Rushmore looked like from the other side. Now I know. This was on the Internet, so it has to be true. Although I did see a quote from Abraham Lincoln the other day. He said, "Don't trust everything you see on the Internet." Where was it? I think it was on the Internet.

Kedra and Ben are off school today, so I am going to follow their lead and take it a little easier than usual for a Monday. Kedra's parents were here for the weekend, and they leave this morning. Sounds like it's going to start out sunny and warm up with lots of wind and then rain tonight. It's all OK with me.

My weekend was fairly uneventful. Kedra and I had a nice evening Friday, celebrating Valentine's Day a day late. Saturday I ran 10 miles and did a few other things. Yesterday was fairly normal, and here we are again. Monday. It starts all over again. Here we go...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Just doing the job

A guy stopped at a local gas station, and after filling his tank, he bought a soft drink. He stood by his car to drink his cola and watched a couple of men working along the roadside.

One man would dig a hole two or three feet deep and then move on. The other man came along behind him and filled in the hole. While one was digging a new hole, the other was 25 feet behind filling in the hole.

After observing this for a little while, the man approached the men with shovels. "Can you tell me what’s going on here with all this digging and refilling?"

"Well, we work for the government and we’re just doing our job," one of the men said.

"But one of you is digging a hole and the other fills it up. You’re not accomplishing anything. Aren’t you wasting the taxpayers’ money?"

"You don’t understand, mister," one of the men said, leaning on his shovel and wiping his brow. "Normally there’s three of us: me, Elmer and Leroy. I dig the hole, Elmer sticks in the tree, and Leroy here puts the dirt back."

Elmer’s job’s been cut . . . so now it’s just me an’ Leroy.

* * *

I guess there are all kinds of things to say about this story. It is important to know what you are doing and why, and when it doesn’t make sense, then maybe it’s time to do something else.

Have a great weekend!

Friday a.m.

Lester with our Honduran cooks: Ana, Lizeth, and baby Marco
Good morning, it's Friday! The lightly threatened weather appears to be not much of a threat at all. That's fine. I'm not too excited about the 20 degree temps for tonight, especially for running long in the morning, but it's what we'll get. Not much to do about it but receive the day as a gift and be thankful.

Yesterday was a very nice day. I had visions of getting out on my bike, but they never materialized. I just couldn't find or make the time. I did get a 5 mile run in and 800 yards in the pool late last night. Today I hope to spend some time on the bike trainer and get a short run in. Tomorrow morning has a 10 miler on the schedule.

Tonight Kedra and I will do our Valentine's date. This is what she opted for. We can stay out really late tonight, you know like 9 or something, and not have to worry about the usual early morning in the morning. We are just wild and crazy.

Yesterday I spent some time with a man who is very close to death. It's holy ground and a weird place to stand in lots of ways. He was alone when I saw him, which made me slightly sad. I really don't know a whole lot about the situation.

OK, I still have lots and lots to do before Sunday, so I better get after it. See you Monday, Lord willing.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine’s Day!

I hope that did not elicit groans, cursing, or other expressions of faulty memory or neglect.

While we might be tempted to say Valentine’s Day originates with the card, candy, and flower folks, we need to know it does not.

It’s actually rooted in history, in a man who lived a long time ago. History gets a little fuzzy about Valentine, but the consensus is he was a good man who highly valued God’s love expressed in marriage.

The legend I like best involves Valentine who lived in the 3rd century. He was a Christian who defied Roman authorities by marrying soldiers who were in love. Rome thought married soldiers were less effective and, thus, denied marriage.

Valentine was imprisoned and eventually put to death for his defiant faith.

Go ahead and get the flowers or candy, and/or go out on a date, but also remember that this day is a day to celebrate love, selfless love that shows it depth to the point of death, while believing in Resurrection.

1 John 3:16a — This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

John 3:16,17 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Thursday a.m.

Good morning! On this Valentine's Day, I am wondering how many women can carry 2 concrete blocks up hill for quite a distance? And do you really want a woman like that? Just think of what she could do to you, when you misbehave or when she is angry with you. Why did I start with that? I have no idea. I will say, however, that the Honduran women are very strong, putting a lot of us gringo guys to shame.
My day yesterday sure turned into something I did not expect. I had a couple of morning meetings. Then I got a couple of calls saying that my neighbor's house was on fire. I went out there and stayed for a couple of hours, trying to help out in any way I could. It was a bad deal, but no human lives were lost. A couple of cats died. The homeowners had 3 fireproof boxes for important things, and they all came through just fine.
It was a bit weird being at the fire, because I've been having trouble with my chimney. I choose to burn wood, and lately that has not gone very well. While I was in Honduras, there was a major problem. When I tried to fix it on Sunday afternoon, I realized it was beyond my abilities. I called in a pro. Long story short: my chimney has major problems and is unsafe and unusable presently. A new liner and a bunch of other work are in process.
As I stood there watching my neighbor's house burn, I was thinking that it could have been mine. That makes all the inconvenience and cost of my situation a lot more bearable. It will be another week before we are back to havinge normal heat. In the meantime, we are using a fireplace and a backup electric furnace. We are getting along fine.
Today is going to be filled with lots of things, some of them from yesterday. My main project today is get my sermon under control for Sunday. This one has been difficult for some reason, but my class last night really helped me get a grip on it.
Hey, thanks for coming by. See you tomorrow, I hope.
P.S. My email is not working and hasn't been since yesterday afternoon. It's a Blueriver problem. Hopefully later today I will have it back.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Just be There

Will you be there?

There is something special, even sacred, about physical presence. Isn’t "just being with" a person the essence of relationship? The promised presence of God in our lives is sufficient, but his presence is often (mostly?) mediated through fellow humans. Right?

You need others.

You are needed by others.

Henri Nouwen, speaking about joy, really gets at the importance of physical presence. He says this:

Joy is hidden in compassion. The word compassion literally means "to suffer with." It seems quite unlikely that suffering with another person would bring joy. Yet being with a person in pain, offering simple presence to someone in despair, sharing with a friend times of confusion and uncertainty. . . such experiences can bring us deep joy. Not happiness, not excitement, not great satisfaction, but the quiet joy of being there for someone else and living in deep solidarity with our brothers and sisters in this human family. Often this is a solidarity in weakness, in brokenness, in woundedness, but it leads us to the center of joy, which is sharing our humanity with others.

Someone probably needs you today.

Just be there.

Wednesday a.m.

Good morning! Here's a picture of Elmer, the preacher for the Guajire church, mixing concrete the Honduran way -- on the ground. He is mixing it for the floor of our banos (outhouse). Steve and Dan are in the background working on the front.

How are you on this Wednesday? Looks like a decent day ahead, not too cold, and it looks like the rain/snow is not going to be a very big deal. We are progressing through the winter rather quickly it seems. Have you noticed how much longer the days are now?

I noticed the length of the day last night. We finished our tempo run in the daylight for the first time. We usually do our 2 mile cool down in the dark or nearly dark; not last night. We had another good turnout for Tempo Tuesday. Several of the newbies are doing it, which is really neat to see. They are making dramatic improvements.

My tempo run went fairly well last night. I felt pretty good. It must be the altitude training in Honduras?? ha ha. Whatever. My goal last night was to run with John H., which I did for most of it. I ended up running 6:58, 6:57, and 6:49. That last split indicates that I need to go out a little harder next week. Yikes. That's going to hurt, but if I am going to break 20 minutes in the 5K, I'm going to have to hurt a lot.

Yesterday was a good day, and today will be the same, no matter what happens. Today is the long day, so I have to mentally prepare for that. I'm pretty sure I'm ready. My meetings yesterday generated more work, so the list grows a little. That's all good, because it is good stuff.

OK, I better get after it. I have meetings at 7, 8.30, and 10.30, followed by lots of other stuff. Thanks for coming by.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What are your plans?

Driving in Honduras is crazy, to say the least! You beep your horn and take off. Often 3, sometimes 4, vehicles make moves in opposite directions in just 2 lanes. I pray a lot more when I’m on the road in Honduras.

Death on Honduran roads is common. Last week we were stopped in traffic for quite awhile. Then we crept along, finally coming up a scene that still disturbs me. It was the remains of a motorcycle that had hit a car head on. The body had been removed, but streams of blood were fresh upon the pavement.

I wondered about the young man who died. Where was he going? What were his plans for the day? Who was waiting for him? He died on the road that morning, and I’m certain that was not his intention or his plan for day.

It reminds me of the uncertainty of life and of its fragile nature. James says it well (4:13-15):

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that."

How are you planning for today?

Tuesday a.m.

Good morning! How are you on this Tuesday? Looks like a pretty nice day awaits us. Be grateful.

The picture above is from Guajire, the little village that we are working with in Honduras. This lady is mentally challenged but functions at a pretty high level. She is making tortillas, using her adobe cook stove. They constantly feed wood through an opening in the bottom and then use the top as the cooking surface. This one was made on the spot, but they have commercially made ones that are used in schools and other places.

My shovel was pretty busy yesterday, digging out of stuff that accumulated while I was gone. A little more digging today and I should be back to dealing with the normal stuff. It's all good. I really miss being in Honduras and am really looking forward to this summer's trip, July 7-17. We have a great list of ideas that we compiled at the end of last summer's trip, and now I will add a few things that we generated during this recent trip.

Yesterday was a good day, filled with people and things and activities. None of it super exciting I suppose, but it's all good life stuff. It's not possible for me to write about a lot of things I do, because I don't want to violate confidentiality. That's why I end up writing a lot about my endurance life. Plus several of my endurance friends come to visit here.

Speaking of that, I got a good solid 5 miler in yesterday, along with 750 yards in the pool. I'm making progress with the swim, but I still get frustrated with it at times. I'll just keep plugging away. I know it's going to get better.

Today I have a meeting, a trip to a hospital, a lunch with a friend, and I need to study quite a bit. Tonight is Tempo Tuesday, which is going to hurt, but it will produce good results.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 11, 2013

More alike than different

With a few others, I had another great trip to Honduras last week. We built some houses, bought and distributed a ton of food, and gave/received the love of God in various ways. As usual, it was simply wonderful.

I love lots of things about Honduras, especially the children. They are beautiful in so many ways. The little fellow in this picture was of special interest to me. Why? Because we share the same name.

There are so many things that make us different from one another: more than 50 years, culture, education, and ease of living. But I was thinking about what I share with little Allen.

We are both image-bearers of God and dearly loved by him. We both are totally dependent upon him for each precious breath of life.

Along time ago, while in Athens, Paul said this about all that (Act 17:26-28).

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. "For in him we live and move and have our being." As some of your own poets have said, "We are his offspring."

We are all more alike than we are different. Thank God!

Monday a.m.

Good morning! How are you on this Monday morning? Me? Well, I'm missing those 60 degree mornings in Honduras, although we are not far away from it this morning here. These pictures are from Guajire. This family was using their ox cart to travel up the dusty, rough road.
Our trip to Honduras was really good. Scott, Lester, and I got back to Mitchell around 1:30 Sunday morning, and I got in bed a little after 2. That made for a short night before getting up yesterday morning and preaching. I think it went ok. I thought I would take a nap yesterday afternoon, but I didn't. I got somewhat unpacked and began the process of reorientation and organization.
Steve and Dan returned from Honduras last night (at least they were supposed to). They went back out to Guajire on Saturday and worked on a few projects.
I have a lot going on this week, including 2 once a month meetings. I just need to work steady and keep plugging away at everything. Hopefully by the end of the week, I will be back to the usual routine.
I ran pretty well in Honduras. I got 30 miles in, all before breakfast. I found a few new routes around the village of Ojojana. There are hills everywhere. I guess that makes sense, since we are in the mountains. The air, when not polluted with dust from the roads, is so clean and a tad on the thin side, since we were around 5000 feet above sea level.
OK, I'm not sure what all this day holds, but here I go...
Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Friday - Honduras February 8, 2013

Hello from Honduras! Sorry I did not get this posted last night. We got home late after a wonderful day, and I decided to wait until this morning to get all this together. Lester ended up with egg on his face yesterday. Literally. It's a birthday custom in Honduras to "egg" the person celebrating his or her birthday. You are supposed to get an egg for every year. He was spared the other 24. I think Lester had a good 25th, one he will not likely forget!

We had another good day in Guajire. We finished the outhouse, but more importantly, we distributed 200 bags of food. Sadly, some folks did  not get any. The local evangelist, Elmer, takes care of signing up people and calling their names. They begin with their church members and then to members of the community. We really, really appreciate Bryantsville Hunger Relief Project's generous donation to make this distribution possible. In July we will plan to prepare and distribute 500 bags of food.

Yesterday we also gave away some of the blankets and afghans that we were made by our church ladies in Mitchell. Carolyn Kendall and Elizabeth Root both spent a lot time in knitting afghans, so we carefully selected the recipients. Elizabeth's went to an older lady who is going to live in house we built on the church property. She is a widow and is going to take in younger women to mentor.  The other lady is a young mother. We gave her son one of the Phyllis Mundy designed blankets. His smiling face shows you what he thought of it! See the pictures below.

It was a great day and a great way to finish our work here. We did a few other things before ending up at Cafe El Gringo for a nice meal and fellowship. Our two sponsored university students, Carol and Kelin, came and ate with us. It was so nice to see them!

Scott, Lester, and I will make our way home today. Dan and Steve will come tomorrow. Today they are going back to Guajire to take a few more supplies. Marc Tindall, as usual, has done an amazing job of coordinating everything and making it possible for us to do this good work!

I hope to be home in time to preach tomorrow! Thanks for all your prayers and support.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Thursday - Honduras February 7, 2013

Hello! It was another great day in Guajire, Honduras! Actually it was a very nice uneventful day. We had no traffic trouble today, though Dan did get stopped at a police blockade. We had Dorian with us. He quickly got us out of the situation. There are road blocks in lots of places, and it is not unusual to get stopped. Sometimes they are looking for a bribe.

The house build went well today. I have included a few pictures below. It is so enjoyable to build in Guajire. The countryside is so beautiful, and the people are so pleasant.

We had a good conversation with Leopoldo today regarding our summer trip. I will tell more about this later, but it is very exciting.

Everyone is doing OK. Scott has not felt well the last couple of days, but he continued to work really hard anyway.  Wish I had more to tell. Things are going great. I love being here, but I look forward to being at home on Sunday.

Keep praying for us. Here are a few photos for you. Just click on one to go the album.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Wednesday - Honduras February 6, 2013

Hello! It was another exciting day in Honduras! We're just waiting on supper now, so I will try get this up and going before I eat. Our pre-supper conversation is about how to finish our deluxe bathroom (outhouse) in Guajire. Interesting stuff. Really.

Today we went to the dump, but before we got there we had to pick up the food and the water. We feed about 250 people. They are hungry and grateful. We give out beans and rice and water. The dump, as I mention every time I visit, is one of the most disturbing places I have ever been. It is sad to see kids living and working there. Marc is working on changing the culture there and has helped several children go to the school across the road from the dump.

We had some excitement on the way to the dump. Immigration had a road block and stopped us. They demanded our passports. We never carry them for safety reasons. They are worth a lot on the black market and are targets for thieves. This answer did not satisfy the officer. He and Marc had quite a discussion. Marc called his lawyer who has friends in high places. A high official called our opposing officer. He did not like the call, and after a few minutes of further protest, he let us go. We were probably stopped 20-30 minutes. It was all interesting, if not entertaining at times.

After the dump, we visited the school across the road. We installed a water treatment system 2 years ago. We checked on it, and it is working great. This school is a great ministry run by some Christians.

After the school, it was on to eat some lunch. We ate at Carnita's, one of my favorite local places. It has different kinds of meats that are grilled to yumminess. We had a good meal and a good time. Following that we spent quite a while bagging food. Bryantsville Hunger Relief Project gave us a generous donation to buy the food.

While we were bagging the food, the Honduras vs. USA soccer match was going on. Honduras won, so everyone is very excited. At the dump a lady had a face paint stick with Honduras colors. I was looking a little blue throughout the day.

Keep praying for us. Things are going well, and we are getting a clear vision about the summer trip. Exciting, exciting stuff! Here are some photos. Click on any picture to go to the album.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Tuesday - Honduras Feb 5, 2013

Hello! I hope you are doing well. I have not done a very good job of keeping up with things at home, so I am assuming all is good where you are. I hope it is not too cold. Some of you will accuse me of being something or another, when I tell you this. The weather here is so nice. It is about 60 at night, and then around 80 in the daytime. In Guajire, which is north of 5,000 feet, it is probably only in the mid 70s.

I have been able to run every morning before breakfast. The altitude and the big hills are good for my training. It is such a neat place to run. The little village of Ojojona is a quaint place with dusty little streets. I run around the village to warm up and then take off up the big hills to Santa Ana. Coming back is sweet! Lester ran with me this morning.

We went back to Guajire today. It was a great day! We got our outhouse just about finished. We got the floor poured. The locals mix up the concrete on the ground. Before they mix it, they have to carry the materials up a path. We also are constructing a pila, which a water tank. It is being constructed by the locals out of concrete block. The blocks also have to be carried quite a distance. Some of the men carry 3 at a time, and some of the women carry 2. Even the small children can carry 1.

There was such a neat environment today. There were lots of people all working on different things to improve the church facilities. Everyone was happy and, though we could not communicate super well with words, it was clear that a bond is growing.

Everyone is doing really well. We are being well fed each day. Tomorrow we go to the dump, and then we will prepare food for distribution on Friday. On Thursday we will finish the outhouse and build a house.

Keep praying for us! Here are some photos. Just click on one of them to go to the album.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Monday - Honduras February 2013

We had another great day in Honduras! We ended up in Guajire late morning. We had a few delays getting there. It included sitting on the highway for quite a while. We learned that a motorcyclist had died in a crash. We finally moved and then came up on the site. The body had been removed, but everything else was there. It was a disturbing thing to see and quite sobering.

Once in Guajire we got started on the house. Steve, Dan, and I got to spend some time with Leopoldo, our main Honduran contact. He works with the church in Guajire. He has great passion and vision for the church there. He is so excited about our work.

He has visions of Guajire becoming a center in various ways. He wants to develop the property, possibly into a camp and retreat center, which would serve many of the churches in the region. It would also serve as a place where we could stay for longer periods of time. We are going to ponder and pray about all this. We are already beginning some of the initial work. Construction is very cheap, so it would not take much to do a lot. I will have more to say about all this later. He sees the church in Guajire also serving as hub for evangelism.

Lester arrived today, and so did the suit cases that Scott and Steve were missing. All that was good. Lester arrived withou incident. Well, I'm very tired, and I hope this post makes sense. Here are some photos from today. Just click on one to go the actual album.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Honduras February 3, 2013 Sunday

We had a really nice day in Guajire! The weather was beautiful and work was enjoyable. We had a relaxed start to the day, after a good, restful night. A good breakfast prepared us for what was ahead.

Luis drove us out to the village that we love. The plan today was to scout out our work, visit some, and worship with the church. It didn’t work out exactly like that. Most things in Honduras turn out to be different than you plan, so what happened today was normal.

When we arrived, we said hello to Maria and her children. Then we made our way down to scout out the sight for the outhouse. I knew there was already a hole about 4 feet deep that someone had dug at some point. We decided that it was a great location, since half of the depth was already done! We were hoping to go 8-10 feet deep. We took turns working and got down to 7 feet. That’s where the clay was turning into rock. Deep enough!

We also cut down several trees with an axe. The trees were located where we plan to construct a house. For those who know Guajire, the house is going to be built between the church building and the other two buildings just up the hill. We are building it for an older lady, Erica. That construction will take place tomorrow.

We planned to stay for worship today, but an announced 3 p.m. start in Honduras does not mean that. It was clear that things were going to start late and would likely go long, so we decided we needed to leave.

We are now at Marc Tindall’s house watching the Super Bowl. It has Spanish commentators and does not show the commercials that you see/saw. I’m really not that interested. If the Colts were in, I’d be focused.

Here are some pictures from today. Click on the photos to enlarge and control the speed. Enjoy! Keep praying for us.

Made it to Honduras - barely

Good Sunday morning! I am in Honduras and very glad to be here. I will spare you all the details, but yesterday's trip was the most challenging one, by far, in all my trips here.

We woke up, of course, to snow. I was supposed to meet Scott G in Mitchell at 4:30. That part worked out fine, but the trip to Louisville was slow, due to the roads covered with snow. We made it OK, a little later than I would prefer but no problem. Check in and security check were easy and smooth.

We boarded a little late, and the snow was coming down. I was very aware of the 65 minutes we had in Miami to connect. Too many minutes of delay in Louisville would threaten our connection. Here come the delays. The baggage scanner is not working, and we must wait on the de-icing truck. So we wait and wait.

The bags got loaded, but we were down to about 30 minutes connecting window, but the pilot said she could make up the time. Next the de-icer truck showed up, but I could tell by watching it that something was wrong. They left. The pilot said the truck broke, so we would have to wait for another one.

Miami connection? Not going to happen.

We ended up sitting in Louisville for 3 hours before we took off! We arrived in Miami and started talking to American Airlines. There was not a flight until tomorrow (Sunday). I knew, thanks to communication with people at home, that there was a flight on TACA airlines and told them (AA) so. "We can't do that." I kindly suggested that they could. After an hour of Scott and I standing around quietly asserting ourselves, we were allowed to be on the TACA flight.

Now the adventure begins! What about our bags? We we directed to another place. We went there. Then we were told to go through security. We waited in line 15 minutes to be told that we were not documented correctly. Back to TACA ticketing. There we found a 1 - 1.5 hour line! No way we would make it. Scott and I pondered our plight.

I saw a TACA rep and said we just need a board pass and no bags to check. She sent us to the first class line, where there was no line. We got our boarding passes. Next the long line at security awaited us. We were running out time. I accidentally cut line, big time, and Scott didn't tell me. Oops.

We grabbed some food. We were hungry, since we had not eaten all day. We were the last ones to board the TACA flight and were the only gringos on it. It was a great flight. The service was excellent and we made it into Tegucigalpa early.

The next concern? Our bags, would our bags make it? We waited and waited. Then the conveyor belt went off. No bags. Not surprised. I asked a worker, "no mas?" No more? He looked like there might be something else. I peeked through the little doorway and saw my bags! I told him, and he told me to wait.

I got my bags, and I was excited. My excitement diminished when it was revealed that Scott's bags could not be found. Hopefully today.

Luis picked us up and took us to Ojojona.  There we met Steve and Dan who flew out of Indy without problem. Except! Except Steve's bags did not arrive, so the Gilstrap boys don't have their stuff. Hopefully it will come today.

Today we are going out to Guajire to begin a little work and then worship with the church there are 3 p.m. I am excited to go out there! I hope to get a little run in this morning before breakfast. It is about 60 this morning, heading toward 80. It gets daylight at 6, which is about now. We are on Central Time.

Thanks for stopping by! Pray for us.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Prayer motives

A minister dies and is waiting in line at the Pearly Gates. Ahead of him is a guy who`s dressed in sunglasses, a loud shirt, leather jacket, and jeans. Peter addresses him, "Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you to the Kingdom of Heaven?"

"I`m Joe Cohen, a taxi-driver from Noo Yawk City."

Peter consults his list, smiles and says to the taxi-driver, "Take this silk robe and golden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

The minister now stands before Peter and says in his best preacher voice, "I am Joseph Snow, pastor of Saint Mary`s for the last forty-three years."

Peter consults his list and then says to the minister, "Take this cotton robe and wooden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

"Just a minute," the minister protested, "that man was a taxi-driver, and he gets a silk robe and golden staff. How can this be?"

"Up here, we work by results," says Peter. "While you preached, people slept; while he drove, people prayed."

* * *

My apologies for the poor theology!

What point can you make from this one? There’s probably something about people praying when they are scared.

Have a great weekend!

Friday a.m.

Might do a little cycling in Honduras
Good morning! Hello 6 degrees! What that's thing about 6 degrees of separation? What's that? It has nothing to do with weather? Oh, OK.

Well, I am about as focused as a fly this morning, so lower your usual lofty expectations of the deep thought that you usually experience when you read my profound insights into life. I pretty sure if they had had ADD back in the day, then I might have had it. Probably not but who knows? Look, a squirrel!

I need 4 miles this morning to get my 30 for the week, so I will go out pretty soon and grab those. Kedra has a follow up appointment for her wrist mid-morning, so I want to be all done before then. I hope to get a few miles on the bike trainer before the run, and then tonight, I hope to swim. Triple! I ran yesterday afternoon with a good group. This morning I realized I was running with a guy celebrating his birthday. Happy belated birthday Tim! I'm glad you were born!

The bags are pretty well packed for Honduras. They are just waiting for the last minute additions, things that can be added today and in the morning. We leave around 4:30 in the morning. It will be a long day, but we'll be in Honduras around midday. We are flying American this time, which is the first time in my 8 trips. Why? Considerably cheaper. We go through Miami.

I hope to post some from Honduras, but you know how that can go. I always tell Kedra, "If you don't hear from me, then don't worry. I'll get in touch when I can."

Take care, and thanks for stopping by.