Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Not a Typical Tuesday...

Yeah, today was not the every day kind of Tuesday.

On the way home from our Memorial Day celebration (which was about 75 miles from home), we got a message from our host family that one of our friends had left their sunglasses, cell phone and credit cards.
By the time we received the voice mail (most of the drive is in a cellular black hole) we were well on our way home. The friend said she would just make the drive back on Tuesday, as it was already going to be a long day and some people had to go to work today.

I figured that I'm always up for a nice ride (and the route there is a hilly, curvy two lane for the entire 75 miles) and could make the trip to Dora, MO on my motorcycle. I mean, what else does a retired guy have to do?

But ...
(Why does there always have to be a "but" ?)
when Chris was ready to leave for work, she woke me up and said that one of the cats seemed to be sick and I needed to get her to the vet.
the vet is booked all day long but said that I could walk-in and they would try to fit her in. I asked if I could drop her off and they could have her all day and see her when ever they could and then call me. I did explain that I would me unreachable for several hours, but would call back as soon as I got the message.

So, I loaded the cat into the carrier and drove her to the vet. (I have to admit that I considered strapping the carrier to the motorcycle, since the vet's office is on the way out of town. But I decided the cat would be better off traveling in the car). Then I returned home, did a quick inspection of the bike, made sure I had my rain gear and started my journey.

I did consider turning back when it started to sprinkle just 10 miles into my ride. The clouds looked like they could rain at anytime, even though the forecast was that they would break up. Skies to the east of me (the direction I was riding) were dark, but to the south and west appeared to be clearing. At least they were a higher overcast layer. The sprinkles only lasted a short time and I made it to the halfway point on dry roads and and in good time.

For the second half of the outbound trip I was on slightly wet to very wet roads the whole way. Wet asphalt, hilly, curvy roads and a motorcycle are not the best combination! Needless to say, I rode considerably more slowly for that part of my ride. The last mile was a dirt and gravel road which translates to mud and gravel after a rain. I must have been just behind the rain as it was pretty slick and muddy!

I made my pick up and the sun was breaking through. It looked like the rest of the day was going to be great for a ride. I decided that I didn't want to simply backtrack and went east a few miles to a place called Twin Bridges on the north fork of the White River.

 It is a camp ground with canoe/kayak rentals.
The restaurant was closed, but I went into the convenience store, bought a soda and candy bar, and inquired about the rentals, put in spots and put out spots. They had several float trips available from 5 to 15 miles. Might be a future day trip or overnight camping trip.
Here are a few pics at Twin Bridges.

From there, I headed north on MO Hwy 181. It cuts through a portion of the Mark Twain National Forest and meets Hwy 60 at Cabool, MO. Most of the ride home was on relatively straight concrete two lane highway or divided four lane. Although there were some grand vistas along Hwy 181, I didn't stop to take any pics. I stopped at Uncle Roosters in Seymour (yeah, it's becoming a regular place) and thought I'd try something new for lunch -- a deep fried hamburger!
A lightly breaded and deep fried hamburger patty, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, and a spicy bbq sauce -- not bad!
Truthfully, I probably won't order it again because there are other better choices, but it was a very good cheeseburger!

I dropped off the cell phone and stuff at our friend's and then stopped to fill up at 180+ miles. There was a voice mail from the vet's office and they are going to keep Groucho overnight. I made it home at just under 190 miles for the day and with a motorcycle that is in need of a bath!

All-in-all, a pretty good Tuesday!

I hope yours was also a good one!

John <><

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Thoughts

I know that Memorial Day is a holiday in which we remember those that have given their lives in service to our country.

It is not Veterans' Day. (for those that have served)
It is not Armed Forces Day. (for those that are serving)
It is not to remember any of our loved ones that have died.

It is for honoring those that have given their lives while serving in the armed forces of the United States of America.

This morning, however, I am thinking of some other casualties of war.
There are so many of our young service people that are committing suicide after returning from serving in the Middle East. The suicide rate among young returning military personnel is at an alarmingly high rate ... an no one is listening to the alarm!

While I understand that there are many different contributing factors and that it is difficult to know when a person is at risk, it seems to me that there ought to be something that we can do and some warning signs that loved ones can be watching for.
What a tragedy that we have young men and women surviving their military service only to lose the mental battles that continue long after their return to the safety of their homes.

Honestly, I'm feeling helpless this morning and don't really know what to write.
It's just something on my heart today.

John <><

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived." --General George Patton

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Story We Need to know; The Heroes We Need to Remember.

It is Memorial Day Weekend in the United States of America.
On Memorial Day we honor the men and women that have given their lives to gain and protect the freedoms we hold dear in our country. Most of us will find some way to celebrate the weekend, but few will spend much time actually remembering our heroes.

I want to share a story with you. It is a story that I hope you will think of often. Perhaps, it is a post that you will share so that other will know the story, as well. It is a story of the heroes that we honor on this holiday; the story of men that gave their lives so that we might live as a people, freed from the rule of England.

This is the story behind the words of our National Anthem.
The next time you stand at a sporting event with your hand over your heart;
the next time you proudly belt out the words;
the next time you hear the Anthem;

And my favorite rendition of our National Anthem...

John <><

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My Work Here is ... Never Finished!

Is it a bad thing that I am perfectly happy doing nothing?
People ask me what I do now that I'm retired and I usually tell them that I just goof off.
...And that's pretty much the truth.

I've become a pretty non-productive member of society ... and I'm okay with that.
People say that they have to be doing something; that they'd be bored doing nothing.
Good for them! They should do something! Boredom stinks.

I really can't think of a time that I've thought to myself -- "I'm bored!"
If I think I'm getting bored, I find something un-boring to occupy my time. It isn't generally very productive. It might be a long walk or a long ride on the motorcycle. Both contribute nothing to society, both can be done alone and both seem to keep me sane and happy.

When I say that I could live life on a beach in Mexico (soon to be behind a wall), people say that they'd get tired of doing nothing everyday. I say -- "I'm up for the challenge!"
Let's see how many days (weeks, months, years) I can live life on the beach before I get tired of it!
I know that not every day will be spent entirely on the beach. I'll have to go to the market and fix meals on occasion. But I'm thinking that any day that starts with coffee and beach is going to be an okay kind of day.
A walk on the beach, a swim in the ocean, a stroll to the market -- all great ways to break up the boredom of doing nothing on the beach.

After all, if I'm okay with doing nothing in Southwest Missouri, I think I'll manage fine somewhere on a beach!
Oh yeah, sometimes when it looks like I'm doing nothing, I'm really on the internet looking at available beach properties. That is another unproductive activity that sometimes occupies my time.

Today, I actually have something to do! I have to finish up some outlines for a camp I'm doing in June. I also have a Springfield Cardinal's game to go to tonight. Tomorrow I have an Association meeting to attend, Friday a friend's business opening to celebrate, Saturday evening dinner with friends -- Geez! When am I going to have time to do nothing?

Of course, none of those things is really great in its contribution to society. I guess it still kind of counts as doing nothing.
Don't kid yourself -- doing nothing is a lot of work! Sometimes I do so much nothing that I have to rest. One of the problems with doing nothing is that you're never really finished! There is always more nothing to be done!

Well, I guess I'd better get busy.
Enjoy your day.
I'll be busy doing nothing!

John <><

Monday, May 23, 2016

Politically Speaking...

I know! I know!
I'm supposed to be avoiding the political posts!

But today's is more of a political "What if...?" post.

I'm wondering why none of the big polling organizations has conducted a three candidate poll.
What if the far right decided to run a third party or independent candidate?
What if Bernie Sanders ran as an independent?

Could a third candidate manage 270 electoral votes?
Could a third candidate manage enough electoral votes to keep either party's candidate from getting 270 electoral votes?

And if no candidate for POTUS receives a majority of the electoral votes (270), the House of Representatives would vote from the top two (or three at most) candidates for the President!


By the way--if you are wondering, it would be the sitting House (not the newly elected House) that would make this vote. The Electoral College meets to vote on the first Wednesday after the second Monday of December (Dec 14th, this year) to vote and I'm pretty sure that the current House would not take the current Senate's stance and let the people decide by waiting until the newly elected House takes their seats in Congress.

So let's just say that both Bernie Sanders and John Kasich decide to run as independent candidates.
If Kasich only wins in Ohio (18 electoral votes), Sanders only wins in Vermont (3 electoral votes), and Clinton and Trump split the remaining states so that neither of them receives 270 electoral votes; then the House of Representatives could choose to elect John Kasich as our new President -- a man that won only one state and had a minuscule amount of the total popular vote!

Just wondering...

John <><

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Purposeful Living

I suppose that there are times in everyone's life that one wonders about their purpose in life.
To be honest, I'm not certain that I know just what my purpose is. That makes it pretty difficult to live a purposeful life without knowing what it might be. It also makes wondering -- "What's the point?" -- a much more frequent thought.

Fortunately, there are occasions when you get to hear some words of encouragement or affirmation from people. Sometimes you are blessed to see success stories and you know that you had a small part in them.

I've learned to tune in to those kinds of subtle messages. At first, I thought that I might be stretching in order to feel like I was doing something worthwhile, but I started noticing bits of thanks and encouragement coming from unlikely places and often where I wasn't really intent on having any impact on somebody's life.
...And that has had an impact on my own life!

When somebody tells you something like -- "Years ago, you said something that I've never forgotten and it's really helped me..." -- you start to pay more attention to the things you are saying. It's rare that I've had anybody say -- "Years ago, you said something that I've never forgotten and it really hurt me..." -- but I'm certain that it's happened more often than I'd care to admit.

I'm pretty convinced that I've said way too many inconsequential things and hurtful things over the years and way too few words of encouragement or helpful words of wisdom. Today, I tend to talk less and listen more.  (Talking less is a relative thing, so I probably still talk too much.)
Recently, I've seen or heard things that have reminded me of being both helpful and hurtful in the past.
What we say and how we say it really does matter.

With each people encounter of the day, I get to choose how I will be remembered at the end of the day.
Will that person say, "I saw John today. He was a real jerk!"
Or will they have a more pleasant memory of our meeting.
And frankly, they may not even recall that we met during the day.

In any case, I can at least choose not to be a jerk -- or better yet; to actually be nice.
That probably comes way more easily for most of you than it does for me. It would seem that my natural inclination is to be a jerk. Whenever I am not paying very close attention to not being a jerk, the ugly just seems to come out.
When I get those rare affirmations that I actually was a nice guy -- well, it does encourage me to keep trying.

So --
if somebody has been an encouragement to you somewhere along life's road, you might want to tell them.
They may be unaware of how they have helped you along the way.

And --
YOU may have an opportunity to be an encouragement to somebody. Sometimes we don't even have to have anything to say -- we just need to be there to listen. And listening without saying anything can often be more difficult than offering some meaningless or unwelcome words.

Listen more.
Talk less.
(My words of wisdom for today)

John <><

Monday, May 16, 2016

Rainy Monday, Summer Camps

After a couple of days of much cooler temperatures in the Ozarks, the week begins with a cool rain showery Monday. The rain is forecast to extend through tomorrow, too.
The rain is light and steady and should last throughout the day with a few breaks. I don't think we'll see the sun until late tomorrow.

No worries, my transplanted hostas can use the rain.
And I can use the excuse for not being out riding and maybe get some things accomplished.

All-in-all, last week was a good week. I had a camp meeting on Wednesday afternoon that went well. I came away with a deadline for outlines of my messages so they can go in the campers' handouts and an assignment to come up with something (an afternoon activity) for the 7th and 8th graders that will be there. It was a beautiful day for the 100 mile round trip on the motorcycle.
I was back in the same area on Wednesday evening (this time in the car) for a magic show at a church's kids' night event. I hope the kids had as much fun as I did!

I was also given a bit of an activity research assignment for another June camp.
Then, the pastor that I'm working with for the second camp asked me if I could preach at his church on Sunday. Truthfully, I'm not sure which I enjoyed more -- the preaching at his church or the 135 mile round trip on the motorcycle! About a third of the ride was a nice two-lane highway through cattle pastures, over a couple of creeks and through wooded areas. The scenery was beautiful. As with many of the beautiful rides in southwest Missouri, there just isn't a place to pull over and snap a picture. It's as if the beauty has to be experienced and can't really be shared through pictures.

I hope that you have a great week and experience much beauty.
God loves you.
Jesus died for you.

John <><

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Throttle Thursday

Wait! This is Thursday, right?
Truthfully, I often have to check my phone to know what day it is. It's a lost, yet freeing kind of feeling...kinda weird, though.

Anyways, I've been banned from the house today. Chris has hired a friend to come and clean, so I've been told that I have to find something to do for a few hours. I slept in a bit (Cardinals are on the west coast and didn't finish until past midnight) and decided to begin the day by checking the motorcycle out and going out for coffee.

I am seated at the Classic Rock Coffee Co. in Springfield and have just finished a good breakfast sandwich and am enjoying an Americano while listening to -- get this -- Classic Rock(!) and taking care of the morning blogging/net surfing/whatever.
Classic Rock and coffee are a fine way to start any day!
Part of my banishment time will find me working on outlining camp messages for the three June kids' camps that are on the schedule, but I have a feeling that most of the time will be spent in the saddle of the Vulcan Classic and so I have declared today to be Throttle Thursday!

I also need to spend a little time picking up a couple of pairs of jeans. I have a feeling that I'll be wearing jeans more often and shorts less often this summer due to riding. I'm thinking maybe I'll go with black denim ... maybe.
I did purchase a new helmet this week and may be looking for a different riding jacket for the summer. Riding at 85f (30c) with the jacket isn't bad. It is nicely vented and so the airflow keeps me comfortable. I don't know how much warmer will still be comfortable. It heats up quickly when at a stoplight or at lower speeds. Imagine 85, sunny, on asphalt, wearing a jacket, and sitting over a hot running engine!
The helmet's airflow is also comfortable when riding and gets hot quickly at a standstill or at slower speeds. As a general practice, I ride with the face shield up when I'm in town and down on the highway.

Okay, time for another cup of coffee and then I'll fuel up and hit the road!
Keep the rubber side down and the shiny side up!

John <><

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Too busy to work!

Yes, it is going to be a busy summer!

If you haven't checked out the "Coming Events" section in the right column (if you're viewing the mobile version you'll need to view the Web version by scrolling to the bottom and clicking the link) you should!

In my first summer of retirement, I really didn't notice an increase of ministry activity.
But, WOW! This summer's schedule is filling up!

Right now, my Sundays are still pretty free. If you are a pastor with vacation plans, don't wait until the last minute to schedule your pulpit supply!
This is also a good time to schedule your fall revivals or entertainment for your holiday events. I have a few fall events scheduled but haven't posted them yet as they are later in the year.

I am happy for the opportunities to minister and serve in the Kingdom. Perhaps it is best that the interim pastor position didn't work out.

I'm afraid I may not get as much motorcycle time as I'd like next month. I'd better get my road time in when I can. I need to work out a magic show that packs small (small enough to fit into my saddle bags) and plays big!

Be well!
John <><

Uncle Roosters -- a return visit

Today's motorcycle ride finds me back at Uncle Roosters in Seymour MO. I was here a few weeks back and had their Chicago dogs and found them to be pretty legit, so I figured that I'd try the Italian beef sandwich today. The waitress asked me if I was hungry and if I wanted the large or small sandwich. I'm pretty sure I could handle the large, but I wanted to try the 1/2 pound of catfish strips on the appetizer menu so I went with the small.

The catfish appetizer was great! They good sized chunks of catfish, lightly battered and deep fried. They didn't have a greasy taste or feel to them and made for a good snack or appetizer. The small sandwich was a good size, too. I imagine that the large would be enough to feed a small family in many countries, or one hungry American male out for a motorcycle ride! As it was, I'm happy I went with the small. That way I could easily order a piece of coconut cream pie!

The pie wasn't bad, but nothing exceptional as far as coconut cream pie goes.

The waitress was making recommendations at all of the tables of the fried chicken. I'll have to bring Chris in here some time and give it a try.

Time to get back on the road!

John <><

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Random thoughts...

It's been a little while since I've written here.

Most days I get to this point and after pausing and thinking about writing for a short time, I move on to something else.

I have several ideas of things to write about but never feel like developing them into worthwhile posts. I thought that maybe I'd just spew a few things out and see what happens. Eventually, some of these things may work their way into full blown posts. Most of the time I just enjoy my solitude.

Part of me knows that there are good people around.
However, most of the time I seem to encounter people that are so consumed with their lives that they miss living. I don't know if that really makes any sense; it's just my way of thinking. It seems I'm better off just staying to myself. Truthfully, others are probably happy that I feel this way.

I had a recent conversation about how natural it is to be a jerk and how hard I have to work to be a nice guy. So far, I'd say that retirement suits me well.

On other subjects...

--I've come to the conclusion that I am not a gardener. I've had a spot for a garden; even have it pretty much ready to plant -- for a couple of YEARS -- and still no garden.
I like the thought of having a garden. I guess this is a case where it really ISN'T the thought that counts.
Since we have a long growing season, maybe I'll still get in a few things -- maybe not.

--What is the deal with all of the fear among conservative (politically)  Christians?
Why all the gloom and doom?
Has God become impotent?
The Bible says that we have been given a spirit of faith, not fear. Why are today's vocal Christians afraid of everything? Is our fear of -- Muslims, gays, guns, economy, Trump, Hillary, etc. -- greater than our faith in God?
Has fear (or spreading fear) become our idol?
Yeah, I probably need to work on a post (or sermon) on this...

--I'm glad I have a motorcycle. I really look forward to taking it out for a ride every day. There is truly something therapeutic about it. The weather is getting nice for riding all over the northern hemisphere and May is Motorcycle Awareness Month in the US.
Watch for us.
I promise, we are watching for you!

--I've had the pleasure of watching a friend grow in his faith, recently. It's pretty cool. I think that I have been a small part of it. No big deal really.
Simple conversations.
Simple actions.
Real life.
I should probably write about this, too.

--I've been reading again. It seemed to take a back burner position for the past couple of months. I'm not sure why. It just did. I probably need to do some purely entertainment kind of reading. Most of my reading is more informative, educational kind of stuff. It has been quite some time since I've read a good novel.

Just some random thoughts.

Have a great weekend.
Call your mom!

John <><

Sunday, May 01, 2016

2016 --The Second Third

It is May!

A full third of 2016 is in the history books and we are on to another month!
I have to admit that I've gotten pretty lazy over the past few months. Although I started the year with some pretty good fitness intentions, they have fades into occasional thoughts of fitness activity. And I have really slacked off on the healthy eating part. Actually, I still consume plenty of healthy food, I just haven't cut out the not so healthy stuff.

The new plan is to take advantage of the beautiful weather and go back to walking every day. Maybe I'll have to make some personal rule about walking before riding. Yes, that motorcycle has been a bit of an obstacle. If the weather is decent (or even if it's not), I'd much rather be out on the motorcycle than strolling along the streets of Ozark. Maybe I can combine the two and ride to a nearby State Park or to the Nature Center for a walk before riding home. They also have kayak and canoe rentals at the Springfield Lake Park that I could take advantage of.

The only problem comes in dressing for the ride and for the hike/walk/float or other activity. My motorcycle is equipped with saddlebags for packing a change and a backpack is always an option if I don't want to leave stuff with the cycle -- so I guess I really have no excuse.

I also need to get back to using the stationary cycle for some in house exercise while watching the Cardinals play baseball. So far, I've manged to avoid watching most of the games and just keeping up with them via the ESPN updates sent to my phone. To be sure, I have watched enough of them to consider the time I'm wasting in front of the TV, but -- is it really a waste of time? And sometimes I've had to multi-watch and flip back and forth between a Blues hockey game or a UFC event -- sometimes ALL THREE are on at the same time!

I need a sports bar in my basement!

In any case, it's back to healthy living and fitness. Summer is coming and I'm getting fat again.
The struggle is real, folks.
But so is the answer.

John <><