Thursday, June 30, 2016

Still Grounded -- so to speak!

Well yesterday's assumption that I'd be picking up my cycle and would be ready to hit the road for the weekend appears to have been a bit premature. The shop still has the bike and there is an oil leak they are looking to find.
Since they are booked two weeks out and they took my bike on a "we'll get to it when we can" basis, there is no way to say how long they'll have it. Originally, they told me they'd check it out while waiting on parts for other jobs or if there was a small gap in the schedule. Now -- who knows?


I'm at Starbucks this morning.
Imagine the horror of getting up to no coffee and realizing you're going to have to get up and get dressed before you get your morning coffee!
My first reaction was to just go back to bed -- which I did, but there still wasn't any coffee by the time I convinced myself to get up anyways.
I'll enjoy my venti 5-shot Americano and probably get a venti cup of coffee to take with me. That ought to get me through the morning and through the lawn mowing and trimming that awaits me.

By the way, since I've managed to slowly put on about half of the weight I lost a couple of years ago, I'm back to being more restrictive about my diet and I am keeping a daily log of sorts over on my other blog -- just in case you are in need of some encouragement or need somebody else's struggles to make you feel good about yourself.

I say that as I managed a brief interruption to my typing to talk to a young woman sporting a Mizzou Tri-2016 shirt. It turns out that this was her first triathlon and that she really enjoyed it. (How is that possible?)

Enjoy your day.
Enjoy the holiday weekend.
Be safe out there.

John <><

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

End of June (almost)

It is hard to believe that 2016 is almost halfway over!

Today looks like another beautiful day in the Ozarks!
And it is a good thing, too!

It looks like I get to be the good dad/dad-in-law today and go mow the lawn for Hannah and Daniel. Daniel injured his knee over the weekend and unable to get around and Hannah is realizing how much he really does as she now has to do everything.
So, even though my own yard needs tending to, my baby has her daddy coming over to mow her lawn for her.

This afternoon I get to pick up my bike from the shop. It appears that it is fine other than a few scratches and a broken mirror (that will be in tomorrow). If I can get the mirror replaced without any problems, I'd still like to make the trip to Central Illinois this weekend. It will make for a long ride on Friday and Monday, but I'm looking forward to seeing how I hold up on the road. One way will be a little more than twice the distance I've ridden in a day. I'm looking at an alternate route that will take me off of the interstate highways on the way there. I'll be trying to get home for a get together with friends on Monday so I'll just stick to the boring interstate highways on the way home.
It looks like I may encounter some scattered thunderstorms on Friday. Better bring some rain gear.

But that ride is for next month!
I still have lawns to mow in June.

Have a great day!

John <><

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesdays are for Trivia: Social media and relationships

Yes, social media is having a negative impact on many personal relationships!

I know that is not breaking news, but I was surprised at the number of relationships that come to an end -- not because of social media -- but via text message!

I'm going to go out on a limb and offer my very unprofessional opinion by saying any relationship that breaks up via text message wasn't much of a relationship to begin with.

According to my daily factoid from Trivia Hive, 39% of relationships end via text message! They cite Huffington Post and Texting in Sick: Smartphones, Texting and Social Media are Changing Our Relationships as their source.

Wow! Even as a teenager I would have said that breaking up by phone (there was no texting) was poor form. Breaking up by text would be about the same as passing a note in your seventh grade class. It's no surprise, though. Technology seems have brought out the immature junior high student in all of us. If you don't believe me, just check out the Twitter accounts of some of our politicians or scroll through your Facebook feed.

John <><

Friday, June 24, 2016

Easing into the Weekend

It has been an unusual Friday.

I started it pretty slowly. It was nice to be able to wake up without an alarm today even if I did wake up pretty early. I've been fighting allergies and maybe a bit of a sinus infection so I decided to sleep on the sofa so that Chris could sleep well before her workday. It's a pretty comfortable sofa for sleeping and I actually slept pretty well but woke up around 4:30 and didn't really go back to sleep.

After Chris left for work (around 6), I got up and made coffee and just enjoyed a pretty chill morning with my Chromebook, coffee and a little TV. By the time I finally finished showering, dressing and getting out of the house, it was past 10:30. My thought was to head into Springfield and look for a leather motorcycle vest. The full jacket is pretty hot when it hits 95f (35c) or so. Because the jacket is vented and I have no windscreen, I stay pretty comfortable when I moving up to 90f. Beyond that it is just hot. I don't think that I want to ride in just a shirt. Without the windscreen, those beetles and grasshoppers are like getting hit with rocks!

I know there are many riders that never ride without protective gear, and others that wear shorts and tank tops. I'm pretty much in the first group, but the hot, humid temps have had me thinking about scaling back from a full jacket to a vest. The group that always rides in full gear say it's better to sweat than to bleed and you dress for the slide, not for the ride. That's hard to argue with.

In any case, I didn't make it to Springfield. While riding through Ozark, the small truck ahead of me started left toward the center turn lane and slowed. As I started around him on his right, HE TURNED RIGHT!
I never saw a turn signal, but he (and a witness) said he used his right signal.
The good news is that the highway bars (or crash bars) did a pretty good job of protecting the cycle when it went down and slid across the asphalt and the jacket did what it was supposed to do in protecting the rider. Oddly enough, there is apparently more damage to the pickup truck than to the motorcycle. I have a couple of bruises but came out of the slide in pretty good shape for an old guy.

I'm rethinking the vest now. The cloth at the elbow pad took some damage which is way better than leaving the skin of my arm on the pavement.

I'm guessing that my 4th of July trip may be a bust. I'll take the bike into the shop for a check to make sure there isn't some hidden damage, but they said that they are pretty backed up. If it is going to need any work, they said it will probably be a couple of weeks before they can get to it. Summer is the busy season at the motorcycle shop!


I'm enjoying my birthday drink at Starbucks and waiting for Chris to get off work.
All-in-all, nobody was hurt and I don't think there is much damage to the cycle. I consider myself blessed.

John <><

Thursday, June 23, 2016

God Loves You (but I'm His favorite)!

As  some of you have come to know, I often challenge congregations to share God's love by telling the simple statements -- God loves you and Jesus died for you.

Recently, I was at a church and shared that message (again).
One of the members was really challenged by that message and came up with a T-shirt to share it.
Both statements are centered in the shape of a cross and the scripture references to the Roman Road encircle the cross. He is one of the adult leaders at the boys' camp where I am telling Bible stories this week. Yesterday, he brought one of the shirts to give to me. (click it to big it)

I've got to say, this is one of the coolest things that anyone has ever done for me. Knowing that they have heard the message and are putting it into practice is quite encouraging.

While it is often difficult for preachers to know if our message is being heard, it is even more so for traveling preachers, such as myself. Many of the members of that little country church now have shirts like this one and have their church name across the back. It gives them another tool and opportunity to share the message of God's love and then challenges people to make a decision about what they are going to do with the knowledge that God loves them and Jesus died for them.

I hope that you will also be encouraged to share God's love.


Today is my last day of camp for a few weeks. I am ready for a little break.
In addition to the crazy schedule of the past few weeks, I've apparently managed to let my allergies develop into a sinus infection that is bugging me today. Congestion, snot, fever -- you know, the usual symptoms. Ugh!

I did my story time this morning and now I am waiting for this evening's worship time where I will share the message through using magic. Rather than hang around camp (and kids), I took a little drive to a nearby town and am enjoying an iced coffee at Starbucks while blogging and surfing the 'net in air conditioned comfort.

I think I'll grab a late lunch/early dinner away from camp (boys' camp food isn't really fine dining or the picture of healthy eating!) and then get back in plenty of time to set up for the show and hang out with the boys for a bit.

All-in-all, I have to say that I have a pretty good life.
I have been blessed by the God that loves me and whom I gladly serve.

John <><

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Story Time with Pastor John

I guess if I were to admit it, I'd have to say that I like being a story teller.
And that's true even if it means telling stories to kids!

This week, I get to be a story teller at boys' camp.
They call it Bible study.
I call it Story Time with Pastor John!

Last week's camp offered me the opportunity to tell stories twice -- once in Bible study with the older kids and once as the evening message. When it comes right down to it, my sermon style is more of story telling than it is preaching. At the end of the worship service last Sunday (I filled in for a local pastor) a woman approached me and said, "I felt like I was in my old church in California. That pastor was also a story teller!"

I'm not just a story teller as a style of preaching or teaching the bible; I am a story teller.
Once I was telling a joke to a co-worker and had myself into "the story." I was about halfway through the joke when he interrupted and said, "Wait a minute! This is a joke, right? Okay, go on!"

When it was slow at work, another co-worker would often sit back in her chair and say, "John, tell me a story!"

Sharing the Bible through the stories of the Bible just makes sense to me.
And there are some great stories to share!
When I have more time, I'll share some of the stories I've shared with the kids over the past few weeks here. For now, it's time to get ready and get going.
It looks like a beautiful day for a motorcycle ride to camp!

Here are a couple of pictures from where I will be teaching this week. The first (click it to big it) is the pavilion where I'll be teaching; the second is the view of the Gasconade River from the pavilion.

John <><

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer! (2016)

Today is the first day of Summer!

Sometime around 5:30 this afternoon, the sun will reach its northern most point at the Tropic of Cancer and appear to stand still for a time before beginning its way back toward the Tropic of Capricorn.
The word solstice is derived from the Latin solstitium which means sun stands.

For the first time since 1967, the first full moon of summer is on the first day of summer!

I wish you a very healthy and happy summer.
Spend your 94 days of summer well!
It ends on Sept 22 when the sun reaches the Equator and fall begins.

For my friends in the Southern Hemisphere, winter is beginning. Most of my Australian family and friends experience a pretty mild winter as compared to my US family and friends.
Happy Winter Solstice to you!


In just a little while I'll be on the motorcycle and headed off to another camp. This is a much smaller camp than last weeks, is boys only, and since I'm not serving as Camp Pastor and only teaching their Bible study time, I'm not expected to stay the entire time.
So rather than stay with the campers, I think I'll use the 190 mile round trip as my daily ride time and spend nights sleeping in my own bed!
I have a pretty good gig going here!

The down side to riding so much is that I'm going to need new tires on the cycle soon. When the time comes, I'm really considering going over to the Darkside (that's motorcycle speak for going to a car tire on the rear).

The day is moving on and so I'd best be moving on, as well.
There are 94 days of summer to enjoy. Let's get this party started!

John <><

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

One of the things I HATE about kids' camps...

This camp that I am serving as Camp Pastor is for an Association other than my own.
In my many years as serving as a Camp Pastor for various organizations, there is a certain amount of dread that I face when dealing with camps outside of my home church of Hopedale. Even with Hopedale's camp, I knew that about half of the kids would be friends of our kids and little people that I knew nothing about.

What I hate is that I know there are many kids that here from terrible home situations.

Statistically (a CDC Adverse Child Experiences Study), of the 150 campers that are here this weekend

42 have been physically abused
31 have been sexually abused
16 have been emotionally abused

You can add another 10 that have been physically neglected and 22 more that are emotionally neglected.

It is rare that we get any evidence of the abuse or neglect other than to see the behavioral symptoms and sense the great need for real love that many of them have.
The line at the nurse's station for daily meds is unbelievably long.
There are some kids that miss home terribly and are making themselves so miserable that they have to go home. There are others that are having the time of their lives and would be happy if they never had to go home. Some act out in rebellion and inappropriate behavior and get sent home. And some are clingy and need the physical contact that I avoid because it makes me so anxious.
...And sad.

I don't really know why I am writing this tonight.
I don't know that it accomplishes anything.
If I had evidence of abuse or neglect, I would certainly report it and try to get those kids some help and some love. However, many of them are either too embarrassed to speak up, or too afraid to speak up and on Friday afternoon, they will find themselves back in the same terrible place that they left behind for a few days.

As I said, I don't really know why I am writing this.
I just know that as this day comes to an end, my heart is heavy.

John <><

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tuesdays are for Trivia

Did you know that Pennsylvania is the only state that recognizes Flag Day as an official State Holiday?

Monday, June 13, 2016

June 13, 2016

The clock is about to reach the 11pm point on this the 13th of June, 2016.

I suppose I could have written a birthday post earlier in the day, but it has been a pretty full day.
I made the morning ride back to Baptist Hill Assembly for the Lawrence County Baptist Association Children's Camp. I'll be here all week and likely won't get another ride in until Saturday afternoon when I ride home.

Today was a typical mid-June day in the Ozarks -- that translates to hot and humid. But it has been a good first day of camp.
These guys know how to put on a kids' camp. Everything is very well organized and there are plenty of volunteer workers. I don't have to have a great deal of interaction with the kids, so that part is probably good for everyone! I'll have the 7th and 8th graders for Bible study each of the next three days, plus the entire camp (most of the 150+ kids are 3rd through 6th graders) for evening worship and then a Friday morning worship to wrap things up and send them home.

I'll get a short break on Friday before the afternoon brings in 1st and 2nd graders for an overnight camp with Friday night and Saturday morning services and activities.
I have to admit that I sometimes wonder if I'm getting too old for this.
It isn't the activity part that concerns me, but I often wonder about how well I communicate the Gospel to these elementary age students. At some point (maybe now) there has to be a younger person that is more relevant and able to reach these kids.

I received plenty of kind words and encouragement from last week's camp about my "Story time with John" days. I do realize that I am a Story Teller. (I put that in caps because I think Story Teller is a kind of title.) I know that story telling is becoming a lost art, but truthfully, most people just don't put the effort into making a good story a great story. If fact, most of the time they take a great story and turn it into a real snoozer!
If telling a great story is the only thing I bring to the table, maybe it is time to step aside for a younger story teller and let them grow into their role.

At age 56, I have officially become too old to be an air traffic controller!
Although I retired fifteen months ago, I would have been forced out at the end of this month. I am glad that I didn't wait until now. My pension and retirement income wouldn't have changed much and I have had the past fifteen months to enjoy life in peaceful isolation without the daily grind of working with people and dealing with the FAA.

I seriously doubt that I am completely finished as a productive member of society, but I do like having the freedom to choose my time and place of community contributions. I may have to spread the camps out a little more than this year -- a day camp on the 4th, two days last week, a wedding, and now three camps in two weeks (11 out of 12 days)! Then I get two weeks off before another week long kids' camp.
It's almost like having a job!

When Pastor Terry was talking about suffering for the cause of the Gospel last Sunday, maybe this is what he meant -- SIX different camps with bunches of kids (more than 600 total)!
Oh yeah, and there's that hot, humid weather thing, too!

Eh, no worries.
It is all for the Glory of God!

Time to call it a day and get some rest.
Tomorrow is on the way!

John <><

Friday, June 10, 2016

Wedding Day!

It is going to be another bee-yoo-ti-ful day in the Ozarks!

This morning is a mild, sunny morning and I am sitting on our shaded deck, drinking my second cup of coffee and getting my head ready for the events that take place later in the day. By wedding time (5pm) the afternoon temps will be in the 90f degree range (that's 32+ for you celsius folks), but the outdoor venue will be well shaded.

Hannah spent the night here last night and spent a few moments with me this morning before starting out on her busy day. She is meeting the girls for brunch and then they'll get their hair done and whatever else they have planned before meeting us this afternoon at the venue to set up for the wedding and reception. I have to admit that I didn't sleep very well last night and woke up several times thinking about the day and the things that I want to say. Much of the afternoon ceremony is just in my head. The Scripture reading, the vows, the ring exchange -- those things are written down. The welcome, intro to the ceremony, the giving away of the bride stuff -- is all in my head.
Maybe that's why I couldn't sleep!

In any case, it will be a simple ceremony and it will be relatively short.
I'm sure that the guests will be pleased as it will be a warm, humid day -- typical for June in the Ozarks. After the ceremony, they can move into the air conditioned ballroom for the reception while the wedding party and family remain outside for pictures.

I am already looking forward to tomorrow -- and resting, ... or riding!

Well, I also have things to do this morning and should get after them.
It seems pretty crazy that my baby girl is getting married.

*heavy sigh*

John <><

Note: The woman at the venue told me they have never had the father of the bride officiate the ceremony before.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Wedding Week Thursday

It's about to get real!

I have to admit, I am starting to realize that this is going to be more difficult than I thought it would be.
I don't know if it is because I'm walking Hannah down the aisle as well as officiating the ceremony or what, but the realization that I may get a little emotional during the ceremony is causing a little anxiety.

When I officiated the wedding ceremony for Aaron and Jenny, it wasn't until the presentation of the couple at the end that I felt a little catch in my speech rate (and don't think that anybody else noticed).

Is it because this is the way dads feel about their daughters getting married compared to their sons getting married?
Is it the walking down the aisle?
The giving away of the bride?
Is it because I'm getting a little more emotional as I get older?

Or is it just because -- This is my baby!

I probably should have started putting together my wedding day stuff before yesterday. In truth, I've been working on it in my head for quite some time. But getting it on paper -- Wow! It is starting to get to me a bit.

If you're a praying reader, remember Hannah and Daniel -- not just for a great wedding, but for a great marriage.
And remember their parents, too -- especially Hannah's dad!

John <><

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

What Was I Thinking?!

Just a quick thought before heading off to Story Time with John at kids' camp this morning...

A couple of years ago, I actually applied for the job of Camp Manager at this camp facility!
Holy cow!
I would have to be up early every morning, cater to kids, youth and adult camp leaders all day, keep maintenance of the grounds, the pool, the buildings, etc., etc.
...And do it ALL SUMMER LONG!!!

And to think -- I was disappointed when I received notice that they were no longer considering my resume and I was not going to get the gig!


It 's Wednesday of Wedding Week.
Rehearsal tomorrow, wedding on Friday!
The father of the bride is ready ... I think!

John <><

Monday, June 06, 2016

WARNING! Crazy week(s) ahead!

It is the first full week of June and the weather forecasts a great week for kids' camps and weddings!
And it is a good thing since I have both to deal with this week.

I am taking a very minor role in our Associational kids' camp this year. I will be telling Bible stories on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. I opted out of the Thursday morning story time because of folks arriving for Hannah's (and Daniel's) Friday wedding!

Baptist Hill Assembly, the name of the campground, is just under 50 miles from my home. With beautiful weather in the forecast, the plan is to get my ride time going to and from camp. It'll be a light week on the motorcycle, but I'm afraid that may be the trend for the month of June.

Between finalizing my stories for this week, fleshing out the outlines for next week's camp, getting outlines made for the following week's camp and taking care of wedding stuff -- wow! what a crazy few weeks it will be!
I am really hoping for great weather over the 4th of July so that I can take a much needed road trip to my cousin's 4th of July celebration in central Illinois.

Well there is a lawn to be mowed, laundry to be washed and studying to do -- so I'd best get busy!
Have a great and slightly less crazy week than I'll have!

John <><

Btw, here's my ride from yesterday, using my new My Tracks app. The pics at the bottom are from the ferry on Arkansas 125.