Saturday, December 31, 2016

So long 2016! Welcome 2017!

It is afternoon on the 30th of December as I begin to write this post. The kids are on their way over and I fully expect to set it aside at some time and complete it tomorrow on the final day of 2016.

All-in-all, I'd have to say that this past year has had its ups and downs as any other year has. The ending has been particularly rough, but rough times are a part of life. Because I have the choice, I choose not to dwell on the things of the past but to look forward to the days ahead with hope and optimism.

As I wrote a month ago, I am re-focusing on good health and well being. I did manage to walk my 100 miles and have done it with a day to spare! I hesitate to say that it has become a habit because I struggle every day with getting out and getting it done. There were many days when it was well past dark when I went out for my walk.
I plan to keep up with the better diet and daily exercise, but haven't yet decided on the short term goals. I'll be figuring those out shortly and posting them on my other blog.
In spite of the holidays and the holiday treats, I did manage to lose a few pounds in December and will continue to lose more as I return to healthier habits.

At some point during 2016, I decided that I needed to return to reading -- as in reading books. I renewed my long expired library card and borrowed a number of books for the first time in many years. I managed a few Kindle books, as well. Again, I wouldn't call it a reading habit, but I am working on it.

I am writing more than I used to write. This is my 181st post of the year; a new PR that surpassed last year's 173 posts.
Retirement has its advantages.
One of my friends has published his first novel and is getting ready to have his second one published. Perhaps, it is time for me to get serious about writing and setting aside a regular time to research and write.

(Dec 31st)

I did more in the way of ministry in 2016. I participated in six different camps in several different capacities. I also did more preaching than I have in the past and became more focused on simple discussions about faith with individual people. I really don't know what 2017 will hold in that way. I know that I just need to be ready and willing to serve as I am called upon to do so.

At the end of last February I got my motorcycle endorsement and purchased a used 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic. In the ten months since then, I have ridden over 14,300 miles. I plan to ride often in 2017, as well! If you are within a days ride of the Ozarks, live near a major league or minor league ballpark, and don't mind me sleeping on your couch or in a guest room -- just let me know and I may drop in for a visit! You won't even need to feed me! I'll have a ballpark dog in the evening and you can just point me to the nearest coffee shop in the morning!
If it happens to be over a weekend and your church doesn't mind a visiting evangelist, I'll throw my Bible in my saddlebags, too! (I actually always carry several New Testaments to give away.)

Have sermon. Will travel.

It's now passed 1:30 AM on the 31st.
The kids have gone for the evening and Chris is snoring softly next to me.
We had junk food and watched the UFC fights. Aaron and Jenny are staying at Hannah and Daniel's place. I figured it was only a matter of time before they would be staying there instead of with us. Even though I like having them here, I'm glad that they get along well enough to stay together. We'll see them again tomorrow night, exchange our Christmas presents, and ring in the new year together!

2017 should prove to be interesting.
My plan is to live each day as it comes, and to live it well.
I hope to offer more words of encouragement and fewer words of complaint or criticism.
I hope to give more and to expect less.
I hope to be a better John in the year to come. Truly, that shouldn't be that difficult given the place and person that I end 2016 as.

Thank you for reading along in the 2016!
I hope that you will continue to read and comment in 2017.
I wish you many blessings in the New Year!

God loves you.
Jesus died for you.

John <><

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas blessings

It is 10:30pm on Christmas Eve.
Chris went to bed early and is softly snoring in the other room. She deserves a good night's rest and I hope that she gets it.

I have always said that for some unknown reason, I have found favor in the eyes of my God.
You may have heard me say that God loves you, but I'm his favorite. And I believe it.

I know that life is filled with trials and sorrows. I have faced few. My parents are aging, but still living. My siblings and their families are also making it through life's struggles. All  of my nieces and nephews are growing into fine young women and men and I am so proud of my own kids and the mates they have chosen.

I am reminded that even favored and blessed men must face the realities of life from time to time. In this world, there are many trials and troubles, but my Lord has overcome the world and has provided us with eternal life in the life that follows this brief earthly stay.
While age catches up to all of us, I know that most of my maladies are pretty much self inflicted. I need to take better care of the one and only body that I have been given. Better decisions and fewer indulgences would go a long way to better health for the long haul.

Our Christmas celebration this year is rather simple. I like it this way. I'll share a little more about our gift giving choices after Aaron and Jenny make it home next weekend. We exchanged gifts with Hannah and Daniel earlier tonight and Chris and I broke with tradition and exchanged our gifts on Christmas eve, as well.

Tomorrow morning will be quiet and simple; some stocking stuffers (minus the stockings this year) and a nice breakfast. We will have an afternoon meal with friends. Due to circumstances, we will miss the morning church service, but we will not miss the celebration of the birth of our Savior.
It happened long ago and was simple in its manner.
A simple man, a young woman, a small village, a newborn baby...
...that would change the world.

God loves you.
This Jesus that was born on that night long ago, died for you.
You, too, are favored by God.
Believe and live!

Merry Christmas from a favored child of God <><


I know it's going to be a good day!
Not only is it Christmas Eve, but I just got a surprise call from one of my favorite people in the whole world -- my baby sister!

I don't know why we (all of my siblings) don't talk more often than we do.
Perhaps we have let modern technology modify our sibling relationships so that they are like other relationships that communicate via social media and group texts or emails. That's kind of sad.

Last January I started with the goal of writing an actual letter every week.
That lasted about a month. Old fashioned snail mail really is becoming a thing of the past. Why write and wait for letters to be read when one can send and receive almost instantly? Unless there is something that needs to be physically sent, it seems very inconvenient.

But an actual phone call...
Hmmm... maybe a better idea for the coming year!
Sure, texting is short, sweet and tough to beat when it comes to a brief transfer of information or a quick thinking of you. And let's face it, we all have people that we like and would like to check up on from time to time that we really don't want to get caught in a longer than anticipated conversation with. A brief text or social media message is perfect for that.
But for somebody that you would love to see but can't because of circumstance or distance...well, the dialog of an actual conversation might be just the thing!

I can look on my phone's log and see that we only talked for 15 minutes and 7 seconds.
It's amazing that such a short conversation can lift my spirits in the way that it has.
Yep, I think I have a new plan for 2017. After all, it isn't like the old days when you paid a charge for long distance calling. I remember having to go through the phone bill and pay for my calls to girls that lived in the next town or across the river! Now we can even make calls to Canada and Mexico without additional charges!

I know that I will still use group messages, texts and emails in the coming days, but I do think that I will work more towards personal contacts throughout 2017.

Still learning about life,
John <><

Friday, December 23, 2016

Job Hunting...

I did something this week that I never really expected to be doing at this stage in life...
I filled out and submitted an application for a job!

I don't think they'll hire me. Most people don't want to hire somebody that doesn't really need a job and they have no power over. Besides, I don't really want a full time position and that is what they are apparently wanting. My three or four days per week and no weekends didn't seem to impress the interviewer very much.

But when I saw the Facebook post that the Indian Motorcycle dealership in Ozark was looking to hire salespeople I figured -- why not? The question that I didn't ask in the interview is "What kind of employee discounts are available?"

I'm not sure if riding my cycle to the interview scored any points or not. It was 33f degrees (.5c) out but getting warmer. Maybe they just figured I'm a little too crazy.

In any case, this is the beauty on my wish list.

I'll add black leather saddlebags and a luggage rack.
She is a beauty, isn't she?
But apparently, I'll have to pay the price everybody else pays when the time comes. Which is okay. I'm not too excited about having to set an alarm again -- even if it is only a few days per week!

John <><

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It's a beautiful day in the Ozarks!

It isn't a warm day, but it is sunny and beautiful!
And as far as the 20th of December goes, I guess you could say that it is a warm (enough) day! It had just topped the freezing mark as I headed out today and it is now 43F (6C) -- plenty warm enough for a day on the motorcycle!

I'm on a coffee break at a Springfield Starbucks. I had a free drink on my card and figured that today was a good day to use it! I have a few things that I need to pick up before Christmas (there's always Friday and Saturday for that) and a couple of things for dinner tonight. It'll be a pork fried rice night at the Ozark Hill's with Hannah and Daniel coming to join us. Aaron will be in pretty late, but I think he's expecting some leftovers. We'll need some more bacon before Christmas morning if we are to have our planned menu of French toast (made with homemade sourdough bread), real maple syrup and bacon.

This was fresh out of the oven earlier today!
One loaf is already half gone. The other will be for Christmas breakfast.

With neither of the kids coming over on Christmas Day and other things going on in our home, we don't have any Christmas decorations up. I think we're both okay with that. We'll have a simple Christmas with just the two of us on Christmas morning and will be with friends (and Hannah and Daniel) for a meal in the afternoon. Our family get together will be over New Year's weekend.

I am actually looking forward to the simplicity of our Christmas this year. Getting to preach in the weeks leading up to Christmas and our choice for simplicity has helped me to keep the focus of the season on the great love that God has for us and the meaning of our celebration -- the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Whether your holiday is simple or extravagant, I hope that you will find the time to reflect on the love that God has for us. Even in the daily struggles where we often find ourselves, God is there. I am at a loss to explain the suffering and pain of living. I only know that it is a part of this life. My hope is that there is more to life than our time on earth; that there is life after death and that through faith in Jesus we can know eternity without further suffering and pain.

You know that I always say --
     God loves you and Jesus died for you.
Today I want you to know that because God loves you, He left behind the glory of heaven and Jesus was born for you! He lived the life of a human and suffered an extremely painful death. He took on our punishment and gives us eternal life.

God loves you.
Jesus was born for you.
Merry Christmas!

John <><

Monday, December 19, 2016

245 Days Until Eclipse Day

I'm a fan of the sky!

I love looking at the night skies, watching the changes throughout the year, staying up for meteor showers and lunar eclipses, and learning about the constellations and deep sky objects.
I also enjoy the daytime sky. I watch the progression of the sun as it makes its way northward during the spring and southward in the fall. I like the sun dogs and rainbows that are seen in the clouds.

In just a few days, the sun will reach its southern most point as we make our annual trip around it.
This marks the beginning of winter and starts our journey towards spring.

In August of 2017, the moon will pass directly between the sun and the earth and we will have a total eclipse that will be visible through the middle of the US.
Columbia MO is right on the center line and a nice motorcycle ride away. I can't tell you how disappointed I will be if it is overcast at 1:12pm on that day!

If you want to check out where you might view the eclipse, here's a good site to help you.

Typically, Chris has Mondays off and if she is wanting to make the trip, it will mean leaving the motorcycle at home, but will still be a great day for a ride. Some people would say that six hours in a car (round trip) is hardly worth the 2 minutes and 36 seconds of eclipse viewing, but I've actually gone farther and taken the kids out of school and a day off of work to see an annular eclipse many years ago.
Maybe I'll see if the kids want to take a day off from work and meet us for an eclipse picnic! We could meet in Kansas City on Sunday afternoon and watch the Royals take on the Cleveland Indians and then drive to Columbia or St Joseph for the eclipse on Monday.
Hmmm...might be time to start working on a plan!

Just having some summer thoughts on this cold December day in the Ozarks.

John <><

Friday, December 16, 2016



It sounded like something crashed into our garage door!

We had just seated ourselves and were about to start eating our supper. We jumped up from the table and went to the garage. All looked fine in the garage so I hit the garage door opener and it kicked on but bound up as it pulled at the door. We ran around to the front of the house -- nothing.

I knew without looking again.
The coil spring on the garage door!
It hadn't just sprung. It broke!

We were in for the night and I told Chris that I'd get up in the morning with her to open the door when it was time to go to work. I did get up, but -- that garage door is heavy enough with the spring assist. Without it, fugetaboutit!

Rather than fighting with it and risking injury, I told Chris to take my car (her old one) and I'd get somebody out to fix the door. It's a good thing that I keep my motorcycle in the garage and leave my car outside!

So now I'm trapped at home until the garage door company can make it out. They said today won't be a problem and they'll call me when they have a time that I can expect them. It's a good thing I'm retired and don't have anywhere that I have to be.

It's a dreary and windy day in the Ozarks, anyway. I'll have to get out for a walk later. I have built an extra day's miles into my total. I think I'll be using that free day on Sunday when the temps will range from 4 to 19 F (-15.5 to -7.2 C). The temperature here is supposed to be 50 F (10 C) on Saturday morning and 4 F (-15.5 C) on Sunday morning!

Of course, today is no picnic! Currently it's 28 (-2.2C) with a windchill of 9 (-12.8C)!
It is supposed to be 40 later so I think I'll wait until this afternoon.

60 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training Camp!

John <><

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The struggle continues ... (2)

It has been two weeks since I wrote about committing to daily walking and eating better.
Today I am writing to report that I have managed to walk everyday and have managed to bank enough miles to cover a bad weather day. I've covered 48.4 miles in 14 consecutive days of walking leaving 51.6 miles in the remaining 19 days to make my 100 mile goal.

I've also been watching the calories I'm consuming and paying attention to when I'm consuming them, as well. All-in-all, I have lost 8 pounds in the past 14 days. I know that I said that I wasn't going to focus on weight, but it is one way for me to measure my progress towards better health.

I have to admit that the daily logging of foods and daily walks are still not a habit, and I often dread going out for a walk. However, I have also managed a little time on the indoor cycle and some time with the weight machine. Those still have no real structure and I probably need to do that.


Today's another day.

Be well,
John <><

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

It's not Monday...

I was all set to wish you a happy Monday morning when I realized -- It's not Monday!

Some days are like that.
So ... Happy Tuesday Morning!

It has been a week since I wrote of my continuing healthy lifestyle struggles and recommitted to eating better and daily exercise. The good news is I have kept up with both. The bad news is it has only been a week.

But a good start is what is necessary to form the habits of healthy living and so I move on to week 2.

I've already managed to build a free day into my walking goal of 100 miles by the end of the year (a 33 day goal). I've also added a session on the indoor exercise cycle and a couple of light sessions with weights. I really wasn't feeling the walk yesterday and had to bribe myself with a nice Dominican toro gordo smoke that lasted for the one hour walk. Yeah, I know -- a little unhealthy habit to reinforce the healthy habit might not be the best way to go, but I did get the walk in.

I did decide to keep track of calories. It just helps me to make better decisions about eating -- or not eating, as the case may be.
With one week in the books, I'm minus 6 pounds (it's always easy in the beginning) and once again moving in the right direction to better health.

It's Week 2.
Here we go!

John <><

Thursday, December 01, 2016

People are leaving the church ... to follow Jesus!

I don't normally read the comments that follow articles or social media posts.
But after one article that lamented the overstepping of the religious right in the past election cycle, one comment caught my attention.

It said that across the country, people are leaving the church to follow Jesus.

Short. Simple. And sadly, true.

How I wish that our too proud and so smug religious celebrities could see this truth.
I choose to use the word celebrities instead of religious leaders because I feel that it fits better. I see that they often cultivate personal followers and supporters (fans) rather than showing Jesus as the one that we are to follow.

Sadly, there are also many local pastors that follow the same example. Perhaps my role as a supply preacher gives me a different perspective. For those that are not familiar with the term "supply preacher" that is a stand in or substitute for the the regular pastor.

If a large number of church members choose to skip church when they know the pastor will be gone, that is really a form of idolatry. They come to hear the pastor -- not to worship God. Pastors that cultivate this behavior or that don't address it as idolatry are missing out on their true calling in shepherding the flock.

I have listened to preachers that say inflammatory things that seem designed to get people to agree with him over political or social issues before getting to the meat of their message. Unfortunately, like others, I've already tuned out because this sermon isn't being given to glorify God, but ot gain followers for the preacher.

The pulpit isn't supposed to be a pep rally or high powered sales pitch.

Whether we find ourselves in the holy season of Christmas or in the political election season, our message must be the same --
God loves you.
Jesus died for you.

For the believer, our example must be as a follower of Jesus -- to live as He lived; to speak as He spoke; to love as He loved.

Do not be a follower of a preacher.
Do not be a follower of an organization or church.
Follow Jesus.

John <><