Friday, June 23, 2017

Heading to Northern Missouri

Sometimes it's just a little weird the way things happen.

This past spring I was thinking that it has been a few years since I've been to Grand Oaks Assembly for a camp. Then a month or so ago I got an email inquiring about my availability for a camp at the end of June. I'll be there next Tuesday (6/27) night to share The Message in Magic with both their children's camp and their youth camp.

Then yesterday I received a second call (from a different association's children's camp) about coming up for a night for their camp on July 6.

From not being up there for more than four years to being there twice in just nine days!

Now to figure out how to pack my magic show on to the motorcycle for the 4 hour ride!

John <><

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Not-so Handyman

It's been about a week since my last post and life goes on. I skipped the road trip to KC for yesterday's ballgame and took care of mowing an overgrown lawn instead. I'm sure I'll make the trip before the summer is over.

I think that I've previously mentioned that I'm not much of a do-it-yourselfer, handyman kind of guy. When it comes to physically working on things around the home or car (and now, motorcycle), my philosophy has always been -- They paid me well to do the job I knew how to do; I should be willing to pay someone else well to do the job they know how to do!

That said, I did decide to undertake the job of replacing some of the vinyl siding on the north side of our house that had been damaged by a leaf fire that got out of control. The damage wasn't enough to be covered by insurance (we carry too high of a deductible) and I figured that I could manage a few pieces of siding.

Naturally, it turned into a much bigger job than expected. The double-4 siding that is on the house wasn't an exact match to the replacement siding and it became necessary to replace each entire row rather than just the damaged pieces. The color is a spot on match but the part where the siding bends to make the 4/4 lap was a little off and left a bit of a gap where two different pieces met. That meant having to order more siding and leaving the job half finished until the order came in.
No problem for an easy going retired guy, right?

Well, it wouldn't have been a problem if that was the only problem. The overall width of the new pieces was also just a little bit off -- not enough to really notice in one row, but fifteen rows later it was an inch and a half or so difference (two story side of the house)!
So again, the project remains unfinished. It isn't very noticeable, but there is an entire row of siding that isn't locked into the row beneath it. I'll have to wait until I can get an extension ladder and then move each remaining row up so that it interlocks with the row beneath it and then trim the top row.
Did I mention that I'm not much of a do-it-yourselfer, handyman kind of guy?

Ah well...
life goes on and my minuscule problems go unnoticed by the rest of the world.

On the bright side --
Summer has officially arrived!
I don't suppose that is a really significant thing. The summer solstice is just another day for most people, but I generally take notice of such celestial events. I'm not sure why other than I think it's cool that there is a precise order to the universe. It's almost as if it was designed that way!
Hmmm...

I hope that you have an enjoyable summer!

John <><

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Baseball Blessing

It turns out that the one game the Cardinals won in their four game series with the Brewers was the game that I attended!

It was a warm day (95f, 35c), but a beautiful day for baseball and a long ride on the motorcycle.
I picked up a good seat via Stub Hub and was in the 11th row near the left field foul pole. (Why is it called the foul pole when it's in fair territory?)


I enjoyed my pregame meal of a ballpark dog with sauerkraut, grilled onions and mustard and settled in for the game. (The 'kraut and mustard are under the dog)



There was a young man seated behind me that reminded me of my son, Aaron. He was very up on the Cardinals' farm system, 40-man roster, player stats, etc. It reminded me of going to ball games with Aaron. We talked for several innings before I needed to get up and walk around a bit. I was sitting in the hot sun and wearing black, heavy denim jeans (for the motorcycle ride) and was starting to bake a bit.

The game wasn't well attended as it was a midweek day game that was added to the schedule to make up for a previous rain out. Still, there were many families with young kids at the park and the ice cream and cotton candy vendors were probably doing nearly as well as the beer vendors.
I made my way around the stadium, pausing to watch the game as standing room in shaded areas allowed. By the time I made it back to my seat, the shadows were hitting the top row of my section so I decided to park it there and wait an inning for the shade to cover me.

I'm glad that I got to see a winner.
The team pretty much stunk in the remaining games of the series.

I made my way back to my motorcycle. Because of construction, I couldn't get back on the Interstate where I normally do and decided to take the city streets to meet Mike at Ted Drewe's. We had a nice visit while enjoying frozen custard along the iconic Old Route 66.

I have to say that I really like the coolness of the Kevlar mesh riding shirt over the vented textile motorcycle jacket. The Draggin' shirt is like a big sweater and is plenty warm when you're not moving, but allows great airflow when riding.
At 95 degrees, it's going to be hot no matter what. You're on a hot concrete slab and sitting on top of a hot engine. There's nothing about moving through 95 degree wind that is going to really cool you off. I like having the long sleeves to keep the direct sun off my arms and I ordered the yellow shirt because I figured it would be cooler and more visible than the black one.

It was a good day!
I stop more often when it's that hot and try to stay hydrated. It was an hour past sunset when I got home and my helmet and goggles were covered with small bugs.

I've noticed the Royals have a midweek day game against the Red Sox on the 21st.
Might be time for another road trip!

John <><


Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Brutal Life of a Retired Guy

Thursday.
Today is cleaning day.
Not for me, for the lady that comes to clean our house.

I know. I'm retired and should clean my own house. Unfortunately (or maybe not so unfortunately), Chris isn't satisfied with my overall cleaning skills, so prefers to have somebody else come in every couple of weeks to get the big clean. 

I vacate the house during cleaning hours so I am currently enjoying a coffee at Starbucks and using their free wi-fi. I have my phone, earbuds, and Chromebook so I'm good for as long as necessary. The morning rains have passed on to the east and I will probably skip the wi-fi after a short bit and hit the road on the motorcycle for a couple of hours. 
I wonder where I'll stop for lunch ... ?
I grabbed a cigar before I left the house. I may find a quiet place to stop and enjoy a leisurely smoke.

I'll need to get home in time to have dinner on before Chris gets home, but that will be easy. 
We have a couple of grilled bbq pork chops that I took out of the freezer. I think I'll make a little glaze with honey and fresh pineapple and heat them up in a cast iron skillet. And I'm thinking sliced sweet potatoes, skillet fried with bacon, spinach (from the garden) and touch of honey (or maybe brown sugar) and some sea salt.

I still need to write about kids' camp and my road trip to St Louis, but I suppose that can wait for another day. I should have some moments to write Friday night and Saturday. I'll be at Intro to Camping on Baptist Hill. Although I'll be at the camp overnight, I expect the kids will be in their cabins long before I'm ready to call it a night. I'll be able to watch the end of the baseball game, read, or write. I also expect some free time on Saturday, but will have to wait and see what is going on. 

In any case, you can see that the retired life is pretty taxing. I don't have as much time to just sit and read as I thought I was going to have. I have several books on the Kindle app on my phone, but rarely make the time to read. I generally have my Chromebook within easy reach, but rarely make the time to write. 
It could be that I'm just lazy ... nah.



Well, maybe...

John <><

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Morning notes

Just a quick post before hitting the road this morning.
I'll be riding the highways this 13th day of June. As I type, I'm coming up to the minute when I was born 57 years ago today. On most days, I don't feel 57. And I won't feel old today as I am cruising on my Vulcan.



I'm treating myself to a day game in St. Louis. It's a make up game from an earlier rain out so I scored a good seat at a decent price. I'm pretty sure the day will include a hot dog with grilled onions and kraut and I plan to meet fellow blogger, Mike, for Ted Drewe's after the game.

It looks like the day is going to be plenty warm so I am happy to have my new Kevlar shirt to wear. If you're out and about today, look out for motorcycles.

Be well
John <><

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Keeping My Cool on the Highway (summer road trip!)

Summer is nearly upon us and the northern hemisphere is heating up. Missouri is expecting temps in the 90s (mid 30s Celsius) next week. Of course, it's mid June.

I got an early birthday present for riding during hot weather -- a kevlar mesh, long sleeved overshirt. Even though my textile jacket is vented and not too uncomfortable while riding in the 90s, it is black and hot is hot. I don't think about it too much when riding on the highway, but it becomes instantly hot when coming to a stop!
Think about it -- mid 90s, black jacket, on asphalt or concrete, and sitting on top of a hot running engine! I get sweaty just thinking about it!

I wore the kevlar shirt this past week and it is a little weird riding without the jacket. I feel a little exposed. It does have double material in the elbows and shoulders, but no padding like the jacket. I suppose that wearing the protective shirt rather than a full jacket puts me on the outside of the All The Gear, All The Time (ATTATG) philosophy, but I think that I'm going to give it a go during days when the temperature gets close to 90 or above.

I am planning a day trip to St Louis for an afternoon ballgame on Tuesday the 13th. Although a post-game stop at Ted Drewe's is tempting, it'll put me into heavier traffic until I clear the metropolitan area and I really don't care for riding in heavy, fast moving traffic. I'll play it by ear and see how it looks. Realistically speaking, it will probably depend more on how badly I want to indulge in Ted Drewe's than it will on what the traffic looks like!

I'll leave early enough that I'll have time for lunch downtown before the game and I should be able to get a few miles of walking in after riding for about 250 miles.
It also looks like the Royals have a day game against the Red Sox the following week, so I may have to consider making another all day trip. After all, is there really such a thing as too much baseball or too much motorcycle riding?

Watch out for us bikers out there! I had a truck pull out right in front of me this past week. Fortunately, I was watching him and just had a feeling that he was going to start across in front of me without looking so I was prepared to stop hard.
I got the eyes wide I'm sorry look, but that wouldn't have helped much in a couple of feet!

John <><


Saturday, June 03, 2017

Jesus is my friend

Jesus is my friend is the theme for Day camp at Baptist Hill. Day camp is for our youngest campers. They are preschool age.

During this morning's "Meet the staff" portion of the day, the Camp Manager and summer staff introduced themselves to the kids and parents and told a little about what they would be doing for the day.

Typically, the summer staff doesn't do a lot of the daily activities for camps that come here. The summer staff is the worker group for the camp grounds, not for the individual groups that come to camp. Day Camp and Intro to Camping are the two exceptions where they are the leaders for Bible study, music, and crafts.

When it was my turn to introduce myself and tell a little bit about my part at Baptist Hill, I wanted the kids to know that this is a place where they can come for many years. For these little ones, this is their first exposure to Baptist Hill. I told them that I have been coming to kids camps long enough that I have now done weddings for some of the kids that came to camp as children!

"That means he's really old!" was what I heard from one of the summer staff!

Yeah, some days that's how I feel.
But not today!

I sat in on the first session of Bible story time, but decided against visiting the craft and music sessions. I am enjoying sitting in the sun, sipping a soda, and listening to the sounds of nature as I share these thoughts with you and get ready for our worship time. Looking at the little kids and their parents makes me realize that I am probably older than some of their grandparents. I suppose that from their perspectives, I am really old.
I guess I can live with that.
sigh

I had a nice ride out to camp this morning -- 50 rural miles on the motorcycle with classic rock on my helmet radio. That's a pretty good way to start any day and just what I needed to prepare myself for a day with a bunch of kids. I'll probably need a longer ride to help me get my mind right afterwards!
Some days it takes a lot of curves to get my mind straightened out. This might be one of them!

Jesus is my friend
Something for adults to be reminded of, as well!

John <><

Friday, June 02, 2017

Camp Time!

It is that time of year!
Tomorrow will find me at Baptist Hill Assembly camp grounds for the annual Day Camp!
Day camp is a one day event for the youngest campers of the season. These youngsters are way too little for most children's camps and are too young to overnight without their parents, but have this day to begin their experiences at Baptist Hill.

In a couple of weeks (June 16-17), I'll be back to Baptist Hill for Intro to Camping. Intro to Camping is an overnight (Fri-Sat) camp for kids that are just one or two years away from the week long children's camp. They get a little more of the camp experience (including a night in the cabins) before coming for a week long camp.

Monday morning I have a magic show planned for our church's daycare, Wee Hope. While I'm performing for the kids of Wee Hope, our kids from 3rd -8th grade will be getting ready to leave for Tricounty Baptist Association Children and Jr High camps. I'll be dropping in on them next Wednesday and Thursday for Bible Stories with Pastor John.
As an added bonus to the coming camp days, I get to preach at a small church on Sunday morning!

It's just under 50 miles (one way) to the camp grounds and just over 50 miles (round trip) to the church where I'll preaching, so I'll get the added bonus of getting to ride a few hundred miles on the motorcycle in the coming week.
Funny thing about motorcycle mileage -- it always seems to be farther coming home. Sometimes it takes me an hour longer on the way home! (especially when there are rural roads to ride!)

Today will be a nice day and I may get a few miles in before finding a place to watch the Cards/Cubs afternoon baseball game. Both teams have been playing below their talent level recently. Hopefully the rivalry will inspire better play over the weekend.

Time to get busy!
Have a great weekend,

John <><

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Meeting Cousins from Down Under

Thanks to the technology of Facebook and the internet, I have been able to connect with several of my cousins that live in Australia. Like my mother's family (my family), my Tita Elsa'a (Aunt Elsa, mom's sister) family is rather large by today's standards. I don't know if all of the cousins are on Facebook as I have only connected with a few of them. Melanie, the oldest of the second cousins, popped into Messenger yesterday and we had a nice chat. She has offered to help me sort out who belongs to whom in my Aussie family.
I'm so glad that she reached out via Messenger. The brief chat really made my day!

I've been trying to make more connections through the "people you may know" section of Facebook as I see familiar names from my Down Under family, but I don't want to appear as the creepy old uncle making unwanted contacts with younger cousins, particularly the young women of the family. As a rule, I don't make friend request to younger people -- family or not. I have some family members in the States that I am not friends with on social media simply because they have not asked.

Last week, I did connect with one of the 2nd cousins, Carmen. We chatted for a bit and I performed a little long distance magic for her via Messenger. It was fun.

My two sisters have made trips to the Philippines or to Australia and have been able to meet cousins from my mom's side of the family. That is still on my list.

I suppose I need to use the available technology more often to keep in touch with family, both foreign and here at home. There really isn't a good excuse for not doing so. I send more text messages back and forth to my youngest brother than to the other siblings. I need to check in on the others more often than I have been doing.

My encouragement for the day is that you make a connection with someone you love. Drop a note via text or say hello via some form of social media.

Be well,
John <><

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A few thoughts on politics...

There have been many mornings when I've started (or at least thought about starting) to write a political post, but then I decided that it just doesn't feel like a good way to start the day. Then, rather than writing something else, I just don't write anything at all.
I suppose that is why I have posted so few times in recent months.

Today I decided that perhaps the best therapy will be to go ahead and post a few thoughts. Maybe writing some things down will begin to lift the oppression that has kept me from writing and let me move on.

While there is certainly much to be said of the administration and all of the drama that surrounds it, I think I will choose to ignore the scandal and the divisiveness that is coming from the White House and move on to the two Houses of our Congress.

I'm really wondering when these people will understand that there is going to have to be some working together if they are going to fulfill their role in governance. For years, the Democrats cried about the majority Republicans that acted as obstructionist to everything President Obama wanted to pass. Now it is the Republicans that see the minority Democrats as the ones causing the seemingly endless gridlock.
When the extremes rule the parties, nothing gets accomplished. Even within the parties there are constant intimidation tactics and power struggles between competing factions.

Let's just look at healthcare --
Healthcare takes up a huge portion of our national budget -- ONE SIXTH, and yet the divisions over how it should be managed is divided along party lines and further divided within the Republican party (and to a lesser degree, the Democrats).

ONE SIXTH!
That means that within every representatives state and district, there are people that will be both helped and hurt by the decisions they make. Why can't they come together to maximize the number of people being helped and minimize the number of people being hurt?
From the chair in my modest living room, it seems like the simple answer to that question is that the hurting people don't have any money to send them to buy their votes and the corporations that seek to profit from their votes have lots of money to send.

And healthcare is just one of the many important issues that is on the Congressional agenda.

As the current minority party, the Democrats have no choice but to work with Republicans to pass legislation. Without 60 votes in the Senate, Senate Republicans need to find some common ground with Democrats to pass legislation. Until they realize this, it really doesn't matter what distractions come out of the White House as far as legislation is concerned. Do Nothing will continue to be the status of our nation's legislative branch of government.

Ugh!
I'm going to need a long ride to relax and re-center my mind on more important things like burgers on the grill and the struggling St Louis Cardinals -- but that's another rant!

John <><

Monday, May 29, 2017

My Memorial Day

It is Memorial Day in the USA.

Memorial Day is a day that is set aside to honor those that have given their lives in service of our nation. It has been said that Memorial Day is a day of observation, not a day of celebration.
Many veterans recognize that this is not their day; it is a day to honor the ones that didn't make it home.
I think that we should also remember the ones that made it home, but are a part of the 22 veteran suicides per day.

To the family and friends of these fallen heroes, you have the gratitude and sympathy of this humble citizen.



It is customary to use the holiday weekend to give summer an unofficial kickoff.
Although the celestial beginning of summer is still three weeks away, this is the weekend when swimming pools open, lakes will be crowded, and many bbq grills will be fired up.

No special plans for us as Chris is working today.
During my career as an air traffic controller, there were many holidays that I was working while others enjoyed holiday time off. Today there is little difference from one day to the next. One of my senior cousins fed me this little bit of information as I entered retirement -- You don't get days off in retirement.

He was right.
I guess if I am to take a day off from retirement, I'll have to get a job.

While Chris is working today, I think I'll take a nice ride on the motorcycle.
I also need to take care of a couple of household chemistry projects in mixing some homemade weed killer and some mosquito repellent for the lawn.
The weed killer is made up of white vinegar, salt and a little bit of dish soap.
The lawn spray mosquito repellent is made up of cheap beer, blue mouthwash and epsom salt.
I've not tried either yet, so I'll let you know how well they work.

During your holiday activities, take time to remember.

John <><

Friday, May 26, 2017

Good day for a lunch run

I had originally planned on a lunch run to St Louis on Thursday but decided to use the nice day to to finish some yard work around the house. The original forecast was for rain on Friday (today), but it turned out to be a great day for a ride.

I needed to make a quick stop in Springfield before getting out on the road. I really had no idea where I was going to end up. Heading west out of Springfield I found myself on a portion of Historic Rte 66 and decided to stay with it. It went from a four lane highway down to two lanes and then it was just a paved country road. The section in Springfield still had some of the old buildings that housed business -- motels, restaurants, gas stations. As I rode through the more rural areas, most of the old buildings were abandoned and in varying states of disrepair.

I was westbound on Hwy 96. As I crossed Hwy 39one intersection, I saw a sign for the Hanger Kafe with an arrow pointing north. As I cruised through the intersection, I thought that I should have turned and tried it out for lunch.
No worries. A few miles down the road I was coming up to another crossing highway and recognized another sign for the Hanger Kafe. I made the turn and rode about four or five miles before being directed back to the east for a couple of miles and then saw the drive for the restaurant.

As you may have guessed, it is in an old airfield hanger. There is still a small functioning airstrip and a sky diving business. Although the restaurant is pretty small, it was packed for lunch. I overheard one guy on his phone. He told his wife, "I'm not really sure where I am. I'm at a little restaurant in the middle of nowhere."
Yep. That's right where I was, too!

I'm a sucker for a good tenderloin sandwich so when I saw it on the menu I had to ask about it.

Me: Tell me about your tenderloin sandwich.
Waitress: We're kinda famous for it. It's about this big (as she gestured with her hands).
Me: I'm in!

She hadn't indicated that it would be a monster tenderloin and that was fine. I didn't need a monster sandwich for lunch. I was slightly more than the diameter of the bun one way and about twice that the other way.



Under the sandwich was a thick slice of onion that matched the size of the bun, a smaller tomato slice, several pickle chips and leaf of lettuce. The tenderloin itself was thick and tasty and worth going back for another one on another day!
I skipped dessert. The list on the white board said -- carrot cake, pumpkin pie, blackberry cobbler, and mixed berry pie.
Yum. Pretty tempting.

I took a more scenic way home and ended up with 122.5 miles for my lunch run.



I'm going to call it a good day!

John <><


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cutting the Cord ... well, the cable.

Yes, it is that time.
We are joining the multitudes that have cut the cable!
Our local cable media monopoly is Suddenlink. We have them for both internet service and our cable TV package, and the cost has gotten out of hand. Interestingly enough, Suddenlink's retention department had lots of incentives (including a lower price for our current package) to keep us to stay with them.
Too late!

In the end, we increased our internet speed and dumped the cable.
We also now have a streaming plan with Sling TV. The increased speed and Sling TV will be about 60% of what we've been paying for slower internet and cable. Plus I get to take it with me and can watch on my phone anytime.

In truth, other than sports, I don't watch a lot of TV.
I mean, it's often on, but I'm not really watching. I enjoy some old series reruns, but it isn't like I really need to watch them. The channels that Chris usually watches are available on our base package with Sling, but I'll be giving up all of the ESPN channels. I could add them, but most of the Cardinals' and Blues' games are on Fox Sports Midwest.
And I think the a la carte menu will work well if I want to add them for a big game.

There are a few other channels that I won't have, plus some that I gain. Overall, I doubt I'll see a big change in my TV habits. I am looking forward to the savings in the budget!

It's a small step in simplifying things.

John <><

Saturday, May 20, 2017

More thoughts from the highway

There are very few stretches of flat, straight roads through northern Arkansas. When encountering a sign like this one ...



...it makes me stop and think.

Most signs for a hill are the picture type of signs.



And these are the signs I'd been seeing on my way to Memphis.
Encountering HILL made me wonder -- Is this an old sign that hasn't been replaced or is this hill going to be longer or steeper than the ones I've been riding?

It turned out that it was most likely the first as the hill was pretty typical for the Ozarks of northern Arkansas.

But it did get me to thinking...
Why don't we see signs that warn us of going uphill?
A Google image search will show that there are such signs, but I'm not sure that I've ever really seen one. I know that there are slow lanes for trucks on many uphill climbs, and signs that instruct slower traffic to keep to the right on uphill grades, but I don't recall a sign picturing a car or truck going uphill.
Maybe I just haven't been paying attention and those signs have gone unnoticed because they have little effect on me.

Just a thought...

John <><


Friday, May 19, 2017

Thoughts from the highway...

It is spring and the sounds of baseball are in the air!
Last weekend, I was sitting on our deck and could hear the sounds of parents and kids playing wiffle ball. Our back yard has enough trees that I couldn't see them, but it was fun listening to them and knowing that they were having a great time. They played until well past the time when they could see well and the sun was past the horizon.

In looking for summer rides, I decided that I needed to take in a Cardinals' AAA game. On Tuesday, I rode the 285 miles (one way) to Autozone Park in Memphis to watch a Memphis Redbirds' day game. It was a little before sunrise as I started my day and just after sunset (total of 575 miles) when I arrived back at home.



I guess such long rides are not too common for most bikers as I get plenty of comments on different motorcycle forums when I post about them. Since I'm still pretty new at riding, I guess I just don't know any better and didn't realize that most people are just weekend riders and use their motorcycles more for recreation than for transportation.

I have to say that I wasn't too impressed with the Memphis ballpark. Maybe it's just that Springfield's Hammons' Field is an exceptional minor league park. Although it was a very nice ballpark, I was disappointed with the concessions and the overall atmosphere of a minor league game was missing. The between innings, on field entertainment was weak and ... well, not so entertaining. The stadium staff would do well to visit the AA team and see how minor league baseball can be!
It seems odd to be commenting on the parts of the game that aren't really baseball related because my thing is generally the game. I rarely pay attention to the extras on the field or on the scoreboard displays, but it seemed odd that it was so evident that there was something missing from the experience.




I stopped at a roadside BBQ place in West Memphis. I guess it was a local chain (although it looked like it might be an independent shop). Overall, it was average at best. Oh well.
I stopped for gas just west of Jonesboro and spent some time talking to another retired biker. He was on his way from Utah to North Carolina! He had spent the night close to Springfield MO and was getting ready to call it a day at around 300 miles. I think that he was taking his time, staying off the interstate highways and stopping at sights along the way. Other than the allergies (mold is killer after all the rains and flooding), he seemed to really enjoy the Ozarks.

I have to admit that I rarely look for points of interest as I ride. I'm usually just enjoying the ride. As I crossed into Arkansas I did stop long enough at Mammoth Springs State Park to take a picture and enjoy the view before getting back on the road to make it to Memphis before game time. I suppose I should stop more often, see the sights, connect with locals, ...
...or not.



If what I enjoy is riding, why not just ride?
Right?
Of course, it is stopping that would give me something to write about...

Hmmm...

Until next trip, those are my thoughts from the highway...
John <><



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Writing on politics

From time to time I have considered writing some political post and then reconsidered and decided against it. In today's political insanity, anything I write about that happened yesterday is already old news and there is something deserving of more attention that has happened or is about to happen.

One of the things that I think about is -- How are we going change Congress to the point of being able to function as it was designed to function?
And which comes first -- does America have to become less party oriented to change Congress or does Congress become more interested in the good of the country and less party loyal?

As it is now, the system isn't working and won't work with our current Congress.
If I keep it close to home, my Congressman is a do nothing, suck up to the party kind of guy. He ran on the platform of changing Washington and has won because he is the Republican candidate for the district and the district will always vote for the Republican candidate, and he will do whatever the party leadership tells him to do. He never has a town hall meeting and really doesn't care what his constituents think.
sigh

Winston Churchill once said that America will do the right thing -- after they've tried everything else!
Hopefully, that time will come soon.

John <><

Monday, May 15, 2017

Motorcycle to Memphis because...baseball!

It is a beautiful morning in the Ozarks and today is shaping up to be a warm (mid 80s, 30 for you Celsius folks) and sunny day.

Tomorrow will have a few clouds, but will have about the same temperature.
And tomorrow's weather is of some significance to me because I am planning on riding a few miles to take in a baseball game.
I have been to see the St Louis Cardinals in St Louis and I have seen their low A team the Peoria Chiefs and their AA team that is here in Springfield MO. Tomorrow I am going to see their AAA team, the Memphis Redbirds. Like the Springfield Cardinals, the Memphis team has early day games while school is still in session and local schools have end of year field trips to the ballgame. The early start will allow me time to make it home before it is late into the night.

According to Google Maps, it is 283 miles from my home to the ballpark and should take just under 5 hours. I'll stick to the quickest route for the ride there, but may take a more scenic route on the way home. Depending on the length of the game, traffic and the route I decide to take, I should be home by 9pm and will have traveled around 600 miles. If the ballpark has some Memphis BBQ, I may have to skip the ballpark dog...nah, I'll just have to have both!
Ten hours on the motorcycle and a AAA baseball game sounds like a pretty good day!
With any luck, I'll be able to find the St Louis game on my helmet radio for part of the ride home. That would be a bonus!

On Thursday night, I'll be at the Springfield Cardinals' game (Buck brat night) with a group of guys from church.
Hmmm...should I try for the Wednesday night game in St Louis?
Maybe I'll stay close to home and hit the last weekday day game for the Springfield team on Wednesday and just watch the St Louis team on TV. And no, it's not too much baseball.

Have a grand week!
That's my plan.
(This retirement gig is brutal!)

John <><

Monday, April 24, 2017

Social Media Diversity

I'm not a big social media freak, but I do have accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
While all of my accounts are public (anyone can see them), I have only been selective about friends on Facebook.
I have to admit that I often wonder what the people with healthy accounts (yoga, exercise, diet, etc.) think when I post a pic of my latest cigar or a sauerkraut smothered ballpark hotdog!

Some of the fitness accounts that I follow are business accounts and only post about their particular healthy lifestyle area. Others are personal accounts that share other aspects of personal life -- some have strict, healthy lifestyles, others have moments of weakness and indulgence.

I am generally surprised when someone that I don't know chooses to follow me on Instagram or Twitter. Most of them come from one or more mutual accounts that we follow. My guess is that they are more interested in me following them back than they are in actually following me.
The truth is -- I rarely post anything that resembles fitness or healthy living. I post pics of food (some healthy, some not), cigars, motorcycle, baseball, coffee, life, etc. That I post an occasional pic of my daily step total does little to offset the rest.

The pics I post on Instagram show up on my Twitter account and then on Facebook. I tweet UFC, baseball, hockey, motorcycles, Haikus, memes that I find interesting or humorous, and occasional things related to my faith in Jesus.
I rarely post directly to my Facebook account. Those post usually come from Twitter.

While I follow a number of celebrities (athletes, actors, journalists, politicians, etc.), none of them follow me back. No real surprise, there! (Actually, there is one sports writer that follows me on twitter.) As far as I know, only a couple of my blogger friends follow me on social media sites.

If you are interested, you can find me as @magicianary on Twitter and Instagram (or /magicianary on Facebook).

Just something I think about occasionally.

John <><

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Another moment to remember...

Earlier tonight, Chris and I went out to eat. One of the simple side effects from Chris' chemo treatments has been a loss of taste, so when Chris gets something in mind that she'd like for dinner, I'm all for accommodating her desire.
The two things she wanted tonight -- a restaurant with outdoor seating and a particular dish from Houlihan's.

When the waiter brought the bill at the end of the meal, the only two items on it were what we ordered for dessert. He said the rest of the bill had been taken care of, but wouldn't say by whom. We were both very touched by it and a little emotional.
I don't always think of Chris as a cancer patient and have gotten used to her wearing a cap or hat instead of a wig. When he brought the check back for me to sign, Chris was still feeling the emotion of the moment and he hugged her and shook my hand. He said, "I feel you more than you know."
Chris asked if it was him and he just said that he really couldn't say anything more but that he would be praying for us.

So...
If you happen to stop by Houlihan's on the south side of Springfield MO and have a server named Devon, treat him well for me.

John <><

God loves you. Jesus died for you.

God shows He loves us
In that while we were sinners
Jesus died for us

Romans 5:8

John <><

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Good Friday Devotional Haiku


Jesus, the suffering servant.
From the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, ESV.


3 He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4  Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;

    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.

The innocent one
Was pierced for our transgressions
And so, we are healed

John <><



Marking time...

Just a quick note to mention that yesterday was a significant day in our lives.
Chris completed her final chemotherapy treatment. We still have the negative effects to endure in the coming days, but other than that, this closes that chapter and we move on to recovery.

Her prognosis is good and we feel blessed in spite of everything.

In the lobby of the treatment center is a bell that patients ring as they have completed their chemo or radiation therapy. Chris rang the bell on our way out and people started clapping and cheering when they heard it.
It was pretty cool.



And life goes on...

John <><

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Devotional Haiku

It is an interesting concept.
God is in the darkness.

When we find ourselves in the dark places of life, God is there with us.
He moved in the darkness before the creation. He is in the darkness, even now.
We often think of God as light and so we feel alone and vulnerable in the dark.
In the dark, we cannot see.
We can only sense -- and our senses often deceive us.

In the fourth chapter of John's gospel, Jesus says that God, the Father, is seeking for those that worship him in spirit and in truth.
When you are in the darkness and can't seem to find God -- stop looking for him and start worshiping him.
He will come and find you.

In the beginning
Darkness, emptiness, nothing
God spoke. It was good


John <><


Monday, April 10, 2017

Writing...

It seems impossible that our Ozarks Chapter of the American Christian Writers (OCACW) has nearly reached the end of our year. Our working year mirrors the academic year and runs from September through May. That means we have only one meeting remaining.

I keep thinking that I need to be more disciplined in writing.
I don't know if that means writing towards a specific goal every day (like a book) or just writing every day.
I do know that writers need to write.

I have a couple of ideas on writing.
One is a sci-fi/Christian apologetics book that uses a fictional story line to share the truth of the gospel. The basic idea is there, but it will take a lot of research and development to bring an end product about.
Another is a daily devotional using Haiku or short verse poem to summarize a text of the Bible.
Although I enjoy putting miles on my motorcycle, my interactions while riding are rare and so I don't know that I would have much to write about as a biker.

In truth, I feel that I have abandoned my more creative self at some point and will really need to nurture that part of me in order to see and write more effectively. The speaker at our meeting last Saturday said that writers and artists see the world differently than others -- a bird doesn't just fly, it soars through the air with purpose or playfully challenges the wind.
I need those eyes.

I also need to develop an attitude that allows me to write about stories that are ordinary. I believe that we can find lessons or entertainment in everyday kinds of happenings. Even though there is little excitement and few extraordinary events that take place in my quiet little life, it is what I experience and I can write about and I'll just have to let others determine its value in their world.
Or, I suppose I could fantasize about living a much more exciting life and write about a life that only exists in my imagination.

I guess I'll just write and see what happens...

John <><

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Simple Moments

I know that not every life is a noteworthy life.
Nor is every moment a story to be shared.
In fact, most of us live a quiet life that others barely notice as they live their quiet lives along side of us.

But that doesn't mean that our lives are without simple pleasures that we enjoy for a moment. Many of them are not un-ordinary happenings; just simple things that caught our attention for a moment.

As I was riding home through central Illinois this past week, I passed a bald eagle perched in a tree. I thought briefly that I should stop and take a picture, but was already moving on and turning back on the interstate would have been more trouble that I wanted to add to my day. And it's not like I'd never seen a bald eagle before, but it was a notable (if very brief) moment in my day.

*****

I like my motorcycle.
I think it is an attractive bike. Although it isn't a very big bike as cruisers go, it works for me.
I was getting ready to mount up in a parking lot last week. An older couple was parked across from me and walking to their car. The woman said, "I don't know anything about motorcycles, but I know pretty and that is a pretty bike!"
Yeah, it made me smile as I thanked her.

And for a little added affirmation, just moments later a younger man walked past me and said, "Pretty bike."

This is my ride, packed and ready for the road.


The 400+ mile ride out was a cold, damp day.
The ride home was windy, but much warmer and sunny.

I stopped for gas and something to drink on the way home and an older gentleman wanted to talk. He looked like he may have been on a lunch break or maybe just off work. He was wearing a security guard's uniform and mentioned (a few times) that he is 72 years old!
He told me a little about his day and walked out of the building so that he could see where my bike was parked and take a look at it. He asked what kind it was and how big the engine was. I asked if he rode and he said he never had. (I may have heard a little regret in his answer.)

*****

I am beginning to pay more attention to those small moments in my days.
They are worth pondering.

John <><

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

SCOTUS Nomination and Integrity

Just a few thoughts on the political climate in DC as it relates to the filling of the Supreme Court and the US Senate.

Although it may be an unpopular stance among Democrats, I do not think that the Democratic Senators should withhold a vote for Judge Neil Gorsuch.
If you believe that it was wrong for the Republicans to withhold the hearing and vote for Merrick Garland, than it has to be wrong to do the same for Gorsuch. Though it may be fair and you believe "what goes around, comes around," it still doesn't make it right.

Show a little integrity and do the right thing.
Most of the Dems already had a positive view of Judge Gorsuch when they voted for him for his appointment as a federal judge. When we let the bad behavior of others dictate how we behave, we become the people we despise.
In every case, I believe that doing the right thing is always an easier thing to defend than the schoolyard claim of, "Oh yeah? They did it first!"

On the other hand, getting rid of the 60 vote threshold isn't necessarily a bad thing, The 60 vote cloture rule has a different place than was intended in today's political climate. I've always thought it to be an interesting rule that it takes 60 members to bring an item to a vote that only needs 51 votes to pass.
The Senate claims that waiving the 60 vote threshold on the SCOTUS will be limited to that only, but I see it as a beginning that will change how the Senate works. I see both good and bad that could come from this. In the end, I don't think either side wants to do this, but I think the GOP is going to call the bluff and everyone will regret it.

Just my thoughts.

John <><


Monday, April 03, 2017

Discussions on faith

In the past few weeks I have had several conversations (with different people) about eternity and eternal life. Some of the conversations were with people that believe as I do and others were with people that have somewhat similar beliefs but with some significant differences, and some with different beliefs.

I'm glad that people are open to such conversations and was surprised that most of these conversations were not started by me, but the topic of eternal life and religious beliefs were introduced by them.

In spite of our discomfort in sharing our faith with our unbelieving friends, statistics show that most people are willing to discuss religion and often even welcome such discussions. I should say that I'm thankful that people feel comfortable enough with me to bring me their questions about faith and ask for my thoughts and opinions on eternal matters. The unfortunate truth is that I should be the one bring up the topic more often than I do.

I am not one to be a hell-fire and brimstone type of preacher, but it should be clear that I do believe in hell and its eternal torment for the souls of the damned. I once had an unbelieving coworker tell me that he could talk to me because "I get it."
When I asked him what he meant by that, he said that other Christians are always telling him he's going to hell and he can't talk to them.
I made it clear to him that I also believed that without proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Savior--he was going to hell, but I never want to get to the point that he feels he can't talk to me.

Maybe that's part of the key.
I realize that it is not my place to be condemning about their decisions of what to believe or not believe. I would love for them to believe as I do, but I do not get the privilege of choosing for them. If God loves us and is good with free will, why should I feel like I have to bludgeon people into choosing one way or the other?
I believe strongly in what I believe and will share it with passion. I should expect others to have the right to do the same. I don't always expect to change someone's thoughts but I would like to give them something new to consider.

So...
How do you feel about discussions on faith?
Are you open to sharing what you believe?
Are you open to listening to what others believe?

God loves you.
Jesus died for you.

John <><

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Opening Day!

For baseball fans in the US, today is the day!
We have been waiting for the day when our teams take to the field.
As this day begins, no team has a winning record; no team has a losing record.
Every team is tied for first. Every team is tied for last.
But that will change.

Today there will be winners.
And there will be losers.

Someone once said (I think it was Tommy Lasorda):
At the beginning of the season, you can expect that every team will win 50 games and every team will lose 50 games. The other 62 games will separate 1st place from last place.

Today, we all have hopes that our team will win it all!
But only one team will.

Many are saying the this year's World Series will be a rematch of last year's Series.
As a fan of one of the other twenty-eight teams, I hope not.

It's spring.
It's baseball season.
Life is good!

And if that wasn't enough,
It's also National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day!
So have a PBJ sandwich and enjoy a baseball game!

John <><

Friday, March 31, 2017

Marching On

March comes to an end and time moves on.

I'll be heading out for a 400+ mile trip on the motorcycle so it will be a day without noise.
I'll be able to catch up on some social media feeds on my occasional stops if I choose to, but for the most part it will be nothing but the sound of wind. I don't have a radio, so I won't be listening to any news throughout the day. It'll be nice.

I do have a blue tooth headset in my helmet and may listen to a little music for part of the day.
At some point, I'll probably add a charging port to my motorcycle. If I'm going to be taking all day rides and using my blue tooth to listen to music from my phone, I'll probably need it.
I haven't ridden for the past week, so I am really looking forward to the ride.

*****

I'll have plenty of time for thinking on the road today, but I have already been doing some reflecting on the month as it comes to an end.

On the physical front I decided that I really need to get back to regular exercise and have started walking again. Yesterday was the first day that I didn't get a good walk. It was raining or drizzling all day and so I only managed less than a mile. It was the first day of spring that I didn't make the 10,000 step goal. I'll try to get the steps in today by taking a few walking breaks along the way.
I've been eating better but still have a ways to go to re-establish healthy eating as a lifestyle.

Spiritually I am always in a struggle.
I know that probably sounds weird coming from an evangelist, but it is true.
Evangelism conferences and exposure to people that are working hard for the kingdom often make me realize how little I do that has positive impact on the lives of others. Some people are working very hard to show the love of God to people in need while I am content to stay fairly isolated from others. It is a difficult thing to show love while avoiding people.
Hmmm...something for me to think about.

On other personal assessments, I think that I might be misrepresenting myself to others.
Oh we all do it. We put our best face on when we go out and try our best not to be a complete butt-head to others, but as much as I try to be pretty transparent about my faults, some people still give me way more credit for being a decent person than I deserve.
In doing a little spring cleaning, I re-read some of the comments written on my retirement photo from SGF. I'm not sure if I should feel good about having fooled so many people about being a good guy or humbled by their assessments of the man they believe me to be. I remember a conversation I had before I retired when a coworker commented that I was a good person. I told her that she has no idea how hard I have to work to be that person. Somehow, I don't think that a good person would have to work this hard every single day.
If you really want to know the truth, check with my wife and kids. They've seen the ugly side, perhaps far too often.

All-in-all, I'm not sure what I'll do with these assessments.
I know that I'll keep up with the health improvements -- at least for a little while.
I'm not real sure about the ministry assessments. I guess I should be more purposeful about sharing God's love for people. I'm just not sure of how I will do that.
As for the real me -- geez, I don't think I want people to know that guy. I guess I'll just keep working on being a little bit better so that I can eventually remove the mask and there won't be much difference between the person you see and the person I really am. Dang, that's going to be a lot of work!

But time marches on...

Any monthly assessment from you, my readers?
Leave it in the comments if you care to.

John <><

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring planting, spring cleaning and more...

It was a beautiful day in the Ozarks and I missed a fine day to take a nice ride on my motorcycle.
I have recommitted to restructuring my lifestyle to include daily walking again and there was a few other things that I needed to take care of as well.

We have a new sofa and love seat that are scheduled to be delivered tomorrow and needed to move our current furniture to the basement. I used son-in-law manpower to help with the task.
I'm glad they live close and Daniel was willing to help. He (and Hannah) took a little break from work and came by this afternoon.

After moving the furniture and visiting for a little while, the kids headed back to finish their work day and I decided to work at planting my garden. I still need to build a couple of more raised beds. For now, I have onions, carrots, cucumbers, summer squash, spinach, cabbage, red leaf lettuce, and romaine lettuce.

I still have peas, tomatoes, and a variety of peppers to plant.
I'm also going to be planting some flowers.

I stopped working in the garden to take a shower and then Chris and I went out to dinner. I had a strawberry, salmon, mixed green salad. I had water to drink. You know -- healthy stuff.

At home again, I've been working downstairs while watching TV. We've definitely got too much stuff! I guess it's time for me to check into Craig's List or some other online garage sale type of app. That might be more effective than an actual garage sale. Or -- there is the old fashioned garage sale.

Tomorrow is forecast to be a stormy day and should give me plenty opportunity to work on the indoor tasks. I hope to have the opportunity for my walk. Riding the motorcycle will have to wait. On the plus side, weather Friday should be clear enough to take the bike for my 400 mile trip.

That should make up for a few days of not riding!

John <><

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Miscellaneous thoughts

It's a rainy Saturday morning in the Ozarks.
Hopefully, it will stop long enough for me to get my walk in at some point.

If you read my other blog, you already know that I'm trying to get back to regular walking and a better diet. The struggle is real for this under energized, over eating, middle aged, fat boy. I just take it one day at a time.

*****

Tonight I get to perform a wedding ceremony for a friend's kids. Last night was the rehearsal dinner.
It is a large wedding party and I'm sure that it will be a fun time.
Since I don't do too many weddings, it really is an honor to be asked to serve in this way.
Although my ministry licence allows me this privilege, since I don't pastor a church nor advertise for weddings, I generally only serve for family and friends. I've only done one wedding for people that I didn't know.

A couple of years ago, we were eating out when a young woman approached our table and asked if I was John Hill. It was the bride of that young couple and they were also having dinner at the Keeter Center on that night. I was surprised that she remembered me and happy that she came to our table to say hi. I received a friend request from her on Facebook and so I get to keep up with the young couple and their beautiful little girl.

*****

Tonight is the beginning of the Pulaski Association Annual Evangelism Conference.
I've been to it for all but one of the years they have had it. I will miss this year's event as well. Although I had been scheduled to go, I decided that I should be here at home since this is the weekend after Chris' chemo treatment and is generally a pretty crappy weekend. I'm hoping to get to attend a session on Tuesday. I have received a number of calls, messages and cards from the evangelists that are attending. They are all keeping Chris in their prayers.
That's pretty cool.

*****

Political action and inaction in our nation's capitol has become entertaining ... in a B-rated horror movie kind of way. Not everybody really likes horror movies.  Sometimes they are just scary and have lots of people getting hurt or killed with no well developed plot.
Just a thought...

*****

I hope that you have an enjoyable weekend.
Do something nice for somebody.
Do something nice for yourself, too.

Be well,
John <><




Friday, March 24, 2017

Me and my RC

I'm not sure why this little commercial jingle was running through my head today, but I decided to see if I could find it on You Tube.

This isn't the same commercial that I remember (I think this one is an older version), but here it is for your viewing pleasure.



John <><

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring is here and summer is on its way!

It is the first day of Spring!

For what ever reason, I am up before the sun on this first morning of spring. Maybe I'll make my way outside to watch the sun come up -- maybe not. Even though the Vernal Equinox is just a celestial event that marks the beginning of the season, I am very pleased to acknowledge its arrival.

Along with the first day of spring, baseball season is just around the corner and plans are in the making for summer camps and events! I've already got several camps scheduled for the late spring and early summer, as well as a summer wedding and a daycare magic show!

I'm thinking that if you are planning a summer event -- camp, revival, summer school events, whatever -- you should probably contact me to save your dates.
I also have a few personal events on the calendar that I'll be guarding with care -- a family reunion in late July and this summer's total eclipse in August. I'm sure that there will also be several baseball games and a motorcycle trip or two!

Retirement ain't for the lazy!
It's too bad that I'm not more organized. I could accomplish so much more!

In other springtime activities, I managed to build a raised bed garden and get a few plants started. There is still more to do and I have some flowers to plant, as well.

Happy first day of Spring!

John <><

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cell Phone Service Survey

I know people's choices for cell phone providers is often a regional choice.
I know that many service providers contract with one (or more) of the primary cell phone providers.
I'm interested in your choice and why you choose it.

In particular, I'm interested to see if anyone uses Project fi and what you think of it.
My kid's use it and love it.
I use Google for most online activity -- Blogger for blogging, gmail for email, Google chrome for browsing, I use a chromebook for most access, and have Chrome cast on my televisions. I suppose using Google as a cell phone provider would make sense, too.

This is a pretty unscientific poll because it isn't targeted to a specific demographic, nor will I know how many people read and don't respond (although I imagine it will be most of you).
Anyway, if you don't mind, please leave a comment with your provider and (if you feel like it) a little review on your service.

We currently use AT&T and have for quite some time.

John <><

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tri-county Baptist Association Evangelism Conference

I'm sitting in Starbucks, sipping on my regular drink (any guesses?) and getting ready for the morning session of the evangelism conference. Yesterday we heard some really great messages as eight of our evangelists shared from The Word and from their hearts.
The day and evening sessions were also filled with songs of praise from our music evangelists.

Today will be eight more messages (4 in the morning session and 4 in the evening session) and more music. Tonight will be my turn at preaching to the preachers. I am glad that I drew an evening session as there will more of the laity in attendance than at the day sessions. I feel like they (the lay people of the churches) are more my people.
It seems weird to say that, but it is the way it is.

I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but these conferences always make me feel bad about the little work that I am doing for the advancement of the kingdom.

I'm going to head over to the church and mingle a little bit.
(I know, but it is expected.)
If you are the praying type and you are of a mind to lift up a brother, I'd appreciate your prayers before I take the pulpit tonight. I'll be on at around 6:45.

Blessings,
John <><

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Give 'em Heaven!

It's Sunday morning and we are heading to Galena MO to be with my friend Jimmy Harriss and his church. All of the evangelists will be in different Tricounty Baptist Association churches this morning. We got to hear from the music folks last night at the conference opening session and will hear from the preaching evangelists over the next two days.

But today is Sunday and we are dispersed to the churches. I know that many of the churches will be blessed to hear these guys as they share from God's word.
There are a few new guys in our group that I haven't had the opportunity to hear and I am looking forward to it. My time to preach at the conference isn't until the final session on Tuesday night. I wish I could say I was looking forward to that.

As encouragement goes, there were several people that did tell me how much they enjoy my preaching and style of sharing the Word, so I do feel good about that. And maybe that's really the key -- my style isn't to be preachy, just to share the Word with a little background and cultural application.

In any case, it's quiet time before today's church and prep time this afternoon for Tuesday's message.

To my preaching brother's, "Preach hard. Heaven hangs in the balance!"

Blessings,
John <><

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Preaching to preachers

This weekend our Tricounty Baptist Association is hosting an evangelism conference. It begins on Saturday evening with a night of music and praise from our music evangelists.
On Sunday, the evangelists will disperse to different churches throughout the association to share in their Sunday services. Monday and Tuesday will have morning and evening sessions of music and preaching at the host church, which just happens to be my home church of Hopedale.

The morning sessions largely consist of preaching to preachers.
The evening sessions should have more people from the churches in the association, and should also have a good number of preachers and church staff in attendance.
I'll be at Galena Baptist Church on Sunday morning and preaching at the conference on Tuesday evening.

It may seem a little weird to be preaching to preachers (it used feel weird, too), but the truth is that preachers need encouragement from God's word, too! It's good for all of us to be able to step back and look at what we are doing through distant eyes. We often get so focused on what we are doing that we lose the big picture of what is going on around us and we fail to adapt accordingly.
Not only do these types of conferences serve to encourage pastors in their own work, but they offer pastors an opportunity to hear some of the available evangelists and encourage them to use vocational evangelists in their local churches.

Maybe it's just the introvert in me that doesn't really look forward to these conferences.
In the end, I generally enjoy getting together with the other evangelists and hearing their encouragement. I always look forward to sharing the gospel. But...

I don't know...
It just feels funny to be marketing to get bookings to go to churches at a later date.
I do see the conferences as a good opportunity for pastors to hear the people that they would invite to come speak in their churches. I believe that pastors need to guard their pulpits with great care and surrender them to others only rarely.
But I've never been good at marketing myself in this situation. I don't want to feel like a snake oil peddler when it comes to the gospel and I often think that's what we sometimes appear to be.

In any case, I'll be preparing for this conference in the coming days, as well as preparing for a wedding in two weeks and another conference at the end of the month. In between all of that, I'll just be taking it easy, planting a garden, and living the retired life in southwest Missouri.

Give 'em heaven, brothers!

John <><

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Coffee Break!

Or maybe I should say, "Coffee! Brake!"

So I am out earlier than usual this morning because I was scheduled for a platelet donation at the Red Cross. I'm a little frustrated because I was pretty sure than our recent trip to the Dominican Republic would be a 12 month deferral but was told (when I made the appointment) that it wasn't.

It is.

No worries.
Now I have a few hours that I had set aside for the donation.
It's sunny (but cool) and I'm on my motorcycle.
It could be worse.

Back to the coffee break.

My daughter, Hannah, has been telling me of this great little coffee house in Springfield. She has several of their different roasts and even shared enough of the Ethiopian beans with her dad. It was an excellent pot of coffee! Apparently, she has also bragged of this place to her brother (former wholesale manager of Bow Truss coffee roasters) who now manages one of Chicago's busiest Starbucks. He checked them out online and found out that he and Hannah went to high school with the sons of the owners.

I decided to take this opportunity to check it out for myself.
I'm sitting in Travellers House Coffee and Tea.
The fire gives the place an inviting feeling on a chilly morning and the place is relatively busy for a weekday mid-morning time frame.

My coffee -- 16oz Americano with an extra shot -- is good, my chair is comfortable, and I am people watching as I type away on my little blog. I plan on taking some beans home with me since I'm down to just a couple of days worth of beans from our trip to the Dominican Republic.
I expect to be back here in the future. I am happy to support local businesses, especially businesses that appear to being doing great at what they do.

This coffee house appears to be quite the meeting place for business appointments and friendly get togethers. It isn't often that I stop in a coffee shop. I rarely have a meeting with someone and generally have good coffee at home. But it may be that you are looking for some good coffee or tea and need a place to meet on Springfield's south side.
Stop by and see these folks. Tell them you read about them on some guy's blog or saw a recommendation for them on Twitter.

The day is warming up and the road is calling. Time to get back on the motorcycle.
Good coffee, sunshine, motorcycle.
This is shaping up to be a beautiful day!

John <><

Monday, March 06, 2017

Just curious ...

At what point do Trump supporters realize and admit that our president is a fear mongering liar?

I'm not questioning their motives for voting for him or against Sec. Clinton.
I don't want to hear, "Yeah, but..."

I just want to hear, "Yeah, I voted for a fear mongering liar and I'm okay with it."
If you want to justify it with something like -- " I want someone that will sign the GOP bills that pass in Congress and I'm willing to deal with the consequences of putting a racist, immoral, compulsive liar into the White House to accomplish that." -- go ahead, add your reasoning.
I'm just curious.

John

I realize that this is a politically charged post. 
If you wish to respond, please do.
If you are responding on a social media platform, please limit your response to this post.

Responses to other people's comments will be deleted.

JH

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Fight like a girl!

It's an overcast and cool Sunday afternoon in the Ozarks. It's actually a nice temperature for the beginning of March. It's just that we have been spoiled by the warmer than usual weather this winter.

It isn't unexpected, but today is a pretty low energy day for Chris. Her second chemo treatment was last Wednesday and we were expecting yesterday and today to be tough days. While she endures the side effects of her treatment, I try to be here to see to her needs. Right now she just needs me to leave her alone so that she can rest.

One of the more frustrating side effects is the inability to sleep through the night. She was up several times last night and pretty tired this morning -- tired and hungry. Although she didn't feel much like going to church and interacting with people (Who does when you're feeling like crap?), we did make it out for breakfast and her daily Diet Coke fix before returning home where she is now relaxing (dozing, I hope) in her reclining chair.

If things go like the first time, tomorrow will be a better day, but she will still be pretty fatigued. She plans on being back to normal (or at least her new normal) and back to work on Tuesday.

We have had so many people that are praying for her and have been helping out with occasional meals. The cards, texts, calls, Facebook messages -- are all very encouraging and uplifting.
I received a call from a church member that is at a church where I preached in early December. That was in between the time of Chris' diagnosis and surgery. He told me that they have been praying for her since then and he wanted to see how she is doing. It was a neat call and a pick-me-up for both of us!

Thanks to all of you that are praying for us!

All-in-all, we're doing pretty well. It would be easy enough to ask "Why me?" (or us), but I am always amazed at Chris' attitude and resolve as she fights the fight. Being supportive and walking with her in the course of recovery and treatment is pretty easy by comparison. On most days, there is nothing that would indicate that she is going through anything other than walking through life, just like everyone else.

It reminds me that everybody is fighting a battle that those around them are unaware of.
So, why not just show a little compassion and kindness to the people we encounter?
You never know...

John <><

Friday, March 03, 2017

Friends and Acquaintances

It looks to be another beautiful day in the Ozarks!
The sun is shining and the day will warm up from its current temp of just above freezing to the upper 50s (that's about 14 for my Celcius friends). I've been thinking about friend relationships recently so it was fortuitous that I would get a call from a good friend to start the day.

Yesterday, a Facebook friend made reference to his perceptions of me in a very positive and complimentary way. Since our knowledge of one another and our friend relationship is built on our mutual blogging (he no longer blogs), careers as air traffic controllers, differing religious beliefs, and Facebook posts; there is a possibility that we might not really get along well in real life.
I don't think that's true, but you never really know.

Truthfully, Facebook and other social media outlets have helped us to better isolate ourselves from the world. We've (humans) always been pretty good at wearing masks and hiding parts of our lives from the people we encounter on a regular basis (i.e. coworkers knowing nothing of our personal lives, church members knowing nothing of our pet sins, neighbors not knowing of abusive behaviors, etc.), but I think the internet and its reach can allow us to build whole new personalities that are nothing at all like the people we really are.

I don't believe that most people are that deceptive, but the possibilities exist.
My Facebook friends list is pretty small and the list of friends that I actually follow is even smaller.
I'm often surprised at the people that I meet that tell me they read this blog because many people I know don't know that I write a blog.
And most that do know about it are not regular (if ever) readers of it.

I think that most of our relationships have become superficial. Maybe they've always been that way, but it seems to me that there was a time when people actually got to know one another.
Some people have good instincts about others and can make quick and accurate decisions about whether or not they want to invest time into building friendship relationships. Other have predetermined to be friends with everyone (because everyone wants to be friends with them) or friends with no one.

I think my people instincts are pretty good. I am rarely surprised by people's behavior. I suppose much of that is that I set expectations pretty low and tend to make allowances for our flawed human selves. I trust very few people and even those few would likely get passes for failure.
People are people and I am no better than anyone else when it comes to that.

Having said that, I do treasure the few close friends that I have.
If you are a social media friend, I also value our relationship and it would be nice to actually meet each other or to see each other again after the many years that have passed.
Perhaps, there are a few people out in the virtual world that would like to meet me, as well.
Perhaps, not.

Be well,
John <><

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Perhaps it has been far too long since I've posted about sharing my faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Last week was the Missouri Baptist State Evangelism conference and there will be two local conferences in the coming weeks.

Beginning March 11th, the Tricounty Baptist Association will host a number of evangelists for a Saturday through Tuesday conference. This will be the first time in a number of years that we (it's my home Association) have hosted such an event.
At the end of the month, March 25th-28th, I'll be back at the Pulaski Association Conference.

One of our local evangelist teams (husband and wife) writes and performs most of their own music.
The lyrics for one of their songs is "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."

In Christianity, the main thing should be sharing the teaching of Jesus.
We proclaim Jesus' command at the end of Matthew's gospel as the Great Commission and its instruction is that we make disciples; that we baptize them in the name of The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit; that we teach them to observe everything He has commanded.

He didn't command that we build bigger buildings, or have greater programs.
He didn't command that we hijack a political party or overtake a government.
He didn't command that we judge others or condemn them for their unbelief.
He simply commanded that we observe his commands and teach others to do the same.

Going to these conferences always has a way or reminding me of how poorly I am doing in fulfilling his commands. Like most followers, I tend to get caught up in living my life as if it were my life and often forget that I have given that over to Him.

So it is time to renew my commitment and refocus on what I need to be doing in Kingdom work. I'd like it if people would know that I am a follower of Jesus by how I act rather than because I've told them so.
Yikes! I've got a lot of work to do!

John <><

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Coffee Cake and Islam

Today was an interesting day.
For the past two days I have been at a conference sponsored by the Missouri Baptist Convention that focused on the Great Commission  -- to go and make disciples.

Today, Chris and I joined a couple of our friends and about a hundred other non-Muslim members of our community visiting the Islamic Center of Springfield to participate in their Coffee Cake and Islam event. The event was to introduce members of our community to Islam and to answer questions that people might have.

The initial part was a type of social mixer with guests helping themselves to coffee, tea and a number of pastries and desserts, while visiting with each other and a few of the members of the Muslim community. I was a little disappointed that more members of the community were not there to participate and converse with the many guests that came. In fact, it appeared the the event was a far greater success than they expected it to be.

The second part was a brief description of Islam and a little bit about living in the Springfield area as a follower of Islam. The presentations were given by an M.D. and a PhD that live and work in the area. Their presentations were followed by a question and answer period.

I enjoyed the event, was encouraged by the attendance and hope to continue to find strength in the diversity of our community and our country.
I spoke with a young Muslim man that arrived in the US in the fall of 2001, from Afghanistan. He had spent many months in preparing to come here and was scheduled to arrive in September of that fateful year. After 9/11, everything was paused for a number of weeks before he was able to enter the USA. He is now a US citizen and considers this to be his country.
Another young man arrived with his family as a young child.
A third is from Pakistan and is a student at MSU.

Overall, I'd say that more events like this are needed.
One of the messages of the evangelism conference was to build relationships with our neighbors and the the people that we meet. Participating in today's Islamic event was a beginning of building those relationships. I would love to find a 50 something year old Muslim man to build a relationship with so that I can learn about him and his beliefs. While I would not hesitate to share my beliefs, I would not do so unless he asked. I don't want the motives of my relationship to be proselytizing in nature, but rather to learn about the faith of my fellow countryman.
Perhaps I will find such a person.

We ended the day by having dinner and dessert with our friends and a great time of visiting.
I hope that you also had a wonderful Saturday.

I managed a short ride this morning (at 27f, -2.7c) and baseball is under way.
Life is good!

John <><

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Evangelism Conferences 2017

I'm going to a conference today -- The Missouri Baptist Great Commission Conference (formerly the Evangelism Conference).
The truth is -- I'd rather go riding!

I'll do a little of both in that I'll ride to the conference (which is only about 20 miles) and since Chris has dinner plans with friends, I'll get a little evening ride in before coming home. But 70 and sunny is going to make hanging around with a bunch of preachers pretty tough for this rebel. I have extreme doubts that I'll make it the full three days!

I have two local conferences in the next few weeks. One is in my home association so I get to sleep in my own bed every night. The other is about 90 miles away. If the weather is forecast to be nice, I'll ride again. Last year, I rode home from that conference in the rain. No biggie.

I'm not really sure why I go to these things. It's primarily for exposure, but so few churches still use evangelists for revivals and teaching that I'm not sure it's worth it. I guess that I could be better at marketing myself and get more bookings. Many of the full-time evangelists have regular bookings and are hard at it to fill their open weekends. I've been pretty passive in this area.

I've never had any real training on how to be a successful evangelist.
Heck, I've never had any training on how to be a preacher of any kind. I just preach the gospel as it is written.
I don't preach a lot about hell or judgement.
I don't preach doom and destruction.
I don't preach to make people afraid of a God of wrath.
I don't preach to make people afraid of God (period)
Maybe I don't get as many bookings because I'm boring.

Maybe I'll just spend more time on my motorcycle this year.
I do have several New Testament bibles in my saddlebags at all times and don't mind sharing the gospel on an individual basis, but I rarely stop riding long enough to converse with others. Maybe I just need to work on that part. It's not like I need the pay from going to meetings. God has already blessed us in the way of provisions.

Ugh!
Time to gear up for being with a bunch of people...

John <><