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 <><

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

President's Day

So President's Day in the US is over.
Apparently there were a number of "He's not my president" protests across the country.
To all of those that protested and to all of those that feel the same way, I've got news for you:
If you are living in the USA, Donald Trump is your president.

You may not have voted for him.
You may not like him as the president.
You may not like him at all.
But he is still our president.

I have been (and will most likely continue to be) very critical of him. I do not think he is representing our country well and he continues to act like a bully or a spoiled brat that throws a little temper tantrum when someone is critical of him or disagrees with him. Even members of his own party are wondering what to do about him. They finally have someone in the White House that will sign their legislation and they are not sure that it is worth the price of having to put up with his petulant ways.

The reason I started on this line of thought was over a comment I made to Chris last night.
I mentioned someone that I thought should run for Congress to replace our local representative.
Her response was, "Why don't you run against him?"

I only know a few people that have had any kind of political aspirations. I know of several that I would like to see run for office. I am not one of them -- on either count.

Truthfully, as a politician, I don't believe that I could gather much support. I'm too middle of the road -- far too conservative for most Democrats, and much too liberal for most Republicans.
I think there is a chance that I'd make a good politician, but I doubt that I'd like John-the-politician very much. I'm afraid I'd have to let Ugly John out of the dungeon where he is locked away and I already know that nobody likes Ugly John.

To be sure --
this isn't a post about whether or not I should run for office.
But I am curious -- Who has had (or currently has) an interest in running for public office -- any public office? And why?

Just wondering...

John <><

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Another Lunch Stop

I've discovered Chris' way of getting rid of me for the day.
Friday night she asked, "Are you going to go for a ride tomorrow? It's supposed to be nice."
I turns out that she wanted to go shopping for furniture and would rather take a friend than go with me.

So I rode.

Yesterday was a nice, easy ride.
94.3 miles according to My Tracks, the app I use when I remember to track a ride.
I stopped at the halfway point for gas and a soda and decided to treat my self to a gas station hotdog, as well. The scenery along highway 14 between Ava and Ozark is beautiful.



Thursday's ride was in the other direction, but I didn't track it.
Mid-afternoon found me near Aurora MO so I stopped in at Bootleggers for a late lunch.
I ordered the hand breaded pork tenderloin sandwich and skipped the fries to try the Santa Fe Steak and Bean soup.
Oh My! The soup was excellent! It was sort of a cross between chili and soup. The rich, dark broth was well seasoned like a mild chili. It wasn't as packed with meat and beans like you would want a chili to be, but had just the right amount of each to make a hearty bowl of soup. I'd go back just for the soup!
Now I should say that I am a fan of fried pork tenderloin sandwiches. This one was better than average, but not a "great-you-gotta-order-it" kind of sandwich. I think the thing that made it more average was that it needed to rest (or drain) just a little bit longer. I know there is a fine line between letting prepared meat rest long enough and serving it it warm, but this was just a little greasy still and was plenty hot. The thing that made it better than average was the freshly baked bun!
I asked the server if the bun was homemade and she said they bake them every morning!

The atmosphere at Bootleggers is pretty cool, It's in an old bank building and still has some of the features of the original building.

I'm sure that I'll be back to try other menu items as I make my way through rural Missouri on my motorcycle. I'll probably even have the tenderloin again. As is said, it is a better than average sandwich.

It was mid-afternoon and it was relatively empty, but the service was fast and friendly and the server was able to easily answer questions about the menu. If you are in the vicinity, you should definitely make the stop.

Yesterday, I ran across this article online.
Mike, it looks like I'll be making a few lunch runs to St Louis this summer!

Bon Appetit!

John <><

btw -- It looks like we're getting new living room furniture.



Friday, February 17, 2017

Simple Pleasures

I'm not much of a host.
Chris does a pretty good job as a hostess, but gets a little stressed over things like the house being clean enough (it never is), the grass being cut, everything being perfect -- to really enjoy having people over.

Last night we invited some friends over for a simple meal.
The house was just cleaned on Wednesday and I was taking care of meal prep and clean up.
There was a minor incident of knocking a jar of salsa out of the refrigerator right before guests arrived that upped the stress level (glass and salsa all over the clean kitchen floor), but we managed most of the clean up in time and were just finishing up as they arrived.

The time really sailed by quickly!
It had been a long time since we have had the chance to visit and much has been happening in each of our lives that the conversation never lagged.

Maybe we need to do this kind of thing more often.

I'll be open about my fears of hosting people. Most of them have to do with my anti-social, introverted tendencies.

Although I want things to go smoothly and for the food to turn out well, I don't really worry about that kind of stuff. There are other things that stress an introvert.
In my head ('cause I'd never say it out loud) I'm wondering how long they are going to stay and if we going to have to play games or something.
With one couple (like last night), things are pretty easy. When you have a larger group, people tend to break into several smaller conversations and (if I'm the host) I feel like I need to make sure that everyone is engaged and nobody is left out.
I don't really enjoy small talk. I can engage in it and feel comfortable with most any subject, I just can't say that I really enjoy it.

Our company last night was easy.
The couple relationship is a little different in that I worked with the woman in the other couple and we became friends over the many years of working together. Even though we had met each other's spouses, we never really did anything together as couples until after we retired. Neither of us was much for socializing with co-workers before we retired (me, much less than her). She gets along well with Chris and I get along well with her husband. Both are easy to talk to, but we do stay away from politics. In spite of having much in common on many core values, our political views are quite different.
There was plenty to talk about with our kids and health issues and just catching up on life.
The night went by way too fast and they were called away a little early.

I'm calling it a good night and sharing this as a Good Friday post.
What is something good in your world?

John <><

Another thought:
Maybe I need to brush up on my people skills a bit and have people over more often.
Eh ... maybe not.
We'll see.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Dining out; food reviews

Yesterday I mentioned that I had a breakfast meeting and went out for lunch. It turns out that we also went out for dinner.
So this morning I thought I'd give a quick review of my food experiences from yesterday.

The breakfast meet was at a little cafe in the downtown Branson area. Clocker's Cafe is a pretty typical breakfast cafe. Their main thing is breakfast, but they remain open for lunch and then close mid afternoon. For every other meeting that we've had here, I've ordered oatmeal and a side of patty sausage. Yesterday I broke with the normal order and went a little off menu for my breakfast.
I ordered a BLT with a fried egg, over hard.

This little breakfast gem is something I discovered while on vacation in the Dominican Republic. Each morning, I would make my way through the breakfast buffet by slicing a couple of pieces of whatever bread caught my eye at the bread station, getting lettuce, tomato and mayo from the salad bar, and heaping bacon and a fried egg (sometimes two) from the grill.
I know, it's a little out of the breakfast box, but you're probably thinking -- "That sounds really good!"

And Clocker's did a fine job, too!
The first thing I noticed was the bright green leaf lettuce and the contrasting orange tomato. Paula Dean says you eat with your eyes first! As the waitress set my plate in front of me, the guy next to me commented, "That looks good!"
It was!
On the down side, they set a couple of little packs of Kraft Mayo on the table rather than putting the mayo on the sandwich. It's a little pet peeve of mine. If I wanted to fix my own sandwich, I'd have stayed at home.

Also, the coffee at Clocker's is mediocre, at best.
It's not bad, but it's also not good.
In my mind, if you're going to have a breakfast place you should have exceptionally good coffee!

My lunch sandwich was at Old Chicago in Springfield.
I had the 50/50 Burger -- a burger patty that was half ground sirloin and half ground hickory smoked bacon.
It was a good burger. The flavor was unique, but (as you can probably guess) it was a little greasier than a normal burger -- not excessively so, but a little heavy on the stomach. Also, in contrast to the morning breakfast sandwich, this had a couple of pale green pieces of iceberg lettuce.
Ugh! I suppose that I may be in the minority when it comes to such things, but iceberg lettuce does not belong on a restaurant sandwich! It doesn't look good and it adds no flavor!
Please! Save it for the salad bar if you must, but DO NOT put it on your sandwiches -- EVER!

Dinner was at an old familiar place -- Olive Garden.
The pre-dinner conversation went something like this:
Me: Are you cooking dinner tonight?
Chris: We have that card.
Me: What card?
Chris: That get-out-of-jail-free-I-don't-feel-like-cooking gift card.

Sure enough, we had a $25 gift card to Darden restaurants. The selection of Darden restaurants in Springfield include Longhorn Steakhouse, Red Lobster and Olive Garden. We ended up at Olive Garden.

It had been some time since we've been there and the decor and menu had changed a little.
They now have these little electronic gadgets on the table so that you can order appetizers and desserts, play games (for a fee) and pay your bill. I guess it's perfect if you don't want to talk to your server or the person that you came with and prefer to pay to play games instead of playing the games already on your phone!
Personally, I thought about switching the devices with another table and then ordering food for their table and watching their faces when the server started bringing several appetizers they hadn't ordered!

Overall, the Olive Garden experience was what you would expect. Prices have gone up considerably since our last visit. You still get salad and bread sticks. And they had added a few new items to their menu. We split an entree, ordered the extra salad, had dessert and ended up paying about what we normally spend on dinner out, even after using the gift card.

Tonight it's pork fried rice at the Ozark Hill's and we're having friends over.
I hope they enjoy this meal as much as we do.

Bon Appetit!

John <><

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I'd rather be riding...

It was pretty chilly this morning as I headed out to a morning breakfast meeting -- just a mere 1 degree above freezing. It was only a 30 mile ride and the sun was going to be rising soon, so I just dressed appropriately, left the car in the driveway and hopped on the motorcycle. By the time breakfast was over, it was all the way up to 36f (2.2c)!

After a brief stop at home, it was back on the road to a doctor's appointment for Chris. Since she is meeting friends for lunch, she drove her car and I rode the bike. She is off to her lunch and I am killing some time and waiting on lunch at Old Chicago. I'm going with the 50/50 burger. It's half ground sirloin and half ground hickory smoked bacon!

It's up to 42f (5.5c) and on it's way to 50 (10)!
After lunch, I think I'll enjoy a short ride before heading home!

I want to say a few words about this morning's meeting. It is an accountability group for the Baptist Student Union (BSU) director at the College of the Ozarks. The group was his idea and we meet about once a quarter and he keeps us up to date on the activities of the ministry on campus. I have to say that I am truly impressed with the ministry and discipleship that takes place on campus. I need to make plans to join their Monday night gathering some week. Try to imagine 200+ college students sitting on the floor to hear biblical teaching at 9PM on a school night!
...And it happens every week!
It is quite uplifting to hear of the work being done and the lives being touched.
I consider it an honor to be able to offer prayer and encouragement to this young man.

I have to admit that I feel a little out of place on this committee. One of the guys that met with us this morning is in the pre-dissertation phase of his doctorate degree and the other two have their PhDs. I'm not sure about the other two guys on the committee, but I believe one has his doctorate and the other at least has his undergraduate degree. I have "some college."

I suppose that I could make good use of my time by going back to school and getting an education of some sort ... but it's not like I'm looking for a second career or anything.
And besides, I'd rather be riding!

Face it, a guy that will get up before the sun and ride in February when it's freezing out, would rather be riding than just about anything! On my way home, I will top the 15,000 mile mark since buying my motorcycle 50 weeks ago. My 2006 Vulcan 900 Classic only had 18,780 miles on it when I bought it. That's 18,000+ miles in ten years vs 15,000+ miles in one year.

The sun is shining.
The road is waiting.
Be well,

John <><

Monday, February 13, 2017

#readyforspring

I know that spring is still more than a month away, but the calendar isn't important right now.
First of all, the weather in the Ozarks has been wonderful! It made it up to 81f (27.2c) over the weekend.

I didn't really get out to ride my motorcycle this weekend. I did ride it when I had to be somewhere and managed a relatively short pleasure ride (less than 50 miles) Sunday afternoon while Chris was napping. I saw quite a few bikers out and know of many that took advantage of the sunshine and warm weather to dust off the motorcycles and enjoy the wind.

One of the advantages of being retired is being able to enjoy the road while everyone else is at work! I imagine that MO125 had quite a bit of traffic on Saturday. Today was considerably cooler than Saturday's temps (50-55f or 10-12.8c), but still sunny and pretty nice for a ride. On the 60+ mile length of MO125 I only encountered a dozen or so northbound vehicles and didn't see a single southbound vehicle ahead of me nor in my mirrors the entire trip. Two trucks eventually pulled up as I was waiting on the ferry to cross Bull Shoals Lake.

Here's a pic from the ferry as we are crossing the lake.



I made use of my new bluetooth headset to listen to some music for the first 70 miles or so, but turned it off at the ferry and rode the second half of the trip listening to the wind and enjoying the view. On another day, I might have stopped somewhere for a snack and a soda. Today, I was happy to just ride. The total trip was about 145 miles with nice curves and hills (and beautiful scenery) for the first 110 miles or so. The last stretch was straight with some hills as I used US65 from Omaha AR to home.

It's raining now (11pm) and I'm hoping that it stops by morning. I need to go into Springfield in the morning and will ride the bike if it's dry. It will only be about 40f (4.4c) but that'll be warm enough if it's dry.

And...
It's baseball season again!
Spring training camps are open and players are getting ready for the season.
I. Am. Ready!

John <><

Stephen Miller -- a little evidence, please!

I don't know if you have watched any of the several Sunday morning political shows that featured White House advisor Stephen Miller. If you are a political junkie at all, you have certainly seen clips of his interviews and heard commentary from many of the Monday morning shows or social media outlets. (You can do your own Google search to find them.)

Mr. Miller made and repeated many of the White House claims, but offered no evidence to support them.

Repeating a lie
Saying it louder
Talking over the interviewer
Claiming it to be a fact
Distracting from the question by making unrelated claims (real or falsified)

These things are not evidence and do not make something more true nor less false.
Even Fox News' Chris Wallace seemed to have a hard time making sense of Mr Miller's non-answers at times.

If anybody has evidence to support the claims of massive voter fraud (in any state), inappropriate judicial reach, or any of his other claims -- please let me know!

John <><

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!

I have been through phases where I have shared many political and controversial posts and I have been through phases where I have deliberately refrained from such posts.

I have seen overall readership drop drastically from sharing political posts and I have had some of my most read/shared posts be the more controversial ones.

I'm to the point that I don't want to offend people nor misrepresent people by putting them into boxes of my choosing (I've been put into the wrong box many times), but I am  also to the point of not being willing to be silent in the face of outright lies and misinformation.

We now live in a society (in the USA) where alternative facts, outright lies, and political spin are the norm and have been accepted by many as the truth. It seems that politicians and news outlets are exempt from telling the truth if lies will produce votes or viewers. Even religious leaders have fallen into the category of those that spread lies for personal fame.
NO MORE!

It is way past the time for us to call fake news and alternative facts what they really are -- LIES!
And it is time for us to call those that spread this misinformation what they really are -- LIARS!

I know that it once was a huge offense to be labeled as a liar.
There was once a greater burden of proof put on the one calling the liar a liar than there was on the person telling the lie. The person calling out a liar was the one forced to defend their claim rather than the liar being faced with the truth.

I'm okay with that!

I am tired of being lied to by politicians and the news media.
I will call out lies where ever I find them.
And I will share them here at Out of My Hat.

You will find a new label Liar! Liar!
If you have a news story or political statement that is fake or a lie, you can submit it for exposure. Send me the story and the real truth (gospelmagic@gmail,com) and I will check it out and expose it.
Liars need to be called liars!

Let's put an end to fake news and alternative facts.

Yeah, I'm a little ticked off.
Care to join me?

John <><


Friday, February 10, 2017

Another Good Friday!

Tell me something good!

Wednesday was our first trip to the chemo therapy treatment center for Chris' treatment.
It was a little overwhelming.
I suppose that one gets used to the large room, filled with patients and their family or friends that accompany them, but for a first timer, that only adds to the stress.

This post isn't to bore you with the details of our day, but to talk about the staff at the cancer treatment center.
They were so upbeat and encouraging to everyone there!

I think that it would be difficult to work in a place where everybody that you serve is fighting for their life -- and not all of them are winning. It would be so easy to become very clinical about your work and disengage from the patients as people.
But it wasn't like that. They were friendly and went about their tasks with both efficiency and encouragement. We were fortunate that there was a nursing student there for the day that used to work with Chris. She stopped by a couple of times to talk to Chris, spent a few minutes of her lunch break with us and came around to say good-bye and wish her well before she left for the day.

There is one young woman that works just to see to the non-medical needs of the patients. She gets blankets, pillows, soft drinks, coffee, snacks -- whatever they might need. She has an infectious smile and moves about the room making sure that everyone is comfortable. She is even pretty quick with the barf bucket when that is what's needed (yeah, we got to see that, too).

So this Good Friday shout out is to the entire staff at the Hulston Cancer Center in Springfield MO.
Thank you for your kindness and encouragement to people that are facing the battle of their lives. You manage to maintain your professional service with a very personal touch.
Good on you!

Hey! What's good in your world?

John <><

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Notes from poolside

It's Saturday and our final day in Punta Cana. Tomorrow we'll sleep in, have a late breakfast and leave for the airport and our return flight to St. Louis.

In the US we have Italian restaurants, Japanese, restaurants, Mexican, Thai, Indian, ... pretty much anything you can think of in the way of international cuisine. Last fall I asked our Canadian friends why there are no Canadian restaurants and was told that it was probably because they eat the same kinds of food that we do.

There are also no Dominican restaurants, nor is there a specific Dominican cuisine. Here in the Dominican Republic, we are told the the standard meal is rice, beans, and chicken. When we were here a couple of years ago, one of our guides said that his mother often provided variety by preparing beans, chicken, and rice!

The country is poor by US standards. Resort employees work long hours and six days per week for the equivalent of about $187 US dollars per month. The lowest 3% in the Dominican earn less than $2k per year and the upper 2% only average around $70k/yr in US dollars.
The Dominicans love having US tourists because we are in the habit of tipping (even though it is not required at the all-inclusive resorts). For many of their other international guest, tipping isn't as much of a habit.

While we were shopping, one vendor greeted us by saying, "You're Americans!"
Chris' blonde hair and fair skin may have been the give-away, but he said it was because we were smiling and friendly. He said that Americans (and I think he meant US citizens) are the most friendly (and generous) tourists and began to give us his rundown of the different nationalities and how they treated the Dominican vendors. We asked how he felt about Canadians and he said they are also very friendly -- except the ones from Quebec. They are too much like the French. (I guess that's not a good thing!)

This has been a good week for us. Real life hits hard next week as Chris begins her chemo therapy. A few days before Christmas, Chris had a bilateral mastectomy and has been recovering through the holidays and the early weeks of 2017. We will be home on Sunday night, have Monday to do laundry and restock our pantry, surgery for her port is Tuesday and her first 6 hour chemo treatment is on Wednesday.

I doubt that I'll be posting tomorrow. Until I post again -- smile, be friendly.

By the way, February (the shortest month) is the month of the international haiku challenge. The challenge is to write a haiku each day. I missed Feb 1. You can follow the rest of mine on Twitter.
Here's a bonus haiku to make up for the one I missed.

Listen to the waves
Repeatedly slap the beach.
Peace to you, my friends.

John <><


Thursday, February 02, 2017

Morning Sun and Riu Palace Punta Cana

I'm spending another morning poolside and waiting for Chris.
To be fair, she is generally still awake and reading long after I've gone to sleep.
And I'm more of a morning person than she is.

I thought I'd write a little bit about the Riu Palace Punta Cana.
I've been using the full name because there are 5 different Riu resorts on this complex.
This resort has a little bit of age to it, but it is well maintained. Actual door keys and keys to the in room safe are a telltale sign that it was built quite some time ago. Having to keep track of keys and keep them safe while on the beach or in the pool is a bit of a pain.
Also, only one pool is a little unusual for a resort this size.

The ocean here (Atlantic) is relatively calm and so it may be that more guests opt for the ocean than the pool. We are on the north side of the eastern point of the Dominican Republic. The resorts on the south side of the point are on the Caribbean Ocean.

The resort staff is very good.
If you are looking for a Dominican resort that has everything you need and aren't looking to be able to walk into the town or city, I'd recommend it. It was a $30 roundtrip taxi fare for us to ride the few miles to the nearest shopping center. The fare seemed a little high, but with gas at close to $2 per liter ...

The evening specialty restaurants have been good and reservations are not required.
There are five.
The first night we went to a French restaurant. I had a sea bass dish that was quite tasty! I don't know how authentic it was to a true French establishment, but since the Italian place didn't seem like a traditional Italian restaurant...
In any case, both were wonderful dining experiences.

The Japanese restaurant was also good. I can honestly say that I don't remember what I ordered, only that I enjoyed it.

The Brazilian restaurant (How many are in a brazilian?) had a salad bar to start with and a dessert bar to finish. In between the two, they came around with the traditional meat skewers. They also brought a sizzling skillet of fried potatoes, onions and bacon wrapped banana.

I don't know if we will return to one of these tonight or go to the one remaining specialty restaurant -- the steakhouse. I like steak, but let's face it -- we live in cattle country! I doubt they will have better cuts of steak than are found in Southwest Missouri.
Perhaps, we'll see.

Now to struggle through the day trying to find the balance between sun and shade, activity and rest, and the need to stay properly hydrated.

John <><


Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Another beautiful day in the Dominican Republic

I am relaxing poolside this morning. I've already had my coffee and a light breakfast and am just waiting for Chris to come down and begin this 1st day of February.

Traveling at the end of January means that most of our resort (and the other resorts, as well) are populated with retired couples and relatively few DINKs or couples with younger than school age kids. There are a few multi-generational families here -- parents, kids, grandkids.

Yesterday's shopping trip was a success! We bought coffee beans, some jewelry, the island elixir -- Mama Juana, and -- of course cigars!
I found the shop that I visited a couple of years ago and made another small purchase of good, hand rolled cigars. Another shop that we visited, had some pretty good cigars as well, but I had already spent more than I would normally spend on cigars. No worries, he had me light one up to enjoy while Chris shopped! We ended up with coffee (it's the first place I found with whole bean coffee), some Mama Juana (which is considered medicinal, not alcoholic) and he threw in a couple of the cigars to boot!

We had lunch and called our cab for the return to our resort.

********

It is now evening on Wednesday and we are getting ready for dinner.
Today has been brutal!
We moved from our lounge chairs to the pool and back to the lounge chairs several times, trying to find the right balance between sun and shade, resting and activity. At some point, we managed a nice walk along the beach, but were forced to retire to our room to nap and rest before dinner.

The service at the Riu Palace Punta Cana has been very good. It is better than I remember the service on our previous trip to the Dominican. Surprisingly, it appears that Chris is going to pass on a spa day. She says she'll wait until we get home and she is in need of one (which will be before the week is out, I'm sure)!

I'd best shave my face to get ready for dinner.
It's not much, but it is the least I can do to try to look good enough to be in the company of such a pretty woman!

Hasta la vista, baby!

John <><

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Buenas dias from Punta Cana!

It is a sunny morning and it looks to be another beautiful day in paradise!

I think a little walking and shopping is on the agenda for today.
And I'm pretty sure that we will manage a little beach time -- but not more than several hours!

Regardless of the weather where you are, I trust that today will be a good day for you, as well.

Still no phone.
I just remembered that my old Galaxy 4 is somewhere at home. I may be stepping back to it rather than spending money on a new phone.
Sacrebleu!

No worries.
The sun is shining.
I've had my coffee.
It is time to enjoy the day!

John <><

Monday, January 30, 2017

Punta Cana

Winding down the first full day in our little beachfront paradise. We are relaxing in the main bar/lobby area and just finished playing some cards.

Wi-fi is spotty in the room so we are using a few minutes to catch up on what we might have missed during the day. Apparently the rest of the world gets along well without me! While we were sleeping by the pool, while we were walking on the beach (a nice long walk), while we were playing in the ocean -- the rest of the world managed without us.
And we managed just fine without any of the social media posts, too!

In less than a day, I managed to lose my cell phone--TWICE!
Unfortunately, I only found it once. Since no kind soul has turned it in yet, I'm not really expecting that will happen. We have notified our cell provider and I guess I'll be looking for a new phone when we get back.

Sacrebleu!

We have been people watching. Maybe we will spend some time giving people stories for their lives like we did last fall when we were at Niagara Falls.
Or maybe not. That takes a lot of imagination and I think I'd rather not think that hard.

So far, this little break from the difficult life of retirement living is suiting me quite well. I'd post a pic or two but ... no phone and that is my photo taking device!
Oh, well ... not gonna sweat it.
I'm just gonna relax until it's time to worry about it.

John <><


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sometimes, life's a beach!

We have arrived safely in Punta Cana!
It seemed like a long travel day, perhaps aided by the fact that I didn't sleep much last night.
But we arrived after an uneventful flight (the best kind) and a 30 minute van ride to the resort.

We are at the Riu Palace Punta Cana and it is a pretty huge complex. I think there are five different Riu resorts that are all adjacent to one another. There won't be any short walks to town from this place!
I have to say that I like being able to walk off the resort and be right in the shops of the local community. That isn't going to happen on this trip. We may go off property for an excursion -- the one we took last time was very enjoyable. The beach here is wonderful and I'm not sure I want to pay for an excursion that will take us to another wonderful beach, but we will see.

I don't have any pictures to share just yet. So far, all we've done is grab a light lunch, nap by the pool, and walk along the beach. (Actually, I spent a few moments in the ocean!) Now we are getting ready to go to dinner.

It was 35f (1.6c) and overcast when we left Missouri this morning and 82f (29.4c) and sunny when we arrived in the Dominican Republic this afternoon. I think I'm going to enjoy this week.

John <><

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Travel Time!

It is time for another journey to a sunny beach!
Well, almost time.

Later today we will make the drive to St Louis where we will overnight before our morning flight to our beach destination of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The drive to St Louis is a bit of a pain but the non-stop flight and the cheaper fare obviously makes it worthwhile if you have the time...and we do. Plus it's like you get an extra day on your travels.
As usual, a friend will be house sitting and taking care of the critters while we're gone.

I hope to post some pics on Instagram and write about our trip here, at Out of My Hat.
Since our resort will have free wifi, we decided to skip the additional charge of expanding our cell coverage for data and texts and will use the internet for any necessary communication. If this trip is like others, I will have some time quiet time in the morning to enjoy coffee, a light breakfast, and time to write or browse the internet before Chris gets up and joins me for breakfast and a day of lounging by the pool or ocean.

I still plan to complete my 3000 squat/1000 push up challenge for January and to get started on my February exercise challenge. More on that in a few days.

Passport -- check
swim suit & flipflops -- check
sunglasses -- check

I'm ready to go!

John <><

Friday, January 27, 2017

Tell me something good...

Hey, how about a Good Friday post?

Tell me something good!

I'll go first.
I was getting my hair cut today and had the opportunity to talk to my young barber about going to church. From previous conversations, I already knew that he is a follower of Jesus, but life has separated him from the church he used to attend and a bit from Jesus on a more personal scale.
I think the thing that made it a kind of cool conversation was that he was the one to bring it up.

In any case, getting to talk about Jesus, His life, and how it impacts our lives is always a good thing in my way of thinking.

Hmmm...a real conversation with someone other than Chris.
And that's a good thing!

How about you?
Any good news for this Friday?

John <><

Building Walls -- not a political post

I have mentioned on social networks that I'm glad that our upcoming vacation is not to one of our normal Mexican beach spots. I love going to Mexico, but in the current political climate I am glad that we are going to another beach destination.

It's funny how we can look at the actions of others and be so disgusted by their behaviors even if we often have similar behaviors and can't see the poor character in ourselves.

If you've been reading Out of My Hat for very long, you know that I am an introvert and happy to live life with little actual contact with other people. Days that I have no contact with anyone other than Chris are the norm and I am okay with that. In fact, I prefer it. Many days, my additional contacts might be as simple as paying for a cup of coffee or an afternoon snack and drink while out riding my motorcycle.

Wanting to be alone isn't a bad thing.
Building walls to stay that way -- hmmm, not so sure about that.

We all have our own set of rules about whom we choose to allow into our days and our lives. (We may not think of them as rules, but in a sense, they really are.)
Some of us may be more gentle and polite in our declining to be friends with others, while others of us my be outright rude about it.
And some of us build walls.

We may build walls with intent and build them strong and high.
Or we may build them slowly -- unknowingly adding bricks or stones a little at a time.
Sure -- walls can protect, but there is also a downside to building walls.
And there are plenty of intermediate solutions before we get to the full on isolation of living within the walls that we have built.

Hmmm,
I've got some reflecting to do.
At least I'll have a nice beach (and no walls) where I can do it!

John <><

Monday, January 23, 2017

Tough Love

Our Sunday School lesson this past Sunday was on tough love.
Ordinarily, when one hears the phrase "tough love" we tend to think of discipline that is borne out of love -- a parent teaching a child a hard lesson in order to keep them from a greater harm or hardship.

That's pretty much where the lesson went. It was from the Old Testament Book of Judges where Israel cycles through many cases of falling away from God and God bringing about discipline that brought them back to him.

When I think of "tough love," I tend to think of God's love for us in a little bit different way.
His love is tough love -- not because of the discipline that teaches us necessary lessons, but because He keeps loving us even when we are unlovable!
That's some serious love!

And it is a love that we have a very difficult time with.
We tend to love people that love us back. In fact, reciprocal love is often a condition for our continued love. It's not that way with God.
He loves us (period)

Two of my favorite quotes are found in one of Philip Yancy's books. (I think What's So Amazing About Grace, but I'm not certain.)
The first goes something like this -- "There is nothing we can do that would make God love us less."
The second is similar and very eye opening -- "There is nothing we can do that would make God love us more."

Wow! We don't have to serve Him, honor Him, worship Him -- in order to get Him to love us!
He already loves us as much as He possibly can!
We serve Him, honor Him, worship Him -- in order to demonstrate our love for Him.

I take great comfort in both of these two statements. I'm glad that my mistakes don't cause God to love me less -- because I tend to make a lot of mistakes. It would be cool if the good things made God love me more, but the truth is, if weighed out side by side -- well, I'm not sure I want to go there.

If I were to make an honest assessment of myself, I suppose I would have to say I'm probably not a very lovable person. I think that for a time I might be able to curry favor with a few people that are close to me. They may even make some allowances for my many faults. But in the end, we humans tend to base our love for others on how they love us in return.
We tend to love people more when they are good to us and less when that are not.
(sigh) Like I said, I'm not very lovable.
Maybe, that is why love is so hard.

I'm glad that God doesn't work that way, and I'm trying to learn from the lessons that He teaches me -- but love is tough, and I am a slow learner.

It appears that God has decided that He loves me and nothing I do is going to change His mind.
Maybe that's how we should love -- once you make a decision to love someone, let nothing change your mind. You have decided that you love them (period)

By the way, God has decided that He loves you, too!
He sent His Son Jesus to die for you!

John <><