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 <><