Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Family Dispersed

Here's what's been happening lately...

Over one week ago, my little girl boarded a BIG bus....

... withOUT her family...

...and rode away into a BIG world...
Her destination?

Gunnison, Colorado and "The Great Escape". 

Ab, for some reason, has yearned to go to Colorado for a couple of years now (I think it has something to do with the fact that she goes to sleep most nights listening to Focus on the Family's "Adventures in Odyssey", with studios in Colorado). 

The Great Escape is a huge annual event at our church - the Director of Student Ministries attended when he was in middle school.  It is something of a rite of passage.  It promised to be a truly great adventure of both spiritual and life-building significance.
I am very proud of the passion and sense of adventure that Ab possesses, and think it is neat to see her setting and achieving goals.  This is a trait that I so admire in her Mom as well.

But I miss my little girl and am looking forward to her return this weekend!

AA has also missed his sister (though he doesn't admit it), so in an effort to "kill multiple birds with one stone", Mom suggested that he and I start a Father's Day Camping tradition.

R. knows that I am a sucker for traditions.

We have bumped our vacation plans to later in the year and I need a get-a-way of some sort now.  I had been rolling some plans around in my head that included camping.  I think R. saw her proposal as a means of satisfying - temporarily- my wanderlust; providing a distraction for me on the first Father's Day after losing Dad; an opportunity for AA to enjoy some adventure in his sister's absence; and most importantly - it was an opportunity for her to once again avoid getting roped into a camping trip.

As I see it, R. figures I have one camping experience - two at the most - in me, annually.  Her goal (and she's pretty good about meeting them) is to just determine out how best to avoid them.

So after clumsily planning and packing and preparing, AA and I finally ended up at "Sloppy" Floyd State Park for a one night excursion.

The kick off to our Camping Adventure was hampered by several factors:
  • deciding where we would go (it is not easy to find a spot in the middle of a summer weekend without reservations)
  • navigating the labyrinth of bureaucratic procedures for just figuring out if a spot is available and then obtaining it.  For instance, at one facility we were under the impression that we had to purchase a Parking Pass in order to enter the park to find out if they had a spot. They had an automated system for purchasing the passes but the machine did not give change. So we had to find a "trading post" where I purchased an onion with a twenty dollar bill in order to get change.  From there we proceeded to pay our five dollars only to learn afterward that there were no desirable vacancies (there was one spot next to the restroom - convenient but not peaceful).
  • After much prayer - and frustration - we made it to "Sloppy" Floyd State Park where I was pleasantly surprised to find an attendant with a servant attitude and a welath of information. 
  • We arrived at our spot - about the time a thunderstorm struck.
  • After the storm and two trips into the nearby town to pick up supplies we forgot (or left in the refrigerator at home) we were finally ready to build a fire and start supper.

Like the first day of any excursion we have every made as a family - our first evening was rather tense.

All the aggravation and stress can sometimes be a part of the adventure itself and our weekend turned out to be a very good one.
So now we find ourselves in another weekend - this time we are anticipating Ab's return and the gathering together again of our scattered little family.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Stark Difference

One of the foundational principles I have tried to  adhere to with this blog is to avoid posting things I would not want my children to read.  I want it to be safe.

For that reason, I will not be very explicit in the details surrounding all the recent news of Democrat Representative, Anthony Wiener.  Suffice it to say, he admitted to privately sending a number of inappropriate photos to women other than his wife over social media; and further admitted lying about when he accidentally posted one of those photos publicly.

Surprisingly, after his tearful admission yesterday Weiner announced that he would not be stepping down.

My point for even bringing this up is for those that constantly bemoan our political system and say that there is "not a dime's worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats".

There is.

And this case perfectly illustrates it.

How many Republicans can you think of that have been embroiled in scandal and finally admitted that allegations against them were true ... are still in office?

I can't think of any.

Republicans - while being at times fallible like the rest of us - tend to do the honorable thing.  They follow the concepts laid out by the founders and let go of power.

Democrats it seems - just can't let go.

When it comes down to it.  They will admit their failures and deceit, but they won't step down.

It is not because they are public servants; it is because - I'm afraid - they love the power.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Biking Sensations

Biking is fun again this year.

I think it was last summer that my enjoyment for riding my bicycle seemed to wane.

This year I have a new bike... it's a mountain bike.  It has a little more suspension than my old bike and balloonier tires.

I am enjoying the ride - off and on the rode.  As I mentioned in other posts, my approach to biking is different from a lot of folks:  I enjoy the speed of down hill coasting, but I am really in it to take in all the sights and sounds around me.

For this post, I thought I would list some of the sensations I have enjoyed lately:
  • The thrill of spotting a Red-Winged Blackbird  lighting on a pasture fence post; surrounded by the scent of freshly mowed hay and the fading sunlight of a warm Spring day....
  • On that same day, in the same pasture that is bordered by a little country road, I looked across the pasture, just in time to see a half dozen deer bounding across the crest of the field.  Like waves rolling backwards - their raised white fluffy tails forming the trailing whitecaps.
  • At the end of a very hot day, where two roads intersected, I caught the faint scent of hot tar:  the kind that used to form little gooey gelatin-like puddles, on a similar intersection near my childhood home in Cedartown.  That fleeting aroma brought to mind hot summer afternoons riding our bikes in criss-crossing figure eight patterns and sifting through the finely ground pebbles at that sleepy intersection in search of the mysterious "rock-glass".  I also remember a blue bathing suit I had that forever bore the tell-tale sign of my having sat in one of those hot tar puddles.
  • One evening recently, I rounded the corner of a wooded trail at a fast pace - just in time to scare up a wad of unsuspecting turkeys.  Their wings can sound monstrous in such a situation.
  • I believe it was the same evening as I sped through a spot where the trail presents a somewhat smooth downhill grade through the woods and then out onto a meadow trail, my horizon was suddenly darkened by the figure of a fleeing deer as she leaped across the path clearing a fence and springing out of sight. They seem a lot bigger when they are that close and moving that fast!
  • The stale smell of grass that has been cut and left to dry out in the sun can quickly send me back to our neighborhood football games in Morristown, Tennessee.  There was a vacant lot across the street from my house, pretty much the entire neighborhood would gather there often. Apparently it belonged to the couple that lived in an adjoining home.  I suppose they kept the grass cut regularly, but I never remember them telling us to get off their property.
For some folks, bicycling is serious business:  they have the proper gear.  But for me - just think what I would have missed if all I heard was my latest downloads on my MP3 player, or all I saw was my odometer or just the road ahead of me.

Gospel Summer

We are trying something new with our family devotions this summer.

We started these Sunday nite events about 5 1/2 years ago.  We are not always consistent. Sometimes devotions have quickly gone South with terse words or abrupt endings.  Sometimes they have been on the mark!

Last year went through the" Westminster Shorter Catechism"  ... because of my clumsy way of presenting it - I think it became stale at times but we got through it.

This summer, we hit upon the idea of having a "Gospel Summer".   This was partly inspired by the Emmaus Project Sunday school class R. and I attended earlier this year. In it we learned some new ways to approach the study and the teaching process.   It involves consideration of the audience, the scene changes, the repetition of terms or concepts and the like.

Our plan is to each take a Gospel with a plan for reading a few chapters each week and then explaining what we've read on Sunday nites.

Matthew was written primarily to a Jewish audience and he tied most everything to the Law or to Jewish history.  Ab, who is very concrete in her view of things - its either black or white with her... very little room for grey; she was assigned this book.

Mark was possibly written by John-Mark the youth that accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (apparently he also abandoned the party mid trip).  This book was written to a Roman audience, so it is direct and to the point.  There is a lot of action in this book and he doesn't sweat the details; so it went to AA.  He, too is not big on details and if we are watching a movie and there is not a lot of continual action... AA is up pacing or talking or out of the room.

Mom got Luke, because more so than any other book, he seems to include the human side.  You can feel the emotions of this writing. Some say that Luke got some of his information from interviews with Mary, the mother of Jesus.

I took the Gospel of John - which sometimes seems to come from an ethereal perspective. The beginning Hymn ... "In the beginning was the Word..."   it's just poetic and beautiful.

We made assignments the first week and talked a little about how these books differed.  Then we made our first attempt at a "Gospel Summer" family discussion on this past Monday night (AA who had been to camp over the weekend was suddenly overcome by sleep before we could get to the devotion on Sunday night... see what I mean?

We have some work to do but I look forward to seeing growth in our appreciation for the Scriptures this summer.  My prayer is that both Ab and AA will come to find a great love for the Word of God this summer as the Holy Spirit brings the pages to life... in so doing, we pray that they will also come to find a greater love for the Christ of the Word.