Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Stonewall Jackson's Verse": a 9/11 Perspective

I have liked the Confederate General, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson since watching the movie, "Gods and Generals".  I admire his piety and the respect it garnered from his men.

Recently, I  was encouraged by a well-read Jackson-aficionado, to read "Stonewall Jackson's Verse" by southern author, H. Rondel Ramburg, D.Min. as a means of beginning a study on Jackson's life.

Jackson's life-verse was Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

The book is a simple relation of that verse and how Jackson's life is displayed its details through the statements of friends, family and colleagues, and through history' own account.

Jackson - when barely in his prime - had already lost his father and his mother, saw the dissolution of his family as the children were distributed among relatives, and had lost his young wife.  In every instance of loss, he returned to this reassuring verse.

Jackson did not use the verse as an assurance that if one would just "hang on - things would get better".  Instead he recognized that God's definition of "good" and his own definition of "good" were sometimes on seperate ends of the spectrum and the purpose to which God called him was that he would be changed - not God - nor His plan.

This mind-set resulted in a resolute calmness on the battlefield for Jackson (which helped him earn the "Stonewall" nickname); he was assured that God had already "fixed" the day of his death and until that day came, he was as safe when the bullets were flying on the battlefield, as he was in "his bed".

Romans 8:28  has long been a favorite of mind, but often because of its positive appeal.  Now I see it a little differently - now it says to me -God works things according to His purpose; and we know His purpose is good.

The events that occured on September 11, 2001, were not "good".
However within His economy, God could take the tragedy of that despicable act and "work" it toward the good of His purpose.

If we learned the lessons that this event taught us - we could line up our definition of "good" with His own definition of "good". 

There were "good" acts that day and the days that followed.
There were "good" people, doing good from a heart of compassion.
There was even a "good" sort of grief that drew us all together around our shared sorrow.

But ultimately, one decade later, can we say that we have changed?
Have our thoughts, as a nation, become less fearful?
Are we more mindful of our neighbors?

Perhaps these are questions we should ponder on this day.

Staying Creative

One of my favorite blogs is Jon Acuff's Stuff Christians Like, Jon started his blog a little over month before I started mine. That is pretty much where the similarity ends. 

Jon joined Dave Ramsey's organization last year and has recently released his third book ("Quitter"). The SCL blog is not only still the home of classic sarcasm, but now it is an excellent resource bringing together talents from across the web.

I visited the site yesterday - first time in awhile - and discovered this video Jon posted from TO-FU ... I hope it inspires you as it did me.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Conquering 'Surprise Hill'

Some of you may remember a post about "Surprise Hill" a long while back; the hill stands as a seemingly insurmountable obstacle on the Silver Comet Trail between Rockmart and Cedartown.

An early evening bike ride ended badly there for AA.

That was Then.

This summer was extremely busy for Ab - what with The Great Escape in Colorado and a plethora of other camps to attend - it left me feeling that AA needed some adventure.

He and I have been semi-plotting and weighing the options of an Homeric quest to travel the Silver Comet Trail from Rockmart, Georgia to Oxford, Alabama.  This trip would probably require an overnight camp along the trail and the arrangement for some transportation back home.

As a first step toward this monumental task, we decided to take a late Sunday afternoon ride from Rockmart to Cedartown just to test our mettle.

We stocked up on some supplies - sunflower seeds, apples, water and the like; arranged with R. for a pick up in Cedartown, and headed for the trail.

Face Your Fears.

That is a lesson I have hoped to demonstrate - and eventually teach - our children.  AA and I both knew that there were some tremendous climbs ahead of us. And we knew that on the other side of one of those climbs was a pretty steep downgrade.  He still bore some scars from the last encounter with that downgrade.

I could sense a little angst in my son, but to his credit he stayed the course.

Too Much Time to Think.

Like a timeout called by the opposing team to give the rookie field-goal kicker time to think:  we hit a delay.

We waited out a small summer thunderstorm in a tunnel. 

The thunder and lightning passed and (we thought) the rain as well.
So we headed back on the trail only to be drenched by a deluge.

We decided that it wasn't so cold once you got completely wet, so we embraced our struggle and pressed on through the rain.
We counted rabbits, turkeys and deer and the numbers climbed as the trail edges away from the main roads at a community called "Fish Creek".

We had never traveled some of this stretch so it was an interesting ride.  The rain finally subsided and we soon found ourselves in the throes of an ascent to about 1,000 feet above sea level. . .  "Surprise Hill".

We had been there before, we knew what to expect only this time, AA was determined to pedal up the hill without pausing to walk his bike as he had done the other time we traveled this path.

We approached every hair-pin curve with caution - not knowing if it would be the one that would suddenly "surprise" us.

Finally, we made it to the pinnacle.  I was in the lead and turned back to call to AA to brake and proceed with caution.  My call was met with a responding yell, "Dad! Stop! STOP!".
I complied and waited for him to catch up.

"let me go first" he said.

I bowed to his courage.  I knew just why; he needed to defeat that hill without my clearing the path and showing him it was safe.

He made it.

And eventually we completed the approximately 14 mile ride in Cedartown.

We celebrated with some sunflower seeds and basked in the glory of having proven something to ourselves.

It was one of the most enjoyable events of the summer for me.