Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hitting the Road

This morning we are headed out of Florida. We are going to Nashville Tennessee for a day or so, and then on to Louisville Kentucky for the North American Christian Convention.

Florida has been incredible. Beyond the beauty, the waves, the sand and the sun, it has been such a renewal for me. I have read big chunks of scripture, finisheded 3 books, and spent alot of time with Pam. What a blessing on all three fronts! In some ways, I hate to leave the balcony that overlooks the ocean.

But as it is with everything in life, it is time to move on to another experience. God is teaching me that every day is a new adventure, with different experiences and opportunities along the way. It occurred to me yesterday that it is very possible that I had become "stale" on many fronts. I have been taking each day for granted, and not really searching for the beauty of each day as God has created it. Every day that God allows the sun to come up and to set is a new experience for us. Even God, who knows everything, must sit back and be amazed at how each day unfolds itself. ( Can God even amaze himself?)

I will check in later with more from Nashville and Lousiville. In the meantime, be faithful to God. And look under the rocks, behind the clouds, and around the corner. God might have a surprise waiting for you



Friday, June 23, 2006

Out of my comfort zone

It was very quiet this morning. The sea was hardly moving...still a little tide in and out, but it was the quietest I had seen it. Hardly no wind, not many people on the beach ( It was 7 AM)

I didn' know what that would mean for the Parasailing. If there was not enough wind, then we would have to wait. Maybe it was wishful thinking.... Parasailing is way outside my comfort zone. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a daredevil...I do not particularly like heights or not being in control. I don;t like rapelling, not a big fan of rollercoasters and the like.... I feel good with my feet attached to the ground.

Now, on this trip I have made significant progress on several fronts. Take driving for instance. 5 years ago, we came to Florida, and then on to Orlando, up to Kentucky and back to Owasso. Pam drove a total of 30 minutes. In Florida. I let her drive, but I could not take it... She is a good driver, I just like driving and being in control.

However, things are different now. Pam has done alot more driving around Tulsa, since my stroke. I just didn;t like the stress of it. So imagine Pam's surprise when we left Owasso last week, and I said, "you drive." She drove to Ft. Smith... ( 4 times longer than on the trip five years ago). I drove to Pine Bluff. And then she drove another 1 and half hours... The second day she drove about half way. For the most part I was a pretty good passenger. For the most part. I am getting better. I am sure that Pam might have something different to say, but she is seeing the progress.

Back to the Parasailing. Pam mentioned it early in the trip and I said, "Sure." Then I thought to myself, " What are you thinking... you know you will never want to do this." But I put it out of my mind. On Tuesday, I signed up, paid the money and we were scheduled for Friday. On the form we signed it said, "NO REFUNDS!" Not good news for someone who might want to back out. After all it cost more to Parasail than it does to feed 6 people at a nice resturant. So I was committed.

We got out on the boat, and I have to say that I was plotting a way to be the second group up in the air ( there were three couples on the boat). So imagine my paralyzing fear when the guy took our ticket first. Did he know that I was scared? It was probably all over my face.Pam? No fear there...she says, "Bring it on!" She has always been that way. I love that about her...except when it requires both of us... and then I think "How did we get together?" She is great.

So they strapped us in... My confidence was not bolstered when the Deck hand turned out to be the guy that runs the beach chairs outside our condo. He had been drafted, because the other deck hand quit. So it was his first day to get all the straps on us correctly and tell us what to do. He was also learning on the job about how to keep all the cords untangled, and how to tie the knots. The Captain of the boat made sure we understood that he was training this guy. I was not interested in being "trained on." But he did okay.

What a ride. Hooked in, and rising up in the air, above the boat.... 850 feet in the air. It was so still, peaceful and quiet. Pam was strapped in right in front of me, and she and I could talk just like we were in the living room. My knees were wrapped around her side, and I think on a couple of the dips and turned, I squeezed pretty hard. The wind was pretty calm, so it was a fairly easyride... I loved seeing the shoreline. One interesting this about the wind. Because it was so calm, the captain had to take us way out away from shore where there was more wind. We were a long ways out there.... dark blue ocean.... so beautiful. We got one dip into the ocean which was a treat. Then we were lifted up and eventually brought back to the boat. What a ride!

It was so fun... fun to do something that I thought to myself two years ago that I would never do. Fun to do something with Pam that she just really loves. Fun to see the power of God from that distance.

Pam said, " No wonder the Birds like to fly." It was pretty cool.

Out of my comfort zone....yes....But I am going to do more of those kinds of things. Not stupid things. but things that challenge me on different levels... and when I accomplish something like this, I feel good.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

From the balcony...

We have been in Florida for a week now....What a place. I love the ocean, and enjoy the beach... The ocean is amazingly consistent to me. Every few seconds the waves break and come toward the beach... never seems to fail. The tide goes in and the tide goes out... Each morning the water has been relatively calm, and during the day, as the winds pick up, so does the "chop"(as the locals call it). But it is still nothing like the coastal waters of Oregon. There is more power in the Pacific waters... The Carribean is more inviting. The waters invite me to come in, and I have done some swimming... We even have been out to the Sandbar... which was something the kids warned me about... after last years shark attacks. I am the fearless one! ( ha ha)

Tomorrow morning Pam and I are going Parasailing. Should be interesting. I am not the daredevil type. But maybe having a stroke has brought out a little of the "live life to the max" in me. I will never probably go crazy with it... however, I am trying to do a few different things. I am looking forward to it...alot.

This has been a great time of rejuvenation. The reality is that while I have had alot of time off these past 10 weeks or so, when we left town, I was able to relax in a different way. And that has continued... I feel very relaxed now... and for the first time, able to get away from the church, the stroke, the fact that I am not working right now, and just concentrate on God, me, and Pam. I have continued my walking and working out, and have added some wonderful sermons by Greg Nettle, and Mike Cope to my IPOD. Today I walked 8 miles ( two 4 mile walks). They were hot, but really good. Exercise has been a lifesaver in many ways. I have done my best thinking while putting one foot in front of the other. I have examined some of the things have led me to this point in my life, and I have made committments that I think will improve the quality of my life for the next 30 years. Spiritually it has been good. To hear messages from communicators who have taken thier craft so seriously... well it has been very revealing. And motivating for my future, if God allows.

The church this week confirmed the hiring of Mike Raburn as Business Manager. I am thrilled. Mike will be a Godsend for our church and for me personally. For the past 6 months he has served the church ( and me) in any way we needed... taking his time off and extra thinking time to be used by God at FCC. I will never be able to express what his support and efforts have met to me. It started at the beginning of the year when he said, "I am off on Tuesdays, I am coming in to help you... have something for me to do." There was no option in his voice.... Even though he had recently became an Elder, he still did that. He did not know that April 3rd would change my life forever... but he was prepared by God to step in and keep things moving. And he did.

I recently wrote the staff and Elders to give them an update, and I said to them, "You are my hero's" They are. Each of them, have picked up the slack...and taken on alot more than they ever thought they would. I could not be prouder of a group of men and women , than I am of each of them.

Clouds have overtaken the shoreline... and the sun is going down. Its a pretty awesome combination... The Heaven declare the Glory of God... and so do the sunsets....

More later...


Monday, June 12, 2006

On our way...

We are almost on our way to Florida. This was a vacation that we planned long before the stroke in April. I wasn't sure about going, but with the sabbatical, and available time off, it seemed right. My health is improving daily, and now, I really look forward to the trip!

Florida does a couple things for us. It combines my love for the ocean, with Pam's love for the beach. Having grown up in Oregon, I grew to enjoy the coast. But the Oregon coast is a bit different than the Florida coast. You go to the Oregon coast to enjoy the power of the Ocean, the beauty of the rugged coast, and the solitude. You go to the Florida coast to enjoy the white sand, make new friends, get out in the sun and play. When we go to the Florida coast, I still enjoy the power of the ocean... and pam enjoys the beach , the sun and and the sand.

It also allows us to really get away. I don;t call back to the office... I don;t really think about the church at all on this trip. This is a good thing...

We are in preparation mode. I have my "to do " list... and I am marking things off one by one. I had about 15 of those items today, and I have two of them I have a ways to go.

Lydia and James came back from their honeymoon. They took their marriage license with them... which is a little problem since it is supposed to be filed within 5 days of the wedding. I had Helen mail it in today...sure hope the county clerk still accepts it. If not, then I guess we will do it again.

I am really indebted to a friend who has helped me with my computer. My laptop screen died, and after consulting several people I decided to buy a new one. This friend of mine, whose name is Ben, has helped me set up my wireless system at home, set up the new computer, and helped transfer the info from one unit to the other. He does it with such a joyful spirit. It is an example of what Max Lucado talks about in the book, " The Cure for the Common life" . He writes about the fact that God has made each of us with a "sweet spot." That is the place where you use your gifts and strengths, for God's glory and it brings you great joy. That is Ben. I always tell him thank you , and he always replies " It gives me a chance to serve." He also likes his preachers, and likes to spend time with him. The thing is that I like spending time with him. He is a thinker, and he challenges me in my thinking about life. God blessed me with him.

My "sweet spot" is preaching... that is why I miss it so much... however, I am becoming more and more aware of how being away from the pulpit is helping me live more in the "sweet spot."
It feels good. When I come back in September, I will be a better preacher.

One other thing... I was talking with my friend Dale at lunch today...Dale is an elder of the church , but more than that, he is a great friend. He is an encourager...positive thinker, and really smart. I think that Dale knows more about the Christian Church and its history and doctrine, than I will ever know... But I was talking with Dale, and I realized that this is a guy I can count on. I have always known that... but I left the lunch thinking what a great thing it is to have someone you can really count good and bad times. It is a gift from God! It was a good reminder, one I needed...

Monday, June 05, 2006


Last friday, I had the joy of performing the marriage of Lydia and James. It was a monumental moment for many reasons. Just the idea of Lydia getting married was big. She is only 19, but she and James seem so right for each other. They had dated for almost two years... and in that time had shown great maturity and joy with each other. Another great thing about this was the fact that Pam's family, and my parents were able to attend. I had great visits with all of them. It was especially great for me to spend extra time with my parents.

There were several challenges with this wedding. One was my health. But everything came through great. I really feel that this was because of the unbelievable prayers of so many. So many friends prayed me through that service. Afterwards, I was very tired, but I made it with little in the way of issues with my speech and balance. Praise God for that!

Another challenge involved me getting through the service without crying. At Elizabeth's wedding, two years ago, I was pretty teary. But this time I was prepared. One way to combat the tears is to have alot of humor... and I did. I was so thankful for the "heads up" I received about the Princess Bride. The whole "mawagge " scene was awesome. And I did it. ( IF you don;t know what I am talking about, you need to rent the movie). Beyond the humor, the movie provided me with some very meaningful content regarding the phrase "as you wish." It fit right along with Philipiians 2:3-4.

It was a great evening, and one that I will never forget. Two daughters are now married, and I got to be a part of both of them. Outside of baptizeing them, this was one of the great moments of my life with my kids.

God provides great moments for all of us to enjoy. He is so good to me!