The Speed Hump

Have you noticed time seems to be speeding up? There is never less to do today than there was yesterday. As soon as one pile is out of the hopper another one has already replaced it. And I don’t know about you,  but that whole getting ahead thing…well  I’ve never actually gotten there.

In the midst of this speed ‘till you drop dead world God has graciously laid down speed humps. Yes I do mean speed humps not speed bumps.

For most of us a speed bump doesn’t do much. We slow down just enough  not to rip out the bottom of the car. Then as soon as we have crossed it,  we are back up to sixty and blazing our trail back towards oblivion.

A speed hump ,well,  that’s another matter. Four inches high and three feet across these things will pop the wheels off your car if you don’t ride over them at less than two miles an hour. Once you decelerate that much it is hard to get yourself quickly  back to sixty again. Speed humps help you slow down and smell the roses for more than just a minute.

I am crossing a speed hump this weekend. After my last post I jumped in the car and drove from Gardner to Haverhill MA. From there my daughter Melanie and I travelled eight hours down to Valley Forge PA where we are spending the long weekend with my children, Joe and Amanda.

This morning we got up at 10:30. I am sleeping in Joe’s dorm and Melanie is sleeping in Amanda’s.

We met at the picnic grounds and  I made brunch on my little Coleman stove (I borrowed it from the Royal  Rangers this is a low-budget trip).

Then I washed the dishes in Joe’s bathroom sink. We didn’t  have any face cloths or dish soap. A clean t-shirt and Old Spice body wash fit the bill so we would have dishes for supper. Now don’t you tell anyone. I said this was a low-budget trip.

We spent some time in the library studying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we went to Valley Forge National park. This is us hiking the trails.

 

Joe had to go to work this evening so the girls and I went to Main Street Exton for some shopping. Tina and I really should have let them go trick-or-treating when they were young. Ahh well, live and learn.

Life gets scary fast sometimes. It’s at those times that God always provides a way to slow down. My wife and kids are granting me a blessed speed hump this weekend. It will be wonderful to get back to the posts about the prophets in a few days, but for now dear reader why don’t you slow down and enjoy life on the speed hump with me?

 

How do you slow down?

 

Pray-cation

    

     Many things need to change in our lives in order for us to get closer to God. Contrary to what some people think we are not born close to the Divine but away from Him.

    Now I can’t tell you what you have to do to get closer to Jesus. My guess is though you already know. You have to get rid of…. You have to start…. You fill in the blanks. Really, you already know what they are.

     One need that is almost universal among us though is for more prayer. For me God told me long ago that if I wanted to be closer to Him I needed to set aside three times a day to pray and to study His word. Now maybe that’s not what God would require of you, but it is what I have to do.

    I confess I have not made it yet. Eight years ago I struggled just to be consistent daily (and yes I was a pastor at that point). My prayer life came in fits and starts. Some days I was all day in prayer and study. Then there were those weeks where the calendar would schedule prayer right out of my life.

    I’m a lot better now and most days I do get in three times of prayer.

    Our recent vacation, though, was a great blessing to me. It was a time of really being able to come away and seek the Lord. It was a pray-cation if you will. I hope all of you get a chance sometime this year to just rest in the presence of the Lord. Sabbatical after all is a biblical idea.

Enjoy the pics:

    I spent most mornings at the indoor pool. In the heat, most favored the pool outside. I usually had the place to myself for a good hour, just me, my God, and His word.

Not all prayer is to be done in private. We spent about eight hours waiting at the pier in Old Orchard for the fireworks. It got pretty crowded. I found myself interceding for a lot of people I didn’t know. What a great exercise with the word of knowledge and discernment of spirits!

Another day we went to the beach just before sunset. Tina has picked up a new hobby hunting for sea glass. Did you know that red and blue sea glass is worth money?

While we hunted the heavens began to declare the glory of God. I spent a lot of time this vacation just focusing on the immensity of God’s creation.

Just so you know prayer like this always results in fire!

The Plane Plight

     Hello Dear Readers. Today it is my wife’s turn to share one of her stories about how our family changes sometimes rise up to effect a day in the life…. Enjoy the read JE

     Returning Amanda to college went without a hitch…..until I got to the airport.  I got dropped off early because Amanda and Joe had to get back to campus for check-in and unloading.  I had checked in to my flight the night before to save time and hassle at the airport. I was pretty confident that the day would go smoothly. I had my ducks in a row.  

    I passed through my gate.  I had lots of time to kill so I grabbed an iced coffee, found a chair and pulled out the book that I had brought along. 

       After a while I noticed it was getting close to time for my flight. I thought it strange that when I looked at the board, it didn’t have my flight info. So I went to check the flight departure/arrival board and there it was…a 2 hour delay.  Uggh.  I was tired.

      They also had changed my gate so I picked up my book, got another coffee and changed my perch.  Met some new people whose flight had also been delayed. You meet some interesting people at the airport. I love to meet new people and talk to perfect strangers. So I was right in my element.

      I sat at my new gate assignment and discovered that there were 3 flights to 3 different destinations scheduled to depart from that gate at the same time.

     Now I thought to myself..”Hmm, wonder how they’re  gonna pull this off?” 

     It was shortly after this thought that one of the flights got cancelled.  Within 15 minutes all 3 flights were cancelled and we were led away to  our prospective lines to get re-booked.  I stood in line behind about 50 people who were scheduled to be on my flight and they were all put on stand-by status for the next 2 flights that were already booked to capacity…oh boy…not a chance. 

      The kiosk steward  booked me on a flight for the following morning at 7:30 A.M..  I wish I could say I looked forward with anticipation to spending my night in the airport. 

     People lined the terminals and walkways. For a while I joined them sitting on the floor to ‘take a load off’.  I texted to inform my family and friends of my dilemma, but soon my phone ran out of power-my lifeline to the outside world!! So began my search for “power”. 

     The airport had an entire mall inside; So it wasn’t hard to find a  store which carried the item I couldn’t seem to live without for a day.  $34.95 later I walked out with a smile on my face. My link to the outside world  was to be maintained.  

      I found a floor space to sit and “plug in” and charge up. I got to talk to some interesting people and find out things about them that they would not have divulged had we not had the common dilemma of being bumped at the airport. 

    All charged up and ready to go. It was time for a trip to the ladies room.  As I stood up, I discovered that the skort  I was wearing had a side zipper that had given way. Sitting down it was invisible. When I stood,  though it was quite another matter. From  waist to thigh I was showing  skin and red underwear to perfect strangers.  I discreetly dashed to the ladies room to try to fix the zipper…to no avail.  I asked a few women that came in if they had a safety-pin and nobody was able to come to my rescue accept a petite Indian woman who had a fashion pin she said I could keep.  It was a good temporary fix but I still had to maintain my hold so my pants didn’t fall down coming out of the bathroom. 

     Heading to the airport convenience store, I asked the clerk who spoke broken English if he had any safety “pins”.  He smiled and nodded in affirmation then led me to a display of ink “pens”.  My heart sank when I realized the misinterpretation. 

     I just smiled and politely said..”hhmm…those aren’t quite what I was looking for”. 

     Off I went to continue my search for these pins that would save me from further  humiliation.  Finally I secured a needle and thread and headed to the bathroom to perform a miracle. 

     It was  9pm and I was exhausted and emotionally spent.  I was also freezing!  In summer  I dress for summer.  But somebody thought it was a good idea to keep the airport at a temperature that was  good for polar bears, not for people.  I approached the information desk to inquire if they had any of those cheap throw blankets and teeny pillows they provide you with on your flight.  I was told that they would not be available until 11pm, but that I could take the shuttle over to the other terminal to check if they were available there. I thought it strange that there was an appointed a time for the distribution of warmth and wondered if they were really waiting for Convoy of Hope to come in and do their jobs for them.  

     I took the shuttle over to terminal c…in vain. They said they didn’t distribute until 11pm either.   

     I hopped back in the shuttle and headed back to terminal f. I disembarked.  As I casually made my way to the escalator,  I did not realize that behind me was a throng of people who were running late to catch their international flight. They proceeded to form a stampede in an effort to get to their plane on time. 

      After being pushed and knocked about , I wondered if they ever would have realized that in an effort to get to their destination, they had almost taken the  life of an innocent woman in search of a blanket. 

     Well,11 o’clock was to be the magic hour so at 10:30 I went in search of a hot cup of coffee in hopes of warming up my insides.  The woman across from me had purchased 2 pairs of wool socks from the airport convenience store..one pair for her hands…and a pair for her feet.  I fell into sin at that moment as I realized  I was coveting her priceless purchase.  It only lasted a moment though as I went in search of… Ahh…a coffee shop.

     Au Bon Pain..sounds pretty high-class if you ask me. I  Was pretty certain they would have a good cup of coffee for me.  The clerk was mopping the floor and told me to help myself.  I did with great enthusiasm.  I paid for my coffee and left a handsome $1 tip. Then I took my first sip with great anticipation. My hot coffee was only lukewarm!  

      I did an about-face, smiled sweetly and told the clerk that for some reason my coffee was cold and could I get another.  He looked at me and kindly and stated he had shut all the coffee pots off an hour previous in preparation to close the store for the night.  My heart sank.

      I thought “I will surely freeze to death.”

     As I walked dejectedly to my seat I passed by the information desk. I spotted a huge plastic garbage bag that I thought hopefully must hold ‘my’ pillow and blanket so I stopped. 

      The gentleman behind the desk was very pleased to inform me that “Yes…this indeed was the bag of treasure I was looking for.”

     He opened the bag and pulled out a pillow which measured about  6X9 inches. I was thrilled.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the promise of a soft cuddly blanket to go with it.  He reached way to the bottom of the bag and when he withdrew his hand I could hardly believe my eyes and my face must have expressed exactly what I was thinking. 

       I could not believe I had been handed a piece of cellophane wrap the color of aluminum foil and was told to ‘have a good night..stay warm”.   

      The package read “emergency rescue blanket”.  I suppose you could stretch it and say that being stuck over night in an airport classifies as an emergency of sorts.  I took my blanket and pillow and humbly walked back to my seat. 

     I was not willing to concede to the fact that I may be the only one dressed like the tin man in the entire place so I kept it neatly folded in its package and let my teeth continue their chatter.  At 12:17, the man at the information desk came strolling through with a smile on his face and the plastic bag over his shoulder as if he was Santa Claus. 

      I wondered if the smile on his face was because he knew what was in that bag and it brought joy to him to see the looks of disbelief that crossed people’s faces as he handed them what I considered to be a practical joke. 

     Finally, we all silently conceded that if we all opened our ‘gifts’ at once, it wouldn’t be so bad. We knew we would all look the same and so it didn’t seem to matter so much any more. The prospect of being warm was greater than the embarrassment. 

     The crumpling sound of tin foil cellophane was practically deafening. 

     We all found a place to lay our heads and wrap up like baked potatoes ready to be cooked.       If you laid perfectly still, you might be lucky to get a moment of sleep.  If the guy next to you moved ,though, it was over.  If you were wearing pants and sleeves, you were all set.  If not, the cellophane acted like shrink-wrap as your body gave off heat and the blanket ‘adhered’ itself to you.  The night was long and I was glad to see the morning light so my efforts to sleep could come to a halt. 

     I was ever so happy to hear the announcement that flight 4091 to Manchester would be’on time’.  I had a nice front row seat in the plane and the gentleman next to me and the stewardess embarked on a conversation recounting the days events.  They listened intently to my story and we laughed hysterically at the various happenings of the day. 

     In the end, the gentleman looked at me and said “I travel all the time and I have never had a day as you have had.  It is good to see you are still smiling and you are able to laugh about it and we could laugh with you.” 

So, if the only accomplishment to this day being stuck in the airport was that it brought laughter and smiles to these perfect strangers, I would say it was all worth it.

Doane’s

    Part of my wife’s job is to create quality of life for those individuals she is called to care for. That includes taking the friends who live with us on brief vacations in keeping with their disabilities. She has been away all week at Lake Winnipesaukee with one of our friends. This next week she has to take another to Foxwoods for a day trip.

      But today was a day for us to get reaquainted. So I asked my daughter Melanie if she would stay with everyone while Tina and I took a little hiking trip out to Doane’s Falls.

     I guess I was inspired by my friends Nate and Nicole Beauvais(lovingsimplemoments.wordpress.com), but I knew I was definitely not up to one of the ten-mile bike rides they find so refreshing. So I thought I might settle for a little light hiking.

        We got to the park around 1:30 and walked in about a half mile before breaking for a light snack. The sound of water rushing over granite filled the air and covered our conversation.

When I was a child. The falls was a popular spot for teens to go jumping. It seemed someone got hurt or worse every year.

    Now the falls are off-limits to jumpers. But the pathways are filled with hikers. While it’s not a place for wheel chairs the pathways are good for those who like a moderate hike.

       Tina and I ate by this third set of falls. The rock walls are covered with thick mosses that add to the beauty and peace of the wood.

    This is a great place to reconnect. So when you next get the chance take a walk! Breathe the free air!

Directions to Doane’s Falls: From the intersection of Rt. 2A and 32 in Athol, cross Miller’s River Bridge and bear right onto Chestnut Hill Rd. (becomes Athol Rd.) north toward Royalston. Proceed 4 mi. to entrance and parking (3 cars) on left. To Coddings Meadow at Lawrence Brook, walk 0.5 mi. down gated woods road off Athol Rd. on right just before stone bridge.

Coffee Shops, Christ, and Cannibals

     Have you ever wondered what day pastors get off? Now I know some people think that pastors don’t really work (to those of you who may have espoused this thought I stick out my tongue in obnoxious indignation). I also know that others think pastors shouldn’t get a day off but should always be on call (to those of you who hold this mindset I thumb my nose in like obstreperosity). Both ideas are wrong!   

     I get Mondays off. So while  the rest of the world is cursing the dawn, my Mondays have become a ritual day for travelling to coffee shops far and wide to sample the gourmet bouquets from the various cafes around our fair countryside. I LOVE COFFEE!!

    My wife and I have found a place in Keene NH that we particularly like.

      She always gets a skinny vanilla latte (with a cream heart done in latte art) and a scone; Blackberry-almond is her bite of choice. I try a different variety of coffee every week (Ethiopian yirgacheffe is my fav so far), along with a breakfast sandwich.

      A few Mondays ago my wife and I journeyed the hour up, for our caffeinated libations. It was a warm cloudless day. So we decided to get our coffees and sandwiches and eat at one of the tables on the sidewalk.

     It is a generational blessing, which flows down from her mother, that anywhere my wife goes she can make a friend.  God sends her people all the time and usually they are those in need of an inner and sometimes outer healing.

    My wife has found a friend at this coffee shop. I will call her “Fleur”. She has lost her hair to leukemia and wears multi- colored bandanas and loose-fitting clothing bright enough to light the dawn. She smokes cigarellos and will never shake your hand without pulling her sleeve down to protect against the germs. She has a voice like Selma from Night Court and looks at the world through a lens of shockingly hysterical cynicism which stems from her disability.

     As we sat drinking our coffees that day, Fleur approached and greeted my wife warmly. My wife bought her a coffee and shook her hand (Tina has evolved into one of the few germless humans evidently. Meanwhile I remain an untouchable) .

    Tina explained that  she was going to Maine on an overnight fishing trip with her parents.

      Looking at Tina’s red top Fleur cocked a disparaging eye, “Well you’re not going to wear that are ya’?”

       “Thought I might.” Tina returned “Is there something wrong with it?”

     “No… no. It’s just that fish don’t like red. You need to wear white.” Fleur explained.

     We passed a few more pleasantries and then my wife tried to bring the conversation around to the spiritual.

     “Fleur do you know Jesus?” She asked.

      “Oh sure I know him.” Fleur said. “But I don’t really like him.”

      “Why not?” Tina asked.

     “Well because he’s a cannibal. So’s his wife Barbara.” Fleur explained.

       When we’d finished picking our jaws up off the ground we tried to explain to Fleur that we were talking about a different Jesus. She wasn’t having any of it. In her world Jesus eats people and that’s that.

       There are some walls that we will never be able to tear down in our own power.  Some people’s view of God is so skewed that nothing we say or do is going to be able to convince them that God, the real God, is a God of love.

    I have learned though, in working with so many of my friends, that convincing them that God is real, or loving, or good is not really my job. That is God’s job and just between you and me He can hold His own in the convincing department.

     My job is just to be wherever God chooses to put me and  to tell whomever God sends to me that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. That message doesn’t change whether I am in church or in a coffee shop. It doesn’t change whether I am talking to another born again Christian or to Fleur who believes Christ is a cannibal.

     The truth is the truth and as they say regardless of the situation “the truth will out.”