July 27, 2008

The Cool of Evening

Its been a good day. We got up, had some brunch, and worked on the house. I got more trim done. I was supposed to go to the steam show in Mason, but did not make it. I'll hopefully pop in their tomorrow to take in some nostalgic coal smell and ash as I take in the old time tractors and steam engines. It will bring back memories of my earlier days when I used to go with our family neighbor Calvin to the Steam Show in Dover, OH. Those were the days of helping grind corn at the stone mill, messing with the Ford 8N tractor, and so on. Here is a pic of Calvin and his wife, Berince, (Couple on the left) with Calvin's brother and his wife.

Calvin was like a grandfather to me. He and Bernice lived just up the road from when I was growing up. I used to mow his lawn. My family would help him bale hay, shuck corn (yes, I said shuck corn), and so on, along with feeding his cows when they were away on vacation. Any time we had something break, we'd take it up to Calvin's for a little welding job or what have you. It was the old days then. We'd help out when he needed our younger energies and in return, he'd plow our garden in the spring and our driveway in the winter. And, he'd always give us apple butter when they made some or meat when they would butcher a cow. We always got the liver--Calvin hated liver. Helping Calvin also gave us free reign on his sledding hill. It was a great hill. It set just right so that the snow would drift over the top 15 feet or so. You could make great tunnels and so on in the snow. It also gave us extra resources for the sled jumps we would build. It's a wonder I didn't end up paralyzed.

Two of my fondest memories of Calvin both involve animals. In addition to raising cows, Calvin and Bernice would get chickens from time to time. He'd build a pen in his garage, complete with heat lamps for the newly hatched chicks. As they grew, they'd move outside to a bigger pen. When they were fully grown, they would butcher them. Calvin was proud and boastful of some contraption he had made that would behead a chicken with "control". I say "control", because if you've ever butchered chickens, they are hardly easy to control, both with their heads and without. He would always let one go after whacking it to laugh and watch it run around the yard for awhile. Remember, it was the old days, back when you did such things and it was normal.

The other memory involves evenings under Calvin's pavilion. Every night after a hard days work of whatever, Calvin and Bernice would take their place on the swing under the pavilion. Sometimes there was lemonade, sometimes bread and apple butter. Every couple of days or so, my family would walk up to their place and relax in the cool of the evening. It was always a great time. In the spring and early summer, Calvin would watch for groundhogs in his field while they relaxed. If one was dumb enough to come out of the ground, Calvin would head inside for his gun. Within minutes, there would be a huge crack of the gun and more often than not, another dead groundhog to bury. Calvin took pride in being able to shoot a groundhog at probably 200 or more yards with his 22-250 rifle.

Calvin taught me a lot about doing things right. He helped me begin to learn about having honor and an ethic that was inherit in men and women of his era. He taught me about doing hard work and learning to enjoy it--about doing what needed to be done so you could sit under the pavilion and take in the coolness of the evening. He taught us about caring for your neighbor.

When I started this post, I was simply going to talk about being able to sit by the front window in my living room and listen to the bugs of the night and feel the coolness of the air coming in the window. That was over an hour ago. Since then, I've spent time reminiscing about the steam show
and even greater, my time as an early teen back home in East Canton. I sometimes really forget how much my childhood and teen years really shaped me. Sometimes I get caught up in the learning I've done and what experiences God has given me to put me where I am. Then, to keep me grounded, I somehow always come across something that takes me back to then, when life was much simpler and slower. Sometimes its the call of a redwing blackbird or the chirp of a spring peeper. Sometimes its the flicker of a lightning bug or the taste of good, homemade jam. Tomorrow, lord willing, it will be the smell of coal and wood smoke and the chug, chug, chug of a steam engine hard at work.

July 14, 2008


Currently I'm sitting backstage at Rock Lake Christian Assembly. It's the first morning of camp. I've been up for awhile now, drinking coffee, journaling, and preparing for the day. It's going to be a great day in God's presence here. We're talking about our place with God in worship--that he is creator/savior and that we are created/saved. With this perspective about God in the right place, everything else becomes clearer to me. Its like having the right glasses on to see 20/20.

Camp is always a good time for me. It encourages my soul and hope in God because I get to see students and fellow ministry partners step away from the normalcy of life and reflect on God for a week. Amazing things happen when we step away from life and chew on God for any amount of time. This week will be a little different. My friend Eric isn't here. He's off with another group of students at Wolverine Christian Camp. Eric and I have been doing this camp thing every summer together since the summer of 1994. We've learned to read one another, to feed on one another, to do ministry together like a married couple, which at times is amazing, and other times comical.

This week is going to be like wearing a new pair of shoes. They'll get the job done and it will be fine. It just won't be the same as the old sneakers that are formed and shaped to my feet, that have been with me every step of the way. God will fill in the gap, I'm sure. It just won't be the same.

Be in prayer for Eric and his crew at Wolverine, along with the high school weeks of camp at Michiana and Lake James Christian Assembly. We're all ministering to high school students this week. It's a great privilege and a huge challenge. Help us to be confident and bold for God. Pray that God fills in our many gaps and deficiencies as we serve.

July 8, 2008

The Kitchen Table

Right now Hannah and I are sitting at the kitchen table. Steph is sweeping the living room floor--something she thoroughly loves to do. I'm catching up on some email and updating you all about my mom. Hannah's playing with my tea accessories. You know, tea balls to brew loose leaf tea, scoops, and a Maple leaf shaped tea strainer with a stand. I know, I'm a coffee snob and a tea snob. It happens. I'm a guitar snob too. That's not the point of this post, however.

It seems that my tea balls have pulled up to a drive through (the scoop thing) and they are ordering a zipple ipple triple scooper thing. Now they are getting the dipple, dipple things. There's nothing like the high pitched play voice of my little daughter. Now they are getting camper dampers. Amazing. I wish I had time to secretly record this and post it for you. Some day, maybe.

My mom, for those of you that have been keeping us, is doing well. She's been to the doctor for bloodwork and her diabetes. It seems that her sugar, because of the meds she's on and all the stress her body has had lately, won't go down between 300. She started on insulin shots today. Hopefully she won't be on those too long.

Thank you for all the prayers the past week. My mom thanks you deeply and she asks that you continue to pray. She also is singing the praises of my father, the super nurse. Now, if you knew my father, you would chuckle at that and say, "Not Junior." You see, my dad is an old school guy. he was up at the crack of dawn and out to the factory for more than 40 years of life. He worked hard so we had a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. He endured plant closings, stolen retirements because of corporate decisions, and much hard work that has worn on his body. He's the man that is as tough as nails when it comes to anything, holding back emotion because that is what you did back then. You would never picture him crawling up on the bed, looking tenderly into my mom's pained face, and asking how she's doing.

As one of his sons, its beautiful and humorous at the same time. Beautiful to see the love that we always knew was inside coming out in raging forms. Humorous in watching him try as hard as he can, sometimes bumbling along the way.

It is a beautiful thing to see those you love, loving on and caring for one another like God has called us to do. It brings new perspectives to love one another and put others needs before your own. Its things I know and live out, but because of watching my father and my mother, I'm going to try even harder to embody and live out.

Love is a beautiful thing when lived out to its fullest. . .

July 2, 2008

Answered Prayer

Thank you for all your prayers today. My mom went in at 2:45pm to get her heart shocked back into the right rhythm. On the way in, or once they got in the room, it reset itself without any electric. She said she began to feel better almost instantly.

She'll be in the hospital a few more days as they make sure all the issues are calmed down. Please pray that we are on the downhill side of this.

Thanks for all your prayers. Unfortunately, we hold prayer there as something we lean on when we need it. Or, we're too prideful to ask for others to pray. If we would just be like little children--helpless, in need, AND not afraid to ask for it. Why are we so dumb sometimes? Oh wait, we are humans.

Update on My Mom

My mom, May, is still in the hospital. As her body has dealt with the 3 types of mono, which turns into viral hepatitis, and the bronchitis, mom's heart is now being attacked. Its not working as well as it should, and it is out of rhythm. I would guess that they will shock it or treat her with meds to get it back in rhythm. In the meantime, her heart is racing all the time and its causing her much stress and fear.

Please pray that she has peace today. Peace and rest so she can heal and get better.

Thank you for all your prayers so far.

UPDATE: They are shocking her heart at 2:45pm this afternoon.