Hawaii 2010

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ob Stack Culls!

I love the line in Brother Where art Thou, when one of the hero's buddys refers back to the Oracles prophecy about the obstacles they will face in thier long journey.

"its the "Ob Stack Culls" that make life challenging. My friend Kansas Bob led me to Jill's blog entitled Altared in which she shared her dealings with Lou Gerhings Disease. The family reports the time is short. It has been rewarding and heartbreaking to share her honesty and difficulty in her journey.

My friend Scott spoke of some difficult times we went through together trying to restart a damaged congregation in the middle of a building program. We faced great obstacles and got through it.

When I talk about my wonderful life, please understand that it has been anything but a cakewalk. The wonderful thing has been the things I have learned about being content no matter, about God providing for us even when things looked bleak, about the great loving relationships that sustained us during the attacking and damaging relationships.

We are in God's Gymnasium, the obstacle course is being run, and the only assurance that Coach God gives is the following, "all things work together for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose". Sign me up for another workout, tomorrow and the next day, and the next, until the finish line. God bless Jill in crossing of her finish line. God bless her caregivers.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Katrina Anniversary Fondly Observed

Five years have passed so quickly. I have been fortunate to pass throught New Orleans three times since the disaster. I have seen the dispair and the progress, and continue to ache for the pain of the oil spill. It was a thrill to share the French Quarter with my grand daughter a month ago. Be strong gulf coast, we love you.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Surrounded by demanding beggars

I was adopted by the long haired daushand and named her Don-Anna, this terrier was one of a long list of terriers my folks had. I cannot remember her name.Patches the second, maybe??? This was the early 70s toward the end of my college career, and I must have brought my dog to Houston for Christmas Vacation.

This captures the mischief and humor that was our Dad. I cannot remember if he gave in and fed the dogs or not. My guess is....yes. Good memories of a good man.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Precious Memory of two loves in my life

Golf and life and intertwined with family and faith for me. My first set of golf clubs where a rusty set of mismatched given to me by my minister in Jr. High.
My father did not play. Every set I ever learned to play with was a gift, until I finally saved up for a set of Wilson Staff Forged, which you see me cleaning and displaying when my daughter fell asleep on my chest in 1978 Thanks to Laura for picking up the camera and snapping a sweet memory.

I am struggling to find the swing I self taught myself to enjoy so many decades ago. I am trying to find tempo, rhythm, swing plane, posture...you name it, I am doing it, chili dips, blading, digging ditches, worm burners, flyers left and flyers right, rough to rough, sand to sand, fairway to water, hazard to tree blocked...yes, I love this game!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Going back quite a ways

I believe this swingset was in our backyard on Bardstown Rd. South of Louisville, Ky in 1956. I remember the swingset, the house and road we lived on, and the strawberries we enjoyed growing behind our neighborhood. Linda and Janet are enjoying a warm afternoon while I was thinking about something. My father worked for Reynolds Metals and we had a pretty good sized concord grape orchard from which we made jam.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I do believe in Fairies, I do, I do!!!

The end of monsoon brings some beautiful sunsets to the desert southwest.

Micheal Phillips has spent his career studying the life of George MacDonald and his literature and influence, including a resergence of his novels by shortening them and taking the Scottish dialect out.

The Biography of George and Louisa and their eleven children spans the end of the victorian era. It was so fascinating to see how this man's vision of the good fatherhood of God being at the center of the universe so affected those who encountered his writing.

His biography was based upon their son's loving memoirs published in the 20s. At the end it traced the changes in the last century that caused MacDonald's beloved writing to go completely out of sink with modern readers.....except for his fantasy genre, which meant so much to our contemporaries, C.S. Lewis and Tolkien.

I am going to be collecting his republished works now that I understand the man's life and thought. Today in my reading time I started Phantastes and Lillith, two novels printed together which were written early and late in his 50 year career as a poet, author, preacher, lecturer, father and husband. These books explore the world of fairy land, talking trees and animals, which Lewis used with such power in his Christian fantasy.

So many of his family and friends died of tuberculosis, and he was affected by lung disease that almost took his life three times and forced him to spend the winters in warm places. Yet he lived to be 80 years old and celebrate over 50 years with his precious and long suffering wife. A wonderful book, a man who was friends to Twain, Longfellow, Tennyson and so many leaders of the last half of the 19th century.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Bank sent us the title to Laura's Car

What rule in our fallen world tells a car to develop expensive problems the week it's paid for?

The valves are sticking. Chevrolet acknowledges it is a problem in the Aveo engines and offers to pay half the repair. We tried twice to clean the valves with chemicals. So here we go.

I did see a very young homeless couple begging near the mall this afternoon. Very sad. Lord, help us.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Getting along with a diverse culture

A happy vacation crowd watched the sunset together.

I get really heavy hearted when an issue like the Ground Zero controversy pits us again each other. Signs, placards, slogans, shouting and yelling, hateful slurs.

I totally understand the tensions and the feelings, and the general unrest that hard times have brought to these past few years.

I am trying to work on my own attitudes, for anger and the desire for revenge cripple my spirit. The world is out of my control and I am trusting and praying for wisdom and change that unifies and does not divide.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Laura occasionally goes Coo Coo for a song

This months song is by a group called Train. Hey Soul Sister. As Dick Clark used to hear, it has a great beat and I can dance to it....or...actually exercise to it.

So, in the song, which, by the way has a great beat, the lyric goes...."Hey Soul Sister, ain't that Mister, Mister".

So, I own one song by Mister, Mister, a group from the 80's, and it is one of my favorites, and one of the most spiritual songs I own. It's title is Kyrie E'laison. It is a prayer for mercy during life's Journey. Very moving and beautiful.

I cannot figure out the connection, but I find it interesting.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A life denying, dualist asceticism

That is what the Spirit warned Paul to tell Timothy to beware off and to develop the disciplines of Godliness to combat. Why?

Because those who instigate those religions in hypocrisy have no intention of keeping their own rules...just ensnaring you in them????

Because the self denials are the most subtle form of self righteousness, which leads to a hatred and disdain of others and a rejection of Christ????

Because the devaluing of this life leads to the waste of this life, and perhaps the abuse of life. Dualism is the belief that creation itself is evil and devalues this world in favor of the next. Paul said God's gym produces muscles in this life and the next.

I do not know if I am on the right track with this thinking, but I hope for some light as I continue this series on the pastoral epistles.

Every religion can go sick. Christianity has produced some terrible fruit of persecution when they thought they were the special ones in God's eye. I worry about Sharia law because it steps into the vacuum of our generation lack of developing self discipline that lead to Godliness and offers short cuts that will in the end produce fruit the same as those atrocities that have been highlighted in recent months.

Thinking out loud. Thanking God for our nation and praying for wisdom in the days ahead for those in power. Including us who have been empowered to vote our convictions.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

George McDonald, pastor, poet, author

One of many Kauai favorites. I love photographing Laura while she explores ahead of me.

This summer I traveled around with a copy of George McDonald's Unspoken Sermons and used them as devotional reading. I am now reading a Biography of his life. Known to few today, his writing was a great influence on two of my spiritual mentors, C.S. Lewis and J.R.Tolkien. Walking through his life from the distance of 150 years allows you to see what influences surrounded him. It was Scottish Calvinism of John Knox heritage that, along with Victorian England had created a very legalistic and religiously narrow society and culture.

Seeing the way in which his mind and heart developed and allowed him to think independently of the majority report has been an encouragement to me, who, thank God, have always been a bit of a non conformist, if only in the smallest ways. Not for the sake of being different, I hope, but for the sake of the truth, which must be carried from one generation to another. Test all things, hold fast to that which is true.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Music on my mind

Under the Banyan Tree in Lahaina, Maui. This is a home made instrument that had almost symphonic sounds under his talented hands.

I would imagine that everyone who collects music develops genres and tastes. I added two CDs to my collection from the sale section at Border's Books and Music. Laura and I had a date night in the absense of compelling movies.

Four Seasons greatest hits performed live. There is not a year of growing up in the 60's and 70's when one of these songs was not on the charts. Truly unique ballads.

Jewel Pieces of You, her first album. What a lovely and unique story teller with such a gift in that voice and guitar.

The Mall is crowded but not excessively so, some shopping going on. Laura passed a sandal sale rack and determined to stop by on the way back after dinner, and an hour later the rack was almost empty. I am, myself, the world's worst shopper, unless for books, music, or electronics.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Missed my 2 year blogging anniversary

This is an awe inspiring tree.

I passed into year three of daily blogging on July 24th. I will keep it up as long as its fulfilling. I am always grateful to see that 20-50 people stop by for a moment each day as they are able.

I am trying another two week press as I close in on the one year anniversary of joining Tumbleweed Recreation Center. A friend told me that he works out but does not enjoy it. I have had many times like that, but for some reason this commitment is enjoyable. Like I always say about discipline, a subject I am no ones mentor about...first you pay a price and then you enjoy a price. Not my quote but I have always liked it.

Anyhow, someone shared a magazine on Life Extension, which is what I am really motivated to do...and they mentioned the heart disease reversal proofs on the Ornish diet, which is basically low fat and minimle meat and lots of veggies. Can't hurt to experiment with some recipes.

Still have remarkable memories of Sequoia National Park.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The 2nd Most Famous Picture of the Last Century

Lots of news and pictures last week of an event in Times Square celebrating 65 years since Victory in WWII. Couples recreated the famous kissing picture, second only to the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima in fame. They were posing underneath a huge statue of the kiss.

Here is my question. Is this the same one I photographed last summer in San Diego or did they make more than one? If this is the same one, how did they transport so large a piece from coast to coast?

I love the picture, the story and the commemoration of those happy Americans who won the war that changed the future. I cannot imagine what kind of world we would live in if Japan and Germany had won.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cumulus Clouds are a pallet of 3D art.

This is not what I saw today, but representative.

Two thing came together this afternoon, actually three to make a spiritual moment. I had my latest prescription glasses being repaired when one of the the arms broke on vacation. I have been wearing an older, weaker pair for a month. Putting those newer glasses on was great.

Second, I am reading a biography in which the principal character is describing how nature reflects the image of God.

Third, today's cumulus clouds were revealing a depth and shape that was breathtaking.

The point, "all nature sings, and around me rings.... this is my Father's world."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Elvis is long Dead

I remember singing "You Ain't Nothing But a Houndog" for my parents and friends in first grade. I was a very new minister the day of his death with a very young family. You could not call me a fan. I still request "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You" when given a chance at a dance.

Music is powerful. Good Musicians build a lasting following. For me, its more like The Association, ABBA, or any group which composes and writes good music.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fish and Grandkids begin to smell after three days

This colored building caught my eye in San Fran.

I love my grandkids, but today they got bored. Our five year old bundle of boy energy bounced on the bed and the slats came out, poked his finger in the portable DVD player and it is malfunctioning. We had a traditional birthday meal for Laura at Joe's Real Barbeque, yum.

Passing on a very informative website called Boston.com, The Big Picture which has extensive photographic news articles. The pictures of the landslide in China and the floods in Pakistan are heart breaking. Pictures do say a thousand words.

I shared a slide show of my five week travels in church today with Iz singing, Somewhere over the Rainbow/Wonderful World in the backgroud. I love that song.

I mentioned today how this summer of extensive sight seeing was the crowning joy of a blessed decade, even though the economy tanked, the world tension with terrorism is high, American politics is out of control, and I have had two heart incidents, I have been blessed with growth and joy and a sense of purpose for which I am very grateful.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Case for Civility

People from all over the world visiting Pier 39 in San Fran Cisco on a cool August afternoon.

Os Guiness is a descendant of the Guiness Beer family. There was a wonderful article noted on Scott McKnights blog on the blessed effect of beer on the people of Ireland during a time when they were dying from drinking polluted water. People quit drinking water, and the hard liquor became a real problem for the Irish, until beer became a safer option.

Apparently the wealthly Guiness had his heart warmed by the preaching of Wessely and began a family tradition of generosity, helping the poor and good works that permeated the company. Good company for Os, whose social commentary makes a large point of Christians leading the way in treating people we are disagreeing with, people who dislike us, issues we disagree with, all with a spirit of civility and respect. This is the most pressing problem in the nasty rhetoric flowing from our struggle in the economy and the political and social changes we are facing. Too much evil talking on both sides.

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's Laura's Birthday on Sunday

But we are celebrating all weekend since the two grand kids are with us. We enjoyed our usual McDonald's fare...a salad for me. We swam at the Oakwood pool. And we are watching Monsters, Inc.

My adult life has no memories that do not include her.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Don't trust anyone over 30!!!

Dr. Os Guiness said that every now and then a generation becomes conceited and heads off in an unwise direction. The 60s kids were such, have grown up and messed up. Our current generation of young people are generationally conceited. Os sat under Francis Shaeffer when he was in his 20's, and held the rapt attention of a multigenerationl church in Roseville Ca at age 69. He said it was refreshing to be in any church where people are taught to think. Agreement here.

We tend to shrink our definition of generation so it represents people in a small age range, when biblical speaking a generation is all those living together at a given time and included cradle roll to the very old. I miss being part of a multigenerational church.

When I left my denomination, I choose a church with this motto, "one generation, passing the light of truth, to another". I loved the respect that was shown to the elderly in that church.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This life....and the life to come

Don't waste your time going in there brother!!!!!

Os Guiness spoke of the American flirtation with Hindu ideas, re. Julia Roberts recent conversion to the Hindu faith. He said we think the idea of a "circle of life" is so exciting when you sing along with Lion King. The circle....the circle of life. In reality cycular beliefs are an endless treadmill of being stuck in an unchanging universe, hoping to improve to the point of non existence.

The linear view of the Christian worldview says our life has meaning now because it is related to new life ahead, and is very exciting. It gives meaning to life.

I Timothy 4 uses the phrase of excercsing ourselves for the purpose of Godliness. I am writing this in the gym as I continue my quest for health. Paul says bodily excercise is of some value, but not as much as being in God's gym, where there is benefit for this life....and the life to come. Now that is a thought to ponder.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Os Guiness and fast time

I imagine sailing helps you slow down and realize you have to wait for the wind to move you.

Os Guiness spoke at the Labri Conference on the tension between the pace of life most of history lived, and the speed at which instant communication and 24/7 work demands have created for most people today. It is a different world and dynamic.

He gave some great advice about how the rhythms of our spiritual life can help us manage the stress and tension many feel and follow the calling God has upon your life and commitments.

He told the story of a Spanish priest visiting Ireland and asking an old man in the pub if they had a word equivalent to "manana". No, he said, nothing with that much urgency.

We need to keep the pace of our listening to God and understanding His ways less instant than our news, our texts, and our computers.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Home again

Can you see my Kia reflection in that aluminum?

Over 2500 miles trouble and accident free, for which I am very thankful. I now know the shape and feel of the towns, parks, and business corridor of northern California.

The conference was well planned and hosted, the speakers were informative and helpful, it was all good.

Laura and I caught up, and she honestly had some time to reflect on what her life would feel like if she were widowed. It's sobering and makes you appreciate the difficulties of our widows who face loneliness and have to force themselves to get out. I hope we have many more years together, Lord willing.

Back to the gym doing penance for the overeating habits that return so easily to my life. I will always have this weakness.

I took some really poor pictures on this trip. It never works well out the window or through the window of a moving car, but it's a temptation when you are not driving.

The summer of my 60th birthday will forever be special in my mind and heart for a refreshing time away to two lovely Hawaiian Islands, the Florida and Mississippi panhandles which is so much a part of our roots and past, and some of the most amazing places in the west.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A 500 mile travel day

Icons of San Francisco

We left the Church service at 10:30am and have checked into a Super8 in Beaumont, CA.
at 7:30pm. We are tired. Back about 10 miles the traffic came to a virtual standstill and crept along until we found firemen fighting a fire in the grass that had filled more than an acre on our side of the road.

Having never driven the I-5 I learned several interesting things. One is a stretch called "the grapevine" which crawls over a mountain range and causes all the trucks to go very slowly.

The other is a terrible result of having too many trucks and cars on a two lane interstate. If you got in the right lane after passing a truck, you could not get into the left again, or people kept jumping into that lane to pass most of the cars on the right and then forcing themselves back in and causing a big braking reaction and making the drive very nerve racking.

I enjoyed traveling with my golfing buddy Larry as we made fun of each other and enjoyed the whole week. We stopped at Costco to eat and Larry, of Hispanic origin, entered in the exit. When I stopped him he showed me another family entering through the exit, see he said, they are Hispanic also, we are just used to entering places illegally!!!!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bridges on the Bay

We took a side trip to San Francisco today. Crowds and traffic very heavy. Cold wind chilling our Arizona bodies to the bone. I had been here once before 15 years ago at night so it was nice to be there during daylight.

A low cloud set in as we arrived so the pictures were affected. I enjoyed coming in from Marin County and crossing the bridge, which costs $6 by the way, plus two more bridges at $5.

Saw trolleys, hills, the wharf shops at Pier 39, Alcatraz Island, China Town, the Pyramid Building. Fun to visit, would not want to live there.

Life long learning

This is a God's eye view of Yosemite's double waterfall from a mile above at Glacier Point. You feel as if you could step off the edge and be there, even though we drove 30 miles to get up that mountian.

I have never hidden the fact that I am on a quest to answer two questions in my golden years. Simple questions, difficult questions.....Who is God? What is the Gospel?

For a long time I was seeking to understand all the nuances of the faith I had been raised with...ie. the reformed and calvinist tradition.

In 1999 I began to think and read more widely, partly due to the increased accessiblity of studies and articles on the internet. Now I know how easy it is to get mislead or confused, but I still believe with caution and discernment their are many thinkers and teachers from many traditions who can bless and teach.

Os Guiness is a Chinese born, English educated, American transplant in 1968 who is a Christian thinker, writer, and observer of culture and Christian history. I have really enjoyed his communication style, deep thinking, and insightful critiques from his Anglican point of view

I went this morning to another conference to catch a few teachers. These folks are trying to offer correction to some pretty crucial issues long believed in the church. Different approach, still very edifying.

After I return to my life, I will think, expand, reflect, learn, apply, share, hopefully with some humility.

I am excited about taking a photo walk this afternoon in downtown San Francisco.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Interstate 80 parking lot

This is a beautiful part of the country. The northern suburbs of Sacramento, yet I feel trapped....going and coming from the conference the Interstate is moving like a parking lot, and these poor folks with expensive homes have to deal with impossible traffic day in and out, until they move, like my friend Larry did. He just could not take it anymore.

Still thankful for this week of travel, missing wife and home, but experiencing something good and wonderful.

The conference is dealing with the reality of our old faith and our changing culture. The speakers have followed Francis Shaeffer by creating Shelter places for searching people looking for answers. They are good speakers because they are good students and listeners.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Roseville California Labri Conference

Half Dome peak from Glacier Point, Wow, people having been climbing that since 1875.

We have arrived at the conference location. We enjoyed a very chilly round of golf at Mare Island, a closed WWII Naval Base, the oldest golf course west of the Mississippi River. Lots of fun.

Looking forward to hearing Dr. Os Guiness tonight.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Glacier Point

El Capitan, half dome, Bridal veil falls, I finally saw Yosemite today and I am so amazed at the coming together of so many views

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Bucket List Day

Seeing the Giant Sequoia groves in the park was very special. They look so different, almost like someone made them of paper mache, until you realize the massive weight and height of these beautiful trees. We drove 90 miles inside the park and saw so many beautiful overlooks and breathtaking giants.

There is an long wait to get through an area of construction that we were not expecting but the crowds were very managable and pleasant. It was a great day.

I uploaded abouot 60 shots to a set called Sequoia on my Flickr account. Enjoy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hello from central California

Love the California Hills

A very nice Marriott resort.

Sunday we drove from Phoenix to Palm Desert CA. This morning we teed off at the Desert Springs Marriotts resort golf course and had a wonderful time playing with two men from the area.

We are now in Visalia CA, the main road into Sequoia National Park. We will head in and drive to as many sites as we can before heading further north to drive through Yosemite National Park.

We are being helped by Larry's nephew, a Marriott employee who is giving us tremendous room discounts. I can't tell you how much, you will be jealous.