Hawaii 2010

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Conversations with Muslims

The Arizona Memorial was in our thoughts last week. One of the most moving afternoons of my life to see that place.

Each new experience I enter into, no matter how late in life, adds to my understanding and appreciation of humanity in all her complexity.

This week I shared a room with a misfit gang of Muslims worshippers, led by a volunteer chaplain, in their worship routines. Later this leader shared his own conversion from Roman Catholicism to embrace his ethnic roots and the Muslim faith.  He teaches peace and rejects the violence of the modern terrorists, and understand how hard it is for us outside his faith tradition to be trusting.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Joy and Fruit of Trimming Back

The pool is pretty but the water temp is 50 degrees, not swimming weather!!!

So, with a retirement budget, although we bought a resort to enjoy, and we are, we also cut back on what felt like outrageous expenses, like Dish Network.  It was up to more that 140 a month without any movie channels.

So we bought the new cool flat panel antennas that bring in over 30 HD channels, and another 30 plus from Sling TV. Over the last seven months of retirement we found ourselves watching less and enjoying everyday life of reading and talking more. We have to make an effort to switch to the internet channels and decide if we want to watch a movie or something special on HDTV.

Bottom line, I am less hooked on Channel surfing and even sports than ever before. I feel free.

With a pool and the very hot summer we were kind of stunned at our electricity bills this summer, so this fall and winter we are cutting back by allowing the house to chill down, using a small heater to warm up the bathroom, lots of covers for sleeping, and maybe a half hour when we are home cutting the chill off the home. Our bills are now really low and we get such a kick pretending we are being real tough.

Now that we are both back at work, we have no plans to return to those expense, but will enjoy saving for special dining experiences and really splurge filled vacations.

If you come visit we promise not to make you suffer with us.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Living in a different world

I am not free to share what goes on in my new ministry. Suffice it to say that each day is very interesting and full of unexpected conversations and routines to be learned.

The role of a Chaplain is unique in this setting in that so many people value the role you play, and respect you even if they have no interest in spiritual things.

Like my former life, I am working on Christmas again when Christmas hits of Sunday.

Speaking of that, I still remember the solemn Sunday Christmas when we heard about the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 that took so many lives in a manner of hours. I was so affected by the video captures of so many vacations that turned into nightmares in a moment. In a way it set me off on a deeper search into the meaning of suffering in human life.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Back to Work

Shannon and Gampa, several happy Christmases ago.

I have completed my orientation and begin my new work tomorrow. I am now an employee of CoreCivic, serving as the second full time Chaplain at the Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy.

CoreCivic is a private Corporation that runs a 2000 man Correctional Facility 40 miles south of Sun Lakes, a lovely quiet drive that is not hard to make twice a day at all for a person motivated to work. They have facilities in 11 states and are the largest private rehabilitation company in the country formerly names Corrections Corporation of American, now CoreCivic to reflect a large move into leasing facilities back to states and running many new re-entry homes for those freed to return to the outside world.

I am on the Program staff and we have our own building that looks a lot like your High School Corridor with Classrooms, Computer training Room and Library. I am in the Chapel with a nice corner office where all the Religious Services and Bible Studies are held.

Next door I have teachers with strong Christian faith helping the men get their GEDs and for all, get an Arizona academic equivalency in English, Math and general studies. I will organize the various services run each week, respond to requests for Christian materials and provide counseling in my chapel and in the various housing pods. Next week I work with the present Chaplain before he moves to a new office and chapel in the expansion of the facility. He has been at it a while and will show me all I need to learn. I am also surrounded with lots of friendly, eager young men and women thankful for well paying jobs in Corrections, and a great seasoned staff that is like a big family.

The Private prison provides a place far more humane that most State run facilities, with AC and a staff well trained in keeping everyone safe while they pay for the crimes they committed with time.
I will not sugar coat the fact that some of the inmates have serious problems and violent pasts. My job begins with treating each of them with dignity and representing the Lord in my day to day movement throughout the facility, in the visitation rooms with families, and times when I bear hard news to those inside about something that has happened in their families.

There is also training in gardening, electrical work, construction, to give these younger offenders a chance for a better future. Years ago I took Prison Fellowship training and helped in a similar prison in Florence and always felt an interest in this type of work. Grateful that there is no age discrimination in this workplace that that they recognized my skills in relating to people and promoting personal faith in a tough place.

Laura is getting very busy as a sought after substitute and next week will teach full time for a quarter for a maternity leave. Our alarm clock is back in business.

I feel good about this decision and pray my health and strength will be adequate for the tasks ahead. The Company gives a very generous paid time off policy with each month you gain days of vacation, so maybe another trip to the Big Island will be in store for next summer or fall.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A new direction

Christmas 2010, how quickly kids grow up. Ben is 11 and Shannon is 17 today.

Talking to a man in his 80's who said he retired at 58 and never looked back, still commuting back and forth from AZ to Wisconsin and his inherited Green Bay Packers Season tickets. I did not know their was a 40,000 person waiting list for the season tickets.

Talked to a man in his mid 80s, who talked about how hard owning his own small business was and how he managed to lose so much money during the last decade of his working life,....and he is still working in the same business and loves it.

Talked to a man in his mid 70s, who never retired from ministry, and now comes to work early to be home for his ailing wife suffering from dementia.

Been wrestling with this for a long time, but I am just not ready to retire and sit around playing golf and relaxing. It just does not fulfill me.  I feel like I have so much to offer from my life of study and experience.

More to follow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Casita Project

One of the great features of our home is a separate third bedroom with a full bath and shower, with a walk in closet. Matthew got a cat when he lived with us, and the cat played "let me out" for quite a while till the decent carpet had a big hole near the door.

So, this month our project is to rip out the carpet, repaint the walls, and install a new floor and make it into a space for visitors, for a man cave getaway, or whatever. We are installing the new flooring that looks like wood but is a very sturdy vinyl product. One of the hardest parts is ripping up the carpet braces and the nails that are pounded into the cement all around the room.

The Casita forms a delightful front courtyard with a nice fountain that we enjoy, although it has been acting up lately. Geez houses take constant maintenance!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Centering on the Macys Parade

Turkey does this for me every time.

There is just something about that 90 year tradition we all grew up with. The relaxing Sunday Morning of Thanksgiving links me to all those that have gone before and allows me to reflect on reasons to be Thankful.

This year we are in the fourth home we have owned in our marriage, which feels new, and this year I am dealing with the changes of my retirement from pastoral ministry has created.

We enjoyed a lovely afternoon Melissa and her family, great food, great tech talk about making our cordless TV life work more smoothly, and football of course.

Ready for the end of the year and the joys of another year, Lord willing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

R.I.P. Half Ear the Rhino

I shared our special visit with the Rhinoceros at the Phoenix Zoo, and we learned tonight on the news that he was euthanized today, because of a long period of physical deterioration brought on by old age, and the loss several years ago by his mate.  We read that he was in his mid 40s so he had a rich long life, longer than the 30 years they average in the wild.

I have to confess our deep sadness, because we watched him for almost ten minutes and I starred into those sad eyes of his and wondered what was going on. After the footage I shot he actually broke into a trot and headed to the corner of the pen. The whole experience was special for us, and although I sometimes feel sad for animals confined to zoos, I know they are well cared for and well fed, and that they connect us to the amazing animal kingdom.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Rhino on Display

One of the things Laura and I decided to do with out retirement was to purchase an annual Zoo pass. Today was our third visit, in which we walked slowly and discovered that each exhibit decides when to reward the visitor, like today when we found an attendant giving the orangutans a nail job with a dremel. They all lined up for the treats and obediently poked their fingers through the cage and seemed to enjoy the process.

Or the Rhino, who normally sits way back in the corner, came out and showed his massive body to all of us from 15 feet.  We were also mesmerized by the large pink Flamingos who seemed to be walking and running in a concerted dance, first left that right, then in the water running in mad circles with those long stick legs. This fits so well with my devotional reading of Richard Rohr, a Franciscan teacher who reminds us that creation really is the handy work of God and the marvels of the animal kingdom are so amazing to watch and appreciate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Protesting an election?

Civility is the root of civilization. Lets be civil about this transition folks. FB has reveled in the comments and memes designed to make the other person look stupid and us look brilliant. Both sides play a destructive game with no winners.

I did not waste my vote, I voted, and those who voted for President Elect Donald Trump will win the electoral college unless something evil lurks underneath the process.

The protests are so odd, so strange and completely undemocractic and unrepublican that the source must be something deeper.  And the alienation that the left is feeling is probably not unlike the alienation I have felt in many election cycles. My reaction and those who share like convictions has not and would not reach this level and this length.

The healing of these feelings is possible, although the new people in power are already beginning to do and act in a way that causes power to corrupt in the first place.

I have a feeling that Christians were always supposed to stand between the two poles of expressing life, we are neither conservative nor liberal, we are citizens of another government of the heart under a new rule of life, being love and the spirit of reconciliation.

Not seeing too much of that spirit anywhere this week. Hoping for the best.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

So, Here we Go!

If I leave this continent it will be to move to Hawaii.

Life long Republican congratulates President Trump. We have elected an odd man, a unique man, a man whose flaws in character and maturity are visible.

I believe in the importance of civility, and hope and pray that both sides learn the blessing of being civil in a world that is obviously divided in many basic beliefs and hopes.

I believe that compromise is the very work of government for anything to go forward. Power is a privilege, and a responsibility. Our President has never been a politician, and he needs to listen to and trust many voices in playing catch up with how the system works.

I pray the most divisive comments and the most insensitive attitudes that Trump expressed will fall into the quiet background and his hopes for building unity and a healthy economy will become a reality.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Refusing Doom and Gloom realistically

A blow hole on Kauai....blowing!

Somethings going to blow this week. Both sides predict weal and woe if their candidate is not placed in office.

Both sides predict joy, peace, prosperity, and harmony if their candidate is placed in office.

Those who doubt both, often place their faith in the absolute sovereignty of God. Which, while a comforting thought, may not be something we really understand in a world where God's best action towards evil was submission, and God's best advice towards wrongdoers is justice and mercy, with mercy winning in the end.

I just finished two books on God and suffering, for me a subject I find necessary to ponder. Both attempt to explain evil, and bad things that happen to good people.

When this thing blows, bad things are going to happen to good people, but how bad, how long, and how big depend on circumstance perhaps beyond the control of both parties and both candidates.

At my age, I desire wise government, and unselfish governors, I desire safe streets, and good opportunities for all to live and work and enjoy life.  I have no candidate in this race.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Technology Dump

Junior High Youth Group 1974.

Almost two decades ago I became the keeper of family memories. My parents had about 25 Kodak Carousel Cases. Over the years I digitized almost every one that actually contained people or something recognizable. After that was done I finally through the slides away, leaving empty plastic trays.

I kept thinking someone would want them, so dutifully we packed them away in some closet each time we moved. Always thinking someone would enjoy the old slide technology.  What took a special effort to set up your projector, your screen, and move from one carousel to another can be accomplished with a tiny usb plug in and your TV Screen. Its the nature of progress.

So today, one by one, they were tossed into the recycle dump, and like Kodak, are no more.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Can a Christian be apolitical?

One of the 30plus lego creations at the Phoenix Zoo till the end of the year. Very cute work.

I am a registered lifelong Republican. I have no candidate running in this presidential election. I have heard all the rhetoric about voting for the platform, and considering the alternative.

I have also listened to the reasoned concerns of many conservatives on the unsuitability of the Republican candidate in terms of life long relational and stability issues in relationship to having the qualifications of holding this high office.  I still fear that many hopeful people will "get Trumped" with some disturbing surprises should he win the election.

Somewhat disturbing among the weekly verbal barrages from Trump, was the use of the word "nasty woman", "nasty woman" twice in the last debate, uttered under his breath but clearly heard by all.

When a Christian acquaintance of mine repeated the word in an attack on Megyn Kelly a few days ago, I realized how quickly Christians can slip down the slippery slope. Megyn Kelly, the darling of Fox News for years, is suddenly a "nasty Woman", for stating her real concerns over the character of Donald Trump?

Maybe because I no longer get Fox News because of attempts to whittle down my budget. Maybe because I have become the subject of Christian narrow mindedness of late. Maybe because I believe all humans have more in common than they pretend. Maybe because my studies reveal that all political power is corrupting, and that government has over reached its boundaries on both the right and the left. I do not know.  But I feel very sorry for those trying to lift their nominee to a level of political savior. I would love to be the subject of all the "I told you so" if He indeed rescues our nation from demise.

I could have stayed silent till this mess is over, but I am trying to learn to speak my mind regardless of consequences, and perhaps believe our problems have spiritual answers apart from this us vs. them game we play.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

New Directions

We are going to use our Annual membership to the Zoo often. Today was our second visit, and first with the grandkids. We did a little over three hours and visited the childrens area which is excellent, and really enjoyed our time.

I am beginning to be more thankful for the freedom I have and knocking on more doors to keep busy and add to the vacation fund.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

O Ye Few, and Faithful

A day at the Zoo picture.

I have loved my little blog, closing in one 100,000 reads since I began in 2008. Just a few family and friends check in. I mostly share my life and a picture, and occasionally a rant on religion and politics.

For a while now I have been careful not to turn my facebook into a political or faith blog, and mostly the same here, although you know my views are changing from the general tone of my posts.

Retirement is changing me too, mainly because I am deciding how to spend each day when there are no messages to prepare, articles to write, people to visit in the hospital, and all the things pastors do each week.

I have started journaling in Evernote, and there I unplug and work through my thoughts and emotions where only me and God can reflect on my heart cries.

I have not lost my desire to grow in understanding, not by adding more knowledge but by putting the knowledge in the context of life and not being pushed and shoved by fear or uncertainty.

The world is changing, always does, and I do not want to be a rigid senior citizen, or a my way or the highway thinker. Life has been interesting, and I do not want to lose the moment by moment enjoyment of all that I can still enjoy. Maybe one day those private ideas will make there way to the surface, and maybe I will still have some people to discuss it with, and maybe the outcome of the election will elude both sides threats and fears, and life will go on with some degree of civilized interaction, some degree of unity, and some degree of good will.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cruz, Bush, Rubio...long Sigh of sadness!!

Some colorful leaves on Prescott Square.

Got my ballot in the mail yesterday. I will vote quickly and shut down any interaction with the campaign as the outcome nears.

I have shifted lots of paradigms in the last 20 years, and now is the time for a good paradigm our at least a more authentic one to come to service.

The necessity of government I understand, but now I add the reality of Empire, which always corrupts no matter who has the reigns. Those who think their candidate will bring back something from the past may be looking through rose colored glasses.

The blessings of personal  godly morality I heartily amen, but the absence of justice and equality for all will not occur without a broader vision of a God who loves all humanity, not just us nice ones.

The separation from the church from politics was my heritage, and I still tend to believe that associating your faith with a particular party is a recipe for gospel confusion.

My firm and thankful rejection of all apocalyptic and doom and gloom theologies helps me not ever to run around ranting, "the sky is falling",  "the sky is falling".

My firm and thankful rejection of any belief that America is the new Israel, or the need to baptize our colored past and think we are a truly Christian Country.  Christians are people, countries are groups of people geographically and politically related....not the same.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Getting reacquainted with our Adopted Arizona

So we decided to do some day trips and started with Prescott, pronounced like "bisquit". What a lovely drive up to 5000 altitude, with a town square that is delightful, and a square full of restaurants, bars, and antique stores. We ate, and browsed the stores and enjoyed seeing some changing leaves.

I think its been seven or so years since we visited, and the suburb town of Prescott Valley has grown enormously. Prescott is 120 miles north on I 17.

The way back was aided by the use of the HOV Lane which sped the drive through rush hour.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Who controls my Facebook?

This morning the tone of my Facebook feed was rabid. The political parties and individuals attacking, accusing each of being equally wicked, so whats the difference, and threats as to what my vote for the wrong candidate will unleash.

I have friends who have dropped out of political involvement completely, I suspect for personal survival, and those who love politics and cannot stop posting and fighting for their candidate and party.

I have Christian friends supporting Trump who would be embarrassed to defend his character in any other situation, but are joining the efforts to make him look like God's political messiah for our nations survival.

I would vote for the platform I most support, but really fear He is,cannon with deep and twisted unresolved issues about who he is and some disturbing leadership traits that are downright frightening. If he goes rogue there is no telling the damage he could cause.

Lots of people are hoping God will step in and save us, or take us. I am not holding my breath for either for lots of reasons.

I still believe love wins.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Scorpions! Ugh!

Celebrating 3 and 1 year anniversaries of October trips to Hawaii Big Island and Kauai. Hoping for another trip to the Big Island sometime in 2017.

We move 7 tenths of a mile from a home where we never saw a scorpion to having a bit of a problem in our new to us home.  Last week we finally had a treatment and were feeling better about our sightings.  The brief story I am about to relate is true, and is a c, all for constant vigilance to me.

Last evening I was cooking dinner, and needed a spice. I picked up our tablespoon measuring spoon and shook out the spice, but the spoon down and began to crush it a little. After tending to my dish on the stove I glanced at the spoon and noticed what looked like a rubber band hanging around the handle, and instantly I remembered a warning by our pest control man to never pick up something that looks like a rubber band.

Yes, a two inch scorpion was wrapped around the spoon, had been there while I held it and shook the cup full of spice. My finger was less than a inch from the scorpion the whole time.  For some reason he did not strike, and at the moment unwound himself to run for cover, and met a quick and violent death by measuring cup.  Feeling grateful not to be dealing with my first scorpion bite.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Thankful Reprieve on the health front

This was July 2001, about the time this health thing all began.

Since most of my readers are family and friends, I will fill in the blanks on my good news about living with recurrent issues related to diabetes and arteriosclerosis. I was diagosed and began to live with adult onset type II diabetes at age 50. At 51 I had a heart attack that I misdiagnosed and walked around with for 10 hours that did some permanent damage. Two years later chest pains that caused me to drive to the ER, both these attacks led to the insertion of stents. Two years later in the afternoon with family here I was transported to the ER with more chest pains.

This began the practice of having yearly stress tests at the end of August, and though I have never had chest pains, I often felt more winded or tired, and each year I would pass the resting test and the running test would indicate a blockage, not in all, but just in one place, unlike most folks who find blockages in two or three major arteries and end up with by passes.

This spotty blocking may be the result of good exercise and eating, but the small narrowings could each have resulted in eventuary heart attacks, so I went under voluntary heart caths for five years in a row, each time they successfully ballooned or stented the problems and life went on.

Since the last years in my ministry began to be a struggle to sustain growth and deal with tensions of my changing views in a traditional church, I knew I was feeling stressed out, and we all hoped that retirement would help.  So far it may have, at least for now. I take this as an invitation to continue the good habits, and develop better ones with the free time we now enjoy. I have to be careful not to let the issues of finances and finding continued meaning and usefulness in this stage of life not become new sources of stress.

So, that is my health update, and thanks for caring.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I shared a platform with Patsy Ramsey Once

I watched the 20 year reinvestigation of the Jon Benet Ramsey Death with great interest the last two nights. We may never know but the recreation and reexamination of the original case and the subsequent foul ups made for a fascinating TV event.

I found myself agreeing with the plausibility of their conclusion of an accidental death by the son's hand, and a deliberate cover up by the family.

Before Patsy Ramsey died of Cancer, she attended and spoke at the funeral of one of her suitemates at the cancer treatment center who had died and had her mother plan the service and invite me to officiate.

I did not know until I showed up that Patsy Ramsey was there. Something about her fame and notoriety made her seem larger than life, and her tribute to her friend was powerful, poised, and genuine. I remember thinking that this woman could not have killed her daughter.  Her Christian faith was very evident in her presentation and of course you could tell that she had endured much scrutiny and much anxiety about her own life since the loss of her daughter and through the battle with cancer.

Laura and I enjoyed a powerful movie last weekend, The Light between Oceans, about a man of principle and integrity who gave in to the passion and love he had for his wife, and committed a crime. Know what I know now, this successful attempt to protect their son and disrupt the search for the truth was wrong, and just like in the movie, they all paid a price for their errors, if indeed this is the correct conclusion.  It was for me an interesting opportunity to share a closer look at a headline that became a real person to me that weekend.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Rest in Peace Tim Rose

Beautiful Utah landscape and beautiful wife.

The gaps in my posting indicate not much is going on in my retirement life of late. I am going through my yearly tests for heart health condition and will keep you posted.

Heard from friends that one of my college buddies died last week. We are reaching that age where this can be a regular fact. Tim was unique, short of stature, one of those whose Christian faith was real but subtle, and whose embrace of the Christian freedoms of smoking and card playing was evident to all. Both a loner and a team player, better in quiet conversation than public speaking.

We spent a lot of time together in Christian fraternity projects, and just hanging out and eating together. He fell hard for a beautiful younger class girl, got married and left my circle of life. I saw them briefly in an early teaching post near the gulf coast, and then they returned to home base in Miami.

You never forget those early friends, and though seperated by decades, I miss his presence as part of the fabric of my own life.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Labor Day Retirement Thoughts

Been retired for five months, Labor Day weekend. We both have enjoyed our new home as a never ending project of care, improvement, and relaxation.

We had time away, I had my first extended golf outing, which wore me out, and we enjoyed a great quick round trip through the scenic southwest to Denver and back.

We have sort of honored the time honored practice of staying out of the church business  after you leave, which has created a vacuum of
friendships for us so far.

We both miss the world of labor, God said it was a good thing right?  I am now praying for a friend who retired once, and started a retirement business he ran daily for 12 years, and just a few months into a real and final retirement, has taken seriously ill. He would not regret never really retiring, he was not really equipped for it.

Laura is going to try the world of teacher substitution, and I am knocking on part time doors as well.
Back to labor day....is there any way our country can recreate a real middle class with well paying jobs?  Can those not gifted with tech or leadership skills not find manufacturing or labor intensive work?  How can we make improving our economy more than an empty campaign rhetoric? Labor made us great.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I am a miracle of modern medicine

This is a Disney shot from 2005.  A sweet memory of one of many of our days at Disneyland.

This week I start my yearly check up and test with my excellent cardiologist.  I have a genetic propensity for plaquing in my arteries that first showed up with a heart attack in the year 2000.

Yes, it is acerbated by my propensity to accumulate too much fat around my belly area, as the picture attests.

Two more quick trips to the hospital with chest pains led to us being proactive and we successfully intercepted five potential areas of arterial narrowing over the last five years.  I tend to  have very few symptoms when these life threatening clogs are developing, and tend to pass the non stress part of the test, ie plenty of oxygen for day to day living, but then I fail the stress part of the test which shows the narrowing of the arteries.

Yes, I try to eat healthy, yes I exercise regularly, yes I pray about it, yes I meditate about healing, yes to everything. But the reality is that I have a problem that might lead to sudden health emergencies, or lead to arterial bypass surgery.

So, with thankfulness, peace in my mind, I begin the yearly testing. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Congrats to Alan and Sally

My ministry friends are beginning to retire. Sally H and I went to High School together, she was a prom date for Senior Prom. Married a Seminary Friend Alan C. I remember once we met while on a hospital visit and discussed our frustrations with our early pastoral ministry. He said may we had to be 30 to get respect in the ministry.

He and Sally just retired after 30 years in the same church as Senior Pastor. I saw him showered with respect at his going away party. You have to really respect a couple that stayed in one place that long with all the coming and going of people. Long relationships, lots of ups and downs, but no endings and beginnings the way my ministry history turned out. That's Sally and Allen C. in the middle.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thoughts as August winds down

This is my selfish little Hummer who is hoarding all this delicious nectar to himself. He would have more friends if he shared.

We enjoyed Florence Foster Jenkins and BenHur this week, both well done with good food for thought.

The cooler days and nights have my pool just right for a refreshing swim. 82-86, just perfect.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Carbon Monoxide?

An artistic twist from a downed desert tree.

Laura was roused by a loud beeping last night. This new home has a Carbon Monoxide detector which went off registering a 25. The booklet said if it reads 70 leave the house and call 911. HMMM!

An A/C repairman saw it on the wall the other week and told us it was one of the best on the market and incredibly sensitive. So, I got up last night to investigate. Gas stove turned off! No evidence of leaks in gas furnance or gas water heater, the obvious culprits. So we sat up until a reset showed no readings and went back to bed.

Did not wake up dead, so we are keeping an eye on things for a while.

As we reach the end of August we both feel the need to get out and get involved again in our career fields. I am as good as the next guy at doing leisure, but when leisure time is all the time, it just gets to be too much. At least thats how I feel now. It could always change. Still enjoying life, and watching for the silent killer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Recovering from the 100 Year Storm

My heart goes out to the masses of people whose homes are lost or damaged in this years flooding in the deep south. We have been able to dry out and clean our back porch from our recent inundation of water. As we placed the furniture I am reminded how grateful I am to have this outside space for our early retirement years. We meet here with each other, and with our morning devotional reading and spend at least an hour enjoying the morning air, and battling a dozen nasty mosquitoes we can't seem to get rid of.

In the late afternoon and evening we repeat our time outside as the sun sets. In just a few weeks we will be out their anytime during our mild winter days. I keep thinking about that goofy movie line, "Honey, I bought a resort". For some reason maintaining this pool daily reminds me of the happy years of my youth as a life guard and pool cleaning specialist. The Pineapple is a Hawaiian symbol of hospitality and we are planning on using the space for entertaining as we get settled.

Death and Taxes

Of that morbid title comes the reflection, "if your still paying taxes you are not dead". As we take our first faltering steps into this retirement part of life I have been struck by how much the continued taxation of my post retirement benefits and taxation of my savings withdrawals.

This has messed up all my projection planning and budget worksheets. One wonders if it were possible for the rising population of seniors to stage some sort of mass tax revolts for the purpose of limiting the spending and demand for tax dollars on the middle income seniors.

Meanwhile we wonder if we are enjoying total freedom of time or would enjoy part time work to make this all working more smoothly.

Back to the death part, morbidly speaking. It's time for my annual stress test and hopes that whatever is causing the random narrowing of my arteries might be slowed down or stopped by the end of ministry stress and the continued care shown by our diet choices and exercise. I have failed five years in a row, earning what one of the doctors assistants what he called a near bionic artery filled with metal.

Surprisingly, I spend little time thinking this negatively, preferring to enjoy each day as a gift to be together in a lovely place filling our day with conversation, continued learning, and involvement with friends and family.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A tender reflection on Theodicy

Last week a family of five was killed while driving in a construction zone near Denver. An inattentive truck driver plowed into them and took their lives just as they were beginning to train for ministry in Japan. Young couple and three little kids.

How can we rejoice when a "parking angel" opens up a space for us, and we feel so special in God's sight, when this family perished in a painful instant.

Members of a Calvinistic Congregation whose pastor teaches that God is sovereign and foreordains whatsoever comes to pass. No doubt the grieving family rejoices at their joy in heaven, but the lingering sting of death so cruel and so random and so preventable, in a sense that driving responsibly would prevent such accidents.

These family losses sadden me beyond my ability to reason. I think of all the joys of raising family, serving the Lord in a different culture, just gone, five crushed bodies, three sweet children, two loving Christian adults.

One thought, the invention of the auto creates great freedom and connection to move around in this world, and the possibility of accidents thus allows anyone to hit and hurt anyone else. If we say God could prevent any wreck He desired miraculously, then we must also say He allows any wreck he chooses to allow. One of my friends believes we are loved by God but these day by day possibilities of danger, well, God lets it play out, with relentless love and fragile freedom. This allows him to function when our humanity hurts others and limits their freedom and takes their lives.

I continue to reflect.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Road Trip To Denver

We went north through Albuquerque on the way up, two days drive, enjoyed two and 1/2 days at a great conference, walking the .8 of a mile to the church from our Motel and enjoying the speakers and friends we chatted with during our time there.

Home west over the Rockies to Grand Junction, our fist time to see Vail, and Aspen, and the Awesome Glenwood Canyon, and when we headed south we enjoyed The Arches National Park and lots of desert mountains and valleys along the Way, one day we drove almost 12 hours with our side trips, and six more to get home today at 3.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The 100 Year Storm!!!

This waterfall is fed by a high swamp that gets hundreds of inches of rain a year, the wettest spot on earth we were told.

What an evening we had. After a very dry summer and just after we watched all the flooding in central Phoenix we finally got some rain. We sat on the porch enjoying it, .....until it kept getting harder and harder, lightning and thunder, and a downpour that in moments over ran our downspouts ability to send the water away from the back porch. For 45 minutes we worked with brooms finally brushing the waves of water into the pool, which went up five inches.

I am convinced that the thousands of gallons of water pouring through our downspouts would have filled our porch and entered the living room and the brand new carpet. It was exhausting and stressful.

This morning we are drying out soaked patio carpets, cleaning a pool the color of lake water, and wondering if this every happened before since the previous owners were never here in the summer, this being a winter home. There is a tiny strip of vented plastic between the cool deck and the porch that is supposed to drain normal water out to the sides of the home, but this was an overwhelming amount of water.

Monday, August 1, 2016

August-the last total endurance month

An acquaintance has been in Kauai posting pics all week and creating a longing for the islands in me this week.

We woke early on the first day of August to overcast sky and have enjoyed the respite from the heat, as we will enjoy our trip to Denver CO beginning Thursday. Laura watched HELLBOUND the documentary with me to be introduced to two of the speakers we will hear this weekend and to begin to understand the deep conviction I have that God disciplines us to restore, not for retribution or revenge. Humanity must break the cycle of scapegoating and violence if we are ever to truly have the Prince of peace bless our world.

Speaking of the brokenness of creation, we have attracted about four hummingbirds to our backyard feeder so far and for the last couple of days were distressed to find one of the larger ones actually bullying the others and running them off from the feeders from his perch in a tree nearby. My goodness the feeder has six flowers and unlimited nectar fellow...stop being so selfish and share with your fellow Anna's. I do not like Bullys, which explains why my heart is troubled a lot lately.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Three Months Coming Up

It's the nature of technology to change and improve over time.

Laura worked for three days this week to qualify for a bonus recently passed by the electorate. She enjoyed helping all the staff in a stress free way and will be working next week in a testing capacity. Ms. Laura is not suited to the leisurely life and I expect her to be looking for continued involvement in education.

I, however, am naturally suited to leisurely life, and have found many ways to pass the time in the soon three months of early retirement. I have been questioning whether I should be giving up on teaching, in fact, I know I must get back involved. But not in the same context and with the same restraints of traditional evangelical practice.

We are road tripping next week to downtown Denver to gather with others in the grace movement at the Forgotten Gospel Conference. Just getting on the road will be fun for me although Laura has professed a loss of the joy of car travel. I hope to revive her appreciation for sight seeing next week, or at least work on it. Coming home through western Colorado and Monument Valley will be fun. Anything less that today's 113 will be a relief. Bring on the mile high city.

After an anguished three months of TV supplied by rabbit ears, and tossing the options back and forth about the three major package providers I finally decided today to cut the dish/cable and try the world of streaming service. Got a new high speed modem and contract coming, a Roku 3 receiver, and am studying the streaming packages that mimic the high priced world of Satellite but allow you to choose most of your favorite channels for less money. We decided we could live without a steady diet of Fox News, and for me, The Golf Channel. Truth be told we only watched a handful of the 200 channels we plowed through to find something to watch. I will keep you updated on this experience. Don't get me started about the constant price upward creep over the years. If only I could find a way to cut the smart phone, but we are pretty addicted to the news feeds, travel services, and facebook connections to let that go.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Left Behind?

Tim LaHaye has passed, and many of those who served as the vanguard of a resurgent premillennialism are aging toward the grave. His views and popularity have been fascinating to me and also one of the biggest roadblocks to healthy Christianity.

Dispensationalism is a way of seeing the message of scripture with a heavy dose of literalism and a huge belief that God wants us to figure out the season of His second coming.

I grew up with this, yet my own theological family always saw it as novel and somewhat dangerous. Throughout my ministry I would find people so steeped in the latest end time ideas that they assumed all around them were seeing things as clearly as they.

The history of date setting in my lifetime is a history of complete obvious failure. Hal Lindsey always couched his predictions with the vague phrase "this decade, month, season could very well be the last we see".

Is is polite to say bullsh*t? For LaHaye and his crew made themselves very wealthy on the steady diet of "This is It Believers, pack up, pray up and look up.

Fifteen years ago after 9/11 I spent months and months arriving as a view that has many variations but is generally about the fact that the prophetic scriptures in the Gospels are by in large past in fulfillment, that most of them pointed to a very close and temporal judgment coming upon that last Jewish Generation culminating in the loss of national status and the destruction of the ceremonial abilities of Israel.

Yes there are some possibilities that temporal history has perhaps a culmination, but the intricate end times antichrist scenario of The Left Behind Series bordered on the ridiculous and irresponsible. Yes, the rapture tribe loved them, and bought them, and discussed them. But my earnest hope is that Christianity will leave all this silliness behind. Please don't raise up another generation of date setters, please Lord, come before we have to endure another group of theological demigods who are oh so certain about things they do not really understand. Rant Ended, blood pressure slowly returning to normal. Rest in Peace Tim LaHaye.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Oddest Situations Surround Me

Thanks for thinking about us, our compressor seems to be working, while a new one has been ordered by the company that installed the Trane system so we are still under warranty for parts. All AC repairs are expensive!!

My gut tells me that Donald Trump is not going to be the kind of savior that conservatives wish for, my observations confirm he is setting back civility by centuries.

So many of the groups that gave me my identity feel like places where I no longer feel at home.

I no longer really buy into the idea that God is allowing this to teach us a lesson, I just think all the wisdom in the world will not help you if you refuse to see beyond your fears and follow the person playing on them with the skill of a true con artist. This guy is slick.

I am listening to all sides, but the warning signs are there.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Moving things around

A memory of the day my church office was almost vacated.

Updating what I reported on Facebook, my personal space has gone from semi public to private. This great room home had an alcove which we returned we returned to its original intent, a formal dining room. This allowed Laura to use all her favorite pieces of furniture and placed me in the guest bedroom with the ability to close the door. And to reactivate my second TV. All good things. So we have been placing lights and pictures and creating a comfortable living space.

All this without A/C in the back part of the house. Thanks to going through a warranty company we have endured this heat wave with sleeping conditions in the high 80s. Yuck.

We have a really nice inflatable bed for guests, and one day will have the casita as well for guests.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Honoring Ed G.

Led a memorial for a Ed G. today. He passed six days before his 103rd Birthday, so we had cake. A WWII Veteran, long work life, long retirement, out lived two wives. Never took a prescription medicine in his life.

Had a big young black mark, in his early 20s he left wife and two infants and ran off with wife #2, the next door neighbor. I did not know that, but the old retired military officer who received the flag today was the son who was left out of so much of his fathers life. All these decades later the broken parts of that youthful abandonment managed to come back into a relationship that was reconciled.

I kind of hope that happened a lot, in this life, and hopefully in the next. It would fit the character of a reconciling God.

Friday, July 15, 2016

10 Week Report

This room in Kauai last October had no A/C, but the proximity to the ocean helped.

When I think of the things that can truly change your experience of life, attitude is very high on the list. A negative or fearful thought can cast a pall over the whole of life. Guard your heart above all.

There are so many emotions that come with transitioning out of your careers. We are really realizing that we need things to do, and of course if we made some income it would help our overall planning. And if it is true that no one knocks on your door when you are retired then we need to decide what doors we want to knock on. And that's what we are starting to think about.

Our Compressor died on the Bedroom A/C, and its hot back there. We are dealing with a warranty company which makes it more difficult, and we are facing night three and no hope for the weekend. If it gets to 110 at 4 pm then the bedroom is over 90. We take turns sleeping on the air mattress in the living room.

Every time I think that radical violence has hit a new low, like burning people alive, then a new low comes by plowing down innocent men, women, and children. This has to sooner or later bring us together against the sheer lunacy of ideological terrorism.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Birthday Reflections

Life passes by and it seems quick after its gone. In the middle of a dreadfully hot summer each day sludges forward and fall seems eons away. I have been young and now I am old. Sixty Six is a young old age and a half decade that I have not fully prepared for, as the emotions of the last two months have shown.

I am young in retirement age, so I begin a new birthday year with good balance in my spirit and good hopes and expectations of some great times ahead. Thanks for thinking of me.

Birthday Reflections

Life passes by and it seems quick after its gone. In the middle of a dreadfully hot summer each day sludges forward and fall seems eons away. I have been young and now I am old. Sixty Six is a young old age and a half decade that I have not fully prepared for, as the emotions of the last two months have shown.

I am young in retirement age, so I begin a new birthday year with good balance in my spirit and good hopes and expectations of some great times ahead. Thanks for thinking of me.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Violence and Revenge and Murder

Remembering a long morning walk a few summers ago on Pensacola Beach.

No easy answers to what we are facing, no easy finger pointing, hopefully a long shift of realization that our foundations need to be focused on peace, justice, non violence, addressing societal and religious divides. We have a poor track record of taking that path and remembering what fruit revenge, hate and violence produce.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Avoiding Controversy as a personality type

Volcanic creation of land on the Big Island.

The other day I was reading an article challenging Christians not to be so reactive to the creation/evolution discussion. I accidently hit the publish button and had a moment of realization that lots of sweet friends and relatives who have no skin in that game would be invited to read it.

Then I realized that I am a retired person who is free to share and defend helpful ideas. As it turned out only one of my oldest mentors took issue with the article. He assummed that I would be convinced the rightness of the young earth position if I searched out Answers in Genesis, whose recent attempts to defend a KJV literal understanding of Genesis as defendable science have made the news with their now two museums. years the scare tactics and irrationality of Ken Hamm and associates have helped drive me to better research. Over a decade ago I read many books by Christian scholars who embrace an old earth. To attempt to make it a fundamental to faith is to drive intelligent people away from the gospel.

Genesis was written as story, and not intended to be read through our modern western knowledge and assumptions. It is, in my opinion, an unfortunate place to take a stand for cultural drift.

I really do not enjoy online discussions unless I am not involved, my personality reacts to arguements and dissagreements with stress. Nevertheless I am learning the importance of testing my faith and listening to others.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Church Search Report- The Grove

The Grove is a missional church, started by the son of Missionaries, contemporary, evangelical, with a new worship center that features a center platform. Sort of in the square. I was struck by the different seating arraingments, some for kids, some couches, some pews, rising in a large square around the center. The predominate design feature in the use of old boards of different textures and colors around the walls. I liked the feel, long with state of the art sound and four strategically arranged video boards.

The music was full but not overwhelming, had heard none but they were easy to follow with a six person band, the lead singer and a young lady soprano did a great job involving and leading the crowd, one updated hymn at the close. The Jr. High pastor started a one month series on Proverbs that was organized and well spoken with great analogies.

When I lived in Mississippi our church supported this mans father at Arifican Bible College in Malawi, and this church just sent over a hundred to minister in the area last month. This was a good experience for us, and in our consideration for the future. Ten Minute drive away.

Friday, July 1, 2016

A satisfying Tarzan Adventure

A Spider home in a rotten desert tree.

CGI has changed the game in animal interaction with man films, as Mowgli was cute, Tarzan was overpowering. I had my love of reading sparked by the original Edgar Rice Burroughts novels in Elementary School. I would get a new one when I finished the one I was reading when we took a trip from Troy Alabama to Montgomery every month.

When I brought some of my library home after retiring those books came too, and are sitting in my closet as a permanent reminder that reading makes us full of imagination and promise.

How can we not like the repeated attempts to do the novels justice when the greatest Tarzan ever, Johnny Weismuller could not act his way out of a paper bag, I mean those early Tarzans were embarrassing, but I still loved the ideas they represented about our connection to those who birth us and those who raise us, and the animal nature we all share in the instinct for survival.

Loved the flashbacks, loved the rescue of the loving and confident wife, loved the attempts to modernize one of my favs, Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Two month Report

Well, it has been interesting so far since I cleaned out my office and came home to our new home. We make progress cleaning out the book boxes, making multiple giveaway trips to Goodwill. This feels a bit like the three month vacation I had in 2002 except there may be no return to full time work here.

Laura is adjusting well, although pool ownership and electricity bills will slam us pretty hard this summer. We are negotiating what temp we can tolerate in the house, and being more careful during our three hours a day voluntary plan to cut use called EZ3. Gas heat insures we will pay less electricity in our mild winter, and we enjoy a cool house in the winter as well. Meanwhile the overhead fans in every room are helping circulate and keep it all enjoyable. Just yesterday I closed the vents in our guest bathroom and guestroom which is a long way from being reading to welcome guests, and the temp in our bedroom went down two degrees. Nice.

Our mornings by the pool are very special, and the morning swim when the temp in the water has cooled over night are my favorite time of day so far.

When home, our meals are healthy, our exercise regular, our sunshine exposure abundant, our minds and spirits at peace with God and man, and our concerns for the mixed up condition of politics, and world disorder are kept way back on the back burner of our minds, which I hope and pray reaps positive benefits on my health and heart. Good habits.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Facebook friends can be real friends

Most of us use social media to keep up with people we know. Occasionally you let strangers in who have proven that you share things in common and they begin to trust you not to abuse your glimpse into their lives.

Marc and Dixie changed careers, went to Seminary, started ministry while raising three kids. I have loved their authenticity, often zany sense of humor, and over the years have checked in with them, although Canada is so far away, I felt a kinship.

So Facebook develops acquaintance, and empathy, and therefore they felt OK meeting us for an afternoon drive and a good Mexican Meal. We loved showing them the amazing drive up to Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flat Museum, Store and Tourist trap.

They are several decades younger, but I see our journey mirrored in theirs and I am thankful to be an encourager and long distance friend. I hope we meet again.