Hawaii 2010

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Water into Wine

Playing with my Ricoh underwater camera from the shady corner of my backyard pool.

In 2005 I decided to widen my family. I used my study leave, conference leave to experience Christians who were not of my tribe. The first conference led me on a journey away from tribal Christianity. Oddly, about the same time, a successful Word Faith Charismatic Pastor named Brian Zhand began the same journey, starting at the same jumping off place, but with enough history and youth not only to transition his congregation, at some cost, but to provide others a way into a deeper experience of the faith. Not a secret one, not a cheap one, but a real one.

He shares just put part of his story into a book and is giving it away on Kindle this week. Having read his book on non violence I was interested in his journey and I think you will enjoy it as well.

My own journey lacks the completeness of his exploration for what went wrong, some people are meant to write and share, some to teach without writing. But my desire to search where my spirit was not in agreement with those around me has been one of great joy. I still suffer from too much of the desire to be right and to argue, but in retirement its fading fast.

Month one of my retirement has been spent unpacking, de-stressing, putting together the building blocks of our financial freedom, and beginning to think about how to structure my time, how to find friends who share my interests, how to find friends that continue to search outside the walls of their familiarity. Please understand, this is not ego driven, the Christ centered gospel hidden behind our present experience is deep and wide.
I am wading deeper, not for monetary gain but for the true wine.

All my life I have struggled with wine skins that did not hold what I was knowing and experiencing. Wineskins are always a problem for the new wine and is older than what most of us have tasted.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Living without Satellite TV

Laura loves the Pandora Keepsake Bracelet she received from her teacher friends.

We have had Dish Network for 13 years, hooked on a few good shows and my addiction to The Golf Channel. Along with my Verizon Bill, the TV Bills suffers from constant upward creep. We have no movie channels but both of these bills are demanding way too much of my retirement budget and I am constantly trying to figure out how to lower the bills.

This home we just bought has a Direct TV Satellite, so I have been procrastinating about hooking up again. I have to admit also that the haste of our move left way to many cables and component misplaced as well.

So, we have Rabbit Ear Reception, which is not as bad as you think. The major channels are all High Density. I have pondered staying low tech and reading more. As a by product, I have been reminded just how bad Christian television has become, or always has been. I have also been reminded how addictive TV watching can be if you don't monitor your time.

I did keep my modem and WIFI from Dish. This door to the world of information has become more valuable to me than TV. Can see no reason to go offline in retirement.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A real lazy, hazy, crazy, early summer day.

Proud of Ben, growing strong, handsome, and confident as he converses with a former teacher at Chandler Freedom Academy.

Our weekends with the grand kids have become more sporadic as they age and get involved in more extra curricular activities. So yesterday and today we lazed in the pool and out all day, and today we listened to hymns by Fernando Ortega as we read and relaxed after a late breakfast. The last three months and one week since I saw a for sale sign on this property have been so hectic, stressful, overwhelming and fulfilling, that now as we slow down a bit and begin to enjoy the move we made, it is so full of joy and happiness that I just pause to reflect and be thankful.

There has been so much sadness in my circle of friends this week, my longtime friend Marilyn has lost the battle to keep her foot after a motorcycle accident a month ago and will loose it to amputation monday. A former personal assistant and good friend Dianna died of complications from a long battle with pancreatic cancer, leaving a loving happy active family to grieve her passing in her mid 50s. We pray for these families but know how hard it is to experience loss.

There are imperfections in all dreams, realities that over shadow our best times. Little foxes that spoil the vine. We are fighting a never ending battle with debri in the pool, and I have taken a vow to fight it daily. The mosquitoes have been bad and persistently bothersome in the back yard and when they make their way into the house. After 25 plus years in four homes, we finally encountered a Scorpion in our guest bathroom sink yesterday. This is disturbing and puts us on alert in case we have a problem all over the house.

Thats enough for now dear friends. Life is precious, and good, and difficult at times, but when it's a great day, we are grateful!!!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

My wife and her career

During the first fifteen years of our marriage Laura was a Mom and Homemaker, till our last son entered school and we moved west, beginner her second career as an educator. Five years in Christian Schools, and Twenty in the Public School as a hard working patient first grade teacher. Long hours, myriad discipline and parent problems, numerous interferences in schooling by the government programs and funding. And its almost over, except for the choice to substitude or help out on occasion.

The majority of our weeknights together were spent with her grading piles of papers and planning the next day and week. Problem Children are a major problem in recent decades and she hurt and struggled with each one and the effect they had on the rest of the class.

As a Co earner, she plays a major part in preparing for our retirement and I am grateful not only for her dedication, which all her teammates shared yesterday, but for her personal management of our saving and planning for this time in our life. I look forward to hanging out together without the demands and duties of our careers. I am very proud of her last eleven years, opening and establishing the atmosphere of a special type of school called Chandler Traditional Academies.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Relax...check....Refocus....check....Reevaluate.....check....Take Action.....Uh...Not Yet

The Pier at Hanalei Bay, one of my favorite spots on earth.

As I begin week three of home life 101 I am still checking out the emotions and loss of daily people contact. I have really felt the absence of stress and the beginnings of a more relaxed lifestyle. Very soon Laura will begin the journey with me. She is reading What Color is my Parachute, Retirement. That sereies of books and updated were a constant for me over the decades when I faced career changes.

The Refocusing part is just beginning to take shape. I want to use my learning and experience and skills but not in the same way as before. We will see. The Reevaluation has been taking place for a decade. I no longer fit in most of the categories that defined most of my life. Thanks to Bob Edwards who has me going through Richard Rohrs Falling Upward a second time, and more slowly and thoughtfully this time.

Action steps, not yet, just keep pondering....because these are THE LAZY, HAZY, CRAZY DAYS OF SUMMER. LOVE MY NEW BEDROOM, LOVE MY STUDY, LOVE MY BACKYARD, LOVE MY PROPERTY, STILL VALUE MY FRIENDS, LOOK FORWARD TO MAKING NEW ONES. Oh, I still love Jesus as the true face of God, the reconciler, the peacemaker, the compassionate friend.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

In and Out of many neighborhoods

Serving Plates for sale, cheap.

Garage Sales are interesting and revealing. Everyone has things they no longer need or want, or they are downsizing or moving. The search to reusable bargains is at the heart of the Ebay business, although many do sell new items as well.

I am amazed at the architectural variety in our East Valley, just about every type of home from the 60s cookie cutter 1500 sq ft row houses to expansive homes of all shapes and sizes. 20 years ago I threw Newspapers for the Arizona Repubic in the Lakes area of Gilbert. I remember how beautiful the streets and homes were in my area as I cruised through at 3 am searching for house numbers at first, then almost doing it in my sleep as I got experience. I was in some of those neighborhoods today and noticed how dated they had become in such a short time. We are not Europe in terms of long term beauty in our neighborhoods.

We also made a stop at a local good will and I am struck by the people living on the margins of survival we have all around us. I am so greatful for what we have been able to enjoy in our community, and so amazed that new homes are being built everywhere when the jobs that will support them and draw those families seem so few. Interesting times.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Old Christians and New Ideas

One of our newer leaders made a casual remark on my last week at work about the emphasis in my ministry especially the last several years. He kind of smirked and spoke as if I had lost my marbles a bit.

He is right. There are so many dismally negative gospels floating around the evangelical world and I have walked near or through them all. When, as the result of a long and deep reconsideration of the nature of God and the Gospel, especially with the presence of the Allah violence, I began to see things in the depths of the word that made easy answers seem less than honoring to the truth.

But after a lifetime of hearing the same tune, most people are confused by the openness and beauty of the Gospel of Grace. The fact that my own life changing study changed the way I think, I react, and my perceptions of those outside the visible church, I found myself realizing that no matter how slowly I introduced change, these sweet moral saints still thought I was loosing my marbles. At least most of them. Some began to see what I was getting at, and how important this was to the world at this point in our struggle.

If I am to continue teaching, I have to process this and find an interest level that does not require fracturing well built world views. I could, on the other hand, just enjoy life and let the reformation continue with me on the sidelines.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Reflections on one week of retirement

Designer Tattoo art pint glasses...the kind of thing people sell to get rid of and collectors look to buy.

Not long enough to make any concrete decisions. I loved the days I had a list of honey do's. I wish we could make progress with unpacking boxes, its daunting. My two days working and learning the Ebay reselling business...tough...lot's of work to find bargains, and lots of misdirections when finding directions to garage and yard sales. I have to share that this morning two churches announced rummage sales beginning at 6am, so we dutifully set the alarm to be the early bird, and the first one was totally unprepared to sell anything, and the second was so poorly staged that we were disgusted, churches need to do things right if at all possible.

The issue of life purpose hangs around the edge of my thinking, can't lose focus on continuing to build a kingdom vision for the God of all grace.

Laura is going through her own set of struggles as she brings her teaching career to an end in a month. She has a love/dislike relationship with her career as do most teachers these days. I look forward to us hanging out together all day. We are pretty good at it.

I keep running into people who hate swimming pools and I keep enjoying all the little duties and the refreshing rewards that surround ownership. I do battle daily with crud on the surface and stains on the water lines. I picked up a great set of snorkel gear this morning for next to nothing and enjoyed looking at the pool with snorkel and goggles.

I long for the time when this house begins to feel like home, when pictures are on the walls and we find homes for our treasures. This last move was such a blessing to us that the hassle will all be worth it. God grant me time and health to enjoy this new phase in life.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Reflections on the first two days of retirement

Sunday was so beautiful that I told Laura it made the top ten list of all time great days, category-cheap. Meaning that for spending no money we had so many relaxing and peaceful and happy moments. I am practicing not thinking about church, and preaching, and obligations etc, and the day was a great success.

Today I took my list of to do's and worked through them with a sense of joy and freedom. I am sure I will continue not making any commitments until the newness of it wears off. There is so much work to be done unpacking that normal may be months away.

I do look forward to taking more photography outings. Tonights pictures of the pool area take advantage of the remaining light and the yellow tints from the porch lights. I feel like we live in a resort.