Saturday, September 30, 2006

I am back at it ...

Back from our Pastor & Spouse retreat and into full swing again. That means that today (Saturday) is catch up day, which means it is a very long day. Petoskey was interesting, the retreat was fair. Personally I preferred the Frankfort, Michigan area to Petoskey. Petoskey is definitely geared more for the tourists, and evidently tourists with more money than I carry around. The retreat was lacking in the intentional getting to know other people categories. It was still great to get away and spend time with my favorite girl, that is my wife in case you didn't realize. We did to get to know a couple of other pastoral couples better than we knew them before. So all in all it was worth it.

A couple of things I learned this week. I love spending time with my wife. That is a good thing to know after 31 years of marriage. I learned that I love to learn and when I am not learning from the expected source I will seek out some other avenue of learning. I learned that I still love being around people and enjoy getting to know other people better. I learned that $60 doesn't go very far when you are eating out every meal. I learned that Petoskey was a long drive from here, but then many places seem to be a long drive from here. I learned that "historic" can be a synonym for "out dated" when it comes to hotels. I learned that not every place that claims to have great food is telling the truth. I learned that there is way too much unfinished road construction in Michigan. I learned that I need to get going to be ready for tomorrow.

See ya soon.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Another Trip ...

That's right, I am going on another trip today. The wife and I are leaving for our District's Pastor and Spouse Retreat in Petoskey, Michigan. We will be gone for 3 days. I have never been gone this much in one month before, with vacation, Men's retreat and now this retreat, but I am enjoying all of it with no apologies.

The colors should be starting to really stand out on the trees. It will be a bit cooler than we are used to, but it will be great anyway. I am looking forward to getting to know some other ministry couples a little better. This will be our first retreat on this District, so we will be among the newbies attending.

The problem with going away is how much work you must do to make sure everything is covered while you are gone. This is especially true when your Associate Pastor is at the same event. So yesterday afternoon and this morning has been spent getting things ready, double checking with people and getting notes out all over as reminders. The great news is I am priviledged to pastor a church with several very capable leaders and they have the attitude that want their pastors to get quality time away. What a blessing.

Note to people in other churches, a great gift you give your pastors is let them know that you are thrilled when they can get away and relax, that you are willing to help out and that you will be praying for them while they are away. Then welcome them back with enthusiasm and rejoice with them for the great refreshment they received while away.

Gotta finish things up so I can leave in about 45 minutes.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Musings (again) ...

Maybe this will become a regular feature on my blog, then again maybe not. Notice it is not "Monday Morning Musings" this time. I took someone to an appointment in another town this morning and didn't get back to the office until around noon. So today it is just Monday Musings.

It was great to be back preaching with my congregation after missing to Sundays. (For reasons see previous posts.) It was a good day and I love the new additions (projectors) and changes we have made in our worship space. Some of our elementary children did a special song with using sticks for dramatic purposes. It was really good and I love seeing children participate. One little girl couldn't stop grinning, even during the very dramatic parts. Another boy was in his own world some of time and created his own routine with the sticks. But overall they really presented their message well.

Attendance was not what I would liked to have seen, but that is not the most important factor. The spirit was great and at least 1 person gave their heart to Christ. It doesn't get any better than that, Yeah God!

The wife and I are off to our District Pastor and Spouse Retreat, leaving around noon tomorrow. These are always great times of refreshing and bonding with other pastoral couples. The added bonus is the retreat is in Petoskey, Michigan the autumn colors should be popping up there this week.

The Colts and Bears are both 3-0, I like that for sure. I guess that does it this morning, I better get things ready so I can be gone a couple of days.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Quick Thoughts ...

Okay, so they may not be quick but they are my thoughts. Okay, so they may not be well thought out but they are in my head so I think they qualify as thoughts, don't they?

...Yea to my church for giving the wife and I a gift certificate for 18 holes of golf, with cart and a steak dinner at the local golf course. We enjoyed it all yesterday.

...I did give in and turn the heat on for a couple of hours Thursday evening.

...I watched a 4-5th grade football game this afternoon. That was fun. They are so into it and most are really enjoying themselves. As far as I could tell the parents behaved themselves.

...My stomach always churns alot on Saturdays in anticipation of preaching on Sunday. I pray that this never changes, because I always want to remember how very important those words are, and to prepare well at all times.

I guess that it is all. I said they were quick thoughts that lengthy or large in number.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Turn the Heat On ...

Have any of you heard that one in the last day or two? The temps in this part of the country dipped into the lower 40s or upper 30s at night recently. So I have heard that one several times, mainly from my wife, even with her hot flashes. So this afternoon in the office she was complaining about how cold it was, I explained that we couldn't turn the heat on until someone who knew what they were doing got the boiler going again. (By the way I am not qualified since I said it needed to be "someone who knew what they were doing". So that leaves me out of this and many other things for that matter.) I offhandedly offered to go home and bring back our portable electric heater, wouldn't you know it she took me up on the offer. So next door to me she is sitting by a heater with the door closed to "keep the heat in".

So I guess it is good that I love autumn (see earlier post) because evidently the temperature has found autumn levels. Don't get me wrong I see positives in this, such as the need for a little closer cuddling to conserve heat. At least until she reads this post. (I wonder if I can block it from her for a few days.)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I Love Autumn

I confess that I love the autumn season. With the changing colors of the leaves. High School football games and cross country meets. The back and forth temperature changes. Losing your golf ball under random leaves on the course, wait a minute, I don't love that one, but it happens in the Midwest.

Maybe it is the mix of tension and enthusiasm with the beginning of a new school year. Maybe it is the realization that basketball with be starting soon. Maybe it is because I love sweaters and I can begin to wear them soon. Maybe it is because my wife goes absolutely bonkers over the leaves changing colors. Maybe it is because we are on the verge of autumn and I just love whatever season is in season. (Did that make any sense?)

So here is to autumn and all of the changes it brings. So tell me, what season do you love? Happy raking! (Wait a minute a forgot about raking. Maybe I only like autumn. Do I even have a rake any more?)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quick thoughts ...

Here are a few pressing issues on mind this morning. Insert your own joke here about few issues I have room for, etc...

Hey Rob, where is your post about the no so fighting Irish?

Come on Kin, give us some more pregnant insights. I bet Seth could give us a few from the other perspective.

I can't wait to see Elle with her special hallway walks on her birthday.

I watched an 8th grade girls basketball game last evening, that was interesting. I do love there enthusiasm and shear joy of just playing. When do we lose that?

I really love my wife. (And not just because I spent 4 days with 30 other guys on a couple of houseboats. Can you spell air freshener?)

I love pop tarts. Cherry is my favorite and brown-sugar cinnamon is probably second.

I get to preach to my congregation this Sunday. I can't wait after missing two Sundays in a row.

There were more thoughts in there than you imagined, weren't there? Actually I could go on for a while, but I am afraid you wouldn't care. You do care now, don't you?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday Musings ...

This Monday is different from most since I was gone over the weekend at our Men's Houseboat Retreat. My thoughts today are on reflecting on the retreat, trying to discern how we can better plan for the services when that many of our leaders are gone and realizing that I need to gear back up for a full week of teaching, preaching and activity.

The retreat was a very good time with 30 other guys. The weather was great. The location was beautiful. Everyone made it there safely, got home safely and survived all of the stunts of the week. The safety thing is being taken lightly with that much travel and with a scary jet ski accident. Two of the jet skis collided and the 3 riders were thrown and one of the jet skis was really messed up and rendered unoperable. But all the riders were okay, shook up to be sure, but okay. It was one of those moments that made you realize how different things could have been. We ate well, we ate a lot and there was no shortage of food. There was a lot card playing. We had some times of worship. My devotionals went okay, I would like to have done better, but am praying that God will really keep working on hearts and minds. I got up on skis and went for quite a while. That is no small feat considering I hadn't done it in at least a dozen years. I attempted to wakeboard but never made it. We did leave about 15 minutes, so I guess all the families who come late to stuff around here can't just blame it on their wives or daughters.

Things survived back here on Sunday. But there were some hectic moments as somethings were working properly and the guys who usually correct those things were on the retreat. But after much time and a couple of cell phone calls to the houseboats it all came out okay. A big part of the success was due to my wonderful wife. She really worked hard and long to see that everything got done. I am so lucky. Yes I know that I definitely married up!

I guess I better get going as there sermons, lessons and a lot of other stuff to get done this week. Blog at ya later.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Off Again ...

I am heading off to Kentucky this morning for a Men's Retreat. We will actually be on 3 houseboats on Lake Cumberland. There is a group of over 30 guys, mostly from our church, who will be making the trip. It should be fun. Though after just having gotten home from vacation another trip might not be the best timing. That is the workaholic in me speaking. I will be giving the devotionals for the trip and am looking forward to this time of sharing. There will be some fishing, some skiing, some jet skiing, some tubing and just relaxing. Come to think of it, maybe this is perfect timing.

My biggest issue is missing another Sunday. That will be two in a row. I have not done that very often in my 23 years of ministry. I probably should have done it more, but haven't. You see, I love my church, I love my ministry, I love preaching, teaching, etc... So the thought of missing the majority of my congregation for a second week in a row is tough. I guess that is a good thing, it just doesn't feel like this morning.

Well, gotta run. We are to leave at 7, and it is 6:50, of course around here that usually means I have another 20 to 25 minutes. But maybe the promise of 4 days away to do all the fun stuff and share with just the guys will get everyone here on time. Just in case, I better go see. Have a great weekend, I will blog again on Monday.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Deep Thoughts ... Sort of

Last night I went to a funeral home for visitation for a 37 year old lady. I had married she and her husband several years ago during another pastorate. My wife and I felt the need to go and give the husband a hug and assure him of our prayers. We did that, it was tough. Tears are welling up in my eyes as I am typing this a day later. It just doesn't seem like much to give a hug, give assurance of your thoughts and prayers and to just be there for him. But experience has taught me that it is a pretty big deal to be there above all else, to give that hug and promise your prayer support. As we drove home we both commented that it was tough to watch the husband and imagine that he is now alone. Alone way too early as far as we are concerned. I know he has a great church supporting him and he has some family and friends nearby. But it was still tough.

Stuff like last night makes you really think about yourself, your life, your present and most importantly your future. It was also a powerful reminder that we need to be really sensitive to the needs of people around us, those we know well and those we just come across. So take a little time to think about who around you may need a call, a visit, a note or a hug. Let them know you are thinking of them and assure them of your thoughts and prayers. Offer a listening ear if you are able.

We also got to spend some time with a couple of friends for a while after the visitation. It was great to talk, share and laugh. They live near the now widowed husband and I was encouraged to know they would be in contact with him regularly. I was encouraged to reconnect with dear friends. I was encouraged to hear how some we have known are doing. I was encouraged to realize that there are many people who seemed to be looking much older than I perceive myself to look. (I am sure that they went home from the visitation and thought the same about me. But it may me feel good for a moment anyway.) I was encouraged to realize again that "God is still God" no matter what we are facing. May you be encouraged today and encourage someone else as well.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Back from vacation

The phrase, "I am back from vacation is a loaded phrase". You run the danger of having all the good relaxing undone by the mountain of email, snail mail, voice mail and people who have just been waiting for you to come back. You run the risk of having someone say, "Oh, I didn't know you were gone." You run the risk of wanting to run back to your vacation spot within 24 hours of getting home.

We were greeted with some stuff in our fridge needing to be thrown out, because our power was off for a while, at least I think that is why. I had 592 emails waiting, I have to increase my spam blocker. The church's projector and power point got connected while we were gone and it was used on Sunday. We are officially out of the 1970's! Sunday services went well in our absence, I love hearing this. (That is more than I can say for the church we visited. I am sure there will be a post on that some time.) Found out at 11:15 last night that my Associat Pastor is in the hospital, apparently some bad reaction to poison ivy. Gotta go see him in a little bit. One of the emails informed me that a 37 year old gal from a former pastorate died over the weekend. Cancer got another one. I did her wedding. Hope to make it to visitation tonght to give a hug to her husband. Nothing bad in the pile of mail that was waiting. Our pictures turned out great.

Our vacation for awesome. It was the most relaxing time that I, and Jody, can ever recall. Thanks to all who prayed for us. Our cottage was a quaint thing that was perfect. The front screened in porch was 10 feet from the lake. We had spectacular weather. Northern Michigan is a beautiful. In particular Frankfort and the surrounding area are full of beautiful stuff. We fished a lot, didn't catch a lot, and enjoyed it thoroughly. I even got a lot of exercise because we had the use of a rowboat. Didn't have an alarm clock for a whole week. I could go on and on.

Much to be done today. To quote from "Smokey and the Bandit", I have a long way to go and a short time to get there".

Monday, September 04, 2006

Here's Family & Vacations ...

As my previous post states I love being with family. This past weekend was a special time as we had all of our kids and grandkids with us for a while. Great times of a family kickball game in the back yard, games of Rook (especially fun since I won 2 of them), a couple of birthday celebrations, laughing with and at each other, smiling constantly watching the grandkids, getting beaten at video games by my oldest grandson and so much more. As my buddy Rob had on his post this morning, "it just doesn't get any better than this".

I was blessed with special gifts on my birthday (they just keep coming no matter what so I might as well enjoy them) and one in particular was a video tape of my grandkids telling about themselves and me. One of the funniest parts was when they were trying to describe what I look like. They are very observant little people.

Vacation begins in about half an hour. A week on a lake up north with my wife. To fish, sleep, read, relax, play games and do a little sightseeing. Can't wait, so I better get going. I don't know that I will have internet access at the cabin, so I will likely not post for a week. So have a great week, I know I will.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Family Times ...

I love times with family. I spoke with my brother last night for a while, and spoke with my Dad some today, that is special because we rarely see each other, living 12 hours apart and not having schedules that match very well. Tonight some of my kids and grandkids are arriving for a short visit and tomorrow the rest of my kids will arrive. For at least most of a day we will all be together. That will mean lots of smiles, much laughter, eating, playing games, eating, talking, thinking about how fortunate I am, eating and more laugther.

I love my family. I love hearing them and hearing from them. I love picture of them and emails from them. I love being with them and I especially love knowing that they are all living for the Lord.

So here's to family. If you are in southern Michigan and hear some extra laughter this weekend, don't worry it is just my family and we are okay.