Sunday, August 20, 2017

Leading the sunday morning bible study

I was asked to lead the Sunday morning Bible Study at our church today. The pastor and his wife usually lead two seperate studies on Sunday mornings, but they are on vacation, so this past Thursday he asked if I would lead the discussion for both groups combined. I said, "Sure!"

It's not really that big of a deal because there are actually very few people who attend these studies in our church that ranges anywhere from 70-200 on a Sunday morning. The woman's study led by the pastors wife is usually just Jane, Carrie, and one or two other women. The 'open' study led by the pastor is usually me and from 1-3 others. It's sort of an awkward situation in this church because they just "killed" the long-running "Sunday School" class that was led by someone who probably shouldn't have been doing so. This person still participates, and is just a little "rough around the edges" so-to-speak. So studies, small groups, and classes of any kind are a real work in progress right now. Hopefully this will be something Jane and I can help with over time.

At any rate, on this morning, there were actually EIGHT people in the class (three couples besides us). Everyone was around our age or older, and I'm not sure how to say it other than... it was a little "difficut." Not that it didn't go well, but there were some WILD ideas tossed around as though they were fact, and they were far from it. This, of course, by the person who used to lead the Sunday School class. I did my best to keep us on topic, but it was pretty typical of the type of BS that I'm sure happens in most churches. Nonetheless, I was glad there was some good discussion as well, and really glad as many showed up as did. I am REALLY glad a young couple DID NOT show up who'd insinuated they might be there. They would likely have never returned.

As far as me - I felt pretty good as the discussion guide. I didn't do any real teaching. We are using the videos study guides from 'The Bible Project', and today was on "The Bible As Story" - part two of "How To Read the Bible." I'm not sure how I feel about these videos. It's not that I don't like them, but I'm not sure they're so good for these people, or these type of groups. But what do I know.

So, now I'm trying to think of ways to get some other people interested in doing these sorts of things. I would really like to have a 'young-adultish' group of 20-40 year-old types, but it's a really unorganized group in our church. There is also a large group of people more our age that have never been exposed to small groups or spiritual formation/discipleship of any kind. I am hoping I can meet with the pastor and maybe brainstorm some ways to see about bringing this to life. We will see.

It's interesting, but it just now occurred to me as I was typing that I used to think I would like to be more of a 'spiritual formation pastor' than a regular "senior" pastor (when I was pastoring). But we shall see. We are a long way from anything like this happening in our group.

All told, I was glad the pastor asked me to lead the class; and I feel pretty good about it now that it's done. I can sense I'm starting to break free of some of the resistance/imprisonment I've been dealing with the past four years. It's nice.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

First time running outside this year

Oh what a pathetic excuse for a runner I am. Today was the first time I've run outside all year!!! I went with Jane to Foster Park. I jogged 1 lap around (just over 2 miles) and then walked while she jogged the 2nd lap by herself. As an old fart I have to be extra careful of injuring myself. I don't want to try to do too much too soon.

I've only recently been walking/jogging on the treadmill again. Only 3 days a week, and never too far or too fast. I know that at some point I've got to make a practice of getting outside again.

It actually felt pretty good today. I don't have the lung capacity I would like. Which is partly why I only averaged 11-12 minute mile pace. My legs felt very fresh though. I'm sure I could have made it around the second time, but again, I know better than to push myself too soon. There will be time. It's just going to take a slow, deliberate, persistant pace to establish a rhythm again - and be able to keep it. So this was a good start.

Btw, I did jump on the scale the other day. Dang - 174 lbs. I don't think I'm going to make 150 this summer, but I suppose I can start in again on getting back in shape.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


I gave myself a haircut today. Just used the #2 all over with minor #1 trimming around the edges. I was surprised by how much was cut off. It does seem it's been awhile since my last haircut - though I'm too lazy right now to check.

I don't mind the 2, but I may actually cut it again in the next week or so with the #1. I just kind of like the cleaner feel, but we will see.

I am still leaving the little bit of hair under my chin as well. I think I've kept that since I shaved the beard off. Which reminds me... did I record that on the blog?? Well, if not, I shaved my beard off several weeks or months ago (I can't remember).

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Home again, home again

Well, my road trip didn't take me far. I went home, and came back home again. I suppose that could be quite a ways depending on your viewpoint. In my case, it was Buda and Fort wayne. It was a nice trip, and certainly good to get away by myself for a few days. I should probably do more of that.

The main reason for going back to the home of my birth was to celebrate my parent's 60th wedding anniversary. Jane, Carrie and the kids went back Friday afternoon. I waited until Saturday and drove myself. I arrived Saturday afternoon and we all took my parents to the restaurant of their choice Saturday night. We went to a simple bar and grill in Princeton and much to my fathers chagrin I paid for the meal. I'm not sure he ever really understood what we were doing. Afterward we just went back to my parent's house. They didn't want a lot of fanfare for the anniversary, and we provided that.

Sunday we all went to church (except my dad) where my parents attend and where we did years ago. It is completely different now compared to what it was then. I'm not sure we could be part of this particular group if we still lived there, but it's nice to see the few people we still recognize.

As I sat there during the service it all seemed somewhat surreal. Everything is very proper and mechanical. It was also the day after some horrific racially-charged events in Charlottesville, VA. Not only was there absolutely no mention of it in this all-white congregation, but the prayers in the service were all focused on... the service. That really stood out to me on this day. Like, why would we need to pray that our gathering would go well? And do we not think God can or will act outside of our church services??? I don't know...

Jane, Carrie and the kids headed back to FW after lunch. I took a nap and then later in the afternoon headed out to the Psycho Silo Saloon. It is this incredible biker bar a couple miles outside town. People come from far and wide, and of the hundreds (or maybe thousands) of people there, I only knew a handful. I didn't mind. For some odd reason I feel very comfortable in the middle of a crowd of strangers. Apparently the 'Bartles and James' guys were even there! I saw them several times but had no idea until later it was them.

Anyway, I like looking at the hundreds of motorcycles and old cars, as well as the live music and simply just being in the midst of a place like that. However, at one point the singer in the band made a comment that sort of stopped me in my tracks. They sang old country and rockabilly songs, and he was explaining how their name "Three On A Tree" had to do with a shifter on an old vehicle. Then he stated, "Because if we weren't an all-white band that would be a really awkward name." I was immediately struck by the irony of me standing there all alone in the middle of a redneck midwest, biker bar listening to raucous southern-oriented music with an entirely white crowd. I have to admit, I was momentarily dazed. Why did this seem so normal and yet so strange at the same time? I was left pondering that thought the rest of the evening. I finally did run into a couple couples that I knew but mostly just hung out by myself, drank beer (and ate supper), people-watched, and listened to music staring off into the fields of my former self contemplating life and faith and all manner of Sunday-afternoon stuff.

When I first arrived in Buda I drove past where they'd just torn down part of the school of my youth. It actually didn't look as strange as I thought it might. There is still quite a bit of the school left, so I'm sure someday it will look like it's always been that way.

Another thing being torn from the past is the fence around the property across from my parent's house. We had always taken care of the barn and pasture and my dad housed and raised horses there most of his life. He hasn't had a horse for some time though, but continued to take care of mowing around the inside and outside of the fence, as well as storing a few things in the barn. However, Monday morning we saw some guys show up and begin to tear the fence out. It was quite the to-do as my parents looked out their windows. Finally mom called the lady who owned it and politely inquired. I guess the lady had decided to hire some guys to keep the pastures mowed and one of their stipulations was being able to remove the fence. I/we didn't question her reasoning, but it did seem a simple phone call to the person who'd taken care of the property for decades might have been in order. Anyway, my dad got a little agitated as he watched the hundreds of fence posts being removed that he (and I) had installed by hand; the board fence we'd nailed up and painted; and some of the gates he'd bought and mounted. Dad apparently asked the worker guys if he could have his gates back and they informed the owner. She called my mom and said that even though dad had put them up, they belonged to the property, and she had told the mower guys they could have them as part of their pay. So, that incited a little drama around the house, but all in all it was merely more of the past fading away and will likely soon be forgotten.

It probably didn't help that my mom and I spent most of the day Monday cleaning up their garage a bit. She would like me to get rid of some junk (of which there is much), as well as remove the inside dog kennels that take up a lot of space. My dad doesn't really understand the concept of things wearing out or no longer being useful, so we put a lot of things in my car for me to bring home and dispose of here. Otherwise I spent most of the day straightening and sorting extension cords, pieces of wire, and all sorts of other useless trinkets hanging from the walls and rafters. It does look a little better, but what is really needed is a roll-off dumpster. I think the respectful thing to do is wait until it can be done without my dad being around. I doubt we will have to wait long.

I really had no timetable for a return from this trip, but I probably did intend to stay longer. I left Tuesday late morning though because it seemed to not be the time or place to find what I was looking for. I'd hoped to do some reading, writing, and research on where to go with my life. I'm not sure how I forgot that my parent's house isn't the best place to do that. It's difficult to find free space there. You know, if you're reading or sitting at the computer, for some reason that must mean you want someone to talk to you (not). So, I didn't accomplish much I had in mind, but it was still a nice, uneventful trip. I got to bed early each night, slept until I was ready to wake, and didn't do anything too stupid.

At one point - while eating supper one night - my mom asked me, "If you could do anything you wanted, what would it be?" My mom doesn't usually ask such serious questions, and I really didn't have an answer. I've been thinking about it ever since though. I suppose it's sad, but I really don't know what I like to do. I've kind of started thinking towards a business of my own. Preferably something I can do from home or in a shop by myself. So I've stuck my nose into a little interest at computer-run startups and whatnot. I like to write, research, and work on the computer. Although I also like to work with my hands. Working alone seems to be the constant.

One evening while back in the old homestead I did take a drive through Kewanee, IL. Memories ago I/we had dreamed of planting a church there. I slithered through the streets on this trip with an eye toward self-storage. I know... It is something I have a little knowledge in now. This town of 13,000 doesn't appear to have much to offer - at least not any that looks very inviting. So it was a very prelminary scouting assignment to peruse property and potential in the event this was ever a place we found ourselves again. It is the town where Jane and I got engaged after all. :)

I suppose I should end this droan and start the day (since it's 3pm). I found myself making mental notes over the past few days, but not feeling any real obligation to post it here. I have a feeling I forgot a few things I intended to explore further, and such is life. For now I need to get on the treadmill, give myself a haircut, and take a nap/meditate.

Peace out; and in...

Saturday, August 12, 2017

My first day being unemployed (but not out of work)

Long ago a friend taught me the art of looking at photographs 'in full'. In other words, not merely focusing on the subject, but learning to look at what ELSE is there: the people in the background, books on the shelf, pics on the wall, trinkets sitting about, etc. Those things can say a lot, and make it much more interesting. It might also be a good way to look at life.

Today is my first day of being without a job. That doesn't mean I am without 'work' though. It only means I am no longer collecting a paycheck (or unemployment). There is much more to life, and much to do.

My plans at present: I am setting out on a road trip. In fact, I'm already late. But since no one is keeping score, does it really matter? So I'm taking a trip. I don't know for how long, or how far. I haven't thought that far ahead. My goal is to go slow enough to intentionally see what ELSE is there. And that's really about all I know at this point.

I am not so irresponsible as to think I don't ever need to make money. I'm sure that will come in time. I'm just tired of thinking of it as the main thing - the focus of my life. There are plenty of other things to see and do and exprience, and who knows, maybe one of those will turn into a way to make a living!

The reality is, my wife and I have been blessed to not 'have to' make a lot of money to get by. So it doesn't have to consume us. The question is... what will we be consumed by? What are our real values and passions and where do we see ourselves fitting into His-story?

So, I realize this is all pretty ambiguous if not a tad idealistic, but it's where I'm at on this first day of being unemployed. I may be without a job, but it does not mean I have nothing to do. I suppose I should get to it.

Peace out; and in.