When Did I Sit Down?

When did I sit down? When did I decide that it was OK to rest, to take a break? When did I decide that the status quo was acceptable? When did keeping silent become the preferred thing to do?
This is not what I signed up for, to let the world go by unchallenged. No, becoming a Christian was about dreaming big, thinking big and acting big. In the past few years I’ve seen some real needs for big dreams and big voices in our churches. I’ve tried to be one of those voices, with various levels of success.
But lately I’ve been tired. Tired of fighting, tired of speaking up, tired of being what felt like a lone voice. I’ve grown quiet, and sat back and watched. I sat down.
Monday night, three of the deacons got together for the first time in a long, long time. We talked about the church, our roles and our frustrations. We agreed on much, but decided on one thing, that we needed to keep getting together. We have a responsibility to God, to our church, to our minister and to each other. It felt so good to get with these men, I missed this so much.
It was in front of this backdrop that it hit me that I had sat down. Not that the Christian life is all about some Great Battle or always about fighting for some Important Idea, but that there are things worth fighting for, to the end.
It’s time to strengthen these feeble knees and stand up again.

There Is Little Better Than …

From Daniel at Alien Soil (some borrowed/stolen from him or his commenters)…

  • There is little better than a warm sunny evening and an old, rear wheel drive, V8 powered convertible. No radio, just the sound of the wind and the low rumble of the lightly muffled exhaust. Stress? What stress?
  • There is little better than my wife’s embrace.
  • There is little better than a perfectly executed turn. Wide at entry, nailing the apex, wide at exit and getting around the corner a bit faster than most would dare.
  • There is little better than an evening of good, deep conversation with good friends.
  • There is little better than perfectly sweetened (or just right peach or raspberry) iced tea.
  • There is little better than Red Robin’s Banzai Burger.
  • There is little better than sleeping on a cool night with the windows wide open and the covers pulled up around your neck.
  • There is little better than a weekend nap.
  • There is little better than 50’s – 60’s American cars with perfect paint and flawless chrome, lowered with big aluminum or chrome wheels.
  • There is little better than the satisfaction of fixing your own cars and saving $100’s.
  • There is little better than close vocal harmony. Think Barbershop, folk and American Roots music.
  • There is little better than fresh McDonalds fries.
  • There is little better than pulling in the driveway and watching the joyous bouncing a giggling of my girls as they rejoice that “Daddy’s home!”
  • There is little better than a full throttle take off in an old V8 ragtop. Pushed back in the seat and the marvelous sound of that V8 through the open top.
  • There is little better than my wife’s smile. All is right with the world if I can see her smile.

How about you? Leave them on your blog (Trackack please) or in the comments.

Final Words and Ascension

OK, it’s been almost a month since I got into my Bible. So much for 2-3 times a week. This has long been one of my weaknesses, and I think I will always have to fight to make time to read my Bible.
Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:15-20, Luke 24:45-53, John 20:30-31, 21:25, Acts 1:6-26
Luke 24:45-9 – “repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached to all nations” Not “repentance, forgiveness of sins, non-instrumental worship, discipling, evangelism, baptism, proper communion methodology, correct church authority and structure, tithing and proper church attire will be preached to all nations” We’d do well to stick more closely to Jesus’ list. 🙂
John 20:30-31 – This is why we have the Bible, to believe in Jesus.
John 21:25 – Sometimes I wish a few more – a bunch more – of those ‘many other things’ that Jesus did had been written down.
So now I’m done with the Gospels. Any suggestions on where I go next? I really don’t have any idea, I’d love some input if you have it.

Rwanda Missions

Greg Kendallball and his wife Sara are in the air somewhere or on and airport in between flights. They’re on their way to Rwanda to “spy out the and” so to speak. They’ll be talking to ministers, officials and others as well as checking out what life in Rwanda is like and what it costs. Their goal is to see what they can do to help the mission in Africa. Greg lived in Africa for a good part of his childhood and his heart for the continent shines brightly in this post.
His blog will likely be quiet for the next 3 weeks, but he’s started a blog related to their trip at RwandaMissions.com, which I’ve added to my blogroll at left.
If you get a minute and are so moved, say a prayer for their trip. He’s specifically asked for prayers of safety in travel, to be open to what God wants them to see and hear and to be protected from Satan’s attacks.

Tent Pegs

I’ve added another blog link at left, Tent Pegs. I stumbled onto it through New Wineskins and a post about integrety. I’ve read through a few of his posts since, and I’m hooked. I like how this guy thinks. Go check out his “man rules” for a taste.
He’s the pulpit minister for the the Rochester Church of Christ in Rochester Hills, MI, a subberb to the north of Detroit where I spent 4 years of my life (at the other end, ‘downriver’).

Ticket taker a legend at Stranahan Theater

The Toledo Blade ran this nice article about my Grandmother on Friday, June 10, 2005. This was in addition to her obituary. I’ve copied the article in its entirety since newspaper articles have tendency to disappear from the web.

Ticket taker a legend at Stranahan Theater
Audrey Whitmore, 90, head ticket taker at the Stranahan Theater, where she’d worked for more than three decades, died Monday in Medical University of Ohio Medical Center.
She was trimming rose bushes two weeks ago when she fell and broke a hip. She developed an infection while in the hospital.
Mrs. Whitmore had taken tickets for countless graduations, lectures, concerts, and stage shows.
While in the hospital, “She just fretted that she was not going to be there for all the graduations,” daughter Denise Shumway said.
Mrs. Whitmore was a legend at the Stranahan, and not just for her longevity.
“People [told] me how she remembered their names and details about them,” her daughter said.
Liz Sudheimer, marketing director for the Stranahan Theater and Great Hall at the Masonic Complex, said: “She was kind of like everybody’s mom.”
About two months ago, Mrs. Whitmore said to Ms. Sudheimer, “Come to my car. I have something for you.”
The head ticket taker had a box filled with programs from nearly every show that had been at the Stranahan.
“We did not have an archive. Now we have one,” Ms. Sudheimer said.
Mrs. Whitmore’s affiliation began when her daughter Denise was in the Masonic group, the Rainbow for Girls. Ushering at the theater was the group’s money-making project, and Mrs. Whitmore volunteered to be an adult supervisor. When the theater converted to a volunteer workforce, she knew the job and was asked to stay.
The job later became a paying position and she was promoted to head ticket taker.
Mrs. Whitmore was a 1932 graduate of Libbey High School. She did not work outside the home as her children were growing up.
“She was a homemaker. She put her family first,” her daughter said. “She was a very giving person. From a biblical standpoint, she just had a gift of giving. There was no fanfare. She just took care of what she saw needed to be done. I feel I have a very special heritage, my sister and I both do, and we have passed that on.”
Mrs. Whitmore was a longtime member of the Ohio State University Home Extension Club.
She was especially proud that the glass decorating business begun by her husband, George, and taken over by their late son, Jack, remained in the family.
She and her husband, George were married for 33 years until his death in 1966.
She attended Holland Free Methodist Church.
Surviving are her daughters, Beverly Schaefer and Denise Shumway; sister, Doris Shepler; 10 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren, and a great-great-granddaughter.
Services will be at 11 a.m. today in the Walter Funeral Home.
The family suggests tributes to Family Outreach Ministries in care of Westgate Chapel or a charity of the donor’s choice.

An Emotional Weekend

This past weekend was a busy and challenging one. My grandmother (Mom’s Mom) of 90 years old passed away last Monday and we headed to Toledo on Thursday afternoon. Times like this offer up an overwhelming range of emotions as you relive the joys and memories of the relationship and grieve at their passing.
Even though Grandma was 90, her death was quite unexpected. As I wrote a little about her in our Christmas trip recap back in January, grandma was healthy, active and independent. She kept her own home, still drove and still worked as the head ticket taker at the theater where the symphony played and the Broadway shows came. She last worked on May 19th. The following week she went on an outing with the OSU Home Extension Club. On May 27th, she fell while gardening in her back yard while gardening, breaking her hip. The initial prognosis was good, her heart and bones were quite strong, but a week after the fall, she developed an infection. She returned on June 5th to the hospital from the nursing home where she had been getting therapy, and she passed away early Monday morning. The infection had spread rapidly and Grandma had just simply grown weary of fighting through the pain.
Grandma’s life was characterized by self sacrifice. She was always working at helping someone. She made countless meals for my family and took care of us numerous times when Mom and Dad went out or away. She was ever present at family gatherings, usually at the sink doing dishes or tending to food on the stove. When Grandma came over, she usually brought something. It might be a plant from her yard to take home and put in ours. Frequently it was some sort of baked goods. These would arrive in a recycled plastic snap close container that originally contained day old bagels, glazed donuts or something, and carried in a used grocery bag. Grandma didn’t throw anything away, it always had another use in it, so those plastic bagel boxes got used as cookie transports.
Grandma also seemed (wrongly) convinced that she was rather insignificant in anyone’s life, unnoticed and rather unimportant. She asked some time before her death that the viewing hours for her passing be kept to only 30 minutes. We think that she figured any longer and the lack of people would be embarrassing. There were 7 hours of time and the string of people only let up slightly around dinner. In all, well over 200 people (closer to 300, I think) came to pay their respects to a woman who had quietly impacted so many. If only she had understood.
What surprised even the family was the amazing response from her coworkers at the Stranahan Theater. Over 30 of them came by and told stories of how she had impacted them personally. Some wept as if they had lost a member of their own family. She had stood at that center door, taking tickets, for some 35 years – since the theater opened in 1969. One by one they told of how she had welcomed them, advised them and loved them. We knew that Grandma was appreciated more than she knew there, but even we had no idea the impact she had made. We received a letter from the theater that they would be dedicating a seat in the theater to her with a plaque detailing her years of service. It only seemed right for her name to be permanently affixed to the theater she loved so much.
Saturday was spent going through some of Grandma’s things at her house, cleaning up and making plans for distributing and disposing of her belongings. We laughed at the things she saved and remembered the woman she was. We marveled at some of the items we found. Her dresser was made sometime in the mid 1800’s, we think by a family member. It’s a remarkable piece of furniture in remarkable condition. We found numerous family pictures, including a scrapbook album made by my Great Grandmother (we think) for her brother in 1905. My wife and sister, both avid scrap bookers, marveled at that find. Early pictures of my wife and I reminded me that we are no longer young and of how much hair I’ve lost. Of course, she manages to look better as she ages while I just look, well, older.
The weekend ended on a bittersweet note as we had a surprise party for my Aunt and Uncle’s 25th wedding anniversary. Grandma was my Aunt’s Mom, so while the celebration was good, it was also sad knowing that Grandma had missed it. Their kids had planned the event, digging out my Aunt’s wedding dress she had crocheted herself and the white three piece suit my uncle had worn. They re-created their wedding cake and topped it with the same cake topper found at Grandma’s house just the day before (With 25 year old frosting flowers still on it! We washed it good first.) No recollection of their wedding would be complete without tales of the tornado that went through the area during the ceremony (the organist, with her weather radio, was yelling in a whisper “get down!” and diving under the organ.) We also laughed at their High School pictures and pictures of their early years. What hippies!
Four and a half days packed with emotion, but in all a good weekend. A celebration of a life of giving and two lives still tied together after 25 years.

Now How Much Will You Pay?

Some time ago I came to the realization that the really small lapses of integrity are in some ways the most serious. Back in my days as a hotel valet and doorman at the Omni (now Hilton) Netherland Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati, I used to get a lot of flack for declaring all of my tips as income. The other employees tried to convince me that either:

  1. The law didn’t require full disclosure, only 10%. I checked that with the IRS. They laughed.
  2. It wasn’t really a big deal, after all it’s the IRS and it’s not that much money to the government.

My response was that my integrity was worth more than the piddly tax saving I would get from lying to the government. Of course they weren’t concerned about my integrity, they figured if I was honest their lie became more apparent.
I’m reminded of that concept on a regular basis. I go back to the back room at work to the candy bin for an afternoon snack. It’s stocked with a variety of mini candy bars for $0.15 each. Sometimes I get back there and find I’ve only got a dime. The temptation is to throw the dime in and take the candy, but then I realize that I’m saying that I’m willing to compromise my integrity – and God’s standards – for a nickel.
What brought me back to this was comments from Virusdoc on a colleague’s ease at cheating his way out of a pricey toy he was tired of and this powerful post from a blog I discovered via New Wineskins, Tent Pegs.
First from VirusDoc:

“I rubbed a high powered magnet against it until it destroyed the hard drive,” he replied. It was too big and heavy and I was tired of it. Since I bought a replacement plan on it, the store paid for my new mini.”
Flabbergasted, I tried to contain my moral approbation and remove myself from the conversation as quickly as possible. …. How cheap is this guy’s word? I now know that he is more than willing to lie, cheat, and steal if it is to his own advantage and if he can do it in a manner that leaves no incriminating evidence. I’d like to think my word is worth more than that.

Me too.
This from Tent Pegs:

When … he was told by the little girl how much they cost he exploded. It was about twice what he paid for that service back home in the US. He was abusive and insistent about the evil being perpetuated on him. It got so bad that I got hold of his belt (he was a lot bigger than I) and pulled him away from the counter and out of the shop. “Congratulations,” I told him. “You just sold that girl’s soul for twelve pounds [about $20 then]. I will never be able to talk to her about Jesus because she is going to associate me with the huge, red faced, angry American who berated and belittled her over something she could not control or change. I hope you feel better, but she doesn’t, I don’t, and Jesus doesn’t since He now has to find someone else to reach her with the gospel of peace.”


A Sad Farewell

It started with a simple question (“Would you be interested in coming to church with me?” or something similar) delivered at the gas pump. Bob, about 5′ 8″ white guy, was asking James, about 6′ 3″ bald headed black man he didn’t know. As it turned out, James’ marriage was on the rocks (the divorce papers were on the passenger seat), he was new in town and ready for help.
That was 6 or 7 years ago. James came to church, his wife Kym moved to Columbus, they were baptized and their marriage was restored. Today the church mourned their last day with us as James has accepted a job in Louisville. James has been out of work for months, this new job is long overdue. They will be closer to family, but we in Columbus will miss them greatly.
Today the church had an outdoor service and picnic afterwards where we honored them and what they’ve given to this church. Person after person stood and paid tribute to this family that was all but destroyed when we met them, but turned around to give far more than they received. They have been through much over the past year or so. He’s lost and acquired several jobs, her sister was killed in a tragic car crash, other family members have been sick, Kym lost her eyesight in one eye from sinus surgery, James tore up his knee (twice), they found out their youngest son has a blood disease and they’ve had their home here on the market for about a year and the mortgage company has blocked several offers on it.
If you had met them at any time during this you would have never known anything was wrong. Their lives are characterized, just as Jesus’ was, by dedication to others. If there was a need for a place for a gathering, James and Kym would open their home, many times opening the door and leaving to allow the party to go on without them. They took people in when they were sick and couldn’t stay alone. Several who stood up today indicated how their being there – through counseling, advice, challenging or just as an example – had transformed their lives. More than one mentioned how their example had led them to consider how they personally might do more. Their love and concern are genuine and profound.
They did much of this on their own and in the background. Other than their leadership of our teen ministry for the past year or two (which they nearly begged to do, such was their heart for those kids) and a couple times leading a family group, they were not in an official leadership position. Yet their influence carried into marriages, singles, teens, and campus – really every corner of the church.
As I sat and listened to the sharing, I was struck by what an influence they have had here, quietly yet consistently, just due to their hearts. I wish them well; they leave a hole that won’t be easily filed.

Time For a Site Revamp

I’ve grown weary of the look here at salguod.net and think it’s time for a change. I know enough about CSS to really much things up, but i’m going to have ago at it sometime in the future. I’m also going to try to streamline some of the areas. There’s just too much going on in many places. The comment entry form area is particularly troublesome for me. Between the Tackback info, the Subscribe info and the comment form itself the actual comments get lost. I may go to a fixed width layout like many other blogs (See Greg’s site or Messy Christian for an example) even though they irritate me. I hate the fact that I have this beautiful 15.4″ 1200 x 1600 screen on my laptop and I only get to use a third of its width. On the other hand, knowing exactly how wide my site will be on every screen makes the layout easier to manage.
So this post is to hear your suggestions. What parts of the site do you use every time you come here and what parts do you never use. What parts really bug you or get in the way of reading? Should I stay full width or would you like the fixed, narrower width?
Oh, and if you know of a way to fix the way this site prints (go to your browser’s print preview under the file menu to see what I’m talking about), let me know that too.

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