Monday, October 30, 2006

It's A God Thing

It's been a very frustrating day. Car troubles, email troubles (I hate outlook, I would pay someone to shoot it if I could), and a few work frustrations.

So, I haven't been in the best of moods this afternoon.

Moments ago, I received an email from our Moldova team leader who said she'd reserved "Air Moldova" tickets for us (okay, say a small prayer) and that the price was LOWER than what we had anticipated.

I'm still having trouble contacting the woman at CERI who handles on-line contributions, so I called today, trying to be patient , and found out she just got married and is on and has been on her honeymoon. That explains everything. Dealing with a wedding.

I still have to get an accounting from them...but I'm feeling better about it and with the checks we've received directly, the way I add it up, I think we're going to have raised and or already contributed ourselves almost the EXACT amount we'll need for airfare and a few other basics.

I mean we're within (making a few assumptions about checks that are in the mail) 20-100 dollars away!

Bless you all!

Please keep up the prayers, we'll need them now more than ever.

I am stunned....although I shouldn't's a God thing.

We are so humbled by God's grace and your generosity.

Thank you again.

No more checks please...unless you wish to underwrite the travel of someone else in our group.

We may come back asking for actual "item donations"....i.e. toothbrushes, hair care know, things that they could use at the orphanage, but I don't know specifics yet.

I do know Your grace - you and God - amazes me.

I'm literally trying to keep from sobbing as I write.

My frustrations are in perspective...and so is my heart.

I have no other words.

Except....Microsoft Outlook is a tool of Satan :)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Because I Can

I've actually sat down to write twice in the past couple of days - it seems harder to find time when I'm either not sleep deprived, consumed by some other "crisis" in the household or have something to say - and both times "Blogger" has chosen those exact times to be "Down for repairs."

I suppose I shouldn't complain, it's not like I pay for blogger...or that I would.

It's the political probably noticed that by all the annoying ads on radio and TV...but I really steer clear of writing about politics. When I started this blog, I had grandiose thoughts of putting forth wisdom about politics versus reality...I think I tired of that in a week or two. Plus, I must admit, I started reading other political blogs for a while and realized there were far more insightful people out there than I was ever going to be.

Today, I'm going to be political I suppose, but I really think of it as religious. God calls those who believe in Him to warn people if they foresee impending crises. I'm not a prophet, but I do think there are some issues that are being used to distract a lot of us from more important things.

I don't really care about politics. I don't care if you're a democrat, a republican, a libertarian, or green party member. Odds are I'd still like to sit down and talk with you...about more important things.

I've covered politics as a reporter, I've been friends with politicians (that didn't work out real well, since the one guy I had faith in is still serving time in prison) and I have friends/relatives who are obsessed with politics. However I've seen 'em come and seen 'em go and to tell you the truth, I don't know a politician I particularly respect.

I suppose if you must label me, I'm a conservative, but I'm not maniacal about it. I'm conservative in most things except for the love of my wife, and my love of God. I'm sue me.

So this is what I believe...

I believe most Americans are ignorant of the real issues and too influenced by political sound bites and commercials when it comes to their vote, and I wish folks were more educated about reality.

I believe stem cell research is a good thing. I believe the federal government has no reason to fund it. If you actually check the facts, despite the hype around Michael J. Fox, the one time Canadian, whose now doing ads for Democrats who favor federal funding of stem cell research, you'll find that the only President who ever authorized any funding for stem cell research was George W. Bush. You'll also find that funding for such research programs has actually increased, albeit slightly, since Bush refused to authorize federal government funding for "fetal" stem cell research.

Why has it increased? Because the private sector has gotten into the game...there's a profit to be made.

I believe Capitalism wins out on most occasions.

You might also think back to the last time "stem cell research" was a "political issue" and note the date...odd how it always seems to come up around elections isn't it?

I believe we need to rethink our policies in Iraq. That's not to say I believe we should withdraw our troops. I am still sort of hoping the guys with the epaulets on their shoulders are thinking about new tactics all the time. I have faith in our military...far more faith than I have in politicians.

I believe one of the best ways to resolve some of our issues in the Middle East does involve allowing democracy to at least take root in some nations where it has been a foreign concept for centuries. That includes not only Iraq, but Iran...and Syria...and, dare I say it, Saudi Arabia.

I tend to think if you are living in a nation where women who speak their minds are stoned to death, and people who are gay are murdered without any government intervention, and the folks living next door don't allow such stuff...because they have a might look over the fence and say, "Gee, maybe we should try that for a while." Simplistic I know. Still, I think it's worth a try.

I believe the real solution to the problems in the Middle East is for the U.S. to become energy independent...AT ANY PRICE. That means allowing coal plants to be built which can essentially turn coal to oil. That means allowing off shore drilling and drilling in Alaska. That means pouring massive amounts of money into alternative fuel and conservation programs. That means staying the course until it is done.

In the 1980's, this country invested 80 some odd billion dollars to that cause. What happened?

OPEC dropped the price of oil to 10 dollars a barrel, gasoline prices dropped, Americans stopped whining and we gave up. Where the 80 billion dollars went...heck if I know...but I doubt any of the original investors in that project suffered.

I believe too many people in our country are ignorant. We allow "headline news" and "sound bites" to dictate our thinking, and we don't read enough. You want to bellow about stem cell research, global warming, or animal all means you have that right.

However while you're screaming, "The sky is falling," I believe the earth and many free nations are being or have already been taken from us.

You want something to really worry about? Take a look at demographic data on birth rates in Europe. It's startling. Do you realize that the birthrates in nations such as France, Italy and Germany are so low that in a matter of one or two generations the traditional family we think of in Europe will disappear? Run the the research. Birth rates in Europe are at or below 1.4 children per woman. That means there will not be enough young people to support their economies...especially with six week guaranteed vacations, free government health care, government supported pension plans and various other "entitlements."

How do you deal with that?

You open your doors to immigration.

Unlike what you might think, I favor immigration into this country especially. I simply want some organization to it. This week I listened to the owner of one of the most popular "tourist" restaurants in San Antonio whine at a public forum that he couldn't find adequate help because of immigration restrictions. He runs an amazingly popular Mexican restaurant in the heart of San Antonio and claimed that he could not keep a chief chef unless he hired one from Mexico. He went on to mention that job paid in excess of $100,000 a year.

I find that hard to believe. I know a lot of good cooks, Hispanics with deep Hispanic roots who would run that kitchen for $100,000 a year...and they're legal Americans.

Back to Europe, if you look at the demographic numbers, I must admit you will actually find "pockets" where the birth rates are far higher. Guess who lives there? Muslims.

Don't even start.

I'm not condemning Muslims or the Islamic faith, but Europe and its entitlement mentality needs young workers to support it, so they allow virtually unfettered immigration. Yet, those folks are not like the Irish who became Irish-Americans, or the Germans who became German-Americans. These are people who share not a country of origin, but a religion. Some, maybe only a fraction, do not adapt to the European way of life, instead they isolate themselves, and if you don't think they already wield power consider the riots in France some months ago...led by Muslim "youth."

They virtually shut down that country without having an election. Who's in control?

I believe Americans and especially American Christians are blind or too politically correct to see the largest threat to their existence.

Have a baby...have two or three.

America is the only "Western" nation with a birth rate that still, barely, exceeds one that will lead to extinction.

Make that four.

What was the most popular boy's name born in 2005 in Norway, or France, or England?

I believe we should be setting our radar in an entirely different direction...and I say it here, because I still can.

I'm done talking about politics now...anyone for a game of Risk?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hair Of The Odd

I'll admit, on any number of occasions, I've gone without one noticed.

I can't grow a beard, it's something I've come to terms fact, after reading about the "Beard Association" in Egypt, growing a beard is a lot less appealing.

However they are celebrating their 19th anniversary with a contest for the most "attractive" beards.

Here are the contenders.

Suddenly, being clean-shaven seems fine...just fine.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Real Live Worried

I've gotten several emails from folks worried about Gordon (Reallivepreacher) since his site is down.

I'm sure this is a server thing - a renewal overlooked or a screw-up at this new server firm he's switch to recently - in any case, last time I spoke with Gordon he was doing very well. His Dad is doing so well he was due to come home from the hospital last night.

As far as I know - I'd call him but it's 3 a.m. and no one is doing well at 3 a.m. including me - everything is fine with Gordon with the exception of some server issues of which he might not be aware yet. I'll make sure he's aware at a more decent hour.

Since I know I share a smidgen of Gordon's readers, I figured I'd post something...okay, I'm also lazy and didn't want to respond to each email individually.

Seriously, do please keep his Dad, Hollie, and his entire family for that matter, in your prayers. There's a long recovery and journey ahead.

Diddling with websites is not a top priority right now.

However, rest assured, I'm certain the server issues will be addressed and "the Preacher's" wisdom will be back on line soon.

Monday, October 23, 2006

What's Your Excuse?

From the wires this morning...

Millions of people have their own blog and many of those spend much of their time writing about why they haven't blogged lately.
That's the word according to Jenn Shreve, who has a blog dedicated to -- you guessed it -- documenting the excuses bloggers give for not blogging.
She started keeping track of people's blog excuses on her own blog at after realizing so many people had lame excuses for not writing.
Says Shreve: "All the bloggers want to believe everyone is waiting patiently at their computer for their latest blog
-- but in reality no one really cares."
Generally, the top three excuses for not blogging are:
Work; a bad internet connection; or a terrible tragedy has occurred and they are unable to bring themselves to write.
But Shreve's favorite excuses are from the guy who hasn't blogged because he got ``promoted to an officer in his World of Warcraft guild" and another guy who said he's "been drunk or busy a lot."

Hey, at least I wrote something today...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Jerry Lewis Time

Okay, so our little spiritual crisis is seemingly least in our minds, and we've got a busy weekend ahead - visiting with our friends Chuck and Lindsay tonight (Lindsay is out of the hospital and all is well)...Habitat tomorrow - I wasn't signed up but I noticed our group was a bit "thin" so I think I'll join the fray one more time...and then "church" with our friends Harold & Dallas on Sunday, if Dallas is up to it...she started chemo this week and I need to call her as soon as I finish writing this...which is a round about way of saying that I may not have time write much for a few days.

Which means, in truth, I'm going to use this for my "final" pitch for any contributions to the Moldova Mission trip - which is still very much a go.

First off, again THANK YOU to everyone who has given to this cause. You are amazing and we truly are humbled and astounded by the response. Please keep praying for this mission, for the team members, "uneventful" travel, and for Amy's health to stay strong.

Now, please pardon me for being blunt, but dancing around this makes me even more uncomfortable despite reassurances from a number of very caring people who are more used to this stuff than I am...and probably will ever be.

I'm not going to belabor the point: we are on a deadline.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you wouldn't be the first, there are links on the sidebar to previous posts about Moldova and direct links to Children's Emergency Relief International...I do want to modify some of that information because of our deadline.

If you have been planning on making a contribution, please do it now. Our next "team meeting" is November 2nd, and we will be paying for all the trip expenses at that time. In other words, I'll be writing a check to cover what we haven't raised through other means or which we haven't already personally contributed. We have been fully expecting that from the start and have planned accordingly.

However, if you were planning to contribute in a "few weeks" or in December, that money will go to "general" Moldova travel rather than our specific mission. That's still okay! CERI is a GREAT organization. Your money will be in the hands of good stewards...people dedicated to helping children in need. Yet, if you want to contribute to the Moldova Christmas Mission of which Amy and I are team members, the donations need to be made right away.

If you plan to donate by credit card, you can do so through the CERI website, but I implore you to make it VERY, VERY clear that the money should go to "Moldova Travel" for Michael and Amy Main. I've had some communication issues with the no doubt overworked folks at CERI, so I want to make it as easy for them as possible. The site is very easy to navigate, you need only select "Moldova Travel" in the donation area and then add a note designating your gift. That note is very important.

I'd also ask that you drop me an email letting me know you made a contribution that way, so that I can be certain CERI got it and knows for what it is intended.

If you were planning to write a check, with less than two weeks before our next meeting, I think it would be best to still make the check out to CERI, but send it directly to us at our home, not to CERI or our church. That seems most expedient. Again, if you'd also drop me an email, it would be helpful in keeping tabs on all this stuff.

Our home mailing address is listed in the "How To Give" link on the sidebar.

A few folks wrote me to tell me I was nuts for posting our address in the first place - they were very kind about it, and it's probably true - so I'll refrain from posting it again, but it remains listed in that link.

Unlike Jerry Lewis who's a master at this stuff - by the way, did you see him on Law and Order the other night...wasn't he good? - I have no plans to take this to a 23rd hour, in fact this is the last request along these lines I'm going to make.

I do hope to come back in a few weeks with a request for specific items that we'll be taking to the kids in Moldova and the workers who are there with them year round, once I know what items are appropriate. That is another wonderful way you can consider giving.

I most definately will be coming back to you asking for prayer...often.

Should you have any questions please feel free to email me at Michael AT or by using the "Email me" link on the sidebar.

Okay, that's that. I wanted to get it out of the way today and to again thank you all for your generosity not only financial, but spiritual generosity too. It has carried us through a tough personal time recently, and I know it will carry us through the Moldova mission as well.

My only concern now...with our church "crisis" seemingly at bay...the Moldova giving stuff mostly done with...what am I going to write about?

I promise, I'll think of something.

Again, bless you all...we have found great strength in our "online" relationships. It's not unlike our relationship with God. We know you are there, we've communicated with many of you personally, but we haven't met face to face.

One day we will...and what a glorious day that will be.

Thank you,

Michael & Amy

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Either Or Not

Admittedly, we've been confused lately, and on your end that probably translates to a lot confusing writings to plod through. Sorry about that, I sit down and start writing, that's how I've always done it...I plan to continue doing so, but I'm finally at a place where I can change topics.

We believe we've found another way through the fog...let God lead us.

Without going into details, Amy and I have been at odds with several things going on at our church. There's no reason to go into great detail anymore...what started out as a miscommunication caused us to look deeper. The closer we examined the situation the more we saw that was murky...and truthfully uncomfortable.

It remains so. There are some things we can not be part of...but worshipping God is not one of them.

We prayed for God to show us a way over this bump in the road and He did...but what we saw was not a bump, but a fork.

Initially, we believed that was a clear sign and we would have to break away....go in a completely different direction without looking back.

I'm not sure why though...perhaps emotions were still being mistaken for truth.

Make no mistake, we still plan to explore that new path, travel the fork and see what's around the bend, but while we do feel God nudging us, and we do see clarity ahead, that doesn't mean we have to sever any ties, make any great pronouncements or decisions regarding the church and those areas that are confusing and cloudy.

Somehow we had made this an "either or" situation...we made it that way...God didn't. God simply showed us a light to follow, He didn't say to turn our backs on the path that brought us there.

I walked the land our little church is built upon last night. I have walked it often. I prayed at a small pile of stones which were placed there by the people of Covenant some years ago, before we had any buildings on the property...only dreams.

I thought about the old days, these days, and future days.

They all have one thing in common...I've never been in control of any of them...never was...never will be.

Sure I can make decisions, disagree with decisions, be disappointed by decisions...but this stuff...concern over theological cynicism, disdain for the petty posing as pious...and trying to cut our way through all of it with some sense of balance and integrity - that stuff is above my pay grade.

Amy and I are still going to spend some Sundays normally spent in traditional worship trying to be more Christ-like, reaching out to folks in need, doing "home church" on occasion, being the church on occasion and ministering where we feel called. Walking that new path....

But I believe we still need to spend time with our traditional church family too, on that land we have walked upon, amid the trees we have prayed under, and in the seats where we have wept, and sung, and laughed and mourned.

For this is a place we know very well...our church home.

It is the wheat upon which we feed our souls.

We would hunger for the wheat were it any other way.

And there is no need to hunger.

So there is chaff amid the wheat.

It is not our job to separate the two...that is God's work.

Instead of being consumed and confused, we are going to let go and trust that God will work it out.

He always has...He always will.

" He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Amy and I are going to church tonight.

That may not sound like much, but truthfully it was not something we expected to do.

However, those of you who read our Pastor's blog know that his family is going through a very tough situation today.

Gordon is our Pastor but foremost he is our friend.

Our church "issues and decisions" aside, being at Covenant tonight... praying for his where we need to be...I don't need God to tell me that...the body of Christ has taught me that.

Tonight we need to be with that body of Christ.

Please pray for Hollie Atkinson and his wife Janell. They are such good people, and they have raised a very good son whom we love dearly.

Michael & Amy

Monday, October 16, 2006

Dropping Our Nets

Amy and I have made a hard decision which we truly believe God is directing us toward. I'll speak more specifically to that at a later time, right now I have only time to speak to a related topic.

The odd thing is the decision came as a fairly unmistakable answer to prayer. We had been praying for guidance, wisdom, discernment and trying not to let our emotions guide us.

Then something unexpected happened - something we were completely unaware of - that I could only interpret as God saying, "You want an answer. Here! Deal with it."

That was a good thing, except for the dealing with it part.

I know that's still somewhat cryptic...I apologize, once the dust settles I'll spell this out more, I promise.

Anyway, last night I prayed for some additional direction to embark along this new part of our journey.

I should add that over the past few weeks Amy has said frequently that "we need to be ministered to."

Today, we were rushing out the door to get to the gym...okay I was rushing, Amy and Shell were doing their hair, fixing whatever women fix when men wait in cars for them, and our neighbor, Arlene, came over to talk with me. She told me that our former neighbor, and still a dear friend, Dallas, had called her last night to tell her she had terminal lung cancer.

It was stunning news and I thought of her husband, Harold, and how completely fragmented he must be - he's not the most stable guy to begin with, and I say that lovingly.

I asked Amy if she would mind if perhaps we offered to come to their house next weekend and "have church" with them. Amy loved the idea.

I don't know how they'll feel about it, but I'm at least about to make that call...that offer.

As we were discussing those particular friends, we realized today another dear friend is undergoing major surgery, her second this year. I frantically called her husband, Chuck, and asked what the status of the situation was and he said the surgery had been delayed and his wife had "just been rolled in."

So, we're leaving in a moment, as soon as Amy finishes fixing whatever it think I've dug that hole deep enough...suffice it to say we're leaving for the hospital soon.

And oddly enough this seems like God answering my prayer again.

We believe He has shown us a path, but we must choose how we approach it.

I'm fairly certain He's telling us that perhaps if we do "need ministering to" the best way might be by ministering to others.

It's only a first step, but if feels like a very right step.

Please say prayers for our friends Dallas, Harold, Chuck and Lindsay.

And perhaps add in a praise to God for being rather blunt so as to penetrate my thick skull.

I think I'm being cryptic enough for everyone.

"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. - Mark 1:17-18

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Some Nut's Fruit Story

In their little village they were the "wise ones," called upon to help with the maintenance of their community. Every villager was co-dependent...leaning here, being leaned upon there and "wise ones" kept watch to make sure no one was left out, left wanting.

Over the ages, a wise one occasionally would die, or leave...the community would mourn together or celebrate together if the departure merited such. Sometimes a wise one's departure represented a new life, a new beginning...spreading the village values and the wise ones' wisdom.

The only true constants were an old oak table, the origins of which had been lost in time much as its edges had been worn away by the oil and moisture of the wise ones of days gone by, and by the juices of "the fruit."

Fruit was the little village's enterprise and sustenance. Everyone in the village worked the fields, or orchards. Children were born amid the fruit and women were buried beneath some too. So whenever the wise ones met to give consideration to the villages needs, to plan for each season and for the inevitable hard times, before them sat the fruit, nestled neatly in a hard wood bowl.

In the ancient days, the days of the first wise ones, the fruit was savored and shared as the wise ones conducted their business. This was, after all, the heart and soul of the little village. The fruit was always present and none would go to waste. The wise ones would sometimes boast of the beauty of each piece, every sliver was shared. Some years, the hard years, they would still devour the fruit even it wasn't as tasty or easy to swallow.

Even a bedraggled, sickly, lemon that barely survived a harsh growing season would be divided among the wise ones and enjoyed. The wise ones knew. They knew there was much to consider when it came to the villager's fruits and there were many times their community was at the mercy of things beyond their control...often beyond their comprehension....too much winter...too little rain....flooding, ceaseless downpours...harsh sunlight that seemed to squeeze and wilt the crops with a nasty vengeance.

The wise ones of old knew, even in the bitterest of times, they could find sweetness in the fruit. So they would consume the fruits, no matter the fruit's condition. Revel in each sliver or slice and occasionally sing praises for even the most meager of morsels for the fruits always seemed to be sufficient. As long as they had the fruits...the wise ones and the villagers were satisfied if not sated.

The tradition goes on to this least the wise ones meet. The village is no longer the same though. As years and decades and centuries went by there were times when the village flourished and thrived, but at some point came a series of hard season after hard season after hard season. Some villagers died...many sought hope and sustenance elsewhere...even some wise ones departed with little fanfare.

But there were others to replace them and the wise ones meet still.

The once sharp edge of the old oak table became worn so thin at spots that occasionally a wise one would be stuck by a splinter. Something more modern was rolled in to replace it. The old oak table has been put in a back room or storage area so as not pose risk to children...or villagers with long memories.

In truth, for a brief while a few wise ones held tight to the table as a last vestige of the village that once was...reliant upon every individual for its very survival. But time intervened as always, and with each new season the grip on the table loosened as wise ones moved on and were replaced.

As the world changed the little village adapted. There are different crops grown in some areas now, some by villagers who have never even consulted with the wise ones or seen a need too. Some villagers don't know what the wise ones do at all.

People with different methods have started to reside in the village, some seemed to appear from no where, others were home grown like the fruit of old, but chose different paths, away from tradition...ways they see as more productive and less dependent on the whims and cruelty of nature...less reliant on other villagers.

Fruit is still harvested in a few areas, but it's certainly no longer the center of the village...the economic generator. The wise ones at some point came to see that...and accept it. Some have embraced it enthusiastically.

Most of the wise ones actually bring "bagged food" from strange places with funny smells to their meetings these days. There is no home cooking shared...that phase was so brief it never became tradition.

The wise ones have now come to enjoy sharing the variety of savory pleasures which can be found easily...bought...even delivered. No one has to climb a tree or spend a day in the fields in back breaking labor to put food on the shiny new table. It's easier this way now.

The wise ones don't have to focus at all on the fruits that were the center of their predecessor's world.

In fact, it's rare for the orchards, the fields, the season's planning to be mentioned by the wise ones at all.

It was so easy for it to happen...for it to be allowed to happen.

The world came trampling through the orchards bringing with it new flavors, new senses, new needs...and new beliefs.

And the fruit is now essentially ignored. If the old wooden bowl should make a rare appearance on the shiny new table, any fruit inside is considered "decoration" if it's considered at all. Certainly no one eats of is left untouched, disregarded and forgotten. It is left to rot.

The change was so gradual, the little village never noticed. The villagers still trust the wise ones, and give no thought that some wise ones have lost their taste for the fruits which once filled their stomachs...and fed their souls.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

And On A Lighter Note

Don't want to stand in line to get your kid the hot new TMX Elmo doll for Christmas?

Luckily there's an alternative...a good healthy dose of reality...sort of.

Meet "Turleen."

Barefoot, pregnant, cigarette dangling from her her belly and she speaks.

Go ahead...spoil your kid and get the male doll too...Jer "Wayne"...push his belly and....well...take a guess...and hold your nose.

Available at

Monday, October 09, 2006

Monday Mood

We are trying.
To understand why God is asking us to deal with what should have been such "easy stuff," and why it has instead become "hard stuff."

We are trying to find a course that leads to healing.

But we are wondering why we are having to chart that course alone.

We have reached out.

We have sought counsel.

We have prayed.

And we have lost faith...not in God...but in our once cherished community.

Maybe it is simply the remnants of Monday, what should have been an exciting day. We have our Moldova paperwork done, have met some of our team members, and see great opportunity to say small words with huge meaning to small children with far more huge issues than ours.

"You are His beloved in whom He is well pleased."

But I will admit, I have never felt as "alone" in my faith as I do today.

Thank God for the blog community...bless you.

Hard decisions are ahead - perhaps they have already been made for us - but I know this much, I will trust God...

At least that is something I do not have "to process."

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Good, The Rad & The Just Plain Ugly

I've been doing a little tinkering with this blog's template - always a dangerous thing that can consume hours before I end up getting frustrated and restoring it back to where it was originally - hey at least I make back-ups!

The good: On the side bar you'll notice a new link to "My Photos Albums." That's going to be a semi-fluid connection to on-line photo albums, I think there are two up there now. One of pictures from our last trip to Lakeside, Ohio and the other shots from the most recent Habitat for Humanity house I'm "helping" out on. "Helping" being a kind term since I am not a handy man - perfectly comfortable with that - but I am concerned someone will assign me a job which in 2 years could result in the house collapsing due to my incompetence. I'll try and post something when pictures are added or I put up a new album.

The rad: Is rad even a word? Well, anyway...having Shell living with us is such a joy and occasional flashback. Shell may be 19 years old, but she is a child of the 60's. She's a "hippie chick," something she'll readily admit.

I'll walk into a room and hear music that *I* grew up listening to. She's into all sorts of old rock bands, from the Beatles to Jimi Hendrix. When I was helping carry some of her stuff to our "URMD," - (Upper Rooms Ministry Division) - I noticed a Led Zeppelin poster. I ended up giving her a Beatle's poster that I've carried around since college and which has hung in our garage since Amy and I first moved into this house. In fact, all of my "decorations" ended up in the garage...but that's another matter.

My only disappointment is Shell wasn't interested in the Simon & Garfunkel poster that also adorns an unseen garage wall. I also must confess that I've found myself on occasion "turning the music down" - my music that's now her music. Really, it's been because I'm so deaf I can't carry on a conversation with music playing at a decent "rock n roll" decibel. Really. I'm not THAT old!

At least I haven't shouted, "TURN THAT %$!* DOWN!"

That would be the ultimate irony.

The ugly: I mentioned in the prior post I was thinking of putting a little thermometer-type image on the blog to graphically represent our Moldova fundraising.
Uh...that's not gonna happen. My best effort at designing it is so's so ugly it'd make a train take a dirt's so ugly...sorry, I slipped into a bad Catskills comic routine for a sec. Anyway, it's ugly (see below and click to enlarge its ugliness), plus it made me a little queasy. Not because of its ugliness, but because it seems to spotlight "money."

If I could find an adequate way to graphically express the overwhelming "prayer support" we've received, I'd be a lot more comfortable with putting that image up, but there's no way any chart/thermometer/graph could come close to representing the huge outpouring from so many tender hearts.

And even if there was...I'd have to draw it...and it would be ugly.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Passing Into The Positive

It's a good day.

The air is clear, in more ways than one, and there's fun stuff to report.
I feel a bit like Steve Martin from the film, "The Jerk" saying, "The new phonebooks are here! The new phonebooks are here!"

However, we've got our passports! We actually received them a couple of weeks ago, I simply didn't have the time or the proper mood to write about it.

The photos are even fairly decent...keep in mind, you're not allowed to smile - I'm not sure why, maybe it's some type of security risk. I suppose Customs Agents could be lulled into letting some madman into the country if the nutcase had an alluring smile. Then again, they probably figure that after standing in security lines, crammed into tiny seats, having to carry your deodorant in a clear plastic bag for everyone to see, the odds are you're not going to be smiling coming off the aircraft.

We were appropriately dour.

On an even more positive note, I must tell you folks that you are amazing. The comments/emails Amy and I received from the blogosphere over the past week or so have been so encouraging, sympathetic, and uplifting that it's helped renew our spirit, more than I could ever adequately express.

God has an awe inspiring reach.

Along those lines, we're also "stunned" at the outpouring of donations for our CERI Christmas Moldova mission, both financial and spiritual. I was trying to come up with a little graphic - some tacky thermometer - representing the donations/pledges we've received in relation to our "goal." However, I could spend about 6 9 hours trying to draw a straight line and it seemed kind of silly - yeah, I'll probably do it...I only need a few more hours.

As I've mentioned, the trip to Moldova is going to cost us $3600.00, which covers most everything except whatever medications/elixirs/potions I'm going to need to ply Amy with to keep her from getting too freaked out by a 25 hour plane ride.

So far the tally of donations/pledges - strictly from people who read this blog (with a few shekels thrown in by us, which we've set up to do every two weeks) is..."Drumroll please!" $1325.00!!

I'm no math whiz but that's already more than a third of the costs...from blog readers...some of whom we've had no communication with before whatsoever! You people are astounding...I NEVER expected to raise that much money, and I haven't even tried doing my best 23rd hour Jerry Lewis impression!

Seriously...we are humbled and awed. There's no way to adequately thank you, but we're hoping sharing your love with some kids who can really use it. I was going to save this information for another post, but it feels like the right time to me now.

We'll be in Moldova on January 7th...that's the day they celebrate Christmas in Moldova. So we will be sharing and celebrating the birth of our Savior, amid some kids who really need to know that they are His "beloved."

What a gift...for us!

I'm going to be thrilled to try to share that experience with you, if only through my meager words and as many photos as I can take.

Our first "Moldova team meeting" is Monday - 25 people from various churches - so we're very excited to learn more of what to expect.

"My old friend Harlan" sent me a link to a recent NPR report on Moldova. If you'd like to learn more click here.

By the way Harlan, old friend, I deeply appreciated your email and will answer soon...but, as you might expect, it's going to be a long one.

That leads me to the best news of this good day.

I heard from God.

It was actually last night, following a wonderful email exchange with Katy from I realized that the "spiritual crisis" Amy and I are facing pales in comparison to something else, a deep abiding friendship that I was putting at risk of getting bollixed up in our whirlpool of emotions.

We haven't solved our "crisis," but today great strides were made to insure, no matter what, that cherished relationship will not become "collateral damage."

And it didn't require a passport to take the first step.

Yeah, it's been a really good day.

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. - Ecclesiastes 7:8

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some Explanation Is Needed.. but....

I had it in my mind I was going to spell things out today about our little spiritual crisis. I started writing from my heart and it got all cryptic again. Then I started writing from my head and it got all complicated.

And although no one can edit my feelings, I have to allow Amy to have the right of first refusal before I post anything specific about this mess...and I don't think she's ready.

So I'm going to sum it up very quickly and move on to other topics for a while.

We've had a major communication breakdown with the elders of our has wounded us...put an unnecessarily and almost cruel strain on some of our dearest most abiding friendships...and left us wandering (that's not a typo).

Decisions have been made, they can't be taken back although we believe our side of the story has not been heard. People who say they "speak with one voice" have refused to "listen" at all.


It's caused us to reevaluate a lot of things including whether we can continue participating in our church. If you've read this blog for any time at all, you will know how heart-wrenching that is for us.

For now, we're stepping back from all our church "duties" and spending more time reading suggested words of wisdom, praying, and hanging on to that which we are certain we can lean on..God and each other.

I am making one vow...the next &*#$ post on this blog is going to about something fun.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

If A Blog Is Written In The Forest...

I'm still writing.

You just can't read it.

Some of that is probably good.

I *have* to write. It's the one thing in my life *I* have control over.

In truth, I would like other people to read what I write...but that doesn't negate my *need* to write.

So I'm writing this.

Other stuff I've written over the past week or so, remains in my "draft" folder. Perhaps I'll publish it, perhaps not.

However since the status of my website relies on a number of factors out of my control, I've decided I will simply write. Whatever comes to mind. It's been cathartic if not exactly fulfilling.

For those of you who have emailed me out of concern - once my email started working - thank you. It means a lot, more than I can express now, to have "community" in this odd world of i.p. addresses replacing faces and names. For those of you who wrote and got no reply...believe me...I never received the email.

Anyway...that's all I'm going to write now. One of the other benefits of writing and realizing no one but me can read it is that I can stop whenever I want. No fine profundity required.

Maybe that's how it should always be...