40 Prayers of Hope and Gratitude, for Bruce

May 2, 2009 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Job Search, Life, Religion, Work, Youth 

Tomorrow is the birthday of Bruce Reyes-Chow, a friend and currently the moderator of the PC(USA).  On his blog, he asks for some very charitable birthday “gifts” to him.  One of them is “a list of prayers for 40 things for which you are grateful, gives you hope or are in need of God’s healing“.  (Besides – he needs a little love.  The first comment on the post attacked him for a position of faith and politics – on a post related to his birthday!)

I can do that.

  1. For my wife, who I am VERY grateful for.
  2. For my family (parents and siblings) and the relationship that we have that didn’t look too likely for a while.
  3. For Barbara, Jill and Kathy – former co-workers who are being very supportive during my career transition.
  4. For the youth group at my church.  I am both grateful for them, and they give me hope.  Some of them need your prayers for healing.
  5. For the horde of Twitterati who follow my every tweeted move, give me music when I need it, give me information when I need it, and entertain me.
  6. For Rich, Jeremiah, Jill, Gooitzen, Elsa, Aaron and others from my church family who are being very supportive during my career transition.
  7. For the many recent and near-future seminary graduates that I interact with, who are both a source of hope and in need of prayers to find their destinations.
  8. For S (who will remain otherwise nameless here but I’m sure is reading this), for being/assisting my sense of call and helping me to explain my Montreat experience.  You know who you are.
  9. For the children in my neighborhood, who remind me of the relative importance of parts of life.
  10. For healing for those on all sides who have been hurt by the whole Amendment B business.
  11. For my cats.  Gratitude for them being there for me and entertaining me.  Hope that they radiate (particularly when it’s snack time).  Healing for both as they age and begin to suffer the effects.
  12. Hope from the members of my church’s confirmation class, who were able to teach parts of the lesson that I was teaching.
  13. Healing for two youth workers waiting for transplants.
  14. Gratitude for those who have let me put my skills to work for them while I’m seeking a job.
  15. Gratitude for my sister whose birthday is today (sharing it with Bruce’s “Middle” child).
  16. Healing for everybody else hurt by the economy.
  17. Healing for everybody else hurt by greed.
  18. Hope and healing for those with obstacles between them and what God is calling them to.
  19. Healing for those affected by swine flu Hamthrax H1N1 and gratitude that it is turning out to be mild for most.
  20. Healing for those suffering from mental illness.
  21. Healing for Mom, who had two teeth pulled yesterday.
  22. Hope for/about Sara, who is taking the first steps in a new direction.
  23. Gratitude for and hope from Rich who is letting me find my place in the youth ministry.
  24. Gratitude for Lorelei.  Everybody needs a Lorelei, some of them the same one.
  25. Gratitude for two places on the entire planet (outside of my relationship with Carolyn) where I have been able to be myself 100%:  Camp Johnsonburg and Montreat.
  26. Healing for the people whose prayer cards come to me each week after worship.  Hope that my prayers are helping.
  27. Healing for the people of Sudan, of Somalia, and other places where oppression and violence reign.
  28. Gratitude for Tim, Jessica, Jessica, Nancy, Carolyn, Andrea, and a few others who have been there during my darkest hours (whether they realize it or not).
  29. Gratitude for the Project Open Door task force – it was great working with all of you, and I look forward to the next steps.
  30. Healing for all of those who feel that fighting about minutia is more important than loving one another.
  31. Hope and healing for all who feel that being somewhere else is what they have to do.
  32. Gratitude and hope for all of those who I’ve networked with during my career transition.
  33. Gratitude for the opportunity to play the drums again for a purpose.
  34. Hope (healing?  help?) for the God Complex radio staff and talent that we’ll be ready by Monday.
  35. Healing for those that I have hurt and have not reconciled with (and for me to do so someday).
  36. Gratitude for polity – specifically that of the PC(USA).
  37. Gratitude for that unexplained good mood that strikes sometimes.
  38. Hope?  Healing?  for my personal discernment in this season of change.
  39. Healing for all of my issues that I’ve chosen not to mention here.
  40. Gratitude, hope for/from, and healing if he needs it for Bruce.

Happy Birthday, Bruce!  Welcome to the over the hill gang.

What’s going on

July 18, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Ham Radio, Life, Religion, Youth 

My blog has been quiet, and light on what’s going on in my life.  Most of that is due to the Sword of Damocles question about what I should write here.  (By the way, more input is desired in the Bible Study on blogging.)

Here’s a short roundup of what’s been happening and what is going to be happening.

  • Car Accident – This happened back on June 20.  As I said before – minor damage and no injuries.  My car has been repaired.  I’m apparently at the beginning of the subrogation process – my insurance company has decided that I’m not at fault and has submitted a claim to the other driver’s company.  The other driver got a ticket for Careless Driving, so it should be an easy decision in my favor.
  • DirecTV – I have two DirecTV DVRs.  One of them developed hard drive problems and was randomly rebooting.  That has since been replaced for what amounts to Free.  It was just a pain, but much less of a pain than expected.
  • Deacon – I perform my first deacon duty this weekend.  I’ll be putting juice and iced tea on the table in Fellowship Hall after the service.  As one other blogger said, “They also serve who stir and pour.”  I’ll be greeting in August, and Officer Training and Installation will be in September.
  • Camp Johnsonburg – I’ve assisted twice with Sunday check-in.  Once I was a medical check person for the “no medication” line, and the other time I managed the medical form paperwork process (an all-paper process that is a bit labor-intensive for 200+ campers).  I was pleasantly surprised to run into one of my youth group members checking into the camp’s Leadership Training Program (a 3-week program that is essentially Counselor training).  I’ll be back again in August for one more Sunday.
  • Youth Group – I drove the youth mission trip to and from Philadelphia where they stayed at and worked with Broad Street Ministries.  By all reports a good time was had by all and several report transformational experiences.  I’ll be going with the youth group trip to Montreat for the Youth Conference (week VI) starting next weekend.  I’m a smidge nervous about that – the last time I did a week road trip with a bunch of youth was my trip to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium in 1986, when I was a youth.  I’m hoping that a mostly out of shape 40-year-old can keep up.
  • Birthday – it was quiet, which is the desired result.  I didn’t ask for much, and the presents that I received were thoughtful.  I got a lot of cards with old people on them for some reason …
  • Ham Radio – I participated in the national Field Day at the end of June.  I was only able to help set up in the morning and operate for a few hours in the afternoon.  This event is when amateur radio clubs and individuals all over the country set up their equipment in the field (we were at Mercer County Park) and demonstrate their ability to operate in an emergency.
  • Home, Wife, Cats – all about as good as usual.

Blogging will be non-existent between July 25 and August 3 or so due to the youth trip.  It may be light until then, unless I think of something compelling to say.

I am 39 and 366/366ths

July 16, 2008 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Life 

Yep, it’s that day.

This year my birthday is a day for reflection.

This is the first year that my body is starting to get creaky.  In the last 2 years I’ve gotten reading glasses and I’ve learned how NOT to move my muscles suddenly when I’m just waking up.  I’m aging, but generally healthy.  It could be worse.

This is also the year that I realize that some doors have closed.  There are just some things that I could have done, but which I can no longer do because I didn’t take that side of the fork in the road.  There are things that I never could have done (I was never going to be an NBA star).  There are things that I have done.  This is the year that I realize that there are things that I didn’t do, and the opportunity is gone.  I don’t regret the decisions but it’s sad to see the closed doors.

This past year has also been a rough but fruitful year.  I spent a LOT of time outside of my comfort zone.  In some ways that has paid off.  In other ways I’ve bounced off some metaphorical walls at high speed.  Some of this has produced personal growth and a lot hasn’t.  Ironically, most of the “new” things in my life are actually a return to a part of my past.

I have made a number of new friends in the past year both locally and nationally.  I cherish those friendships.  I have been able to help a few of these new friends with their lives and goals and that is gratifying.

Probably the most rewarding part of my life in the last year has been my work with the youth group at church.  I love our kids, and watching them grow has been wonderful.  Sunday evenings have been a very bright spot in my life.

Life with Carolyn continues to be wonderful.  I think we’ve reached the beginning of the “growing old together” stage of life.  It’s good.  Every day I learn something new about her (or gain a new story – there are LOTS of those) and yet we know each other so well that we’ve reached the point one or two words speak volumes.  (“Do you know where …” – “Here you go” – and it’s exactly what she was looking for.)

And our cats are still as snuggly as ever.

It could have been better, and it could have been worse.  One more year in the books.

p.s. –  Happy Birthday, Harry!

Young Adult – not anymore

July 8, 2008 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Life, Religion, Young Adult 

Next week, I have a birthday.  This birthday ends in a zero, and puts me at the upper limit of what the PC(USA) denomination considers a “young adult”.

(Note – this is not a call for well wishes or gifts.  However, my e-mail address is in the column on the left if you are so inclined.  🙂 )

Carolyn and I are in a strange spot.  We are childless by choice, and at that age where most of our friends are having children (or in some cases have children as old as teenagers).  We don’t quite fit in the world of folks “our age”, because we aren’t sharing the same experiences.

At the same time, we’re not finding that we have a ton in common with the folks who are behind us in years but also childless.  These are the true young adults – the not-yet-married, the under-40-not-gonna-get-married, and the married-without-children.  Don’t get me wrong – I love my friends in this group.  It’s just that I feel a little different from them.  Carolyn and I have been married for over 13 years at this point – most of the young adult friends that I have aren’t married at all and those that are haven’t been married quite so long.

I’m also feeling my age.  My hairline is headed north at a rate faster than average (thanks to my family tree, it seems).  I’m starting to feel creaky in places.  I need reading glasses sometimes.  My mother was apparently more dismayed than me last December when she noticed the amount of gray in my hair (well, what’s left of my hair) – and the implications for her in having a son with gray hair.

I think I’ve crossed the line.  I don’t feel like a young adult anymore.  If we’d had children I’d probably have crossed the line at least 5 years ago.  I now find myself saying and doing things that my parents used to do – I catch myself saying “Shoot.  I sound like my parents”.

Each person crosses this line in their own time.  I know folks over 40 who are still young adults at heart.  I know folks under 30 who are no longer young adults.  I just get this feeling that some time in the last 5 years, I crossed the line without noticing.  I’m noticing now because there will shortly be a zero in my age.

And it’s just as it should be.

Start of Summer Meme

May 29, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Life, Religion 

I’ve been tagged by Toby Brown of Classical Presbyterian for a meme.

Start of Summer Meme

Whether it’s the smell of the grill, the taste of fresh lemonade, the glow of fireflies or the pull of your fishing line, many of us have distinctive senses about what makes for the sign of summer.

So, you all know the rules–fill it out on your own blog and tag other blogs. If you have no blog, answer it in the comment section here.
Let’s dive in!
1.)  What first tells you that Summer is here?

Two things:  First, the need for air conditioning.  Second, the First Sunburn of Summer.  The latter generally happens in late April on a gray cloudy day when I’m out at a festival of some sort and forget that I need a hat on my sparsely-populated head.

2.) Name your five of your favorite distinctively Summer habits or customs.

  1. The Summer Afternoon Nap
  2. Cooking on the Grill
  3. Mowing the Lawn
  4. Volunteering for check-in on Sundays at church camp
  5. My Birthday

3.) What is your favorite smell of Summer?

The odor of the first few big, fat raindrops that fall before the full thunderstorm hits.  This is the smell that signals a reduction in humidity and temperature in the near future.

4.) What is your favorite taste of Summer?

Grilled cheeseburgers.

5.) Favorite Summer memory?

Sitting around the campfire in the evening at Work Camp at Camp Johnsonburg, circa 1984.  Work Camp was special.  The 50-70 campers were spread across all age groups from entering 3rd grade to graduating from high school.  The cost was half of a regular unit because the work camp spent mornings doing work on the camp.  I remember painting buildings and one year even re-shingling a roof.  The younger kids did things like cleaning campfire cooking equipment and lanterns.

Every evening the entire work camp would have a campfire together.  We had our own leaders (the same every year) and our own set of regular songs.  The evening campfire was a cross between the traditional campfire, a bible study, and a worship service.  The work campers were a close-knit group – many came from two churches that founded the work camp and they and others repeated work camp every year – but they readily accepted new people.  It felt like a giant family even more than regular camp.

I’ll pick one specific memory.  In 1985 I was a CIT (Counselor in Training) and for work camp I got to co-counsel with the Associate Pastor of my church (my youth pastor).  He was also the chaplain for the week.  The last night of work camp was always a communion service.  At the time I was already a deacon, and the Book of Order limited service of communion to elders or “deacons, if sufficient elders are not available”.  The communion service that he and I served at was my first chance to serve communion – something that was only ever repeated the following summer at Triennium.

Alas – Work Camp is no more in that form.  The closest thing today is that some churches will send a group (youth or adult) up to live in a cabin for a week and do a project.  Those folks don’t interact with the camp program much.


6.) Extreme heat or extreme cold? Which would you choose and why?

Extreme cold.

For one thing it’s easier for humans to “fix” extreme cold.  Heating is generally easier than air conditioning.  I dislike temperature extremes at either end.  Secondly, I’m a real homebody and love the snuggly “stay inside” call of a cold snap.

7.) What books do you plan to read for the season?

Because of the economy (national and personal), I’m re-reading things from my shelf.  Most of that is science-fiction.  Right now I’m reading The Tower and the Hive (Rowan) by Anne McCaffrey.

One book that I have ordered is:  Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum, No. 14) I like the Janet Evanovich “Stephanie Plum” series in part because it takes place in Trenton NJ but also because it’s REALLY funny.  Note – those easily offended by foul language, risque topics and less than Godly behavior probably won’t like these.

8.) How does the Summer affect your faith? Is it a hindrance or an ally?

An ally.

I’ll preface my remarks with a reminder that I’m a strong introvert.

During the rest of the year, church alternates between hard work, painful interaction with some (including some nasty fights on the web … ahem), and high moments.  I love working with the youth group, see the value of my work on committees (though they are a form of stress for me sometimes), and experience the difficulty of an introvert functioning in a large community.  We are called to be in community, but our current structures aren’t really designed to make introverts comfortable.

In the summer, all of the “large group” aspects of faith get less intense.  Our church has no air conditioning, and as a result attendance on Sunday drops WAY off.  Committee work slows down or stops completely.  The youth group doesn’t meet regularly which is both a bad thing (I miss them) and a good thing (I can get to sleep earlier on Sunday evening).

There are a few summer-only things too:

Church Camp – Carolyn and I will go up to help with check-in a few Sundays this summer.  We generally spend about 3-4 hours in the afternoon doing medical checks or doing the complicated and crazy job of managing the medical paperwork.  For that work, we get the privilege of spending the whole day there.  We generally arrive in time for Staff Worship in the morning and then have a leisurely lunch with our camp friends.  Sometimes we stay for dinner (if it’s not too hot) with 100-200 excited kids and staff.

Montreat – for the first time, I’m going with my church’s youth group to the Montreat summer youth conference (week VI, in case you’re going).  I’m doing this with some trepidation – the last time I did something like this was Youth Triennium in 1986 when I WAS a youth, but it should be fun.  We have something like 10 youth and 4 adults going for the program plus another adult in a support role.

Last, let’s not forget that my return to the church was sparked by a conversation at camp at lunch on a Sunday that I did check-in.  Summer is generally pretty good to my faith.

Let’s see.  I tag:

Cheesehead in Paradise
Alan of Some Amusing Blog Pun
Gannet Girl of Search the Sea
Adam Walker-Cleaveland of Pomomusings
Little Miss Sew and Sow

Quiet Birthday

July 17, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Life 

From about the beginning of my high school years through my college years, my birthday was generally a disaster.

It takes place in the summer.  Summers at that time were the time when I was living at home (during college) or spending more time at home (during high school).  My parents and I had a lot of friction during that time and during college it got so bad that they nearly lost their relationship with me on numerous occasions.

For some reason, my birthday acted like a lightning rod.  I remember having a screaming match with my parents EVERY birthday.  Even when Carolyn (now wife, then girlfriend) was in the house it didn’t help.  I have a very clear memory of sitting in the basement in tears, emotionally wrung out after a fight, and Carolyn didn’t know what to do to console me.  She should never have been subjected to that.

Ever since then my goal for my birthday has been to have a quiet day.  For the most part this means just Carolyn and I at home.  Family celebrations are welcome on other days.

This year worked out that way.  My parents, Carolyn and I went out to lunch on Sunday.  My brother called yesterday, but it was a fairly quick call.  Otherwise I went to work and spent the evening at home with Carolyn.  Her parents will probably call in a day or two.  We might go out to a movie later in the week.

Thank you all for your wishes and for honoring mine.

If you’re intersted in the loot, be prepared to be disappointed (though I was not).  Carolyn gave me a wire brush to clean the BBQ grill (that I asked for) and we had previously agreed that my new watch purchased a few months ago to replace a broken watch was part of my birthday present.  My parents asked for suggestions and I came up dry, so they donated some money to Camp Johnsonburg (I said “donate money to somebody”) in my honor and gave me a gift certificate to a local restaurant.  I expected nothing more – I’m hard to buy for.  I’m the “if I want it and can afford it I’ll just go buy it” type.

Happy Birthday, Carolyn

November 2, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life 

Carolyn Smith

On this date, some number of years ago that I’m not stupid enough to reveal, my wife Carolyn was born in northern NJ.

Happy Birthday, sweetie.

Growing Old

March 17, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Miscellaneous 

I was just on the phone talking to my mother (to tell her about my solo flight below).

She called my younger brother on his birthday a week ago. She told him that he was making her feel old.

Brother: “Why?”
Mom: “Because I have a son who’s 32 years old.”
Brother: “I hate to tell you this, but I’m 33 years old.”

True story!