Category Archives: places

ICPC Week In Lexington, KY

This week I’m not writing or posting very much, not even on ProverbialThought.com. The reason is that I am in Lexington, Kentucky, attending the 45th annual training seminar for the International Conference of Police Chaplains (ICPC).

The purpose of this week-long seminar is to provide valuable training for law enforcement chaplains, along with the opportunity to meet and develope friendships with fellow chaplains from across the nation and around the world.

This is the first one of these conferences I’ve attended, and after the second day my brain is a little tired – information overload, as we say. But I do appreciate Sheriff Jim Hammond and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office for making this trip possible.

Tomorrow afternoon there will be a memorial service honoring the fallen. Thursday night there will be a more formal banquet. In between all the classes and meetings we try to get some food, meet new friends, compare notes, and work in time to study for Sunday sermons (the last one is me, at least).

I will share more about this conference, some photos, and some things I’ve been learning in another post. But if you’d like, you can go to the following website to learn a little more about the ICPC, police chaplains, etc. There may even be some recent video now posted.

Go toΒ www.icpc4cops.org

In the meantime, hug a cop and say a prayer for him or her and their families.

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July 4th, Chattanooga, Tennessee River

Last night I played bodyguard to my daughters Katie and Haley. They wanted to go downtown to walk around and take pictures before the fireworks, so I went with them…armed to the teeth πŸ˜‰

Well, I’m sure their pictures from last night are much better, but here are a few I took from the Walnut Street Bridge. The drawbridge in the pictures is the Market Street Bridge.

The red, white, and blue mansion is the Hunter Museum. We passed by it as we walked back to the car, and right before it started pouring rain!

We love our city. We love our river. We love our country.

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Body Exhibit One

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We couldn’t take pictures inside the exhibition.

This morning we Honda’d down to Atlanta to visit the “Bodies” exhibit, a display of actual human bodies in various states of dissection. Yes, we saw dead people.

It wasn’t exactly Christmas, but our trip was a gift to the family by our middle daughter, Katie. She was so excited. It was something she’d first heard about when in Germany last year, and couldn’t wait to see.

So, what was it like? Well, it wasn’t as disturbing as I thought it would be, but it was a little. Honestly, it was hard to convince myself that what I was observing was actual human remains, not props from a horror movie. I had expected to see plain human cadavers, I guess; what I saw, instead, were skinned bodies, sliced bodies, and parts of bodies I still have no idea how they extracted. I guess my sensibilities weren’t prepared to offer an adequate response.

Everything in the exhibit was real, all except for the eyes (except for one man who was reading – his eyes were real).

Imagine a whole human body sliced from head to toe as if put headfirst into a roast beef slicer… yeah. Horror movie stuff, right?

But what I saw was incredibly impressive. I was able to see actual tendons, muscles, organs, bone – you name it – up close and in context. And most impressive was a whole body gone – except for blood vessels! Seriously! They had different glass cases with various limbs and organs on display, but they actually had one case with nothing but the entire blood vessel system of one male human! Looked like a human-shaped red brillo pad (or steel wool). How did they do that???

Oh, my daughters just informed me how they did that. They took bodies and replaced their blood with a polymer hardening agent died red. Next, they placed the bodies in a solution that completely dissolved the human remains, leaving nothing but the polymer in the shape of the entire blood vessel system. No, there’s nothing sick about that, is there?

And, then, what was the biggest question of the day? My daughters, my mother (who spent 46 years in the blood and pathology fields), and I all asked, “How could all of this complexity been an accident?”

The antagonist-type of atheists who have tried to argue with me over creation have often begged me to show them “the evidence!” in the case for a Designer. Seriously, after going to Atlanta to see what I saw, I can now simply point to ourselves and reply,

“Exhibit one: Bodies.”

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Filed under Apologetics, Life/Death, places

While I Was Writing

While I sat at the kitchen table writing my last post “Losing Track of Time,” my youngest daughter, Haley, went outside to watch the sun rise.

She took this picture of our church as seen from the back of our parsonage.

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How Polluted Is Your City?

As much as I hate to admit it, everything that Mark West says in this article about Chattanooga (my home town) is true. For example, he points out that Chattanooga was once considered the most polluted city in America – I remember those days when one couldn’t even see Lookout Mountain because of the brown smog that hung low over the city.

But it’s another kind of pollution that Mark describes in “Chattanooga: A Polluted City,” and that pollution is proving far more difficult to eradicate.

I love my city, and I’m happy to live here. I mean, seriously, Chattanooga is regularly listed as one of those beautiful places everyone one – especially the nature-loving folk – should visit at least once. In addition to the natural beauty, there’s the history, the southern culture, and the courteous people. Yet, a serious problem wafts through the streets, and it’s going to take a lot more than nice words and eco-friendly investments to solve.

Click on the above links and read my friend’s assessment of the situation. If you have any other suggestions, I’m sure he’ll be glad to hear. Just let him know I sent you πŸ˜‰

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An Official Goodbye to an Era

Time for a Change

As you know, I have been driving a school bus for a while. Much of that time was spent in an area where I used to live and pastor, Lookout Valley, TN (just in sight of Lookout Mountain).

For several years (actually, since 2009) I was what we call a “park out” driver. That means that I was able, because I had the space, and because of the closeness to the schools I served, to keep my bus at home. That was extremely convenient in that all I had to do to go to work was walk out my front door.

But now that I no longer pastor in Lookout Valley, nor do I live there, it is no longer convenient to drive a bus route in that area. It makes much more sense to drive a school bus route closer to where I will now be living (in that parsonage I recently showed you) 30 miles away.

Now, there are no guarantees I will be able to secure a route in the area to which I am moving – that is still a matter of prayer. However, as with the last route I had, the fact remains the same: I want to be a fixture in the community in which I pastor. If it’s God’s will, He will provide the route I need.

It happened before, you know.

If it be the Lord’s will, next school year (2017-2018) I will secure a route on a special needs bus (a small bus) that I can park in the new church’s parking lot. However, that remains to be seen. This summer I will be working as a driver trainer, but I will be keeping my eyes open for whatever opportunities are out there.

In the meantime, I thought I would share with you some photos that tell a little about the era that is passing, the era of Bus 374.

A History In Pictures

When I first started driving for Durham School Services in Hamilton County (the Chattanooga, TN area), I was a “sub” driver. In other words, I didn’t have my own route, a particular route with an assigned bus, that I drove every day. What I did the first couple of years was fill in and drive whatever route needed me, wherever that route happened to go.

As a matter of fact, when I started driving a school bus in Kentucky back in 2001, that is all I ever did – work as a substitute driver. Some of the experiences I had while doing that, especially the part including tennis balls, is detailed in my book. However, I unfortunately don’t have any pictures of my early days driving a bus – I wish I did.

My first route after being a sub-driver was bus 369. I drove the 369 route for a year or so, then went on to drive bus 374. If I’m not mistaken, bus 369 started out as a conventional-style bus (with a long nose) and later changed to a front-engine transit (flat front) …it might have been the other way around, but I can’t remember.

All total I had four different models of buses during my time as driver of #374. At one point I drove a 2007 Thomas transit. Later I drove a conventional-style (long nose) Thomas with a Mercedes engine (my favorite bus out of all of them). After that I went back to a Thomas transit, but a more modern 2011 model. Lastly, I finally ended up with a 2013 International transit with AIR CONDITIONING!

My first ride as bus 374. A front-engined transit with no air – and it could reach 120 degrees around the driver’s seat in August!

 

The conventional-style Thomas (with the cool Mercedes engine) parked behind the church, the place where I parked all the time during the week.

 

The next generation of #374. This pic shows an ultra-rare instance of when we in Tennessee actually had to pick up kids in the snow!

 

A side view of the final incarnation of #374, the unwashed, rear-engined (called a “pusher”) 2013 International. Notice the additional cargo bays underneath.

 

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of things while driving a bus (and some of that is also detailed in my book) But there are two places on 374’s route that I will miss seeing on a regular basis.

The first is a little pond and the view of it from a little hill on Shanty Lake Road. The view varied with the change of seasons and the angle of the sun. Incidentally, the children on my bus hated it whenever another driver drove instead of me – I was always better at going over that hill without scaring the kids πŸ˜‰

A view of the pond on Shanty Lake Road from inside my bus on the last day of school (the bus was stopped).

 

The very same view as above, but as the sun is coming up in January. God is a beautiful artist, isn’t He?

 

The other view that I will miss is the one seen driving back into Lookout Valley over Cummings Highway across the side of Lookout Mountain. I wrote about this in my book and six years ago in another blog,Β Ebs and FlowsΒ (you should check it out).

Looking down towards Lookout Valley and the Tennessee River from the Cummings Highway bridge – yes, a bridge.

 

Over the years I’ve also met a few adults while driving in Lookout Valley, not just a lot children (of all ages). There were a few teachers with which became friends, but it was the other bus drivers that helped make getting up in the morning a little easier.

Taken a couple of years ago, here we see Chris (370), Joseph (369), and me at McDonald’s.

 

Myself and Paul Mashburn (the contract driver of #49). Mr. Mashburn drove my wife on band trips in 1985! And she said he still looks the same!

 

The last day of school this year we went to Cracker Barrel. Here is Chris (370), a driver from New Orleans, Jean (369), and myself…I should have tucked in my shirt.

 

The following are just a couple of pictures I wanted to throw in for good measure. The first is me on a day when I wore a wig to keep my head warm – why wear a hat when you can be different?

The second picture is of our little dog, Nugget. Nugget went missing in August of last year, and we miss him terribly. This photo was taken on the day after we first got him. I was driving bus 369 at the time, and I didn’t want to leave him home alone, so I took him with me that day πŸ™‚

A wig can both keep you warm and give you attitude.

 

Baby Nugget on the school bus.

 

On the last day of school I pulled up in front of Lookout Valley Middle and High School, along with the other buses there to pick up what kids actually came that day (I had none). Only four or five buses were ever needed to service this small school, so the afternoon lineup became a traditional time to shoot the breeze for a few minutes before the doors burst open.

My final lineup at Lookout Valley Middle/High.

 

And as you may have seen from other blog posts of mine, Bobble Head Phil always rode on my dash (secured with double-sided tape) and stared at the kids behind me. One time a little girl said, “Mr. Baker, make him stop looking at me!” I replied, “Why? What are you doing?”

Phil has left the building (or bus, rather).

 

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. God willing, Phil and I will drive another bus – a smaller bus – in the area closer to our new place of ministry. But for now, goodbye Lookout Valley and bus 374…we will always remember you.

In the meantime, keep me in your prayers – I’ve got new drivers to train!Β 

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2017, Here I Come!

My Short List

You knew it would come sooner or later, right? Well, this morning I wanted to throw together a short list of things I’d like to do in 2017. Don’t call them “resolutions,” just things I want to do or accomplish.

  • Read through my Bible more than once. Part of that will consist of reading through many of the books in a single sitting.
  • Finish reading some books I started last year… and the years before.
  • Pray “evening, morning, and at noon.”
  • Take my wife to Ruth’s Chris for the first time (maybe for her 50th birthday in February?). But that will depend on whether or not I find another job.
  • Lose some weight.
  • Build a bed frame for my daughter, Haley.
  • Change the brakes on every dadgum vehicle we own 😦 At least we have transportation, true? Well, as long as we can keep up the payment, that is.
  • Bring honor and praise to Jesus. The last thing I want to do is be an embarrassment to His name.

Some Video

Now, just to finish out this first post of the year, I want to leave you with some video moments from my trip to Zimbabwe last year (August). That was truly the highlight of my year, and I do appreciate all of your help getting there.

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Filed under Christian Living, Countries, Future, Monday Monkey, places, the future