Tag Archives: vacation

Spring Break Slide Show

The Story

Over the last few Saturdays I’ve shared my thoughts about the “selahs” in the Psalms. More will come in the weeks to follow. But for today I want to change pace.

This past week my wife and I, along with Haley, Freaya (our exchange student), and Jack (Haley’s dog) traveled to Charleston, S.C. to spend sometime with our daughter and son-in-law, Alicia and Josh. So, instead of writing a traditional post, I’m going to share some highlights with pictures.

Worth a Thousand Words, or so

 

For most of the trip I was driving eastward into the sun. smart me brought my sun glasses.

 

Cold and windy…no hat or jacket. But hey, it was the beach.

See Haley and Jack. See Jack smile. Don’t see Freaya (because Korean culture has some serious vanity issues).

 

See Haley try to convince Jack to go into the water. See Jack say, “Not even for a Scooby snack.”

What a beautiful place to worship!

The Angel Oak tree. One of the cool places one can visit for free.

 

Part of our family tree under a tree. The photo was taken by a nice girl from New Jersey. i returned the favor.

If you are going to visit a tree, why not visit the restaurant?

This was a really neat place. Low country charm.

 

It’s been a while since I’ve done food stories, but the food at Angel Oak was superb. Here I ordered their take on Shrimp and Grits, with sweet tea and a side of collard greens. Fantastic.


 

The faithful steed. Oil changed and new wipers. Outside washed. Ready to say goodbye to the palm trees, Fred Anderson Toyota, and Charleston, S.C. Tennesse here we come!

 
Not pictured are late-night card games, going to a movie, visiting a wonderful Bible study, and getting the oil changed in our van before heading home (correction: I just added the Saturday morning oil change). By the way, Fred Anderson Toyota in Charleston is a great place to buy a car. 

Instead of a sunburn, I got some relaxing study time in while on this break. Now I’m just looking forward to preaching on Sunday!

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Happy President’s Day!

Happy President’s Day, for what it’s worth.

However you celebrate it, I hope your holiday (if you’re out of work or school) is not hampered by allergies. Allergies are unpatriotic.

Oh, by the way, I only realized I had the American Flag hanging improperly AFTER I made this video and deleted the original “film.” Oh well, you get the point. It’s been 3 years since I made this Monday Monkey video, so there’s no going back now.

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Visiting Charleston (Part 3)

History

One thing is for sure, Charleston is full of history. The harbor is full of stories dating back long before the Civil War, even before the Revolution. Battery Point (White Point Garden) has beautiful, massive homes still in use that were built before this country was even a nation! Pictures don’t do this place justice.

Then, of course, there are places like Fort Sumter (where the Civil War began), Patriots Point (home of the USS Yorktown), the Charleston City Market, the H. L. Hunley Museum (the world’s first successful combat submarine), and even The Confederate Museum.

Confederate Controversy

Speaking of the Confederacy, my youngest and I took a few minutes and toured the small Confederate Museum in Market Hall. Originally a place where business was conducted, in 1899 this building was turned into a museum by those who actually fought for Charleston during the Civil War, thereby making the museum historic in its own right.

photo (57)Some of you reading this may have felt uneasy going into the Confederate Museum, and that is unfortunate. So much has been done since the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E Church to sponge away any remnant or reminder of Confederate history, yet what happened back in the 1860’s is part of the fabric of our nation. Much honor is to be found in the stories of the brave young men who fought for their homeland.

Back when there were no cell phones, television, or internet, the average young man’s world was a small one, limited to just a few miles in any direction from the very place he was born. All he would have known; all the people he would have known; everything pertinent to his universe would have been right there in his community, or, at most, his state. How could he be compelled to take up arms against his home?

The Flag Letter

Among the many stunning artifacts from when the Civil War enveloped Charleston was a signal flag – not your stereotypical Confederate battle flag –  a single, simple, signal flag used during the evacuation of Fort Sumter. Attached to this flag was a small letter from the original owner. I will paraphrase part of what it said:

“You may not consider this flag much more than a trinket, but it means much more than that to me. It represents the best years of a patriotic young boy’s life, from age 16 to 20.”

I stood there with my daughter and read aloud the full letter describing the history of the flag written by the one who raised it in victory, then lowered it in defeat. This young man didn’t sound like a slave owner, or a bigot, or a murderer. These were just the words of a patriotic young man who did what he was called to do when his home was threatened.

I’m not ashamed of the South. What I am ashamed of are those who, for political expediency or “white guilt,” want to erase the heritage of a strong, dignified, loyal people without even setting foot on our soil. I am ashamed of those who forget that it was the soldiers who fought each other that came together after the war to heal their wounds and erect monuments to each other’s bravery. I am ashamed of Americans who choose make all Southerners out to be something we are not.

Forgiven His-Story

The folks in the news media only want ratings; they don’t care about truth. Sure, there are bad people, bigoted people out there, but there are also good people – and a lot more of them than the other.

There in the City Market I talked with a black lady about all that had been going on after the shooting at the church. It was at her church that the last of the funerals were to be held that afternoon. It was from her that I bought a New Testament written in the Gullah language (the language of the low country). We talked for a long time about the contrasts between people who chose to forgive and those who chose to burn down their cities. We talked about race, about how the media only wants to further divide us, and how that God loves us all. We talked about Jesus, about loving each other, and then hugged as we parted.

Two strangers in a market…a market in a town that could have gone the way of Baltimore and Ferguson, but didn’t…because people chose to show forgiveness…because good people didn’t resort to painting everyone else with a broad brush.

Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that real Southerners are ones who’ve learned how to grow up, admit our mistakes, and move on. We don’t need the modern PC police trying to score political points by opening up old wounds. We can’t change what happened 150 years ago, but we can forgive…as Christ forgives us…and be better people than the history revisionist want us to be.

Now that South Carolina has voted in the house and senate to remove the Confederate flag and “move it to a museum,” I hope they don’t forget to go visit it once in a while. Those who once flew that flag in war were the very same ones who came back together to heal this nation.

I’m just glad my little girl got to see how history can become His-story before all the history is history.

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Visiting Charleston, S.C. (Part 2)

The Plan

photo 1 (3)Even though it was already planned that we would visit our daughter in Charleston, as soon as I heard the tragic news of the shooting, I knew I needed to visit (Mother) Emanuel A.M.E. Church. The original plan was to go with friends on a cheap vacation to the beach, stroll through the downtown market, and visit family, but on June 17 the agenda changed.

In a text to Roy Cavender, a friend who was already planning to go with us on vacation, I said, “My plan while in Charleston is to visit Emanuel AME Church and pray. You down with that?

His reply was short and simple: “You know it!!!

So that is what we did.

The Memorials

photo 2 (3)It wasn’t that difficult to know when we had arrived at Emanuel A.M.E., for the flowers and memorials of all kinds were neatly stacked against the sturdy black iron fence separating the front of the church building from the sidewalk.

But it was more than just the flowers and trinkets that caused me to pause; it was the trees and the fire hydrant, all of them covered completely with condolences, names, and Scripture references written with colored Sharpie pens.

It took me a while to find a small, clear place on one of the trees, but when I did, I had to reach as high as I could without a stool. With a red Sharpie I simply wrote: John 17.

You see, unlike in the days after other tragedies, the people of Charleston, along with so many around the country, came together in a way that put evil to shame. This was especially evident by the support shown by the other churches all over the city. It was evident in the way people talked, put together fund raisers, and even in the way they welcomed the prayers from a total stranger.

The Prayer

Now, let me say up front that I did not originally pose for the accompanying photo of me praying. Let me explain what happened.

Like I said, I determined early on that I wanted to go pray on location at Emanuel A.M.E. What I did not go seeking, however, was a photo opportunity. However, it was only after I was given permission to kneel and pray on the front steps that a couple of ladies (members, I suppose), decided to take my picture – with several cameras.

As soon as I finished praying – praying that the name of Jesus Christ would be proclaimed through the deaths of His saints and the love of those who forgave – I started to stand. As I turned to me right, there was this lady with a camera phone saying, “Oh, I’m sorry…could you keep praying? I was trying to take a picture.” Once again I knelt down and prayed aloud.

photo 1 (4)As soon as I finished praying a second time, there was another woman with another cell phone: “I’m so sorry, sir, but could you pray some more? Please?” What was I supposed to do? So, of course I knelt once more and prayed…aloud…for real.

Believe it or not, just as soon as I said “amen” and started to stand, there the woman was again! This time, however, she had a 35mm camera in hand! I said, “OK, look, if I’m going to keep doing this, at least take MY phone and take a picture; I’d like a keepsake.”

“Of course!” she said. “This is something you should want to remember!”

The Big Picture

For many years to come people will be asking the same question: “Why?” Why did God allow a murderous young man full of hate to snuff out the lives of nine people during a Bible study? We may never know all the answers, for God’s ways are higher than our ways. However, a quick study of a small word in the New Testament could lend some understanding.

You see, the word translated “witnesses” in Acts 1:8 is the Greek word μάρτυς (pronounced mä’r-tüs). It is also the word from which we get the English word “martyr.”

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

When we look at what has happened since June 17, I cannot help but believe the deaths of those precious nine people were not in vain. Their “witnesses” in death, along with the “love that passeth all understanding” shown by their families, have been nothing less than a fulfillment of Jesus’ words as recorded in Acts 1:8!

What the Devil meant for harm, God has changed to good! Those who died in that church may have never had much of an impact outside of Charleston, but the ripple effects of their deaths have been felt to “the uttermost part of the earth!”

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Folks, as evil becomes more and more prevalent in this world, the love of Jesus can bring healing to our cities, unity to the Body of Christ, and dumbfound the world. May the families of Emanuel A.M.E. be a testimony to that fact. Keep them in your prayers. 

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Unity, current events, Life/Death, Vacation

Visiting Charleston, S.C. (Part 1)

Vacation (or Holiday, for you Brits)

Last week my family went on vacation. With the exception of Katie, the daughter who stayed home and watched the house and dogs (and used too much laundry soap), we all loaded up and drove to Charleston, South Carolina, to stay with our oldest daughter, Alicia, and her husband, Josh.

But it wasn’t just family. Roy and Esther Cavender (close friends from Hopkinsville, KY) also endured the long, 8-hour drive in our mini-van to Charleston. In case you’re counting, that’s four adults and one teenager in a single vehicle for the equivalent of a regular work day.

Have you ever gone on vacation with another family to another family’s house in a distant location? Let me clue you in to a fact of life – you’d better be REALLLLLY good friends.

Happily Married

One thing about going on vacation with people that are not in your immediate family is that you come to appreciate why you are married to whom. In other words, we all have differences which we can appreciate (Isn’t that “reyeght” Roy & Esther and Alicia & Josh?).

For example, my wife and I know how to get along (most of the time). We know what the other one likes and dislikes (most of the time); we know how certain situations make us feel (OK, I’m stretching it); and we know what is most likely to tick the other one off (Sure do!). That’s not the case with friends and family that don’t live under the same roof all the time. Vacationing can be a learning curve…with disputing GPS’s.

Staying in someone’s house, as opposed to a hotel, can save money and offer more time to spend together, but it sure has the potential for stress. Don’t get me wrong – we’d do it again! It’s just now that it’s all over, I like the way my wife and I do things. I’m pretty sure everyone else feels the same way.

We Had a Good Time

But even though there were some awkward and tense moments in and on the way to Charleston, we did have a fun and enriching time. We got to spend quality time with friends and family, meet new people, eat new foods, see new places, and experience the time away we so desperately needed. I even made a fish fly.

So, in the next few posts I will share my thoughts on some things I saw and did while in Charleston, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • photo 1 (6)The Confederate Museum
  • Shooting machine guns with my son-in-law
  • Going to the beach
  • Alligators in the back yard
  • Shopping
  • Visiting the Emanuel A.M.E. Church

Have I piqued your curiosity? Let me know if there’s something specific about which you’d like to hear.

I’ve got a lot of stories, it’s just a matter of narrowing them down to the magic 500 words or less, you know.

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Random Comments Before Vacation

School’s Out!

As I sit here writing this, my mind is drifting, daydreaming (except it’s 9:06 pm) of tomorrow’s short bus-driving day.

No, now I’m eating tapioca pudding. My wife said, “You’d better eat this pudding Haley bought for you, or her feelings will be hurt.” I said, “I forgot about it!” Tapioca pudding is a favorite of mine, but for the life of me I have no idea what a tapioca is. A fish egg? Fat ball? Jello turd? I have no idea, so don’t tell me.

Anyway, tomorrow school gets out early for Christmas and New Year break. Woo hoo! Three weeks of doing honey-do lists, entertaining guests, and getting up later! Woo hoo! Three whole weeks with no pay! Exciting.

What’s the point? Well, if I don’t write so much it will be because I’m busy while on vacation, that’s all.

Random (sorta) Comments

It’s now 10:50 pm. People stopped by for a visit (that’s life in a parsonage). I’ve eaten a sandwich. Had a Coke float deezert (just spelled it the way it sounds). Time to get back to this post before I go to bed.

Cuba. I’m not too sure what’s the right response. I hate what Communism has done to that Island. I don’t trust anything Obama says regarding Cuba. I would love to have some Cuban cigars. Just sayin.

Order my book. Please, order my bus book – you’ll love it. It’s funny with some solid spiritual content, but not overbearing. Buy some copies to give away.

Logos Bible Software. I have Logos 5 (with more stuff than I’ll ever use). Why do upgrades have to be so expensive? Why separate module options for different denominations? Doesn’t that sorta go against the idea that the Bible is what it is? I don’t get it, other than it must be a money grab. Not impressed, I am. Disappointed, frankly.

baby girlClothes on dogs. Do dogs know what doggy clothes are? If not, why does my daughter’s dog love to put on clothes? Something ain’t right.

Forgetful wife. Why is it when I am the last one downstairs, like right now, my wife forgets everything she needs upstairs and then hollars at me and tells me to bring them when I come up? I just find it oddly convenient how she doesn’t seem to forget all these things when she is the last one downstairs. Again, just sayin.

Pakistan. Last, but definitely not least, my heart breaks for the people of Pakistan. My blood boils when I think of those who killed all those children and adults. I wonder who in the Taliban, or whatever, thought killing 100+ children would make for good PR? I wonder how the scumbags are enjoying their flaming-hot virgins?….wait….. What I meant to say was, I wonder how the scumbags are enjoying the hot flames of hell? Probably came as a shock.

Good night everybody. Say your prayers – and save one for me.

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Top 7 Reasons Why I’d Like to Go Back to Disney World

The following are seven reasons why I’d like to go back to Disney World in Orlando, Florida – tomorrow, if I could. Sure, there are other places I want to visit, but the following reasons are why I would like to go back to Disney, even if I could go other places, too.

This is NOT a commercial. Just random-though blogging.

If you know anyone with connections, give them my number.

7. Bragging Rights

Let’s face it, if you can afford to take your family to Disney World, you either know how to save or have more money than your neighbor. Seriously, have you priced Disney lately? If I went I would take my wife and daughters and stay in the park (which is the ONLY way to go). We’re talking between 4 and 5,000 dollars for a family of four!

6. It’s been too long.

The last time we went was in 2007. We went that year because I won the trip by winning a dance-off at a motivational seminar. Yes, I danced like an idiot in front of 5,000 people and got a standing ovation, destroying my competition. My wife said I’d never pastor a church in Chattanooga after that showing, but we got a trip to Disney and my performance never made it to YouTube – so there.

5. The atmosphere.

If you have never been to Disney, then you have no concept of quality control. If you have ever visited any other theme park or amusement park, once you set foot in Disney World you will immediately notice a difference: I call it “atmosphere control.”

Disney is all about image. Everything is kept in top-notch condition and service is wonderful. There is a purposeful, intentional striving toward maintaining a specific mood throughout the multiple parks. From the smells to the music to the people, everything is meant to illicit happiness and warmth. Is it sorta like brainwashing and mind control? Maybe, but it works – and it takes your mind off of the real, chaotic world.

4. The “rides.”

Anyone, young and old, can have fun at Disney World. There is so much to see and do, especially when it comes to the rides.

Now, when I say “rides,” don’t automatically assume I’m referring to roller coasters and such. The rides at Disney are so much more than that – sooooo much more. For instance, in the Animal Kingdom (one of the massive parks at Disney) one of the rides involves loading up into a real truck and going on a real safari! I’m not talking about some cheesy vehicle attached to a rail transporting you around a zoo. Honestly, the last time we were there, our truck had to slow down, even pause, as a real giraffe decided to take its time walking in our path!

Other rides include Soaring, which will make you swear you are really flying in a hang glider over an orange grove in California; the Hollywood Tower of Terror, which will make you believe you are in the Twilight Zone – for real; and a space ship simulator that comes with real air-sickness bags – because it’s that realistic!

Below is a link I found with the video of what is shown inside the Mission Mars ride. Believe me, it is totally intense. This ride is built on a centrifuge that can go from 0-4 g’s in 2 seconds! THAT’S why it’s so realistic! And all the while you are inside what looks and feels like a real space ship capsule. AWESOME!

3. EPCOT

My favorite place to visit in Disney World is the World Showcase in EPCOT. If you never visited another country, or if you’d like to pretend you’ve visited 10 of them in a day, then the World Showcase is for you. For example, walk into a Mexican pyramid and you will be transported to a star-lit courtyard in a small, Mexican village. There you will find shops, a restaurant, vendors, and street musicians playing songs about cockroaches and big hats. Or, if you would like to visit China, there you would be surrounded by color, flowers, and unbelievable acrobats.

Each “country” in the World Showcase is staffed by people from that country. If you go to Italy and want to eat at the restaurant, then real Italians are going to serve you. The same goes with Morocco, France, Canada, England, Germany, etc. When we ate in England, the Beatles were playing across the street as I tried to understand my waitress – I asked her, “I know you’re English, but can you speak English?”

2. The resorts.

No joke, if you ever get a chance to go to Disney, stay in one of their resorts on-site AND get the “meal plan.”

I am not exaggerating when I say that you could spend your entire trip to Disney just visiting the resorts and hotels on the property. Each one has a different theme, its own attractions, and get this – when you stay in one, you can visit them ALL! Also, unlimited transportation to and from the park, and all the resorts, is INCLUDED!

And when it comes to the food, oh my gosh! You will never regret purchasing a meal plan. Trust me on this one. Without it you’d have to be double rich to purchase separately what is included in the plan. And believe me, you don’t want to miss out on being able to order whatever you want off the menu in places like the Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom.

1. I need a vacation. Really.

I am tired of hearing about ISIS, Ebola, elections, and healthcare. I need a dose of non-reality. I need an imagination fix. I want to feel like a little kid again, if only for a week.

Anyone else want to go?

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