Category Archives: daily goings on

Socked In

wx123The snow didn’t begin to fall yesterday morning until around 10:45am. I was out running errands when snowflakes began to flutter down. I needed to FEDEX some information to someone in Philadelphia so I went to a shipping store to drop off some forms and a check. While at the store, I was behind two other customers who were talking with the nice attendant and owner lady behind the counter. She was telling us that her husband had told her to shut the shop down and not open due to the weather. She lives about an hour away and he feared that she would get stuck in the weather and snow on her way home in the evening.

She said she told her husband that she wanted to open for her customers and that she hated to miss the FEDEX, UPS, and USPS pickups later in the day at the shop. If she did miss the pickups, all of the parcels and mail she had collected from customers wouldn’t go out. She didn’t want to let her customers down. And besides, she said, it was only going to snow about four inches.

Well, Customer #1 spoke up and said that he had heard that it was going to snow at least six inches and that temps were going to get down to at least 20ºF in the afternoon and evening. It was going to be nasty, he said. Which caused Customer #2 to pipe in. “Oh no! I saw Channel 9 and they said it is going to snow eight inches and, accounting for wind chill, it is going to get down to -4ºF Tues night.” Truly nasty!

The two customers finished their business and left. The nice lady asked me, “Do you have a forecast?” She smiled. I told her I didn’t but that I hoped that she would get home safe as soon as she was able to get away. We chatted a bit more, did our business, and I thanked her for her help.

She was my last order of business yesterday morning. As I was driving home, it started to snow big, puffy flakes. I thought of the packing store owner lady. I hope she was able to get away at a decent hour before the nasty stuff started hitting later in the afternoon.

I am now snowbound in my warm house. Fortunately, the electricity is up so I am warm, fed, watered, and having no problems. But the snow is ice, the wind makes it very cold, and the drive out front literally has had no one on it yet this morning. School is out for a second day and if things don’t thaw up just a bit it might be out another day. (Oddly, some students and teachers alike are complaining about having snow days. They fear they will loose summer days. Hard to keep them happy, sometimes. But I’m out of that cycle now…) I won’t be going out today and maybe not even tomorrow unless things warm up just a bit.

So what we have here is a good, solid, seasonal, frozen winter day in northern Virginia. We are truly socked in. Just think – six months from now it will be 96°F with no breeze. And like today, there will be haters and there will be lovers. For me, I am mostly content, mostly happy, safe, and comfortable. I hope the same can be said for you. Be warm and safe today.

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Can’t Agree

agrdisWe can’t agree whether to say Merry Christmas or not. We can’t agree on the skin color of Santa Claus and Jesus. We can’t agree on how to respond to abortion, LGBT lifestyles, assisted suicide, school shootings, divorce, and addictions. We can’t agree whether to provide health care as a benefit, or who should receive subsidized health care. We can’t agree whether or not females should be pastors, ministers, chaplains, soldiers, executives, or presidents . We can’t agree whether to control guns or not. We can’t agree whether middle and high school students should be provided contraception. We can’t decide whether or not to legalize marijuana. We can’t agree which news source is evil and which is not. We can’t agree whether marriage is any longer relevant or not relevant. We can’t agree whether to use drones or to not use drones. We can’t agree whether or not to fear Russia and China. We can’t agree on what the definition of terrorism is. We can’t agree on parenting styles. We can’t agree whether social media is good or bad. We can’t agree how to educate our children in schools, and whether or not to hold teachers accountable for teaching our kids. We can’t agree on clothing styles – what is too much and what is not enough? We can’t agree on body piercings, tattoos, hair styles, music styles, TV and movie personalities, recycling methods, global warming and climate change, stem cell therapy, immunizations, organic food, taxation, pension funds, plastic surgery, historical relevancy, old age care, textbook standards, evolution and creation science, unionization, minimum pay, electronic surveillance, treason or patriotism, separation of church and state, racism, and discrimination.

The true answers to these and many other conflicts will not be found in power and influence. Rather, answers will come through patience, fuller understanding, and tolerance. John Keats, the accomplished English romantic poet, once said, “What occasions the greater part of the world’s quarrels? Simply this: Two minds meet and do not understand each other in time enough to prevent any shock of surprise at the conduct of either party.” The writer of Proverbs penned, “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly” (14:29, NIV). Likewise, the author writes, “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered” (17:27, NIV).

Perhaps it’s not so much about getting the answer as it is about how we get to the answer.

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Peaceful Wafting

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Candlelight Christmas

chorus4We attended the Washington Chorus’s presentation of their A Candlelight Christmas last evening. It was very special, again, and was, as always, enjoyable, comfortable, and inspiring. The choruses (there is always an exceptional local high school chorus who joins the main chorus) do such an amazing job. The performance, location, lighting, and atmosphere all contributes to the beauty and amazement of this annual event.

Here was the playlist:

1. Once in Royal David’s City
2. O Come, All Ye Faithful
3. Choral Fanfare: Gloria
4. Sing We To This Merry Company
5. Hodie Christus Natus Est
6. Nino Lindo
7. Un Flambeau
8. Carol of the Bells
9. Good King Wenceslas
10. Here We Come A-Caroling
11. Deck the Halls
12. This Christmastide
13. Out of the Orient Crystal Skies
14. Hymn to the Virgin
15. A New Year Carol
16. This Little Babe
17. Angels We Have Heard on High
18. Joy to the World
19. In the Bleak Midwinter
20. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
21. Still, Still, Still
22. Hark The Herald Angels Sing
23. Silent Night
24. The Dream Isaiah Saw
25. Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah

Our favorite of the evening was The Dream Isaiah Saw. (Follow the link and read about the song’s connection to 9/11.) Powerful words, sounds, composition, and meaning. Really, really an excellent song and presentation.

We are blessed to live in a place where we can enjoy the arts like what we saw last evening. Along with the culture, presence, and astounding professionalism of the artists, we had fun, too. The fun part was that the audience was included in some of the singing – we were asked to stand and sing out loud on four or five songs! Singing with a conductor, two choruses, a brass and percussion section, and 2,400 people is pretty awesome – the goose bumps kind of awesome.

A special shout-out to Price, my friend. Best wishes and godspeed to you and your wife and family in your new endeavors. I can’t believe it! I have never heard of such an outrageous thing so it must be a god-thing and I am sure it will be quite the adventure. I hope to still see you now and then but that is huge, Price! Amazing.

Thanks to Niki for the pano at the bottom. Click on it for a bit bigger rendition.

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· 2 Comments. Posted in #stimplexc, daily goings on.

College Dazed

cullegeMy semester ends on Sun. I’ll have my assignments done on Sat so it’s over for me then. What have I done?

1. I’ve still got it! Phew. I was wondering. But, yes, and after a lot of reading, studying, tests, research papers, and the sorting out of a schedule that worked for me, I somehow actually was able to figure out how to do the work. I’m very happy about that. (Thanks, Megan, Karita, and Archer!)

2. I learned something. Yes. I learned tons about Islam and other worldviews and I learned about the life stages of life and how you and I develop cognitively, socially, ethically, and physically from birth until death. Fascinating. And sobering.

3. The Internet didn’t exist when I was last enrolled in college classes. Well, all I can say now is, WOW! Doing journal research in a college online library is like doing a Google search of the Internet on steroids. I’ve never been exposed to such amazing Boolean search engines and to the amount of academic information available from all over the world. Playing in the library is actually one of the fun things that I really enjoy.

4. I’ve developed an incredible admiration for people who work, have families, and, otherwise, have all kinds of other responsibilities – and still take college courses. My hat is off to each of you. I don’t know how you do it. I thought it was tough but to think you have all of the other life affairs happening on top of your school simply blows my mind. Thanks for your example.

5. I’m privileged to be doing this. It keeps me aware, awake, and it opens all kinds of new doors. I truly am very privileged…and very thankful.

6. With education (this is not new news!), there comes awareness. I am again reminded of how broken the world is and how much it needs good, honest, decent, moral (and Christian!) people to keep it from tipping over. Maybe, if God lets me, I can jump in with some newfound skills and knowledge and help out a bit.

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Each Day

antionalDo you have a way you conscientiously and intentionally approach each day? Sometimes it’s easy to let a day come and go and simply be happy at night that you survived. We all have days like that, don’t we? But, more often than not, do you have a plan of some kind that you would like to stick with that you think will make your day more meaningful, enriching, and purposeful?

I think it is a good idea to be intentional in what we do. There are times, of course, when it’s fun to let the wind blow in our hair and assume a come-what-may attitude. But living like that all of the time doesn’t work. Thinking there is nothing more to life than being pushed down the stream by a current is not a good way to live.

Here are some ideas that might help us have an intentional day.

#1 Whether the day is amazing or falls completely apart, learn from it and move on. There is another day coming.

#2 Forgive and understand more than blame and ignore.

#3 Pray with purpose. Have a personal prayer list that is updated, meaningful, and real and use it to pray intentionally every day.

#4 Look for a bird outside and then try to remember the bird all day. (I once had a teacher who told us to do this. I have never forgotten.)

#5 Be thankful. Even in difficulty, be thankful. All day, be thankful.

#6 Feel and be satisfied.

#7 Use the word “you” more than the word “I” all day.

#8 Listen. Don’t talk.

#9 Perspective. Perspective. Perspective.

#10 Smile at and with someone.

· Leave a comment. Posted in 250 words, daily goings on, prayer.

Stage Launch

spucezZak and his family were at Cape Canaveral Thanksgiving evening to watch the launch of a SpaceX vehicle. I was watching the launch proceedings live on NASA-TV. Nick was watching, as well. Nick and I are here in Virginia.

Zak told that it was relatively cool in Florida – it was in the 50s and 60s at launch time between 5:30pm and 6:30pm – and the kids, like all kids, were getting antsy, it was dark, they needed bathrooms, they were hungry, they were tired, they were bored, they needed a drink, etc., etc., etc.

Nick and I suffered up here in Virginia in our respective heated homes with mugs of coffee or chai, dorm pants and t-shirts, some snacks, comfy chairs, bathrooms. (We all have to feel the pain, sometimes. Give me an, “Amen, brother!”) Zak, Nick, Brad, and I were bantering via Twitter during the event. Technology is amazing!

So anyway…

Each week I have to write a short responsive essay on one stage of James Fowler’s Stages of Faith theory and compare it to psychological theories used to describe human cognitive development. The stage I was recently addressing was the Individuative-Reflective stage in Fowler’s theory – his 4th stage of faith development.

So anyway…

Here is a portion of what I wrote.

“I watched the twice aborted launch of the SpaceX rocket on Thanksgiving evening on NASA Television. I’ve always enjoyed watching live space launches. Your post made me think of the moment in the countdown just a few minutes prior to liftoff when the launch umbilical tower is swung away from the rocket in order to give clearance to the rocket for safe liftoff. And then, just seconds after engine ignition, the fuel, power, and electronics umbilicals break away completely from the space vehicle in order to release the vehicle for free flight. The vehicle is now completely and totally on its own – no physical, direct ground support.

“This breakaway, perhaps, is much like what you describe as happening in Fowler’s 4th stage of faith maturation. There is a point, Fowler proposes, when an individual breaks away from the faith systems of others and launches out, so to speak, with their own, internal source of intellect and purpose with which they will fuel their journey.

“I was once in Florida years ago to see the launch of a military rocket at night. It was beautiful and breathtaking. It thundered, shook the ground, and lit up the night sky like it was day.

“Like you and others, I am sure, I’ve also seen young people (and a few later in life, too) decide to exercise their own faith-initiative and assume the responsibility for their personal faith walk. It, too, is a beautiful, shaking, and breathtaking event to witness, don’t you think?”

· 1 Comment. Posted in daily goings on, devotional, family.

Last Movie

hgumIt was late Thurs night and early Fri morning. A school night. I had been anticipating the new movie coming out, Hunger Games, for quite some time. During several years prior, I had read the three books in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. I was fascinated by the storytelling, the character development, and the fact that the lead character was a strong, intelligent, young female. After putting up with Bella for quite a few books and movies in the Twilight too-long series (personal opinion), it was refreshing to have a heroine who was tough but empathetic and intelligent but reasonable. I looked forward to the movie.

Regina agreed to go. It was a premier opening midnight movie. It began precisely at 12:01am on Fri morning. Regina, Niki, and I went up to an IMAX theater in Woodbridge to watch. Niki and I were ardent fans. Regina was a trooper and wanted some adventure. I had ordered tickets early to avoid a ticket line. When we arrived at the theater about 30 min early, all was orderly and calm. We zipped right in and found some good seats together. I forget how we sat. Maybe Regina, me, and Niki. Or something like that. It was a nice evening together.

Niki and I went together to opening night last evening of Catching Fire. We had a nice evening out. Another school night. The two of us. Niki mentioned that it had been on the morning of Mar 23, 2012 that we three had seen Hunger Games together.

Yes. It was Regina’s last theater movie.

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Zak Graduates

2013-11-15 08.56.03Zak graduated yesterday. He completed his last Navy Chaplain class at the Naval Chaplaincy School and Center, which is part of the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center, at Fort Jackson, SC near Columbia. His sweet family was with him.

It seems to go in circles. After I had served in the US Navy, I applied and was hired by a federal security agency. My first duty station was Columbia. We had been given a choice of either Miami or Columbia as our duty station. I’ve never been big on beaches, skin, and humidity so Regina and I opted to make our new home in Columbia, SC. Over the years in Columbia, I visited the massive Fort Jackson several times. In those days, it was mostly all Army but today, the joint Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center is home to Navy, Army, and Air Force chaplaincy schools and several other joint commands.

We lived in a cozy apartment in St. Andrews, a nice part of town to the northwest of Columbia. We were bottom floor with an outside porch so little Zak and Nick could run outside into what was a central yard for the apartment complex. The apartment’s location was very handy to my work in downtown Columbia, the apartment was nice and comfortable, and it was well-suited for the boys. We had three bedrooms, a fireplace, a nice porch, and a convenient kitchen. This is where we began our family of four. Zak had been with us for awhile but Nick was new to us. Nick was born when I was transitioning from the Navy to the federal government. Nick was born in Colorado while I literally was helping movers unload and situate our new apartment in Columbia. Regina and the two boys were in Colorado with my parents while I was in Columbia setting up house in order to bring them to our new home to Columbia. Our apartment in SC was a very nice first-family-of-four home.

And Zak has finished his schooling in Columbia. A circle.

P.S. Zak just sent these pictures. They are special photos. He writes, “Statue outside the entrance of the Chaplain School. Pretty cool. Wasn’t there when I went through a couple years ago. It reminds me of the name of the Holy Spirit. Paraclete = ‘the come-alongsider’.” Thanks, buddy. (Click photos to enlarge.)

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· 3 Comments. Posted in daily goings on, family.

Blocked Calls

cullbloookI wish to declare my freedom this Election Day. I’ve described my freedom to others but have mostly received a shrug and far-away look. That’s alright and perhaps I’m not real interested in your methods, either. So there. Anyway, for two years I have been battling telephone solicitors. It can get especially frustrating during election season. From my call logs and recognizing the candidates who keep calling, I very likely may vote against several of these dandies solely because they seemed compelled to keep calling my home phone for as long as I don’t take their calls. Yeah, sure. Like I really care about what you want to prattle on about for two minutes. I know who I’m voting for because I stay informed and I don’t need a phone convo to remind me – in case I wasn’t sure – about who and what I need to do on Nov 5.

Here is what it is. (And I won’t bore you with the details of how I do it because I’ve already been down that road with a number of you and you really don’t care.) I am able to block calls from people that I never want to hear from again. If I receive an unsolicited call, I log on to a place and BLOCK CALLER. That’s it. There are few things that bring me a better surge of satisfaction than blocking a caller who has a pitch.

It’s a long story how our number got on people’s lists and yada yada yada. Anyway, I am 99% free! I may get one new solicitation call a week. Even in the middle of election season. Sorry, Mike Huckabee. I listened for ten seconds last evening and you were blocked, my friend! Blocked! You won’t be a guest again in my house. So how did that work out for you?

Take that you vote-seekers. It didn’t work on me. I’m out of reach from your machines. How does that make you and your political money people feel?

· 1 Comment. Posted in daily goings on.