Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day - Some Thoughts

As you know, today is Leap Day, the February 29 that comes along every four years. If you want to know about the what, why and how of Leap Year, you can check it out here.

The last time it was February 29, in 2004, it was on a Sunday. I got to thinking, how often does February 29 come along on a Sunday? How often do we worship on February 29? Well, a quick Internet search told me that Sunday, February 29 happens every 28 years. Prior to 2004 was 1976, and the next time will be in 2032. I'll be 63 then, I hope. The next after that will be when I am 91. Wow!

It doesn't seem that long ago to the last Leap Day. However, it has been four years. I don't feel that life has changed all that much for me, but when I look at my kids, they have really changed in the last four years.

Imagine the next Leap Day. My kids will be 19, 17 and 13. Three teenagers. I remember being a kid and couldn't wait to grow up and be older. I remember my grandfather telling me that there will be a time that I would look back and wonder where the time went. I think that I am realizing that now.

I don't look back, or ahead, with regrets. I think sometimes we need to pause and reflect on the past and look ahead to the future so we can have a proper perspective about the moment in which we live. In the Bible, Paul writes "be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity."

I don't want life to slip by, I want to make the most of it!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fun at the Dentist?

Today, the kids and I went to the dentist for our six month checkup and cleaning. Earlier this week, our daughter, Katherine, was sick and was quite concerned that she would not be able to go to the dentist. She's nine, and loves going to the dentist. In fact, all of our kids actually enjoy going to the dentist.

Man, things have changed. I didn't like going to the dentist at all when I was a kid. In fact, when I was their age, I'd rather go to the doctor for a shot than to the dentist for a cleaning. It seemed like it took forever, and all that scraping, poking and rinsing. If you had a cavity, that was tough. The sounds, smells and tastes that one only experienced at the dentist.

You know, I've noticed that they do things a bit differently at our dentist than the one I went to growing up. For one, at our dentist, there is a TV in each room. So when you go to your room to sit in the "chair", the hygienist asks you what you want to watch on TV. Cool. Today I watched Regis and Kelly. (It was already on.)

Next, they took x-rays of my teeth. No big deal, just bite down on a piece of plastic that's connected to the computer while the hygienist pushes the button. As fast as it took to position the plastic in my mouth four times, the x-rays of my teeth were now on the computer screen.

Now, the cleaning. No more scraping. They now use a miniature power washer to get the plaque off. It's painless and takes little time. A quick polish, floss, rinse and I'm done. No wonder my kids don't mind going to the dentist.

Well, they haven't had to get a cavity filled, you might say. In fact, Kaleb had a cavity filled a while back. Since it was in a permanent tooth, I decided to get the composite (white) filling so it wouldn't be noticeable - like all the silver in my mouth. Afterwards we went out to eat, I told Kaleb he would have to wait a few extra minutes since he just got a filling. He said he didn't get a filling. I had to go to the car and get the receipt to show him that he had gotten a filling. When I was a kid, you knew when you got a filling. In fact, it was such an experience, I still remember getting a filling to this day.

Why write about this? You see, the mission of the dentist has not changed over time. His/her mission is to help you keep your teeth so you can still use them when you get older. In fact, they are pretty much doing the same things today as when I was a kid. However, they have done well to make the experience more pleasant for the patient. In fact, going to the dentist has gone from being a dreaded event when I was a kid, to a pleasant event that my kids anticipate.

I think church should be that way, too! I want to make church - a relationship with God - so fun that kids can't wait to get to church. I don't think that the mission has to change, just maybe some of the ways we do things. In fact, this isn't just for kids. I think church should be so great that adults can't wait to be there! That's what we're trying to do a Bagley Swamp. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Crooked Teeth

Here is the Back Page to our latest newsletter at the church:

On the day I write this, Kaleb has another orthodontist appointment. Apparently, they do things a little differently these days with braces than when I had them.

When I got my braces, I got both the top and bottom braces at the same time. Kaleb first got braces on his top teeth, then he got an expander. The expander is a plate that is placed in the roof of his mouth and we were to ‘turn the key’ in the expander each night for seven nights. I never had an expander. Apparently the expander widens the palette. According to Kaleb, when this widening takes place, it is quite painful. I noticed that he didn’t eat as much that week.

I was surprised when it took so long to put the braces on his bottom teeth. Those teeth were so crooked that I thought they would want to work on them first. I mean, they were as crooked as Bagley Swamp Road. However, when he did get braces on those teeth, they seemed to straighten up over night. But it was painful. The poor guy didn’t eat much of anything for several days.

Even though Kaleb’s palette has been widened and his bottom teeth are straight, he still has those things in his mouth. The expander has been in there for months. The work of the expander was done in seven days. However, the orthodontist said the expander had to stay in for a while so the palette wouldn’t move back to the way it was. The same is for those bottom braces. If they were taken off now, the teeth would shift back. I’ve had friends to get their braces off and not wear their retainers, and their teeth go from straight to crooked.

In life there will be a time when we see that our lives are really messed up, or crooked. It may be painful, because we see how far we have moved from God. However, if we allow God, He will straighten out our relationship with Him. That happens in an instant when we are saved, but that is not where it stops. If we get saved and then go on with life like before, it’s like putting braces on for one week. We need others to help us stay ‘straight’. That’s what we’re about at Bagley Swamp. Connecting people with God . . . and each other.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I Finally Did It!

I did something today that I haven't done for 20 years. It's not that I haven't had the opportunity. I've been chicken. I've been scared. I've wimped out. I've avoided it. Made excuses.

Today I gave blood. Amy (my wife) has given blood for years. But, I always chickened out. I gave once back in high school. It wasn't the best experience. I remember that I got real woosy and almost passed out.

Well, I decided that it was time to stop chickening out. A neighboring church, Up River Friends, was hosting a blood drive with the American Red Cross today. I had plenty to do today, so I had an excuse. But today I felt that I needed to do the right thing. I needed to give blood, the gift of life.

Amy and I went and gave. As you can imagine, I was a little nervous about it. The folks there were great, both from the church and the ARC. How did I do? Uhh . . . a little better that my first experience, but not a ton.

Next time I'm going to eat well before I go, maybe I won't get that woosy feeling. Who knows, I may just be one of those people that gets woosy each time. The thing is, I believe the only way for there to be blood at the hospital when it's needed, is for it to be donated. I don't think scientists can make blood.

Soooooo . . . I'll be there next time, woosy or not. Maybe you ought to be there too!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Home from Richwood

We all made it safely back home to Bagley Swamp. The crew riding the van arrived around 4:30 pm and the crew that finished up at Ms. Spencer's home arrived just before 8:30 pm. They were able to get everything finished on the outside of the house. Their work on Saturday sealed up the house from wind and rain. Great job guys!

Yesterday our mission crew shared in both services at church. They shared from their hearts. We went to Richwood to make an impact for God, but listening to our stories, you could tell that we were impacted as well. Our God is awesome. He allowed us to do something for someone else, have fun at it, be successful, have fulfillment, and change us in the process. How awesome is that?!

We also recognize the sacrifice that all made to go on the trip - not only those who went - but also those left behind to do all the things that we weren't here to do. Thanks!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday Update @ Richwood

Today has been a very busy day. The weather was cold, but otherwise very beautiful. Todd and I put up the plywood on the room that we built at the pantry. Considering that neither one of us are carpenters, it looks good. I have a lot of splinters in my hands to prove that I at least touched the stuff. Veronica and Belinda painted both the inside and outside of the new room. They made it look even better. We went over to help the other crew after lunch.

The rest of the crew headed straight to Ms. Spencer's to work. New OSB and tin were put on the roof to make sure that she stayed dry. We finished putting up the siding, which makes her house look really good. Insulation was put into her ceiling in the repaired room, and a new ceiling installed. We worked until about 6:45 PM, using flashlights. There still some more that needs to be done to make her house where water won't damage the new stuff that we've done. Jeff, Billy, Lewis and Edward said that they would go back over to the house in the morning and work to get the necessary stuff done. They say it shouldn't take too long. The rest of us will leaving in the morning to return to Bagley Swamp. The guys will come when they get done.

Some of our ladies have been able to connect well with Ms. Spencer. Annie has given her a haircut, and all of them put together a goody bag with all sorts of items that will be of great benefit to her. They have spent a lot of time talking and being a friend to her. That's what it's all about.

Before we left this evening, we all gathered in her refurbished room to pray a prayer of blessing on her and her home. She told us what an impact we have had in her life. I won't go into details; we will have plenty to share on Sunday morning. Our Richwood crew will be sharing at both services on Sunday, 8:30 and 11 am.

Please pray for us as the guys finish up tomorrow and as all of travel home. We've had a blast in Richwood. We also can't wait to get home.

Signing out from Richwood.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Thursday Update @ Richwood

Back on the dial-up at the pantry.

Today we have experienced some of the West Virginia weather that we often think of when we think of West Virginia. It was cold and damp. The high was just above freezing and we had snow flurries all day. No snow accumulation, but it was pretty to see it snow in the mountains.

We spent the day working on Ms. Spencer’s house. Some siding has been put on, a door moved, some structural replacement, insulation put in and a bunch of construction rubble hauled to the trash heap. It’s been real muddy where we have been working, so it’s been real slick.
Belinda and Veronica finished painting the pantry hall today and it looks real good. We ate lunch today at the soup kitchen and had the Mexican dish that we all liked last year.

As I write this, we are in the process of taking showers and are headed to Summersfield to eat supper and go to Lowes for some more materials.

When we get back to the pantry, we will finish the office that we started at the beginning of the week. We still have a lot to do. Tomorrow we have to finish up the flooring, siding and put OSB and tin on the roof on back part of Ms. Spencer’s house. We’re praying that we can get it all done.
Today as we getting ready to leave Ms. Spencer’s, she said, "You have just fixed my house, you have fixed me." When we see her now, she is all smiles.

I have been several places today to check on other things, and when I told them who I was and what we were doing, they said "We heard that you were in town." I think we are making an impact. And I know that we have been impacted by Richwood. We have come to love the people here and have grown closer to each other as well.
Keep praying for us. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Wednesday Update @ Richwood

We've had a good day. I'm using the computer at the pantry, with a dial-up connection, so it's quite slow.

Jeff, Lewis and Billy worked all day on Ms. Spencer's new flooring in the back bedroom. They worked through lunch and we we quit at 5pm a new floor was in place, from the foundation to the plywood. Todd, Edward and I were there working when we weren't off on other projects.

God was really with us today. We were supposed to have severe thunderstorms all day, but only saw ocassional rain.

Todd, Annie and Christy made a trip to Lowes in the morning to get the roofing and plumbing materials for Ms. Spencer's and a few other jobs. Belinda, Christina, Veronica and I finished tearing up the flooring from the room that we removed from the her house. Then we went to a church to clean the food storage area for their soup kitchen.

In the afternoon, Edward and I fixed the plumbing underneath the sink at Ms. Spencer's and fixed a leak at another house. Then we found another leak at the same house. It's a long story, so you'll need to ask Edward about it.

Christy and Annie spent the afternoon with Ms. Spencer and helped her with some cleaning. Veronica, Christina and Belinda spent the afternoon at the pantry painting the hallway walls. It looks great and there is only a little left to do.

We took quick showers and headed to the Ash Wednesday service at Pastor David's church. It was a great service and a timely message for us. We made it back to the pantry to eat supper afterwards. The ladies from the Christian Church in town made us ham, green beans, scalloped potatoes and chocolate cake for dessert. We're feeling quite well now.

Tomorrow we plan to work at Ms. Spencer's, paint at the shelter and some more plumbing jobs. Edward might open his own plumbing business when he gets home.

We've seen God work in many ways while we have been in Richwood and look forward to sharing those stories when we get back.

The UNC - Duke game in on the TV in the lobby, so I'm headed in there to pull for the 'Heels. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Tuesday Update @ Richwood

Well, on Monday it rained just about the whole day. One crew went to Summersville to get lumber and supplies for our jobs and it took them the whole afternoon. Those that were at the pantry did some minor repairs and checked on some other jobs, but couldn't really do much until the supplies returned. We were excited to do some work, but just didn't have to materials to do much.

The crew returned just before suppper, so we decided to go ahead and start the wall building project at the pantry and some painting. We worked until on the walls until about 10:30 last night. They are now built, all we have left to do is to hang the door and put up the plywood. We will finish this project another day when it is raining. We took breaks for dinner and to go to Dairy Queen for a treat! We felt good at the end of the day - we were able to make some good progress on a job.

Last night we continue the tradition of laughing a lot and playing some jokes on each other, so we're having a great time. There will be plenty of stories to tell.

Today it has been mostly sunny, so we are over at Ms. Spencer's house. This house needs major work done, and we're going to do as much as we can. We have spent most of the day tearing out the flooring in one room and completely removing another room. We have made her house the priority. She has been told by several churches that they would help, but nothing yet. So . . . we're going to do all that we can for her. It will take us the rest of the week to get her to a point where everything is dry and closed in. We'll do smaller projects as well, but will most likely have a crew at her house for the rest of the week.

Tonight we are headed to First United Methodist Church for a Shrove Tuesday service/meal. Today is the day before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Traditionally people will give up something for Lent (preparing for Easter). Here in Richwood, maybe in other places too, the churches have a big pancake/sausage dinner so you can 'pig out', I guess, before Lent begins.

Tomorrow it is supposed to rain, so some of us will probably be working at the pantry painting and finishing the walls. Others will return to Ms. Spencer's. We also will be doing a few plumbing jobs as well. There is definately plenty to do.

I may not be able to post the blog tomorrow since the library is closed. Keep us in your prayers.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Couple of Links

It's raining quite hard right now, so I thought I would wait a minute before crossing the parking lot. Here are a couple of links so you can see some things about Richwood:

Richwood Public Library (where I am).
Faith UMC (one of the churches here, Pastor Dave led devotions this morning.)
Richwood, WV (website of town)

Check those out. It's not raining as hard now, I'm gonna make a run for it.

We're In Richwood!

Hey everyone! We made it to Richwood yesterday about 4pm. The trip was smooth and easy, and it seemed that we made good time. It seems that a lot of work has been done at the pantry that are staying at since we were here last year. The guys were able to watch to Super Bowl and enjoy the game last night. It seems that we have cable, or some great antenna, at the pantry. The ladies had some type of hair makeover party while the game was going on.

Last night we all got hot as the heat in the place was working a little too well. The guys covered the heat vents in their room, but it didn't work too well. It was still hot. We spent a little time this morning working on placing a fan to draw the heat out of the hall. We also are hoping to have the heat turned back by this evening. We'll see.

It's been raining this morning quite hard. Jeff, Billy and Lewis are going around and looking at different jobs so they can make a run to Lowes this afternoon. It looks like we will be repairing a roof (and some more) at one house, some plumbing at another and constructing some walls and painting at the pantry. The rest of us are working at the pantry this morning getting some small repairs done. We've had a couple of other folks to come in and ask us for repair help, so it seems that we may have more that we can get done this week. I hope we can do it all, but we will just have to prioritize to make sure what we do will do the most good.

As you might have guessed, none of us have cell phone service in Richwood. That's why you probably haven't heard from some. We do have access to a land line at the pantry, so most of the calling will be done in the evenings.

I am able to use the computers and internet at the Richwood Public Library across the parking lot from where we are staying. Feel free to send us a note clicking on the comment button below. I'll relay the messages. Thanks for praying for us and we will continue to pray for you. I hope to update each day.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Headed to Richwood, West Virginia!

In the morning there will be 11 of us that will be traveling to Richwood, WV on a mission trip. Our task there will be to do some repair work at homes, churches and at the local food pantry. We are also hoping that our presence will help them physically, but maybe we even can share the love of Jesus with them. Pray for us as we travel and minsiter. My plans are to update as often as I can. I'm thinking that I should be able to update from the local library, so hopefully I'll be able to post on Monday.

Friday, February 1, 2008

31 Ways to Pray for Your Children

I came across a great tool to help when I'm praying for my kids. I was reading Mark Wilson's Revitalize Your Church and said he read an article by Bob Hostetler that showed 31 ways to pray for your kids, one for each day of the month (if the month has 31 days :). I'm going to do like Mark suggests and print it out and place it in my Bible to help me as I pray for my kids. Here is the link for you to check it out.