Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in review

"Summing up, let me just say that I reject, repudiate, renounce, denounce, dismiss, and utterly regret 2008." And so Kathleen Parker begins her column in the 12/31/08 morning newspaper. Her words challenged me to assess how I feel about this past year and I have decided to celebrate, honor, value, and cherish the past 12 months. This is not to discount the tragic amount of pain and suffering in our country and in the world this past year. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the financial collapse, rising unemployment, and a disastrous conclusion to the Bush presidency are all to be lamented. But I choose to focus on those things that have given me joy and hope.

February 3, 2008.....The New York Giants win the Super Bowl. As a lifelong Giant fan I have experienced the agony of defeat and the joy of victory. Watching this game, surrounded by family members (all NY Giant fans, a requirement), I was able to share the excitement of the game with three generations. Here is a summary of the game as described on Wilkapedia. "The first three quarters of Super Bowl XLII were largely a defensive battle, as both teams combined for only 10 points, with the Patriots leading 7–3 entering into the final quarter. New York finally scored their first touchdown with 11:05 left in the game to take a 10–7 lead. New England eventually responded with a touchdown of their own to take a 14–10 lead with 2:42 left. Then came the defining play of the game: faced with third down and five yards to go from their own 44-yard line with 1:15 remaining, Giants quarterback Eli Manning avoided what looked like a sack and completed a 32-yard pass to wide receiver David Tyree, who made a leaping catch by pinning the ball on his helmet which put them at New England's 24-yard-line. Four plays later, New York wide receiver Plaxico Burress caught the winning touchdown with 0:35 left.[13] Manning, who threw both of his touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, was named the Most Valuable Player." Here's a photo of Granddaughter Jena and I preparing for that memorable day.

February 22-March 21.....For the second year in a row we had the opportunity to spend a significant part of the winter in Central Florida at a small rented Villa. John, Mary, and I adopt a relaxed daily routine while we are there that includes sitting on the porch, squeezing fresh orange juice for breakfast, walks in the sunshine, visiting with friends, lunch at Gator Joe's, dancing outdoors in the evenings at The Villages, and scenic drives.March 23.....Easter in Savannah, Georgia where I was born almost 64 years ago. We had two wonderful days in this old city of great charm.Every Tuesday.....Tai Chi classes at The Tai Chi Center in Saratoga Springs, NY. I am in my third year of learning this ancient internal martial art. The practice of Tai Chi has improved my overall health and is an effective tool to manage stress.

June 1 to present day...I was appointed as the clergy member of a three person Transition Team to serve a small local congregation during their pastoral transition. My duties have included leading workshops on transitions, occasional worship leadership, pastoral care, and other pastoral duties. I am thankful for this opportunity to work with a small but dedicated group of faithful people as they struggle to discern what the future holds for them.
August 2......Daughter Sarah married Todd Mraz in a beautiful outdoor ceremony at Lanzi's on the Lake. We gained not only a great new son-in-law but a new granddaughter, Morgan.
August 25-27...John and I camped in the popup trailer at a State Park on the shores of Lake George. A great one on one time with John as we set around the campfire each evening telling stories and singing songs.

August 27-September 2.....Our annual trip to Diamond Point on the shores of Lake George. All of the children and grandchildren were able to gather for this end of summer time.

September 17-27....Our son, Joshua, and his family purchased a home in Waitsfield, Vermont where he began a new job. I spent ten days working beside him to prepare the house for their moving in. We stripped wallpaper, tore up floors, sheet rocked, painted, and laughed together through long 16 hour days.

October 13-24....Mary, John, and I took a cross country road trip to visit Mary's family in Iowa. It was a great adventure that included a visit to Galena, Illinois and "The Field of Dreams" in Dyersville, Iowa.

December 24, 25, &a 26.....A wonderful three day family celebration of Christmas. the 15 of us attended church together on Christmas Eve at 4pm and then gathered at our home for pizza and wings and some gift exchanges. I led worship at 7pm at Grace church and it was a warm and inspiring experience of singing, communion, and candlelight. Josh, Elizabeth, and Noah spent the night so we were able to share the excitement of Christmas morning with a 4 year old. The remainder of the family gathered in the afternoon for more gift exchanging and a dinner of ham and turkey and all the fix'ns. On the 26th we helped the children make a ginger bread house at Suzi's.

And so, to you and yours, I wish a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The 12 Days Before Christmas

On the 12th day before Christmas freezing rain coated the trees, the power lines, and everything else. The area experienced widespread power outages and we were dark for three days. We are fortunate to have a wood stove for heat and a gas stove for cooking as we ate and read by candlelight.On the 11th day before Christmas we found a restaurant that was open and had power so we gathered to celebrate granddaughter, Jena's, 2nd birthday.On the 6th day before Christmas we experienced a snow storm that brought us 9 inches of snow. We drove in a blinding snow storm to the Troy Music Hall to attend a concert by "Sweet Honey in the Rock". Their sweet harmony and soaring spirits made the journey well worth it.
On this, the 4th day before Christmas we received another 6" of snow. More predicted for Wednesday. It will indeed be a White Christmas here. Click here to experience Bing Crosby creating this enduring carol. I get a kick out of Bing's whistling!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Playing for Change

Check out this clip from the new documentary film, Playing for Change:Peace Through Music. For 5 1/2 minutes of pure joy, click here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I read that the Pilgrims, following that first Thanksgiving, would begin their subsequent celebrations in a very poignant way. Before filling the dinner plates with the results of a bountiful harvest they would simply place 5 kernels of corn on their plates. They served as a reminder of the harsh winter that preceded the first Thanksgiving when half of the settlers perished. During those cold months, 5 kernels of corn were the daily ration. As the years passed those 5 kernels of corn symbolized how far the community had come and how blessed they were. In this time of economic crisis and fears about the future it is important to acknowledge how much we have. Whenever I am tempted to complain and whine about what I don't have....I remember those 5 kernels of corn....and realize that I have an abundance. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008


I have to thank West Coast Chuck for this pic. Can this political season get any stranger?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Reality and Dreams!

I heard a story on NPR today regarding members of the "white supremacist" movement who hope that Obama will be elected president. They argue that his election will energize their movement and convince the general public that they have been right all along. This NPR report includes the following, "Part of the problem is that Obama is playing into the neo-Nazi and white supremacist narrative, said Brian Levin, who studies hate and extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
What the groups were saying — "Jews and blacks coming out of the urban areas are going to take over this white nation of ours" — has occurred, he said.
You only have to look to the Internet to see how white supremacist leaders such as David Duke are using Obama to rally their troops. Duke has called Obama a "visual aid for hate groups."
He says an Obama presidency would provide indisputable proof that whites have lost control of America.
"This is a cultural and racial battlefront," said Levin. "Barack Obama is symbol No. 1 of the worst the future has to offer."

The degree of hate and ignorance in the land creates a great saddness in my heart.

On the other hand, we just completed a 3000 mile road trip that took us to the "heartland" as the pollsters refer to the midwest. Everywhere we traveled...Ohio,Indiana,Illinois, Iowa...we encountered people who were kind and welcoming to our interracial family. We visited the "Field of Dreams" movie site in Dyersville, Iowa where thousands still come every year. For 14 weeks in the summer of 1988 Hollywood invaded this corner of Iowa to make a movie about dreams and fantasy and baseball that became a Academy Award nominee for "Best Picture of the Year" in 1989. The house, the cornfield, and the baseball field are just as they were depicted in the film. There is no admission, no video displays, and no guided tours. There is a simple sign telling the story of the site and a small building where one can purchase a baseball, hat, or t-shirt. The site is beautiful in its' simplicity. John and I hit a few balls and ran the bases. "This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that was once good, and it could be good again. Oh people will come. People will most definitely come." Those words were spoken by James Earl Jones in the film and you can see the video clip by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Rain today......booms of thunder
Grey skies......weeping
Yellowed grass.....transformed to green

Sound of raindrops upon the roof
makes me want to take a nap
read a book.....or
simply sit

Scripture says
the rain's a gift
bestowed on all
no exceptions

"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? (Matthew 5:43-47 The Message)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

August Update

Wow! August flew by following Sarah and Todd's wedding. Here's a summary.

- a trip to Giants training camp.

-a night of dirt track racing at Albany-Saratoga Speedway

-a relaxing week at a friends' camp on a small Adirondack Lake

-Mary and I took a bus trip to Shea Stadium for a Mets game

-John and I camping on the shores of Lake George

-a week with extended family at Diamond Point in Lake George where I served as preacher at Diamond Point Community Church
August is the best month of the year
we reflect on what's happened since we last stood here
salt in our hair and our feet in the sand
I wouldn't expect anyone else to understand
August is the worst month of the year
with autumn ahead, I feel so much fear
nothing that summertime offers can last
when September arrives,
you'll be a piece of my past
(from the poem, August, by Jade Leven)

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Wedding Celebration

Daughter Sarah celebrated her marriage to Todd on Saturday in a beautiful outdoor ceremony at Lanzi's on the Lake in Mayfield, NY. The rehearsal dinner was held the night before at the Sport Island Pub also on Sacandaga Lake. Both events were very enjoyable with delicious food and drink. Here are some pics of the rehearsal and the wedding. Saturday's weather was typical of this summer with pop-up thunderstorms throughout the day. One such storm had just ended when we arrived forty-five minutes before the ceremony was to begin. The sun came out momentarily and created a faint rainbow.The clouds moved back in but the rain held off as Sarah and Todd made their vows to one another and to Todd's daughter, Morgan.The reception was a joyous affair with a stunning cake, great food, and family fun.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Morning

For most of my adult life Saturdays have always been a day of work. The tasks included final preparations for the weekend worship services, weddings, appointments, etc. Now I approach each Saturday as a gift and opportunity to discover the relaxed pace of this day. On most Saturdays during the spring and summer, John and I head to the Saratoga Farmer's Market to pick up produce and enjoy the sights and sounds. We are members of a local CSA farm along with daughter Suzi and we split a weekly share of homegrown vegetables with them. The bountiful harvest of flowers, fruits, breads, jams, honey, and vegetables on display there are a feast for the eyes. Here are some pics I took this morning.

As I strolled through the market, the hymn "Praise and Thanksgiving" was the sound track playing in my head.

Praise and thanksgiving, God we would offer

for all things living you have made good:

harvest of sown fields, fruits of the orchard,

hay from the mown fields, blossom and wood.