Sermon-Planning Retreat

Today I go to the North Carolina mountains for several days of sermon planning. The goal, as it is each year, is to begin enough sermons to carry me through twelve months of pastoral ministry. I usually go to the coast for this event, but the mountains have a different music, and the change might be refreshing for me and my church. As I drive away in just a few minutes, I am grateful for your friendship and your prayers. Listen with me for something important that God has to tell us.

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 1:24 pm  Comments (2)  

Kayaking on Sunday

Maybe this should be titled “Silliness on Sunday.”

It began during the river trip on Saturday with this:

…a basketball floating down the Catawba river, like thousands of others have done in the past. After determining its species (Spaulding), I released it to continue its migration.


When I finished on Saturday, I didn’t take the kayak off of the Frontier, hoping I might have a chance to go again on Sunday after worship. And that’s the way it worked out. The upper body exercise from the paddle movement felt great, and the seasonal scenes again blessed my awareness.


Suddenly, there was this:


I don’t have a football, so I thought this might be a cool, free find. But when I picked it up, water squirted out along the laces; it was too far gone. It posed for this shot before jumping back in.


Very shortly after the football, there was this:



Yes, folks, that’s a Care Bears ball. I wonder how long that’s been waiting in the woods for a flood to set it afloat.

I continued into the river’s western curve around the big island, different from Saturday’s eastern route.



On the way back down the eastern bank, something caught my eye over by the grass.



Until the very end of 2008, I don’t think I ever had a soccer ball of my own. That’s when I found a nice one in the dunes at Ocracoke, while exploring with Debra, Bryan, and Laurie. Then, when kayaking with Debra on the Catawba River back in the summer, I found one that was in pretty good shape, and kept it. Now here was a solid blue one just waiting to be found, like a watermelon in a cotton field. I manuevered the kayak close to shore, between the two stumps and clump of roots, hoping the ball was not too waterlogged.


Now I have three!

And just before heading in to land, this floated by:


(Here’s an article that gives a little background of this phenomenon.)

(And this one has a related picture.)

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 1:24 am  Comments (4)  

Kayaking on Saturday

After so much rain last week, the Catawba was heavy. It took extra muscle to push its weight behind me as I worked my way upstream. Along the way, though, patches of lingering autumn color made the effort worthwhile. Here are some views of the afternoon, perhaps too many for one posting, but it has been a while. (I may need to relearn photographic restraint.)






Here is a slough entering the river, made more accessable by the raised water level. Having not been back there before, I decided to explore while the passage was navagable.

I find places like this really beautiful.

I threaded my way through some fallen trees into a deeper place, contemplating the stillness. But I wasn’t there long before a truck approached, unseen behind the trees to my right. Not knowing who they were or how hospitable they might be to my presence in “their” woods, I turned the Q700X around while the truck growled its way through whatever mud it found. You might remember that this kayak is quick, so I was back to the river entrance before they were finished parking. I would find other stillness, perhaps.




I crossed the river and came farther upstream to this passage between two islands, a place I’ve kayaked and photographed several previous times. The flow was impressive, sounding like rapids in places where tree branches filtered the current.


Readers may recognize the scene, though with different foliage than in earlier postings.


As I floated back downstream after 5:00, darkness came much earlier to the west bank than the east.



This was a very good day on the river.





Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 6:56 pm  Comments (2)  

November 14

After nearly a week of exquisite rain and cold brought in by the remnants of Ida, today is a different kind of beautiful. The oaks and hickories are catching all the sun and reflecting it back into the blue, warm sky. Faulkner and I took a good walk into the deeper, unexplored parts of the church’s woods. And now I’m heading to the river with the kayak on the truck.

Published in: on November 14, 2009 at 3:02 pm  Comments (1)  

Get Open

A ball becomes smooth from its passage through the net, but not all at once.

Published in: on November 8, 2009 at 9:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Another Start

Yes, kind readers, I have been both absent and delinquent in tending this site. You have been patient and encouraging. Thank you for the persistence.

I have been occupied by many things, much of it I hope to share in little pieces. First I will say that a large portion of my summer’s time was spent walking. It’s a pedometer thing, and I get incentive points (Healthmiles) for various threshhold amounts of steps each day. The incentive points translate into cash, eventually. …Very small amounts of cash, but still, the insurance people are paying me to be healthy, so I’ll let them.

On June 1, the same day I signed up to do the Healthmiles thing, I also had blood drawn to assess my cholesterol and other bloody stuff. My cholesterol was high, 217, with a grossly ugly LDL of 161. My HDL was only 38. When I showed it to my doctor in July, he wasn’t pleased. He started in on me about needing to take medicine for it, and how my LDL was higher than he wanted my total cholesterol to be. But I talked him out of it, having already started measures to reduce the offending molecules. He wasn’t impressed and didn’t think it would make a difference, but conceded to let me try on my own until October.

I felt like I had something to prove.

Since June 1, I have averaged 21,000 steps per day. That is roughly 10.5 miles every day. Exercise is the thing that raises the HDL (“good cholesterol”). I also began monitoring my eating habits more strictly than I had previously done. I was serious about it. And some foods were hard to turn down, especially at the great church dinners we have around here. But I knew I could do it; it has long been my personal feeling that no food tastes as good as the feeling of being fit and trim. Besides, eating the right foods to fuel my body, and doing it many times throughout the day, I never went hungry.

When I began this initiative, I weighed 189 pounds, recently down from 193 or so. Even though I’m 6’1″, that’s too much weight for me. I feel it negatively when I have extra pounds, and it saps my motivation, etc. So, through the process of trying to drive down my cholesterol, I began to drop a few pounds. That felt great! As the weeks and miles went by, I was feeling more and more mobile and light on my feet. My weight eventually stabilized at 171, and I feel healthier than I have in years.

So, I went to have blood drawn on October 14, so they could do the next test. A few weeks later, I stopped by the doctor’s office to get a copy of the results ( I wanted to know what it said before I meet with the doctor in November). I took the envelope to my truck, got in, and opened it for the results. The total cholesterol count had come down to 151, HDL was up to 53, and the LDL had plummeted to a slim 85! I sat there and laughed out loud for a long time, thoroughly enjoying the clinical demonstration of a healthy lifestyle at work.

More good stuff has been going on, too, but I’ll save that for another posting, hopefully soon. Peace and blessings to each of you!

Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 12:26 am  Comments (3)