I am starting back to reality today after several short trips recently. I would like to blog further about some of them, but here's the basic rundown...
Last Wednesday Jane and I were actually able to take in a seminar together for a change. It was on Evangelism & Hospitality and was put on by our denominations commission on church renewal. They had a guy come in who is apparently planting a church in Panama City. It was Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, and they put us up in a nice hotel in Findlay for the night. I've been trying to think of a nice way to say this was actually one of the worst seminars I have ever attended. We actually left early because we just couldn't take it anymore. Not that the facilities weren't nice, or that the people who hosted it didn't do a good job, but I couldn't handle the commission chairman anymore, nor the presenter. It was all about tactics and strategies for growing our church organizations (and little about Jesus). His material was outdated and he wasn't a very good presenter, but when he said we needed to value visitors because of their "giving potential" for the church (financially)... we'd had enough and we left.
We got back Thursday evening and Isaac came home. Then we all went to Drew Carrie's for a family supper. She made us an amazing meal and we hung around there. We also moved an old couch from the church basement to Drew Carrie's basement, and we took our annual family Christmas picture in front of their stairway. Jane thought she might have broken her surgically repaired foot, and we all had a good laugh, and everyone survived.
Friday morning Jane and I, and Carrie and Isaac, headed back home to Buda (Drew had to work this weekend). We left a little after 8 am, and this was perhaps the longest it's ever taken us to get there. I think it ended up taking us 7 hours. We had to make quite a few potty stops, and we also stopped at Tanners Orchard north of Peoria. I slept in the car while everyone else got apple-type treats. Oh, and I almost forgot, we ate lunch at McDonald's in El Paso, IL, took off on I-39, and just as we were about to get off on rt. 17 Jane realized she'd left her purse at McDonald's. I turned around and we had the Focus up to 90 mph for about 20 miles. Fortunately someone had turned the purse in and we made the rest of the trip to Buda breathing a big sigh of relief. We spent a few hours visiting with my parents, then headed back to Bloomington, IL for a Jason and the Scorchers concert.
It took us about an hour and a half to get back to Bloomington (the same route we'd just come, basically). Our google maps directions were wrong, but we were able to find the beautiful Castle Theater easy enough. We arrived around 7:30 pm and immediately started seeing people we knew from back home. Jason is from near our hometown, and this is probably the closest they will ever play to his home. His mom was there, along with several of our high school teachers (Suzanne, Deb. S. Gaye, Ann F.), Joe C. and his wife and boys, Karen C., Janice M., Janet B., the Hanson boys, Patti W. and her husband John, Keith M. and his wife, Joe and Crystal, Skye D. and her partner... I'm sure I'm leaving some people out. At any rate, it would have been a good time just seeing old friends; but it was even better with the concert. I expected Stacie Collins to come out around 8:30, but Jason and the guys came out instead. Stacie just did a few songs here and their with the Scorchers. It was great. They played a few new songs, but also many of their classics. I stood up by the front of the stage for most of it and sang along. I also got my pic taken with everyone except Al Collins (not sure why I missed him). I was also glad that Carrie & Isaac got a chance to see the band. I think they had a good time, but I don't know how anyone could have had a better time than me. It was almost heaven... and we weren't even in West Virginia (they closed with their scorcherized version of the John Denver classic "Country Roads" - which I love, btw). We stayed around after the show and chatted with folks; I bought one of Stacie's shirts; then we stopped at Denny's around 1:30 am (CDT) and I had a "grand slamwich." It was good at the time, but not so much the next morning. We got back to Buda at 3 am central time, which means it was 4 am our time, which means Jane and I were up for 22 hours straight. Ugh. It was worth it though.
On Saturday we got up around 7 am and started cleaning out my dad's barn of all the stuff we had stored there. Since he no longer has horses he has to remove everything from the barn, because it's not his. We took two truck loads out to Jane's brother Mark's so he can bring it to us sometime. Then we got to see the two new babies in the family. Dr. Tim and Elizabeth were out at Mark's and we all got to hold week-old Avery Jane (except Isaac). Wow, she was a tiny bundle of beauty. Then we went to Bud and Ashley's and saw their week-old Abby Noelle. Another precious bundle of joy. That night we went out to eat in Sheffield with Mark and Christine, and my parents. We saw Joe and his wife again at the bar. Then we went to Tim and Elizabeth's new house and chatted for a bit.
Sunday morning we went to early service at our old home church. Jane and Carrie were holding Avery Jane, and when they handed her down to me I ended up holding her during the entire sermon. Wow, that is way better than preaching. She pretty much slept or sucked on her pacifier the whole time. So I just sat and prayed for her during the sermon. It was awesome.
After church we got our stuff and headed back to Indiana. We made it back in a much more respectable 5 hours and 20 minutes. Isaac left for his house right after we got home, and we had about a half hour before the start of the cookout at the pavilion for our church's Third Sunday Supper. It was kind of nice having other people take care of everything. So we ate and visited and then headed home.
Yesterday I drove back to Findlay for Winebrenner Seminary's "Ritz Lectures." The speaker was Dr. John Armstrong, from Wheaton. He gave the lecture on the contents of his new book, "Your Church is Too Small." It deals with church unity and kingdom-mindedness. I really liked what he had to say. I will blog more about it later. I was pretty wiped out though, and when I could no longer keep my eyes open I decided I might as well just leave. So I left mid-afternoon and headed back home. I really wish I could have heard the rest of his talk.
So... that's about it. Now it's back to real life today.