Thursday, November 26, 2009


Many people celebrate their birthday with a party, a trip to Disneyland, a romantic getaway, or hanging out with friends. Not me. I celebrated by driving into the desert. By myself.

Tuesday afternoon I piled food and water into the Explorer. Last thing I wanted was breaking down in the middle of the Mojave and starving to death three hours from LA on my thirtieth birthday . Not my idea of a great way to go out. If anything bad happened at least I'd be prepared. I also dragged the twin mattress off my bed and threw it in the back of the SUV. Not quite like spending a night at some hotel in Paris or on the beach in Hawaii, but that's ok.

By the time I arrived in desert territory the sun had disappeared. In the darkness I wasn't sure I'd be able to find the little side road leading off into the wilderness. I'd been here before. Two years ago I took a weeklong road trip that lead me up through the wilds of Death Valley, across Yosemite, down into King's Canyon, and back to Santa Clarita. During the first day of the trip I'd come across a dry lakebed just north of Barstow. It's called Cuddeback Lake.

I cruised down an almost empty 385 until I saw what looked like a good sized trail leading back off the road. This was just what I was looking for. I hoped anyway. For eight miles I bumped and jostled down a sandy trail praying my directional skills proved correct. When the path suddenly emerged onto a parched brown, cracked and hardened lake bed I knew I'd been right. This was it. There was little sign of any other human life. Off to the north, many miles away I saw three lights quite spread out. To the south, barely visible, flickered two more. That was it. Other than those five dim reminders that there's still life in this world, it was just God and I. I can't think of a better way to turn thirty.

I drove my Ford Explorer three more miles to the far side of the lake bed and turned to face back the way I'd come. Something inside of me doesn't like sitting in a restaurant with my back to the door. In the same silly way I wanted to be able to see if any other vehicles drove onto the lake bed that night. Sure, that left my back to the wide open desert, but I doubted there was anything out there. What if there was though?

There are certain blessings to an active imagination. Of course, there are many curses as well. One of those curses resulted in the thousand thoughts that ran through my head. What if some sicko killer camped out in that desert and saw my vehicle as the perfect opportunity to commit his next heinous crime? What if deranged ex-Army zombies lived in the hills overlooking my car? What if in the flash of my camera, suddenly the exploding light revealed a rush of crazed creatures hurling themselves toward my car? Yeah, all those thoughts ran through my head. I'm telling you, my imagination is WAY overactive.

After I settled in for the night I stepped out of the car into the beauty of the desert night. A half moon lit the lake bed as far as I could see. I stood in the blue-grey light of the moon and stared up at a sky full of stars arching above me. To the north I made out the faint threads of the Milky Way stretching across the sky. It was just me, God, and the overwhelming sense of his awe-inspiring creation.

For almost an hour I stood alone just listening, looking around, enjoying the moment, trying to take it all in. This was how I spent the last few hours of my twenties. No party, park rides, dinner conversation or friends. That's ok. I enjoyed the silence. I appreciated the solitude.

Monday, November 23, 2009

“In every change He faithful will remain . . .”

Last night I attended an evening service at Placerita Baptist Church. The song leader began our worship time by announcing that we’d be picking favorite hymns; so for several minutes I waffled between “Like a River Glorious” and “And Can It Be” eventually choosing the latter. Ahh, the hymns, I thought. I love the hymns for the clarity and truth packed into only a few lines of text.

Immediately after my choice the song leader pointed to the back left corner.

“Be Still My Soul,” was the song title called back.

Be Still My Soul, I pondered, Not something I would choose. I changed my mind as we began to sing the words, “In every change, He faithful will remain . . .” My heart echoed that thought again and again as the congregation sang on. “In every change, He faithful will remain . . .”

So true. So absolutely true.

As I left the service and began the short drive home I couldn’t empty my mind of that phrase. Before moving from Pennsylvania my head had filled with doubts. I was leaving behind everything I knew. I was leaving my friends and family. I was adopting a new school, new staff, new students, new parents, new procedures, and not least a new home. I’d have lesson plans to do, text books to study, wedding pictures to edit and mail.

“Thanksgiving,” I’d told a friend, “If I can make it to Thanksgiving break I’ll be ok.”

Well, here I am. This morning marks the beginning of Thanksgiving break, and everything is alright. All the lesson plans have been written, tests have been composed and graded, books read, friends have been made, students taught, pictures edited, an apartment furnished and put together. Everything that needed to be finished has been.

“In every change, He faithful will remain . . .”

As I drove home last night I choked up to think of God’s faithfulness to bring me through the process. His faithfulness, God’s goodness, is what brought me from Pittsburgh on August 17 and has sustained me to this very moment. It has all been of the Lord!

“Not to us, Oh Lord. Not to us, but to your name give glory, for your mercy and for your truth’s sake.” Psalm 115:1

Even this morning as I read, the Word reminded me of this simple, but crucial, truth.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers; they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1-2

Is moving and starting a new job the worst trial a person can walk through; by no means. Not even close. I realize that everyday people around me walk through much deeper waters and much hotter fires. That said, at this moment in my life God has led me, is leading me, and will continue to lead me all the way.

“Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side . . .”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Not Quite Lesson Learned, But Learning

In the past I liked to think I did a mighty fine job of playing second fiddle. Not the actual instrument, but the position. I can humble myself. I can sit back and let others get the glory. My name doesn’t have to be hung in radiant lights.

God decided to test the pride I’d placed in my own humility. He put me in a place where I began as second fiddle, was pushed down to third fiddle, and may quickly become fourth. Now I wonder if there’s even a spot for a fifth fiddle. I’m thinking nobody actually needs five fiddles in their band.

Yesterday I stood off by myself lamenting my personal fall from power. Arrogant thoughts rushed through my head.

What about me? What about my talents, my abilities? What about what I can offer? Me! Me! ME!

I was so angry, disappointed, and hurt; when along came the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Apparently with the kind of attitude I had fourth fiddle was exactly where I needed to be. God has to teach me to work behind the scenes. He wants me to serve even if I never get noticed. I’m so used to being the front man. I’m used to being the camp counselor, program director, preacher, or teacher. I’ve grown used to people looking and seeing me.

So, this is what I need. Even as I write this, I’m so grateful God would put me in this position. I need to learn this lesson. My pride needs to be greatly tamed. My prayer is that I can learn whatever fiddle position the Lord puts me in, and learn to serve in that position with excellence, passion, and humility.

No, the lesson certainly hasn’t been learned, but by the grace of God I pray I can learn it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nexus - Spiritual Emphasis Week

NEXUS Closing from Ken Kistler Photography

This week Dave, my brother-in-law, spoke at our school's spiritual emphasis week. They decided to call it NEXUS. Nexus, of course, means "the central or most important place." What a great week.

Dave began the messages speaking on the majesty of God. Tuesday he spoke about the meagerness of man. Wednesday he shared about the grace of God. All these messages connected. The holiness of God is necessary to know and understand before you can see our own meagerness, lack, and need. Once you see the need of man then, and only then, can you see how incredible God's grace is. Thursday Dave spoke about love. Once you've seen God's grace toward you then the reaction should be love for him which overflows in love toward others. Friday we wrapped up with a focus on serving.

Again, it was a great week. There was so much to consider.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009


The other little boy I photographed yesterday was Darby. What a cute little kid!

Here are some pics.

More of My Niece

Yesterday Keara, Dave, Nora, and I traveled to Lombardi Farm (not Lombardi Field). It's a huge pumpkin farm on the far side of town. We joined up with Jason, Dana, and little Darby Hendrickson for some family pictures. A fun time was had by all!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Some thoughts from devotions for the last few days.

Yesterday I read through classic Psalm 96. “Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing to the Lord, all the earth.”

I always enjoy that Psalm and feel like I could spend devotions every morning for days digging through its truths.

Apparently I wasn’t quite awake when I began reading yesterday. I found a new truth in verse 5.

Here’s what I read: “All the gods of the peoples are worthless IDIOTS!”

Of course it actually says they are worthless idols. I kind of liked my new, sleep-induced translation better. Maybe I ought to mail my correction to some new translation committee.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Niece

I feel like I've been working on pictures for the last two months of my life. No, that's an exaggeration. Most of the time has been spent developing new school lessons and grading for my classes at Santa Clarita. That doesn't leave me much free time. The free time I do have has been spent editing pictures from my last two weddings of the summer.

Since I finally finished editing, I felt good taking out the camera and snapping some shots of my beautiful little niece. She was looking awful serious for the few moments I photographed her, but the cuteness still shines through.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

An Evening Drive

Last night I took a drive into the mountains outside of Santa Clarita. What an experience! I always loved that fact that you could walk out of your apartment in Butler and within fifteen minutes be standing by one of a dozen lakes, in the woods, completely alone. That could never happen in Southern California, right?

In fact it can!

I took three right turns out of my drive way and within fifteen minutes was alone in the mountains. No lakes, of course. What a great way to get into nature.

It was too dark too soon to get many pictures, but I did snag this one on my drive home. Wish I could tell you it's from the top of a nameless mountain peak, but actually I took it behind the new Target on a hill overlooking town.

Oh well!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Land Flowing with Panera and Starbucks

This morning I took the "VIA Challenge" at Starbucks. They asked me to differentiate between their Pike's Place Brew and the new Via Instant Coffee. Sorry to say, I was right. I guessed the Instant Coffee. The poor barista looked so disappointed.

"It was still good!" I tried to cheer him.

Simply by taking the test I was given a coupon for a free coffee. Ok, I got to tell you- the coupon is for the smallest, cheapest coffee that Starbucks sells. That said though, it's still free.

I'm still shocked by the number of coffee shops out here. Within a mile of my apartment you can get coffee at Starbucks, McDonalds, Coffee Kiosk, It's a Grind, or Panera. That's not all though. I did a quick search on the GPS as I was driving with my sister last week. Eight Starbucks popped up on the screen within three miles of where we were. In Butler there's not a single Starbucks in 13 miles let alone 3.

This morning I spent about 15 minutes in the car driving to the center of town just to visit my favorite Starbucks. A cute little stream flows behind it between a fountain on one end and a small waterfall on the other side. The patio beside the stream is shaded and little birds hop across the cobblestone to nibble on any crumbs dropped by the customers.

It's the perfect little place to enjoy Saturday morning devotions.

So with that I say "Adieu" to you and open the Word . . .

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Long TIme . . .

So I mentioned in a previous post that I got to visit a Fire Camp with my students. Way Cool experience!!!

The cheerleading coach at the school rounded up a group of volunteers to bake cookies and goodies for the fire fighters. It was a great idea! Four vehicles of students drove down to the Fire Camp to drop off the stuff.

I've never seen anything like it. An entire exit of the highway was closed to public transit to make room for the enormous camp. Our cars had to pass through three security rings guarded by CHiPs (California Highway Patrol, I believe) just to make it to the camp. As we pulled off the highway and down to the main road we saw dozens and dozens of police cars lining both sides of the road. Beyond the squad cars lay van after van of Media Vans. Beyond the vans lay acres of trailers solely devoted to ending the Fire.

After we parked and delivered the cookies a Public Affairs officer offered to take us for a tour of the camp. Of course we agreed.

He showed us a trailer devoted to organizing all planes and helicopters over the fire. A trailer devoted to the governor's office and their response to the fire. A trailer assembled just to print current maps of the fire situation. A trailer maintained for paying all the fire personnel. Their were additional trailers for the Fire Fighters to sleep in. They were kept totally dark with only a few black lights to see and air conditioning running 24/7. Massive trailers were set aside for showers and washing of the fire fighters clothes. Trailers ranged as far as we could see.

After a wonderful hour long tour of the facilities the local Fox News affiliate interviewed the students. They did a great job in their responses.

A final few facts about the fire:

- 8 days in and the state of California had spent $33,000,000 in battling it.
- Fire teams spent 5 days on the line with food delivered by helicopter.
- Each state of the union sent people to help battle the blaze.
- The fire was one of the biggest three fires in LA County in the last 20 years.
- Two fire fighters died battling the blaze.
- The blaze was set intentionally.

Friday, September 18, 2009

One Month Down . . .

Today marked the end of my first month teaching at SCCCS (Santa Clarita Christian School).

It's been great. I enjoy all 101 students. Some certainly present challenges, but what's life without a few challenges? In the last month I've experienced a smoke day, visited a fire camp, sat through multiple department meetings (English and history), written dozens of lesson plans, attended two football games, embarrassed myself in a Pep Rally, walked miles more than I ever walked last year, seen more palm trees than ever before in my life, gone swimming in two of the apartment complex's three swimming pools, visited two churches, and participated in various and sundry other activities.

Am I glad I moved? Yes. Oh, yes. This has been the best thing for me. Do I miss PA? Yes. Oh, yes. I miss the students, staff, teachers at FBCS. I truly miss the church and the friends and fellowship there. I miss my parents and the hours of fellowship spent at Barnes and Noble. There's a lot to miss, but a lot to enjoy as well.

Here I stay. I can do no other.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Smoke Day

Smoke at School from Ken Kistler Photography

We enjoyed half a day off on the first Friday of school as a terrible cloud of smoke drifted into our valley. The sky changed color. Eyes burned when you stepped outside. It was quite strange.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kids Say the Funniest Things

Even here in California my students are continually causing me to crack up and laugh in class.

Today we were reading through Genesis 1-3 for World Literature. We stopped for a few minutes and discussed the importance of these three chapters for all of Christianity. Of course the girls didn't particularly enjoy the part that discussed pain in child birth.

I said, "Yes, gentlemen. A woman's pain in childbirth exceeds pretty much anything a guy might go through. It's not even worth arguing about."

Not to be outdone one of the guys piped up.

"Yeah, well I heard when a guy has a kidney stone that's even worse."

"What does that feel like?" a girl asked.

"What does it feel like! It feels like you're peeing rocks! That's what it feels like." he cried.

Now one of the girls didn't want to be outdone.

"Really! Are you serious? Yeah, that would hurt, but having a kid is like peeing a whole baby!!!"

Things kind of broke down from there.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mexico Missions Trip Slideshow

Mexico Missions Trip from Ken Kistler Photography

These are some of the pictures I took during the Mission Trip to Mexico. I pray the Lord never lets me forget some of the lessons I learned during those eight days.


David and Suzanne from Ken Kistler Photography

I'm a little frustrated with YouTube right now. Great concept and a great help in the past, but my video needs are slowly outgrowing its capabilities. I'm experimenting with a new hosting site. Here's what I've been able to try so far.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


This morning I woke early to get on my computer, not to surf the web or even work on lesson plans, but to video chat with my students. What a joy! It wasn't long, only five or ten minutes, but I enjoyed seeing their faces. I liked to see the high school guys had grown even taller. The girls had not grown in size, but each one acted a little more like a mature Christian lady. What a blessing to see just a small point in their lives which evidences not only God's working in their physical growth, but God working in their spiritual growth as well.

After the students went to class I slipped up to the shower, pulled on a button-down collared shirt, poured a bowl of cereal, and opened my Bible to the book of Psalms. What scripture to read on this my first day of school at Santa Clarita Christian School and the eighth first day of school as a teacher?

I found the words at the end of Psalm 59:
But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

These verses speak to the past and present. God has been the strength of the psalmist in the past, and God will continue to be that strength in the present. He's been and will be a fortress. He has shown and will show steadfast love.

I'm not exuberant this morning, probably because of my ongoing lack of sleep, but these verses perfectly fit the day. They're neither excited dancings about God's goodness, nor are they calls for the Lord to smite the wicked (though that may be more my tone after working with Junior Highers all day). The verses simply state two wonderful truths. God's always been there. God will always be there. He strengthened me on my first day of school at FBCS in Butler with a class of 8 students 7 years ago. He'll strengthen me today at SCCS with a total of 101 students.

This is God . . .

Friday, August 21, 2009


The walls are starting to close in, evidenced not the least by the fact I just spelled "walls" as w-a-a-l-s-s.

Block plans are due today.

Syllabuses should be turned in today.

The lengthy faculty manual is to be read by today.

Unit plans, due Monday.

Lesson plans, due Monday.

Classroom setup, due Monday.

Slideshow for a bride and groom, due next Saturday, but they're clamoring to have it early.

I NEED a dresser for my bedroom. The shelves in the closet can only hold so many jeans, t-shirts, socks and underwear. No, this isn't a necessity on the To Do List, but my OCD personality ignites every time I step into my unorganized bedroom.

First day of school, Tuesday.

I'm really feeling the pressure. Part of this is good. I'm not messing around. I'm not wasting time, which I feel often can be the bane of my existence, but I also feel like the walls of this new job are about to topple down upon me.

Ok, venting done . . . I know what I need. I've got to set my textbooks aside for a few moments this morning and dig into the Word. I need to trust in the Lord, with all my heart, and not lean on my own understanding. I must remember the verses from several days ago. God is a VERY present help in trouble.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Why art thou disquieted within me? HOPE IN GOD!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This is God!

What a blessed morning in the Word!

Some mornings I prefer silence for my time in the Scriptures. Other mornings I need music, whether to cancel the noise of traffic, people, or ten thousand other concerns vying for my mind's attention.

This morning I strolled out to Dave and Keara's covered patio, slipped on my headphones, and chose the Chris Tomlin playlist from Itunes. I didn't even glance at the first song but opened my Bible to Psalm 48.

The song? Our God Reigns by Chris Tomlin, Charlie Hall and others. They began to sing, "Our God reigns, our God reigns, forever your kingdom reigns . . ." as I read, "Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God . . . We have thought of your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of the temple. As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with righteousness. Let Mount Zion be glad! Let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of your judgements!"

What a refreshing way to start the morning- a reminder from God's faithful word of the preeminence of our King.

I couldn't ignore the last verse of the chapter though. "That you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever."

This is God! Man, how often do I stand before someone and say, "Look! Look at this! This is God! This is the creator of the Universe. This is the one who sent his Son to die for your sins. Look! This is God!"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The New Chapter

I truly hope you've visited our site on the Mexico Mission's trip. What a blessing! God used that trip in my life in many countless ways. Yeah, ok, so I know it's sort of a cheap, rip-off to blog through use of video camera, but that's the way it had to go. Hopefully I can snag some spare time this week and actually write some thoughts about the trip.

This morning I woke bright and early at 4:30 am. Sounds terrible, I know, but in Eastern standard time it was actually 7:30. I'm kind of hoping not to slip into Pacific time. I'd love to be in bed every night by ten and up by 5 or 5:30 at the latest. Perhaps that's a bit of wishful thinking, but so be it.

The main event of today and the next four days is Teacher's Inservice at Santa Clarita Christian School. A new school. New rules to follow. New staff to work with. New students and families to meet. New curriculum to teach. New place to live. New . . . new . . . new . . . To say I don't have a few butterflies in my stomach would be a lie.

God has been so good. I type this on a covered patio behind my sister's new apartment. When I walked out here the stars glistened above, crickets chirped from the lawn, and a crisp chill still hung in the air. I flicked on the Chinese lanterns hanging above, set down my textbooks and laptop, then flipped open my Bible to the book of Psalms. Here's what I read.

Classroom Level:
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions. - Psalm 45:7

This made me think of the classroom I'll be leading next Monday morning. Love righteousness and hate wickedness. Isn't that one of the basic elements of Christian school classrooms. Praise students who love, honor, obey, respect. Discipline those students who hurt, mock, disobey or rebel. What's the result when we teach like this? Gladness and joy in the classroom. Students know that you'll defend and help them, punish wrongdoers, and stand for what is right.

Life Level:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble . . . Psalms 46:1

It's been a crazy last three weeks. I've shot two weddings, led a mission trip to Mexico, left the home of my last seven years, preached in different churches, said Goodbye to countless friends and family, and step into a new chapter of my life. All through that time I've been battling anxiety. No, I'm not one to fret over every little thing, but I want to do things right and I want to do them well. I want to fulfill my commitments to the best of my ability. What a blessed assurance to read this passage this morning. God! God is our refuge and strength. I could write for days on that! A very present help - not distant help, not even merely an existent help - a very present help. He's here with me this morning. He's helping me, protecting me, guiding me. Oh praise his name!

Universe Level:
Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

Be still . . . yeah . . . that's a little convicting right now. Action has animated my entire being for the last three weeks. Thankfully each morning in Mexico I found time for a blessed stillness. Blessed quietness, holy quietness, what assurance in my soul . . .

God will be exalted among the nations and across the earth. He will. There is no doubt or question in that thought. He will be exalted! How does that affect me? Will I exalt him in my life now or wait until I'm forced? I try to make the right decision to that question everyday, but now I face a new question? How will I help my students exalt the Savior of this world? What can I do? How can I serve? How will I teach them?

Lord, let me be faithful to exalt righteousness and discipline wickedness in my class. May I know the blessing of your presence whether I "feel" it or not. Help me, Lord. Help me to help my students exalt you with their life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Off to Mexico

The title is a bit of a misnomer . . . as I'm already in Mexico City. I'll be blogging at our Mission's Trips site:

Here's the address:

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Heidi's Senior Pictures

I've had the privilege of working with Heidi at the school for seven years now. She's one of the kindest girls in her class. She always works hard, earns good grades, and strives to serve others- a joy to teach. One of my favorite memories of Heidi is when she and her classmates started throwing cupcakes all around my old office. Of course, they blamed it all on me . . .

She's one of the students I'll really miss.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Baby Nora

Some might disagree with this, but I think this is the cutest baby in the world!



The Last Half Mile

Saturday night at 9:45 I pulled off the highway at Santa Clarita. Only three miles left to drive. Part of me feared a major breakdown in those last few hundred yards. By God's grace I was almost there.

The Third Break Down.

Although I was to upset to video the horrific episode I broke down AGAIN in the wilds of Northern New Mexico. Yes, it's true. Three breakdowns on the same trip. In fact, what broke? Remember the new tire they put on my Uhaul trailer Thursday afternoon? Yeah, that tire sheered off in a one-lane-both-way construction zone with no shoulder to pull off on. When I finally got both the Explorer and Uhaul off the rode I inspected the Uhaul to find that the tire and rim had sheered completely off. It was all gone. For all I know the tire is still rolling through New Mexico today.

I called Uhaul and attempted to calmly share my displeasure. This time I left the trailer where it was, drove to the closest hotel (30 miles away), got a room, and asked Uhaul to call me when everything was ready to go.

Broke down at 9:30 pm. Got back on the road the next day at 11:30 am. I was not happy.

BY THE WAY . . . If anyone knows the best way for me to call Uhaul and ask for a full refund of my trailer costs and hotel cost, I would appreciate any advice I can get.

Back in the Saddle Again

At this point it had been a few hours since I cut a video. After breaking down twice in twenty-four hours for almost twenty-four hours I just wanted to drive. Drive. Drive. Drive I did. If you'll recall though I hadn't had much sleep the night before. What do you do when you have to make up for lost time but feel yourself slipping to sleep.

Here's a prime example of what keeps me awake behind the wheel. Try it yourself.

Still Stuck and No Lugnuts.

At five in the morning a wrecker finally arrived to jump my Explorer and tow my trailer into the nearest town. As soon as I could drive I got back on I-70 in the hopes of finding a nice comfortable hotel at the next exit. Instead I found a nasty hole in the wall. "Who cares!" I thought. I just wanted to sleep.

By 5:30 I was crawling into a bed shared with numerous other little creatures I didn't want to think about. At nine Uhaul woke me with the phone call that they'd be sending someone to help me. Yeah, I had heard that one before. Help arrived at noon. However, the help didn't bring any lugnuts which had disappeared from the tire at some point during the night before. This new mechanic then had to drive an hour round trip just to find the right nuts.

I broke down at 8:30 pm. It was now 1:30 pm.

Frustrating Waiting

The second mechanic failed. He arrived and worked for a while only to inform me that I not only needed a new tire, I needed a new rim as well. He had none and would have to drive 60 miles round trip to find one. At this point I didn't care how far he had to drive, I needed to be off the highway. He disappeared into the night with a promise to return in an hour and I never saw him again.

I broke down at 8:30 pm. It's now 4:00 am.

Can you hear the semi-trucks whizzing by the Explorer?

A Solution . . . Perhaps

The Second mechanic finally showed. He pulled the blown tire off, took it back to his truck, and began fixing it. Perhaps this was the solution.


I broke down at 8:30. It was now close to 1:30.

Still Waiting . . .

After a long, and unfortunately uneventful wait of an hour and a half no mechanic from Uhaul showed. In fact, after I made a few phone calls I discovered that the mechanic had discovered that he didn't have the correct replacement tire, and rather than share that fact with Uhaul and I the mechanic went home and crawled into his nice warm bed. All that while I sat and waited alongside I-70.

At this point Uhaul contacted a second mechanic. This man promised to come save my trailer.

I broke down at 8:30. The time was now almost 11:30.

Stuck Along the Road

Only an hour after getting back on the road from the first near-accident my passenger side tire blew on the Uhaul trailer.  I had only made it into the eastern edge of Indiana.  Sure, this was getting depressing, but Uhaul promised that in only a matter of half an hour someone would be on their way to get me up and going again. 

The time was 8:30 pm.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Me and Mac

I've owned a Mac for the last three years. I've loved every minute of it. I've had less trouble with my Mac in the last three years than I had with either of my other computers in the four years before that.

That said, my Mac blew its hard drive last week. Which, I hope, explains why I haven't finished posting the videos from my trip. I have the videos, I just need to make some quick edits and get them posted when I can.

California's great . . .

My niece is beautiful . . .

My sister and Dave are doing great . . .

I love the new apartment . . .

I'll try to get the videos and pictures posted as soon as I can.

Ps. I took some pictures on the way here. These are posted above.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Blowing the Tire

Stuck in Sinner City

Broke Down in Ohio

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Christ in Camping

For the ninth time in the last eleven years I woke early on a Wednesday morning, showered, dressed, and walked out the door to head to Slippery Rock Baptist Camp's Staff Training.

Some of my fondest life memories come from Slippery Rock. It was here I counseled teenage kids for the first time. Here I preached my first weeklong series of messages. Here I led boys and girls in a prayer for salvation. Here I made friendships that will continue through eternity.
I can't think of a better place to spend a month of summer. You enjoy five weeks of fellowship with other Christian young people. You play several huge group games a day. You canoe, tube, and float down the creek. You climb towers and fly down ziplines. Spend hours at paintball, capture the flag, frisbee football, and endless water games. And mingled through all this fun you share Christ with those around you! You tell the fellow friends, counselors, cooks, maintenance guys, and campers all about how the Lord is working in your life. You glorify God in such clear, tangible ways!

As I read my devotions this morning my heart paused on several wonderful verses:
Psalm 16:2 I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you."
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence is fulness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mark and Kristin Wedding

This Saturday I got to spend a few hours with my good friend and Sunday School teacher, Mark Ort, shooting a wedding. I love shooting with Mark. Though he doesn't know it he's got great vision for his portraits. Here's a few I walked away with.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Johnnie's Senior Pics

I've known Johnnie since he first entered sixth grade. In the seven years since I've enjoyed the privilege of watching him grow into a young man.

Probably my best memories were seeing him step down from All Star quarterback and point guard and step into a spot on our new soccer team last year. I don't think he realized how different it would be to force him to use his feet rather than his hands for a sport.

Despite the difference he preformed marvelously. He was a pleasure to coach. A joy to teach.

The Sadness

The last few days have been spent packing up the collected material substances of my life. In some ways I don't have much. In other ways I'm surprised how much I have.

My earthly belongings all have been stuffed into one of the following categories:

- Things to take to California
- Things to leave in storage with my parents (thank goodness for their huge garage)
- Things to sell
- Things to give away
- Things to throw away

No, I certainly don't own nearly as much as an average American family of four, but I feel like I own a ton for one guy. Books and books and books . . . Who knew I had so many books? Even after clearing off all the shelves in my living room and bedroom I'm still finding books laying around the house in other corners. Then I remember the shelves of books in my basement. How in the world did I get so many books? I've already dragged eight large boxes to my parent's house. I've sold five boxes at local used book stores with at least three more boxes to sell. These numbers don't even count the ten or so boxes in my basement ready to be thrown into the back of a Uhaul.

As excited as I am about moving to a new place, meeting new people, and learning new things- as much excitement as I feel, there lingers a growing tinge of sadness for all I leave behind. I've lived in the same 70's decor church apartment for seven years now. I'll certainly miss all the little adjustments I made to the apartment.

- The black triangle where the hot iron slid off the back of the toilet and burned itself into the wallpaper.
- The off-kilter line of nails for hanging Ansel Adam's prints.
- The singed window shade just above where I placed a burning candle.
- The stovetop where I forgot I was boiling water and only succeeded in welding the pot to the stove's coils.

Ahh . . . so many memories of almost burning down the place.

No, seriously, I have so much sadness. So much yearning to stay. I'd write more about it now, but it'd only make me more sad.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another memorable student quote . . .

Molly W. : "I enjoy having inside jokes between my brain and me."

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Couple More Pictures

Here are a few more from the wedding rehearsal picnic.