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Kingdom Observations From Where You Wouldn't Think To Look

Updated: 2014-10-03T03:00:09.319-04:00




I still dream.



How empty.






As of yesterday, I handed over the reigns to Andy, the new hire for Faith Lutheran Church's custodial position.

I had this job since July 2002 and it was a God-send; I had just come off of a two year support from my denomination and a prior, one-month stint delivering newspapers up here for the Cincinnati Enquirer was like prison. The custodial position came along and was super flexible and a great place and church to work for and allowed me to do what I needed to do with Veritas.

Since working for IWU from last September, there isn't sufficient time to give what I once did now that my summers are, I had to give it up. I thought I could hang on to it, but Cathy was right.....just 'twasn't to be.

Though it's kind of hard to believe it's been this long, it has been truly good in every sense of the word. And so, I set up another marker in this journey and continue to say that I am thankful.



Does anyone really blog anymore and not get paid for it?



My temple is built on wood and of stone
Each space is filled with the things that I own
Idols and gods that call me to bow
I try to be free but there's no freedom now...No freedom now

The ones I hold dear--Those most precious to me
Some days I set them afloat on an indifferent sea
And these things in first place--They're worth nothing at all
At night in my dreams graven images call

And my gods won't let me sleep
And what a man sows that he will reap
I toss and turn at night
I've got places to go, got battles to fight
And my gods won't let me sleep...tonight

Ambitions once good--Once noble and pure
Now rule with a rod and I cannot endure
Those bonds I have forged with two will hands
They're not easily torn by the strength of a man

No other gods before you--No other holy shrines
Oh, I want to sleep in peace when I lie down
All other voices calling
All of the hands that pull me
Call and demand allegiance to their crown
-Wayne Watson, No Other Gods



A year ago today, I took my hands- hands that gave a lot of life to a creature I'd dreamed of having since I was a child- and signed a paper that would legally end it.  Yes- it was a euthanatic decision made countless times by many nobler than myself.  But illness found my dog's head in my hands and lap one last time, my voice and face in hers, she slipped wide-eyed from consciousness to somewhere from which she'll never come to matter how loud I call.  I know mercy's side of the argument and the necessity of a dignified passage, but there's a preciousness of life that bludgeons me....that the giving and the taking away can both be love-acts.  

Here's a post I made to this blog about a month and a half after Vega died, on April 2nd, 2008:

I'm still grieving over the loss of Vega. I can't help it. Now that I'm working morning shifts (6am-130pm), I am the first one home to wallow in an empty house that had this creature for the previous 12 years....every day, she was there to greet someone....whoever it come through these doors.

I've had three dreams about her and I'll wake up crying (or think I am). I am taken aback at the kind of introspection the grief has offered me and I've been surprised at all the other similar grieving circumstances I've had that get lassoed into the situation. But I parse these feelings and contexts to their rightful place and I still find I need to be grieving sometimes. Over this dog, nonetheless.

And, yes, I've lost close people in my life. But the affinity afforded me with the care of this creature, over whom I was graced with the "alpha" status, has set me into an emotional process much different in many ways and threaded with varying degrees of theological complexity, offering a simultaneous fix of comfort and cold.

I guess a picture tells most of that to which I cannot adequately speak. This picture was the very last time Vega would enter our house from the backyard, where we would let her go to relieve herself. The meager deck stairs in her stage of dysplasia were phenomenal hurdles in that time. There was a fresh snow the day before and her paw prints were left right up against the bottom stair leading to the deck. The night following her death, there was a light snow. I remembered on my bus route that day that I could still find her paw print if I'd search carefully enough, in spite of the snow. I began to be angry that it HAD snowed, because, when you grieve, you search for tendrils of physical connections to the one you loved in such close proximity to their passing. So I got home, went to my knees outside to where I thought the prints were and gently dusted away the top layer of snow in hopes of finding the last remaining physical proof of her final journey into the home she dearly loved.



Well, went to the chiropractor today for an adjustment.  Somewhere, unbeknownst to me and for no discernible reason, said back decides about a week ago to start "catching" and bombarding my hypothalmus with a healthy shot of faint, electrical signals my body likes to translate as pain.  I don't remember any particular recent over-exertion or injury, though I've had these kinds of things off and on since 1991.  I just started my training for the Cap City Half in C-bus in May and I'm not too enthused that I'm a bit lame.  Especially now, since I just got back on the road.

My wife thinks I'm a nuttmunky for having gone out this past Tuesday to log in my 4-miler for which I was scheduled.  I thought it was pretty heroic, trudging out in the midst of a high wind warning, with 49 mph gusts.  I would be remiss if I didn't say it was the most grueling 4 miles ever.  (But my back was already hurting, so there).  Dodging (thankfully) twigs and trying to catch breaths that would whisk away in the gusts before I could snatch them took as much effort as running this usually fairly easy course.  

At one point during a stretch where I was in a headwind, I was literally stopped from running to complete and sudden stillness, nailed in my tracks and subsequently, running in place.   I felt like Jim Cantore on the Gulf shores reporting hours before a landfalling hurricane.  Then I realized how ridiculously slow and lumbersome I must have appeared.  My course took me through campus and even the Miami kids weren't out on their usual jogs and runs.  It was just me.  

I love times like these.



Well, I had a minor surgical procedure done Monday...nothing too involved, though I do have six stitches and it is causing me to walk with a nutty gait. I am pretty much sidelined I think until January 24th when the stitches get to come out.

This is causing me considerable consternation, being this sessile. This will be the longest period of time that I have gone without running since I began running on November 30th, 2007. It's going to be a rough ride till that day comes when I can run again. Wanna know how sick I am? I was driving home tonight in the blowing snow, winds gusting and snow falling.....and all I could think about was being out there running in it.

I still don't know what race I'm going to do yet. I have decided that I'm at least going to begin training OFFICIALLY when I come back on the 24th. I've gone through my training log over the last year and I am enthralled that I had the sensibility to keep one from the beginning. I can definitely see my growth and progress over time. Having proof keeps you going. The log also serves as a marker for those days for which I am terribly fond. So much self-learning and so much life happened. And having someone to share it with was great too. I'm going to miss that for sure.

So what shall I do....another half? I'm worried about the time commitment for a full right now. Where do I race? Anyone want to run with me? You know, I'll run alone for sure. But I do love having someone to share the rigors of the training with me too. I enjoy that kind of accountability. These few weeks will pass, I'll have to decide and soon enough, I'll be into it yet once again. I can't wait.



Rags make paper, paper makes money, money makes banks, banks make loans, loans make beggars, beggars make rags.
-English Proverb



Well, looky here......I am a blogger once again. I've been around the block quite a few times in the last little bit during this latest hiatus. I'm trying to parse through what's noteworthy and what's not. I'm just not sure yet. I have a lot to say about a lot of things, but I'm not sure about the format yet. The last year of my life has left me reeling for many reasons. I am almost at a loss to explain it in some ways, but hopefully, in due time, I will do so.

Right now, the best I can say is that I feel a bit "lost".....not like I don't know where I am spiritually per se, but it just feels like I've left myself back somewhere tucked in the earlier part of this year and all of a sudden I find myself right here.....wherever "here" is. There have been some really good things happen and some rather perplexing things to boot. Strangely enough, it seems that the only connection I feel I have to who I was before, say, February of this year, is running. When I run, I am transported to times/places that were familiar (but by no means "easy"). I guess I mean familiar by the connection I feel I had to myself as opposed to the current time. Running has been that bridge to transport me and offer me solitude and solace over these last few months. It had also been a vital lifeline to other people who are close to me who shared the endeavor with me.

Well, in some ways, it looks like I may be the only one intent upon doing a race this spring. That's okay though. Although I do miss looking forward to sharing the training with someone, inevitably, people have to be intrinsically motivated enough to do it outside of them (or me) just wanting to have a running partner(s). I know I have to run. That's never been a question, regardless of who will do it with me. Running's like that friend who's always won't waver or skimp or waffle and I never question it's purpose (even when it's physically a drag). But I know that not everyone has to see it that way either. So I do it for myself. And I do it to connect with God in some remarkable ways that don't happen outside of running. While it would be nice to have someone who has the same desire to run as I do, the lack of such won't deter me.

I'm thinking that an option this spring would be to try and run the Knoxville Half Marathon in Knoxville, TN. During the Xmas break, I reconnected with a buddy of mine that I've known longer than any other friend in my life and he suggested that I come down and do that one with him. Knoxville is where I was born and I'd get to finish at the 50 yard line at Neyland Stadium. So, while I'm not set for certain yet, I'm definitely considering this race in light of the fact that it doesn't look like there's any solid desire(currently) for others up here to run a race this spring.

It's not quite what I was hoping for, but, I (for one) am still trying to become a runner......hence, I'll keep running no matter what.



AN INTERESTING DREAMI don't typically get revelatory dreams like this, if this is what it is. Most of my dreams are usually some kind of spiritually dark "invasions" when I sense there are significant spiritual implications to the dreams.I'm running along a variety of trails and paths with some "creatures," the type of which I wasn't initially sure. I couldn't tell if we were running FROM or TO something, but it became apparent we were running together. At some point, we were running up rocky crags and through precarious cliffs. I noticed along the way that I was running with sheep.Suddenly we came across a fence corner, where two fence lines came together. Being the human, I knew I was going to have to climb the fence to keep going, but I wondered about the sheep; how were they going to get across?I climbed and landed on the other side and found myself on the ground. As soon as I did, a blanket of thick and total and complete darkness fell. The darkeness was absolute, like what I'd done before for caving groups in the deepest recesses of a cave when we'd all turn out our lights and plunge into total darkness. Only, in the dream, it was a darkness that had a weight.....or, for lack of a better word- intention.The darkness was so instantaneous and so thick, that I mused in my dream that I couldn't believe this had just happened. So, I was able to "rewind" in my dream to see if it would happen again. And it did.It was Halloween (yesterday) when I dreamed this. This is significant not because of the date, but because the Aidan readings (Celtic Daily Prayer) for October 31st, especially the one from Psalm 119:169-176:169 May my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word. 170 May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise. 171 May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees. 172 May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous. 173 May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. 174 I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight. 175 Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me. 176 I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.I am, like the hymn writer of old, prone to wander. I am not above that, if I am to discern how much of this is for me and how much of it pertains to those for whom God has entrusted to me. Naturally, I'll incorporate 100% of this into my being and own it's encouragement for my own edification. That has to happen before this means anything to anyone outside of myself. And it may never.In the reading, a prayer by Peter Marshall has now become one of my own in this season of my life:Father, I know now, if I never knew it before, that only in You can my restless human heart find any peace. For I began life without knowledge but full of needs. And the turmoil of my mind, the dissatisfaction of my life all stem from trying to met those needs with wrong things and in the wrong places.God remains at the edges and boundaries of my waywardness, seeking me, staying me, finding me and loving me and feeding me deeply. Oh, to stay in rest in that, devoid of the illusions of my own strength that impale the works of the Spirit.[...]




Well, it is sufficient to say that there's a lot going on that I'll need to update you on. Coming off the heels of a wacky week of wind-induced power outages that have given each of us a new perspective on our lives, it has culminated with a great Sunday of baptisms from one of our house churches and a Veritasian book-burning of occult paraphernalia by one of our own, in whom the Lord is effecting great things at present and bringing into His light and freedom. It was good.....ALL good. Pics to come, of course.




If there is any better point of time in my life in which I need to be intentionally grounded in these things, I can't think of one.

I'm very easily thankful to have been given the job I now have at IWU. For example, many people don't have jobs with the kind of benefits available to me with this...well, some people don't even have jobs. In this kind of economy, that is a blessing for sure. But it isn't for the economics of it that

I'm excited for the potential this job has for me to delve into a level of ability and giftedness I haven't been able to express in a least in this kind of professional format. I'm not going to always bank on how I feel to be the impetus for my sustainability and I know that novelty and attending excitement may wane. That's where the discipline of thanksgiving and contentment grant a productive and healthful perspective.

Driving a bus has been neither glamorous nor a line of work that carries much prestige. It's often tiring and monotonous and emotionally challenging in ways non-professional drivers may never know. The company has changed ownership twice in the last two years so that now we are owned by the largest mass transit company in the world. Job security (perceived or real) and familiarity is tenous at best- I'm acquainted with that much.

I also have been able realize that in all situations I get to choose my response to my circumstances and subsequently my attitude. I've had ample opportunity to learn this, rest assured.

Thankfulness and contentment are not necessarily results of various circumstances more than they are realms in which to enter in spite of circumstances. This applies across the board. For all God's intents and purposes, I currently have a plethora of opportunities in which to experience this.

Case in point: I am currently in the final throes of training for my next half-marathon coming September 28th. My running partner now appears to not be running with me. I am also nursing a nagging ilio-tibial band syndrome in my left leg. I may not run as fast as I'm wanting and may not run with whom I wanted, but that is not ultimately why I run. I could drop out, but I won't.
It's going to be ridiculously painful at times to even run, but I'm going to go for it nonetheless.

I just simply get to choose. There is blessing in that somewhere I know. And knowing that, therein lies contentment. And if I can be content in all things, in spite of my circumstances, I can know thankfulness as well.



After close to 6 years as a full-time bus driver for the Miami Metro, I have submitted my two-week notice of resignation.

This is because on September 22, I will officially begin my new job at Indiana Wesleyan University as a Regional Student Services Advisor, having received the call from Human Resources today. After my shift, I went into my boss' office to tell her. It's really weird...I knew the bus job wasn't forever, but I have been happy there and have known many joys in my time with my mass transit colleagues. I know I'm going from a relatively predictable and low-stress job to one of significantly more in those regards, but the move is a timely one and welcome one and will benefit us quite well.

I'll opine even more over the next few weeks as I mentally and emotionally terminate from a work and a people of which and whom I have grown quite fond.




It appears at least one person got the storm on video at the time when there may have been a tornado on the ground. The National Weather Service confirmed an EF 0 (75mph winds) touchdown on a farm near King Road about 3 miles SW of Oxford and about a mile from our house.

This video is from Kehr Road, about a mile east of the storm. It's the only video I know of concerning the event in Oxford.

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This is another segment from the same videographer. At about 1:17 through 1:38, look at the bottom right of the sky near the horizon as he zooms in. It could be scud cloud associated with a rotating feature or a difference in contrast between two cloud features at different distances from the videographer's perspective, but it does really favor a the behavior of a quick funnel cloud, at least in this shot. The resolution isn't good enough to tell, but I'm willing to bet that it's a two different areas of the storm- one receiving more light than the other. The motion of the features relative to each other give the visual impression of a funnel, at least in the shot I'm focusing upon. Great, great video, nonetheless. I was wondering if anyone in Oxford had caught it on film.

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Going to take ye olde laydee to Hocking Hills for a night to stay at a B&B for a little bit of R&R.

I'm always stoked to go to where there are interesting geological features and always eager to be in/around the Appalachians, even if it is the lil' foothills in Ohio.



As you know, I am adjunct faculty at IWU. I get to teach about the Kingdom of God under various classes such as New Testament, Marriage and Family, Old Testament, Themes in Biblical Literature and Defending the Christian Faith.

In my last class (Defending the Faith), I developed a relationship with a student in the midst of terrible financial/personal/familial times. Here is a letter he sent me after the class was done. It's a simple pointer as to why I really do this to begin with:


Thanks for helping me on my spiritual journey - I've
really enjoyed the last 5 weeks with you despite all
my personal difficulties. Thank you for listening to
me on Thursday and I definitely will reach out in the
future. By the way, I actually ended up buying my
copy of Contact from Blockbuster :) May God continue
to bless you and your ministry.




Hester Road House Church, ca., November 2003.

This is our house church back in the day. Only four remain of this group today. Others graduated, stopped coming or moved away and Vega passed away, of course.



Taste of Oxford, ca., 2002.

Yes, I have bleached hair(s), a stained black goatee and the idiotic delusion that I was kewl.



(image) Just had a dinner with J&A the other night. Talked about Kingdom stuff and how it makes a difference in our homes, lives and neighborhoods. We're about to take some deeper steps into some good stuff to come.

We're all being grown in a variety of ways that is going to be significant for what God wants to do here in Oxford. And not just through Veritas.



Got Some New Kicks....
New Balance 757's....more of a neutral support for my chikkin' stix. My 858's did the job, but was pushing my feet to roll on the outer edge and I think was causing me some knee pain.

Much more cushy, too. I had about 350 miles on the last pair, so I was right on the verge of being ready for some new ones. I got prime attention from the folks at the Glendale Running Spot.

They took video of my running on a treadmill, assessed from my gait the shoe I'd need. They were even gonna spot me the cost of my last pair because they thought I had been fitted for the wrong pair. But I just couldn't part with my first pair of running shoes after all we'd been through together. There was no way. Maybe a stoopid decision in this economy, but I just couldn't do it. These should do the trick in carrying me to through the State To State.




By golly, we gonna do it again. The State to State Half Marathon is coming up and training begins July 14th (officially) for the Jaylord, Ratt C and I. It'll begin a 12-week regimen running four days a week with an endurance run on Saturdays. I am planning on tayloring my diet to hopefully cut 5-10 more pounds by race time. I'd like to see what it's like even lighter and without a dastardly allergy.
I am SOOO looking forward to tightening up for this race. There was something that "got" me about those months I spent prepping for the Flying much I learned about myself and those around me that I could have never known without the experience of trying to pretend to be a runner. I want to try to improve upon my time of course and to bond deeper with any buds and budettes who'll run with me. So to kick off my training, this weekend, I've pumped away one monster milkshake and had a massive cookout with CMarsh, Paulos The Apostle and the two Nicky/i's.



My deck outside is a pretty good metaphor for my life right now. I built some new stairs for it. Went well there. I determined we needed a power washer to remove the old paint from the deck. Got that. I took the most powerful nozzle to the deck.

Don't do that.

....but only a few boards did I really mangle.

So then, the day I repaint it, it rains. And rains.....and then it rains some more. So now, four days later, I have a beautifully shiny deck with nothing on it. Not even a human. You can't, you see, because it's still sticky. I learned that when I stepped out the door a night or two ago and lifted at least one layer of the paint off with my foot. We're going on four days now.

Any of you Bob Vilaboys (or girls) got any tricks as to how I can ready my deck without a gut-rending overhaul again, I'd like to hear it. I'd really like to use my deck before winter.



THE WEATHER KISSED ME ON THE CHEEKAnd I Shall Never Wash My Face AgainEver since April 4th, 1974, when I experienced the Super Outbreak, I have been smitten by the weather. That was the largest outbreak of tornadoes in recorded history- 148 tornadoes in 13 states in 48 hours. One went close by our house and did some minor damage.I had determined to become a meteorologist early on in my life. I made weather stations in grade school and got ridiculed for it. I had even interviewed with an Air Force recruiter in high school to check in on their program for meteorology. I was in the process of planning to go to Florida State to get my undergrad in meteorology and then go out to the plains and study severe thunderstorms and perhaps find a career in forecasting. But I think God had other plans for me. Okay. I I know he did.The best I have ever been able to do is to make it a hobby and become an advanced storm spotter with the National Weather Service office out of Wilmington, Ohio. I have, on occasion, chased storms whilst in Louisville and since we've moved up here. But all the weather has almost always seemed to have either happened where I left to go chase or just plain not happened at all. I was on the verge of developing a slight mental imbalance in my conclusion that the weather machine was deliberately keeping me from the sweet stuff.Then came June 3rd, 2008.It was near 8:30 pm, Tuesday, the usual night Chad Moore and I meet together. We were in Uptown Oxford, sitting outside Kofenya coffee shop when an employee came outside, hurriedly gathering up the furniture. She stated that we might have to take cover shortly because of the "tornado in Cottage Grove" (just across the border in Indiana).I was incredulous, though we had severe weather and even a tornado watch earlier in the day. Thunder was rolling occasionally now. I checked my Treo for the National Weather Service site and sure enough- there was a tornado warning for Franklin County, Indiana. I looked at Chad and said, "let's go!" All he needed to do was grab his camera, which was a good one, given the fact he was a photojournalist in Mississippi before moving to Ohio. If "it" was going to happen, we'd get good pictures.We took off north about a mile from our original location on Hwy 27 toward Indiana and pulled off at a gas station under the canopy and took several pictures. The tornado warning was extended to our county now and the sirens were blaring. The storm was exhibiting very obvious signs of strengthening. This picture is one from this location looking southeast at the anvil overspreading our location.A store clerk came out to inform us a tornado was on the ground five miles from where we were. We got in the car to drive a little bit closer to the storm to get a better vantage point. We headed north on Hwy 27 for less than half a mile when I noted the precipitation core was getting really close to us. We didn't know if there actually was a tornado with the storm but if it was, it could be rain-wrapped so I didn't want to get any closer with no way to spot it visually.We pulled off under an abandoned gas station canopy with marble-sized hail falling now. Just adjacent to our location was a trailer park with a police car driving through, warning the inhabitants of the storm and issuing evacuation orders through his loudspeaker. All the while, the town warning sirens were still wailing. [...]