We drove down to Gloucester, MA yesterday. 3.5 hours down and 3.5 hours back. In the snow by the way.
My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are up from Arkansas and they wanted to return to their old stomping grounds in the north shore area. My wife went to college at Gordon and my other brother-in-law lived in that area for a few months, so they all had some ties to the area.
Of all days it snowed. It snowed quite a bit actually. We took a great walk on the beach in Gloucester, but became completely soaked after a short while. My jeans were really, really wet. And don’t even mention my feet.
After chilling and soaking ourselves, we drove on over to a Thai restaurant in Beverly, MA. I drank Thai tea by the gallon and munched on spring rolls. Good times.
It was kind of a crazy trip, but we had a great time catching up and enjoying the beach. Now that I’m warm and dry, it seems like a splendid idea. Here are a few pictures by the way:
Physically, mentally, and spiritually there is a need for space. Creating time for this space is quite difficult, when I run from one activity to another.
If only for a few days, I have been able to settle down a little bit. I find that I can think more clearly and simply relax.
I knew I needed this time because I only wanted to read my Edward Rutherford books: Princes of Ireland, Rebels of Ireland, and now London. It’s recreational reading, light historical fiction that helps me unwind. At least I think it may. It’s better than TV for sure.
Now I’m crawling back to NT Wright’s Evil and the Justice of God and The Shaping of Things to Come. Also my moleskine journal is starting to fill up with more writing lately. All of these are good signs.
Sometimes “staying busy” becomes an end in itself. It feels right, but then I stop and realize how empty I am, how little I have prayed, and how neglected my mind has become. And that’s why vacations are so important.
I tried lowering my expectations this year for Christmas. Instead of seeking out a profound, life-changing religious experience, I tried to approach this holy day like any other.
For example, I usually pray at irregular times and just try to hear God. Whatever he wants to say, I try to be available to hear. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.
On Christmas I read my Bible as usual and prayed as usual, doing nothing too far from the ordinary and not expecting to have my life changed. And I heard something.
“Be a temple,” is what I heard. There God goes again using three words at a time. Apparently that’s all I can handle. But isn’t that an interesting message for Christmas?
In the grand picture of salvation history, God was essentially making the old temple system of Israel obsolete. The watershed moment was the arrival of his Son and the eventual imparting of the Holy Spirit.
Being a temple of the Lord carries many ramifications. There is a call to be holy, pure, and set apart. God is able to meet us at any time or place. And these wonderful circumstances are all made possible by the coming of Jesus.
And that’s about it for Christmas. We exchanged gifts, ate a lot, and watched football. I had some time to catch up with family. Not a bad time. Not a major life-changing event, but I don’t think it has to be. I think that was enough.
Another holiday means another time to reflect on driving in New Jersey, THE **cough, cough** GARDEN STATE. While driving just about the length of this densely populated state, I had a few thoughts.
1. Can we find a new slogan for NJ??? There are not all that many farms. What if they took the vanity plate that says, “Shore to Please” and made that the slogan? That’s at least a touch more accurate, and the shore is what people typically associate with NJ (that is in a positive sense).
Of course we could play with Garden State too. “Former Garden State,” “Garden State . . . NOT,” and so forth, but I prefer a new slogan. This doesn’t have to be a loss either. This could be win win.
Sure the farms and gardens are covered in concrete, cement, and asphalt, but NJ now has a chance to reinvent itself so to speak. Find a new niche and made a big public relations thing out of it.
2. Defensive driving brings its own punishment, aggressive driving brings its own rewards. For some reason it’s just much easier and enjoyable to drive aggressively in NJ. A safe following distance only means that people will cut in front of you and put you in just as much danger if not more if you were close to the car in front of you.
So after numerous cars swiftly buzzed in front of me and led to a slamming of the brakes, I decided to harden my heart. Screw ’em. I didn’t let anyone in front of me. If they sped up along my side, I boxed them in by equaling their speed. And somehow, I felt nicer and more at peace. Ah the paradox of driving in NJ.
And that’s really about it. We didn’t drive too much in NJ this trip and rarely ever left the main road. Phew.
I found this blog post about the threat to Santa Claus posed by Google Earth. It’s not going to be a jolly year for the big man.
It looks like technology has finally caught up with us. Children have more resources than their parents and are now able test anything they deem suspicious.
Sure you can pick up a coffee mug, tie, or box of chocolates for that special someone, but let’s face it, some people really defy neat and clean gift categories. Finding such people a gift can be time-consuming and frustrating.
But what if this impasse became an opportunity to give a truly unique and meaningful gift? Here are some ideas for some really unusual gifts that may be a great fit for the right person:
Link Up with Pastor Bill
I knew Pastor Bill back in my Doylestown, PA days. He’s a nice guy with lots of experience with counseling and grief issues. He’s started his own web site dealing with the issue of forgiveness that provides a number of resources and posts that anyone in a tough time will find helpful. At least that’s what I think . . .
A Web Site by Todd
Some people need to take their act onto the internet, but setting up a web site can be daunting for the uninitiated. That’s where Todd comes in. He made the cool site you just visited for Pastor Bill, and he’s gaining momentum as a top-notch web designer.
This may be a hard one to quantify as a gift, but think about this. There are thousands of computers pining away in the homes of people who aren’t quite sure what to do with them. What if a computer-savvy family member dropped in to clean things up, deleted unnecessary files, and set up Firefox, Gmail, and some ad-ware programs?
In addition, you could also set this relative up with a few of the open source programs available these days. By the time you’re done, you could set up this relative to keep in touch via the computer because this is the only way some of us will ever write someone a note.