Peaceful Vacation

Our family is currently enjoying a relaxing week of vacation at Hilton Head Island. Emily, Sammie, and I hit the road early Saturday and took a nice an easy drive to Knoxville, TN. Along the way, we stopped for a picnic and enjoyed the beautiful spring weather. Saturday evening, we stayed in a lovely hotel and enjoyed the indoor pool and a meal at everyone’s favorite…the Cracker Barrel. Sunday morning, we woke up, had breakfast at the hotel, and hit the road. We stopped for another picnic in North Carolina (around Asheville). We stopped again in Columbia, SC for some ice cream and then floored it the rest of the way to the condo.

Hilton Head has been absolutely wonderful. We have made daily trips to the beach (which is maybe two blocks from our condo) to play in the sand (Sammie put her fit in and said “I don’t want to go in the ocean anymore”). Emily and I have taken long walks each morning along the beach (it’s been nice being able to leave Sammie with my family so we can hit the beach alone. it’s almost like we’re one of those wealthy families who take their nannies on vacation!). Around 8am, we have spotted a good number of dolphins fairly close to the shoreline. And, when we arrived, my dad told me to look in the fridge. He said, “Since you always complain that I never have any thing you like in my fridge, I bought you something at the store!” A nice six-pack from a local microbrewery!

Last night, we walked down to a nice little seafood joint. We consumed mass quantities of fresh fish and bottom-feeders while sitting outside. And, to make the deal even sweeter, my sister picked up the tab!

Today, we went to a stable and Papaw Bob and Mamaw Jan purchased some pony rides for Sammie. The pony ride went around a small animal farm (llamas, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, rabbits, etc). Sammie was loving it! As she got more and more comfortable, she began to only hold onto the saddle with one hand! She was thrilled. After the pony ride, we went to a playground near a “harbor”. I walked around and admired the large yachts! After spending time on our friends boat this summer, I truly understand the desire to be “boat people.” It’s peaceful, relaxing, and fun! So, I have a couple of boats picked out down here!

Right now, everyone is napping. I went for a bike ride around the island. It was beautiful. I saw a few alligators in small ponds along the bike trail.

Overall, this has been a very relaxing and peaceful vacation. We have been blessed in being able to come to Hilton Head. We needed some time away. I have a tendency to get fairly apathetic about Muncie and need to get away from time to time. It brings about a certain type of refreshing and regeneration that gives me the drive and energy I need to keep on keepin’ on! In other words, time away from Muncie, the church, etc., makes me a better person!

So, I hope to continue enjoying some much needed rest and time away. My cell phone is off (I check my voicemail once a day). I’m not responding to e-mails (I check it, but I figure it all can wait). I’m taking some time here and there to work on my sermon for Sunday (I did a lot of work before we left so I could just do some minor studying and tweaking after everyone else goes to bed).

Right now, I plan to shut down the computer, pour a nice pint of my favorite beverage, and try to decide if I’m going to have cannoli, tiramisu, or German chocolate brownies for dessert!

Pictures will be coming soon!

Prayer of St. Patrick

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. For those of you who know me well, you are fully aware that this is my favorite holiday. Of course, I prefer the secular-style celebrations that focus on great food (Irish stew, bangers and mash, etc) and wonderful beverages (a pint of Guinness). However, the true celebration is to honor St. Patrick (a former slave in Ireland, turned missionary in Ireland…taking the message of the Cross to the very people who had enslaved him…pretty incredible stuff). I do believe we can honor St. Patrick while enjoying our food and drink! So, today let us honor St. Patrick and celebrate with great joy with friends and family!

I thought it would be fitting to end this post with a prayer that has been credited to St. Patrick:

May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
– Against the snares of the evil one.

May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!

May Thy Grace, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

Karma @ the London Bridge

Last night, I braved the city streets (a whole two blocks of city streets) and headed to an English pub called the London Bridge. It was quite interesting. When you enter the place, the decor generally resembles an English pub. They had a mix of good music (Radiohead, Beck, Wilco, Pavement) and bad music (Three Doors Down, Slipknot, NOFX). The place was fairly empty…like the Heorot on a Tuesday afternoon. There were a couple of older guys at the bar and a group of college-age kids at the pool table.

I sat down to enjoy a couple of pints and read a few chapter of the Hoffman book, “Revolution for the Hell of It.”

As I finished by last drop of Guinness, I approached the bar to settle my tab. The bartendercame over with a receipt, a credit card, and a pen. The only problem…I had not given him a credit card. Now, I had a couple of choices here…1) I sign the receipt and let someone else pay for my pints…2) I inform the bartender of the mistake.

Being the truly noble person that I am (and humble too), I let the bartender know that I didn’t have a credit card on my tab. He quickly said, “Oh man, you’re right! Sorry about that. Just let me cancel this out really quickly.”

As I settled my bill, the bartender looked at me and said, “Hey, thanks for being honest.” I thanked him and put my book in my backpack.

As I turned to exit, one of the guys at the bar said, “The powers of karma will bless you because one good turn deserves another!” My response, “Oh, thanks.”

I hadn’t really thought of this simple act of honesty as a “good turn.” And, while I don’t believe in karma, per se, I do believe that God blesses us when we are faithful.

Faithful obedience is what this journey is all about. Each day, we are presented with opportunities to “do the right thing.” No matter how big or how small, we are called to make the right choices. Sometimes we get it right…sometimes we don’t. And, it’s when we don’t get it right that following Christ is better than following karma. When we fail to get it right, Jesus steps in and offers forgiveness. The principle of karma would say that when we don’t get it right, bad things will come our way. I think I like forgiveness better than that!