Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Not The Usual Monday

Yesterday, Sondra and I had some free time during the day to do anything we wanted.  A day to just relax or go somewhere different or whatever.  We went to breakfast rather late in the morning, enjoying the time and not rushing to do something necessary.

Last Christmas our Chevy Malibu died on us on our way to Oklahoma, and we have not had the money or the inclination or the necessary deal to get another car.

We have been considering buying a car lately, as you may have read in an earlier blog with our Cash for Clunkers fiasco.  Well, a long time ago we lived in 29 Palms, and Sondra made a deal over the phone for a Toyota van from Longo Toyota in El Monte (which is in Los Angeles county).  So, we mulled it over and thought we might make the same kind of deal for another car right now.

No such luck.  We didn't have the money and didn't want to dig ourselves a deep hole financially with a big car payment.  We pulled out of the Longo dealership.

Around the block was a Nissan dealership.  We had looked at Nissans earlier and had tried to make a deal.  To make a long story short, we ended up driving away with a 2007 Nissan Sentra that only had 23,000 miles.  The salesman named Javier and the finance manager named Hank put it all together.  To be honest, we saw God's intervention in the process at so many points.  It was amazing and hilarious and emotional, all at the same time.

So, there you see the car.  No, let me rephrase that.  There is Sondra's car.  I get to keep driving the Sebring convertible......ha ha.

Monday, September 28, 2009

From Chapel to the Rodeo

It was a fun week to be alive and living for the Lord.  Last Wedneday, I spoke at chapel for the Chino Valley Christian School for both (separately) the K-5th grade assembly and then the Preschoolers.  It is always interesting and encouraging to share with the grade school kids, but it sure is a challenge to speak to the preschoolers.  They have such a short attention span and need words that are on a very basic level.  Kind of like regular church.....ha ha.  Just kidding.  (You know I have a wonderful church fellowship, and this is a joke about other churches.....ha ha.)

That night I led a program by use of a DVD in our Wednesday church service.  It was a message by David Barton, president of WallBuilders.  His organization has thousands of original documents that preserve our history and show an undisputed depth of Christian influence and basis for the formation of America.  We are so blessed with such a heritage and it is being debunked and hidden in our history books in these modern times.

I was reading a friend's blog who challenges my belief system and perspective of American history.  This friend quotes Mark Twain, who wrote:  "Faith is believing what you know ain't so."  Well, who do you believe in the final analysis, Mark Twain or the God of the Bible?  That's the real test of faith.  Has Christianity shown full obedience and faithfulness to the God of the ages?  Surely not.  Just like I have not been perfect all of my life.  But the imperfection of my Christian walk (or of any other Christian) does not deny the reality of faith and perfection we know through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It's that simple.

Well, on Friday Sondra and I went out for a date night.  We went to see the movie "The Informant."  Long and boring to me.  If you see it, let me know what you think.  On Saturday morning, I went to an Alumni Board meeting at California Baptist University in nearby Riverside.  I was asked to give an update on our Homecoming Committee plans for next February.  Saturday night we went out and had dinner at Appleby's.  Afterwards, on the first corner we came to, heading for home, we saw a lady with a flat tire.  We followed her as she pulled over and helped change her tire.  It took about an hour because she had the wrong jack and we had to make adjustments to use it to make the car go higher.  Anyway, a friend was with us and he managed to get it all done.

Yesterday was a good day at church.  We are planning for some special events in October, specifically looking at Pastor Appreciation Day.  That is such a blessing and encouragement.  We have a great fellowship and congregation full of loving people.  Last night, a couple took me and Sondra (and a few others) to a nearby rodeo in San Bernardino.  The Sunday afternoon of dust and roping and riding and entertainment was such a great way to end the day.  I am blessed beyond measure.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Route 66 Rendezvous

It was a hot, humid weekend in the Inland Empire.  Temperatures are staying in the 100s all this week as well.

So, last Saturday, we left early in the morning to go over to San Bernardino (just 10 minutes away) for the annual Route 66 Rendezvous.  This weekend event is host to classic cars and any Corvettes as well.  There are Model Ts and '57 Chevys and '42 Willys Jeep in addition to '63 Ford Galaxies and such.  It is a walk down memory lane for many of us.  All cars entered have to be at least 25 years old and in running condition, naturally.

We looked at cars that we dreamed of owning, like a 1963 Corvette Sting Ray.  We looked at cars we thought were ugly, like a '62 Rambler.  We looked at cars that our parents had bought and that we rode in for long trips on vacation, like a '56 Chevy station wagon.

There was a huge section of the city blocked off so the cars could make their rounds and the crowds could see them pass by.  When they parked in designated areas, we could look under the hoods and admire the paint jobs and talk to owners.

We left around noon as it was beginning to warm up quickly.  My favorite part has always been the concession stands with the kettle corn and bratwursts and funnel cakes.  We did not stop this time for the treats and food.  Oh well, maybe next year!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bib Overalls

So many of my fans cried out loud and long for photos of me in my new denim bib overalls, the ones I was not able to wear into the federal correctional facility in Big Spring, Texas, to see David.  I had to go and find something that would not set off the metal detector.  So, here's a few special poses:


There you go.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Do You Love Your Bed?

We just got back from our trip to Oklahoma and Texas.  Do you ever go on a trip and stay in various beds, and then you come home and are so glad to be in your own bed?  That's what I felt last night.  It's good to go somewhere, but it's wonderful to come home too.  I slept very well last night in my own bed!

Sondra and I rented a PT Cruiser for our trip and had no troubles with it.  It is always a welcome relief to go on a road trip and not have a vehicle breakdown.  Amen!

Last week we spent time with mom.  She has recovered from her bout with pneumonia.  She was so insistent on seeing David upon her recovery that it was important for us to go see her, and then to take her to Texas.  She would have gotten on a bus by herself to go, if we had not taken her.

In addition, we got to spend a few days with our son Jason and his wife Shelly and our two grandkids, Jace and Kylee.  We picked Jace and Kylee up from school each afternoon and did something special with them.  One day, we took them (and my mom) to Pop's, the famous diner and gas station just north of Oklahoma City.  This place has hundreds and hundreds of the old soda drinks in bottles from the past.  I had a Nu-Grape and Sondra got a Nehi Orange, in addition to other root beers that were specialty blends.  It was a great time.

Then, off to Texas again.  After the first visit with David on Labor Day, mom and I went again last Saturday.  Actually, we left on Friday and arrived that evening.  There is a Hospitality House run by the Southern Baptist Church association there in Big Spring, Texas.  It gives free accomodation to anyone who is coming to visit an inmate there.  It was not fancy, naturally, but we each had separate rooms and they were clean and comfortable.  The bathrooms and showers were at the end of the hall, but that's okay with me.  The price was right!

I got in the visitation room on the first try!  We had a wonderful visit with David again.  We are looking forward to a federal hearing for him very soon.  At the end of the visit, various individuals (including David) looked outside and saw several inmates being taken to "the hole" as they were bleeding from a fight that just happened.  It was apparent that there might be a lockdown, as I found out when I questioned a guard as we left that afternoon.

So, that night, mom and I left for home (her home) in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  We got in around midnight.  The next day, Sunday, I decided to go on my own and visit a small church just to see what they do.  I ended up at Son Rise Baptist Church in McLoud.  There were about 25 in attendance.  Much singing and very friendly.

That night, Sondra and I spent time with my sister and brother-in-law (Marti and Bill) and had a very relaxing evening.  It is fun to just sit around and talk, reminisce, joke, be serious and to enjoy the company of family.

Monday morning, Sondra and I left Oklahoma.  Arrived in Gallup, New Mexico, that evening and decided to get a room at the Microtel there.  Enjoyed the sleep, got up the next morning and drove home by way of 29 Palms.  Went to lunch with our "mom" Doris Robinson and arrived in Rialto about 6 pm yesterday.

Got up early this morning and did the 8 am Devotion Time at Coronado Stone.  Then I took a homeless couple, who had called earlier, to apply for an apartment in San Bernardino.  They are trying so hard to get back on their feet.  I will baptize them soon, and then perform their wedding.  Life is full of things that satisfy and bring joy!

By the way, I got gas in Texas and Oklahoma for $2.19 a gallon.  It was $2.99 at Costco today when I filled up here!  Wow.  Back to reality here, that's for sure.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

That's My Story

You may hear this story from others.  But what you read here:  "That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it."

Sondra and I left from Rialto at 7:30 pm last Friday in a rental PT Cruiser, following Shawn and Crystal (and Bailey, of course) to Oklahoma.  One of Shawn's sisters is getting married this Saturday in the Tulsa area, and that was their reason for the trip.  Sondra and I were going for the purpose of taking my mother to Big Spring, Texas, to visit David.

On Sunday morning I was privileged to teach my mom's senior adult ladies Sunday School class.  We ate a quick lunch and then went to Marti's (my sister's) house in Tecumseh ten minutes away and climbed in her new Camry for the trip down to Texas.  We arrived in Abilene to spend the night in a hotel.  The next morning we had to get up very early to make it to Big Spring by 8 am.

That's when the fun began.

Standing in line, we heard others through conversation talk about the strict dress code.  We had read all the rules and regulations on the internet site, but they have not been updated.  Marti and Sondra had open toed shoes, which are not allowed.  I was wearing khaki shorts, and both shorts (that do not cover the knees) and khaki color are not allowed.

So, leaving mom in line to go ahead of us to the visitation room, Sondra and Marti and I headed to the closest and only Wal-Mart in the little town.  Sondra and Marti found some cheap canvas shoes.  They did not fit well, but it worked for the shoe needs.  I could not find any pants my size, but I did find some bib overalls that fit.  Bought them and put them on in the store.  Marti and Sondra were howling with laughter when they saw me.  I didn't think it was that funny at all.  Anyway, we left Wal-Mart on our adventure back to the prison.

We went back to the Federal Correctional Facility, all set to go through the line.  Not so.  Sondra and Marti had bras with underwire that didn't pass the metal detector test.  In addition, Marti's blouse had too much metal on the buttons on her sleeves.  I will just say that Sondra and Marti got their issues resolved in a few minutes by going into another room and changing things that they were wearing, even to the point of pulling out the wire in Sondra's bra with a staple remover.

For me, it was another failure to pass throught the metal detector.  The bib overalls had too many metal buttons and such.  I left again, and searched for another store to buy pants.  After driving down the main street, I noticed a Salvation Army store.  I pulled in and asked if they had pants my size.  Looking me up and down, the lady finally said "yes."  In fact, they were having a Labor Day sale. Everything you could put into a little plastic bag they furnished, they would let you buy it all for $5.  I found two pair of blue jeans, paid my $5 and put one pair on while there.  Then I headed back to the prison again.

Third time was a charm for me.  Mom and Marti and Sondra were sitting there with David.  He got up and came over and we hugged for a long time.  It was a good feeling to see him again.  He was looking good and in good spirits.  His conversation was full of fun and laughter, in spite of his lot in life there.  He looks at the good and positive in life, and that has kept him in good standing throughout his ordeals.  Even a three hour riot with bloodshed showed him how God protects.

His time of working in the kitchen is through, and he has finally been given a new assignment working as a teacher and tutor for inmates who are working on getting a GED in the education department.

It seems like things will finally happen, in relation to his federal hearing in Fort Worth that was supposed to happen many months ago.  I wrote to my local congressman a few weeks ago.  According to David's counselor and case worker there, that has "stirred up a hornet's nest."  A folder on the counselor's desk had  a big red  border all around, and on the front was printed the words "Congressional Inquiry."  That's a good thing, apparently.

It was just a great time of spending time with David, talking and laughing and being serious at various times.  It was an uplifting day for us all.

We left Big Spring, stopping in Fort Worth for dinner, and then on to Tecumseh to get my car.  Then home to mom's to go to bed around midnight.  All in all, a great day.

Sondra has made me promise to get rid of the bib overalls, but I am having other thoughts.  For anyone who sends me $20, I will send one autographed photo of me in those denim overalls!  Just kidding!

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Texas Trip

We have been frustrated with the judicial system in the case of our brother David, who is presently sitting in a federal facility in Big Spring, Texas.  After release from the California prison, he was held at the San Bernardino county jail waiting for the transfer to a federal prison.  Six months he sat waiting.  Finally, he was sent to Oklahoma City for clearing, and then was sent to Big Spring this past April.  I tried calling various correctional contacts found in government web sites, all to no avail.  Finally, I wrote a letter to my congressman in my district, and at first felt nothing was going to be done.  I had even hand-carried this letter to the congressman's office.  After several phone calls from a congressional aide and some conversation about the lack of action on the government's part and an email that I wrote back venting my emotions, something is finally happening.

I got a call from my brother Noel, who had been contacted by David.  (David tried to call me but my telephone system will not accept collect calls right now.)  David said that my letter to the congressman has done something to stir things up.  A congressional inquiry has been launched, and David's counselor at the facility said he most definitely will be getting a hearing.  We hope it is soon, but we can be pleased that something is in the works.

My mother is anxious to visit David, as we all are, but the timing just has not worked out for any of us kids to take her to Texas for the visit because of our work and schedules.  Well, Sondra and I are leaving this Friday to go to Shawnee and then to Texas (with mom in tow).  We are trusting that all works out.  It may be possible for my brother Noel and sister Marti and husband Bill to go as well.  We hope everything works out for all this.

Life is busy around here too.  Sondra is teaching as an Intervention Specialist (small group tutoring) to Kindergarten children at risk in their educational learning process.  She works three days a week (T-W-Th) for 3 hours each day.  It is relatively stress free and rather enjoyable.  During that time, I do daycare (babysit) with my little grand-daughter Bailey until Sondra returns home from school.

Last Tuesday, we had a memorial service for a dear friend and member of the church, Lynda Naumann.  What a precious soul and one who truly loved people.  She was generous with her time, her talents and her finances at different times.  Born into a Jewish family many years ago, she became born again about 35 years ago and was a strong woman who knew what she believed.

Last night at church, I led a Bible study on who Jesus is.  It is central that we understand and know how to communicate to others who Jesus is.  He (Jesus) is the cornerstone of our faith.  In the study, we discussed what other religious belief systems say about Jesus.  I looked at those in the study and said, "Who is Jesus to you?"  That is the most important question of life that we must answer.

I am so blessed with the opportunity to share my faith in so many ways and to so many people.  I am humbled that I can serve such an amazing and awesome God to build the Kingdom for the sake of eternity.