Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fun At The Rodeo

This past Friday evening was the first night of the annual San Bernardino County Sheriff's Rodeo in our area.  Last year we attended and had a wonderful time.

So, this year we were offered 47 free tickets for our church.  We passed them all out and planned a church fellowship time at the Rodeo!  We weren't there to preach or pass out tracts or anything connected with evangelism.  We simply needed a time to sit by each other and talk and watch the cowboy and cowgirl events.

What a treat!  It's always fun to go to a carnival-like atmosphere.  There were hot dogs and popcorn and funnel cakes and cotton candy and everything else you might want to eat at a county fair.  But, here we were at the rodeo and sharing a grand evening with friends and loved ones.

Sondra and I, along with David and Alden, set out for a night that promised to be a little on the hot side, weather-wise.  But it really was not too bad.  The events did not start until 8 pm so it was dark and cooling down.  The calf-roping, the bronc-riding, the barrel races and the bull riding were just as exciting as ever.  The clown did a magnificent job of entertainment during breaks.  The "One-Armed Bandit" from Oklahoma was spectacular as he had two trained buffalo to show off.  They climbed up a ramp onto the top of an enclosed long trailer pulled by a truck.  When the trainer and his horse climbed to the top with the buffalo, they all did several circular turns on the trailer!  It was incredible.  That was worth the whole rodeo show, all in itself.

Shawn and Crystal brought Bailey to her first rodeo and joined us as well.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hot Weather Ahead

I was hoping that cooler fall weather was in store for the months ahead, but the news shows another warm weekend coming up.  These past few days have been very pleasant, but this Sunday's forecast seems to show a high of 102 degrees (and one report earlier said it may be as high as 110 degrees).  I am ready for summer to be over.  I am not a fan of real hot weather, that's for sure.

My Chrysler Sebring convertible is still in the shop.  Actually, it is at a friend's home where he is doing the work on the side.  This friend is a church member and loves mechanic work.  He is presently working at a Pep Boys auto shop in the Los Angeles area, and he is going to auto tech school at nights.  Hopefully, my car will be ready this weekend.

This past Monday I went to the Angels baseball game in Anaheim.  A man in the church got four free tickets and asked me to accompany him, his son and another fellow church member.  I rather enjoy going to major league ball games, so this was a treat for me.  There is something very relaxing about attending a game with a large crowd, having a hot dog and soda, and being with people you enjoy.  In addition, I absolutely am fascinated with watching the people around me.  I guess I have to admit that I am a "people watcher."  I look at families and am amused at their interaction levels.  Then, there are couples and other rabid fans who go crazy over how their team is doing.  There are some serious social implications in all this, but that's for another blog.....ha ha.

The game went long because of much scoring of runs and changing of pitchers and all, so I did not get home until almost midnight.  I did not get much sleep, as I had an appointment to take a friend to UCLA Medical Center the next day (Tuesday).

So, my alarm went off at 4 am and I got dressed to be at my friend's house at 5 am.  This friend is my landlord and is getting close to 80 years old.  He has a great deal of health issues, and his wife does not drive much out of this area.  So, he asked me to take him (and her) for a doctor's consultation scheduled in Los Angeles at UCLA.  We left around 6 am, and were promptly met by horrible traffic once we got near downtown L.A.  We had allowed a great deal of time, so that was no problem.  Ate breakfast at the dining cafe on campus, and he was ready for his 10 am appointment. 

After that, it was close to noon, so they asked me if I knew of any restaurants around there.  I said no, but commented that Santa Monica was just down the freeway and there would be a great many places to eat around there as it is close to the beach.  We arrived at the Santa Monica pier, and there was a restaurant called The Lobster immediately at the entrance.  They said that's where they wanted to go.  I pulled in and we had a wonderful lunch.  I had some clam chowder (with the clams still in the shell in the soup), some lobster and halibut and potatoes.

I wish I could have taken a quick nap.  The lunch and early start on the day didn't help.  But, we had an uneventful drive back to the Inland Empire.  They live in Grand Terrace nearby, and I came home to Rialto.  I got home around 5 pm.

David helped us barbecue some chicken for dinner, so we enjoyed a nice meal that night.  Pastor George Nelson comes over on most Tuesday evenings, so we can talk about his new church start in Chatsworth and catch up on any news.  He will be celebrating his first-year anniversary of the Vision Plus Church Chatsworth mission next month.  So, George came over that night and we chatted for some time.

Wednesday night I led a Bible study at church on 2 Corinthians chapter 1, where the apostle Paul tells the church at Corinth to share compassion and love with others who are in need of consolation.  Because we, as believers, have felt the challenge of trials and pain and rejection and misunderstandings, we have also felt the consolation of an amazing God who meets us at our point of need and ministers to us in those troublesome times.  We have a base of understanding and experience to share with others who are going through tough and difficult times.  There were several who came up to me afterwards and commented on how helpful my message was because of what they were presently experiencing.

It is a blessing to see how others find comfort when God speaks to their hearts at just the right moment and place in life's journey.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Running Around

Today is Monday and I will be going to a baseball game tonight at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.  A man in the church got four tickets to the game and invited me to go along.  I haven't been to a major league game this year, so this promises to be a fun night.

This past week was different.  It was my first week off, after being laid off from the Census.  I really took some time to relax and rest.  This past year of working full-time for the Census and then added time for pastoral ministry took much out of me physically and emotionally.  I actually was looking forward to being laid off from my "day job."

Actually, I had several meetings this past week with church members concerning situations that had just recently developed and needed attention.  These times of ministry to those in the church who have issues and problems and troubles are so important.  The appointments I had could have had some sad endings, but it seemed like God really reached down and intervened to help heal some emotions and personality conflicts.  It was exciting to see harmony and healing first-hand as it happened when we all got together and shared our hearts.  I treasure the wonderful fellowship we have in our congregation and it was restored beautifully.

I have been working a little bit more on my book about Anger Management from the pastor's perspective.  I am trying to get it finished for self-publication quite soon.  It is amazing how many individuals I have talked to recently who have problems in the area of anger and are anxious for me to finish it as well.

Last Friday night, Sondra and I joined a couple of other people to go to the Route 66 Rendezvous, which is an anuual car rally and carnival time in downtown San Bernardino nearby.  It is always fun to see the old cars, especially those from the 1960s, as they drive the city streets that are blocked off for this special event.  We took Bailey with us and she had a great time, and even wanted to walk most of the way instead of ride in her stroller!

Saturday evening, Roger invited us over for a special dinner.  David and I went over, as Roger and his daughter Jennifer cooked some New Orleans dishes.  Roger cooked the jambalaya, and Jennifer cooked the gumbo.  We had a very nice evening with Roger and Julie and their kids.

Yesterday was another good day at church.  I preached on the subject of "praise" in comparison to the word "worship."  Worship is what we do inwardly, as we give honor and worth to the Lord.  Praise is the outward manifestation of that worship attitude towards a holy God.  Praise is the release of the emotions and thoughts and attitude, and it lends itself to the physical expression from within.  It cannot be contained when we have that deep and abiding relationship with a loving and redemptive Creator.

After church we went to Sizzler, with David and Alden with us, for their Sunday brunch.  So good!  Ate too much!  The rest of the day we watched a lot of sports and napped!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nephew in Town

It's Monday afternoon and I just got back from the Bass Pro Shop in Rancho Cucamonga nearby.  Our nephew, Steve Greenwalt, who drives for Schneider trucking company came into Fontana for a day.  The Schneider corporate truck stop is there in Fontana and they (he and his co-driver) have a few hours to do errands and get rest.  We picked up Steve around 2 pm and took him to Bass Pro to get a few supplies he needed for his trucking run.  Then, we went to the Islamadora Fish House connected to the store and had a late lunch.

Because my car is down, David drove there.  Then, Sondra was out and about doing errands and then came to join us.  I called Crystal (who lives about 10 minutes for the store) and she brought Bailey with her.  Crystal called Evan (who had been asleep after working all night) and he took a quick shower and ate with us also.  It was a wonderful time of getting family together for some fish and chips, shrimp, appetizers of quesadilla and alligator and calamari (squid).  It's a place that offers sweet tea (rare in California restaurants), so I loved that as well.

Yesterday at church, I had six California Baptist University students talk about their mission trips from this past summer.  the new school year has just started and they returned to church.  One had been to Rwanda, one to Arlington (Texas) for work with children, one to Glorieta Baptist Conference Center to work at the front desk and help with youth attending Centrifuge conferences, two to St. Petersburg in Russia, and one (Jennifer Greenwalt, my niece) to Japan.  It was so inspiring to listen to them share how God had used them in wonderful ways as they went out of their "comfort zones" to serve others.

Yesterday afternoon, we went to a softball game near the church at a "Big League Dreams Field" complex.  Evan is on a team in a league sponsored by the local recreation department.  Two of the Harrison boys (Chad and Ryan, sons of Lorn and Sharon Harrison - close friends for 40 years in Rialto) are on the team.  And for this season, they got Shawn (Crystal's husband) to play also.  They had a lousy game, losing 17-1.  But worse than that, Shawn and another team player ran into each other chasing a fly ball, accidentally cracking their heads together and laying on the field for several minutes.  They were both up and around after some time, but Shawn had a huge swollen cheek to show for it.

Last night, Sondra and I were invited over to a church member's house for dinner.  The man and his wife have had some rocky moments in their marriage recently and we are helping them find stabiliity and confidence in their relationship.  He cooked a steak and potato dinner, with homemade peach cobbler.  It was good, and the fellowship was great.

This morning, David and I went walking at a local park.  We walked the entire circumference of this huge city park, and I found that I need a lot of work to keep this up.  I am settling in to this non-working day and will put myself on a program of exercise and portion control with my eating.

Tonight I go to an appointment with some church folk to talk about matters of ministry.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Yes, I'm still working for God!  Ha ha.  I am still pastoring the church, but the finances of the church are so tight that we have not been paying any salaries all year.  But that is not the measure of a church's ministry impact, thank the Lord!  We are still touching hearts and lives.

But, yesterday was my last day working at the Census Bureau office in Riverside.  It was sad in a way, because I have become very involved in some lives of my co-workers.  Several have mentioned that I should not be surprised if they show up at my church sometime soon.

I also felt like I experienced what Joseph did in the Old Testament, when he arrived in Egypt.  I started out at the bottom, in the admin department where I did not experience much opportunity for growth and interaction.  Because I asked to have Wednesday evenings off due to church commitments, the supervisor gave permission one day and then (because she was a Christian deeply involved in ministry in her church) she proposed that I work in a different department (the Field Operations office) that worked only the day shift at that time.

The Field Ops manager had a tough reputation with a personality that many did not appreciate or approve of.  I had no problems with him, and we got along fine.  He was rough in his management style, but I adapt quickly and we had no problems.  And he knew I was a pastor, but that did not matter in how he treated me.  For which I was grateful.  I want to be judged in the workplace just like any other employee.

After several months, this manager asked me to take the position of OOS (Operations Office Supervisor).  It was an incredible offer that had better pay, greater responsibility and better fulfillment for me personally.  I felt as if God was honoring my work ethic, my Christian stance and my witness as I worked there. 

And then, when the work was winding down, I was kept on as part of the team that would finish out the office routines for closing.  Then, when others were let go, I was still part of the nucleus left for the very last work details.  And then, I was with the last group to be let go yesterday.  It was very gratifying and humbling how God paved the way for me there!

There were many opportunities for me to share my faith and beliefs to some very interested co-workers.  I also had some great conversations with those who had differing viewpoints from me.  But it was very solid conversations, where we talked at length about why we held our understandings so tightly concerning earth and eternity.

My supervisor gave me a gift card for Olive Garden restaurant as a parting gift.  We all exchanged email addresses and gave hugs as we left the office for the last time.  Good memories.

Pretty soon I will file for unemployment.  It's the first time in my life I will have ever drawn unemployment!  Maybe another door is waiting to open for me, and it's just around the corner.  Who knows?

Anyway, today I will be taking my car to a friend to work on it.  He said it will take about $700 to get it fixed.  He is a professional mechanic and will do this as a side job for me.

Last night, we barbecued pork steaks on the grill.  We also had Bailey with us for the evening.  In addition, Alden came over and had dinner with us.  He is doing so well, and we are so happy for him.  This has been a good transition for him to move down here from Bakersfield.  We are very proud of him as he gets back on his feet.  Times have been tough for a lot of people, and he made it through his loss of a place to live, loss of income and a terrible bout with physical health issues.

In other news, Jason and his family are doing well in Shawnee, finding the joy in the development of their new baby.  Shawn and Crystal are trying to get rested up from their vacation to the Dominican Republic and getting back to work and school.  Evan is continuing to work the night shift (9 pm - 5:30 am) and had to buy some new tires for his Toyota 4Runner.  He is still playing softball with his friends on weekends in a league nearby.

Here's the latest picture of granddaughter Macyn that I received from Jason recently.  Shelly says Macyn is spoiled already where she demands constant attention.  If you look away to talk to someone else in the room, Macyn cries to look back at her!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

This past Saturday, we were to pick up Shawn and Crystal at the LAX airport at 11:30 pm.  Knowing it would be a late hour, I was prepared to get a little less sleep and go to church the next morning.

Well, we got a call late Saturday afternoon from Crystal telling us that their flight was being delayed at least two hours.  By my calculations, we would pick them up, take them home and then return to our house probably arriving between 3 and 4 am Sunday morning before church.

It was important to pick them up, naturally, but I was concerned about staying up all night and not being at full strength and rest for church.  So, I called around and asked one of the ordained men of the church to preach for me.  He agreed readily and I felt at peace.

We picked up Shawn and Crystal a little after 1:30 am Sunday morning, drove them home and arrived at our house sometime after 3 am.  After talking and finding out about their vacation and telling them news from here, Sondra and I got to sleep after 4 am.  We slept hard and had a relaxing day, although I felt odd having not attended church!

Sondra made a buttermilk pie yeseterday afternoon.  Someone had told us about buttermilk pies, so David got on the internet and found a recipe.  It was a custardy type pie and very sweet.  We enjoyed it and are still enjoying it!

Monday I was off from work, so I had a couple of appointments with church members to attend to.  Last night (Monday) we went to dinner at Olive Garden with Mr. Kaye Freeman and his wife.  His son Greg also joined us.  It was a very relaxing weekend, all in all.

Now, it's Tuesday and back to work.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Alden Has An Apartment Today

This has been a slow week, in many respects for me.  I have not had any emergency ministry needs, and I have had time to relax just a little bit.

The Census office in Riverside is set to close on September 24.  I will most likely work one more week, so my last day should be Friday, September 10.  I have made some very good friends in the office there, and they have promised to keep in touch.

On a different note, I called my mechanic who was looking at my Chrysler Sebring as it overheated again last week.  He cleaned out the radiator, but noticed a lot of white smoke coming out of the tailpipes after the engine warmed up.  Apparently, that is a sign that water or coolant is getting into the engine.  So, I must have a cracked head (on the car engine, that is.....ha ha).  I was told that I should not drive it because the engine might seize up at any moment if driven for too long.

So, I need another vehicle.  And, really, I am not devastated through any of this.  I have 280,000 miles on the car and I told Sondra that if it should "die" I have got my money's worth from it over the last 10 years. 

Now, the next step is to find a cheap car to get me to work and back in the meantime.  David (my brother) has been gracious enough to drive me or let me drive it to work for these past few days.

Last night (Wednesday), we went to dinner at the Olive Garden nearby.  We asked Terry and Linda Marcum (Shawn's parents), who are watching Bailey this week while Shawn and Crystal are in the Dominican Republic on vacation, to join us for the "all you can eat pasta" promotion at the restaurant.  There were seven total (me, Sondra, David, Alden, Terry, Linda and Bailey).  It was good food and a good time to be together for the evening.

Alden (Sondra's brother) was approved and got the key to his new apartment at the Senior Adult complex near downtown Rialto.  He is getting all his stuff ready to take over there.  This is a great step for him as he transitions to this area on his own.