Saturday, January 31, 2009

New York Bound

We have been wanting to go to New York and visit Jonathan and Holly ever sense they moved there four or five years ago. Because of Jonathan's commitments as part of a Broadway show, he doesn't get time off over any of the holidays. Evidently, that's when the shows get a lot of business, so he has to stay put and be there for every show. We got to see them for a couple days as they came to Donna's Dad's funeral, but we have continued to have a hard time finding the days off and the finances to make a trip to see them. Well, it happened pretty quickly, but Holly emailed us about some really great fares she found online. We jumped at it and got a really great deal on a couple of tickets from St. Louis to NY. And to top it off, Jonathan actually has a little time off after his show had a period of really demanding schedule. So - we're flying out Sunday afternoon and getting to NY that evening, and have tickets to return on Wednesday afternoon. We'll get a good two plus days to just visit them and see NY. The biggest variable now is how much will the weather cooperate. Oh well, as long as we don't get stranded at an airport somewhere, it really doesn't matter what the weather does as long as we get to spend time together. Keep us in your prayers. I'd like to not see any geese in the air, especially in NY.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another Backyard Picture

I know this looks like pictures that I've taken in the past, but this is really the sunset from last night as it looked out our back door. I love the sunsets we get to see so often and I love how beautiful they look during each of the four seasons of the year. This one has the added feature of about seven inches of snow on the ground. If you aren't familiar with our house, or the many pictures I've shared in the past, you wouldn't know that there was a pretty good sized pond under that snow. One of these days one of our daughters will be here and they can show me how to put together one of those picture albums that are printed by the companies that do those things, and I may put together a four season pictorial album of behind our house. I have quite a lot of pictures of seasons, sunsets, critters, family, and various other backyard happenings. I think it would be interesting - at least to me.
This looks like dozens of other pictures of the front of our house over the last - now five - winters, but this was last evening. The shovelled pile from the driveway is about two feet high and the side walk is only visible because it had already been shovelled once the night before. I know our grand kids would love to play in all this, but they'll have to settle for another picture. One of the things I really love about living here is the fact that nothing lasts very long - weather wise. No matter how cold or nasty the winter storm - it will only be a few days. And no matter how terrible the summer heat wave - it won't last very long. We not only get the four distinct seasons, but we get breaks withing each one and it's different every year. I like that. I had all kinds of spiritual lessons I thought about writing in this blog concerning change and things not lasting long, but you can probably figure out those lessons on your own. Snow in St. Louis, is like hard times in life. They don't last long. There! I had to say it. It's the preacher in me. And, as always, God is good.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

AreYou What You Watch?

With yesterday being a day off and since I felt miserable due to a winter cold/allergy/Missouri-Crud or whatever, I spent a lot of time vegging out in front of the TV. I enjoy having time to escape to TV land a little bit each day and just letting my brain enjoy some screen-candy. I usually watch The History Channel, The History Channel International, Discovery Channel, The Military Channel, A&E, and the like because they all have a lot of - duh - history stuff. I like learning while watching and it has come in handing many times when preaching and teaching. I do have ten shows on our DVR set to automatically record, but set to only record new shows. I love being able to watch them when I want to, especially since our schedules seem to conflict with the programming on TV. They certainly haven't asked me when to show them. I especially enjoy getting to zoom through the commercials. I was looking at my recording list and noticed that the DVR prioritized the programs I have on the list based on how much I watch each particular show. Here's my list:
1. Jeopardy
2. Leverage
3. Realtree Outdoors
4. The Unit
5. CSI - LV
6. CSI - Miami
7. CSI - NY
8. Extreme Home Makeover Home Edition
9. 24
10. Heroes

I couldn't help but wonder what a psychologist would do with this list in psycho-analyzing me, especially when he found out I was a preacher? I never watch any religious shows, except for an occasional Naked Archeology show. It's on The History Channel International, and he's really not naked. In fact, it's not very religious at all, except it's about Bible land archeology.
Did I mention that it was an escape?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Risk-Free Religion

Last Sunday we began a four week study of the new little book Rich Toward God. It's got a lot of challenging and thought-provoking things in it's four short chapters. Every family has a copy and they are supposed to read the weekly chapter before coming to church on Sunday. I'm preaching a lesson that goes with that chapter. Last week I talked about Trusting God and I've been ruminating all week about one of my comments. I said, "There's no such thing as a risk-free religion." I guess the truth of that statement depends on your definition of religion. Still, I've been doing a lot of thinking about why we don't trust God, especially when He tells us things like "It's more blessed to give than it is to receive." We play with it, dabble with it, but seem to have a hard time really living it. Is it too much of a risk? Do we really think that we won't be blessed or do we think it's more blessed to receive than it is to give? Remember, there is no relationship without trust and there is no trust without risk. The very essence of faith is risk, but the goal is to grow in our faith to were we know that trusting in our Father is a sure thing. Okay, so we risk having problems with mankind, we risk not fulfilling the pleasures of the flesh, or we may even risk physical harm, but is it truly a risk if we KNOW God will take care of us, bless us, and bring us home to be with Him for eternity? My IRA is a risk. My tiny savings account at the bank is a risk. Staying healthy is a risk. Trusting in God who has always kept His promises and is incapable of violating His own Word - well, that's not much of a risk.
Yet I keep mulling around one challenging thought. Why are we willing to risk so much in the pursuit of pleasure and risk so little in the pursuit of holiness? Maybe our risk does define our religion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An Amazing Day

I didn't expect to be as moved as I was by yesterday's inauguration of our new president, Barack Obama. As a born and raised Washingtonian and a lover of history, I thought it was an incredible day. I knew a couple years ago, and have said many times, that our country's next president would have to be someone with charisma, personality, and be very articulate. I really did suspect, long ago, that it would be Obama. I like him. I don't agree with all of his policies, but I like him, and I will pray for him and his family as long as he is my president. The picture of a couple million Americans standing for hours, in the cold, just hoping to get a distant glimpse of the new president, was moving and exciting to me. I'm just glad to see so many Americans so excited about anything this country does! I'm excited about having a young, sharp, and intelligent man in the office. It's the first time that I've been older than the president. Ouch! I'm excited that he brings hope to so many. I'm thrilled at the prospect of SOME level of unity in our divided country - something beyond partisan politics. I'm encouraged by the prospects of so many young people having a role model that's not a sports hero or some famous actor. I'm thrilled at the prospects of having a good, strong family image with family values being taught and shown worldwide. And yes, I'm proud that I live in a country that can change from racist, hateful, segregation, to electing the best person for the highest office REGARDLESS of his race. That brings hope even if he can't correct all the economic ills of our country in his first hundred days - which he won't. It's time for those people living in fear and hatred to realize that they are the true minority now.
May God bless him and keep him safe.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Root of Ages

Over the weekend I struggled trying to think of something to blog about. Nothing particularly special rose to the surface of my brain. I did, however, find myself thinking about the convergence of a couple of things in my life. Maybe saying a few words about them will give you something to think about. After having two relatives leave this world, both having been given a good number of years (late seventies and early eighties - of course we'd all like more), I found myself reflecting on the fact that I'm not that far away from that age bracket - at least not like I used to be. That's not frightening or even a big deal to me. I've said on many occasions that if I don't get another day of life after this one, I've been given more than I deserve and I give nothing but thanksgiving to God for every day. Still - the other converging element is the increasing, self-imposed, focus on aging. I really don't feel old and I truly believe that 57 is just a number. So why do I find myself saying things like, "At my age..." or "I'm not as young as I used to be..." or "The older I get..."? A ten year old could say any of these. Am I looking for an excuse, trying to explain something, or just giving in to the inevitable? I guess they could be the preface to some sage advice or pearl of wisdom. Usually it's like my comment about the above picture. "The older I get, the more I like sweat shirts in the winter and T-shirts in the summer." Is that really an aging thing, or does maturity cause is to not care so much about being fashion conscious or about what others think? I don't know. I do know that God made me, blessed me with great health and fifty-seven years, and I need to glorify Him with my body which belongs to Him. I don't want to use His blessing to me as an excuse to give up, give in, or give out. I'm not big into New Year's resolutions, but I am big into being real about pleasing my Father. So I'm committing to making a conscious effort to quit talking myself into being old and to limiting what I can or should do because of how many birthdays I've had. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but I will begin by not using the "age" prefaces to things I say - unless I need to prove that I wasn't "born yesterday."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yes, I Know How To Spell PLEASE!

I had to disagree with the DVD teacher in a class I attended this morning. I've loved everything he has been talking about, but today he got into the doctrine of total depravity, and boy do I take issue with that. We are born with a sinful nature not born in sin. That innocent baby is what we are all striving to be like. How can a God, who is love, and who made us in His image, declare us sinners before we choose to sin? Aint gonna happen! PA-LEASE!
Then there was the gut lightening I felt the other day as someone told me about how a girl shouldn't be allowed to speak at a devotional. PA-LEASE! And there was the interesting discussion I had with a denominational preacher last week about instrumental music in the church. And then there are the folks who think the church exists to make them feel good, meet all their sacramental needs, secure their favorite traditions, and recite orthodoxy on a weekly basis, and if it doesn't, they'll go some place that does! PA-LEASE!
And then - and then - and then I find myself wondering if the only question God really wants an answer to is "Do you love me?"

Monday, January 12, 2009

I'm Out Of My Tree - For Now

Today closes out another deer season for me. It doesn't officially end for a few days yet, but, like the bank sign down the street, it's a matter of time & temperature. I don't have time this week and the temperature is going to start dropping tonight and most of the week will be in the teens, even down to the big goose egg. So this was my last morning in the woods - at least until the spring turkey season arrives in late April. It was cold this morning, but with little wind, it was not uncomfortable. I got to play peek-a-boo with eight does, who came in wired like a cocaine addict in withdrawal. With nothing to hide behind, even twenty feet up in a tree, it's incredibly difficult to pull one over on a spooky mama doe. I had a little spike buck walk by fifteen yards away, but I don't need venison that badly. It's amazing how having two hundred pounds of elk in the freezer takes pressure off of "needing" to take a deer. It was a gut-buster trip out as I carried my very full backpack, bow, tree stand, and Rapid Rail climbing sections. I'll feel it in the morning. It's always a successful day when you get to go to Mel's Riverside Restaurant and have a huge breakfast afterwards. I'll miss that too, but my waistline will appreciate the loss.

This has been one of the toughest years of hunting I've ever had in terms of bad weather days and fewer deer sightings - especially late season. I did see three nice, and I mean NICE bucks (see previous blogs), and a dozen or more smaller ones, but I couldn't get a shot at the nice ones and I let the small ones walk. Still, it was fun. The highlight was helping my son-in-law, Chad, get his first deer with a bow, and it's always great spending time with my hunting bud - Danny. It's always great to just spend time in the woods thinking, praying, and enjoying God's creation. For now, I've put the above picture of the lower fields of the Colorado ranch we hunt on each year, as my screen saver picture. It's looking down from the mountain behind the ranch house. I was in a ground blind at the time. A big part of hunting is anticipation. God is good.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Another Trip, Another Family Reunion

There's a clear theme that runs through the last several blogs, but that's the nature of things when there has been two deaths in the family within ten days of each other. In the previous blogs it was about the Root/Curtis side of the family. This one is about the Root/Root side of the family. Even though it was a sad occasion, it was made enjoyable because of getting to see family we haven't seen in a long time. In the above picture in the front row, is my sister Becky and one of her sons Tim. in the back, from L to R, is my brother Larry, Becky's daughter Kathy and her other two sons Tom and John. I was only ten when John was born, so they are all married with beautiful children and a long way from being Becky's kids like I always remember them. I hadn't seen most of them, including my older brother Larry, since I did Tom's wedding many years ago (I'd guess 7 to 9 years ago) when we first got to Nashville. When we worked in Fairfax, VA from 1977 - 1990, we lived just a few miles from Becky. Since then, we've only seen her when she has come out for our musical each June. So we are already looking forward to seeing her the first week of June for this year's Bible Action Musical - Transformers: Saul to Paul.
It was a hard two day trip to WV and back, but we are so glad that we got to spend a little time with Becky and her family and my brother Larry. Mark left this world loved and missed by all his family. The three plus years of being mentally gone and physically bedridden didn't diminish their love for their dad and her husband. I'm more amazed at the care and commitment that Becky gave to Mark in those years than anything else. All agreed, that even in the toughest of times, there was plenty to be thankful for. I'm thankful for getting to see them all again, even if it was a short visit.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Family - Close & Extended

Often, as families age, the only time they see each other is at weddings or funerals. I'm glad that the Root family isn't that way. We manage to see each other at least every couple of months. With the Milom's and Bill's being in Nashville, either they come to St. Louis or we go to Nashville and we manage to be together several times a year. Jonathan and Holly are another story. Being on Broadway, Jonathan can't leave unless it's an emergency or a well planned out vacation time. Being in NY means that time and money will limit the number of times we can get together. That being said, it was nice to all be together to support each other and to honor a loved one - Dean Curtis or Papaw to most of the group. We managed to all step outside of the Judsonia C of C's old building, which is now their fellowship building, and get a quick family picture. It was chilly and the kids didn't really want to stand still very long, but it turned out okay and is now the most up-to-date picture of our whole family. We plan to do it again without it being at a funeral - Lord willing. And in case you can't tell, Deborah and Pat are expecting grand child #6 in early March. Talk about life's circle...
Unfortunately, my brother-in-law, Mark Ennis passed away this past Saturday. My sister Becky has been married to Mark for just under fifty years. Again, it's sad, but expected. Mark has been bedridden and mentally incapacitated for over three years now. Becky has done a wonderful job of taking care of him in their home. Her example of care and devotion is remarkable - but then, she pretty much raised me so I'm a little prejudiced. We will be flying out to WV Wednesday to do the memorial service in Mathias, which is where Lost River State Park is located. A place that holds a lot of wonderful memories of Root vacations when our children where young. Mark and Becky shared a vacation week with us there back then, which is how they knew about Mathias and eventually retired there. We will fly back on Thursday, but that will give us a bit of time to visit with Becky and her family. With loses in both the Curtis family and the Root family, I am especially reminded of what I've repeated over and over through the years. The bottom line of life? Life is all about who you love and who loves you back. Times like this help us keep that in focus.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Sad But Wonderful

If you have been checking my blog and wondering when I would post a new one - sorry. We left last Friday morning and went to Donna's folks house outside of Searcy and were there- with family- for the funeral of Donna's Dad, Dean Curtis, on Sunday. After spending a good bit of Monday just enjoying being with family, we left for Nashville, with Pat, Deborah, Chad, Elizabeth, and all their kids (our grand kids) and had Christmas on Tuesday. It was so nice to see Jonathan and Holly at the funeral and to spend some time with them out at Mamaw's house, but we still missed having them with us for our Christmas. We then had Caleb's birthday party on Wednesday evening, and came home yesterday afternoon. So I was a little too tired to do anything about a blog last night.
The flowers above are the flowers from the Florissant Church of Christ that were at the funeral. I've been to so many funerals - for other families - that I really never thought that much about how wonderful it is to have loved ones thinking of you and being thoughtful enough to send flowers. It did my heart good to see these flowers at the funeral home on Saturday evening and again at the church building for the funeral on Sunday. There was a beautiful arrangement send from Patrick and Chikita Jackson, good friends at Florissant, but the cards were gone by the time I had my camera and I couldn't remember which one it was. What a wonderful and thoughtful gift.
This is the arrangement from our old Nashville small group. What a wonderful group of friends they have been to us for so many years now. You will never have to convince me of the value of building relationships through small groups. They are all brothers and sisters that we will love no matter how far apart we happen to be. Thanks again guys. We love you.

It was a sad occasion, but it was also a blessed occasion. It was so wonderful to see all our family and to just comfort each other and spend time laughing and crying together. The highlight of the gathering was the uniting of all twelve grand kids. We figured out that they haven't been together as a group since "the famous Christmas of '95" in WV. What an awesome group of young Christian adults they all are. I know that would have made Dean very proud.

I don't know how they did it, but toward the end of the funeral service, the grand kids along with three of the spouses, sang a beautiful song about all the people in heaven who will thank us for helping to get them there. There are certainly a lot of "thank yous" going on in heaven right now as many of the people that Dean touched and influenced are welcoming him. There may be no better tribute to a godly man's life than to have his grandchildren walk with God. It certainly put things in perspective for all who where there.
To all who knew about it, thanks for keeping us in your prayers. We are sad and we will miss Papaw, but how nice is it to be the first of our family to come into the world, live healthy & happy for 82 years, see your children, grandchildren, and now great grandchildren love God, and then get to be the first one to leave this world - leaving everyone healthy & happy & walking with God. We should all hope for as much. God is good.