Monday, March 25, 2013

Winter's Last Hurrah

Okay. Got to admit it. I'm thrilled.

Not at all a bad opening to the spring!

But don't be dismayed. Old man Winter is packing it in. Have you seen the forecast for this Sunday, Easter Sunday? Going to be in the fifties.

But finishing the winter this way was a nice touch. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Lights, with Whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning. Underneath that blanket of snow, spring is just waiting. There will be flowers within weeks; don't be dismayed. It's almost time to think about gardens, and lawn-mowing and forsythia.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the snow.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Winter Storm Warning

Radar shows this nice mega-mass of precip headed our way. Supposed to get 7+" out of this little number, possibly as much as 10".

Temps a little warm at present. 32.6 on my back porch. Been thinking about emptying the ice tray into the back yard, to help out a little bit. Need to shave that 6/10 of a degree off the thermometer, and quick. Show-time should begin in about an hour, gets really heavy after midnight (an inch an hour).

Doris is making a batch of her awesome chicken-corn-chowder. Yummy stuff. We are about to play a round of Carcassonne, and then watch The Hobbit a little later. She even made a batch of cookies. Neither of us have to go to work tomorrow. Going to be Winter's last blast, and we're going to enjoy it, every last snowflake.

Have some church members about to leave for PA to assassinate Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog. Seems that the little whistle-pig got his forecast a mite confused. Wonder if he was thinkin' of last year? Anyway, the only resident of Ohio not yet sick of winter is yours truly. Maybe I'm lucky they're not coming after me

Hmm. Never thought of that. Think I'll go lock the door and draw the curtains . . .

Waiting on Guhsnow in Greenville  [which usually never comes. Pardon the obscure literary allusion]


Monday, March 18, 2013

Falcon Down is done!

Tonight I sent the draft of Falcon Down to my beta-readers. It is finally complete, save for whatever problems my editor and beta-readers find.

There are a few remaining hoops to be jumped through before I can publish it, but I trust it won't be too long before all of that is complete. In any case, I am glad to be finally done!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

See you on the top, Steve!

I have a dear brother, the closest of friends, one of my original backpacking buddies, name of Steve Holtzclaw.

Early yesterday morning (3/13) he took his last climb. It was a climb on Mount Zion and he's with Jesus now.

You beat me to the top of the mountain this time, my brother. By the way, Steve, I will remind you: this is the only time you've beaten me to the top of the mountain.

Steve and Carol Holtzclaw and their family are the dearest of friends. Many moons ago (I might have even had hair - it's that long ago) Doris and I moved from central Virginia to Central Pennsylvania, where I became a teacher at Bible Baptist School in Shiremanstown. The very first Sunday we were at Bible Baptist Church, a friendly family invited us to their home for Sunday lunch. Delighted, we accepted.

We followed their car to their home. I figured it must be one of the families in the church, trying to make us feel welcome on our first Sunday. Actually, it was their very first Sunday at BBC, too; they had just moved into town from somewhere in the midwest, if I recall.

We all got a good laugh out of that. But that's just who Steve and Carol are. A fast friendship between our families developed. Steve and I are kindred spirits: we're both nuts. But more than that, we have Christ in common.

The Lord used Steve and Carol in our lives in significant ways. Repeatedly. One of my most cherished memories was when our little baby, Jessica, died shortly after birth. Steve and Carol showed up at the hospital. Within moments Steve had us laughing through our tears. That's just who they are.

I'm not sure I remember this correctly (Steve would say that there is a great deal I don't remember correctly), but I think that I had the pleasure of introducing Steve and Carol to backpacking. I used to take my students on backpacking Bible studies. The photos in this blog post are from a two-week trip in 1986. Steve is right over the "LA" in Loveland. Carol is on the extreme right. For those unbelievers of you who think I've never, ever been young, Chris and Doris are sitting on the base of the sign. Together. Ahem . . .  see the hair? Not hers! Mine!

Oh, the stories I could tell you about this trip! Oh, the stories Steve WOULD tell, if he was still here. Like when I was showing him the finer points of trout fishing and caught myself on the back of my parka with my own lure. I think that's the only thing he carried away from my lesson. At least, that's the only part he ever told anyone else.

We saw God move in amazing ways on this trip. He allowed me to make some major mistakes in order to show us His greatness. Take a look at the picture above: what do you see? Snow, right? Uh-huh. This is the end of June, for crying out loud. This is also Colorado high country. You don't plan high country trips until mid-July, unless you are planning on using snow shoes. Let me put it this way: the snow was hip-deep not five miles from our trail head. I learn the hard way.

Here's a peek at the first morning on the trail, only a mile from the trail head. No snow here, but just up the valley to the right . . . .

So, I've got fourteen people, for most of whom camping was a tent in the back yard, signed up for this fourteen day, cross-country, high-country trip and we can't even get to our first pass. In my defense, it was an unusually heavy winter, with unusually late snow. Now, that's the part Steve wouldn't mention when he was telling the story.

That mischievous grin?

It's not just for show.

Anyway, Steve and I hiked and hitchhiked to the nearest town (we had arranged wheels to drop us off at the trailhead but they'd already returned to Denver), and by the grace of God managed to salvage the trip, complete with transportation to a low-country site with fishing that was out of this world (it was the Flat Tops Wilderness Area). Those are the kinds of memories Steve and Carol and Doris and I shared.

Here's a few shots of the crew hiking to the Flat Tops (they really are flat, too! The tops, I mean.)

This was just one of many trips we took, and one of the many joys we shared.

Well, my brother, you got there first. Guess I'll have to admit it, much as it pains me. Carol, Kristin, Kristian: Doris' and my love and prayers are with you.

Love you, Steve. I'll miss you. See you on the top.

Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears,
and my feet from falling.
I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
Psalm 116:7-9

Steve Holtzclaw (1951-2013)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Noteworthy: from Murray's Humility

This quote comes from Andrew Murray's little volume entitled, Humility: The Journey toward Holiness, pp 61-62. It makes reference to Luke 18:9-14.

The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is its lack of humility. Every seeker after holiness needs to be on his guard lest unconsciously what was begun in the spirit is perfected in the flesh, and pride creep in where its presence is least expected. Two men went up to a temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, the other a tax collecter. There was no place or position so sacred that the Pharisee could not enter there. Pride can lift its head in the very temple of God and make His worship the scene of its self-exaltation. Since the time Christ so exposed his pride, the Pharisee has put on the garb of the tax collector. The confessor of deep sinfulness and the professor of high holiness must both be on watch. Just when we are most anxious to have our heart be the temple of God, we will find the two men coming to pray. And the tax collector will find that his danger is not from the Pharisee beside him, who despises him, but the Pharisee within, who commends and exalts himself. In God's temple, when we think we are in the holy place, in the presence of His holiness, let us beware of pride. "One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them" (Job 1:6). [Emphasis mine]

I, of course, have no idea how you respond to this. It's part of a larger, and quite excellent chapter (I recommend the book, highly). But as I read this excerpt, I find my heart crying out with Paul (Romans 7:24), "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?"

I am the tax collector. But more wretchedly, I am the Pharisee.

"Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Paul says, as he continues in Romans.

Jesus Christ our only hope; but for the one who knows Christ truly, we know that He is a fully sufficient hope. He will complete that good thing He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6). And that's worth celebrating!