in between bites & sips ...

thanks for stopping by! here's where i put various thought, quotes or stories. most will be brief, some may be extended - but all will be somehow connected to my world. enjoy your stay!

Friday, December 12, 2008


I feel like I'm on The Price is Right!

Today, I received a gift from a number of the people in my church that COMPLETELY blows me away! They pooled their resources and gave me a 1991 Oldsmobile Toronado. It's a great car that I will have the pleasure of driving for the next couple of years.

Thing is, I sure did learn something ...

Typically, in the past, when I needed (wanted???) something, I'd find a way to get it. Money I didn't have, I'd come up with. This has lead to some rather unfortunate (ok - I admit it ... DUMB) decisions and therefore bad consequences.

When we were in the car wreck in August that totalled our Pontiac Sunfire, instead of acquiring additional debt to get another car, or instead of taking the money I did have access to that really was needed in other areas --- I decided to make do. I decided one car for the family would have to be enough. I decided working my work schedule a little differently to accommodate the family would be fine. I decided driving the church van on occasion was fine. I decided to ride my bike to church when necessary (and MAN was it cold sometimes!!!).

Basically, I decided to be content.
Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have ..."

Philippians 4:11-12 "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances ..."

And WOW what a blessing!

Perhaps my only prayer now is that God would richly bless those who have blessed me by their sacrifice. I don't yet know everyone who was involved in getting my family this car, but when I find out - it will be my hope and pleasure to return the blessing in any way possible.

God is SO good ... He's SO GOOD to me.

*picture to be posted soon!*

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why Hiccups?

I've never understood hiccups. To me, they are just an annoyance. Sneezes, I understand. Yawning, I get that. Coughs, blinking, and most any other natural bodily reaction that we seem to have little or no control over still all seem to fulfill a particular purpose for our bodies.

But hiccups? What's the point? What's the use? Where do they come from and why do they go?

Basically, anything can cause them, they serve no purpose and the best way to stop them is to forget about them. Here's a few examples of what wikipedia says may cause hiccups ... lack of water, eating too fast, being hungry for long, taking a cold drink while eating a hot meal, burping, eating very hot or spicy food, laughing vigorously, coughing, drinking alcoholic beverages in excess, crying out loud (sobbing causes air to enter the stomach), some smoking situations where abnormal inhalation can occur (in tobacco or other smoke like cannabis, perhaps triggered by precursors to coughing), electrolyte imbalance, talking too long, clearing the throat, by some of the stronger opiate painkillers such as Heroin, Morphine, and Oxycodone or from lack of vitamins, pressure to the phrenic nerve by other anatomical structures, or having the sensation that there is food in the esophagus, rarely by tumors and certain kidney disease.

So, I'm thinking it's amazing that you don't have the hiccups right now! At any given moment I'm either hungry or eating, laughing or crying, talking or smoking! The odds that any of us aren't doing anything on that list is next to impossible.

In fact, I have the hiccups at this very moment (my inspiration for this post). Do you have any magical treatment for hiccups? I'd love to hear some of your home remedies! I'm thinking my hiccups will be gone by the time the recommendations come flooding in - but - you never know! Some people have been known to have the hiccups for months on end! Plus, I may get some good ideas for future hiccup attacks.

I'll be *hic* waiting!

btw - I don't smoke. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention to what you were reading!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Get the Devil out of here!

Game 5 of the World Series is being played as I write this entry to my blog. Now, I have no idea what's going to happen - but - if we've learned one thing this season ... things always go better when you get the Devil out!

You see, ever since the Tampa Bay Devil Rays entered Major League Baseball in 1998, they have never won more than 70 games (out of 162 ... that's pretty bad!). But, this season, they scratched 'Devil' from their name and are known now as the Tampa Bay Rays.

The result? 97 wins and a trip to the World Series!

Whether in baseball or in life ... things always go better when you get the Devil out!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

9 hours of sleep!


Can you believe it???

Why don't I go to bed at a reasonable hour EVERY night? It's not about what time I get up in the morning - that is something I can set easily and really don't mind getting up early when necessary (don't get me wrong - I love a good 'sleep in'), also our kids aren't babies anymore so we don't have the 'you get up' 'no, you get up' arguments any more (don't get me wrong - I didn't lose those one's very often ... my wife is so good! ;) ).

The problem is - I just don't like going to bed! I thought when I grew up that the soft sheets and fluffy pillow in my own Master Bedroom with a beautiful wife would be all the allure I would ever need to want to snuggle up and wander off to dreamland.

But it isn't.

I like late night TV talk-shows like Leno, Letterman, O'Brien & Ferguson. I like internet surfing like facebook, habsworld & politics. I like late night snacks like ice cream, cookies & (of course) cocoa puffs. These and other things have fed my bad habit of going to bed WAYYYYY too late.

But I feel SO good today. What a productive day. I thought by noon that it must be the end of the day since I had accomplished so much.

Stay tuned for the continuing saga of ... As the Pillow Turns!

Will Rob have an encore performance of going to bed at a reasonable hour?
Will the next day be so productive?
Will he fall to the Cocoa Puff craving again?
Will he EVER eat Cocoa Puffs at bedtime again?
Why do pirates love parrots?
Why can't you buy grape ice cream?

Can't wait to learn the answers to these questions and MORE!

Friday, July 25, 2008

I got my first-born back from camp today

Just in case anyone was wondering ... she's home!

She has already told us 1000 stories of the great time she had at camp. I can remember how important camp was to me growing up, and it's no surprise that my daughter already treasures the experience she has just had.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I sent my first-born to camp today

I sent my first-born child to camp today. I can't say that I felt the sense of 'this is so wrong' I felt when we dropped her off for her first day of school - but nonetheless, it's a bit scary!

I mean, for a whole week she will be under the influence of veritable strangers! Sure they are well-meaning Christians that have cleared all the necessary requirements for A/G camps - but - really ... those people are CRAZY!

My daughter is going to be running, screaming, sliding in mud, stuffing her face with foods from undeciferable animal parts, meeting innumerable immature children (& teens), sleeping in army barracks with communal bathrooms - it just feels wrong to leave an individual that God Himself entrusted to me to protect & nurture!

Am I the only one who feels this way? Am I crazy? Or so crazy that I'm brilliant! :O

Regardless, I know she's going to have a blast. She's going to come home a little bit older, a little bit wiser - but more than anything, a little bit closer in her walk with a wonderful Lord and Savior named Jesus.

Jesus - please watch over my little girl this week. May she make wonderful new friends and have the time of her life. But, please touch her this week. May she come to know you a little more. May she know you in her worship. May she know you in her prayers. May she know You are there with her wherever she goes and whatever she does. Become more real to her this week. In Your name I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It was Fair

We did something today that I haven't done since I lived in Missouri (pronounced miz-oo-rah) ... I went to the fair!

There was elephant ears (funnel cake, beaver tail - seems every community has another name for the same thing!), line-dancing, vendors, games of chance, salesmen/women, animals, and of course RIDES!

I can remember a time that I loved going to amusement parks. There wasn't a roller-coaster I wouldn't ride, a toss'em turn'em throw'em ride that I wouldn't venture to board. Goes high? I'm flying! Goes fast? Let'er rip! Getting wet? Douse me good! Amusement parks were just great.

So, for starters at the Fair, since I was taking my 4 year old for the first time - I figured I should start with something tame like the Ferris Wheel.

I thought I was going to puke.

Yes, that's right - puke. Before we had even done one lap - it stopped and we were at the very top as they let new riders board the 'Spinning Wheel from Hades' as I thought it should have been called. I'm holding my son down, he shows me where my hands are supposed to go - on the bar in front of me. I'm trying not to look down cuz I feel like we are SO far up. I begin to look at the 'Contraption That Passes for Entertainment' as I thought it should have been called, and notice the rusty joints and the ancient technology (rubber tires are turning this 'One More Season Until Retirement Ride' as I thought it should have been called).

Sure enough, but not soon enough, the ride resumed and we proceeded to go round and round about 1,000,000 times and we were allowed to disembark.

Am I really THAT uncool now? No wonder my parents never wanted to go on any rides at LaRonde(Montreal) or WildWood(NJ boardwalk). From then on, I understood why parents and grandparents and caregivers alike all are quite happy to pay the price of admission and then stand back and watch everyone else enjoy the rides.

All in all though - we have a wonderful day at the County Fair. A good time was had by all and I'm already looking forward to the next time we get to go.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

4th of July, 2008

I don't know how many times I've been involved in a church-type of event where we have planned/hoped for a full-house only to be disappointed. Clearly, I've just been involved in the wrong type of events!

Only July 4th we figured it would be fun to have a fireworks display at the church. I mean, we are LIBERTY Assembly located in LIBERTY Township and going with a church tag-line of 'My Freedom Place'. What better place to have fireworks than right at our church!

We did the usual - did all the free community paper ads we could find, made post-card flyers that we delivered to the homes in the neighborhood. But, that's about it - other than word of mouth.

We had a MINIMUM of 200 cars show up for the evening and assuming an average of 3 people per car (and I suspect that is a low estimate) - that means we had at least 600 people! I'm guessing that the max number would have been around 900 so realistically 700 is a good, realistic estimate.

Sure we didn't preach a sermon. We didn't hand out tracks. We didn't even give away any food (we sold it!). But we did do one thing - instead of people driving by our church in their typical auto-pilot state, they will now drive by our church thinking 'that's where we saw those 4th of July fireworks'.

I hope we can keep doing things that put our church back on the community map! If we are on their map, maybe they will stop in some time!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I am sweaty - Oh so sweaty ...

I knew it!

It didn't make sense, but the other day I couldn't believe the amount of sweat that was pouring from my body. In a matter of minutes in the heat, it appeared as though I had run through a sprinkler.

And now I know why ... Youngstown is sweaty!

In an article found on MSNBC's website,>1=43001 - it lists the top 100 sweaty cities is the US, and just making the cut is Youngstown, Ohio at 93. Sure, you say - 93 isn't top 10 or even top 50 - but when you consider how many major cities there are in the US and how far north Youngstown is relative to most cities ... this is quite the achievement!

So, now Youngstonians can add sweaty to their list of examples of incliment weather patterns found locally - right after cloudy, rainy, stormy, snowy & coldy.

I lost June!

Time flies!

I received a friendly reminder today that I haven't blogged in a while ... to my own shock and amazement - not 1 post in June!

Well, that is simply unacceptable. Admittedly, I haven't been all that inspired lately. Not that there hasn't been anything interesting to talk about - but - that things have been so busy I haven't stopped for a breath to journal my thoughts.

So, from here on out - I'll make sure I post something at least once per week.

Thanks for still dropping by and checking out this space!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bolivia - Day 8

Wow - that week went fast!

I'm so disappointed I wasn't able to blog for you this trip - but I have LOTS of video and pics! The internet went down, and then the wireless access went down when the internet came back up - and - when there are 22 people all wanting access to 1 internet connection to be able to phone home, well, you can guess that I didn't have time to sit at Rich Farthing's cpu and upload blogs, pics and video.

That being said - right now, I'm in Santa Cruz, awaiting a flight to Miami that will bring Tim, Jason & I home.

We've had an amazing time, and can't wait to share all the details with you - I'll be making additional posts in the next few days, recounting some of the events of the week so that those of you who have been faithful to check in with this blog will be rewarded!

Since I'm about to board the plane - let me leave you with this pic - one of the many reasons the Bolivian Hope Center

Keep Praying

Well, it looks like the internet has been more down than up. I haven't heard from Rob, but he said in his last phone call he might not be able to call again for a while. Keep praying for the team, that their work would continue to bless the missionaries even after the team leaves. Pray also that the team has a safe trip home. God bless you.

Mary Jo

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

From Mary Jo, Live from Liberty!

Rob and the gang in Bolivia are experiencing technical difficulties!

The internet is down so Rob cannot post on this blog until the net is up and working again. Thankfully, they are all doing fine. So keep praying that God would bless their efforts as they work at the Bolivian Hope Center.

Have a great one everybody!

Mary Jo Morris

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bolivia - Day 2

Day 2 has come to a close in Cochabamba and I'm about to hit the sack. It wasn't exactly a full day of work, but it was a full day of ministry that began when we participated in a program for the children living in the prison. A children's pastor is a part of the team and he did a number of object lessons that had the kids ooing and ahhing. After a couple of songs, we passed out candy and prizes to the children and left. It's always sad to see the living conditions in the prison and what these children know as 'normal'.

Next we went to the Hope Center to mingle with some of the 400 children which are a part of the 'Compassion' food and education ministry that is held there. It was fun playing with the kids and resuming my 'caballo' career for them.

Then it was to work - sanding the walls and putting a sealant on the walls. Tomorrow we begin painting!

I must say, the walls I built look particularly sturdy and straight!

VIDEO BLOG ... use this link -

Grandpa Roxby

Nana & Grandpa Roxby

Today was my grandfather's funeral. Sadly, I couldn't make it since I am in Bolivia right now - but - that doesn't mean that my family wasn't on my heart today.

Grandpa Roxby was the best kind of grandfather you could imagine. He'd always be trying to make you laugh - he was a master of facial expression - he was curious and loved to share his findings with anyone in his viscinity - an adventurer, a scholar, a comic --- I know there are a million other things I could say, but at this moment - these are the things that come to mind.

One thing I'm so pleased about is that I know my grandpa is going to continue to speak to me. I was blessed by getting a lot of his Bible study notes. Admittedly, I haven't looked at them much - but - I've looked at them enough to know that he didn't merely read the Bible ... he studied it.

He was 98 years old, and not doing so well in his last years - but his memory will live on forever for me. The next time I go off the beaten trail on an adventure or see someone smile with a glow in their eyes that tells me it comes from the heart, I'll think of Grandpa Roxby.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bolivia - Day 1


After taking flights from Pittsburgh to Miami to La Paz to Santa Cruz to Cochabamba ... we've arrived safe and sound.

It's so great to be back here again. It feels like I've just experienced a time-warp and that I never left! When I was here in January, the weather was like it is now, the ride on the back of Freddy Andretti's pick-up truck (Pastor Freddy, that is, but he drives as fast as Mario Andretti) is just as I remember, the house is as comfortable as ever, the smells are the same, many of the faces are the same ... it's like the January trip just got a 10 day extension.

I can't wait to get to work.

The sense of accomplishment in January was wonderful, and I know that we will work hard again this week to help make the dream of the orphanage for the children of incarcerated women a reality.

Tim and Jason seem to be fitting in great and I'm sure we are in for an incredible week.

Click on the link below to see the video blog - and please ... pray for us and for all the people we are here to bless!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bolivia Bound!

What a thrill - I get to go to Bolivia again!

Right now, we are sitting at the departure gate at Miami's airport just waiting to take the 8 hour flight to Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

I'll be posting regularly here, so that anyone who is interested can see the progress that is made on the Hope Center.

Also, stay tuned for video blogs that will allow you to SEE what's going on! I'll generally be writing at night, so - log on first thing in the morning and get your update!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I Wish

I wish our dryer would dry the clothes completely the FIRST time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

To buckle or not to buckle ...

It's a never ending battle ... getting my kids to buckle up when we go for a drive.

The other day, I tried a new tactic with my 6 year old son.

"Son, you HAVE to wear your seatbelt when you are in the car."

"Why, Dad?"

"Because if you don't wear a seatbelt, I'm breaking the law as the driver of this car. If a policeman were to pull us over and he saw that you don't have your seatbelt on, I would get in trouble and could get a ticket or even go to jail!"

"Hmmm. For how many days?"


Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Sunday afternoon I was moving some papers in my basement and suddenly I pain shot through my left hand. I dropped what I was carrying, looking for the sharp object that had hurt me.


But, oh the pain! I've never felt anything like this before. It felt like a bee sting, but without the flutter of bee's wings as it sticks you.

I guessed that most likely I was bit by a spider. After a few minutes, I saw a dot in the palm of my hand, then a white circle forming around the dot, then a redness throughout my palm. My hand got a bit swollen and then the inevitable happened. The decision that has torn many a marriage apart - do I go to the doctor or do I tough it out?

Only whimps go to the doctor! Plus, it's Sunday. Plus, I had other things to do. Plus, only whimps go to the doctor!

But, it was Mother's Day. I decided to forgo the traditional debate with my wife and go to the hospital. This was my special way of saying 'I love you and respect your opinions' to my wife. (Also, I knew that if I didn't go to get it checked out, that if I felt any pain or discomfort for the rest of the day, I would get ZERO sympathy from my wife - but rather, get the 'I told you to go to the doctor' speech. yuck)

All in all, I'm glad I got it checked out. I got prescriptions in the event the pain worsened (every few minutes it felt like I was getting pricked again) and got a lot of information about the Brown Recluse spider which can be found in our valley (rare, yet present). Now, we feel a whole lot better about letting the kids play in the basement as well as what to look for if they ever get bit by a Brown Recluse.

So, thanks Mary Jo - you were right - it was a good thing for me to go to the doctor.

(although - only for the information we received, not because I needed to go!)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wonderful Sunday!

On Mother's Day, we had just a wonderful worship service.

We know that God is always there - we don't need to 'feel' His presence for us to 'know' His presence. That being said - a day like yesterday is always nice ... and necessary. As much as we know He loves us, we also need to experience Him now and then.

Perhaps we would experience Him more, if we listened a little more! (ouch ... on me!!!)

Of special bonus, was that it was Pentecost Sunday on Mother's Day. Now, normally I'm very aware of Pentecost Sunday. I think it's a shame that so many Pentecostal churches don't give that day more of an emphasis. This time, knowing the emphasis I gave the day last year and the overlap with Mother's Day, I decided months ago that I wouldn't preach on the topic of Pentecost this year.

This just makes yesterday even more special, because had I remembered it was Pentecost Sunday, I might have been inclined to lead the service as I did. But, because I didn't remember - I can honestly and truly say - the Holy Spirit was the boss and gave the directions for the day!


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Garbage Update

I can't believe it ... for the 2nd Wednesday in a row - I forgot to put out the trash!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Proud ... then embarrassed

It's so exciting for fans of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team to finally have a team to be proud of again. Sure, we always talk a big talk, but this year the Habs are backing it up for us fans.

After finishing the season as the top team in the Eastern Conference of the NHL, and then beating the Boston Teddy Bears in round 1 - things are looking up for the most storied franchise in hockey history as they persue a record 25th Stanley Cup championship.

But then this morning I heard news that is embarrassing as a former Montrealer - some individuals opted to celebrate their beloved hockey team's victory by torching 16 vehicles and damaging 10 buildings as they left the game last night.

Back in the late 80s and 90s championship teams' fans would riot after the series clinching game. I think it started in Chicago when the Bulls were in the midst of their dynasty in the NBA. Then, it seemed to be en vogue for other cities to copy this ridiculous activity.

"HOORAY! We just won the championship!!! Let's go break some windows!!!" How stupid.

If I could say anything to the looters I'd tell them 2 things ---

1. IT'S 2008! Championship riots are YESTERDAY. GET WITH THE TIMES

2. IT'S ONLY THE FIRST ROUND! There are 3 more rounds to go. Don't act like we've won anything yet, cuz we haven't. There are no banners hanging in the Bell Centre for 1st round victories. Anything less than a Stanley Cup isn't worth celebrating. Toronto Maples fans may be happy to celebrate winning round 1 ... but fans of the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge? I don't think so.

Well, I for 1 hope that every one of those hoodlums get caught. I understand they have video surveillance that caught much of the riot. I learned many years ago that my actions, whether positive or negative, have reprocussions. Seems to me there are some people in Montreal that need to learn that lesson.

I'm proud of my Montreal Canadiens. I love the city of Montreal. There are a few Montrealers who have embarrassed the city & team that I love.

For the full story, read

Lesson from the grocery store

Last Friday night, I thought it would be nice to pick up a few basic groceries that I knew Mary Jo needed for the home so that we would be set for the weekend. Of course, I can't JUST get the basics! I'm finding cookies and soda and potato chips and everything else that shouldn't be consumed by any in the human species.

None-the-less, I end up with about 5 plastic bags (which, btw you can hardly call 'bags' since they fail to contain anything heavier than 2 lbs for more than 10 seconds!).

When I got home, of course, I start looking for the cookies. NO COOKIES!!!! ARGH!!!!!

How can this be? I check the pantry, in case I had a senior moment and put them away without remembering to. I check the hallway, in case I put down the back upon entering the house. I check the car, in case I missed it when coming inside. No where.

I then check the receipt - perhaps I never actually bought the cookies. Sure enough, I bought cookies (& lemonade & hotdogs & juicy juice ... but ... clearly the cookies are the staple item in this list and the object of my desire, so, hence-to-for I'll only refer to the cookies, but you'll know that I mean the full contents of the missing bag).

Now what. I call the Giant Eagle (local grocery store). Amazingly, I remember that I went to checkout lane 8 and the cashier's name was Michelle (I have NO idea why I remembered that information ... but I did!). Sure enough, I left the bag with the cashier.

I'd like to be able to blame Michelle for not passing me my 6th and final bag of groceries, but, I packed the bag myself - unfortunately, I remember that too.

I'm told that if I come back to the store in the morning and bring the receipt with me, that I will be able to collect my forgotten items.

So, that's exactly what I did. The next morning, receipt in hand, I wander through the store picking up the 4 items and I take them to customer service. Because they had a note which stated they should be expecting me, and because I had a receipt that told them that those items had been paid for by me - they let me walk out without having to see a cashier.

Later, I couldn't help but realize that the Devil has a note that informs him that someone is coming to collect what is rightfully theirs. The note is the Bible. And, Jesus through the Holy Spirit is today collecting His people from their various aisles of life. And best of all, one day Jesus is going to stand before His Father and show him the receipt of His shed blood that announces that everyone who is with Him is entitled to remain with Him because the price for their redemption has already been paid for.

When I reclaimed those grocery items, I wasn't stealing - I was taking things for which I had already paid the price. I didn't have to go back and get them. I could have said, "nevermind, it's only a couple of things worth very little" - but - I'd paid for them, so I wanted them, so I went and found them again and proved to the store that they were mine.

Jesus has paid for you the price to forgive your sins. Not only that, but He doesn't expect you to jump off the shelves and figure out how to get to His home, He's come to find you because He loves you and wants you to be with Him forever.

Don't hide from Him.

You've been bought - you're free to go!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My trip to Parkside

On Tuesday, Mary Jo & I decided to take a road trip. We drove to Cleveland (about 1 hour away) to visit a Parkside Church.

We first heard about the church because of its pastor, Alistair Begg, who has a radio program we used to listen to while living in Toronto called 'Truth for Life'. Pastor Begg is an incredible preacher with a gift for exposing the truth in scripture.

The weather was nice and we were in the mood for an adventure. We were hoping just to spot the church, perhaps peer through a window and return for home.

We got MUCH more than that!

As we pulled into the church parking lot, we noticed they had a bookstore and coffeeshop. Without saying a word, Mary Jo and I both thought 'We're in! We can get in the building!'

Entering the building, a man held the door open for us and noticed quickly that we were strangers to these parts. We told him we were just visiting and attended a church in the Youngstown area. He then offered to give us a tour of the church. Little did we know how great a tour he could give, since he was the custodian! Our first stop ... the back entrance to the SANCTUARY PLATFORM!

The sanctuary seats about 1,700 and was amazing to see, especially from the platform POV. We went to the prayer room and saw classroom after classroom. They don't only separate the children by grade for Sunday, they separate them within the grade by last names A-L, M-Z!!!

We then met the 'Truth for Life' staff and the room they use for recording the post-production for the radio program.

Continuing the tour, we met the Children's Ministries director who was so helpful. I was amazed that she would tell us so much about their program when they knew I was a Pastor and certainly would never be attending their church. She even said that if we were planning to visit some Sunday night that we should email her first so that she could tell us exactly where to bring our children that night! Amazing.

The church receptionist was speed-walking around the sanctuary's outer corridor. She stopped to talk to us and went on and on about how much she loved working there. Again, it's not like we were potential converts to their church! We were SO impressed.

Although I don't have a goal for our church to reach a certain size - I do have a goal that our church be as warm and welcoming as Parkside Church.

In case anyone is interested, I would recommend checking out to hear Pastor Begg preach, or check out the church website at .

Off to Bolivia ... again!

Well, it's official ... I'm going back to Bolivia!

I'm very excited that 2 men from our church will be joining me as we partner with another church in Tennessee to go back to Bolivia to continue work at the Bolivian Hope Center (BHC).

We will be leaving May 22 and returning May 31. This time, I'll try not only to blog about the trip, but also add videoblogs! Cool, eh?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

American Idol Throws a Curve

First off - I can't claim to be an American Idol (AI) junkie. I don't rearrange my schedule so that I can watch the program, I rarely get to hear all of the singers each week, I don't watch the elimination show very often, and even when I am watching AI, I'm often playing games on my laptop and only listening to the singers.

But something happened last night that got me to stop playing mindjolt and start paying attention.

It started when Mariah Carey was singing. At first, the song just seemed to have a gospel theme to it, especially when the choir robed backup singers appeared. Then, as the song neared its end, I noticed the words weren't merely 'moral' or 'gospel' ... she actually said 'Jesus' a couple of times. Now, I know extremely little about Mariah Carey. I have no idea if she is a Christian or proclaims to be a Christian or simply wants to appear to be a Christian ... but it sure did make me take notice.

While Mary Jo and I were still talking about Mariah, a familiar tune began to play ... the AI singers sang 'Shout to the Lord'! I realize Shout to the Lord is the most popular chorus in our churches today, but I didn't realize that it would be so popular of a song to not only be sung on AI, but to serve as the grand finale piece of the special 'American Idol Gives Back' episode that featured a whole lot of Hollywood and Nashville star-power.

I wasn't expecting the show to be so Christian. THAT is a curveball.

In baseball, if someone throws the batter a curve, the batter has a few options: take a swing at it, let it go because you think it's out of the strike zone.

Of course the cynics would suggest that the ending had more to do with getting the Christians to give to the cause or perhaps because the producers of AI have realized that a number of the top vocalists in their competitions this year and in years past have been Christians and therefore a large portion of their viewership are Christians so AI is simply catering to their market.

But I don't really care what the producers of AI's agenda was. I don't care what FOX's rationale for ending the show that way was. JESUS CHRIST WAS PRAISED! That's what I care about. Someone, somewhere heard that song and was encouraged. Someone, somewhere was challenged. Someone, somewhere was reminded that they need to get back to God. It wasn't a song about Allah. It wasn't a song about falling in love with a guy/girl. It wasn't about money or fame or self. It was a song that proclaimed that the whole earth should recognize that Jesus Christ is Lord.

It may have only been for a moment at around 10PM, but last night AI & FOX did it right.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

They took my trash!!!

This is an exciting day for me!

Last night, I put out the garbage, and this morning someone came and took it all away! Can you believe it! They took it ALL!!! Ever since being in Bible College and having to carry my trash down the hall it seems that garbage has been a problem for me. In New York we had to put the trash in a dumpster that would often be full to overflowing because the whole church used that dumpster. In Sharbot Lake we had to put a tag on each bag (a tag cost $1 each) and a local guy would collect them every Saturday - of course, if I didn't have any tags or didn't catch that guy before he passed by, that meant garbage sat in our laundry room for an extra week. In Oshawa the trash was only collected every 2 weeks, with limits as to how many bags they would accept - great for the environment, not so great for a family of 5 with stinky diapers that really can't wait 2 weeks to be collected!

Garbage troubles ... no more!

Because last week I finally gave in an signed our household up for garbage collection (I had been dumping it at the church dumpster ... old habits die hard!). They sent me a garbage can that is big enough for 3 garbage bags that they will empty every week!

Have you ever had something become important to you that you never thought would be significant? I know it's kinda crazy - but even a simple thing like trash collection is another reason I'm feeling so 'at home' in Liberty - trash collection is like how I remember growing up. We should never discount the familiar things that comfort us - in fact - the familiar things help provide a foundation that allows you to do the spectacular.

What familiar things do you have that perhaps you take for granted? They may seem trivial, but, then again, they may be the things that keep you happy and grounded so that you can excel in other areas of life.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Jib Jab in Jeopardy?

One of our family's favorite stops is the Jib Jab Hot Dog Shoppe. We can eat there for under $15 and all be full. Now, what we are full of ... that we're not so sure about, but as a parent I'm just happy they are full and content and the outing is cheap.

jib jab

I always figured they had to be doing great business because they were one of the few establishments that refused plastic. If you wanted to buy a hotdog and fries with a cherry coke, it had to be cash. There have been a few times where I got there only to find I'm out of cash! This led to a quick trip to my bank to withdraw a quick $20.

Only a restaurant with a product so good can afford to risk me avoiding the eatery because I am unwilling to first stop at an ATM. The other example of this that I know of is Tim Hortons (in Canada, this isn't the case in the US). At Tim Hortons, it's cash or foggettabbotit! But, we still go get the cash because where else can we rrrrroll-up-the-rrrrrim or get that great coffee & warm, toasted, buttered bagel! No where is it quite like Timmy's.

It's the same thing with Jib Jab. Until last month! Jib Jab has given in! Either that, or their business must be sliding down the wrong side of economic mountain. What a shock for me to see (as I pulled out my $20) that I could have used my debit card. Of course, after going to the trouble to getting the cash, I used it.

All I know is that for some reason Jib Jab must have compromised for a reason - and if it's because of poor business, it's time for all of us around Interstate 80 and Ohio 11 to unite and reacquaint ourselves with the delightful delicacy called the Jib Jab Hot Dog!

Save Jib Jab! Save the family on a budget who wants to eat out! Save the world!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Update on Siberia

Thanks so much to all who prayed for Ilya Bantseev, the missionary to Siberia, who is trying to have their church roof repaired. Work on the roof began on Monday - and they have 10 days to complete the task with the blessing of the mayor of the city. That's right - the mayor!

Their neighbor, Sergei, who they are praying comes to salvation, wouldn't give them permission to put the crane on his property, so the mayor stepped in and gave the church permission! Praise the Lord! Had the mayor not stepped in (amazing that he took the side of the church ... truly amazing and something that would not been imaginable even last year) they would not have been able to fix their roof from leaking.

It is too bad Sergei is still against the church, but God is still sovereign and seems to be really taking care of this growing congregation.

One day, I will have to have Ilya & Janet Bantseev come and share what God has done for them in their ministry in Siberia ... it is an amazing story. For now, it seems this chapter is coming to an end. Now, they are praying they get all the work done in their 10 day window and that God will continue to bless the work there.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I kept my cool!

Sometimes, I lose my cool.

I've lost it when I've made a wrong turn. I've lost it when I've made foolish choices. I've lost it when I've been stressed. I've lost it when people have let me down.

But I didn't lose it today!

All the ingredients where assembled for me to have a complete meltdown: I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at work right now, I'm a little under-the-weather, I had an agenda of things to do & I lost my keys for the car while I was with the Young Adults at Panera.

Seems silly as I write it - but - that's the formula! In the past, I would yell at myself, call myself a bunch of names including 'idiot' 'stupid' & 'nincompoop', I'd criticize myself for the decisions that left me in the predicament, possibly stomp my feet or punch some things!

It hasn't been overnight, but I've come a long way in the past 15 years! Step by step - day by day, I've eventually gotten to the point where I went to the car, checked all my pockets, retraced my steps, asked for help - the whole time, never getting too upset, never getting too frantic, never calling myself any bad names or showing any unnecessary reaction other than what would be considered by anyone to be an appropriate reaction to a less-than-ideal situation.

The end of the story? The keys were in my pocket. Not my pants or my coat pocket - but - the pocket on my sweatshirt. I generally only wear that sweatshirt around the house, but, since I wasn't feeling the best, I liked the cuddly feeling of the bulky sweatshirt. Since I rarely wear the sweatshirt, I didn't think to check the pouch.

Thank you Jesus, for helping me get my temper under control!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Praying for Siberia

I love God's perfect timing!

I just finished praying for a church in Siberia. Apparently at 9PM EST, a missionary friend of mine in Siberia is meeting with Sergei, a regional Russian m@fi@-head. The missionary, Ilya Bantseev, has seen a vision where Sergei accepts Jesus as Savior and together they team up to spread the gospel throughout Novokuznetsk!

God's timing is amazing because I checked my email with 5 minutes to spare before their scheduled meeting time. In fact, as I write this, they are likely talking! First off, they will be talking about the leaky roof the church has and the need for a crane to be in the parking lot to fix that roof. No big deal - except that in order for the crane to fix the roof, not only does it need to be in the church's parking lot, it also has to be on the neighbor's parking lot. The neighbor? You guessed it - Sergei & the m@fi@.

It could be that Sergei will try to manipulate the church and use their predicament as leverage. He may even try to entrap the church in a negotiation that leads to trouble. But, I believe God is in this! Just as God had me log-on to my computer at the perfect time to be able to pray, God has set up their meeting at the perfect time for His will to be done.

Likely, you are reading this after their meeting is over - but - would you still do the Kingdom of God a favor? Please pray for Ilya & Janet Bantseev & the church in Novokuznetsk, Siberia, Russia that they are able to repair the roof to their church. But, more importantly, pray for Sergei! Either he is a newborn baby Christian, or he is someone who is wrestling with God at this very moment!

Monday, February 18, 2008

"I have a dream!"

were the words of Martin Luther King as he rallied the throngs in a speech that echoes to this day.

I have a dream too, and it's to see the Montreal Canadiens return to supremacy as the best team in the National Hockey League while simultaneously seeing the Toronto Maple Leafs flounder in the cellar of the standings.

Sure, sure, there are so many more wonderful and meaningful dreams I could have - like world peace or a cure for cancer or the eradication of violent crimes - but, I'm a simple man with a simple dream.

And slowly but surely, my dream is coming true! At this very moment, the Habs are 3rd best overall and the Maples are 3rd worst!!! How wonderful is this! So close to a dream come true!

Yet, I'm not truly content. Why is that? Is it because they are only in 3rd and not in first? Partly - but not really. The problem is ... I DON'T LIVE IN TORONTO ANYMORE!!!!

What a horrible year to live in Ohio! I have so much trash-talk to give, yet no one to receive! Where's Greg McLarty & Kevin Marchant? Where's David Moran? Where's Bonnie Palmer or Steve Olmstead? I've never missed these die-hard Maples fans more in my life!

So, I have an addendum to my dream ... not only do I want to see the Canadiens in 1st place and the Maple Leafs in last place - I also want all of these people to call me on that day and admit that the Habs are indeed not only Canada's team - but the marquee hockey franchise in the NHL, nay ... OF THE WORLD!!!!

Friday, February 1, 2008

It's too cold!

I don't think I can take it anymore! I used to be so brave in the face of frigid temperatures, but now when the thermometer hits 22F, I'M STAYING INSIDE!!!

I think Canadians get numbed into accepting sub-freezing temperatures, to the point where they simply don't care anymore and just deal with it. Now that I'm living in the US and wearing a spring jacket on every occasion, when it does get cold outside I can't take it anymore.

(of course, this may also have something to do with the fact I have remnants of a tan from last week in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and Miami, Florida)

All I know is that it's time to get my space-heater from home and set it up snugly under my feet while I'm sitting at my desk. It's time to call Rotelli's for a lunch-delivery because I'm never going to leave my precious little heater until the little bell rings that says it's time to go home for the evening (where I'll find a warm blanket and curl up with the family and watch movies and drink hot cocoa until bedtime).

Call me a wimp if you like, but - I'm about ready for summer!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Travel Day 1 ... the return

It is now about 7:30 on Friday afternoon in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. That's right - Santa Cruz. I'm supposed to be hanging out in Miami, FL awaiting a flight that will lead me home. Unfortunately, stuff happens sometimes on trips like this.

It feels as though we are in the Amazing Race and have hit a road block! Our flight from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz was delayed by about 1/2 hour. This was just enough time for us to not be able to be 1 hour early for our flight to Miami. If you aren't 1 hour early for an international flight, you don't fly! So, instead of a 10:05am flight to Miami, we are taking an 11:55pm flight. ugh.

We went to a local hotel (my current location) and have been hanging out here, with the odd sojourn into the surrounding city. This means I'll likely only be home at around 10:30PM on Saturday night ... hopefully I'll be awake for Sunday morning since I guess I'll be sleeping on the plane tonight!

I'll likely not be able to post again until Sunday afternoon (you never know though!) - so - if you want the latest on my adventure, I guess you'll just have to come to Liberty Assembly Sunday morning!

If I'm up to it, I may do a quick post Saturday night when I get home - if you'd like to hear the sermon, just go to sometime Sunday or Monday and you'll be able to hear the concluding blog entry, but in oral form!

Now, I'm going to wash up and get ready for the shuttle back to the airport - we take off in 4 hours!

Ministry Day 6

What a powerful end to a life impacting week. I am sure that the Farthings & all at the Bolivian Hope Center have felt a ripple effect of love that will last for a long long time.

Thursday was pretty much a finish up day as we finished up the 3rd floor walls. Because of the different type of day this was, I spent much of the afternoon playing the role of horse for about 12-20 children. THEY NEVER GOT TIRED! I certainly did, prancing around & whinneying like a horse - but it was so worth it. I kept telling myself, 'in a few hours I'll be gone - I can give a few more horse rides'.

Later that evening, Pastor Freddy's wife thanked me for taking time to play with them. Apparently, none of them have fathers - and to be able to play with a positive male role model is a very special thing to them. It's no wonder they never wanted me to stop. At one point when I was tired, they encouraged me to sit down ... IT WAS A TRAP! After getting me to sit down, they gathered around me as if to take a picture when suddenly ... THEY TICKLED ME! I was so weak and tired, it was almost impossible to get away. They were having fun though, and so was I.

After the work day was over, we all went to dinner and shared our personal perspectives on this missions experience. It was a time of great blessing to the Farthings and the Bolivian Hope Center. I had already given our offering of $1,400 to the Farthings, but the other churches did the same thing. Words cannot describe the mood in the dining room that night - suffice to say that every single person there is anxious for the opportunity to return and continue the work of establishing a place for children and families to learn about Jesus, grow as people and be safe from the difficult world they live in every day.

There was not a dry eye in the room (including my own) as we prayed for the missionaries and the Hope Center. I truly believe there are many many places in the world just as needy as in Cochabamba, Bolivia - the difference here is that in this place there are missionaries with vision, a divine timeliness that seems to be connecting churches to pool together resources, supernatural acts that are facilitating the purchase of land and materials, as well as a team of people (led by Pastor Freddy) who are not simply into this to set up a work and leave, but to continue until the fulfillment of the vision for the Bolivian Hope Center.

I am proud that we have supported this endeavor - and even moreso that we will continue to be involved in a work that is truly impacting their world.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ministry Day 5

It's hard to believe that my time here is almost to and end. Thursday is our last day of work and I travel home Friday & Saturday. We should be able to finish raising all the walls on the 3rd and final floor of the Hope Center - then they will be able to begin finishing the wall surfaces and do the flooring.

Perhaps it is the same everywhere (including the US) - but there seems to be a huge contrast between the rich and poor. From people living in mansions to people living in absolute filth. On one hand I wonder how some can even survive here - and on the other, I wonder where they are getting all their money from.

Yet, everyone here sits under the shadow of Cristo de la Concordia. In fact there are many, many Christian symbols and churches throughout the city. Cochabamba is actually a very religious city. Perhaps therein lays the problem - Jesus is a statue, religion is a ritual & faith is a tradition. If I were to have grown up here, I can see how I could have been hard to receiving Jesus as my savior, since it seems Jesus hasn't done much for this city. But when places like the Bolivian Hope Center reveal their Jesus, He isn't a statue - He is a compassionate, caring Lord who wants to set this people free from all that entangles them.

Whether you live in the lower class or upper class, you live in a prison. Physically this is true since every home is walled and barb-wired like a prison to keep the thieves out. Spiritually this is also true since without Christ a person is trapped and unable to know the true fulfilment we are designed to experience and exemplify.

The baby camel asked the mommy camel:
"Why do I have hooves like these?" She replied, "so you can walk on the sand of the desert."
"Why do I have such long eye-lashes?" The reply ... "to keep the sand from getting in your eyes in the event of a sandstorm."
"Why do I have this big hump on my back?" She answered again, "so you can store water and travel great distances."
Finally, the little camel asked: "So, why are we in a zoo?"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Snapshots from Ministry Day 5

This morning I shot video footage that I'll be showing in church as soon as it is ready, and then I went back to bricklaying. I'll write more before today ends - but for now, here are some pics from today!

One of the girls who attend school at the Bolivian Hope Center.

I'm still smiling after a hard days work.

Some of the boys who live in the prison. They will be among the first to be eligible to live in the Bolivian Hope Center when the building is complete.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Snapshots from Day 4

I never seem to do well with electronics! My brand new camera I bought for the church isn't working properly! I took a ton of pictures today and only a couple are clear. Here are two of the pics.This is the part of the town (a suburb of Cochabamba) where the Bolivian Hope Center is located. The city is much bigger than I imagined!

This is Pastor Freddy of the Temple of Faith (connected to the Bolivian Hope Center) overlooking the city from the mountain.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ministry Day 3

K - this post may be short because I have blisters and little cuts on my finger tips from working with bricks & mortar for most of the day.

Other than working on the wall today (which we finished), I had the priviledge of going to the prison to participate in the feeding program for children at suppertime. This really broke my heart. They provide 5 suppers & 1 breakfast every week to up to 105 children who live in the prison with their mothers. These children are the reason we are building the orphanage. Some were so happy - kids being kids. But others seemed so sad. It was noted that we had only about 60 kids today, so I asked where they might be. Apparently it's carnaval time somewhere in town, so many of them are likely out there alone without parental supervision. Likely they are trying to make some money for their moms. They will carry bags, aid vendors, or worse - even prostitute themselves. Ugh. Especially sad is that the child that reminded me of Abigail (her name is Anai) wasn't there today and I'm concerned she may be at the carnaval today. I'm about to cry again just thinking about it.

I am so thankful the Farthings are spearheading the building of the Hope Center. What a wonderful cause - lives are literally being saved because of this work.

Tuesday is a day off for us (my fingers are appreciative!) so I'll be a tourist and go shopping in the market and relaxing.

What a great trip I am having - thanks so much for everyone praying for me and for those who gave to this great cause.

Snapshots from Ministry Day 3

Children from the school connected to the Bolivian Hope Center delivering bricks.

They passed them up 3 flights of stairs!

Snapshots from Ministry Day 2

I FOUND COCOA PUFFS!!! (well, it's called Milo ... but it's the same thing!)

Sunday devotions - I hope everyone stays away for my turn to lead on Monday!

See! I AM working!!!

My wall stands, in spite of the formidable pressure applied to it by my bulging muscles.

Sunday morning worship service at Temple of Faith, right next door to the Bolivian Hope Center.

Ministry Day 2

It's Monday morning and we are about to have our first 'normal' day of the week. Sunday was certainly not typical compared to how it normally is for me.

After a devotion and worship we went to the work site and got right to work building our walls (btw ... MINE STANDS!!!!). Service starts at 11am in a different building but at the same location, so we went there - in our concrete-laden work clothes. What a great service - so many children from the neighborhood. It was fun trying to recognize the songs and sing along! Pastor Fred preached on ... tithing! Listening to a sermon in spanish was like listening to a radio station where you can only catch every 4th or 5th word. I could understand enough to track with him, but not enough to know how he got from point to point. Still - it was wonderful to see the congregation & many from the community we are ministering to.

It felt like the day was done - but it had only begun. We went back to our walls after lunch (btw ... MINE STANDS!!!!) and worked all afternoon until dinner time. I'm being reminded why I like preaching, it's much easier! Although, I've lost a couple of pounds and am getting rather muscular!

The evening service started at 8PM. Our team sang a couple of songs (in English) and Pastor David Crawford from Bellevue Grace in Nashville, Tennessee preached with a translator. There was a great (unusually great for this culture) altar call and I was able to pray for numerous people, inserting any Spanish word I could think of to fit (a whole lot of 'Jesucristo's).

Oh, did I mention I got to watch the 2nd half of the Pats/Chargers game & the 2nd half of the Packers/Giants game? Yep - that's me - just roughing it for Jesus!

I should sign off for now, as Monday begins - I'm giving the devotional in about 30 minutes.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ministry Day 1

Wow - what a great day!

We started the morning with breakfast and a team devotional and then proceeded to the women's prison. Words can't describe the scene in there - and photographs are prohibited. Basically it's a whole community of women that are not permitted to leave. Their children can come and go. Visitors can come and go. But the women cannot. Apparently, the women are expected to pay for their own food & pay for their own 'rent'. The only way for them to make any money is either the children working outside the prison or friends & family bringing them money or prostitution within the prison. Very very sad. Your heart breaks to see their living conditions - yet the children seem to accept all this as normal. We will be going back there a few more times this week.

Then we went to the Bolivian Hope Center (BHC). We brought with us 12 children from the prison. They are accustomed to being taken to a playground with the Farthings (you have to pay to play in the park here!) - but this time was going to be special. For the very first time, they opened the playground inside BHC. They were ecstatic! I found a soccer ball and started up a game with a few of the boys - I stayed goalie so that may skills (or lack of skills) would not be exposed.

There was a girl I met named Anai who is 9 years old and reminded me so much of Abigail. Of course, that only broke my heart more when I imagined my own children living where Anai lives.

I did my best to communicate. I find myself talking in French a lot. It's like I'm thinking 'they are speaking a foreign language ... I know a foreign language ... maybe it will work! ... nope, it doesn't.'

After lunch (yes, this is all before lunch), we began work on the 3rd floor of the housing facility for the orphans. The walls are made of brick, so, we were laying brick. We raised the better part of 3 walls on the 3rd floor - and I'm just hoping my wall is still standing when we go back tomorrow!

It was a wonderful first day. We are about to go out for dinner and then it's likely bedtime (we need it ---- ohhhhhh we need it!)

Snapshots from Ministry Day 1

Rich & Sandee Farthing & me - before 7AM this morning.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Snapshots from Travel Day 2

Mountains just before La Paz, Bolivia

More mountains. There were lots.

My first Bolivian meal ... BURGER KING! (btw - they have snoopy toys)

Flying in to Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Friday night entertainment ... a Christian Mariachi Band!

Travel Day 2 - Bolivia Mission Trip

Well, I´m in Bolivia! We arrived in La Paz this morning at about 8AM EST and are waiting for our flight to Cochabomba which departs at 2PM EST.

4 flights down - 1 TO GO!!!!

Our flight from Miami was delayed about 1 1/2 - and then sat on the tar mat for what seemed like an eternity! My mind began playing tricks on me as it looked and sounded like we were moving ... but we weren´t! I thought we were just going round and round the tower! Clearly, I´m overtired.

I got an aisle seat - next to a lady who started to fall asleep on my shoulder. At first I wanted to wake her, but figured she would be my neighbor for the next 6 hours and didn´t want to get our relationship off on the wrong foot. Instead, I decided that since I couldn´t beat her, I´d join her. I determined to allow myself to let my head flop where it may, and if it ends up attached to her head ... so be it.

Fortunately, I didn´t need to carry out my plan since apparently she had a son sitting 5 rows back who asked to trade seats with me. I GOT A WINDOW!!!! Instead of cuddling with an older woman, I cuddled with the window of beautiful scenery. At night it was the Miami skyline, and in the morning it was the XXXXXXXX Mountain range (I´ll look that up later .... I got pics!)

By coincidence, I ended up sitting to some young adults who are on a teaching/missions trip to Bolivia from Calgary, Alberta. Cool, eh! I asked if they knew Christina (my sister) who lives in Calgary. They did not.

Last story for now: I got to jump the line on all of my fellow travelers on the Missions trip. Because I´m traveling on a Canadian passport - I don´t need a tourist visa! I got to line up with the locals. Best part about it is that I didn´t have to pay the $100 visa fee everyone else had to pay for ... LET´S GO SHOPPING! Knick-knacks ... HERE I COME!!!

Pics should be prevalent in my next post - probably later tonight.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Travel Day 1 - Missions Trip to Bolivia

Yep - that's right - TRAVEL day 1! I left Liberty at 3:30am this morning (Thursday), flew from Cleveland to Chicago (they confiscated my water from my carry-on), flew from Chicago to Nashville (they confiscated my hair gel from my carry-on ... LOOK OUT FRIZZIES, HERE I COME!!!), flew from Nashville to Miami (finally I figured out how to get my carry-on to make it through security - legally).

And in Miami is where I sit. At 11PM we fly from Miami to La Paz, Bolivia. We'll arrive at 7AM and then sit for 8 hours in the airport before flying from La Paz to Cochabomba.

I should be arriving at our final destination at about 6PM on Friday.


But, it's not without the COOLEST thing happening!

I met Bob the Tomato of Veggie Tales fame! Well, he wasn't in costume, and I didn't have the courage to ask him for 'the voice' - but I sat next to Phil Vischer on the flight from Chicago to Nashville. Phil is the creator of Veggie Tales. INCREDIBLE!

I tried not to bother him, but, everything that was in me wanted to bombard him with questions and become his friend for life! I managed to restrain myself and only act like a 25 year old, avoiding the teenage years - although I'm sure I didn't act the 38 I'm supposed to represent.

No matter - what a highlight!

Now, I want to give him a plug - if you want a book that will both bring a tear to your eye and leave you with a challenge, I recommend - Me, Myself and Bob by Phil Vischer. Check out his website at . I always thought he was a great person, and he did nothing to dissuade me of my feelings about him.

At the end of the flight, I asked him if he could do something for me and if I could do something for him. I asked if I could get a picture of him for me (see below, because he consented!), and I asked if I could pray for him (again, he consented).

In the next couple of days, you'll be praying a lot for me and those I'll be ministering to in Bolivia - perhaps you'd be willing to toss up a prayer for Phil. He's a man of God with creativity like few have known. He's trying to minister effectively to children in a way that not only rivals the world's standard, but surpasses it - because he's doing it all for God.

Thanks God, for giving me a little blessing before I even did a thing for you in Bolivia!

btw - 20 minutes after saying good-bye to Phil, i saw Russ Taff ... kinda anticlimatic though, but still cool

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ooo, I love comics!

Not what's it's cracked up to be

It was a great feeling today to get all my bills paid for the month!

I don't know about you, but January can be a tough month financially. Basically, it all boils down to paying for Christmas past. Plus, when you add the trip to Bolivia I'll be leaving for on Thursday (stay tuned for daily blogs from Bolivia!!!) and other beginning of the year expenses our family has since my car insurance, life insurance, etc etc etc are all due in January or February ... it's not the time for unexpected expenses! (Thank goodness we don't have to buy diapers anymore!)

So, you can imagine how I felt when a rock (not a pebble or a stone ... a ROCK) flew up from the truck in front of me while driving and struck the windshield of our Sunfire.

I did what any of us would do - look for the chip that indicates repairs are necessary. I didn't see a chip - what I saw, was a full fledged crack.

WHY GOD! I was feeling so good about getting everything in order, I didn't have the money to replace our windshield. At least if it were a chip, we could get that repaired, but a crack!

Then, my mind starts wondering ... "What did I do?" I know I've been tithing. I'm not perfect, but I couldn't see why God would be punishing me this way. But, instead of getting all upset, I figure it will all work out, and I just hope that the crack doesn't get any bigger right away so I can at least wait 2 weeks before it needs replacing.

I start rubbing the crack. Sure enough - I feel the ridge. I hadn't seen the crack before - now, it's there. I rub some more - and again. It's coming off! It wasn't a crack afterall!

Honestly, I never saw it before - and then it's there - and then it feels like a crack - and then I can wipe it off.


None-the-less, I noted a couple of things this afternoon because of this 'non-incident'. Firstly, I'm disappointed that one of my earliest reactions was to think that God was out to get me in some way. God isn't like that - I know it - yet I still thought it. God forgive me! And secondly, I recalled how I didn't dwell on it and didn't get upset like I would have a few years ago. I guess I am walking by faith and trusting God more than I used to. Thank you God!