Saturday & Sunday

Saturday was largely a driving around day – drove to Floyd & borrowed some internet to post the “Friday & Floyd”. Then headed out to the Blue Ridge Parkway to drive the beautiful Blue Ridge Hills, & also to check out a couple of the viewpoints that the locals love so much. On our drive, we visited the Villa Appalaccia Winery, & also the Chateau Morrisette. The “Villa” is set in the Blue Ridge Hills like an Italian Villa – very beautiful, the kind of place that theBean thought would be a great place to visit for a picnic lunch, complete with the gingham patterned tablecloth to sit on. Incredible views, & a small, cozy, family type atmosphere, where they grow all their own grapes (a rarity) & work the vineyards themselves.

The Chateau was the opposite of the Villa – & is the biggest wine producer in Virginia (180,000 gallons/year.) They import from Oregon & California, & have a tour, a tasting, & a 4-star restaurant to go with it (which we didn’t eat at.) It was a tourist attraction :), & it was fun to see – ran into people from Massachusetts, Ohio, & Maryland on the tour (the New Clairvaux tour was better…) We enjoyed going at a snail’s pace, both on the tour, & on the drive home. We ended up with some breathtaking postcard-like pictures, & also a sense of accomplishment at finding just what it was we were looking for on the drive, even though there were NO identification signs anywhere…

There are a lot of difficult things about being gone from home – the hardest is being away from our kids – they are troopers & for the most part can navigate through just about any & every situation, but it is still really heartbreaking being separated, even for this short 10 day time period – it is hardest when they’re in a point of need: when Pasty gets hurt at football practice & needs some bandaging up; when Joey needs a bit of directional attention; when Weez wants to celebrate her undefeated soccer team. Knowing that we have to (get to?) be here for this time makes it easier for me, but not so much for theBean… or for the kids. Sigh.

Sunday – we got up & went to church at The Bridge a Foursquare Church located on the Crosspointe Campus…. It made me miss being home more than ever; theBean & I talked quite a bit about this… esp. how church really is about people – the people that we know & have relationships with… real friendships that have gone through the wringer of pain, hurt, grace, & healing together. People that we love. Can’t wait to get home :).

We were feeling a bit melancholy, missing the kids & missing our church family, so we went to Blacksburg for wings & Starbucks… found the “best wings in town” at a place called Sharkey’s. Not sure if they’re THE best, but they kick butt on Buffalo Wild Wings, & they had a great patio where we got to sit so we didn’t have to watch the Olympics. :)

Spent an hour or so walking downtown Blacksburg, definitely our favorite spot of all the favorite spots, & camped for a bit at the Kent Square Starbucks – theBean took a few more pictures of the Square & its outdoor seating area…

Thanks for your prayers – we really need them.

We’re going “low-key” tonight – do the laundry & the dishes, vacuum, & maybe watch a little TV. We’ll hang around the campus – I might shoot some hoop later on.

Friday & Floyd…

We’ve been smitten with intermittent internet – which of course means that when I want to get on & check for pictures of Weezer’s soccer game, or set my fantasy baseball lineup, or check out the Blue Ridge Highway vineyards, it’s not available. Usually, it’s only dysfunctional for about 2 hours at a time, but today we’ve been experiencing a higher level of unavailability. Sigh.

NOTE: I ended up posting this on our way to the Villa Appalachia Winery – found some free internet advertised, & borrowed it for 10 minutes. Thanks, Al Gore.

Yesterday, we took the afternoon to head the 22 miles on 8S to go to Floyd, Virginia. Floyd only has 1 stoplight, but it is quite the Mecca for music & the arts – the entire downtown (all 3 blocks) is set up for street musicians – with little brick cul-de-sacs & benches set up for visitors & locals to wander by & listen. In our 20 minute walk, we came upon 3 separate art galleries, where many local artists have their work displayed. Sculptures, photographs, paintings, & drawings.

All of the businesses we visited, from the coffee house/bookstore combo (The Black Water) to the Oddfella’s – restaurant offering French cuisine with an Appalachian flavor – there were musicians playing – some from Floyd, but many who were driving in from as far as 100 miles away for the Friday night happenings.

The main ‘event’ in town, the one that Floyd is famous for happens at the Floyd Country Store, & is called the Friday night Jamboree. People started showing up for the 6:30 event at 3:30; fortunately, theBean & I were able to get a helpful running commentary from the regulars – a group of very welcoming, friendly people, who explained in detail what was going on to us & the other 1st timers.

From 5:30 on, the Floyd Country Store shuts down the back ½ of the store, & sets up a dance floor around a mini-stage. There’s also about 200 chairs around the dance floor – we made our way to our seats about 20 minutes early & it’s a good thing, as the whole room was filled. At 6:30, the STATEMENTS (a band made up of 4, 16-22 year olds) led off the evening with the customary 1 hour of blue-grass gospel music, which people can sing along to, but that no one gets up & dances to. The songs ranged from “I’ll Fly Away” to “Amazing Grace,” & there were lots of songs about heaven & what comes next. Before you start bemoaning the experience that we ‘got’ to sit through, let me tell you: it was one of the most incredible musical performances I’ve witnessed personally. There was phenomenal flatpicking on the acoustic guitar, mandolin & banjo. Guys growing up in other places in the US might hope to become guitar heroes. Here, in the Appalachians, they aspire to master the banjo. And as hokie as you might think that sounds, it was really impressive to watch, & a privilege to be a part of. Wow!

After an hour of gospel, band change – 2Old, 2Young – 2 old guys, 2 young guys. I was informed that this was “the dance band,” made up of violin (fiddle) stand up bass, guitar, & 5 string banjo. This is when the dancing started – the clogging & flat-footing. It is accentuated by the noise made by the taps on the bottoms of shoes. Incredible, with an occasional square dance thrown in.

It was fun for me, knowing the history & a bit of background about those that settled in the Appalachians: largely Irish & Scottish immigrants. It was easy to hear the influence of ‘Celtic’ music in the bluegrass; then, watching the clogging/flat-footing, you can see the similarities with Irish step-dancing. People of all ages, 3 to 90, danced solo, danced with partners, danced in 4somes. They danced with their arms by the sides, & the guys often had their hands in their pockets. Really, a sight to behold.

We hung out for a couple of hours, then went for a walk in the rain – back to our car. I had something in my right eye that turned it blood red (no, don’t think it was peroxide. This time.) So we went home to watch the Olympics.

Every day, including Friday, we’ve spent a chunk of time in counseling, talking through & about how we communicate. I think that we’re both seeing that we are growing from even where we were 1 year ago. And we’re understanding each other. It helps to get an evaluation from someone like Chuck too – someone that knows us & has for years. He encouraged us that we’re doing really well in how we’re working through our stuff – as people, as a couple, & as a team. For me, I want to grow… to know & love God more… to know & be known by others; to love people.

We have talked about church as well – in general, & with some specifics (which is fun, because Chuck knows our local context, Hillside, too.) And to hear his observations about us & Hillside… that we’re following a ‘simple call’ to a “long obedience in the same direction.” I thought that was cool, as that’s the book I’ve been revisiting this week, & have recommended to about 4 people in the last month – & to have him use that as his analogy, & to have him recommend it to both of us to read was a point of encouragement & confirmation that we’re on a good track, albeit one that is different than many; a unique journey, one where’s there’s not many footsteps of others to follow or to walk in.

And that’s ok.

Musings on a Thursday…

Coffee tastes better in a “for here cup” than in a “to-go cup.” The Starbucks @ Kent Square also has a great atmosphere that makes the coffee better. Truly. And just around the corner, hidden away, is a great cookie store called Crumb & Get It. TheBean had a chocolate/chocolate-chip, warmed up, along with her Grande Pike Place. I picked out some of the chips; think that they were bittersweet chocolate, instead of the semi-sweet (read: Nestle Tollhouse) that I’m used to sniping at home. A great store. Thanks for the heads up on it Shontell.

Something that has popped up a lot in my studies & preparations (reading Job, Galatians, & the 1, 2, & 3 Johns; & works by Eugene Peterson, and Henri Nouwen, and Jerry Cook, et al) has been the idea & need of people to be known & understood… & how this ‘understanding’ is often tied to ‘agreeing’ with someone. Can it be that there is ‘understanding’ without ‘agreeing’? I think so, but it seems that the two often get tied together… & thus conflict arises & develops where one strives for ‘agreement’ in the name of ‘understanding’…

On that note – one of the major challenges for me (& for the Christ-follower in general) is to learn to differentiate between “agreement” & “acceptance”. We often equate ‘acceptance’ of a person, (esp. those that are different than us in their morals, values, choices, political outlook, preferences,) with ‘agreeing’ with the person. And don’t want to be associated with the person’s views, values, etc. that we DON’T agree with, so there’s no acceptance. And we end up hanging out with or including only those that agree with us. E.G. It’s the bone that the religious legalists had to pick with Jesus – in that He hung with people whose lives were disagreeable to their idea of propriety – one’s that they didn’t agree with. And couldn’t see how Jesus could accept them knowing the points of obvious disagreement, that Jesus HAD to see. To me, its a life-calling for everyone that wants to walk in Jesus’ footsteps: extend acceptance, w/o condescension or judgment. At the least, it’s food for thought.

Even though there is a lot of ‘down’ time, we’re filling it with silence (reading &/or thinking,) hanging out in beautiful, warm spots on the VTU campus, & having shared experiences, (ala the baseball trips, walking the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market, cruising the “Mall”, sitting at TOTS, & having long talks about nothing & everything. It’s feeding & watering to the soul, & is a blessed respite for the two of us.

As time goes by, I become more & more aware that good friends are to be treasured.

Again, I’m reminded that Reno is a great place to live. Hmmm. Contented sigh.

Craving movie popcorn for the last couple of days. I think I need.

Day 2

TheBean & I got up about 8 local time, meaning that we’re probably one day away from being acclimated to the time difference on EST… Found that the campus has a gym (parque’ floor, ala the old Boston Garden) with glass backboards, & an atmosphere like Hickory High‘s gym… I checked in & found that it is ok to shoot there, so I’ll be headed up this afternoon before the ‘city league’ games start.

Then I found the weight room with treadmill… ahhh… no sedentary 10 days for me.

Our appointment with Chuck was at 11:15, so we made our way up to his office & waited for the previous appointments to leave. When our time came, we ended up just sitting down for 30 seconds or so, before Chuck decided he was hungry & then, so were we. We decided to hit Ruby Tuesday’s for lunch – & found that it sure has changed since we last went there. But I digress.

Most of the meal & for about an hour after we were done, we talked about what we hope to accomplish while we’re here in Christiansburg, the reason that we made the trek across the country. We want to see a new way of relating to each other emerge, take shape. In the areas of being husband/wife, friends, partners in ministry, & in leading Hillside. And, we talked quite a bit about how we believe the last year to 18 months has gone… leading up to & since the Sabbath break. A good time was had by all. :)

Tomorrow at 9 a.m., I’m going in solo; & I’m greatly looking forward to it.

We’re hoping to head into Blacksburg to go to the Hokie Spoke a student store for VTU, where one can pick up all kinds of football & other paraphenalia… legal paraphenalia that is. Then later, we’re off to see either the Salem Avalanche or the Pulaski Mariners – as I found out that there is YET ANOTHER place to catch Minor League Baseball within about 20 minutes. Joy! We’re going to talk about it a bit, then head out for the afternoon.


Day 1, Addendum…

We found our way to Starbucks; the familiarity (& the caffeine) of the quad grande Americano with room helped orient me to travel & explore mode. Sat for about 40 minutes enjoying the fruit of the Java bean, & then got onto ‘Main St.” & decided to take it wherever it went. Ate at the Cracker Barrell. Shopped for the bare necessities (called Breakfast & 2nd breakfast) at Walmart, as we’re doing all our own food while we’re here. Apart from the occasional eat out, its link sausages & whipped cream for me, & Yoplait with toast & eggs for the Bean.

Another note: we didn’t really leave Main Street, so what we saw was all along this route, not to the right or the left…

What stood out to me:

  • In 1 two block stretch, there were 10 churches of various denominations, all with butt-kicking steeples. it is a snapshot of the sheer number of churches, church buildings in this area. I’ve been to Springfield, MO, home of the Church o’the Nazarene & the A.O.G., but this blew me away, esp. for a city the size of Christiansburg.
  • Also noticed quite a few “Psychic Visions” parlors – not as many as there are churches, but enough to notice.
  • Blacksburg (home of the Virginia Tech campus) is to Christiansburg what Sparks is to Reno.
  • There are at least 5 college campuses within 5 miles.
  • Cracker Barrel would fly in Reno.
  • Ran into Larry the Cable Guy about 300 times. And his brothers. Chilled with them on the porch at the CB.
  • Walmart is Walmart is Walmart. And today, that was a good thing.
  • Virginia Tech has a very cool campus – & it seems that Blacksburg is built around it…

    I’m including a few pictures of our ‘crib’ as well as one of me & the Bean, also at the Cracker Barrell. We’re off for a walk, & hopefully some interaction with others on campus. One of our prayers is that we can make a couple of friends that are at this place this week.

  • Day 1 in Christiansburg…

    We’re here, in Christiansburg. I’d get into the gory details of our travels, but hey, we made it, none the worse for wear, & without too much confusion, though I-77N & I-77S look really, really similar, especially when its dark…)

    After sleeping in (woke up about 11 local time,) I just spent a few minutes doing some virtual searches on the net for important stuff, like Starbucks & local coffee houses. We’ll be going to the store for some staples, & probably trying to find a place to eat before too long as well.

    The place we’re staying is nice – Bean is taking pictures, but it really is great – much better than our 1st apartment; decorated very nicely (or so I’ve been told,) & with comfy couches, a TV (w/DVD player) full kitchen, dining room, & my own closet to put my stuff in. (This is important.) Also, figured out the wireless internet connection for the building we’re in. Also important.

    We’ll be taking a tour of the grounds at some point today with the Coleman’s (who oversee & care for the campus) & then the rest of the day should be up to us – exploring the town maybe. Or sitting in the inside of buildings with A/C.


    Almonds, hair dryers, & other important stuff…

    I’m off today – which means doin’ laundry; dishes; vacuuming; book-selection; travel bag cleanup; & then time to pack. One of my chores in preparation for “the Trip” was finding out what sort of amenities would be in the mini-apartment where we’re staying.

    Coffee pot? Check.
    Ironing board & iron? Check.
    Hair dryer? Check.
    NAX? Check. And they are actually personalized according to what both the Bean & I like. Almonds, jerky o’beef, peanut brittle, & wasser mit koehlensaurer (bubble water.)

    Wow. Sweet.

    Next: directions to all the places we’re headed.

    To & from the airport? (Charlotte, NC is approx. 2:40 from Christiansburg, VA) – Check.
    To & from Salem, VA, home of the Salem Avalanche, Single A affiliate of the Astros? Check.
    To Monticello, home (or should I say “Plantation”) of vastly overrated founding father, Thomas Jefferson? Check.
    To the Cracker Barrell, probably the sweetest restaurant in all of the Southern US? Check.
    To Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech & discount Michael Vick jerseys? Check.
    To the nearest wifi connection so I can Skype my kids, blog, & change my Fantasy Baseball lineups? Pending… Hmmm.

    Found out yesterday that a good friend & his family are relocating because of a job offer. Bittersweet. It’s sweet, as we’ve been praying for a job for him… And yet bitter is because when one lives 90 minutes away, even in Nevada, life circles don’t seem to connect much. Sigh.

    One of the things I reminded myself is that in times like that, it is ok to grieve – maybe even necessary. And if grieving doesn’t happen, the emotions, feelings, pain, angst, etc. will end up coming out in other, less constructive ways. So I cried yesterday & didn’t try to stop it. And again last night. Hmmm. Probably got a couple more of those in me. & that’s ok.

    Not gonna drink the Sweet Tea. You could make Rock Candy from that stuff.

    Had a great coffee talk yesterday with Earl & Brother. Spent a big chunk of time talking through the burgeoning industry that has evolved around Church. And how this ‘business of Church” leads to Christian people coming up with all kinds of funkiness about what makes Church good. And how a ‘good Church’ or even better, a ‘cool Church’ has stuff like a ‘smokin’ hot band’ & ‘cutting edge speeches’ that make non-Christians want to alter their Sunday a.m. routine so that can come & feel the coolness.

    And somehow we think its really about Jesus & not about us… Hmmm.

    WIthout interconnected, authentic friendships & relationships, is it still Church? I wonder.

    I hope to blog our experience, but I am going to be at the foot of the Appalachians :)


    Remember the Sabbath…

    The circumstances of life lately have led to more introspection than normal, which is saying quite a bit, thank you very much. A lot of my pondering has been on the topic of relationships, what’s important in life, & having peace regardless of circumstance. In the midst of it, I keep hearing, “Remember the Sabbath…”

  • It’s a reminder that I’m more than the sum of my accomplishments. That I’m holy, because I belong to God.
  • It’s holy time – set apart to God to honor Him, & live life for the sake of living – I like to think of it as being ‘for no good reason,’ which is something I think about as a poke at the idea that all the time I spend needs to be Productive. And Purposeful.
  • It’s coming to Jesus because His yoke is easy & His burden is light. And anyone selling a different yoke or trying to lay one on you is selling something…
  • It’s life in all of its fullness…

    It’s for me. I choose it.

    Psalm 54 1 Save me, O God, by your name;
    vindicate me by your might.
    2 Hear my prayer, O God;
    listen to the words of my mouth.

    3 Strangers are attacking me;
    ruthless men seek my life—
    men without regard for God.

    4 Surely God is my help;
    the Lord is the one who sustains me.

    5 Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
    in your faithfulness destroy them.

    6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
    I will praise your name, O LORD,
    for it is good.

    7 For he has delivered me from all my troubles,
    and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.


  • juxtaposed…


    WARNING: Long Rambling Post Ahead… I’m working through a process right now – trying to clarify my thoughts, & what Jesus is saying, has said, & is pointing me towards.

    The irony of knowing that there was truth in Jesus’ declaration about life in all of its fullness while not seeing/feeling/experiencing/living in that fullness led to a preoccupation… the kind that I have been told is one of the things that The Bean loves about me. It’s a preoccupation that stays on something, actively & passively, until there’s a point of resolution. She loves it, w/one exception… when the preoccupation turns gets pointed in her direction in a point of relational conflict. But I digress. (Reminds me of when Monk talks about his quirky obsessive/compulsive ‘gift’ as a blessing. And a curse. The “dark side” if you will, of a strength…)

    I spent a lot of time in the Gospel of John; not just in 10:10, but all around it. I was dwelling on; meditating on; maybe even obsessing on it. Call it “focused study.” I would start with the KJV, w/the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance with Hebrew, Aramaic, & Greek word definitions, & review each word in the passage, as every word & phrase is full of meaning & connotations. Examining context, nuances. Then I’d break out all the Bible translations in English that I had available: NASB, NRSV, NKJV, NIT, NLT, & The Message… to see how each of the translators (or paraphrasers) had chosen to word the passage.

    One of the things I do as a part of studying & researching is to go through a big chunk of material (see above paragraph,) then enter “processing mode.” This is where I do something that is seemingly unrelated to what I had just been doing, but actually is a vital part of the studying/researching/writing – usually this involves cleaning or organizing something. It’s like the cleaning helps to sort through thoughts & ideas, & aids the germination of what God is speaking to me about. (I also did this while writing papers in college…) If I’m really onto something, I vacuum. The lines in the carpet are so reassuring…

    Thoughts from 10:10: the thief is one who comes to take what belongs to others & to use it for their own gain or to squander it so the one that has had it, can’t use it. His purpose is 3-fold:

  • to steal – take away by stealth;
  • to kill – slaughter, kill, sacrifice
  • to destroy – render useless; remove completely; ruin; put to an end

    On the other side of that, Jesus states His purpose – the word purpose really, really is important here – it is a main reason that He came.

  • Jesus came that humanity would have – hold fast to
  • Life – vitality, absolute fullness of life
  • In all of its fullness – greater measure; more than is necessary; over & over…

    In the pondering of the word purpose, a light came on. The enemy, the thief is actively working to steal, kill, & destroy – to sabotage humanity. Jesus, who came to undo the works of the devil & more specifically, to give, that humanity would have an abundance & overflow of life… And what He gives cannot be earned. Or deserved.

    Bingo. That was me.

    Jesus died for my sins. I can receive that. He was resurrected from the dead, so I have eternal life. I’m there too. But grace for each day… hmm. that’s where I was stuck. That’s where I was toiling to be ‘worthy’ of the life that I could never earn.

    A flash of remembrance: Rich Mullins had had a dramatic influence on my life through his music, writings, & zest for life. He spoke about something that had changed his life, in how he viewed himself, something that had clarified all that he had ‘known’ about God as revealed in Jesus. It was The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. So I bought it. And made it through 3 pages before I broke down, weeping.

    Jesus loves me. And has grace for me. Even after I became a Christian, His grace is still enough for me.

    to be continued…at some point…

  • Sometimes…

    Sometimes I forget.

    And then I Do… worry ensues. Anxiety. Cares. Frustrations. Heaviness. Burdens. Hard to breathe. Fighting hopelessness. Despair. Like real foes – it’s almost tangible when they enter the room.

    Sometimes I remember.

    And then I Be… fully present where I am. With others. Engaged. Refreshing. Lightening. Glimmers of hope & peace that never totally go away emerge…