Can I handle the truth?

There’s a scene in the movie, “A Few Good Men” where Tom Cruise’s character is questioning Jack Nicholson’s character in a courtroom. Cruise’s character pushes at Nicholson’s, demanding the truth until Nicholson finally snaps & yells, “You can’t handle the truth!”  I’ve been thinking a lot about that in the context of God’s truth & insight into my own life.

I’m on ‘Day 2’ at the Center for Spiritual Renewal in Christiansburg, Virginia. (You can find out more about it HERE if you’re interested.) So far, my time here has mostly consisted of grocery shopping, eating A LOT of BBQ, reading, pondering life, & a whole lot of quiet & alone time. But the highlight of each of the last 2 days for me has been when I get to sit with Chuck, my mentor/counselor/friend, & wrestle through “that which plagues my heart, mind, & life.” Chuck serves as one of my “healing relationships.” (You can find out more about what a healing relationship is HERE.) When we talk, he doesn’t just sit there like a bump on a log & ask inane questions, like, “How does that make you feel?” or go Dr. Leo Marvin on me. Instead, Chuck listens. Asks pointed questions. He draws stuff out of me that I hadn’t even consciously thought about, let alone verbalized. And then he speaks God’s truth to me.

Granted, it’s not always easy to hear the truth; & the Holy Spirit is always good about confirming what he’s said or whispering to me that I really need to pay attention to what was just said – that God was using Chuck to speak life, health, wholeness, & growth to me. That if I could handle the truth & respond to it with appropriate actions, I would continue to see God’s purposes for me & my life continue to grow & develop.

There have been times where Chuck said something & the Holy Spirit nudged me & STILL I was tempted to gloss over what I’d heard. To deny it. Justify or make excuses about WHY I am the way I am. To point fingers at others. To ignore it. To feel sorry for myself. To come face to face with truth & want to turn & run from it to avoid having to do something difficult.

The truth, spoken in love, challenges me to examine & be open to change/be transformed in my thought patterns, behaviors, &/or ways I see myself & my role at home, work, with friends, & others. God’s truth invites me to grow up into being like Christ in my relationships & interactions with others. To leave my childish sin & flesh-encrusted ways behind in order to  intentionally  embrace Christ-likeness, without regard for how (or if) others might act or respond.

The truth isn’t always easy to hear – but when it is spoken in love, with God’s heart for redemption, restoration, & transformation fully evident, it is a lot easier to handle. And the alternative is stagnation. Becoming set in my ways. A gradual(?) deterioration into the results of me living for me. The loss of the ability to hear the still, small voice of the Lord calling me to come to Him to be being made new.

My 2 cents: Find someone who will speak God’s truth to you, in love. Then, handle the truth by responding to God’s instruction. It’s worth it.

musings on a Slow Saturday…

I’m functioning on EST pretty well – getting to bed by 10 or 11, usually rolling out about 8. Last night, I hit the sack a little earlier & the next thing I knew, I awoke to the sounds of falling rain. No thunder that I could hear, just the regular rhythm of rain on the pavement outside… if I wasn’t on the ground floor (out of 3 levels) perhaps I’d be talking about rain on the roof, which is one of my favorite sounds… & it was 9:45 in the a.m.

A part of my brain kicked in, knowing that 9:45 is LATE & there must be SOMETHING that needs to happen, something I need to do, a place to go… as the sleepy haze left, I once again realized that today is Slow Saturday – & day with Nothing on the agenda, the day of my week where I intentionally scheduled Nothing. I was roused from my thought by the beeping of the coffee pot finishing its brew cycle. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the coffee pot letting me know it is done… only thing cooler would be if it said, “Hey. Finished!”

Reading a lot, with lots of interruptions for thinking. A conversation I had with Chuck yesterday has been circling my brain – perhaps not so much in what was said in the conversation, but in the WHERE the conversation led to in my thoughts…

What keeps coming up is Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.

I’m thinking on friendship – the kind of true friendship Proverbs addresses – the kind of friend that will stick with you through thick & thin, in good & bad – who wants the best for you – who sticks up for you if others run you down when you’re not around – who can genuinely be happy for you when something good happens to you, & who grieves with you in your pain.

And mostly, I’m thinking about how a friend, a good, true friend – will speak the truth in love – & be willing to say something that is hard to hear – to act as a ‘mirror’ – reflecting the truth of the matter, what they see & observe when so many others would cover over, ignore, &/or turn their head away.

I think in principle we want that kind of friend, but in reality, its easier to respond poorly to them – to deny, discount, &/or reject what they’re saying – to go on the defensive & pour out the excuses why the things they are mentioning are Not My Fault… maybe more often, we go on the offensive, & take shots at them – getting on a High Horse & lobbing verbal grenades at the one who would Dare to say such things to us. Even if its just them reflecting what they see.

I think that it takes a lot of humility to be able to receive correction – & trust, that the person speaking really does love me, & isn’t just pointing out faults to belittle me &/or to make themselves ‘bigger.’ That they want the best for me. That the ‘wounds’ they’ve given are more truthful & more important to me being able to grow & develop into the person I want to be than all the deceptive, pandering, & disingenuous ‘kisses’ of an enemy…

On more than 1 occasion, I’ve been on the receiving end of rebuke, correction, & reflection – & every time, it was tough to hear – but in retrospect, I prefer going through each of those difficult talks, & having to really, really work through stuff, than I would have wanted them to say nothing, or worse, tell me that what they saw wasn’t So Bad, esp. compared to Some.


It seems to me that the alternative of self-justification, self-righteousness, & pride aren’t worth it.

I want to have real friends, & also to BE a real friend. Especially when its tough.

Finished my LOTR Extended Version marathon. Still cry at when Sam & Frodo are alone on the rock, surrounded by liquid hot Mag-Ma. Maybe it’s the Frodo/Sam friendship that has been a part of provoking these musings as well. Hmm.

Tuesday morning thoughts…

Yesterday was a travel day – making my way to CSR, Virginia, & the East… the flight I had to get on to start the day was at 6 in the morning… which of course means that one needs to arrive at the airport & through security by 4:50 a.m… this is really hard to do if one awakes at 5:00 a.m. Oops. It was funny to run around crazy, (a very calm, controlled crazy, don’t you know?) & be out of the house by 5:07. Silly me. TheBean was great & even got extra snacks together for me on the way out of the house.

Got to the airport at 5:25 (I’m actually married to the Transporter, so as long as I pay attention to her rules, she will get me where I need to be, no questions… :)

Inside, the United desk had closed the registration for my opening flight, & were explaining to a couple of people (increasingly loud & frustrated people) that if they had just been there ON TIME to register & check their bags, this wouldn’t be happening. (Which, I must point out, is pretty obvious – but also not on the approved list of saying for “Grumpy People Handling 101..” I made my way up to the counter, shot up a quick prayer for favor – & the attendant checked my info & my bag. I told her I was late, & that I thought I’d still be able to make it to the flight. She smiled. I also told her “These are not the droids you’re looking for,” & “My bag will be hand placed onto the plane by the Miles Davis of bag handlers…” I got to my gate & my boarding group hadn’t been called…

Went through Denver, on to Chicago, & then to Roanoke, VA on a leeetttle jet that you’d fly on the SF to Reno flight…

Waited at the baggage claim for my bag… & there it was. Thank you Jesus – here’s to prayer & Jedi mind tricks, my very own woman driver, self-control, & keeping a good attitude in the middle of chaos.

Now it’s Tuesday & I’m slowly navigating onto E.S.T.

Brought coffee from home – & watched it brew at 0 Dark:30… the coffee maker has a “Stronger Brew” button. I don’t know if it does anything, but I pressed it 11 times. It’s like having an amp that goes to “11,” because making “10” louder just isn’t enough. “11” provides the extra “umph.”

Comfy bed, nice office space, & quiet. It is green outside, which is nice to look at from INSIDE. Weather forecast says thunder showers. Hoping it can hold off a bit, as I’ve got tickets to the Salem Red Sox game this evening…

Meeting with Chuck today for lunch & talks, then nothing on the agenda save a trip to Walmart & maybe to the Starbucks on the edge of the VaTech for reading, good java, & people watching. The students are coming back for the fall in droves, which means this place is hopping with Hokies.


Thursday evening blogging while I’m waiting for my next cab-fare…

I’ve been counting down for the last 12 weeks… & I’m down to double digits. Monday, I’m off to the Center for Spiritual Renewal in Christiansburg, VA – where theBean & I went last year. This year, I’m flying solo for a 7 day rest, renewal, counseling, & solitude trip. Can’t wait. I’m planning on reading, going to a couple of baseball games (Salem Red Sox), & hanging out on the fringes of the Virginia Tech (VT) campus – there are tons of good eateries & loitering spots that I plan to occupy. Hmmm. Can’t wait.

Stop & go driving in the heat is most likely my least favorite thing these days… seems like with the schedules that we’re keeping, I am trying to enjoy it & make the most of my transit time. To Golden Eagle. Church. To Reed High. Home. Repeat.

So I try to make it so that I’ve always got a Speech on mp3 to listen to – I’ve taken to loading my phone to make my solo time in the car “listening time.” It’s good… but I’ll take highway driving hands down.

Both boys are in ‘double-days’ for football right now – meaning – they have 2 practices a day for the next 10 days – helmets & shorts until Monday, then lots of hitting in full pads to get ready for Week 1 of the 2009 season. Go Pasty. Go IDoey…

Just got a new paperback copy of Lord of the Rings for my trip – I hope it smells good. I love the smell of a good book. Isn’t that viert?

I love the coolness of the evenings lately – very nice. Now THIS is the Nevada I know.

TheBean has had a turn or 3 with “positional vertigo.” Thanks to Christine the Gifted Ear Doctor & the Mighty Hand & Outstretched Arm of the LORD, she is up & about, walking in straight lines again.

I thought Ellie was small, then I saw Ellie’s cousin, my nephew Trevor… He is small. Then I saw Baby Zoe – now SHE is really small. And she makes the same ‘Weezy” noises that gave my Weezer her nickname. I wonder if there’s something in the girly DNA in the fam…

New shoes. Nike Sparq (with an Q!) Which of course makes them eXXXXXXtra cool. And boy can I run fast & jump higher than ever.

Sometimes all a man needs is a tortilla filled with cheese. After its been heated in a pan, of course.

Its funny to me that incredibly terrible movies keep coming out every week, & people keep lining up to go see them, as though somehow its required to do so. Goodness. Not even free popcorn with butter all ov-ah could get me to the theatre… Oh, for a Hitchock classic. Like “Notorious.”

School starts up again for us in just a couple of weeks – & all 3 of the kiddos will be out of the house, M-F, by 7 a.m. That’s not late, no, no, it’s earl-ay, earl-ay…

And on that note, what ever happened to the Spin Doctors?

I’m interested to see how the whole “Michael Vick is back in the NFL” will be playing out in Blacksburg & the VT campus…

More & more I find myself singing little songs that I have made up, somewhere, sometime, for some reason. And I find myself… amused. And the best part is that the iPhone now has a Voice Recorder just in case I generate a gem that I can send to Jack’s Big Music Show or to the Wiggles (if the Wiggles are still around. Must check into that…)

Over/under for the number of fantasy football teams I will have this fall = 10. Currently, I’m taking the “under.”

a few things…

Had coffee & good talks with Shontell’s brother, Kristopher yesterday… we coffeed locally, at a place owned by a guy named Jim, not one of them coffee chains. We got to hang for a couple of hours, & the only interruptions we had were from Jim pouring beans into the roaster right behind us… throughout our entire coffee-ing. Made me think of the Age’s job in Minden as KOTR (King of the Roaster‘s) for the Siren Coffee Chain…

Over the last couple of days, we’ve seen some interesting things…

Driving from Blacksburg home to Christiansburg, we saw a motorcycle pulling something. I was intrigued, so I pulled up to find that it was a hollowed out log, like a log from a theme-park log ride, with a dog in the back of the log. A dog wearing aviators glasses. A dog named “Ruby.”

Now, it’s not that I’m a dog lover, or that I thought that the scenario of the guy pulling his dog was especially cute, or that my mother-in-law’s name is Ruby…

On the same drive, we saw Bo & Luke Duke, as well as the General Lee, sitting outside of Cooter’s Garage. ’nuff said.

Went to the Salem Avalanche game last night – the “Salem Men’s Choral Group” – old guys in their 80s & 90s, in tuxes – sang the National Anthem, which was cool. The best part was that they walked (& walk-ered) onto the field to GNR’s “Welcome to the Jungle…” Truly.

I’m thankful for our daily discussions with Chuck – every day, I’ve/we’ve spent at least 90 minutes in conversation – & have received a lot of input. Things that stand out to me so far as I process internally & in this virtual arena…

  • Making sure that I know, recognize, & live within my limits (& rhythms) in the areas of time, relationships, energy output & investment (among others) is a key for me…
  • Being able to lead oneself is imperative for personal & relational growth… Knowing what to say “Yes” & “No” to. Not living by my whims, taking on a victim’s mentality, blaming others for my issues, choices, etc. “Leading oneself” might also be called self-control, self-discipline, self-governing, self-boundaries… & it’s not a rigid, militaristic way of life, but is a “fruit of the Spirit” way of life.
  • Feeding my soul is necessary for life in its fullness.
  • Feeding the soul of my relationship with theBean is necessary for that relationship to thrive.
  • The kind of relationships I want require that 2 people are both feeding into them; are taking responsibility for their own selves; not looking for the other to fulfill or complete me… Not being taken advantage of. Not being used as a ‘means to an end.’
  • If I don’t stop & grieve, I can’t grow. This means grieving where I’ve experienced loss: death, of friendships, unfulfilled dreams, hurts, disappointments, friends moving, etc. My observation is that we (Americans) & we (the American Church) don’t grieve much. Or well.
  • Jesus is more concerned with me, the person, & in the process I’m in, & how I “play with others around me”, than in anything I could ever do, any role I ever fulfill, any output or accomplishment that comes from my life.
  • There are things that I would still be doing/living even if I didn’t have the job I have; remembering that, & trying to stay congruent by ‘doing/living’ those things now, is something I’m pondering.

    I have a couple of travel uniforms – meaning, I wear the same pants & shirt… funny, but comforting. My ‘new’ jeans. White T. Sweet black support socks (to keep the blood flowing instead of pooling in my feet.) Blue polo. Comfy black slip ons. My 1 belt. Yeah. It’s all laid out, right now, ready to go. Only 24 hours & I’ll be on a jet plane with my girlfriend, coming back to my family. And the life that I love. And am thankful for. Sigh.

    Thank you.

  • 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 3

    Started the morning with some link sausage & eggs, covered with whipped cream. Either my taste buds are wacky now, or I’ve discovered one of those little joys of how certain foods go well together, even when they may not be usually paired together. Went to my 1st solo appointment with Chuck – hit the ground running (ok, talking) & really enjoyed the conversation… it really was a time of ‘connecting the dots’ for me – esp. in light of the EHS materials that I’ve been going over for the last while.

    Finished up & had to process – lots of processing – lucky for me, the gym was open, so I went in & ran around for about an hour, shot some hoop, & checked out the ‘weight room;’ decided “No Thanks!” on the weights & shot some more. It was sweltering in the gym – which is almost the perfect atmosphere for what I was doing.

    After getting cleaned up, theBean & I went to WalMart to return some defective hair product, then headed back to our favorite spot that we’ve discovered so far: the Starbucks @ Kent Square. TheBean picked up a magazine or two from the VTU student union building, & I dove back into A Long Obedience… We hung out outside until our parking stub had to be re-validated.

    By that time, we were pretty hungry; & I was craving wings – & thought that I’d seen an ad for a Buffalo Wild Wings somewhere in Blacksburg. We didn’t know for sure, but were both feeling pretty adventurous – & decided to try & deduce where a Buffalo Wild Wings SHOULD be, & then go find it. We both agreed that the best place for such a business would be in close proximity to the campus in order to take advantage of the ‘locusts’ – kinda like you see around the UNR campus.

    So, we had a plan, & a general idea, & started driving. Did a couple of switchbacks & U-Turns, & found a street that looked promising – boom. There it is. Total search time: 10 minutes. Nice. We are awesome.

    The first night, we’d gone to Salem to catch a Carolina League, “High” Class A baseball game; tonight we wanted to try something different, a trip to Pulaski for a Rookie League game. Drove about 20 minutes to the I-81 exit, & then drove through town, looking for the park where the game would be held. It was only 6 p.m. but the streets were totally barren, like everyone had been raptured but us. Nothing & no one anywhere. We drove for about 30 minutes looking for the park, driving up & down insanely steep hills, through neighborhoods that made me wish I warn’t so ‘city-fied’. Finally, we found a service station, & a nice guy named Doug that pointed us in the direction of the park. Took 5 minutes to get there.

    All I can say is that Calfree Park, home of the Pulaski Mariners, is as far from the Salem experience we had, as is the east from the west. Wow. For theBean, who loves people watching, we entered a gold mine. It was “Halloween In August” night at the game, which meant lots of people dressed up in all sorts of costumes, with a Mayberry flair (& I mean that in a good way.) Other highlights from the night:

  • There was 6 feet difference between the general admission seats & the box seats.
  • One of the “Reserved Box Seats” was called the “No Red Sox” Box. No fans of the Sox were allowed inside it.
  • The ball game seemed to be a social highlight, so there was all kinds of strutting going on, from the teen girl squad, to the pseudo-jock crowd, to the good old boys, to the ‘looking back at the glory days’ group – pretty amazing. (Again, a gold mine.)
  • The announcer (& press box crew) took every opportunity to show off their ability to use technology (sound effects, including some from movies, & music) to poke fun at the other team – the Bluefield Orioles. For example, one of the guys (the oldest players are 21 & 22; some are 17 & 18) had a Giambi-like mustache; whenever he came to the plate, the announcer would play the Magnum PI theme song. Priceless. And for a strike out? Wayne & Garth saying “Schwing!”
  • The two 10-12 year old boys behind us had a running commentary going on – think Opie meets the Dukes of Hazzard. Then they got onto the topic of which one of them was “sexier” than the other. Finally, one of them said, “I am soooo sexy, that I’ve got two middle names. Sexy & sexy.” I lost it when they then fought over which one had the sexiest mother.
  • TheBean, in her people watching, had a couple of gems as well; she asked, “Are these people all related? Because they all look alike. Especially the small noses…”

    Good times. The home team lost a pitchers duel (2-0) but it was a great experience. Again. We’ll probably catch at least one more game while we’re here… probably in Salem.

    Ended the night with Double Cheeseburgers, 47 Pound Rooster, & the Office. And some deep talks. Very nice. Here’s some pics.

  • 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.