Monday, February 19, 2007

Enjoying a Holiday!

It seems Elaine, the kids and I were not the only ones enjoying the President's Day holiday! You can see that Tucker is getting quite large and that Samantha was playing with her blanket on the sofa.

I got up from the sofa, saw the two dogs sleeping and tiptoed to get my digital camera. I was surprised they stayed sleeping while I got up.

We have enjoyed our day off. It is cold out, but I built a fire and fixed a few things around the house. I replaced a socket and switch on a lamp and installed a new light fixture in our upstairs hallway.

As a family we have been playing Dance, Dance Revolution on the Playstation. Sammi bought it with her birthday money. Of all of us, Elaine is the best, Sammi and I are about tied, and Jay brings up the rear. It is the game that is popular in the mall arcades. A music soundtrack is played with arrows on the screen, you have to step on the proper arrow on a mat at the proper time. It is fun as there are a lot of great songs from the 80s on the game.

I hope you had a great holiday as well.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Homiletical Sympsium Days 4 & 5

Thursday was a good day at the Symposium. In the morning we were blessed by Dr. Ellsworth Kalas' preaching class. He shared 9 convictions of Preaching. They are as follows.

1. Be a Biblical Preacher
2. Be a creative Preacher
3. Find the Plot
4. See the human side
5. Don't lose the plot
6. Keep the frequent fliers alert
7. Don't waste words
8. Little Things matter

As I review my notes, I must have been distracted, and forgot to copy the 9th conviction! I will have to email my fellow classmates for the ninth.

After Dr. Kalas' class we went to chapel and were blessed by Rev. Larry Eddings of the Wind of the Spirit ministries. He spoke on healing and forgiveness and it was very moving and liberating.

Following lunch, we enjoyed Dr. Don Demaray's class. Dr. Demaray has been at Asbury since the 1950's and is pretty much a homiletical genius! He has a vast mind and the Holy Spirit revealed Himself in the class.

The rest of the afternoon was free and we were able to study and go to the library. Following dinner we had another great workshop with Dr. Mike Pasquarello. It was a question and answer time once again and some critical issues came out regarding mission and the Army's identity.

On Friday, we were honored to be invited to Dr. Demaray's home for tea and to see his vast library. His library had more books than I have ever seen in a private home! I mentioned to him that one of my uncles was a student of his, and yes Uncle Dave he remembers you and sends his regards. I purchased a book off him and had him sign it for me.

We enjoyed a luncheon and then I was driven to the airport. There is not much to do in Lexington Blue Grass Airport for 2 hours, so a few of us found a cafe/pub, grabbed a soda and enjoyed each other's fellowship for our remaining time together. Shortly thereafter, I boarded a CRJ and we were wheels up to Charlotte. It was great to see the Smoky Mountains from 27,000 ft. They were quite impressive even from that altitude. We landed in Charlotte, grabbed dinner at Chili's and waited to board our 757 to Hartford. We were wheels up about 20 minutes late due to ground traffic, but once airborne it was a nice flight up the east coast over Washington, Baltimore, Wilmington, and New York. Flying over those cities at night is really something.

The experience of the symposium was a very positive one. I plan to apply what was learned and build on my knowledge of preaching.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Symposium Days 2 & 3

Tuesday was a great day at the symposium. It started off early enough with having my sermon videotaped. I have never been videoed while preaching, so this was a new experience for me. I must say it wasn't bad and went quite well. Once I get home, I will try to post the video of my sermon on the blog. That should be fun.

After watching my other classmates do their sermons, we enjoyed a chapel service. The afternoon was free for research and meetings with our faculty mentors. In the evening we had a preaching workshop with Dr. Mike Pasquarello. It was an amazing night of just asking questions and dialoging. I got back to my room around 10 PM and promptly went to sleep.

Wednesday turned out to be a rather busy day. After morning devotions, I made my way to the bookstore and picked up a few books. One written by Dr. Pasquarello will be a valuable resource for my final paper. After a stop at the bookstore I went to my faculty advisor's office for a quick meeting. We re-scheduled my meeting for after lunch to review my sermon DVD. I must say, I did feel it went well, but I was very open to criticism. Dr. Strawhun (Lee) was very supportive and had good things to say about my sermon and delivery. It was very encouraging and uplifting to hear that.

After my meeting, we had the opportunity to sit in on Dr. Pasquarello's Preaching class. That was very informative and enjoyable. We seem to be hearing a recurring theme to preach with theology! Get into the word! It is sounding like a resounding gong.

After our class time, we went out as a group to SpindleTop Hall for dinner. The SpindleTop Hall is a mansion that now serves as a private club for the University of Kentucky Alumini. It is a lovely facility, but I thought it was rather stuffy. I would have rather gone to Applebees, TGIFriday's or a restaurant like that.

On the way home, I got to drive an antique Mercedes that someone in my class owns. The car is older than me, and was a thrill to drive such an old car in great condition.

Upon return, I went to my room and watched the final cut for American Idol. However, since I missed Tuesday night episode, I was kind of out of the loop. Oh well, such is life!

More tomorrow, if I do indeed get a chance to get to the computer!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Homiletical Symposium Day One

Yesterday was the first official day of the Homiletical Symposium and so far I think all is going well. There are only six of us here for the symposium, so there is an emphasis on the small group dynamic. There is plenty of time built in for research and study for our final paper that will be due next month. The topic of that paper is "The Theology of My Preaching." I have begun to think about a rough outline for my paper, and should have something in writing in the next day or so.

One of the things that I am excited about is to sit in some "real" seminary classes. I believe we get to sit in on 3 or 4. I don't have my schedule open as I type this! Two of the professors are literally world renowned, so it should be quite a treat. Dr. Demeray and Dr. Kalas are both highly regarded in the Methodist community, so we are in for a good time.

In 45 minutes, I have to go to the preaching chapel and preach to the red light. At 9:30 it is my turn to be video taped preaching. I am hoping that it goes well because I enjoy having an audience to look at, and make frequent eye contact. I do have a good imagination, so that should help!

Today is mostly a day dedicated to research, so I expect it to go by rather slowly. I am not much of a student, so I will really have to force myself to go to the library and take advantage of what the ATS library has to offer.

Well, I am off to break now. I will update again tomorrow.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Safe In Kentucky

Everything went well today as I traveled to Kentucky. US Airways provided safe and smooth transportation and my luggage arrived when I did. That is always a good thing. I was picked up at the airport by my Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and cousin's husband. We enjoyed a good meal at a place called Ramsey's. I was told by my cousin Krista that it is a "Lexington institution." I did enjoy my chicken and dumplings as I don't get good southern food in New England. After enjoying a good time with the Kentucky members of my family, I was dropped off at Asbury. I got my room and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

I enjoyed dinner then with some Asbury College students who are close family friends. After the good food that I had today, I should be fattened up enough to live this week considering the food at the Seminary is not too great!

Tomorrow the Symposium starts. I am excited to see what is in store for the week. It looks like I will have some good one on one time with my preaching mentor, as well as quality class time. There is a business center here at the Asbury Inn, so I will be sure to give daily updates.

Well, I am off to the room to find something to do until Battlestar Galactica comes on.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Kentucky Here I Come

Very early Sunday morning, I will board a US Airways 757 to Charlotte, NC, then board a Canadair Regional Jet to Lexington, KY. After visiting some family nearby for lunch, I will be dropped off at Asbury Theological Seminary for the first ever Homileticial Symposium for 5 days.

The Symposium is a follow up to the regular Preaching Seminar sponsored by ATS and our own education department. I attended the seminar in 2002 and must say it was a highlight of my officership. I was very impressed with the quality of instructors and the overall experience.

This Symposium promises to be that and more. It is a small group experience. I think there are only seven officers from our territory appointed to the symposium, and seeing the list, I know for a fact that I am the youngest attending! I hope I don't stir the pot too much with my thinking!

There were written assignments that needed to be done prior to the on campus portion of the seminar. These included three interaction papers on books read, and two sermon critiques. One of the critiques was very hard to be tough on. The preacher was Dr. Ellsworth Kalas, who I think is one of the best preachers/speakers I have ever heard.

The final piece is to write a sermon. I have completed all but this, but I will have it completed in a few hours.

I plan to blog from Asbury as long as the computers in the lab don't block blogger. I don't expect this to be the case, but you never know! The Salvation Army after all blocks myspace!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

PC at the Geek Squad

Thank goodness for the Geek Squad! No I am not being rude and putting myself on an intellectual pedestal. I am truly grateful to the Geek Squad at Best Buy.

Over the weekend, my laptop was shutting down early due to overheating. I got online at work, (on my desktop), and chatted with a Geek. He told me I should bring in my laptop. The next day bright and early I made a journey to the Waterford Best Buy to see what they could do with my computer.'

It seems that my computer has a lot of dust in it which is causing it to run hot. So it is away being opened up and cleaned out. The Geek at the Best Buy told me that was probably in the best interest of the longevity of my computer. I will be without it for about 2 weeks, but that is okay as I am going to Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky for 6 days next week. I was hoping to be able to take my computer as my work is on that, but oh well, this is better for it in the end. The only drag is now I have to finish my assignments on my work computer which is not as convenient.

I am truly grateful for A) my service plan, and B) the Geek squad for always being there to help a guy like me!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Contrast of Winters

Ok, so I have had it! I really have. Don't get me wrong, I like warm weather, but I do occasionally like a good snowstorm. This year I have yet to pick up a shovel and have only brushed off my cars to save my wipers. I just think it is absolutely obsurd that here it is February 3rd and I have yet to lift a shovel or start my snowblower! Below is a picture of our driveway 10 minutes before typing this post.

Now mind you, last evening we were supposed to get 1-3 inches and although that is not much in any sense of the word, I was excited about it. Instead it rained, with some flurries before a cold front came and froze all of the rain that fell.

Now the next picture was taken just two years ago, almost exactly to the day. Now it was taken in Maine, but that is only about 140 miles north of Norwich.

This wasn't a fluke! This happened quite often in Maine. To put a frame of reference, the van is 7 ft high. The snow banks at the end of the driveway were about 6 ft high and backing up one was totally blind for a day or so until the snow compacted. In Maine the snow didn't melt, it just compacted.

I know I posted a couple of weeks ago that winter had finally arrived, but I am still not convinced. Sure it got bitterly cold for a few days and the forecasters are predicting the same for the days ahead. However, when I lived in Connecticut from 15-20 years ago, I seem to remember the weather men being wrong quite often. It seems not much has changed in the time since. I guess it truly is the job where you can be wrong a lot and still have job security!

How is your winter going? I am curious to see how this winter will end up. Perhaps in a few months I will blog about it again.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Groundhog Day!

Today is February 2nd and you know what that means...its Groundhog Day! Having lived four years of my life in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, this day means a little bit more to me than others.

Well today, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow. That means that spring is just around the corner. I guess Phil is conscious of this crazy weather the Northeast has been having.

Punxsutawney is truly a unique community. It is about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, and its population is around 6,100. That is down from the 7500 that lived there 20 years ago when I did. The groundhog truly is the centerpiece of town. In addtion to having a climate controlled den in the library/civic complex, Phil's image is all over town. The local school sports teams are the Punxsutawney Chucks. One of the shopping plazas is Groundhog Plaza. If I remember correctly, the logo for the main volunteer fire department in town is an image of a groundhog with a fireman's hat, holding a hose. Despite its quirkiness, it is a great place to raise a family.

I occasionally keep tabs as to what is going on in Punxsy by reading its newspaper online. Not unlike many other small towns, I still to this day read about people that I knew 20 years ago. The same people are doing the same things...they are just older.

So's to you Punxsy and Punxsy Phil! This Connecticut Yankee salutes you.