I Met the Grim Reaper Today

We had a blast at our church’s first-ever Trunk or Treat event today. After a few days of hard rain, the sun came out this afternoon at just the right time, and the weather was perfect for the entire gathering. That was a specific prayer we prayed, and the answer seemed like a wink from heaven.  🙌

We partnered with one other local church, and we wound up serving well over a hundred children, most of whom wore cute or creative costumes. All told, we had about 275-300 people on site. They came from as far as Reading, Mohnton, and Lebanon. They cleaned us out of all the free children’s Bibles we made available, along with some church and gospel literature, and the balloon animals we were making for the kids. Candy was the only thing left over. No complaints there! 🙂

My trunk was a shrine to the Philadelphia Phillies. Talk about scary! But it led to some fun conversations about never giving up on what you truly love, even if it takes a while for you to realize the dream. 💙 (The Phillies didn’t make it to the playoffs again this year.) That, of course, led naturally to some conversations about God’s persistent love for us in Christ. The sign on my SUV said, “Jesus is my victory. The Phillies are just my team.”

The good thing about having all my ball equipment in the trunk is that toward the end of the day, I got to throw a baseball with a man in our church who was semi-pro back in the day. He was a pitcher in the Cubs farm system decades ago. (The man is in his 70s now, but he can still hurl!) He may not have the pop he used to, but he could still throw a curve ball and a knuckle ball, each with good movement. That was most enjoyable. Except for the blue Cubs hat he wore, announcing the World Series Championship they won back in 2016. 🙂

At one point, someone who was dressed as the Grim Reaper came and stood quietly in front of me. I said, “Do we have an appointment today?” She extended her scythe toward me without saying a word. I said, “Well, thanks to Jesus, I’m ready to go. When do we leave?” She started laughing, and then I gave her a handful of candy as an incentive for her not to take me just yet.

I was proud of our people for taking this step of faith in a new outreach. They’re already talking about next year and some things we can do to make it even better. For now, I’m just going to enjoy the moment. And the leftover peanut butter cups. 🙂

A Few Updates at the End of a Glorious Week

1. Holy Week 2021 was a rich and meaningful time for our church family. In the midst of building a new church website, processing all the paperwork for a new corporation, assisting in a friend’s baptism and commissioning service, learning a new educational learning platform, and getting a helpful education on important legal matters, we held the full range of traditional Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday services and activities. I was blessed, challenged, and encouraged by getting to lead and participate in these incredible worship experiences. They always give me so much to “treasure” and “ponder” in my heart, as Mary did while watching her Son in action.

2. Somewhere in the middle of all that activity, I turned another year older, and my family and friends spoiled me. It was a week of visits, gifts, and feastings on top of an otherwise excellent year of health. I’ve been walking, swimming, eating right, and losing lots of pounds. If I can get back on track first thing tomorrow, and resume my disciplines without any more splurges, I may be able to see my abs by July. I know—that’s such a guy goal, right? But I haven’t been able to do that in decades, so I’m going for it. I usually collapse right about now in the journey, so we’ll see how it goes. Thanks in advance for cheering me on!

3. My daughter and I went to Hobby Lobby on Tuesday to get a bunch of knickknacks for the lighted bookshelves in our newly renovated living room. That project went a lot better and took a lot longer than we had originally thought, but nothing compares to the marathon bathroom renovation project that’s now in full swing. Our goal was to have it done by Christmas when the extended family gathered last December for the holidays, but only now is it finally getting close to being finished. The upside is that I wound up getting some cool recessed lighting in my home office as a side benefit. If all goes well, the bathroom will be done in three weeks, and then we can turn our attention to the basement library/podcast studio.

4. My 2013 Ford Edge SEL was on the verge of turning 100k miles, so I replaced it last Friday before it lost its trade-in value. It had a mineral gray exterior and a black interior with heated leather seats. It was a good car, and I enjoyed driving it for three and a half years. Last week I got a 2018 Ford Edge Titanium at a great price and less than 20k miles. (Hey, I like Edges!) It has a shiny white exterior, a cool moonroof, and a two-tone interior with heated leather seats. It’s loaded with features and handles well. I’m looking forward to connecting my devices, learning the display, and discovering all the features I’ve read about but haven’t gotten to try yet.

5. For years I’ve described myself as “an incurable Philadelphia Phillies fan,” but I may have just found the cure. I’m thoroughly disgusted by what the MLB pulled in re-locating the All-Star Game because of Georgia’s new voting law. What lunacy. I’m delighted that the Phils swept the Braves this weekend, but my interest in professional sports has taken a deep nosedive over the past decade. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m tired of politics in sports and will no longer support the industry. There are plenty of other things I can do with my time. For example, my son just got me a training session at the local gun range for my birthday, so we have that to look forward to—in between binging on episodes of the Sherlock series (Cumberbatch/Freeman). Then it’s on to the local Rod & Gun Club to improve my skills.

6. So as not to end on a down note, I’m finally re-energized to go “all-in” on the research and writing of my second dissertation. Those things are just painful to write, but I love my subject matter, and my upcoming schedule should allow for some serious progress. If I’m not on here a lot in the coming months, that’s the reason. But I’ll still read as many of your comments and posts as I possibly can. 

Be blessed, one and all, in the risen Christ. You are at the heart of God’s heart.

A Couple of Gift Pics

I mentioned yesterday that I got way too many gifts for Christmas—all of them special and much appreciated—with two from my kids that truly captured my heart. Here are snaps of those two gifts.

The wooden Phillies mug on the right is made in the shape of—and out of the same material as—an MLB bat. It’s so tall I needed a chopstick to stir the creamer! Drew has a way of getting us the most unique gifts—the kinds of things we would never buy for ourselves but bring a smile to our hearts when he gives them.

My daughter and son-in-law choked me up with a canvas made on their cricut that says, “Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices, Oh night divine, Oh night when Christ was born,” a line from my mom’s favorite Christmas carol, “O Holy Night,” the same one we were singing to her when she passed away. Next year, Lord willing, I’ll write more about that carol and its history. It was an awful lot of work for Bethany and Micah to put this together.

It was a memorable day. (We even had a bit of snow for a few hours!) The greatest gift of course, was the child in the manger. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that Andrew also made each of our likenesses into a 3D-printed comic figure. (I am Batman, haha!) We’re still waiting for the USPS to deliver them, but we have printouts of what they will look like. How in the world did I get such creative kids?

Image Credit: wallpaperfx.com.

Tonight’s Candy Lineup

Local munchkins are in for some sweet treats at our place tonight:

How did I not remember to get Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? Just as well, I guess. They may not have lasted. 🙂

I’ll be dressed tonight as a Philadelphia Phillie.

Very scary. 😮

Have a safe and fun evening with your neighbors.

And enjoy your extra hour tomorrow.

Image Credits: wallpapercave.com; represented brands.