Friday, September 23, 2011

Goodby Summer 2011

Summer is over. Wow! Where did it go so quickly?

I seem to have spent the season immersed in all the usual activities, as well as some new ones. Linda and I built a small deck at the house. Weeks of work went into finishing off the remodeling project on the house on the corner as Benji, his father in law, several other kind volunteers, and I got the place ready for Ben's family to move into just before the arrival of the new bambino. It's been a very nice thing to have some of our grandsons living next door. But even though we see the boys more often, Linda and I were talking last night about the fact that we really haven't had as much quality time with the boys since they moved in next door as we had when they use to come over and spend Friday nights with us! We'll look into correcting that situation.

I have also spent an unusual number of hours mowing grass. Did your grass grow faster this summer that in years past? Mine certainly did!

Linda and I observed our 40th Wedding Anniversary in June, and celebrated it with a Caribbean Cruise on the week of Labor Day. I still marvel that I managed to grab her so many years ago, and that she has had the grace to stay with me all these years. Must be love!

I had opportunity to spend some time (not nearly enough) with the Louisiana grandkids for a few days in June and September, and cherish that time together. They are growing so big and handsome and our hearts yearn to be with them more, yet we are appreciatave of those fleeting opportunities when we can.

There was no Little League baseball for us this Summer, but there was Soccer in the Spring, and Football kicked off before the end of Summer.

No trip to Cincinnati this Summer to watch my beloved Redlegs, but Jay and I had opportunity to take in a Diamondback/Giant game in Phoenix together this Summer, after the close of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.

Lots of ministry activity this Summer, with sermon prep, counseling sessions, radio program productions, meetings, Seminary and local Baptist Association business, four funerals, and numerous hospital, nursing home, and other visits. And, as always for the past 7 years, regular monthly visits to the Ashland Bellefonte Cancer Center as well as the other required specialists for podiatry and endocrinology! I thank God daily for each additional day He has chosen to allow me to be here.

An entire Spring and Summer have passed, and I have not set foot on a golf course. I miss that, and must make some time next year (if there is a next year).

Biggest joy of the Summer? There were many blessings, but I suppose the highlight was the birth of our fifth little grandson, Nathaniel Ray Adkins.

Greatest disappointment? The sad treatment of several dear brothers in the ministry, who had their positions defunded in an arbitrary, "top - down" action by an agency of the SBC. These missionaries and their families had faithfully served the Lord and their convention for years as local association missionaries, campus ministers, and in resort missions. My heart breaks for these brothers and sisters and their children, but the good news is that they serve a God who is greater than any agency or administrator or council. Although many of us were shocked and disappointed by the way this all came down so quickly - none of this came as a surprise to Him.

Brothers, remember the promise of God in Isaiah 41:10 "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'"

Some of you might also take comfort in those next three verses as well. Just sayin'...

Monday, September 5, 2011

And We're Off! (We Hope)

Hopefully Linda and I will be departing today on Carnival Cruise Lines' ship, "Triumph" out of the Port of New Orleans. At least we're scheduled to leave today. Whether or not we leave on time today is up to Tropical Storm Lee and its aftermath. Most of the storm has now passed through New Orleans and its remnant is now on its way up through the southeastern U.S. to be enjoyed by our neighbors back home through the coming week.

I knew very well that a potential tropical storm, or a hurricane could complicate our plans for a Western Caribbean cruise, back when I made plans for this trip. After all, August and September are peak months in Hurricane season. However, this week would be the only week that would work for both of us, so we whispered a prayer and made our reservations back in June.

It's the first cruise for us, and I have approached this with mixed emotions.

Suffice it to say that an Ocean Cruise has never been on my bucket list. I am a landlubber with a capital L. I didn't even enjoy watching "The Love Boat".

The Ocean is a beautiful thing. The seas cover 3/5 of the Earth's surface, and have long fascinated mankind, and inspired countless poets. I have always viewed the ocean in awe of God's beautiful and powerful handiwork. I just prefer to view it from terra firma. I'm not even a "beach person". Don't get me wrong... I don't mind going to the beach for a day or so. It's great to see the beauty of the ocean, and enjoy the sun and sea breeze. But a day or two of that will do me fine. Sometimes I'll even wade out into the water waist deep or so, but that is the boundary of my comfort zone.

Their are varmints that live in that ocean. They range in size from tiny creatures to huge leviathans. Although God has created all creatures great and small, and each have a purpose in creation, I have always had an aversion to any animals with less than two legs or more than four. I firmly believe that God has given them that territory, and I have no desire to intrude upon it. In fact, once, about 20 years ago, something brushed against my leg as I played in the surf at Topsail Island, NC, and I have really had little desire to go out into the water since then.

Give me the mountains, with a cabin by the lake or river, and I'll call that a vacation!

Why then, one might ask, would I want to go on a cruise?

Because Linda Adkins wants to go on one!

Linda has always indicated that she would love to take a cruise. I usually said something like "Harrummph!" and moved right along. (pretty selfish, huh?)

Well, call it my conscience (or whatever) but when it came time to plan for something nice I could do for Linda for our 40th Wedding Anniversary, the concept of a cruise kept coming to mind. I honestly sought for several other alternatives, but deep in my heart I knew that, given the choice, Linda would have most certainly chosen the cruise option. So I bit the bullet, and asked my daughter in law, Michelle (our family travel agent) go into planning mode. It was the least I could do for one who has put up with me, and taken care of me, for 40 long years.

The smile on Linda's face when she was told of the plan, was enough to make the whole thing worthwhile.

Our anniversary was actually in June, but this is the week that we could both work out vacation, considering her work schedule and my own ministry constraints. We have both been looking forward to the first week of September, and our opportunity to get away for a special time together to celebrate the past four decades. All of our friends and relatives who have done cruises, say that we will love it. I expect we will!

We drove into New Orleans on Friday afternoon, just as Tropical Storm Lee arrived from the south.

Outdoor activities here have been scuttled, to say the least, but it has been great to be with our son, daughter in law, and two of our grandsons for the past three days.

Our ship was scheduled to depart today at 4:00 PM, but Lee put a crimp in the plans. The high seas and flooded Mississippi River have kept the Triumph at sea in the Gulf, until this morning. The latest notification we have received said that the ship has begun its trip up river and that (weather permitting) boarding should begin at 8:00 PM.

So, bags are packed, seasick patches firmly affixed behind the ear, and "Fun Passes" in hand, we are ready to go.

Praying for a timely departure, smooth sailing and a relaxing few days ahead.

(Don't tell Linda, but I think I'm actually going to enjoy this!)