Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Music City Bowl

Football Road-Trip!

Auburn and Wisconsin play neck-and-neck, until fourth quarter turn-overs give the
Tigers the Edge

Auburn 28
Wisconsin 14

Our annual "guy" road trip to a football game nearly didn't happen this year; since all attempts to get tickets to an NFL game were frustrated. Then, through some quirk of holiday magic, we were able to get four seats to the "Music City Bowl". It's not exactly one of the biggies, but it was close (played in the Titans stadium in Nashville) and it happened that Auburn was playing, so it was almost a home game!

What was even better was that, through no conscious effort on Santa's part, our tickets ended up being "Club" seats. That meant that our seats adjoined an indoor club with concessions, big screen TVs, and lots of sofas and easy chairs. So, while the rest of the unwashed masses fought their way to and from the stadium concessions and bathrooms from their seats, we just went into the club and were treated like kings!

After the game, we reclined in the club until the unwashed masses cleared out :-)

The boys never actually got on TV, but that didn't stop us from faking it! (see below)

For all of the amenities, the game also turned out to be a doozy! It was back and forth through most of the game. There were just six minutes remaining in the 4th quarter when the game finally broke open. Auburn capitalized on a turnover and never looked back.

So, our third annual football road trip was another awesome success, and it leaves us wondering what next year will bring,...

Check out the picture on the Jumbo-tron! (the game-time camera guys missed us,
but we fixed that with a little photo manipulation!)

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Mission Trips to Venezuela

Our church begins its new emphasis
on missions with a partnership

Our family trip to Venezuela in June of 2001 started something. Something big!

At the time, it was just nice to be able to see where Karen spent most of her childhood. It also explained a lot of things about her :-)

But then we found out that the Baptists of Alabama just happened to be in the midst of a multi-year partnership with the country of,...you guessed it, Venezuela! (what an amazing coincidence!) As a result, there had been several trips to Venezuela sponsored by the state convention, and numerous churches in the state had formed partnerships with churches there.

Seeing an opportunity, Karen sent out some emails about the possibility of going down as a translator, and before we knew it, it was August 2003 and she was winging her way back to Venezuela as part of a trip to start new churches and establish partnerships.

As it happens, our church was experiencing a real awakening to missions. (what an amazing coincidence!) Individuals from our church had recently gone on trips to places like China and Cuba; groups had been to Kenya as well as a number of places in the states; and we hosted missionaries from Brazil in our church mission house. The groundwork was laid.

During the same time, our church was working through the book "40 Days of Purpose", and towards the end it really focuses on the fact that we were "made for a mission". (what an amazing coincidence!) So, not long after she returned from Venezuela, Karen was given the better part of a Sunday morning service to share what her trip had meant to her. The response was overwhelming!

Within weeks, our church had voted to form a partnership with a small start-up church in the town of Miranda, Venezuela. In November, a delegation consisting of a Pastor, a Trustee, and a Deacon (plus Karen as translator) was sent to make it official.

The trip was very quick, but the relationships we established with Pastor Jimmy and the church in Miranda will last a lifetime! Two (or maybe three?) trips are planned for 2004, and more are being planned.

On looking back, it's now clear that all the "coincidences" that brought us to where we are were obviously God's leading. It's an awesome thing to be involved so directly in His business!

Photos from previous trips:

Aug 03

Sep 03

Friday, July 25, 2003

Last Gasp of Summer

Road Trip to Georgia!
to see the Wilsons, Stone Mountain and Six Flags

Alabama public schools are moving closer and closer to a year-round schedule, so the boys are scheduled to start on August 6th this year. As the end of July rolled around, we realized we really hadn't had much of a vacation yet, so we started thinking about where we might go.

We found out that Megan and Laurel were going to be starring in their church's production of "Solid Rock Cafe" on a Sunday night, so we decided to head toward Atlanta and make it a long weekend.

We kept the boys in suspense until we were right outside of Atlanta, which drove Tucker, in particular, nuts.

The show was great, hilighted by Megan's solo, and by Laurel's winning one of the chalk drawings that had been used on the set.

We set off from the church to Stone Mountain, to see the famous laser light show. THAT was cool! We arrived in time to see the sites before it got dark, then settled in with a few thousand of our closest friends to watch the light show.

We drove back to Amy's house for the night, where we were graciously admitted despite the late hour.

The next morning we were greeted with a handsome breakfast, and then we set off for Six Flags. It's been a while since we've been to Six Flags. As near as we can figure from these pictures (taken at the same location at Six Flags) it's been something like five or six years! The boys seem to have gotten a lot older, but Karen and I appear to be much the same :-)

We stayed the entire day, until they closed up at 9 pm. Along the way, we rode all the rollercoasters and major rides, walked about a hundred miles, and drank gallons of coke. All in all, a pretty good trip.

Karen and Gerrit in the front car of the Ninja

Much needed refreshment

Gerrit and Tuck preparing for "Acrophobia"

Another great ride!

Monday, June 2, 2003

First Solo Flight

After years of gazing at the skies,
Dave finally gets the chance to
live his dream!

From the time I was a kid, I've has always loved being up high,... mountain tops, tall buildings, and especially airplanes. Even now, I try to get the window seat whenever I fly for business trips. The idea of actually piloting an airplane was just a dream, though,... something best left for those far-off, halcyon days of retirement.

Then, late last Fall, Karen took me to dinner and made an announcement. She had decided that it was silly to put off the dream when we had the means to make it happen now. What a wife!

So, in February, I started ground school at Madison County Executive airport, under the entertaining tutelage of Rob Lindstrom. Later the same month I began flying lessons at Redstone

Returning from a successful flight: the plane is still
in the same number of pieces as when it left, and so were we :-)

Army Airfield with a fellow Lockheed employee, Dave Williams. Doing both at the same time was like "sipping from a fire hose", but somehow that new knowledge leaked in. By the end of May, ground school was over, the FAA written test had been passed, and it looked like the first phase of flight training was coming to it's logical conclusion,...the first solo.

The first solo take-off.

On June 5, Dave Williams determined the skies were clear and the winds were acceptable, so together we did a few takeoffs and landings to make sure all the cobwebs were blown out. Then Dave had me drop him off and told me to go make three take-offs and landings on my own. He remained on the taxiway to observe, listening on a hand-held radio and taking pictures.

On final approach, flaps down and lined up with the runway.

After the initial "ohmygosh", I steered the Cessna 172 (N35553) onto the runway and took off. As the plane climbed into the air I realized that it was a lot quieter than usual,...due to the absense of my "Constant Flight Interrupter" (the acronym "CFI" actually stands for "Certified Flight Instructor", but they do have a way of peppering you with questions while you're flying!)

The first solo landing,...best of the day.

Everyone's first solo is memorable, but Dave found a way to make it even moreso! After three successful landings, I steered the airplane back over to pick him up and found him standing with two security guards.

It seems they had seen a guy out on the airfield, with a walkie talkie and taking pictures, and given the heightened security around airports these days, they thought that looked suspicious. Well, after several phone calls it was determined that Dave was probably not a threat to national security, and we were allowed to go on our way. Not many students can say their CFI was willing to get arrested for them on their first solo!

Gerrit and Tucker were waiting us when we pulled up at the flying club, and got to help do the traditional shirt thing. I was a little disappointed that Karen couldn't be there, especially since it was all her idea in the first place. But then, as we rounded the corner for home, it all became clear. To cap the whole day off, she had organized a surprise "first solo" and birthday party for me with all of our friends. What a wife!

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Gerrit's Rite of Passage

In our culture, we don’t really have any kind of traditional, ceremonial way for boys to mark their passage into manhood. Our young men have to use things like getting their license, or their first job, or their first whiskers to use as a benchmark that they’ve arrived. And yet, in so many ways, our culture turns right back around and tells them they’re still not ready to do many “adult things”,…they can’t drive by themselves, they can’t vote, they can’t get jobs,…Those are confusing signals.

So we came up with our own way celebrate, in a tangible way, the fact that each of our boys had reached that milestone. The result is our family's "Rite of Passage" during which we challenge the boys (at age 15) to BE the kind of men they want to be rather than just hoping people will think that’s who they are; to decide beforehand how they're going to approach life and its adventures; to live a Life of Faith, a Life of Holiness, a Life of Service and a Life of Excellence.

We ask the boys to identify some men from our church whom they respect , who have exhibited qualities they admire. Each of these men writes them a letter about what they think it means to be a man, and pledges to pray for them through the remainder of their high school years.

We identify a key scripture passage for each area (Faith, Service, Holiness, and Excellence), which they must commit to memory as a “lamp unto their feet, and a light unto their path”.

Finally, each area is represented by a member of our family: the boys' two grandfathers, Karen and Dave, and from each they receive a token of some kind to remember their pledge.

The final act of the ceremony, Dave performs a "knighting" ceremony, using the following words:

"In remembrance of the pledges you have made."
"In remembrance of your lineage and obligations."
"In remembrance of the God whom you serve."
"Son of David, son of Patrick, son of Hubert, son of Clyde and Andrew and Moses, rise and join the company of men."