Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

No escargo for you, young lady!

On Memorial Day, we took a walk down to the beach. Now, I'm glad my daughter is generally okay with the critter side of life. She's far more amused by things like frogs and worms than terrified. (In fact, ever since I dug up some worms with her to go fishing once, she hunts them down whenever she's outside. You'd think she'd want to play with the dog, but no, she hunts worms instead.) She's even okay with me catching snakes and holding them for her to pet. But sometimes she goes a little too far.

When we got to the beach, the tide was the lowest I'd seen it, and the beach there has a very gradual slope -- this meant that quite a bit of beach was exposed. It was strewn with seaweed, shells, rocks, glass, garbage; you know, the usual stuff for a beach near an east coast city. As we walked along, I saw a tiny sea snail puttering around in the wet sand. I picked it up and showed it to my daughter. She was delighted with her new pet, and decided to carry it along as we walked. That was fine until we came to a stretch with hundreds, nay, thousands of the snails all around us. My daughter started harvesting them, grabbing them up as fast as she could. By the time I got her stopped, she had a full handful of little snails, and probably wouldn't have stopped until she had an armload. Since we're not big fans of the eating of snails, I made her leave them all behind.

Ironically, at dinner that night, she wanted to pet her shrimp instead of eating it. We finally convinced her that the shrimp was dead, that she'd never met it in life, that it was yummy, and that it would have been delighted to be eaten. You know, from the little I remember from when I was four, everything I did and said made perfect sense to me. I wonder if that's true for her.

Monday, May 29, 2006

It's official

It's official now, as far as the church is concerned: we're leaving. Due to some slipups in communication, the announcement was rather haphazard -- the pastor thought we were going public on June 11th, the week after the church's big 150th anniversary celebration. The deacon thought we were announcing it this week, the week before the celebration. By the time the pastor found out what was going on, the insert was already in the bulletin, and people were coming up to my wife.

Folk mostly took it pretty well. We're fairly well-liked here, but there were only a few people who seemed really shocked. We thought several people had already figured it out, but they insisted that they didn't know. Some are concerned about who will play the piano after I leave, but that's really a small thing for God to handle -- they were fine before I got here, and they'll be fine after I leave.

My last day of work at the bookstore was Friday night. Another quiet departure -- folk there like me too (hey, I show up for work on time, don't steal, and I'm never stoned or hung over -- tough to beat that in NYC), but they've known for a while that we were on our way out.

Ironically, the wrestlers (my coaching friends in particular) have probably taken it harder than anybody. I've seen two of the toughest guys I know looking almost disturbingly emotional. I've never been the best wrestler in that room, but I'll miss them, and I gather they'll miss me. Fortunately, the wrestlers have volunteered to help us load the truck -- we shouldn't lack for muscle on moving day.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

My first column is up!

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I think, I now have column with Haruah, as does my wife. My first one is now up. I'll be dealing with some theological issues, some life issues, and occasionally something to do with writing, perhaps. Here's the link to my first column:

A Pedestrian in the Intersection: What Does God Know?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Mets Game

Thursday afternoon I took my wife and daughter to see a NY Mets baseball game. This was my daughter's first baseball game, and my wife's first outdoor game (she's been a number of times to see the MN Twins, but they play in a dome.) The seats were cheap, but not terrible; after the seventh inning, when some people left, we were able to move down a couple rows into seats that were just great.

My daughter had a great time, and we had fun too (in spite of the very loud, rather drunk contingent of Phillies fans seated behind us.) My Mets lost, but they still won two out of three in the series. And it was a pretty good game. I'll have to post links to a few pictures when I get the chance.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

My Wife's Column

I forgot to post this when the column ran! My wife's first column ran at Haruah for the last few days. It should still be archived there for quite some time. This is her first publication, so she was justly thrilled, and we're all delighted for her. The column gives stories from the lives of missionaries. Here's the link to the first one.

In the Field: Jim and Roni Bowers - Missionaries to Peru

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A regular column

I haven't mentioned much of anything about writing here lately. Some of that's because I haven't had any time to do much fresh writing lately. But I haven't forsaken it completely.

Some time back, a new Christian literary magazine named Haruah contacted my wife and me and asked us each to look into writing a monthly column for them. It would be posted on their website in a rotation with other columnists. My wife elected to write one every other month, and they were delighted to accept her column of missionary stories. It's titled "In the Field," and the first one should run this Saturday.

It took me longer to decide I wanted to do it and send in a sample, but they agreed to use mine as well. My column will be "A Pedestrian in the Intersection: What I see when I walk where the Bible, my life, and writing intersect." I'm not sure when the first one will appear, but it shouldn't be long after my wife's.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Visiting NC

At the end of April, we took a trip down to Virginia and North Carolina. We left after church on Sunday the 23rd, and got back before church on Wednesday the 3rd of May.

On the first leg of the trip, we visited my parents in Farmville. Anna had a terrific time with Aunt Laura on Grandma's farm. There were lambs all over the place, baby goats, and a young collie puppy. Anna had a blast (I'm not so sure the baby animals enjoyed having her around, though.) Along with a bit of helping out around the place, I went fishing with my dad in his pond. Since no one had seen any in a while, he was concerned that all of his catfish had died; we were all pleased when I pulled one out (27" -- not bad). Yum, yum, for dinner that night. Chances are that if one survived, there's more in there. Silly me, I also grabbed a small turtle (between the size of a quarter and a fifty-cent piece) that happened to try climbing a reed in the water by me. I showed it to Anna and Joy. Now we have a pet paint turtle. He won't eat turtle food, so we have to feed him tuna.

While we were in Virginia, we took a trip out to meet Will Briggs, a member of a few of our online writing communities. We ate Chinese food and had a great time getting to know him -- we'd never met in person before.

Leaving our dog with my parents, we continued down to Holly Ridge, North Carolina. A family member pastors a small church there, and I preached for them on Wednesday night (I also played the French Horn during the offering, and Anna sang a little special with a child from the church -- very cute!). It's neat to see what God is doing with that church. They've just about finished building their new facility, and things seem to be going very well for them. We also ran into the parents of a guy we went to college with; Joy knew his wife pretty well. It's a small world. I felt kinda bad, though. At most churches, there is a clock displayed prominently for the preacher to see while he preaches. But at this church, the clock is on a side wall, where the preacher can't see it well. In most churches, this wouldn't matter; you can still tell when a service has been going for about an hour, because people start looking at their watches and craning their necks to look at the clock. But these folk were too polite! I never got any indication what time it was until I ended, and realized that I'd gone practically an extra fifteen minutes. Unheard of for me -- I usually end a service almost precisely when I want to.

Following that visit, we continued on to the heart of our trip. We stayed Thursday until Monday morning with Bible Baptist in Burgaw, North Carolina. Quite a few days, really. I went on visitation with the church men Thursday. Friday, I was taped for a radio broadcast with the pastor (first time I've ever been put on the air, I think.) After taping two episodes, we left for the county jail. I've never done prison ministry before (aside from visiting a teen or two in JJC), so this was quite an experience as well. I did get to lead one young man to the Lord.

On Saturday, I went on bus visitation with some more of the church men. It's been quite a while since I've done that. While we were out, I actually ran into the cousin of one of my old college roommates, Chris Clodfelter (if you follow UFC/cagefighting, you might have seen him.) Talk about a small world.

On Sunday, I got there early to practice a duet with the pastor. I also practiced very briefly with the choir. I then taught the adult Sunday School. In the morning service, I sang with the choir, played the offertory on the piano, sang a duet with the pastor, and preached the sermon. Whew. That oughta be a day's work there.

But the pastor and I were back at 5PM for quartet practice, followed by choir practice. By this point, I had practically no voice left, but the church men and I were getting along great. In the Sunday evening service, I sang with the choir again, sang with a men's quartet, played the offertory, and preached. Wow. What a day. And Pastor Gibbs (at the perky young age of 76) does pretty much the same thing every Sunday. And shows up in the church office at 8AM on Monday. Incredible.

Monday before we left, I met with Pastor Gibbs, and he offered me the church assistant pastorate, with the idea that I would probably end up as the pastor after he retires (which he figures can't be far off.) Apparently, we made a solid impression on the rest of the church; a couple other men in the church spoke to me about that as well. It looks very likely that we will end up taking this position toward the end of June.

After those whirlwind days in Burgaw (and a couple visits to Wilmington) (where we thoroughly enjoyed access to really good BBQ and genuine sweet tea), we headed north by way of my parent's farm again. A little more fishing (involving some very impressive bluegill -- my dad caught one roughly the size of a hardcover book, and I got one not much smaller), a little shed-building, and a little more Anna time with the animals, we headed back up to NYC.

On the way up, we got to meet J. Albert Bell, another member of our online circles. Again, a real pleasure getting to meet another friend in person. Keep an eye out for his first novel before too long -- he's got an agent and some positive feedback from publishers.

And then we arrived in Staten Island, and I'm almost caught up! I could have written this as several posts to break it up more digestibly, but I decided to knock it all out quickly.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Church bowling outing, round 3

Still catching up....

Back on April 22nd, we had our church bowling outing. The turnout this time was a little disappointing, but those who came still had a good time. It's actually a little strange. No matter whether we have over 40 or under 12, there's always at least one who's way better than I am (and I don't think it's been the same person/people). Where do all these ex-bowling-league people come from, anyhow?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bubba and Broadway

Okay, to start in earnest on the catching of up.

Way back for Valentine's Day, I wanted to take my wife to a Broadway show. Before she left NYC, she had really wanted to see one more. Unfortunately, all of my plans fell through, so I ended up giving her a raincheck for when we could actually get both a babysitter and a reasonably affordable performance on the same date. That date finally came toward the end of April.

We went to see a performance of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. En route, we stopped for dinner at a restaurant on Times Square. On a whim, we ducked into the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company (yes, it's derived from the movie Forrest Gump, which no, I don't heartily recommend.) The restaurant, however, I do heartily recommend. The setting and atmosphere were unique, and the food was phenomenal. I haven't had Louisiana food any better, even in Louisiana! It's apparently quite the hotspot here these days; our waitress told us that she had just served the actor who played the beast a day or two before.

The Broadway performance wasn't quite as suprisingly spectacular as the dinner, though. To be sure, it was neat, and the performers were all incredibly skillful and talented. But the added musical numbers only contained one or two that matched the quality of the original ones. There were some really neat dance routines, but there was also some suggestive dance and deliberate double entendre that just didn't add anything to the show for us. It was still enjoyable, just not all that it could have been.

On the whole, a very pleasant evening. We enjoyed the time together without the young'un (of course, we wouldn't want to be away from her all the time -- but a night every once in a while sure can be nice.) And you wouldn't believe how much easier it is to navigate the subway system without a four-year-old.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I've been tagged

Well, I've been blogtagged, as those who follow the comments on this blog probably noticed long ago. But I'm just starting to get caught up here. I guess this means that I'm supposed to post 6 random things about myself and then tag 6 other people.

Well, I think I'll pass on tagging others, but I'll put up my six.

1. I love to play volleyball when I get the chance, but hate playing "bad" volleyball.
2. I play the Caro-Kann defense to the king's pawn opening. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, join the millions who had something to do in boring grad school classes and jobs other than try to figure out chess openings.
3. I built my own computer (with help from a church member who'd done it before), took it apart, and put it back together again (and did both of those on my own.) Turns out to be no harder than building a lego project.
4. I collect Indian arrowheads, spearheads, scrapers, and whatnot. I find them when I can, and buy them when I can find authentic, reasonably priced ones. That means that I found most of the ones I've got.
5. I like snakes. I'll still avoid the poisonous ones, but a snake is kind of my ideal pet.
6. I've always wished I could play the guitar.

Quick update

Whew! I haven't posted for a few weeks now, but really, I have a good excuse. Or several, to make up the difference in time between now and when I last posted. Okay, it's just one -- I've been really busy. Doing what? you might ask. Well, let me fill you in quickly on the big things.

We spent about a week and a half down in Virginia and North Carolina. We spent a few days with my parents on the farm. Next stop was my cousin Howard's church in Holly Ridge, NC. I preached there on a Wednesday night. We went from there to Pastor Gibbs' church, Bible Baptist, in Burgaw, NC. As a reference point, it's about 25 miles from Wilmington. While there, I did all sorts of new and unusual things. We went back north by way of my parent's house again.

Upon arrival, I've just been swamped with all the stuff that piled up while we were gone. I'll have to make several posts, probably over the next couple of days, to get caught up.

In the meantime, my dad had surgery, but seems to have come through it fine and be recovering at least as well as expected.

And my wife (whose blog I will someday remember to link to), Joy, has been accepted as a columnist with a new Christian magazine called Haruah. Oh, and we went to Broadway, and I'm working through a novel, and we're moving the third week of June, and.... Ah, well, I'll have to break all this up.

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