The Dark Hallway (When Doors Shut)

Ministry in it’s various forms can be very rewarding, but it also comes with it’s share of heartache and tears. Many times the difficulties can be worked through which strengthens resolve and relationships. However, there are other times when people cannot seem to see eye to eye or work through problems so the ministry can continue. 

This trend is actually quite common in church run organizations and I have seen more than my fair share of being on the losing end of such scuffles. I came out of the Marines a changed man and most of the credit for the change went to God and my new found family: the church. 

I left the military for college and ministry. It was a whole new world for me, one that I was convinced held the answers to many of the struggles I was going through. It wasn’t easy, nor did I expect it to be. I had an incredible fear of speaking (I still do). I couldn’t read well, my writing abilities in the beginning were horrible, and I was never sure how to fit in with this new social environment. I gave all I had to give, but I always seemed to come up short.  

Some handle criticism better than others. I think we can all accept the fact that it is impossible to make everybody happy, but people like me will run ourselves completely ragged trying. I think everybody from time to time needs some affirmation. We need to experience some felt successes. We need a sense of accomplishment to know what we are doing is worthwhile. If such things never come, it leaves a person feeling defeated, wore out, and feeling worthless. At least that is the case for me. 

It’s a strange thing to feel pulled in a certain direction and yet only experience defeat after defeat. Maybe it’s me. In fact it must be me. But what is wrong with me? I am the only one I can change, but I can’t change what I can’t identify. You can only pray so much before starting to wonder, is anybody really listening?

So I find myself in a perplexing guessing game wondering what God is epecting of me or if he is expecting anything at all. Another door has shut in my face and once again I find myself on the outside wondering in the dark hallway. Sure I’ve heart all the clichés: “When God shuts a door, he opens a window.” Or maybe I am fretting so much about the closed opportunities in front of me that I am not seeing the door that God has opened elsewhere. 

Please excuse me if I am a little skeptical, but the open doors I’ve been experiencing have not exactly been very advantageous. It’s hard to loose any job, but when things don’t work out in ministry a person doesn’t just loose a job, they can be missing their income, their,  home, their community of friends, even their sense of purpose. 

So I find myself at a crossroads once again. My wife and I have moved 17 times in our marriage each time hoping it would be our last move. Now it looks like we will have to move in with one of our children till we can find employment and a place to live. What does this do for my self-esteem? What self-esteem?

I’m 52 years old and I’m starting over. I’m tired, I’m discouraged, and I’m deeply confused. I have an education that is virtually useless and all my experience is in a field that I just don’t think I can do anymore. So I imagine I’ll be taking a job in some warehouse where I’ll make just enough money to survive if I’m lucky. I imagine my supervisor will probably someone about my son’s age.  I’m sure he’ll be frustrated with me as I make mistakes learning a new job. 

Oh how I wish I could truly start over. I’d like to go back to my early twenties or even before that. Instead of getting a ministry degree, I think I’d rather study something that be more beneficial. Perhaps a brick layer, an electrician, or even a plumber. There are a thousand choices which would have all been better than the one I made trying to seek out God’s will. I wish so badly I could have those years back. 

Maybe the best is yet to come. Maybe new opportunities are just around the corner. I don’t know. I’m just feeling down and frustrated so I thought I would do what seems to comfort me. I write.  

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Road Trip Concludes (Part 10): Cane Ridge, KY

Sunday morning my wife and I made one more stop at my father’s house to say good bye to everyone and take a few pictures. Naturally, there were those who didn’t want their pictures taken, but I insisted as I do every time I come. Truth is considering the distance from where I live and the age of my parents good byes are important to me at this stage of life. This may be the last time I get to see them. 

My biological parents split up in 1968. My only full biological brother was only an infant not more than a couple months old and I was 3. My mom’s brother was coming through the area and he had a truck, so they loaded up everything while my father was a work and we were gone before he came back. In spite of my father’s efforts to reconcile, the union was over, and my mother has remained bitter towards my father to this day. I have spent a lifetime trying to piece this together and understand what happened.  

Nobody questions that my father screwed up. He had just been released from prison at the beginning of 1967 (just before they were married) and he was back home with his old buddies. He wanted to party. He cheated, he wasn’t financially irresponsible, and he was incredibly selfish and immature. Nobody disputes this, not even my father. 

It’s now been almost 50 years. Mom’s been married three times and inspite of her unabated bitterness she still claims that she has never loved anyone like my father. My father remained with his second wife. If I remember right it’s been 47 years that they have stuck together. It’s been a very rocky marriage, everybody in the family expected it to end back in the 70s, but it didn’t. Yet, my father still maintains that he loves my mother and has never stated otherwise. I don’t think I’ve ever visited him when he hasn’t stated his love for her. It is also clear after all the years from Facebook post that there marriage remains on his mind. 

This post was written to my brother who has had a number of faltering relationships. I don’t remember the context, but I believe it related to the struggle he was having with a girlfriend. The fact that he remembered his anniversary and was thinking about 50 years later says so much to me. 

Now if you are wondering what in the world all this has to do with our road trip, I’m going to get to that now. 

I actually think my family story is a proper introduction for the last stop on our trip, because it has to do with what I consider the history of my spiritual family. Now if you haven’t read Part 8 from this series, you probably need to at this point. 

At the beginning of the 19th century there was a religious revival taking place in our country known as the Second Great Awakening. Much of this took place near what was called Cane Ridge, KY. One of the big leaders to immerge from this awakening was Barton W. Stone. He became the preacher at the Cane Ridge meeting house the largest one room log cabin in existence. That meeting house was the final stop on our road trip. 

The limestone building pictured here was built to preserve and protect the real historic landmark on the inside that was build in 1791.  


Above you get a glimpse of the one side of the log building. It was here that Barton W. Stone would begin a religious movement that would unite with the followers of Alexander Campbell (talked about in Part 8) to form what became known as the Restoration Movement or Stone-Campbell Movement which was an effort unite the denominations under the authority of the Bible and the Bible alone.

Stone was actually ordained as a Presbyterian minister, but he and several others came in conflict with church authorities and  they broke off and formed the Springfield Presbytery. This group started to grow really fast, but soon afterwards the group realized how such an organization was contradictory to what they really wanted to stand for. They had no intention of starting another denomination. Therefore they wrote a document known as the The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery.  In this document they stated, “We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.” 

This principle of rejecting the divisive nature that was ungulfing Christianity was a major foundational principle for Stone and his followers. The purpose was never to form another denomination, even though that’s what inevitably happened. 

It sounded like such a great idea. Let’s get rid of all the man-made creeds and sectarian names and just be Christians. The Restoration Movement was intended as a unity movement as attested to by the many plaques found at this sight. 


This last picture is a stained glass image representing the union of the followers of Campbell and Stone which took place on New Year’s Eve 1832 in Lexington, KY. Alexander Campbell wasn’t at the meeting nor was he n full support. Nonetheless, the union took place. Barton W. Stone considered it the greatest accomplishment of his life. 

The intent was good, but their goal was a whole lot more complicated than anybody anticipated. They were convinced that party names (Presbyterians, Methodist, Episcopalians, etc.) were wrong and should be abandoned in order to just be known as Christians (1 Cor. 1:10-13). They believed if people went back to the Bible instead of depending on various man-made creeds Christianity could be unified. 

Early followers considered certain identifiable terms (such as Christians, disciples of Christ, or church of Christ) as interchangeable instead of what they eventually became: separate denominations. The Restoration Movement was one of the first attempts at an ecumenical movement. They realized and accepted that unity would have a certain amount of diversity. The difference between Campbell and Stone are indeed incredible, but both could unite under the authority of Scripture as they sought to understand it. Several mottos were developed that have remained with the movement over the years, but there was a vast difference between how followers understood these mottos which eventually lead to incredible division while at the same time still claiming faithfulness to the mottos. 

“Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent.”

This motto on the service sounds so simple and promising, but it turned out to be quite complicated. To begin with people have never been all that clear on what the Bible actually speaks. Sincere people all go to the Bible, but there are a variety of reasons for them understanding it differently. This is a very complicated subject, so I won’t waste time with it right now, but suffice it to say a person would be very hard pressed to find two people who understand the Bible completely alike. This is in fact why the need for creeds developed in the first place. 

But it is the second part of this motto that has been the main instigator of the multiple divisions within the movement. The problem being followers understood silence differently. Was silence permissive or was it restrictive? More than anything else, this principle has caused almost all the division in this movement. Disciples of Christ understood silence as permissive. On the other hand Churches of Christ understood the silence as restrictive, and there lies the main division. The early disputes were over issues such as: missionary societies, instrumental music, Bible schools, located preachers, missionary societies, etc. None of which is addressed in Scripture. 

It was Churches of Christ, largely under the leadership of people like Daniel Sommer  who lead the way to division. There were always differences in the movement without division. But certain editors gained influence and convinced people that differences were intolerable. There had to be a right and a wrong; you can’t have both. The way it was explained to me in college, “Where there are differences in matters of faith, both sides can be wrong, but both sides cannot be right.” Therefore the concept developed–if a person is wrong, he must be instructed; if he doesn’t accept TRUTH, he is not just wrong, he is lost. If such a lost person continues in his lostness and teaches others; he is a heretic that must be stopped. 

Of course this thought process spreads like wildfire dividing followers, ruining congregations, and embarrassing our Lord. A number of years ago Rick Atchley, a preacher for the  Hills Church of Christ, delivered a sermon using chairs to illustrate how incredibly destructive the principle of silence of the Bible has been particularly for the Churches of Christ who have historically been the primary onstigators of the division. 

 Click Here To See Rick Atchley Video

If the truth be told, nobody has been able to apply the silence of the scripture as restrictive consistently. But that has been the basis for so much strife and division. It’s ironic to me that I have never met a person who claims to be all-knowing or faultless; I’ve never met the person who claims to understand everything about Scripture, but I have met lots of people who are so certain that they are right on matters of faith that they feel justified in dividing the church and hating other followers of Christ. This is what I call the “Sin of Certainty.”

“In Essentials, unity; in opinions, liberty; in all things love.”

This second motto is a bit closer to solving the problem of division. The main problem here though is who gets to decide what is “Essential” and what is “Opinion.” Furthermore, when these couldn’t be agreed upon the phrase “in all things love” was often simply disregarded. 

In the midst of all the divisions, all sides held on to the scriptural concept that there was only “one church.” However, the concept of what that “one church” meant changed drastically in the eyes of many. Another early motto: “We are Christians only; not the only Christians,” began to be questions as certain people especially among Churches of Christ began thinking of themselves as the the only Christians and therefore the only church. 

Much like my family, my spiritual brothers tried their best to tell me who my real family was. I’ve always beeen a bit closer to my mother and I’ve always related better to Churches of Christ which means I’ve been closer to the initiators of the division. I love both parents. My mother tried her best to remove my father from the picture (sometimes literally), but she doesn’t get to decide who is family and who isn’t. Just like Churches of Christ have often tried to remove Disciples of Christ from the church.

To the left here is a picture I found where my mother had cut herself out of the picture. My mother had destroyed all pictures in her possession after the the divorce. She really didn’t want me knowing my father at all. But when I was sent to Ohio I got to know my father and his family. As an adult, I even found pictures. I’m sure she would have destroyed them if she could, but they are now digitized on several computers. They are here to stay. 

Some of these pictures made their way onto a posterboard of memories that my family put together for me on my 50th Birthday. Mom was there for that and when she saw the pictures she became angry and even stated out loud, “That’s like a slap in my face.” 

Sorry mom. I don’t mean any disrespect and I love you dearly, but it was you who made him family and you can’t take that back. As for the slap in the face, you should be slapped for holding holding on to the hatred and bitterness all these years. It’s time to let it go and make peace. As my father stated in the Facebook post above, “You don’t have much time left.” 

I would say a similar message to strifefilled brothers in Churches of Christ. You don’t get to decide who’s in and who’s out of this family. The “one church” is and always has been whoever Jesus saves. Since you are not all-knowing, it’s time to quit acting like it. We need to get rid of the hatred, division, and self-righteous attitudes. We may not have much time left. It’s time to love and put behind us the pride and division. 

The trip to Cane Ridge was a reminder of the church unity the movement was all about inspite of all the incredible differences. Here was a church building with a pump organ next to the pulpit that has been there since the 1880’s. Even though some preferred  acapello music.

There’s a communion table with one cup even though some were starting to use multiple cups. There were inscriptions to the “Reverent” Barton W. Stone even though some disagreed with religious titles. There was a slave gallery even though the congregation was mainly comprised of abolishinist. 

My point is that there were many issues of disagreement, but the unity remained. 

Many of the things we fight over are issues of faith and faith is not certain. I’m very limited on my scope of understanding God even after years of study. But one thing I do know is that I don’t know. God left it that way. He didn’t make me all knowing, and I can see why. I’m simply meant to trust and allow others to trust as well. 

Barton W. Stone considered the unity at Lexington, KY between the followers of Cambell and Stone to be his greatest accomplishment even though there were plenty of things he accomplished. 

As for me, my greatest accomplishment was to get my mother and father together for a picture of them and their descendants. It has always seemed to be nothing short of a miracle. It wasn’t all roses, but for one brief moment in time there was a family reunion. MY FAMILY. Never picture perfect, but still mine. 

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Road Trip Continues (Part 9): Visiting Family

Friday evening my wife and I made it into Elyria, OH where we spent two nights at the house of my Uncle John. When people ask me where I am from I have trouble giving the short answer they are probably expecting. Like so many people these days, I am a product of divorce. During my childhood my parents lived 500 hundred miles apart. 

My mom left my father when I was only about three years old, so in my early years, I didn’t remember my father at all. I suppose that is the way my mother would have liked it to stay. But when my mother remarried, I could never quite adjust to the new family. I became a problem and ran away several times. I was only about 10 years old. I had no idea where I was going to go, but I wasn’t going to stay there. I wondered the streets, stole food from stores and tried to sleep anywhere that had shelter, usually under people’s front porches. 

My mother eventually found me, and without much explanation we got in the car and drove several hours without me even having a hint as to where I was going. We stopped some place in Indiana which is where I met my father. The place where we met was the halfway point between my two parents. My mother had enough and so she was sending me to my father, who was a complete stranger to me at the time. 

Dad was living in Cleveland at the time. His parents were living in a little suburb about thirty miles away called Olmsted Falls which is where I was enrolled in school. This was only the first of many trade offs between my parents. My dad was also remarried and was beginning a new family of his own. For the next six years I would be tossed back in forth between Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, and Virginia between parents, grandparents, uncles, and eventually shelters, children’s homes, detention centers, and jail. Nobody seemed capable or willing to put up with me for long. I had 21 school transfers by the time I was through with high school. So, I’m not really sure where I’m from. I know where I was born, but not where I’m from. 

For the most part though, I grew up around two geographic locations: one being in the southwestern subverts of Cleveland, OH, (Father’s Side), the other being the Quad Cities on the border between Illinois and Iowa (Mother’s Side). Even though I lived in several locations around each area, those two areas are the closest thing I’ve ever been able to consider home.

So, for the last part of our little road trip, we went to see family and explore some of my old stomping grounds. This was something very rare for us. My wife has only been to Ohio once before. It was around Christmas 1991. We were still in college back then, Paula was pregnant with our first child, my grandparents were still alive, and my father was still doing the comb-over thing with his hair. 

I have been there a couple times since then. I even took each of my children up there at different times, but not my wife. I haven’t ever been able to stay long. It’s usually just a fast trip (a night or two) before I would head out. A lot has happened over the years. My grandparents died, there’s been marriages, divorces, children,  custody battles, etc. Me and my siblings by different mother are middle age now, and my father and his wife are in the final stretch. Dad has already had two heart attacks, and he isn’t looking so good anymore. 

 My father and I haven’t been all that close over the years. Our world views are worlds apart. There’s been a lot of pain, resentments, and mistakes. But thats all over now. My dad has made mistakes as a parent and so have I. Quite often parents hurt their children in the process raising them. I know he has regrets just like I do. Things don’t always work out how we hoped and all we can do is just try to get by. Now I realize my father was just trying to do the best that he could with what he had.  I can accept him and love him for that. All’s forgiven now. 

In so many ways, I am so different from this side of the family. Nonetheless, we are family. There’s something in the eyes, something in the laugh or facial gestures. It’s really hard to describe, but it’s also quite evident; we are blood. Family doesn’t always get along. They have different lifestyles and completely different points of view but there is a common element that we cannot deny. It was good to see them. 

Friday night I was able to visit with my Uncle Tom, who is only about a year older than me. We were childhood companions along with my cousin George. Tom and George are both talented musicians. I have the desire, but not the talent part. George no longer lives in the area, but I wanted to at least visit Tom. He knows I dabble with guitar, so we spent most of our time talking music. I couldn’t have been more intimidated if I was visiting Jimmy Page or Eric Clapton. I just don’t stack up, but I enjoyed the time and learned some things too. 

Saturday was spent visiting my half brother, Michael which I really enjoyed. He is the only family who still lives in Olmsted Falls, so after our visit, I took my wife for a walk around some of the places that meant so much to me as a child. And of course, I took a few pictures. 

This trail trestle has all sorts of memories. George, Tom, and I would climb up in those ovals to hang out and smoke pot. George and I even climbed around the ledge (which is only about a foot wide) in order to get to the center sections which only the bravest or dumbest (depending how you look at it) people would do. Our names are painted in there some place, but the ledge is rotted away pretty bad now. There’s not way to get in there now. 

The above building used to be the police station. Now it’s some sort of a restaurant. What I remember most about this building is when I was put inside the little jail inside. I don’t remember why I was in there, but I remember the police chief saying, “Sayers. . . Wait a minute. . . Are you Bobby’s son?” “I remember putting you old man in this same cell about twenty years ago.” “Guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree does it.” How embarrassing that was. 

The middle building in the above picture used to be an ice cream shot when I was a kid. We could get a banana split for a dollar back then and take the little plastics dish down to the river around the corner and watch it go down stream. I think the upstairs apartment was were my dad lived as a child. Lots of memories in this little town. It was great to see it again. 

  We spend the rest of the day at my father’s house. My half sister lives with them and her two children who change so much each time I see them. I didn’t even know until that visit that her youngest is autistic. Her oldest child had just received her driving permit. 

The last time my wife was in the area, my sister would have been about the same age as her daughter is now. It just baffles my mind how fast times goes by. 

It was great to see family again. I never know when the next time will be when I will get up here. But it was nice to get reacquainted

Sunday morning we headed out. There was just one more place I wanted to see before the trip was over.  
 

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Road Trip Continues (Part 8) Bethany, WV

Friday morning we left DC to start our journey back home, well sort of. Northern Ohio is not exactly the direct route from DC to Arkansas, but I have family in Ohio and I wanted to stop by to see them. But we were not going to take the most direct route there either. My wife had never been to West Virginia or Pennsylvania, so we wanted a route that would go through both. Plus I have really wanted to visit a little town in the panhandle of West Virginia, called Bethany. So that added about 4 hours to our trip by they time we made the siteseeing stops. 

Unless you are familiar with the church history of Disciples of Christ, Christian Churches, or Churches of Christ, I doubt many have even heard of Bethany, WV. But since I’ve had a lot of experience with these churches, I know a great deal about their history and I’ve wanted to see the areas were it all started. Bethany is one of them. 

When I was a child, my grandparents took me to an old Disciples of Christ Christian Church. They were the first people I know who tried to teach me about God and how to pray. 

The history of this old church didn’t become significant to me for a number of years. 

I was introduced to Churches of Christ for the first time a 14 year old by a friend who’s family took me in a little while when I had no place to go. 

During my last year in the Marine Corps I attended a little Church of Christ congregation and was baptized in Dec. of 1987. Soon after that I went to school at Oklahoma Christian College in Edmond, OK and began my training to be a preacher for Churches of Christ. Later I would fill in in preaching at the Disciples of Christ Christian Church, but I eventually went back to the Churches of Christ which is where I remain today. The three denominations (Disciples of Christ, Christian Church, and Churches of Christ) comprise what is commonly referred to as the Restoration Movement. The start of this movement, for the most part, began in two different locations, both of which I was able to visit during my road trip.

Actually it all began when Thomas Campbell came over from Scotland as a missionary for the Presbyterian Church. It was Thomas Campbell who eventually produced what became known as the Declaration and Address document which formed much of the thought of the Restoration Movement. Thomas was soon joined by his son Alexander Campbell, his son, who became the predominant leader. It all pretty much got started in little church called Brush Run which was on the western border of Pennsylvania. The building no longer exist, but I did stop by and walk up the private drive to see the little landmark.
It was at that little church were certain practices began that still remain as common elements in all three Restoration Movement Churches: baptism of believers by immersion and communion every Sunday.  Several of the early followers were baptised not from the church location in Beaver Creek. 

Alexander Campbell began to overshadow his father as the movements leader because of his journal and skills as a debater. Alexander also married well which made it possible for him to acquire a large amount of wealth. 

It was his wife’s father that gave the land and house near Bethany Virginia to Alexander. Alexander, a big believer in education, started a school in his home at first, which would eventually become Bethany College. That’s the really short version of the story. 

Campbell became very wealthy and politically active. His friends that visited his mansions were not just religious leaders, but also governmental leaders. ​

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Alexander Campbell built a seperate place that he went to every day for prayer and study. I’ve always wanted a study like this because I love gazebo’s and this is kind of like that. It was much smaller than I expected. The windows were at the top to let in light but few existed to be looked out. He didn’t want distractions. He didn’t have a desk, only a pulpit and a bookshelf. He studied standing up. 

I believe this was a 22 room mansion, but the Campbells used the top floors for students, entertainment, and guest. For the most part, the Campbell family lived in the basement. So the big house was really quite crowded with a constant flow of people. 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a tour of the house. All I could do is look in through the windows. 

But across the street and up the hill was an incredible cemetery of family many of the Restoration Movement leaders. 
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Bethany College was established March 2, 1840 by Alexander Campbell and it is stil active today. We were not able to stay long, but I took a few pictures. This is a small college in a small town, but there are all sorts of presidents who have spoken at this little college. I wish I had the time to explore all the big landmarks, but we had to get to Ohio before it got too late. 

I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the history of the Restoration Movement, so this was really special to me. I would love to go into more details on the movement, but I will have to save that for another time. 

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Road Trip Continues (Part 7): Washington DC

I am actually writing this from home. I was planning on taking some time to write as we went to the different sites, but there was simply no way. We stayed busy the whole time until we were simply ready to crash and the next day we’d get up and start all over again. We arrived in the DC area on Sunday evening (Sept. 10) and we stayed until Friday morning (Sept. 15). Each day we rode the Metro to and from the downtown area. From there were were normally on our feet and walking. 

Vacations usually cost people thousands, and we don’t make much money working at a children’s home, but that is where the genius of this vacation takes place. Hotels are expensive especially around the DC area. There is no way we could have afforded it. Plus we really didn’t know anybody in DC, but we did know somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody else who was willing to let us stay for a few days while we explored the city. 

Not only that, but every thing we did in DC was absolutely free. Our cost envolved the metro, souvenirs, and food. There were sites that we wanted to go that would have cost, but there is so much to do and see in DC we had to priorities so our first priority was to go to the places that didn’t cost. And there were so many of these places that we didn’t even scratch the surface. 

Monday-we spent the whole day going to see all the memorials and monuments. We walked about 14 miles that day (as I wrote about in Part 6), but we still couldn’t see all the ones that we wanted to see. We just started the Holocaust Musem for about an hour before it closed. It was awsome, and we wanted to go back, but we never did. There was just too much else to see.

Tuesday–we went to town with plans to explore the natural history museum. It is a huge museum with several floors and several sections per floor. We went through one section: the mammal section, before leaving to get a bite to eat. We were going to come right back, but I have A.D.D and got sidetracked. Below are the only two pictures I took of this awsome Museum. The first one is from the Ocean section which I had to just walk through. 

This second picture is from the mammal section which was the place we spent the most time. This is in the area where they teach about everyone evolving from a little four-legged fury creature, and I can’t remember the name of. But further down the evolution trail was the monkey. So, Paula and I figured since this guy was in our family line, we’d get a picture of him. (Sarcasm intended).  


My favorite part was the machine that took our picture and it transformed our features into a particular stage of the evolution. Then they emailed the picture to us for FREE. I like free. So below is what I would have looked like as a Homo neanderthalensis if I was born like 200,000 to 28,000 years ago. 

Now I’m not one who accepts all the theories on evolution, but it was a very educational process that I enjoyed. But we weren’t at this museum very long unfortunately. 

We went to eat and on the way back we walked by the art museum and decided to just look around for a bit. But I love art, and my wife couldn’t get me out of there. 

​​The art museum was three humongous floors and all sorts of different galleries. Cemeteries and art museums are really some of my favorite places because of the history that they represent. This was the only museum in which I went through the entire thing. I took all sorts of pictures, so I figured I would make a video just to show them. I hope it works. 

Wednesday–Alington National Cemetery. 

I love cemeteries and this is the granddaddy of them all. We spend pretty much the whole day here walking around and I was able to see the places that we had on our list to see, but there I wish we could have spent a couple days exploring. There are a number of great books on Alington National Cemetery, and I wish I would have gotten one before going to see it. After all, that is what makes cemeteries so great is the stories. There are thousands of stories here. 

This is one site that we paid to get in, but if your going to walk, I don’t think you ever get checked. We got in for about half the cost since I served in the Marine Corps. The tour buses are great because they go over quite a bit of the big names buried there and they stop to let you out for the really big monuments such as the one for Kennedy and the Unknown Soldier. I suppose the Unknown Soldier is the most prominent landmark and attraction. But for me my favorite was the Alington mansion: home of General Robert E Lee which is the reason the cemetery was created in the first place. 

The entire cemetery was really built out of spite towards Lee as a type of revenge for his leadership in the rebellion. The cemetery stands as a cruel blow to General Lee and his wife who cherished the mansion and the land. It’s incredibly ironic how the whole cemetery created to shame Lee still contains the mansion which now stands as a memorial to honor General Lee. It was the main place in the cemetery that I wanted to see. I waited for the tour and we stayed there for about an hour and a half. The grounds is full of history, beauty, and a sense of incredible sadness. Again, I hope this video will work to show some the pictures I took that day. It was truly and awesome place to see. Sorry about the background music. 


Our awesome day at the cemetery did not end so well. When we got back to the place where we were staying, I noticed our car was missing. It turned out that the parking pass Paula put on the mirror some how fell on the floor so our car had been towed and expounded. That was the most expensive part of our trip: $165 plus about an hour of wasted time to go get it. We were not happy, but nothing could be done. 

Thursday- Our Last Day in the Nation’s Capital: Air & Space Museum

Thursday was our shortest day. We were just getting so tired of all the traveling. We got off to a late start, and we really didn’t want to fight the rush hour crowd, so we cleared out before 3:00pm. 

We really didn’t get to see much of the air and space museum, but it really was a great place. It had several section which described the history of flight beginning back in the Middle Ages on through today. If was fascinating, but my favorite part of this museum was the hands on stuff; particularly the flight simulators. This cost me some money and turned out to be a little embarrassing, but I loved it. Paula wouldn’t do this with me because they go upside down and so forth. But that is what made it so fun. I am not a good pilot. The thirty seconds of instruction the woman rattled off before I got strapped in was not adequate preparation. Anyway, I heard how to turn, go up and down, and shoot. Other than that, I didn’t have a clue what I was supposed to do. I also did not know that people outside of the capsule could see what I was doing on a big screen above the capsule. Worst of all, I had no idea people could here me. My wife didn’t tell me this stuff till I was done. Then she said I was the loudest one in the whole place. 


So that was my four days in DC. Just like the rest of the trip, we’d travel along way to get there. We’d arrive. We’d look around. Then it was time to go. We saw so much in these couple of days that my wife and I were wore out. There was so much that we wanted to see. We only got around to about half of it and that’s just what we knew about. We were so glad that we finally able to make a trip like this, but it wasn’t just the sites that we enjoyed, it was the people we got to meet in the process. 

We did not know anybody in the DC area, but one of the houseparents at the children’s home grew up there, and her father and step-mother still lived there. Her father was a career guy in the Navy who had started an engineering business north of DC. The original plan was for us to stay with him, but his mother-in-law was deathly ill and wasn’t expected to live long at all which made staying with him impossible. But he set us up with one of his friends so we had a place to stay. This man was also a retired Navy Master Chief. These were two of the nicest and most interresting people I have met in a long time. 

 What an incredible place with incredible people. I am forever indebted to these men who were complete strangers, but they treated us just like family. What a blessing it was. 

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Road Trip Continues (Part 6): Washington DC Monuments

My wife and I arrived in Washington D.C. on Monday morning, Sept. 11, 2017. It was a fitting day to see as many of the great monuments as we could. We started the day by finding the White House, but it was under so much security that it was really hard to get a good picture. 

This is us in front of the White House.. The day of walking was just beginning. But the end of the day we walked about 14 miles. 
From the White House we headed towards the Washington Monument.. But my ADD kicked in and we were sidetracked by a squirrel. That always seems to happen

It wasn’t hard to find the Washington Monument, it is the tallest structure in DC. 

But like so much on this trip, it was closed for remodeling. 
But we still got to see the monument. Actually it was pretty hard to miss. 

Out of all the monu-meets in DC, the Wash-inton monu-meant seemed the most plain. It was huge and majestic, and it may have been better inside where we didn’t get to go, but I was more impressed with the view than I was with the monument itself. The monument is up on a small hill and not matter which way you looked, the view was incredible. 

Now I would have really wanted to see the capital. But since we were told we wouldn’t be able to unless we got special appointments and there was just to much else to see, we headed towards the Lincoln Memorial and we just never got the chance to see the capital building. 

Now the walk to the Lincol Memorial is not so bad for somebody that does a lot f walking, like me; but the distance was a bit harder for Paula, who was already getting tired. We had only just begun. Before the day was over, we walked well over 11 miles and Paula had blisters on her feet and she was really really sore. 
Between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memrial is the WWII Memorial which was really nice. The memorial was a huge fountain surrounded by pillars of each of the states.


Lucky for Paula, there was some places to sit, rest, and enjoy before we headed to the next place, and the next place had like 87 stairs. We didn’t know these places had elevators, the one at the Lincoln Memorial wasn’t working anyway. 

Now Lincoln was one of my favorite presidents, and I’ve read a lot about him. We all knew his memorial would be awsome because it is such a prevelant monument at the center of so much history. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that there was way too many people. 

This picture was just before climbing all those steps. 

We always knew Lincoln’s statue was big, but it’s bigger than we thought. We’ve all seen pictures of this place, but pictures can’t really do it justice. 


On each side if the Lincoln Memorial are the war memorials of Korea and Vietnam. 


Each of the war memorials has a much more solemn presence. But Vietnam was the most series. This monument is the most person with actual names on the wall and people in front of the reflecting wall crying for the ones they lost. Along the wall people left their own personal notes and things below the names.

Many here were the grown children of the people on the wall. Fathers who gave their lives for their country and didn’t get a chance to watch their children grow up. This was a very painful place for me, and I don’t know anybody on that wall. Nevertheless, it was more personal for me. Perhaps it is the statue of the machine gun team at the beginning of the wall. I was a machine gunner in the Marine Corps, and I know things could have ended up a whole lot different for me. 

My favorite memorial was the one honoring my favorite president: Franklin D. Rosevelt. This one is spread out along the river, and it was just incredible. I feel like it deserves an entire book to do it justice. It is filled with famous quotes carved along the walls in the mist of different statues commemorating a critical part of United States history. 


After this we headed to my second favorite memorial honoring one of my greatest heroes: Marti Luther King Jr. 


This monument also had a large wall which many of the great quotes from a master speaker. 

From there we made our way to the Jefferson Memorial which was also much bigger than we could have imagined.


By this time, we were hungry and tired. We went to eat and then spent some time in the Holocaust Museum which was a great museum. We planned on going back, but we just never got the chance. There is so much to do.  

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Road Trip (Part 5): Skyline Drive

I’m gonna have to do some catching up since my days have been too full to write. Last Sunday we were in Lexington, VA. We spend the morning exploring the town and the educational institutions. It was quick, but I do believe the Washington and Lee University campus was on the most beauful and historically significant campuses I have ever been to. 
After just a brief period of walking around we decided that we better start heading up to DC if we hoped to get there at a decent time. But instead of taking the boring interstate, we opted for the longer, slower, more expensive, and scenic route. We headed for the famouse Skyline drive. This was just 105 miles long, but with all the curves and 35 mph speed limit it was estimated that it would take us 3 1/2 hours to comeplete and that’s if we didn’t stop at any of the over 70 roadside overlooks. By the time it was over, we had spend about 4 1/2 hours and scene some of the best views of the area. 

If you can believe it, we scene such beautiful views along Skyline Drive that views like the one above became routine.

I did manage to get a couple shots of my wife and I together. 

And, of course, I need a few shots of me and my guitar. 

I love to feel like am on top of the world. It wasn’t as awe inspiring as the Grand Canyon, but still good for these here parts. 

It was a beautiful day for a picnic and plenty of places to stop and enjoy the outdoors and a meal. This may have been the best resturant. I had another Toe Jam and Peanut Butter Sandwitch. You can’t get that just anywhere you know. 


Perfect day for a perfect drive. Next stop: the city. 

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