Tag Archives: family

My Favorite Weekend of the Year: Ohio’s PawPaw Festival

pawpaw2013This weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the year. This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Ohio PawPaw Festival and our fifth anniversary attending it. I leave North Carolina a little later today to arrive in Ohio for this annual family tradition.

It is a weekend marked out by all of the best things in life: family, camping, good friends, festival food, good beer, campfires, conversation, and singing.

We will arrive tonight, set up our tent–the only time we ever use it–and get a fire started. Some of our friends will roll in later tonight, some will arrive tomorrow morning. From there, it is just more of the above.

The paw paw is the state native fruit of Ohio. I don’t particularly care for it, as you can see I don’t attend the weekend festival because of the fruit but because of all of those other things. Like us, some of our friends travel across the country just to keep up with this tradition. You can’t beat having a weekend of camping with family and friends who so love one another that we go to the lengths we do just for the fellowship and fun.

It is the nostalgia of these weekends, of course, that makes me miss Ohio. We cap off the weekend driving up to Columbus to visit the friends at our old church, Sovereign Christ Church, where we get to worship with them once again. That time is always followed by more food and fellowship.

Yep, it’s time for the PawPaw Festival, my favorite weekend of the year.

Treasure Hunting in Southern Pines

I love my community, or rather, I’m learning to love my community. It hasn’t come naturally to me; it is something I’m having to practice. Today has helped me along the way.

Patty and I went treasure hunting through town this morning. It started because I’m becoming an old man, which apparently is defined–by me–as a morning person. Being a morning person is also something that hasn’t come naturally to me, but I woke up at 7:30 AM today and that got me started.

First, we went to the local farmer’s market, where we scored some tomato plants, bacon, chorizo, and an assortment of fresh veggies. The only thing that would have been better would been to have gotten some of the brisket the meat folks had run out of.

Next, we went to a church friend’s yard sale, where I scored a PG Wodehouse book and Patty discovered some nice plates that will apparently make nice wall decorations.

After that, we stopped at the Goodwill to drop off some donations, which inevitably led to us browsing inside. There, I got a copy of Dickens’ Great Expectations and Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Both are books, admittedly, I should already own and have read, but alas are not. Well, I own Pride and Prejudice, but it is part of a single collection of Austen’s books, and I hate reading books that way. I also got DVD copies of The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Tristen and Isolde. 

Finally, we stopped at the Post Office where I picked up a package of some neat canisters I’d ordered from England and a copy of Understanding Fiction–the book that influenced Flannery O’Connor while she was studying at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

All told, it’s been a productive and fruitful morning. Now, I’m off to do some yard work with my boys–they just don’t know it yet!

Review: The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good LifeThe Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life by Rod Dreher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is absolutely outstanding.

It is written in the vein of Wendell Berry, but is the true story of Ruthie Leming and her brother, the author, Rod Dreher. This is an oversimplification of the story, but an easy boil down of it is that Rod is the young man who goes off into the world looking for adventure and experiences, while Ruthie is the young girl who stays home to continue in the bonds of community and family. Rod thinks he’s got it figured out and Ruthie thinks she does. Rod learns what he is missing when he sees the community spring into action, to fulfill love for neighbor and bearing one another’s burdens, when Ruthie is diagnosed with cancer.

This book really did a number on me. In a good way. It is sad, but not depressing sad. It is inspirationally sad. It has caused me to reconsider the choices I’ve made and am making in my own life. What will the community look like that rises to help me should I become ill? How will my children react to hardship in their community, in their family? What will they recognize as their community? Their (extended) family?

This may be the most important book I’ve read in the last year or more. A must read.

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Review: The Church-Friendly Family

The Church-Friendly Family
The Church-Friendly Family by Randy Booth and Rich Lusk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I must admit up front that I am biased in this review. The reader will notice, upon reading the acknowledgements section of the book, that I contributed to the editing process. Having admitted that up front, here is my review of the book.

This is a much-needed book for the Church. There has long been debate as to what is the most important institution in God’s eyes: Church or Family. It seems there are few who would question whether the State is more important than the Church or Family. In the debate, some will argue it is the Family, since it was created first. Others, will argue it is the Church, since the Church is the only eternal institution.

The Church-Friendly Family provides good theological, biblical, and practical reasons for understanding the family’s role as it regards the Church, as well as the Church’s role as it regards the Family. The book is a collection of talks that Pastors Randy Booth and Rich Lusk gave at a past conference. Well-thought out, well put together, and well edited (hehe), the book communicates its goal quite well.

Every church and every family needs to read this book. The Church and the Family are not in competition with one another, although it can sometimes feel that way for some. The Church is, however, a Family into which all Christian families are become one, and that means natural families subordinate themselves. But, in doing so, the natural family is strengthened itself.

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An Exhortation to Vulnerability

I moved 32 times before my sixteenth birthday. I was not a military brat and my parents weren’t moved around for corporate work. We just moved. A lot.

When I was nineteen years old, I joined the U.S. Air Force and moved on average every two years (more frequently than that, actually). I created the same life for my wife and children that my parents had created for me.

When I was twenty-nine years old, I separated from the Air Force and moved to Columbus, Ohio. I lived there for 3.5 years, the longest I had ever lived in any one house in my entire life. And when I was thirty-two years old, I moved to North Carolina, where I have now lived for the last three years (almost).

I saw the world, I met lots of great people, I experienced lots of great things. But something is missing.

I don’t have a deep connection to the people and the place where I live. I have no lifelong memories here. I don’t walk into the store expecting to run into people I know. I don’t read the obituaries to see if my friends have died. I have participated in very few weddings, because I’m rarely around to do so. I don’t know what the dirt tastes like, because this isn’t the dirt I ate when I was a kid. I don’t know what this place looked like before I arrived, because such a time exists so recently in my own lifetime.

If I moved again, there would be people I would miss, but not in a way that others would who have lived here for a long time.

I am a tree without roots. I am dust in the wind. I am unconnected. I am unknown.

There would be those who would claim to know me, but they don’t. They’ve only known me long enough, or have only seen me often enough, to know what I have allowed them to see. In time, they will know what I cannot prevent them from knowing, but right now, I am who I let myself be to them.

We are not meant to be trees without roots, nor dust in the wind. We are not meant to be unconnected and unknown. We are meant to live life together. We are meant to love. We are meant to be connected and known. And that means, we are meant to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability, however, comes with perks. To love is to be loved. To bear another’s burdens is to have one’s own burdens borne. Vulnerability, community, life together, loving, allows us to weep when another suffers, and likewise to have others weep with us in our suffering. It also allows us to be joyful when others are joyful, and to bring joy to others because of our own joys. It allows us to experience the happinesses and sadnesses not just of our own lives, but that of others. We can celebrate birth, baptisms, and weddings. We can celebrate life. And we can mourn sin and death. And the births, baptism, and weddings, and the life, and the sin and death that we experience of others is real, it is connected to us by the people and the dirt we are united to in our living.

To leave is to lose. We lose either that which we have in our connectedness and vulnerability, or we lose that connectedness and vulnerability we were cultivating in our staying. We lose. We lose opportunities for mourning and for joy. We lose opportunities for burden-bearing and for loving. In both directions.

Wherever you are, the seed is planted, the roots are growing. Wherever you are, your dust is settling. Let go. Live. Love. Connect. Be vulnerable.

* The thoughts above were inspired by Wendell Berry. Whatever good is in them, is a credit to him. Whatever bad is in them, is a debt to me.

Family-Integrated Balance

There is a movement afoot in the Church. There are calls from various corners of the Church asking churches to integrate families into their worship. This is often referred to as Family Integrated Worship (FIW). Organizations like Vision Forum and the National Center for Family Integrated Churches are active promoters of FIW. Coincidentally, one can find a plethora of churches listed on the NCFIC website who have FIW. The movement is an important and necessary one. Documentaries (like Divided), studies, and books are available showing that non-FIW churches are losing their children faster than those with FIW. I applaud and affirm the work being done.

As can be expected, however, sometimes (often?) the Church swings too far in trying to react to and correct social and theological issues. This may be one of those times.

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