Category Archives: vacation

Vacation Wrap-Up

We have actually been home since Monday, but dealing with waves of illness, colds and such.

I joined my family on Thursday, December 2, 2010 in Florida for a vacation.  They drove down to Florida after Thanksgiving and I took the convenient route and flew down.  With all of the hype surrounding the TSA, I was not sure what to expect.  Thankfully, I was surprised and made a point of being extra kind to the TSA agents because they do not have an easy job.  No problems with security and I had plenty of time to wait before my flight left that day.  I made my connection in Atlanta with ease and arrived in Florida on time.

The next day I found myself doing some yard work and raking leaves.  I did not mind doing this, in fact, I miss doing yard work since I live in an apartment.   I enjoyed being able to work outside in short sleeves while the temperature was in the 60’s that day.  I also enjoyed being able to spend time with my nieces and nephews (4 of them) along with my sister in law and brother in law.

My in-laws have a beautiful home and it will suit them well as they stay there during the winter months.  It will probably be hard to come back to MN in the Spring/Summer because this home is so much larger and spacious than the home they have here in MN.  They also have a plethora of orange trees in their backyard which the kids enjoyed eating oranges!

The first Sunday, we visited a church where the music director was an old college friend.  While we enjoyed the sermon, the music was a bit over the top for us.  Much too contemporary for any of us!  Seeing this made me appreciate the conservative music that we have at Fourth Baptist Church.  This trend in contemporary church music is troubling because it takes so much of the world and integrates it in the church through music, etc.    I will not mention the name of the church because my intent is not to impugn them just because I disagree with their musical philosophy.  They are a Bible-believing, Gospel preaching church.

My wife got sick Saturday evening with the stomach virus that I eventually got. She was out of action for a couple of days.

Monday, I had the opportunity of cooking the evening meal for everyone (there were 11 of us total, kids and all) I made a cassoulet recipe that I had previously made here at home and I changed a few things and added shrimp to it.  It turned out to be a hit with the little kids, with my nephew eating two bowls!  There was not much left over when we were done.

Wednesday we went to an aviation museum in the area and Joseph had a lot of fun seeing the various types of aircraft and climbing in the cockpits of several different jets and helicopters.  I knew that I wasn’t feeling well and the stomach virus that hit my wife, hit me hard.  I was down Thursday and part of Friday.  I have not been that sick in years, but during that time, it made me very thankful for the good health that I have had this year.

Saturday, we celebrated Christmas a bit early with the family.  We had a wonderful meal and a great time together.  This will be our first Christmas apart from my in-laws.

The two Saturdays that we were there, I took Joseph to the local Lowes Kids Clinic where we built two train cars (the caboose and the passenger car).  This was a good experience for both of us.  For Joseph, it was good because he learned to follow directions and put something together.  It was good for me to be able to spend some time with him and it was definitely out of my comfort zone because I am not good with building things.  We finished the train yesterday at our local Lowe’s store. The Lowe’s store in Florida could give a few pointers to the stores here in MN on how to run these Kids Clinics.

We ended up coming home a day later because of a flight cancellation on Sunday.  We came home to a great deal of snow on the ground! Even though our flight was cancelled, we were able to go to dinner as a family and enjoyed some really good seafood and some ice cream as well.  My wife and I went to see the spot where we were engaged 7 years ago.

Overall, we had a great time in Florida, and it made me appreciate the time with family. The weather was warmer than here in MN, but unusually cold for this time of the year.  I also had some time to reflect and think regarding the future and ministry.  Still not sure where we will end up or what we will do!

While we were away, I did receive an email from the First Baptist Church of International Falls, MN, letting me know that they called a classmate of mine, Ted Clarke, to be their next pastor and he has accepted.  I had the opportunity to preach at FBC Intl Falls in the Spring and Summer this year.  I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to preach/teach there during their search for a pastor.  I am thankful that Ted Clarke will be the next pastor and I am confident that the Lord will bless his ministry there!

We are praying that we will all get over the colds that we seem to have brought back with us.  We have spent the last week getting caught up from being away. I was able to work some overtime.

This week, we will be getting ready for the Christmas holidays and before we know it, a New Year (2011) will be upon us.

Thanks for reading… comments are welcome as always.




Duluth – July 24-26

Cotton Mansion - Duluth, MN

Cotton Mansion - Duluth, MN

We had the opportunity to go to Duluth, MN for our 5th Anniversary.  We had never been to Duluth before and looked forward to this trip.  Our trip to Duluth was supposd to take 2 1/2 hours but due to road construction it took us 4 hours.   We stayed at the Cotton Mansion.  This was our first experience at a Bed & Breakfast and it far surpassed our expectations.   We enjoyed dinner at Black Woods restaurant just a short distance away from the Cotton Mansion.  The food was excellent and I would recommend if you are in the Duluth area to try Black Woods, the food was wonderful and the service was excellent!

On Saturday we enjoyed breakfast at the Cotton Mansion with the other 5 couples that were staying there.  We met people from all over.  There was even a couple there who were originally from Bulgaria, they have lived in the Twin Cities for 15 years and they both speak excellent English.  After breakfast, we ventured out into Duluth, to see and experience as much as we could in between rain showers.  We went to Canal Park and watched the boats and ships pass beneath the lift bridge.  We also walked across the bridge and out on the causeway.  We had lunch at Little Angies Cantina – a Tex Mex place near  Canal Park.  We also went to the Fitgers complex and walked around and ventured in and our of the shops there.  We went to Enger Park and climbed to the top of Enger Tower, great views of the city of Duluth and surrounding areas.  We also drove the Skyline Ridge scenic route above Duluth.  Later that day, we ventured up to Two Harbors, just a bit north of Duluth and found that there is not much there except for cheaper gas!  We went back at had dinner that evening at Sara’s Table and enjoyed a blueberry malt at the Portland Malt Company.

On Sunday, we enjoyed our final breakfast at Cotton Mansion and then ventured out to look for some pottery.  We had originally planned to attend church but did not make it because of breakfast.  We then met up with our friend Charlene who lives in the area and we were treated to lunch at her home and there were other friends there also from the Twin Cities.  Charlene prepared a wonderful lunch and we enjoyed great conversation and good fellowship.  We left Charlene’s and wanted to catch a couple of other things, one included a visit to Leif Erickson Park and the Rose Garden. We also were able to visit the Glensheen Mansion before heading home.   We headed home about 6 pm and hit road construction again, and made it home by 9:30 pm.  We enjoyed our trip and look forward to taking Joseph with us next time (before winter).

Duluth is a very nice city, relatively smaller than the Twin Cities (90,000 pop).  It is a nice place to visit, but I would not want to live there because of the extreme weather conditions in the winter.  The hills would make me nervous driving them in the ice and snow.  Duluth reminded me of several different places:  New Ulm – because the city is up against a mountain and seems to roll-away from the mountain towards the water; San Francisco – because of the many hills.  If you want to get your car airborne here, you will be able to do it with ease (not recommended);  Santa Barbara – because of the number of tourists and the proximity to a body of water.

Thanks again to the staff at the Cotton Mansion for making our stay very pleasant and providing two outstanding breakfasts.  We look forward to returning again soon!

Thanks to our friend Charlene for helping us with places to go, eat, and for hosting for us lunch on Sunday afternoon!

Louisville and Southern Seminary – Day 2

It is hard to sleep in an unfamiliar place.  I have a nice room here at the Legacy Center, but it is either too hot or too cold and I have to adjust the thermostat accordingly to get the temperature regulated.  I had a hard time sleeping because of new noises or lack of noise (we live near a busy highway in MN) I wanted to get up early and use the health club facilities but I was just too tired.  I was able to enjoy a nice quiet breakfast in the cafeteria.  I enjoyed a nice western omelet, without the tomatoes and mushrooms.

After breakfast, I came back to the room to take care of some seminary coursework that I still have to complete while I am away.  Terry Delaney came by and then it was off to chapel.  Alumni chapel is a very ornate, beautiful building. It seats around 1200 and was pretty full this morning for chapel.  Dr. James Merritt preached a great message from II Timothy, you can read more about it in detail here.

After chapel, I was able to meet and speak with Dr. Tom Nettles.  I have heard a lot about Dr. Nettles from Dr. Jeff Straub (who studied under Dr. Nettles here at SBTS) and I was very glad to be able to speak with him.  In a sense Dr. Nettles has a part in my education indirectly through Dr. Straub.

Once chapel was over, I headed over to the Admissions Office where I had lunch with one of their Admissions Counselors, Toby Jennings.  We had a nice lunch and a good time of conversation/fellowship.  After lunch, I met Terry Delaney again and we went to Dr. Whitney’s Personal Spiritual Disciplines class.  Today they were talking about the various views on the Lord’s Day.  What a stimulating, thought provoking discussion.  I will say more about this later because what was discussed has given me an idea either for a paper or a blog post.  I slipped out of class a few minutes early in order to keep an appointment with Dr. William Cook (NT Professor).  I enjoyed meeting with Dr. Cook and asking questions regarding the PhD program here at Southern.  We spent about 20 mins together and then I went back to meet Terry before the next class.

We went to the Founders Cafe and grabbed a quick snack before the next class.  It was nice to be able to talk about many different things with Terry Delaney.  Just before 4 pm, we headed back to Norton Hall for Church History class with Dr. Kevin Smith.  I must confess, at 4 pm, I was struggling to stay awake, but I survived.  I enjoyed the Church History class with Dr. Smith and it brought back memories of my time in church history as well.

After class, we came back to the room so I could quickly catch up on some emails and return a phone call.  Then it was off to Terry Delaney’s again for dinner.  We were supposed to have chicken pot-pie tonight but instead we had Pizza Hut and it was good pizza.  It has been a while since I had Pizza Hut and it was good.  Since it was Terry’s birthday today, his wife Krista made him a gooey butter cake.  This is a St. Louis thing.  I enjoyed it very much and told my wife and mother in law about it and they said that it would be neat to try some time.

I am finishing up this post and getting back to my seminary work.  Tomorrow I will be getting together with Dr. and Mrs Hauser who recently retired from Central Seminary and are living in the Louisville area.   I have a campus tour scheduled for tomorrow afternoon and then I will be spending the afternoon working on more seminary classwork and taking an exam if my professor remembers to email it to me.

The Spiritual Disciplines Conference starts tomorrow evening at 7:00 pm and I am looking forward to it.  Before I know it, it will be time to return home to MN.  Hopefully the weather will have improved when I get back.  It sounds like the rain is picking up with intensity outside!

Louisville and Southern Seminary – Day 1

Today got off to an early start.  The alarm went off at 5:00 am and I got moving.  I had to catch a 7:00 am plane to Chicago and connect on to Louisville.  Got to the airport a little after 6:00 and then I saw the line — and it was long….  I got in line and was wondering if I was going to make my flight.  I got through security and walked briskly to the gate and boarded the plane and looked at my watch and it was 6:45 am — I made it with 15 mins to spare.

The flight to Chicago was a short one.  It reminded of me the flight from Jacksonville to Atlanta, you are up and then you land, a quick flight.  I had not been to O’Hare in quite some time and it has not changed much.  Took my time walking to the connecting gate because I had a 2 1/2 hour layover.  I was able to use the time wisely by finishing some reading that I needed to complete for one of my seminary classes.

The flight to Louisville was another short one on a CRJ-200 regional jet.  This particular aircraft seats about 50 people and it was packed.  We departed a little late but arrived 15 mins later than scheduled.  This is the first flight where I did not check any luggage and this is the way to go, what a time savings.  I realize that carry-on is not always possible, but for a short trip like this it is good.  Only drawback, I do not have any additional room to bring home any books or souvenirs.

When I arrived in Louisville, Terry Delaney (from the Diary of a Seminary Student blog) met me and we came to the campus of Southern by way of a detour.  He drove a little bit out of the way so I could see the bat at the Louisville slugger museum in downtown Louisville.  I enjoyed the extra time we had in the car to talk and fellowship.

Once we arrived on campus, we went to the Founder’s cafe to eat lunch, I was hungry and the food was good.  After lunch I asked Terry to give me a tour of the campus from a student’s perspective.  While on that tour, we saw Dr. Mohler in Norton Hall and we were able to stop and exchange greetings.  Not bad for the first day on campus, I get to meet the President!   I was hoping to meet him while I was here and God allowed it to happen.  Even though we stopped for less than 5 mins, Dr. Mohler was very kind and gracious to us and made me feel very welcome here at Southern Seminary.       We went on a tour of various buildings and I was trying to take it all in.  This is a huge campus with a lot of activity.  I am pretty good with directions, but in some of the buildings, everything looks the same!  We were going down another hallway and I spotted Dr. Whitney in one of the offices.  I told Terry that I saw him and we stopped and I was able to meet him as well.  I feel like I already know him because I have read almost everything he has written and I have listened to several of his sermons online.  He was on a break and had to get back to what he was doing, so we continued on our tour.  While walking across campus, I also was able to meet Hank Balch from the Lawn Gospel blog also.

After we left Hank, we went over the the Boice Library.  What an unbelievable facility!  I was able to meet Paul Roberts, who is the Patron Librarian and he was very kind in extending hospitality and allowing me to use their library while I am on campus to complete an assignment while I am here.

We made our way around campus and then over to the Legacy Center, where I am staying while I am here.  Again, very gracious people here when I checked in.  The room I am staying in is nice, but I am having trouble getting adjusted to the 50 degree temperatures outside.  50 here is like 70 to me because it has been so cold for so long back in MN!  Terry and I talked for a while and then we headed to his apartment to have dinner with his family.  We had shepherds pie for dinner and the food was great!  I also enjoyed meeting Terry’s wife Krista, and their three boys, Austin, Isaac, and Nathaniel.  Isaac reminded me a lot of my son Joseph (they are about two months apart in age).  Nathaniel slept the whole time I was there, but he looked very cute and peaceful while sleeping.

After Terry dropped me off, I took a walk around campus to familiarize myself with my surroundings.  I went to see what the mealtimes are at the cafeteria and walked around in the Honeycutt center.  There is a lot of activity on the campus.  I was able to call Heidi and Joseph and talk with them for a while.  I am looking forward to chapel tomorrow and I will sit in on a few classes.  I am also hoping I can meet Tom Nettles while I am here.

Right now I am getting used to being back in the Eastern Time Zone.  I have an assignment that I need to complete tonight before bed.

Tomorrow – Day 2 – and hopefully it will not rain!

The California Chronicles – Part I

We have been home for almost one week and now I am able to sit down and write a bit about our trip.

We left the house early on Friday 8/3 to catch our flight to LA. We wanted to leave early because Joseph would still be sleeping (we thought) and it would allow us to have the whole day in CA. We got to the airport on time and through security with no problems or hassles. The flight was great and before we knew it we were on the ground and ready to go. Then we had to get the luggage and we had a good amount of it including Joseph’s car seat and stroller and then off to Hertz.

At Hertz, there was a bit of a delay because we wanted a Camry and they did not have any available even though we reserved one specifically. No big deal, because they gave us an Avalon for the same price.

Once we got out of the Hertz facility we headed North on the 405 freeway towards Santa Clarita with a stop at my mother’s grave site.

We ate lunch at In-N-Out burger. I eat very little red meat anymore, but this was an exception and they always have good food, but I did not want to make a habit of it either! It was good to be home again. My 20 year high school reunion was on Saturday evening…

More later…