My last full week of vacation didn’t start well. No, no one got hurt or sick.
I went to worship. Normally this is a good, even great thing. But I forgot the experience from last year and was reminded (again) why I love the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW). For those who don’t know what it is, it means that God regulates our worship of Him thru the Scriptures. We are told who to worship and how. There are many things left up to common sense and wisdom, like what time to meet, how long, the precise content of prayers, etc.
One of my convictions, based on the RPW, is that the worship service is not the place to sing patriotic songs. A worship service has songs of worship to our great God, Father, Creator and Redeemer. We are instructed to pray for our government as part of worship, but singing songs (and pledging allegiance) to the State would be a violation of my conscience. We (actually they) ended up singing more songs about our country than our Savior.
There was a time to commission a large portion of our extended family for a mission trip to Costa Rica. That is a good thing. It is appropriate. My only concern is that it took the place of the sermon and as a result we celebrated the Lord’s Table without the preaching of the Word. My Presbyterian self was frustrated. Perhaps you wouldn’t be, but perhaps I should have stayed at the house listened to some songs of worship and watched my free Sinclair Ferguson DVD on the Holy Spirit. I need to remember this for next year.
When we got back to the farmhouse, I was surprised to learn that the aforementioned commissioning service was the cause of a luncheon at the Farm. Always the last to know these things. I needed some down time (aka I as in introvert time) after all the festivities of the night before. After people left, I took a nap. Then I enjoyed a cigar, a beer and a novel on the back porch. For dinner we decided on take out Chinese, a mere 20-30 minutes away.
Monday morning was another early morning. I tried to walk before the bugs come out. I failed. I forgot to bring the thick walking stick and was stalked by some dogs. I started to carry it after being harassed by a German Shepherd last summer. But the bugs were worse, and I ended up shortening my walk. But I was still a sweaty, stinky mess.
While I was reading, Uncle Dan helped the kids fill up 15 water balloons to throw at Evan for his 15th birthday. Uncle Dan reports that all the balloons hit Evan, bounced off and exploded on the ground.
Monday night was the beginning of VBS, which means the beginning of “Date Night” for us. The last few years, the local church has started VBS on Sunday. This year it is only Monday – Friday. It is the one about the Kingdom that seems omnipresent this year. This time it was Mega-Date Night, as Dan & Jeannine, Mima & PopPop and Kelli joined us. But since it was Monday, and nearly everything was closed, we ended up at Stewarts’ for some ice cream. The women didn’t seem to want to sit with Dan and me. Not sure why, but the black raspberry ice cream in my facial hair might have contributed to it. As you can tell, PopPop doesn’t really dress up for Date Night.
We then ran some errands at Tops, so I got to do some power lifting with the bags of potatoes and apples I was carrying. Redeem that time!
After picking up the kids and putting them to bed, we hung out by the fire for awhile. Eventually, the beds were calling our names.
Tuesday morning we went to Minerva Beach again. No rain this time. It waited until we were on the way home. Yes, the rain continues to come a few times a day. I think it has rained everyday we’ve been up here.
But that didn’t stop VBS, nor Date Night. MiMa & PopPop did not join us due to errands down in Glens Falls. But Bar Vino was open so it was time for mussels, frites and bread. Delicious food. CavWife had to settle for some peach tort kind of thing since she is allergic to shellfish. And then we took a walk down what passes for Main Street. I was surprised by how much the businesses of North Creek have changed in the last year. Too many “for sale” and “for lease” signs. One of the restaurants we’ve enjoyed for dessert the last few years is now closed. I am reminded of 2008-10 when so many businesses closed up here. There seems to be another downturn, irrespective of what DC says.
When putting the kids to bed, our younger daughter mentioned she wanted to go to the “good kingdom” where Jesus is. So we talked about faith & repentance. CavWife thinks it may have been a bit advanced for her since she has only been speaking English for a year. But there was a profession of faith- I am a sinner and Jesus saves by taking the punishment those sins deserve. I think she got it. What really matters is if the Spirit has given her a heart of flesh. If so, all the rest will fall into place in the proper time.
Wednesday was another rainy morning. As a result, it was a lazy kind of day as I read and blogged. CavGirl #1 went into town to get her hair cut along with her Aunt Jeannine. It remained hot and humid, with the obligatory condensation dripping off the toilet tanks. But the one in our bathroom had bigger problems. It was actually leaking water from where the bolts anchor the tank to the bowl. It leaked so much water that the suspended ceiling in the family room below had big wet spots. Off to the hardware store again, before it closed at 5 to buy the proper repair kit. I spent the next chunk of my life removing the old bolts and what little was left of the washer. Seriously, not much was left.
After dinner, we dropped the kids off at VBS and went over to Basil & Wick’s for dessert. This time “we” included MiMa & PopPop but not Kelli. Dan considered the frog legs, but decided the Cajun season might be a bit much, and there were 6 of them. This was a big risk if he didn’t like them (but smaller than the stuff calamari risk I took years ago in Atlanta- horrendous). As a result, he settled for the mozzarella sticks. I tried the Panko Shrimp. They were quite big, and tasted ok, but there were only 3 of them. I was disappointed. I think I’ve decided that B&W’s is not the place for appetizers or dessert. Thursday Pasta Night is another story, however.
Thursday morning was the morning of departures. Early in the morning Rich left for IL so he could serve in his role as Chaplain that weekend. Around 7 Dan & Jeannine left so Jeannine could work later in the day. And the CavFamily packed up the Envoy and headed east to NH to visit with some family and friends. This trip reminded me why we don’t often do such trips with the kids (sorry to all those who want us to visit with them). Some of them really struggled with the long drive. I struggled with listening to the VBS music ad infinitum.
We stopped in Rutland, VT since we’d never make it to Quechee in time for lunch. Unsure of where to stop, I spotted a 99 Restaurant. That would give us a good lunch, including some popcorn while we waited. I forgot about the special offer the day after a Red Sox win. Thanks to the Sox’ solid win against the Mariners the night before, we got 2 of the kids’ meals free. Thank you, Red Sox, for saving us $10 plus tax & tip. Alright, I did add a little extra on the tip.
We arrived at my parents’ home after a caffeine stop at Dunkin’ Donuts. I think my mother has forgotten what it is like to have kids around. It was raining, and she didn’t want them outside getting wet. Like they haven’t gotten wet EVERY day this week. She made it hard for them to play in the house. I felt sorry for them. They needed to play after the long ride. I was able to talk to my father and older brother before a bunch of us took a walk while we awaited my other brother and nephew. He struggles with whether man is essentially good or essentially evil (brought on by the Zimmerman case) as well as the Catholic view of free will. So, I gave him a short, understandable intro to the doctrine of total depravity. Then we headed to a buffet.
After dinner we left Manchester and continued to Nashua where we would be staying with some old friends of mine: Jim & Debbie. We put the kids to bed and spent some time catching up. In the morning it did not take the kids long to get into the pool. The oldest has become like a fish and was swimming hither and yon. The others, in life vests, did not venture far initially. They eventually got more bold, except for the youngest. Soon I had joined them, and Jim, for a water fight and other play. My parents then arrived to join us for a while. While discussing the current moral decline of America, I introduced him to Romans 1. Pool-palooza resumed after lunch and naps. By late afternoon, some of those muscles I hadn’t used in about 2 years were really barking at me.
After putting the kids to bed, Jim and I sat on the back porch and talked about ministry challenges we were both facing. It was good to talk through some of them with a more objective person. We also shared a mystery brew my in-laws purchased which turned out to be an IPA.
Saturday started off just like Friday. Breakfast and swimming for the kids until … CavGirl#1 did what you aren’t supposed to do and ran by the pool. An untimely slip meant her tooth and lower lip met in a way they should not. We weren’t if sure the tooth went all the way through, but there were cuts on both sides (looks minimally invasive now). She took it easy for the rest of the morning. By the time the kids’ rest was done old friends started showing up for time around the pool and a meal together. We’ve all known each other for over 20 years. Jim and Bob were the men who give me time and invested in my after my conversion. It was great catching up with those who were able to make the party. Jim purchased some very awesome marinated sirloin tips for us all to enjoy.
After breakfast, and a quick swim, we were off for NY. I wanted to get the kids back at a reasonable time so they could get some rest before our dinner company arrived. It was a largely uneventful trip except for the “are we there yets” and “how much longer” exclaimed frequently. This time we got to Quechee too soon for lunch. On to Rutland again. This time a quicker stop at the KFC which just can’t compare to CFA for deliciousness. Thankfully we put a cap on the VBS songs even though we added a new VBS CD while in NH.
The kids did get some rest after we arrived. Then Amie’s former roommates Sally and Wendy arrived for dinner. After the kids went to bed I watched something on Netflix while they caught up. We had not watched any TV or Netflix the whole weekend until that moment. Refreshing.
Monday was a mostly quiet day. I took a long walk listening to some Tim Keller. About 1/3 of the way down the hill my back started to bother me. Could have been the long car rides. Or the pool time. Or …. I finished the walk though harassed by bugs and came back a sweaty, stinky mess. And I gimped along all day as my back ached.
That night I drove Kelli, Noah and Naomi to Utica to catch the train back to Chicagoland. Very interesting ride: you pass thru Poland, Norway and Russia to get there. It was a beautiful ride with lots of creeks, rivers and brooks along the way. Then you hit farmland with rolling hills. Afraid the Cream Puff was not reliable enough, we drove Robbie’s VW with 228k miles on it.
It was a noisy ride. Before we even got to Cod Pond Noah was wondering how much longer and saying it was a long ride already. I heard lots of this in little kid voices:
- Are we there yet?
- How much longer?
- Mommy, kill the fly!
- Noah’s ignoring me!
There were some moments of peace, when we put the VBS music on. I did not realize there was an Amish community on the outskirts of town. But I passed some horses and buggies. There was a slight goof on the GPS app and we ended up at the bus station. But the train station was only a few blocks away. Easy in and easy out. Which is great because that part of Utica was in urgent need of urban renewal. What a dump!
There were some Amish people getting ready to ride on the train. This reminded me of Witness with Harrison Ford and the question I’d never asked: why do Amish people ride trains? Apparently they can ride in cars too. They just don’t own them or drive them. Interesting inconsistencies to us that seem perfectly logical to them.
The ride home was much quieter. This gave me time to pray for a variety of people and situations. It was a relaxing ride, though sometimes the people there drive very slowly. The last stretch of the ride was when the bugs came out in full force. It was like it was raining bugs as they kept splattering on the windshield.
Tuesday was my last full day there as life slowly returns to normal at the Farm with only my wife and kids being the extra bodies about. We went to the Hudson River in the morning. It is a short hike in on a much wider trail than to Cod Pond. Since there has not been as much rain, the river was not as high and swift as it was a few weeks ago. The water was refreshing, particularly for my back. It was fun watching the kids and dogs playing in the water and on the rocks. A relaxing morning.
When we came back, we brought a worm with us. And Billy was no where to be found. Billy is the 12+ year-old German Short-hair Pointer who has seemingly been on death’s door for well over a year. Every time I leave the Farm I wonder if that is the last time I’ll see the old guy. He’s no longer “top dog” and needs naps between his lengthy excursions.
Well, the worm was not placed in a proper place and died. We feared a similar fate for Billy. CavGirl #1 and a cousin dug up some more worms making CG#1 happy again. Billy was eventually found at the golf course near the river, following a group of golfers. All’s well that ends well.
Today I travel home. Here are some vital stats:
- 7- the number of beds I slept in.
- 4- the types of water we encountered: ocean, pool, river, lake, pond. I’m ignoring rain.
- 4- the number of car rides between 3 1/2 – 5 hours.
- 3- the number of car rides between 1 1/2 -2 hours.
- 14- the minimum # of restaurants I ate in. There could have been more.
- 6- the # of flights