Party Line

Welcome readers from little Indiana
C'mon on in and sit a spell.  Sign the guest book (comment) if you feel inclined.  Thanks for stopping by and nice to meet ya.

If I knew one dad gum thing about running a restaurant, I'd rent me some space at a little spot in town and serve up good strong coffee with real 1/2 & 1/2.  We'd be open for what us Hoosiers call; breakfast, dinner, and supper.  We'd even open up after  high school sporting events  basketball games, so the youngins' could get a pop and burger.  Loitering allowed.  I dreamed of such a place not too long ago and so I may just place the still imaginary "Half Way Cafe" as the setting in my novel.

I long for a simpler space and place in time. I want to walk down a brick-lined street at dusk, just before the gas lamps need to come on, and yet you can see their unnecessary glow.  In this perfect neighborhood of camaraderie, the roast beef aroma lingers as your family waves me in for pie and percolated coffee.  

Maybe you live in a brownstone and we chat for a bit while you throw a couple of wet dish towels over your fire escape wash-line.  Like the Honeymooners, when Norton comes in without knocking and Alice and Trixie share a telephone that they lower and raise via the kitchen window.  

I continue down the tree-lined street always to the same destination; a mom & pop owned coffee shop where the neon sign flashes, "Open" and everybody knows my name.  We sit outside for three seasons and then every paned window gets decorated in fake snow until it's rubbed off or replaced by red hearts.

Internet cafes have not been invented in this world of which I envy.  People talk and you can see eyebrows lower and eyes twinkle. They shake hands and hug when you walk in.

We all stay awhile and share life stories, opinions, and you tell me straight up when you disagree or if I have spinach in my teeth.  We discuss politics, sports, theology, the hereafter and whether we think it will rain next week.  We mention how blessed we are and speak about brave actors, soldiers and missionaries who walk their talk.  We ask questions about each other's family and you can sense if my heart is hurting. We take no notice of the outward appearance.   

You say "When do your parents head south?" And I say "How's your mama and them?" because your fathers have passed on. Then we solve global crisis and claim it's a wonderful world. After all.

We entertain ourselves with each other. Did you hear about the new grandbaby or the wreck out on 65 where everybody walked away? The TV gets only three channels and at midnight goes straight to the rainbow screen after the National Anthem.

In my idyllic world, I attend church just beyond city hall and the theatre marquee. Church is just church, nothing special 'bout it but the Gospel.   If we haven't connected during the week, I'll likely meet up with you in the vestibule. The church which welcomes all and never waivers from the truth.  The church with its steeple and cross, to warn and warm. It's like a moral compass, held up for all the villagers to see.

There's the library on the corner and a 5 & 10¢ store with a soda fountain counter ...


Closing Day



Closing Day
Life is filled with hellos and good-byes.  Click here for a story about our first “hello” with Springhill Camps.

But for now, it’s good-bye. I thought today would be the day I went to my 25th and last closing day rally. As it turns out, Melissa isn’t quite packed and ready to move to GR until Saturday. Beyond last week when I missed the closing rally while picking up my niece, I can’t really put a distinct time and space to: “This is my last closing day rally at SH.

I’m positive our kids will ship their kids off to camp when the time comes.  They’ll have the time of their lives.  They’ll sleep in tee pees or cabooses, or an actual cargo plane.  They’ll tie-dye and blob.  They’ll fall in love with their counselors and maybe a spouse. The gap will be a 7-year waiting period, at the least.  Tony and Jen still stand in the Springhill Day Camp arena; nevertheless today ends a Wilke era with SH Michigan Overnight Camps.

Why camp? Why Springhill Camps?  There are hundreds of answers.  A break from the everyday world.  A chance to be in God’s great creation.  A decentralized teaching method that instills God in all things. A staff trained to love on kids, get their hands dirty and by the end of the summer have acquired Jesus feet.

Because God is not a grandfather, and we couldn’t just splice our kids into the Tree of Life,  we partnered with Springhill because their values were based on truth. Just because we believed, did not mean our children would. There’s nothing spiritual about pulling into the Springhill property.  Going to camp doesn’t make anyone you a believer, just as going to church does not make one a Christian.

We did everything in our power to create an atmosphere where truth prevailed. A generation that doesn’t have a plum line of truth will inevitably be swayed by every wind of doctrine.  We wanted our kids to know the truth, for indeed it will and did set them free.

And so today we are leaving Springhill, not literally, but physically.

It’s hard to put into words, what SH has meant to our family.  I get tears in my eyes just writing about it now. There is nothing magical about the Springhill property yet something comes over each one of us when we drive into, or let our minds wander up there. 
It’s a Jesus thing.
I think it is where each one of our kids came to a closer relationship with the God of the universe and His son.  It is where he put his stamp of approval on each of their young hearts, minds and personalities. 
It’s a God thing.
I pray whenever SH pops into their minds they will automatically know there is a God who loves and cares for them and bought them with a great price. I pray it won’t be all about winning a spirit stick, but having the Holy Spirit fall upon their lives and a future generation of springhill campers. 
It’s a Spirit thing.

I wrote the above prayer in a scrapbook created years and years ago, before there was an Indiana camp on the 39th parallel, and daycamps all over the Midwest, but it's reiterated here:

Looking back I don't believe we sent our kids and eventually grandkids to camp to get a 'springhill' experience.  We sent them in hopes they would meet up with the God of the Universe, fall in love with his beloved son Jesus Christ, and encounter life to the full by being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Carry on.



Happy Anniversary Annie & Ben!
Blog post from August 25, 2006
Whoa! I’m having a hard time with this entry.  I’m still in somewhat of a daze.  I have so much to say, a village to thank, extreme emotions, and heartfelt moments that are still too tender to even begin to describe.  I’ll post this for starters, hopefully, soon the fog will clear and the memories will flow freely.  Ben and Annie, if the physical therapy and film stuff doesn’t work out you could always be wedding planners.  Trouble with that is you set the standard way too high, and it would take a miracle to pull off another one like that.  
Everything that happened was meant to happen.  I just wished it hadn’t happened so fast.  When can we come for dinner?

 As I slowly and painfully (even the flip flops hurt afterwards) walked back to my bunk at 12:30am Monday morning, I looked up at the catrillion stars in the Michigan sky and became completely overwhelmed by how much you all mean to us.  From the 4 & 1/2 hour trip that turned into 9, redoing my make-up and hair, to the welcome home brownies Gracie made us for LETTING her watch Sandy?  Thank you for making the sacrifices to support our family at this sacred and happy occasion on our journey.  Ben and Annie will thank you all personally, but I wanted you to know that in my book, the day wound not have been complete without you.

The Circle of Life.  Everyone talks about it, some people sing about it, there are films and books about it.  But no one can prepare you for how fast it goes.  So this toast is more of a warning.  Take the good with the bad, don’t let the sun go down on your wrath, may the road rise up to...blah, blah, blah!  When you guys come full circle and you’re giving the toast for your children ... 

...you’ll use this one:) It’ll be in the archives!  

Seriously, what I do pray for you is; when the time comes, you’ll harbor few regrets and just as many, if not more precious memories.  God bless you on your journey together.  Honor him, hold hands, cherish each other, hang on, it’s gonna go fast, have fun, call us, enjoy the ride and then...straight home.

At Last

Rehearsal over, sun was setting, baptism waters washed away
Flying down the giant zip lines, friends forever no cliché
When the sun rose o're the hill on that summer day, at last
Plans had all been set in motion and the waiting now had passed.

Handsome groom by the gazebo in his black and white costume
Something blue were the hydrangeas and their glorious perfume
Here comes the bride in lovely dress, ever gorgeous pretty smile
A log chapel in the pines then all eyes turned upon the aisle.

Shared communion, Triune worship and with  grateful prayers lifted
Candles danced, trumpet sounded and soon the mood had shifted
Let’s get this party started, tasty buffet and full dance floor
No-see-um bugs and soggy lawn; things we chose to just ignore.

Wagon limo, outdoor awning, hearth campfire, twinkling lights,
Friends and family clinked, then raised their glasses to new heights
Everyone caught up in the moment,  then asked if they could stay
Toasts brought tears and tons of laughter, at the camp along the way.

Two years have passed since your story started writing
Working hard, looking upward, souls forever keep uniting
Can you feel the love tonight? Review your strong foundation
Keep on dancing at the party of your wedding celebration.


Happy Anniversary Jennifer & Tony!

Blog post from August 22, 2007:
I'm torn.
I still feel horribly inadequate to start describing what was the beautiful sequence of events that culminated in my daughter's wedding. The words are stuck in my throat--soul. Every once in a while my heart loosens it's grip on a couple of thoughts, they make their way up to my head and rattle around like tiny steelies in a can of spray paint. At first, when you shake the can the metal beads flail around and bounce from side to side making all kinds of racket.
And moments of the last few days do the same. The young bride and groom's voices bounce off of the stately 90-year-old barn. Then, the longer you shake the spray paint can, the harder it gets to hear the separate beads. 

The guests blur together; family, friends, and even the caterer. Images that start out crystal clear, become out of focus, and then fade away almost as if they're taunting me. There are a host of people that have already learned the ways of servant hood (not the least of these being Jen's grandparents) must have an appropriate thank you space. 

And I definitely don't want to minimize the hard work put in by the bride and groom in preparation for a God inspired marriage. I promise I will get to that, but I first must speak to the wedding day that was completely and totally unique in a way that can only be described by two words: Jen & Tony.

Unique, one of a kind, intimate, personal, different, out of the ordinary, all words that would creep in and drive wedding plans.    
Grandma & Grandpa's Farm was the only venue ever mentioned, and so right out of the gates we were planning a destination wedding.
Not very long after the engagement was announced, they decided to theme their ceremony around serving God and each other. Uncle Paul would give the message culminated by washing each other's feet.

It was when we first shopped for her bridal gown, that I came to realize this would be no ordinary bride. "Formal or informal" the lady asked. "I'm not sure what you mean, Jen replied and then questioned, "Do you have anything with sleeves?" The lady stared blankly at Jennifer and said, "I'm not sure what you mean."
The flowers were cut on the wedding day from seed packets that had been prayed over, cultivated, and watered with the utmost of tender care. A handful of daisies and black-eyed Susan's for the bride, a single sunflower for the bridesmaids' and boutonnières of soybean leaves for the guys.   

There were other little things that completed the "look and feel" At first, I thought "no ushers", was a big mistake, but Jen wanted people to feel like they were walking into a worship service. In a barnyard. Programs that seemed a tad oversized at the beginning served as miniature umbrellas. The cicadas were deafening during the rehearsal, but the dash of rain quieted them and saw to it that she got to the church on time.
After Grandpa prayed over the dinner…I thought he might break into "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" instead we got the National Anthem after his to-the-point sermonette.
Something borrowed, something blue, yadda, yadda, unity candle, blah, blah, blah.

Who gets married on a Hoosier Family Farm,  carrying a bouquet of wild flowers, walks up the isle to "Amelie" and back down to "The Final Countdown" serenaded by a Wynonna song AND a professional fireworks display, then dances under the stars at the edge of their field of dreams?
Apparently Jen and Tony.

Field Of Dreams

A year ago today by fields of their dream
Serving each other their mantra and theme
Following Jesus, washing one another's feet
Instead of “I Love You” rings said “Be Sweet”

Echoed off the barn vows spoken that day
Sister and cicadas sang;  father tried to pray
Daisies, sunflowers, grandparents united
Lingering lightening bugs were even excited

One year ago on a brisk summer's eve
They set out on their journey with faith to believe
God sent His blessing; a new love would grow
White lights decorated each soy bean row.

In sickness, health and hurdles unknown
Traveling together, hearts that have grown
Learn from the past, press onward in union
God bless as you build a stronger communion.

Now home by the river, keeping time in due season
Hindsight helps them afford greater reason
Anniversary demands a stronger persuasion
Fondly remember that happy occasion.


Chicago Celebrity Buzz

President Obama landed along Lakeshore Dr in Chicago just as Hillsong United took to the stage at the Jesus Culture Gathering. (Click Streaming Live to watch)

Facebook became all a twitter with helecoptor pictures and sightings of the spectacle.

Ask anyone at the All State Arena or those who watched via livestream and they'll tell you Jesus was in the house ... mingling with the locals and introducing newbies to his Father.

President Obama is in town to celebrate his birthday by hosting numerous $38,000+ per plate democratic fundraisers.

Jesus is in town to rescue the perishing.

There is little access to President Obama.  He has is own plane and helicoptor fleets.  Streets are closed, manhole covers are  locked down. Security is tight.

Jesus stands at the door and knocks. The Bible says if you invite him in, he'll come in and eat dinner with you!

If someone paid the price, would you attend?

Eternity hangs in the balance.