I don’t know if you have noticed lately, but around here, the winds have blown often and strong. My mother once said it was God sweeping the sky and the tree tops to clean things up. And if you looked around the next day, the ground would be covered with dead branches and leaves and such as if God had truly cleaned up the tree tops.
In my world, the winds of change have blown. Change in my work with Stop Hunger Now, change in my personal sphere of life, and change in my place of ministry.
I have dreamed of a GREAT RIDE. A motorcycle ride to every SHN site in the US. And at various times that ride seems like it will happen, and not happen — depending on how the wind was blowing at the time. As part of this, I will be looking at a ride to the Orlando, FL site this week. I had the opportunity to ride to the Jackson, MS warehouse in April and had a great visit with Matt Casteel and Pat Ware. They had just moved into a larger space.
I look forward to meeting the folks in Orlando and seeing their place of operations and learn how God is using them to change the world.
Winds of change are blowing in my sphere of life in several ways. My daughter is moving from Middle School to High School. We are seeing her close the chapter of her life in middle school as the last concerts for All State Chorus, District Honor Chorus, County Honor Chorus/Band and such take place. And we see change in looking forward to High School and marching band. My BABY is no longer a baby and is getting bigger and smarter with each day.
I had to replace the family van last week. Meridy and I have begun conversations on how we would replace her car — given it is the older vehicle. However, it turns our the van had terminal issues. After putting $1,500 in the car, we had to put $500 in the van and after evaluation learned it needed nearly $2,000-$3,000 in repairs — to maybe get 40-50,000 more miles out of it. Not a good investment. SO, we now have a new vehicle and a new, larger monthly payment.
Other changes in my sphere include trying to raise the funds to do our 3rd year of meal packing at East Coweta Middle School with the 6th Grade. After it looking like it would NOT happen, it now looks promising. With several people making gifts, we now are sure to package at least 10,000 meals and if everything comes together the projected project of 20,000 meals. Praise the Lord!
Changes in my place of ministry include some interesting opportunities to have deep spiritual conversations lately in unusual places and unexpected times. The biggest change will be a move to a new pastorate. For those not familiar, United Methodist pastors are assigned to their place of ministry each year. I have been with the people of Senoia UMC for the last 3 years. Due to financial issues, it is necessary to take a new place of ministry to allow SUMC to lower their salary to a level that allows for funding ministry — which is the purpose of the local church.
I am not ready to leave Senoia, but it seems to be the time — so we begin to pack and dream. If we HAVE TO LEAVE Senoia, then the idea of serving the people of Murray County, GA — namely those who worship and engage in ministry at Chatsworth First UMC breeds excitement.
We are excited about that which is new, that which we believe God calls us to, that which will be our new world. The winds blow strong sometimes. The winds blow in seemingly uncontrolled ways sometimes. But even if we do not know where they come from, where they are going, or why they even blow — we know that they are in God’s control and if we will simply trim our sails properly — we will travel safely and securely to our destination.
I hope you will continue to follow this blog. I don’t really know where it will go, but I will try to be more faithful to post regularly. I will continue to be honest in my thoughts. and I hope you will take a minute to comment, share with a friend or two, and if you can spare a few quarters — feed a child.
The place to give for our ECMS event is: http://www.events.stophungernow.org/ecms. All donations are helpful and will make sure we have a great event for these students.
The place to give or sign up as a sponsor for THE GREAT RIDE is to drop my a note (and check if you can) to P.O. Box 98, Senoia, GA 30276.
Thanks for your time, your prayers, your support, and your donations. I will share about my latest trip to Nicaragua in a bit……
Until the next time…..The Hog Father
I can’t sleep. It is the early morning hours on New Year’s Eve, 2012. My spirit is troubled — not a negative type of trouble, but a restless kind of troubled.
A new year is about to break forth in the world, in my life — and I can’t help but feel like 2012 is incomplete and 2013 is already slipping from my grasp. There is so much I wanted to carry out that remains a dream — and so much I dream to carry out that remains beyond my grasp.
A former District Superintendent of mine, Dr. Mike Cavin, once challenged us as pastors and church leaders to ask a very telling question. It has remained with me to this day. “What are you willing to attempt in the coming year, that without God’s intervention, will fail.” You see, if we only attempt things we can carry out ourselves, without God, we show no faith. We live within the bounds of our own strength. But if we will risk, if we will trust, if we will dream big — and if we do so listening to God’s leading, looking for where God is already working and joining in the effort — we will not only succeed, the Kingdom of God will move closer to completion — and souls will be saved. The hungry will be fed, the naked clothed, the homeless will find a home, the thirsty will have their thirst quenched, those that are sick and in prison will be visited and restored. All kinds of marvelous, redemptive, just, merciful, gracious, kind, loving things will happen — if we only reach…..
And that brings me back to my troubled spirit. As I traveled to Nicaragua in March, 2012, a dream came to my mind. One that couples my passion for the work of Stop Hunger Now and my personal passion and pleasure of long distance rides on my Harley-Davidson motorcycle. At that time I dreamed of riding to each Stop Hunger Now site in the lower 48 states. At that time there were 9 locations, mostly along the eastern United States.
Since that time, I have had many conversations with friends, family, church members, community leaders, Stop Hunger Now staff, about what that ride might look like, cost, and carry out. Much of this discussion has excited and encouraged. Some of it has disappointed, and discouraging. After all, I am really no body. I don’t mean that in a self-defeating, depressing way. But I am no celebrity, sports star, famous preacher, or anything like that. I am not someone who will draw a crowd, generate media excitement, or even a ripple in the pond of the world. I am just a person who loves God, wants to make a difference in the world and who has a passion for the work of Stop Hunger Now. There is no reason for the news media to care about what I will or will not do. No reason for people to get excited that I have ridden a motorcycle to town or that I care about feeding the hungry.
And yet….this has been on my mind and in my heart for over a year — it feels incomplete. And time is running out. In the over 1 1/2 years I have had this dream, the number of Stop Hunger Now locations has grown. And not slowly! In one of the conversations I had with staff from Stop Hunger Now, looking at a possibility of making this ride in July, 2013; I discovered that would now mean a trip to 20 locations! Reaching from Orlando, FL up the eastern seaboard to Boston, MA, and west all the way to Santa Ana, CA and the San Francisco Bay area. With the rate of growth, and the rapidly expanding work of Stop Hunger Now, it will soon be almost impossible to make such a ride.
Right now I am honored and flattered that so many persons have followed my blog and have still kept up with my and my ramblings. I am honored that I have been part of meal packaging events that resulted in nearly 100,000 meals. I have been honored to be invited to meet with staff members at the Raleigh, NC office. Thanks for generous friends and church members I am looking forward to taking my 14 year-old daughter with me as I return to Nicaragua in March, 2013. My children are just a passionate as I am about doing all we can for this effort to end world hunger.
I guess I am rambling about this for these reasons:
1) Would you pray for my daughter and I as we prepare to visit with those who benefit from the Stop Hunger now meals and get to know them as people?
2) Would you consider a financial gift to aid us in the cost of the trip?
3) Looking forward, would you consider a financial gift towards our annual packing event at East Coweta Middle School with the 6th grade on the last day of school (we strive to package 20,000 meals which cost $5,000)?
4) Would you pray that God will speak more clearly to me about this “grand ride” to the Stop Hunger Now locations? It is my intention that riding to the locations will garner attention/publicity, raise funds, and increase the awareness of Stop Hunger Now and its efforts to end world hunger.
5) Would you help spread the word by sharing this blog, talking to others about Stop Hunger Now, dreaming with me (and actually the vision of founder, Ray Buchannon) that we can truly stop hunger in our lifetime. It is possible! Every day the world produces enough food for every living person to eat 4.3 pounds. It is not a supply problem. It is a distribution problem. It is a matter of choice that the people of the world make that keeps people hungry.
Well, I guess this will not help me go to sleep. But it does give me a place to share my mind, my heart, my passion. My spirit is still troubled. 2012 will end in a matter of a few hours. 2013 will begin…..and my spirit is still crying out for answers. Why didn’t it get done in 2012? Will it get done in 2013? What is my role? What can I do? What should I do? Oh, God — where is your will and how can I find my place in it??
Until the next time….The Hog Father,
Well, it’s 11;29pm on Wednesday night. Had a church dinner tonight: Pinto beans, mashed potatoes, black-eye peas, and slaw with corn bread muffins. It was very tasty and good. It was reminiscent of the kind of meals the “poor” had in years past. Low cost, high nutrition, and filling.
I sat at the table with the knowledge that in the morning, I will be speaking at LaGrange College about my involvement with Stop Hunger Now. I have spent 2 weeks trying to capture that story in a slide show and in my thoughts. Technology has not been my friend — but thanks to a friend (and church member) it has been brought under control. My thoughts are not so together.
How do you sum up the last 2 years, 47 days of eating the meals, a trip to feeding centers in Nicaragua, untold conversations with people, blogs, and photos, packaging events (80,000+ meals) and many other wonderful opportunities to share this humanitarian effort? It suggests the song, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria, from The Sound of Music.
I am anxious about tomorrow. Will I capture the imaginations of the students? Will it matter? Will they hear my passion for Stop Hunger Now or will they see an overweight, old, grey-headed preacher they need to endure?
I am anxious about the possibility to return to Nicaragua in March and maybe take my daughter and a member of the church with me. (Contributions are welcome for this trip which will run around $3,500 for the 2 of us.)
And I am already anxious about a possible “grand event” for next summer.
Anxiety is not always bad. It can drive us to do our best, to reach for more than we would normally try for, and to give us energy we need. I hope that is the case in the morning…..
Until the next time….The Hog Father,
Well, technology can be your friend, OR it can get in the way.
I had to buy a new computer, learn new programs and recreate many projects. So I have not done much blogging.
I have thought about what I will share next week when I get the honor of addressing students at LaGrange College. They are preparing to package 25,000 meals as part of their Day of Service.
As part of what I will share, I wanted to share some images from my time working with Stop Hunger Now and my trip to the feeding centers in Nicaragua. Again, technology and I are not BFFs, but we are good friends. This is something new for me.
If you follow this link, you will find a short video I created about this trip. Your comments and thoughts are always welcome. Please be nice…..
Until the next time….The Hog Father
It has been some time since I have written here. And that is how I have begun the last several entries to this blog.
I am beginning to learn a few things about life. The thing on my mind tonight is that we need to have a new – new beginning to many areas of our life. I began this blog over a year ago to share my journey as I lived on Stop Hunger Now meals for the season of Lent. I continued the blog after that season still talking about Stop Hunger Now and my thoughts about hunger, quarters, and the choices we can make.
I began blogging daily, then every few days, then every week or so, and now it has been something like a month or so. Each time I come back to write, I tell my self I need to begin again to write often. And I begin again.
Then “life” happens and I fall behind — and I begin again. And again. And again.
This is similar to our Christian walk and our wish to follow Christ. We begin with energy, good intentions, and passion. And then “life” happens and we find ourselves getting less and less focused on our Christian walk — and before long, we find ourselves quite some distance from where we wish to be. So, we need to begin again.
And the cycle repeats. Only, if we will keep working at it, we notice a little sooner, and the a little sooner than that, and a little sooner still, that we are falling away from the passionate, committed life we wish.
Dr. Tom Camp shared his experience at meditation while at a monastery with a group of us at a clergy meeting. He would seek to meditate but quickly his mind would wander to something else. He would seek to bring his focus back to the meditation and quickly lose focus again. Talking with one of the monks, he expressed his sense of failure and frustration. The monk pointed out that it is like lifting weights. If you lifted the weights up and they just stayed there, what would be the benefit of that. It is in the weight coming back down and lifting it back up time and time again that we build our strength. And each time we lift the weight back up we do so with more strength and ease. So it is with meditation (and in my opinion with life in general).
Each time our mind wanders, we deliberately move it back to the meditation and in doing so, we grow stronger and it becomes easier to bring our mind under control. The more we do it, the easier it becomes.
I contend this is the same for our Christian walk. We lose our way time and time again. That is just the way it is in life. The more often we bring our life back into focus, the stronger we become, and the easier it is to do so.
And there we have a new-new beginning. We begin again. And again. And again…..
So I begin again this blog. I hope to share my thoughts for whatever they are worth to whom every chooses to read them. It is my hope and prayer that they will be of some usefulness. If not an encouragement and guide, at least as a caution and urging where NOT to go.
Your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated. I will still often talk of hunger and the work of Stop Hunger Now. But I will be expanding my thoughts and reflexions to a more general theme.
May God give you the grace and strength to have a New — New Beginning when and where you need it.
Until the next time….The Hog Father
I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with the staff of Stop Hunger Now in the Raleigh, NC office this week. What a wonderful group of persons committed to ending world hunger in our lifetime. And they all seem so excited and happy! (I think it is in the water there…)
They allowed me to share some of my thoughts on why I am involved with the Stop Hunger Now work. And once again, a very clear example of this came to my mind. I have shared it here before, but it bears repeating in a new way.
When I rode the SHN Harley to the offices, I had to make a few stops along the way for food and gas. I paid cash for some of this and received change from my purchases. Part of that change was in coin, and part of those were quarters — 25 cents. I have gotten to where I don’t spend my quarters. They go into a bank in my office to buy SHN meals. The SHN meals cost only 25 cents and it is easy for me to make the connection.
When I arrived, I handed al the quarters I had received to Chessney Barrick, Marketing & Communications Director. She looked at me like I had lost my mind and asked what that was about. I told her they were meals…and the light went on.
While out to dinner with the family last night, the girls and I once again discussed what a quarter will buy. Right by the door at Steak and Shake were the usual vending machines. They had candy, gum and other unnecessary things for sale — all for a quarter. So we decided to see what a quarter will buy — 25 cents.
The only thing there they were willing to eat was some gum. So we put our quarter in the machine and we received 12 pieces of gum. That provided enough for the 2 girls to share but ended up not being much to chew. And in less than 2 hours, the gum was used up and gone — 25 cents.
For that same quarter, we could have provided a complete meal for a child somewhere in the world that needed basic nutrition. Some child that without that meal would go hungry. A child that might the one that died of hunger related causes every 6 seconds.
Now I know that God does not intend us to never enjoy life or have pleasure. But God has made us stewards of the resources we have received. And good stewardship calls us to think before we use what we have.
Just because I can afford something does not mean I need to buy it. Maybe I can buy something at a lower price that does the same thing and use the difference to help those that have less.If I can afford a Mercedes for about $50,000 and a Ford Focus for around $20,000 (I don’t know real prices, but these are close). Both will get me from A to B in comfort and safety. But if I chose the Ford, what could I do with that extra $30,000? That could be 120,000 meals, or some other humanitarian effort for those in need. And I still have a car, that drives me just as fast, with AC, air bags, and such.
And for now, that is my 2 cents worth. 25 cents buys a meal, feeds a child, who lives another day. Pretty simple.
Until the next time….The Hog Father,
When I first wake up each day, I take a minute to look at my smart phone. There I find email from the night, maybe a text message or two, and the ad’s headlines. Most days it is trivial information that just lets me know where the day will begin.
This morning it brought news of a young man in my congregation at Children’s Health Care of Atlanta, Scottish Rite with a diagnosis of Type I Diabetes. It also brought a news headline in the Opinion section about the growing number of pastors and church members that are overweight. That was a rude awakening for me.
It’s not that I was unaware of my weight. It is not that I have not, and am trying to do something about it. It is not that I don’t see my church members and the effect it has on their lives. it was a conscience poke because I am leaving today to visit the home office of Stop Hunger Now in Raleigh, NC. And that reminds me of the number of persons around the world that would benefit from or “excess” food and we would benefit from not having it.
We as Americans tend to live lives to excess. We over eat, we drink too much, we have been known to exercise too much, we spend too much — we have a problem as a society of exercising moderation.
As I think about what conversations will take place in the next days, and what I will learn about the issue of hunger in the world, I look in the mirror and am reminded that I can choose to change. I can choose to change my eating habits, I can choose to change my spending habits, my whole life can be changed — if I will choose to change.
It is said that people will only change when the pain of remaining the same is more painful than the change. That really holds more truth that we want to admit.
This morning I will begin a series of sermons drawn from King Duncan’s book, “The Amazing Law of Influence.” In his book, King raises the possibility that: “One life touches another life and potentially both lives are changed; one life touches another life and potentially the entire world is changed.”
The idea at the core of this book is that one never knows what effect you will have on others. For instance: Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus in Alabama. That lead Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Kind, Jr. to lead the Civil Rights Movement in America. That inspired Lech Walesa of Gdansk to lead the forces of Solidarity and bring democracy to Poland. That led Boris Yeltsin to have the courage to stake a stand of democracy in the former Soviet Union which led its demise.
Do you think Rose Parks had any idea her actions would lead to such change in the world? And in turn, what might happen as a result of the gift of one-quarter, purchasing one meal, feeding one child, in some unknown place? That may be the very child that solves some world-changing problem. That child might discover the cure for cancer, or obesity, or become a leader that bring peace to a war-torn part of the world. Who know?
And so that is one reason I am continually on the search for more quarters, to package more meals, to feed more children — because I can change the world — for only 25 cents.
Will you help change the world? Will you give 25 cents for a child to eat today? A child that will make a difference in the life of someone else, who will make a difference in the life of someone else……and on, and on….
Until the next time…..The Hog Father,
Its been awhile since I posted. In fact it has been a long while.
My last post was just before I headed to Nicaragua with Stop Hunger Now to visit several feeding centers. That was a wonderful trip.
I am still trying to find words to talk about this experience.
Right now, my most pressing thoughts surround a planned SHN packaging event at East Coweta Middle School. Last year, when all of this began, we raised quite a bit of money for Stop Hunger Now. So much that we were able to package 10,000 meals at 3 churches and 20,000 meals with the 6th grade at ECMS.
It was such a good experience, the school invited us back again this year. We are to package on May 25 with the 6th grade again. The issue is, we are not in such a public fundraising situation this year.
It was our hope that businesses in the area would help us fund this event. I am grateful to Table Talk, Matt’s Small Town Pizza, French Market, Senoia Coffee & Cafe, Stan Moore Signs, Le Fleur Florist Shop, Senoia Drug Store, Senoia UMC for their support.
I am getting concerned that we may not reach our goal. This will not only be a disappointment to the ECMS 6th Grade, but to the children to whom these meals shipped. We have scaled back our goal from 20,000 to 10,000 meals which lowers our financial need.
BUT, I need your help. Many of you who follow my blog have given generously for our initial effort, my trip, and many other ways. If everyone that follows this blog would navigate to www.stophungernow.org/ecms and make a donation of at least $20 it will propel us towards our goal. As with any charity, larger gifts are wonderful, any gift is appreciated.
Won’t you help us help students feed students?
Until the next time….The Hog Father,
Well, it is back on the road once again. It is hard to believe, but tomorrow I will fly to Nicaragua for a few days with Stop Hunger Now to visit various locations where the Stop Hunger Now meals are actually being served.
When we arrive in Managua, our ORPHANetwork team members will meet us there with a bus and we will go to a local restaurant for lunch, from there we will tour the city and head to our “home base”, the team center at Casa Bernebe, to settle in, have dinner and get together for “porch time”.
Now the only airplane rides I have taken have been NY to ATL, ATL to NY and NY back to ATL. This flight I have been told will last about 4-5 hours and will be over water most of the way. The only place I have visited outside of the US has been 2 trips to Mexico and a hop over and back into Canada.
I am looking forward to this trip. It will complete a journey for me. I have raised money for SHN. I have packaged meals for SHN. Now I will see where the meals go and maybe even help prepare and serve the meals. And along the way I ate and lived on the meals for 47 days.
A while back the family and I ate dinner at a local buffet. It is a place where you can get vegetables and such. On our way out, we noticed the vending machines where you can buy gum, tattoos, and toys. Ever observant, my daughter pointed out how “expensive'” these items were — and we had conversation about that cost. And then, we discussed how that kind of money could do so much more through SHN. One machine cost 50 cents and one was 75 cents. For the cost of a gum ball, or a toy, you could feed 2-3 children. Wow!
And so it goes. The only real reason people go hungry in the world today is due to a lack of priorities and a willingness to distribute the food. While out of town, we were having to eat out for our meals. We discovered we could save from $1.50-$2.00 by not ordering drinks, but drinking water. That could been 6-8 meals. And we didn’t really miss those drinks.
I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for me. And I am looking forward to packing more meals with the East Coweta Middle School in May. Your contribution would help us ensure those 6th graders get to package many meals for other students.
You can send your check payable to Stop Hunger Now, c/o Senoia UMC, PO Box 98, Senoia, GA 30276.
Until the next time….The Hog Father,