Thursday, December 19, 2013

When the Missionary Becomes the Mission Field

Eventually they get thrown out.  The people they trust get their nasty on and put them out like trash, wiping their hands back and forth as if to say "We never wanted your kind here in the first place."

I've seen it happen many times.  Men of God - hard working men - who are called into ministry and try their best to obey, to serve, to lead, keeping in mind that one person can not please everyone. 

Sooner or later these men do something to tick someone off.  Not just any someone.  Someone who is connected to the ear of a board member.  The ticked off party starts mouthing off a little bit - complaining (gossiping?) if you will - to his friends.  They in turn do likewise and eventually the entire organization is abuzz with discontented opinions about which "the board" feels the need to act.

Then come the secret meetings.  Shhhhh!!  We can't let so-and-so know we are meeting tonight because the meeting is about him.  Sheesh!  There ain't nothin wrong with that picture, eh?

Then there is the big public ugly that has to happen so that in case anyone had any doubt about what a scumbag this godly man is, they will have an opportunity to witness a grotesquely humiliating public flogging after which God's called servant has little choice but to get out of Dodge like a drunk being thrown from the saloon into the horse trough. 

Trouble is that most of the time these men haven't disobeyed the Lord.  They haven't acted immorally or done or taught anything unbiblical.  They simply ticked off the wrong person. So they got thrown out. Goodbye.  Adios.  Don't let the door hit you on the way out.  That's it then.  we officially wash our hands of you.  Oh, and by the way ... here's an envelope of money - a "love gift" - because we care about you SOOOOOOOO MUCH.

Soooo .... what happens next?  To the man of God I mean?  What's next for him, his wife, their children, their friends?

Um ... Uh ... You mean he still exists????  Even after we threw the bum out?

Well, yeah.  He still exists, he still has mouths to feed, a mortgage, children, car payments, etc ...
Oh, yeah, and he likely isn't eligible for unemployment.  Nice, eh?

This godly man who was called by God into the mission field ... IS the mission field now.  He needs help.  He needs all those things we tout ourselves as being called to do.  Fuel for the furnace.  Food for the table.  Clothing for his family to wear.  Cash to pay his bills.  He needs our prayers.  He also needs a good job placement counselor and relocation services.  Oh, yeah, and a good Christian psychologist would be good, too. He and his family need all those things he has led us to do for others.  He is now one of those "others."

So, before you vote to throw some poor bum out, stop and pray about it.  And after you have considered all the options and still come to the conclusion that he has to go, please be sure to understand the long-term commitment of changing a missionary into a mission field. 

Don't just leave him in the desert.   

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sloan's New York Grill

I have to be honest.  When my wife and I entered the building we expected to see the same thing one generally finds when someone opens a new restaurant in a former steakhouse; the same old steak house with a redesigned menu.  However, that is far from what we discovered.


Located in Oneonta, NY in the former Ponderosa Steak House, Sloan's New York Grill is an elegant, cozy space with a stone fireplace and a full bar for those who wish to indulge.  The menu features natural, local meats that are also available to purchase by the pound from their meat counter.   At first it looked slightly pricey, but with sandwiches ranging from $8 to $11 including side dishes, it was affordable enough for a couple on a budget who want a quiet, intimate lunch.

I enjoyed the pulled chicken barbecue sandwich with curly fries and two of their specialty house pickles.  The chicken was lightly pulled - chunky rather than shredded - and slathered in a delicious sauce that was slightly more spicy than sweet.  The curly fries were well seasoned thin wisps of potato that were fried to perfection. The pickles?  Mild and sweet with a slight kick at the end.

My wife ordered a sandwich with deli turkey, provolone and bacon, drizzled with peppercorn ranch dressing.  The sandwich was so good she wants to learn how to make them at home!  Her soup (tomato basil) was creamy and sweet.  

The staff wore black t-shirts and jeans, reflecting the casual, simple lifestyle of upstate New York. Our server Rachel was friendly and attentive, making sure we were satisfied with everything.   She was professional and well trained, explaining the specials and answering all our questions about the menu.

A great experience!



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I sing.

I sing.  That's what I do.  I'm not a rock star or an opera divo.  I sing - that's it.  That's what I do.

So ... like ... you play the guitar and sing and stuff?

No.  No guitar, no stuff.  I sing.

You play keyboards and sing and stuff?

No keyboard.  I sing.

So .... what are you, like a songwriter or something?

No.

Well, what do you do?

I, um, sing.  You know ... sing?  As in ... singing?

You mean you don't do anything?  You just ... sing?

Yes.

Oh.  

Yeah. 

I sing.

I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:6)

Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. (Psalm 147:1)

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.(Psalm 104:33)




Monday, August 26, 2013

An Angry Bird By Any Other Name

It was a day full of surprises.  A dear friend and colleague showed up bearing gifts at our door - groceries of all things - and a fun activity for this rainy day.  She couldn't have shown up at a better time, as three of our children invited friends over and it was raining cats and dogs.  We needed something interesting to do.

She brought with her a bevy of wool in a rainbow of colors.  She brought needles and sponges for us to use.  She brought examples of her work for us to see.  Then she started us on our family needle felting adventure.

It was a blast!  My wife and I, along with our children and their friends made felt animals, birds, flowers and butterflies.  I had a very interesting project of my own.  It started out as an "angry bird" flamingo (I have a thing about flamingos). 

It looked like this before I stuck on it's nose.



Then I turned it upside down and realized it wasn't an angry bird after all.  Rather, it was a cross between Pat Morita and Danny DeVito. 


And with that, my artwork was complete.

It is said that, when sculpting wood or stone, that the material communicates to the artist what shape it will take.  I guess this proves it.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Is There A Target On My Back?

I don't normally talk about my dreams.  I dream in vivid detail about people and places, hopes and desires, frustrations and losses. Many of these are recurring themes that are best kept to myself.

However, there is one that I've been having recently, that I cannot figure out.  Here's how it goes ....

First, let me explain that there isn't a lot of action here.  It's more of an atmosphere, really.

There is a miniature golf green running the length of my childhood backyard.  Behind the hole is the front door from the house (large wooden door with beveled glass).

Sometimes there are people gathered around, sometimes it's just me.

There aren't any other things that would denote the area as that particular backyard, yet I know it's our backyard.

Last night in the midst of this dream a target appeared behind me as I was ready to putt my golf ball.  A familiar person was there with a crossbow, shooting arrows at the target and saying, "Relax. I'm not gonna hit you." 
I don't know what it means.  And even though it's pretty tame, it's just plain weird, and it keeps coming back.  

Hmmmmm .......

Monday, July 29, 2013

Come On, Elizabeth! It's Time For Church!

God called my mother home yesterday morning.  It was Sunday around 10:00 AM, the time she would have gone to church to prepare an array of organ music for Sunday morning services. When I was young, Dad would often call up the stairs, "Come on, Elizabeth.  It's time for church!"

DECISIONS, DECISIONS ...

We all knew Mom had mere weeks left on Earth, and that she would soon join Dad in Heaven.  As our annual vacation was coming up, we made the difficult decision to proceed with our plans for a week at the beach.  Mom had slightly different plans.  In the middle of the week, I received a call that Mom was in distress.

Another difficult decision ... What to do???

FLASHBACK TO 1979 ...

My grandmother (Nana) was in a nursing facility and had been ill for a few days.  My parents made the difficult decision to proceed with our vacation plans, and we went to Atlantic City.  Nana died while we were away, and we returned home immediately.  By the time we arrived, almost all the funeral arrangements were made, with a few exceptions.  Mom told me on more than one occasion that she regretted not letting me swim in the ocean one more time before we returned home.

FAST-FORWARD TO PRESENT ...


The next day she was still in distress, no change in her condition.  What would Mom and Dad do?  Time for another difficult decision.  We decided to let the kids swim for one more day, and go to the boardwalk one more night.

A late night text from my sister revealed that Mom may be holding on, waiting for someone. Maybe me.  Hmmmm ... We were heading home the next morning.  I could only pray that we arrived in time.

The next morning we arrived by Mom's bedside.  She slept the entire time while we visited with her, my brother, sister, spouses and kids.  As we left, I kissed Mom's forehead and said, "Go plant your garden.  We're all okay here,  It's alright if you want to go."

She held on.  She was waiting for something else.  Something none of us could fathom.  Something only she knew in her heart.

The next day was Sunday.  We awoke and ate breakfast and lounged around my in-laws' house, exhausted from our vacation, from the trip home, and from a long night a Mom's bedside.  Then the phone rang.

"Tommy?"
"Yes," I said.
"Mom died." My sister's words were emotional, but with a hint of relief, as we both knew Mom was finally happy.
"What time did she die?"
"They just called me.  She died a few minutes ago, a little before 10:00."

I think it suddenly dawned on us.  Mom wasn't waiting for any of us.  She was waiting for Dad to yell, "Come on, Elizabeth!  It's time for church!"

Yesterday morning, while we all mourned, Mom went to church with her husband for the first time in many years.  She and Dad are celebrating and praising God with glorious, pain free, heavenly bodies today and every day forevermore.

Mom's death is not a sad occasion.  She had been ill, living a tormented life in a tiny, frail body for far too long.  Her transition to Heaven is a celebration of her new life with all those who have gone before her.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. 
 - Philippians 3:20-21

Monday, July 15, 2013

Happy Kids Day!!

Today is my Mom's birthday.  She's 81. This most likely will be her final birthday here on Earth, as she is ill and the doctors have indicated that she has only weeks left to live.  I was feeling very sad because I was not able to be there today to sing "Happy Birthday" to her (we did get to visit and sing to her a few days ago).  Sad that is, until my 8 year old son declared today "Happy Kids Day." 


He didn't realize it was his grandmother's birthday nor that I was feeling sad.  He only knew it had been a while since we celebrated something, and he decided to create something new.  "Happy Kids Day."

Today we ate pizza for breakfast and for lunch.  We also went swimming and had cheeseburgers and pickled eggs for supper.  We played video games and watched some kid-friendly TV. 

It's a perfect holiday for this day, because their Nana was always going above and beyond for her grandchildren.  Anything the kids wanted ... *POOF* ... there it was.

If they wanted ice cream ... No problem.
If they wanted to go to the playground all day ... No problem.
If they wanted to sit around and watch cartoons ... No problem.

Anything was possible when they were at Nana's house.

So, in honor of my mother, I think we will keep this new holiday tradition.

Happy Kids Day!!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

This is the Government I Want

Of all the pictures and scans of the Declaration of Independence, this one is my favorite.  I like it much more than the pristine, finished copy that all the fathers signed so long ago.

I love that it shows the mistakes and the lines that are crossed out.

I love the arrows and phrases that are circled.

I love the stuff written in the margins, and the bold faced words that must be more important than other words.

I love that the handwriting belongs to several people.

Most of all, I love that it shows the sweat that went into the document, and subsequently the nation, to which this document gave birth.  The men who sat in a hot, sweaty room in Philly and argued over details - details that were scribbled onto the working document - are represented in this document, not so much in the finished, polished, signed one.

This is what I want my government to look like. I want them to lock down in a room and work TOGETHER, even though they disagree, and come out with something that is actually for the common good, instead of something that lines the pockets of campaign contributors.

The writers of the Declaration of Independence knew that they would likely die for their contributions, yet they were brave enough to write it and sign it.

Are there any as brave today?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Very Unusual Night

*NOTE* I want to state at the beginning of this post that none of the people involved are currently on committees or part of the current membership of this church.  Every one of them has either gone home to Heaven or has moved on to other cities and churches.

About twenty years ago I was working at a large United Methodist church in Pennsylvania.  That is when the trouble began.  People were doing things.  Good things.  Stuff was being repaired, replaced, changed.  And that was a problem.  A big problem. 


You see, many churches are committee run machines that run like a machine as long as the oil is always applied to the same spot every day, the same people are consulted, the same committees are consulted before anyone does anything.  ANYTHING.

In this church, there were things that needed to be done.  There were walls to be patched and painted, outlets to be changed, toilets to be repaired, pianos to be tuned, microphones to be replaced, adoors to be shimmed, and wood to be refinished.

There existed in the membership a small group of people who saw the work that needed to be done and recognized the need to do the work without waiting for committee after committee to approve the purchase small vs. large plunger for the Sunday School office toilet.  For goodness sake, just bu a plunger already!

So we went about doing what anyone with a conscience would do.  We sneaked out, bought supplies, and went about doing the work without anyone's permission.  We fixed commodes, changed light fixtures, patched walls, repaired draperies, soldered pipes, painted rooms, and patched concrete steps. 

Committee members would come into the building scratching their heads at the door that no longer scraped the floor, asking each other about the new colors in the bathrooms (and who was responsible for approving that color). 

It was a lot of fun to do what needed to be done (a la Rodney Robot "See a need, fill a need").

Until ....

One member of our little covert "team" became prideful, and in a moment of weakness, bragged to someone about our activities.

One night as we were painting the choir room, the door opened and we were caught and told to stop.  From that moment on we were no longer given the freedom to move about the building.  Doors were locked, committee members were sent to "check on things" every night to make sure nothing was "going on."

I had never gotten in trouble for doing good.  Until that night.

It was a very unusual night.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mistofelees and Me

Mister Mistofelees.  It's probably one of the most memorable songs / scenes from the musical "Cats."  My kids and I were looking up Broadway songs on YouTube when we came across this clip from the show. 

They watched the entire song (I only posted part 1 below) I began to get tears in my eyes, so I had to walk away from the computer.  It wasn't that the song itself is so moving and emotional, it wasn't that Mistofelees shoots lightning from his fingertips (cool as that is, both on video and in person), it wasn't even the twinkling LED Christmas lights on stage (far ahead of their time).

I got lump in my throat because it brought back a memory.

About 20(ish) years I took my sister to New York to see "Cats" on Broadway.  She had never seen a Broadway show and she always wanted to see "Cats."  So I took her and Mom to see the show.  It was a great day.  We ate at Beefsteak Charlie's and took a cab to F.A.O. Schwartz to play the big floor piano. 

Sadly, that was happier time, twenty-ish years ago when we were all still friends.  Our world is a different place, and the relationships that were present on that trip are different as well.  I long for that time and those warm kinships.  But sadly it isn't easy to repair a tie so damaged over time.

That said, I get misty over things that others do not understand.  For my own reasons.  That's the way it is, and that's how it's gonna be.

video

Monday, June 3, 2013

Been a While

Hey!  I know it's been a while since I posted on my blog, but really truly have a good reason for ignoring it.

You see, I have another blog that is more of a ministry than just a place to spout off about whatever bugs me.  It's a blog that helps husbands and wives improve their marriages.  It's Bible-based and has gained quite a bit of popularity in the past few months.  Therefore, it's probably helping someone, therefore I gave it a lot of attention to foster more growth and reach more people.

Anyway, I'm not giving up TenorboyJournal.  I'm planning to post regularly again real soon.  I'm not sure what form this blog will take, but one thing is certain.  I can't be stopped from speaking my mind.

Don't say I didn't warn you. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Soup To Remember

Let's talk about soup.  Why?  Because I like soup.  Okay?  
OKAY?!!?
If you know me, then you know that I'm a bit of a foodie, and slightly fanatical about homemade food.  It's cheap, it's tasty, and it's good for you.  No preservatives or fillers, no unnecessary processing, and always made with love.




I usually stick to the plan of making everything from scratch, with a few exceptions (the occasional potato chip, ice cream - you know what I'm talking about).  Last night, however, I was shopping with my son at Price Chopper when we happened upon the lady doles out the free samples. 

"What will you be treating us to this evening?" I asked.
"Fish soup," she replied.
"I don't usually like fish soup."
"Neither do I, but this one is different."
"What is it?"
"North Atlantic Haddock Chowder."

Both the boy and I tried the soup in teeny weeny plastic cups with teeny weeny plastic spoons.  He had oyster crackers in his.  Mine was "au naturale."  

It was the best soup I've had in a long, long time.

As many times as I've passed the hot soups in the deli section, I never bothered to give them a second glance.  "They aren't homemade," I thought.  "They're probably no better than condensed canned soups," I thought. 
I think quite differently now.  When I went to the deli department to buy some chowder for my wife, I reaad the ingredient list and found nothing that would alarm me. NOTHING.  No preservatives, no additives, nothing that sends up the usual red flag of food. 
Fish stock
Light cream
Haddock
Potatoes
Onions
Celery
Butter
Wheat flour
Sea salt
Garlic
Pepper sauce (distilled vinegar, red pepper, salt)
That was it.  It was creamy and flavorful with just the right amount of texture.  It wasn't too watery or too thick.  The fish was flaky and tender with chunks that weren't too big.  
A very good soup.  Made by Price Chopper.  Who knew?
 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Car Trouble? Or Is It Just Old Age?

I was running a little late for work this morning, so I parked in the visitor parking lot.  If you know me, then you know how uneasy and self-conscious I felt leaving my car and walking into the building, dashing up the stairs, and making it to the band room just in time to enter with my students.

It isn't that I parked there for the wrong reasons.  I was going to move it to the staff parking lot right after band rehearsal. 


But then, old age kicked in, and I forgot.

The ole' Subaru sat there all day.  In the visitor parking lot.  Feeling awkward, I'm sure, with all the parents' cars staring at it, giggling at the out of place hunk of metal. 

Sadly, because I forgot it was there, I walked all the way across the bridge to my usual space in the staff parking lot and found ..... nothing.

Big DUH moment.

Next time I park in the visitor parking lot, WILL SOMEONE PLEASE REMIND ME??!!??



Thank you.  End of rant.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

On This Crystal Winter Morning

Photo courtesy of Mrs. Tenorboy
He says to the snow, "Fall on the earth," and to the rain shower, "Be a mighty downpour."  
(Job 37:6)

We woke up this morning to a spectacular snow. 

No, it wasn't the kind of snow that covers everything in a foot-deep blanket of white.  Rather, it was a light, fluffy, shimmering snow in which each perfectly formed snowflake is seen with the naked eye.

A crystal snow.

Each delicate flake sparkling with its own stunning brilliance.

God is Good.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Will you be my friend? Ummm ... No.

Will you be my friend?

No.

That's not the answer most people want or expect, but many time it is the answer they receive from me, especially on social media sites.

You might say it isn't very nice to say no to a friend request, especially from someone I know.  However, let's put this issue into perspective, shall we?

First, I used to be quite well-known in a former life (before we moved to the middle-of-nowhere Catskills).  That said, there are still people who think I'm their pal, when in reality I have no idea who they are.  I have to be careful of that.

Secondly, I'm a teacher.  Students who know me are prone to want to be facebook friends, etc.  I must be extremely careful to stay on my side of the line.

Thirdly, if things get back to me at work that are twisted misinterpretations of something that happened on facebook, it is a bad thing.  Very bad.   The vacuum cleaner will come out and it will suck up entire groups from my friend list in a hurry.  Believe me, it has happened before, and it isn't fun for anyone.

Finally, I don't want to be inundated with a bazillion useless status updates every day.  I want to enjoy my time on facebook without constantly clicking delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, delete .....

So,

Here are the guidelines for being "friends" with Tenorboy.

  1. I have to actually know you.  This might seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many friends of friends I get who want to be my friend, just because both of us know so-and-so.
  2. I have to have some friendly connection to you.  I know a lot of people.  Some are friendly to me, some are not.  If you are not, don't bother trying to be my social media friend.  It ain't gonna happen.
  3. If I work with you, I most likely will befriend you IF you pass a simple but strict screening process.  The process?  I check all of your friends and their friends to make sure none of the office "moles" are present (you know who they are).  If you come out clean, we can be friends.
  4. Students are accepted after they turn 18 and graduate, IF they meet all the other friendship requirements.  
  5. Friend requests from family members are accepted.       
This might seem like overkill, or like I'm being paranoid or weird.  But let me point out that everyone (that's right, EVERYONE) has a similar set of criteria for facebook friendship.  I wrote mine down here on this blog.  You didn't.  That is the only difference. 

So, if you didn't get accepted as my friend, please do not take it personally.  Just understand that you may be too young, or too distant, or you had a history of mistreating me, or I simply don't remember you. 

That's just the way it has to be.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What the _________?!!?

There are few things that aggravate me more than hearing children say "what the ______."  They leave the blank in because their friends leave it blank.  Everybody does it.  There isn't any harm as long as they don't actually say the last word out loud.  Besides, it's cute when a kid cusses.

Right?? 

Wrong.

The omission of the "h" word or the "f" word does not mean the word isn't there.  Everyone who hears someone say "What the _____" knows full well the expletives that fill in the blank. 

Spoken out loud or not, a cuss is a cuss.

Why do we accept this from children?


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