Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hope College Noro-Virus Simulation

My son's Junior year at Hope College in Holland, Michigan was interupted last Friday when the Ottowa County Board of Health closed the school because of a noro-virus outbreak. Some friends from our area were visiting the college that day and gave Gary a lift home, where he has stayed noro-free--for which we are inexpressibly grateful! In his spare time waiting for the re-opening of campus, he threw together a little computer expression of the contagion.

You can find it for download here: http://www.bensonbasement.com/misc/hope-college-norovirus-simulator/#comments.

Follow the directions to run the simulation. It should take about a minute to run. (Remember: the programmer is in college).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Feeling the Glo

I pulled into my driveway this morning at 2:30 a.m. after eight busy days, most of them spent at Glorieta Christian Writers Conference. I'm tired, but it's a good weariness--like after a backpacking trip, or raking the leaves.

One of the things that kept me going through the week was the enthusiasm of On-Ramp participants. This group of first-timers attended the pre-conference session taught by me and my friend Lee Warren, and all week long the group was excited to learn, to pitch, to soak up everything they could about the business and craft of writing. They spread the contagion around liberally, and I caught it.

I have much more to write about, a lot to ponder, and work to do. (There's always work to do after a writers conference). For those of you who prayed for my week, thanks. Your prayers were answered.

Monday, October 20, 2008

# 6172

I did the Detroit Marathon yesterday.

Now I hurt. My legs are sore. My feet feel like they have bone spurs at all the wrong places. I have a sunburn. My hands are red and wounded, my fingers are bleeding.

But it was all worth it. Because yesterday my daughter April actually RAN in the marathon, finished in just over five hours, and although she is stiff, she is probably less immobilized than her father, who only walked enough to find a place to set up his folding chair so he could see her run by a few times. April ran 26.2 miles. I putted around Detroit, probably racking up a mile or two, and I'm in pain. What's wrong with this picture?

My hands are a mess because of the clapping. Linda, Jon, and I clapped hard for April everytime we saw her run by. We also yelled, screamed, and Linda passed bananas along like relay batons. But before and after April swept past, there were other nameless runners in various stages of utter fatigue, running their hearts out, some quite literally, and we offered encouragement. It was the most fun I've had in a while.

There are so many lessons here; you'll probably hear them in a sermon or read them in an article, so I won't go into the details. But if you ever get a chance, go stand on the sidelines of a marathon some morning. Go with the express purpose of cheering some runner on to the finish line. See if it doesn't just make your day.

And a word for my daughter: You are simply amazing. I honor your committment and determination and endurance and stubborn will to see a thing through and turn around and say, "See? I did it!" Way to go, Ape.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Another Challenge

One post every six months. I'm going to try to break that pattern!

Here are a couple things to pray about:

I'm teaching at Glorieta Christian Writers Conference this year. My writing friend, Lee Warren, and I will be doing something new--a pre-conference called On-Ramp designed for writers conference rookies. I'm excited about the prospect of helping people get up to speed for the conference. I'll also be teaching several other classes. Please pray for a good week.

Also, our Royal Oak house is still for sale. We are now entertaining lease options. PLEASE PRAY FOR A SALE OR LEASE! We need to get this taken care of soon. Please ask God to guide a buyer, leasee to our home. Pray that this miracle would happen in spite of the economy.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Perfect Storm and the Hope for Calm

Last year at this time we were aware that the waters were moving. We'd been living out God's call, Linda teaching Kindergarten in Detroit and me pursuing writing and speaking, but we sensed that a tide change was in the works. Grace Christian Fellowship was looking for a pastor and we were looking for what God had next. God placed our little boat on a collision course for the island of Grace, and we landed safe and sound, coming aground exactly where he planned.

During that time, as we sailed the sea of life, everything fell into place giving us the confidence we needed to raise the sails and follow the wind. Watching God work it all out provided assurance and peace and exhilaration. (All you Baby Boomers, cue Christopher Cross' Sailing . . . )

It's not far back to sanity
At least it's not for me
And when the wind is right you can sail away
And find serenity
The canvas can do miracles
Just you wait and see
Believe me

It was a miracle, more because of all the little miracles that piled up into a wave and washed us to Grace.

However, we didn't know it at the time, but a perfect storm was forming that would impact the big move. Recession, mortgage crisis, Michigan economy, (add your favorite depressive here), and our house in Royal Oak, MI was at the center of the confluence.

Even though we are sure that God provided our new home, and we are sure that this is where he wants us, our former house continues to languish in a flooded market. We don't have answers for the obvious question: why? If everything else worked out in amazing ways, why not this part of the story?

We don't know the answer, but I can tell you that it's another opportunity for his grace. He knows what's up, and he is the one who calms the storms, and we can trust him.

PS -- if you're looking for a great home, check it out here: http://www.realtor.com/realestate/royal+oak-mi-48073-1100403006/

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Attractive Holiness

Our church, Grace Christian Fellowship, has a blog called "GraceAbility." I use the blog to offer further thoughts to ponder after my Sunday sermon. I posted some thoughts over there today on whether holiness attracts or repels. I'd be interested in your comments. Check it out HERE.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Snow Tracks

Since moving to Michigan in 1990, snow has been an absolute delight. In Southern California, snow was something you visited, not something that was dumped whole-hog into your back yard.

My wife will tell you that I don't like shoveling the stuff, but I will shovel if that's what comes with having free playdough available 24/7, and the slickest funfest imaginable just outside your basement doors. On a night like last, the moon eclipsed, the snow still bright with its reflection, the bare trees cast a shadow like you have never seen during spring or summer or fall.

Through this white powder the living lay their tracks--turkey, lots of turkey, and mouse and possum and weasel and chickadee. You may not actually see the animal, but you know it's been around.

God, whom to see in person is to die, leaves his tracks in the snow of our lives. If we would be careful to study and identify them, we would know he is there, even when it is hard to.