Monday, December 28, 2009

For Pity's Sake!

With a good six inches of snow still on our front yard, here is the latest weather advisory for NEOK!

Special Weather Statement
Expires 5:00 PM EST on December 28, 2009 -->
Statement as of 5:12 AM CST on December 28, 2009

... Winter weather to return to eastern Oklahoma and northwestArkansas late Tuesday and Tuesday night... An upper level system that was organizing off the Baja Coast earlymorning will move into Texas on Tuesday and eventually into OklahomaTuesday night. Precipitation across Texas will spread into eastern Oklahoma as early as Tuesday afternoon... although the best chancesshould hold off until Tuesday night. Precipitation may begin as rainand snow mix Tuesday afternoon... with mostly all snow expected Tuesday night. Snowfall amounts may total up to 2 inches across parts of northeastOklahoma... with around an inch expected across southeast Oklahomaand northwest Arkansas. Given the previous snowfall from Christmaseve... any additional snowfall will likely result in travel issues.Any lingering snowfall is expected to taper off by Wednesday.Residents across eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas shouldprepare for difficult driving conditions Tuesday night... and staytuned to the latest forecasts from the National Weather Service.

The Last Week

I've had quite an interesting last 10 days or so.... let me 'splain.

A week ago Thursday, Dec 17, we were having a pot luck lunch at our church. Just before it was to begin, I got a horrible pain in my back. It felt as if I pinched a nerve or something. The pain was intense and took me to my knees. I kicked off the potluck, but went back to my office to lay down, hoping to get some relief. None came.

My wife and a church member had recently had very good results with a chiropractor, so I decided to visit one. The X-rays showed that I had a dislocated rib. I had never even heard of a dislocated rib before, so it was a bit of a surprise. He did an adjustment, which both hurt and felt good. He told me to put ice on it and gave me a gel pack to use. I suffered with it all weekend long.

Monday came and I returned for another adjustment. It hurt so bad that I fell to my knees. It alarmed the chiropractor and we went back to his office to re-examine the X-rays. It clearly showed one of my ribs at an odd angle to the rest of them. He said that the pain I was exhibiting was not consistent with his diagnosis, and asked for a UA. He came back and said it was full of blood and that I needed to go see an MD.

Well, I went by K-Mart to finish my last minute shopping. After that, I went to the ER at the new Muskogee Community Hospital. WOW! Was I impressed! Anytime I had to wait for anything more than a moment, they apologized. They were as courteous as the staff at a Five Star hotel. They were professional in every way. Every staff member I encountered wasn't just courteous; they were personable as well.

I was attended by a Physician's Assistant, Rocky (fellow Sooner Alum). As soon as he walked in he said, "Oh, I see you have a kidney stone." I asked him how he could tell and he said I was doing the "kidney stone dance".

He ordered some non-narcotic pain relief because I didn't have anyone to drive me home. He ordered a CT Scan. He ordered a liter of saline via IV. The result of the CT Scan showed that I had already passed a stone that left a trail of damage through the kidney. It showed that I had two small stones in the upper part just waiting for the opportune moment. He prescribed some Lortab and a couple of other things.

I had high hopes for the Lortab. I was not impressed. It made me light-headed, but only mildly affected the pain. As the week progressed, the pain subsided a little, but was still significant enough to alter my well-being.

Christmas Eve came with the forecast of a big winter storm. Who knew it would turn out to be the biggest blizzard in recent Oklahoma history? It started sleeting here in Wagoner at about 2 o'clock. Mom had already called to say they were moving up our Christmas Eve celebration to 4 pm instead of the traditional 6 pm. By the time we left at 2:30, ice was already forming on the car and rooftops.

We were all disappointed when family members began calling to say that there was just no way they were going to be able to make it. We went ahead and ate then opened presents. By the time we were finished at around 6 or 6:30, the sleet was coming down at an alarming rate, still mixed with freezing rain and some snow. We decided to drive home on the main highway (US 69) and before we could reach it, it became snow. Before I reached the highway, I had to stop to clean the windshield wipers of the ice because they were ineffective and only making it hard to see.

Without a doubt, that was the most difficult drive of my life. It was really scary. For much of the (only) 15 mile trip, we could only see 20 feet or so in front of the car. It had turned into a full fledged blizzard. I had to stop another time to clean the windshield wipers again, and by the time we turned on our street, I could barely see out of the ice covered windshield. Mom said some other family members were stuck on HWY 69 North of Wagoner because a semi-truck had jack-knifed and blocked the road.

Christmas morning saw the sun shining bright and the landscape transformed into a winter wonderland. We had a White Christmas! The girls were thrilled and I got out and took a lot of pictures (see posts below). However, we still needed to go to Vinita to spend Christmas.

The road was horrible. It was ice-packed and treacherous. We counted 20 vehicles in the ditches between Wagoner and Vinita. One of the cars was in the center median and still had Christmas presents in the back seat. We thought that was sad.

We spent a delightful Christmas with Sally's family, but I needed to get back to Wagoner so that I could preach on Sunday. Sally's sister suggested that instead of Sally taking me home, then returning by herself, that I should just take the car (Kia Sportage 4x4) and then return to Vinita on Thursday to get everyone. We all thought that sounded like a good idea and I'm glad we did that. The road back was better than Christmas morning, but it still wasn't good.

On the way back to Wagoner, I got a phone call from one of my deacons. We talked about the weather and decided to cancel Sunday School. I figured that if I could drive from Vinita to Wagoner and other people could get out and go to Wal-Mart, then they could come to church, too. I didn't realize that almost every church in NEOK had cancelled services. One of the members and his son, came all the way from Porter with a tractor and cleared the parking lot for us! (I looked out a little while ago and the lot is practically dry today)

We don't have a huge church. Last Sunday, our attendance was 83. I was expecting perhaps 10 people and decided that I would be ecstatic if 15 people actually showed up. I couldn't believe it when the final count was 38! My very first Sunday, we only had 25 people there! We did decided to cancel the evening service because the roads would re-freeze at dark and that would be dangerous.

This morning, I woke up and was feeling much better. The pain in my kidney is down to a dull roar instead of the sharp iron bar in my back. However, as I left the bedroom, the house felt unusually cold. (we use a small space heater in the master bedroom because it is an add-on and the furnace doesn't warm it very well) I looked and the thermostat was set on 70, but the thermometer read 55. I turned it off and back on and the fan came on. I never heard the furnace "light", so I took of the front cover and waited. The electronic ignitor attempted to light the furnace about 7 times, but it never lit. Oh great.

So, now, I am doing the dishes, doing laundry and waiting for the furnace repair guy to come. At least it's given me a little chance to get you caught up on the last 10 days or so of life as I know it.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

More Blizzard Pictures

Early Christmas morning.

Icy lights.

I think there is a "baby Jesus" down there somewhere....

Oklahoma Blizzard of 2009

The Blizzard of 2009, according to the local news, it the biggest blizzard in recent Oklahoma history.

Here in Wagoner, we received 7 inches of snow. In Vinita, where we spent Christmas Day, they got 10 inches.

We ended up with a White Christmas, the first since 2002.

We had 40-60 mph winds that covered our wreath in snow.

Snow drifts in the yard were over 2 feet deep. Even the roof had drifts.

The winds completely covered our front porch.

Christmas at Grandma's

An ocean of paper and gifts.

Landon's first Christmas.

Little Landon wearing Uncle Brian's Biker hat.

Mary and Sally enjoying the white Christmas.

More Christmas Pics

Santa and Meme

Emily and Santa

Audrey and Santa

Nick entertaining us with a little Christmas music.

Meme and a plethora of kids.

Christmas 2009

My grandmother, Meme, with Audrey and Emily.

Mom, Meme, and Dad

Me, Meme, and Sally

The Boyne Family Christmas 2009 at Meme's house

Better Late than Never

Here is my Christmas lights on the house this year. Eerily similar to last year's.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Crazy Weather

The above image is a screen shot I took from KOTV's website. It shows a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, a tornado watch, a blizzard watch, a flash flood watch, and a winter storm watch ALL IN THE SAME VIEWING AREA!!

They tell us to expect up to 6 inches of snow tomorrow, even though right now it is 60 degrees today.

Gotta love Oklahoma.

A Question for Discussion

In the post below, I asked a question about life. However, a friend of mine, Monk-in-Training posed a better question in his response:
On a side note, why are so many Christians accepting Mayan calendar issues as some sort of message from God?

Why do you think this is?

Monday, December 21, 2009

2 more years?

Winter Soltice 2012 - The end of the Mayan Calendar.


Some think that it will be the end of the world. They even made a movie about 2012.

I personally don't think so.

However, how would your life change if you KNEW there were only two more years of life on Earth left? What would you do?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Upside Down Christmas Video

Don't quit or give up on this video. Watch ALL the way. It has a GREAT message!

Upside Down from Pace Hartfield on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Christmas Prank

Like opening Christmas presents? Watch this and see....

Oral Roberts - Dead but not gone

Tulsa TV evangelist and university founder, Oral Roberts, died yesterday with complications from pneumonia. He was 91.

I have incredibly mixed emotions about Oral Roberts. Personally, I think he was a fake and his "healing" ministry was a sham. I am sickened by his "health, wealth, and prosperity" fake gospel. Unfortunately, that will be his legacy.

The "gospel" he preached claimed that God didn't want you to be sick or poor. SHOW ME IN THE BIBLE WHERE GOD EVER SAID THAT!!!!!

I heard a story from one of my older church members that goes like this:

"Back in the 1950's I went to get a haircut in Tulsa. The barber asked me if I had ever heard of Oral Roberts. We talked about him for a while and he admitted that he was Oral's father-in-law. We had a nice chat. Later that same week, I was watching Oral Roberts on TV from a crusade in Florida. A man so crippled that he could hardly walk came to the front. Oral exclaimed, "my beloved father-in-law! What has brought you to this pitiful circumstance?" At that, he seized hold of his father-in-law and "healed" him. He left the arena no longer limping or walking with a crutch."

My member told me that once he saw "that baloney" on TV, he knew Oral Roberts was a fake.

I know that there are multitudes who love him and his ministry. I know that there are countless people who have been saved through his ministry and praise God for that. I know that many people attribute healing from God through Oral Roberts. I sympathize with those who will miss him; any loss is a true loss. However, I just wish his false doctrine would have died with him.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Trans Siberian Orchestra

I took Sally and the girls to the Trans Siberian Orchestra last Friday night as part of their Christmas presents. We really had a good time.

The light/laser show was incredible.

The music was REALLY loud!

I was impressed with an element of the first part of the concert; it was the Christmas part. They sang Christmas carols and seemed to actually emphasize the birth of Jesus. The narration was a little hinky and kind of hard to follow, but you could tell that Christmas was about Jesus!

The second half of the concert was actually best. They had pyrotechnics that were unbelievable. The picture above shows a platform that was raised 25 feet or so in the air. Pretty cool.

I might consider going again next year. Tickets were expensive ($48 each) and I'm not sure I'm willing to do that again.

Jesus WILL Return: Resistance is Futile

"Jesus WILL Return: Resistance is Futile" - I saw that on a church sign yesterday. It made me smile.

I don't like corny church signs. There is a church in town that has little sayings on it each week; some okay, some downright silly.

I think that if you are going to put messages up on a church sign it should either be announcements, Scripture, or bits of Truth.

Church signage can be a real ministry; it can also give churches a bad image. It takes a lot of effort to go out and change a message on a sign; you might as well make it "worth" your trouble.

In my own estimation, I've put out one "corny" sign; it was the first message on our new church sign that we installed last year. Here it is:

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Growing Pains

I'm very excited that our church is experiencing growing pains. It has had a very difficult previous ten years. However, I believe that God has taken us off the shelf, dusted us off, and is now beginning to use us!

Some of the difficulties in re-growing a nearly dead church is organizational problems. Since I arrived here, none of our committees have truly functioned as committees. People have seen a need and they just take care of it. In some ways, that isn't too bad. A problem comes when we start to have more people and everyone just starts doing what they want.

This summer, we completely re-vamped our committees and they now have an expectation that they are to meet and to function for the good of the church. So far, so good! I'm pleased with the way people are "owning" the responsibility of making the church run.

After two years, we now have "in place" Sunday School classes and teachers for all ages of people. We have devoted nursery workers, and teachers for toddlers through Youth. We have a new guy who is committed to our youth and have seen many kids brought into the church for the very first time in the past several weeks. In fact, 6 of them have been saved and four should be baptized this next Sunday!

One real problem is space. We have used one of our empty Sunday School classrooms for our Food Pantry Ministry. One was used for storage. One is needed for a Youth Office. We have plans to have an additional 2-3 new classes beginning after the first of the year. We don't have the space for it. We can empty out the one room that was used for storage- no problem. One class will need to meet in the fellowship hall. If there is a third class, they can meet in the sanctuary.

At our Annual Church Thanksgiving dinner, we all but packed out our fellowship hall. It only seats about 100 people and then not too comfortably. If God continues to work in our church as He's been doing lately, we won't have room for everyone next year to be seated in the fellowship hall!

One real problem that I want to avoid is having new people slip through the cracks. While we are having lots of people visit and join, our goal is to not just grow our church in numbers. The Great Commission says to "go and make disciples" not just members or attenders. I want to make sure that we have the resources in place to take care of our new people and not let them out the "back door". This concerns me more than anything about our church growth.

I am excited at the prospect of our church growing. I think the future holds a building program for us to increase the number of classrooms and for a larger room that can function as a fellowship hall and activity center. I'd love to see us change our current fellowship hall into our nursery because of the proximity to the sanctuary. I'd love to see a new suite of offices to handle current and future staffing needs.

I am very happy with the way things are going! God is doing amazing things here at Immanuel Southern Baptist Church! If you are in town, come join us!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

17 Years and counting

Seventeen years ago today, I married the love of my life, the former Miss Sally Ann Bridges of Vinita, OK.

Seventeen years ago today, a rare early December snowstorm struck Northeastern Oklahoma. Many people could not come to the ceremony, including my own sister (who was great with child).

Seventeen years ago today, my life changed for the better. God allowed me to marry the woman He had prepared just for me!

I love you, Sally!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Christmas "Mood"

I'm not yet in the Christmas "spirit" or "mood". I'm trying, but I just can't seem to get there. Perhaps it is the insane way that Christmas has become so commercialized that you find Santa Clauses and Jack O' Lanterns in the same aisle at Target.

We put up our Christmas lights on the house the week before Thanksgiving, because the weather was good. But, I didn't turn them on until AFTER Thanksgiving. (like you are supposed to) That didn't help. We put up my mother-in-law's Christmas tree the Friday after Thanksgiving then ours later that same evening. That didn't help either. We observed the First Sunday of Advent with the lighting of candles and the singing of Christmas songs in church last Sunday. Still not so much in the mood. I started listening to Christmas music. I suppose that has helped ever-so-slightly.

So, what's the deal?

I don't know. I'm not Scrooge, that's for sure. Historically, I've been more like Clark W. Griswold. But not this year.

Maybe I'm just tired of the commercialism. Maybe I'm tired of the secularization of Christmas. Maybe I'm just tired!

In any case, soon, I'll get a picture of our house all decorated up in lights and ribbons. It is a little different than last year, mainly in that I didn't put lights around the windows this year.

Christmas isn't a feeling or a state of mind; it is the observation of the birth of our Savior.