Thursday, July 31, 2008

Newfoundland Day 3

Well, thank you to all you blog readers who voted "Aye" for kayaking for Regena. She was sufficiently encouraged and we took a sea kayaking adventure in Bay Bulls. We explored caves, saw white starfish, spotted a puffin, and returned to our hotel sore in places where we did not know muscles existed in our body. Here are some of the scenes.

Our fellow kayakers Mark and Michelle. They were a bit better than us. :)

Regena paddling in a cave.

Our amazing guide Steve from Devon, England. He's going to start his own business one day, so you should all support it. And if you ever go sea kayaking with The Outfitters, request Steve. He was awesome.

Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch and headed out again for Torbay, Pouch Cove, and Portugal Cove. Once again, in the rain and fog. Ugh.

Um, who do you think lives here? Look at the size of their lawn chair.

Have I mentioned that I love the bendy tripod thingy that Bekah recommended? (I think the technical name for it is Gorillapod). I was busy experimenting while Regena was collecting the famed smooth stones of Torbay Beach (Laura-- I did not monitor her rock acquisitions).

Did I mention the fog?

Tomorrow, we are going to make a second attempt to catch the sunrise at Cape Spear and then head south along the Irish Loop.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Newfoundland Day 2

Mom and I arose bright and early at 4:30 this morning, very excited and with great anticipation, to be the first to see the sun rise on North America. Cape Spear is the most easterly point in North America, so we wanted to get out to the point by sunrise this morning. We couldn't wait for the beautiful, glorious event, and this is what we saw...

Instead of a sunrise we got a fogrise. So we spent the morning watching the waves roll in.

We spent the rest of the day happily touring around Portugal Cove, Torbay Beach, Flatrock, Pouch Cove, Quidi Vidi Village, etc., all in the fog. We'll have to retrace our steps another day.

Saw part of a great little fishing village at Quidi Vidi.

Then, we stumbled up Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto at Flatrock, and I stumbled up the stairs of Golgotha following the Stations of the Cross.

Our greatest adventure was heading up a gravel road for several miles to Biscayan Cove and Cape St. Francis on the Northeast tip of Newfoundland. There wasn't anything there except a lighthouse and a lot of fog. And this Inuksut guy.

We ended the evening with dinner with Steve, Adam, Janye, Jessica, and Alyssa at the cafe at The Rooms before Bible Study. Steve and Adam are church planters working in Newfoundland, and the three girls are summer missionaries working on the campus and with local outreaches. It was so great to connect with them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Two of my favorite signs from Day 1 in St. John's Newfoundland.

Seems you can get just about anywhere from Signal Hill.

Ruins. In disrepair. Really? I wasn't sure whether to enter or not.


This is what we are eating in St. John's.

The Atlantic Salmon platter at Velma's. Everything on this plate was amazing.

Mom's Fisherman's Platter.

Thank you Velma.


Cabot Tower.

On top of Signal Hill, at the battery looking out over Fort Amherst below.

Serious thanks to Bekah Kitterman for making me get one of those awesome bendy tripod thingies. We were able to wrap that puppy around a fence to get this shot of us on Signal Hill.

Sunset at St. John's Harbor.

Newfoundland Day 1

This is the view of the harbor from our room. It was a semi-miracle that we successfully navigated our rental car from the St. John's airport to the Delta St. John's Hotel last night. Down with Google Maps. Thanks to the kind tourism people at the airport who had given us a half-faded black and white downtown St. John's map that we were able to dig out of the backpack to guide us in. But we made it. And at 2:30 St. John's time, we crashed for some sleep.

Mom was ready to go at the crack o'dawn, but since rain was in the forecast, we opted for inside activities this morning. So, we went to the Johnson Geo Center for an education in Newfoundland geology.

The rain never came, so we set out up Signal Hill for a day of hiking around Cabot Tower. The awesome Canada Park Rangers even gave us a cool GPS unit that narrated the hikes for us. Though I suspect the real reason they gave it to us is because they immediately picked up on lack of directional skills and wanted to avoid sending the the ceremonial military regiment out fto look for us after dark.

Signal Hill is defended St. John's Harbour from the 1800s to World War 2. It was also the site where Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal in 1901.

Cabot Tower was built in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Newfoundland by explorer John Cabot.

Tonight, we ate at a great little spot in downtown St. John's called Velma's. I don't know if it was the lack of decent food on the airline yesterday. Or if it was the full day of physical exhaustion. Or maybe it was just that good. But it was the best salmon I've ever put it my mouth. And the cod tongues were pretty good, too.

Our next stop was Ft. Amherst. I'll post some pictures from the day.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Long May Your Big Jib Draw

Uh, yeah. Don't ask. I'm just practicing for my Screech In this week. I'm heading to Newfoundland with my mom for a little vacation. She lived there for several years growing up when my Granddaddy was stationed at the Air Force base in St. John's. I haven't decided yet if I will completely unplug or post highlights from the trip.

I'm definitely off email. So don't email me. :) But I may stay connected here. If not, I'll see you in a week!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Baptism by the Bay

Baptism by the Bay 2008 was perhaps the best baptism celebration in NCC history. It was such a privilege to be a part of the baptisms of some of our folks. Here are some pictures from the day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Baby on the Crawl

It's been a while since I've posted a picture of my favorite little buddy, my niece Ruthie McClure. She's not quite crawling yet, but she sure looks like she's going to take off at any moment. Just look at the mischief in her eyes!


I made the leap into Twitter. I have no idea what I'm doing yet, but I thought I would poke around and check it out. So far, I'm having fun. If you're crazy, you can follow me here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vote for Sea Kayaking!

Next week, I'm heading to Newfoundland with my mom for a week, and I'm trying to talk her into doing a little sea kayaking while we are there. I have assured her that swimming is not required and that we will stay close to the shore. But she may need a little encouragement. :)

All who are in favor of Regena going sea kayaking say AYE! (This is where you use the comment thread to encourage her to go, reassure her that all will be safe, and let her know it will be a great adventure that she will remember forever.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Full Weekend

It's a full weekend here at NCC! Yesterday, we had our Summer Leadership Summit. So good. I love connecting with our leaders and gearing up for the next semester. We talked about the importance of intentional evangelism. I'll post some notes later.

This afternoon, we have our annual Baptism by the Bay. We've got 26 NCCers going public with their faith at Sandy Point State Park this afternoon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It Changed My Life

As I mentioned previously, my brother-in-law and best buddy Josh were in town last week. That's why I've been absent. Okay, and laziness. One of Josh's life goals is to play the trumpet in a Broadway orchestra. And if that doesn't work out, he'll settle for being a leading man in a musical comedy. I love the kid!

When we picked him up at the Baltimore airport two weeks ago, we took him to eat at Chick-fil-a. It was his first ever experience at this Mecca of fast food goodness. I was so excited! As we stepped into the line, I told him, "Josh, this is going to change your life." That phrase became the mantra for the entire trip. Toby's Dinner Theater? It will change your life. Inverted roller coaster? It will change your life. Bubba Gump Shrimp Company? It will change your life. Seeing Wicked live on Broadway? It will change your life. Josh even told the checkout clerk at Cracker Barrel: "Moonpies have changed my life."

I'm hoping there really were some genuine, life-changing moments for Josh while he was here. We wanted to create some memories for him and hopefully be a good influence. The good influence is always the hard part for Ryan and me.

But now I'm thinking-- what has changed my life? Here are just a no particular order...
  • Dad asking me if I wanted to sign up for t-ball.
  • Mom taking me to see Little Women at the Playhouse in the Park when I was 5.
  • Mom and Dad taking me to see Les Miserables live in New Orleans.
  • Insisting that I go to Murphy High School.
  • A 7th grade trip to EPCOT Center.
  • Choosing the Tigers over the Bulldogs (LSU vs. MSU).
  • A phone call from Jeff Sessions on Easter Sunday 1998.
  • Saying "yes" to Ryan Zempel over the telephone...and then saying "yes" to him to a much more important question later.
  • Mark Batterson pointing out that being a discipleship pastor is a lot like environmental engineering.
With some, I knew life was being created. For most, they seemed ordinary and mundane. What has changed your life?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Love Theology 101

In the summer, I lead our Theology 101 group. What a blast! For whatever its worth, we are using the books Who Needs Theology? by Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson and Across the Spectrum by Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy. Last night I asked the question, "Is this class primarily answering your questions or raising new questions?" For most people, it was a mixed bag. For every question that has been answered, more questions have sprung up. I love the fact that we will never come to the end of God. We will never know everything there is to know, which means we can never worship as much as he deserves to be worshiped. I think the primary job of a good leader is to lead people to asking the right questions; not dispensing the right answers.

It was fun last night to examine some of the growth and seemingly backwards growth we experience in our lives. For instance, the more I learn about God, the more I realize there is to learn. And the more I grow in Christ-likeness, the more sinful I realize I am. Maybe we sin less, but we become more aware of our sinfulness. Wow.

God is great. Our faith is full of mystery and miracle. And that should lead us to worship.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


I'm frustrated today. Pounding my fist on the table frustrated. One of my biggest frustrations is seeing people not fulfilling their potential, and that's where my brain is focused today. Sometimes, that's the result of their own laziness or lack of investment. Often, it's a lack of clear vision or direction. Sometimes, it's just the season of life or circumstances. I'm well aware of the seasonal thing-- sometimes we are just carrots overwintering in the ground so that our potential comes to full ripeness and reproducibility (if you don't know what the heck I'm talking about, remind me to tell you the carrot tale). And we've got to be patient and let God prepare our hearts for the ways he wants to use us. But it's still frustrating.

I view my role to be at least partially about helping people discover and step into their God-given destinies, and I need the discernment to know when to encourage and when to kick butt. When to ask catalytic questions and when to suggest slowing down and working on character. When to intentionally and strategically create opportunities and when to just shut up, sit down, and pray.

That's all raw and unfiltered, and I'm not sure what to do with it or what the point of this post is. It's just the overwhelming thought that's driving my prayers today.

Control Issues

I finally figured out why I detest roller coasters. My rabid fear of them has always been something of a mystery to me because some of my previous life goals included fighter jet pilot and astronaut. So it's not the physical sensation. I took enough engineering classes to understand the ridiculous levels of safety controls that are added to these systems, so it's not a concern about losing life and limb. I enjoy rock climbing, white water rafting, and I wouldn't mind bungee jumping, so it's not a fear of danger.

But for whatever reason, roller coasters have always made my stomach queasy whenever I think about them or talk about them. Much less get on them. This week, I think I figured it out.

It's a control issue.

When I got strapped into one of those awful, inverted coasters on Monday, it hit me. This is it. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. And there is absolutely nothing I can do about it but sit tight and go for the ride. I have no control. The only thing I have control over in the situation is my attitude.

Riding roller coasters isn't the only area of my life where I'm trying to remain at the control panel. And I'm probably missing all kinds of experiences and opportunities as a result. Running after the Holy Spirit requires that we relinquish some of the control that we so desperately want to hold onto. I think this might be a great opportunity for me to examine the areas in my life that I have not completely surrendered to the Jesus.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Where I've Been

I've been MIA for about a week, so I thought I'd check back in and report on my whereabouts. :) My brother-in-law, Ryan's younger brother, Josh came into town last Wednesday night, and we've been having fun ever since. Josh is 14 years old and one of my best buddies. Here's what we've been doing:

On Thursday, Josh was kind enough to come with me to the church office to help stuff bulletins for the weekend. Then, we headed out to the Capitol lawn to watch the annual Capitol 4th Concert dress rehearsal. Helpful DC Hint: it's better to watch the dress rehearsal on July 3 because it's crowded and crazy at the actual event on July 4.

On Friday, we joined up with some friends on the Capitol Mall to watch the fireworks. We set up base camp at noon, but wound up living as a nomadic tribe for the next 9 hours as we ventured from Mall to Hirshhorn Museum overhang and back and forth again to escape the rain. Thank goodness for the quick thinking of Bekah Kitterman to get us a dry spot.

On Saturday, we did nothing. That's right, nothing. Well, I did some work around the house and Ryan and Josh watched some movies. Oh yeah, and then we scared the neighbors with some karaoke. And that was it.

Sunday was church, and then we joined up with some theatre geek friends to go see the ridiculously talented Genevieve Williams in All Shook Up at Toby's Dinner Theatre.

Yesterday, I took Josh to Hershey Park. I don't like roller coasters. They make me feel sick and queasy just thinking about them and typing about them. But I am slowly building my coaster courage. I actually worked up the nerve to ride The Great Bear-- one of those terrible inverted coasters with loops and junk. Whew. I was proud of myself. There's probably a spiritual principle in there somewhere, but I'm too tired to dig it out.

So yeah...that's where I've been. I'll be in and out over the next week.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Baseball Cards

From my earliest memories, I was in love with the diamond. The red clay version with chalked lines-- not the one on the ring finger. When I was six, my life dream was to become the first female major league baseball player. I had other dreams, as well, that included NASA and space stations, Shakespeare and the stage, and even for a fleeting second the Olympics and speed skating (don't ask). But baseball is definitely one of the first loves of my life.

When my parents came to visit a few weeks ago, they brought boxes of old baseball cards. I invested a good portion of my day off on Monday going through card by card, looking for good memories and perhaps a discovery that would pay off my mortgage. While I didn't make any significant economic discoveries, I did find some fun things. Including a 1991 Chipper Jones #1 Draft Pick card from ages ago. And family friend Jim Mason, who hit a home run for the Yankees in his only world series appearance. My old heroes Cal Ripken, Jr. and Orel Hershiser. My higher valued cards like Wade Boggs and Don Mattingly rookie cards Lots of old Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs cards. Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Carl Yastzremski, Reggie Jackson, Phil Niekro, Ryne Sandberg, etc.

I was also saddened to look at my wonderful collection of rookie cards from the 90s- Canseco, Bonds, Sheffield, Sosa, McGwire- guys whose records will always be questioned and careers potentially compromised because they didn't finish well.

I could make some profound spiritual points here, I'm sure, but I'll just leave it there.

I also found a 1981 Lyle Alzado football card. And a 1981 Steve Largent card-- which probably is only of interest to those inside the beltway.