July 31, 2003

God is in control

From time to time, I look back on something and realize that God orchestrated--for lack of a better word--the whole event. Of course, His way is best, even when it frustrates me at the time. As a result, I have learned...AM learning...not to be upset when life's events fail to go how I want them to go. If I let myself get upset, then I stand to be rebuked when/if the Lord chooses to reveal His ways to me.

Several examples (three older and one very recent):

1. The time my family was on a vacation skiing at Lake Tahoe. We were staying in Reno, NV and "commuting" to various Lake Tahoe ski venues. One particular morning, my brother and I hoped to hit the road early to get in a full day of skiing. But we did not get up as planned, the elevator was slow, and the restaurant was none too efficient.

In my memory, all of us were kind of irritated at breakfast. Finally we hit the road, but I noticed that traffic was being diverted off of the freeway we needed to get on. So Dad tried to take local roads around the problem. But as we went, local roads were closed down too.

Finally, we talked to an official at a freeway on-ramp to get the scoop. We realized that something was odd when we saw on the clear blue day that a snowplow was blocking the on-ramp.

Turns out someone had set up overlooking the freeway and had fired shots at vehicles driving by. We came along during the search for the shooter. Thankfully nobody was killed as I remember.

God's guiding: He delayed us so that we were not on the road during the shootings--further, all the vehicles that were hit were white. We were driving a white Ford Explorer.

2. My serious knee injury. My senior year in high school, I tore my ACL and damaged cartilage playing. I was on crutches for a month before having reconstructive surgery. A week after surgery, I was off crutches, but had to wear a brace for longer than most due to my cartilage damage.

Of course, such an injury is not to be desired, but the Lord did a lot for me then. I gained more understanding of His Word during that time. I also learned a little more how to minister to those recovering from surgery/illness/injuries. Less importantly, I learned about the wonders of the human body. I was fascinated by watching the reconstruction, learning about the mechanics of the knee, and improving daily through physical therapy. We are fearfully and wonderfully made!

And it was during this time that I really got to know (and like) Darla! (Even though we grew up together.) We did not start dating until a few months later, but the rest is history.

3. September 11, 2001. Dad was doing business in NYC and visiting us, and was flying out of La Guardia (LGA) that morning. For time's sake, I won't share all the day's details, but suffice it to say that we saw the Lord's guidance and protection many times that day. (Maybe that story will be a future blog entry for those who are unfamiliar with it.)

4. Now for my most recent example. My second blog entry tells about the new position that I'm taking Virginia. This past weekend, I was down in Luray to procure housing for us when we move in August.

I visited several properties over the weekend and temporarily swapped my trusty little VW Jetta with my Dad so that we could use my parents' Ford Ranger to supplement our moving truck's capacity.

None of the properties I looked at was "it." It was Saturday, and I needed to make the 6 hour drive back to NYC for my last Sunday at Memorial Baptist Church. I looked at one more property before hitting the road. I intended to leave mid-morning, but that last property pushed departure back a few hours, but that's not really the point.

After an hour on the road, I got a call that I still had something of my grandmother's that she needed. My intention at that point was to FedEx it back to her from NY. But that was before I noticed a new, rhythmic noise coming from the truck. I carefully pulled onto the shoulder of the well-traveled I-81 and found an increasingly flat tire on the front driver's side.

I had just received a new membership card for AAA, and I called them immediately, not really wanting to change a tire on the interstate-side of the truck. (BTW, I'm becoming old hat at calling AAA. I called once for a tow when someone broke my windshield. Then I called for another tow when my clutch went out in downtown Brooklyn. I'd say membership has paid for itself.)

After some time, I saw a AAA-dispatched truck pulling up to my aid. The tow truck driver also refused to change the tire there, so he loaded my truck up and drove to a parking lot where he could safely change the flat.

In the meantime, I got a call that a landlord was back in Luray, available to show me his rental property. Being the bright young man that I am, I decided that maybe the Lord wanted me to go back. After all, I had an item to return and a property to see, and I was only an hour away. Oh, and the spare? It was full-size, so I could drive on it as much as necessary.

So I returned to the Valley area. Once there I viewed the best place I had seen so far, at a competitive price. Since then, we have filled out an official application and sent a check to the landlord. Finally I hit the road to return home. I drove into the wee hours of the morning, but the traffic was as good as I've seen it!

As for the tire, it was punctured at the sidewall, so it was a total loss, despite being less than two months old. However, it was under a road hazard warranty, so I was eventually able--with considerable work--to get it replaced for free.

Posted by JRC at 09:40 AM | Comments (6)

July 23, 2003

Latest from Google

Google has a new gadget out: the Google Toolbar. The toolbar is an addition to your your browser (at least Internet Explorer) which allows you to conduct a Google web search or site search, among other bells & whistles.

Now you can have Google always at the ready, no need to go to their site to search. Click here to go to Google's download page.

Another blogger that I know just put an entry up about Google as I was planning this entry. Check out Dappled Things. She made me wonder...how do you use Google?

I use Google as a search engine. I also use it to do background work on people and companies before I talk to them. (I'm looking at more than their sites for this.)

While I have not bought anything through it, I have enjoyed Froogle. Froogle is Google's shopping engine. I've found some pretty obscure things with this.

Google's News search is very helpful to me when I look up local news items from around the country. I've had mild success tracking acquaintances serving in Iraq by searching for them on Google News. Just think if you were a family member and could keep track of your loved one that way!

How do you use Google? (Or maybe better, how can I improve my Google usage?)

Posted by JRC at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2003

Blair's speech to the joint session of Congress

Last week, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress. My understanding was that it had to deal with the so-called "uranium flap."

I was in the car and caught part of the speech on Sean Hannity's radio program. Blair was taking Congress to task and giving them a lecture on American patriotism. As a patriotic American, I was cheering him on.

I came home and located the transcript of the Blair speech. Click here for the transcript from CNN.

I was impressed by Blair's humor and his support of America. But that's not to say that the speech was free of red flags for conservative Americans.

Posted by JRC at 09:34 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2003

Life's transitions

For a little more than two years, my wife Darla and I have been serving as layworkers in a small inner-city church (Memorial Baptist) in New York City's borough of Brooklyn. We've done a little bit of everything, and it has been good for us to do so (especially as newlyweds).

Darla has had a good job as an administrative assistant at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in Manhattan. The Lord saw fit not to provide a job for me, so I began a freelance marketing/advertising/public relations company out of our apartment.

Now, after two years in NYC, the Lord is guiding us on to the next stage of life. A week ago, I accepted a position as Sports Editor at a newspaper in Virginia. In this position, I will be responsible for the sports writing and photography and for the layout of the sports section. I will also report a few times a month on agriculture topics. This will be a great combination of my interests/skills.

My beat will cover mostly local high school sports (football and baseball are probably the most popular). In the summer, area towns field teams in a developmental baseball league. The teams consist of college baseball players keeping up their skills in the summer. Many of the players get drafted out of these leagues into the minor leagues. I'll cover those games, too.

I'll go to games many evenings, but it looks like Wed and Sun evenings will be free. Since I'll go to games, I won't be working 9-5. My schedule will be somewhat flexible, and I will be able to continue my freelancing!

The paper (Page News and Courier) covers Page County, VA and is based in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley town of Luray. Luray is best known for the Shenandoah National Park with its Skyline Drive and for Luray Caverns, the largest caverns in the eastern U.S. The best part of the location is that it is only 15 miles (approximately) from my grandmother, who at 94 still is on her own. She gets along fine, but we'll be glad to be nearby.

I anticipate learning a lot in this new position. However, I also feel that I will be able to contribute a lot to the paper. The general editor is a friendly guy who I think will be good to work under.

My first day will be Wednesday, Aug 6. Darla will likely stay in NYC for another two weeks, and then it looks like we'll actually move mid-August. We appreciate your prayers as we pack, leave the church people we've worked with, move, and set up our new lives. Lord willing, I will procure housing later this week.

Unfortunately, Pfizer's closest location is in the Washington, DC suburbs two hours away. So Darla will be looking for a good job in our new area. Hopefully there will be something that can fully use her abilities.

If you're ever traveling I-81 through the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley, you should stop in and see us.

(Also, if you received an e-mail about this blog entry, and you do not wish to receive future e-mails, e-mail John.)

Posted by JRC at 10:39 AM | Comments (10)


Just wanted to give a brief greeting as I start my first blog and my first blog entry. I've lurked on Ben's blog and the other blogs that he hosts for some time now (along with a few others). So I feel like I know what I'm doing, but I am, in fact, a rookie--thankfully there's no right way or wrong way to do this.

Some of you may be blog rookies as well. I'll start off by explaining what "blog" means. The term "blog" is shortened from the term "weblog." A weblog could be explained many ways. I suppose some might describe a blog as a diary. Others might say it's a common-man's op-ed piece. Or maybe an interactive forum of sorts. Maybe it's all of these combined. Maybe it takes whatever form the "blogger" desires.

I certainly don't desire for my blog to be a personal diary for everyone to read; my open-ended goal is that this will be a new method of communicating: a way to share life's events, a friendly debate setting, a way to solicit feedback on specific topics, and so on.

I suppose that the elements that form my description of a blog could at the same time be both a strength and a weakness of this new form of communication, but that's what we'll explore.

Blogging must have some future, judging by the buzz that it has been getting lately. WORLD magazine even carries a "Blogwatch" now. They gauge socio-political factors by looking at the content of prominent blogs.

Thanks to Ben Young for letting me join his blog community. I hope my e-ink will be a positive edition. (For you other bloggers...I thought it fitting to set my e-ink in Movable Type...)

Stay tuned...(I've had tons of blog ideas as I've read others' blogs. Hopefully I won't get writer's cramp.)

Posted by JRC at 10:28 AM | Comments (1)