Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Closer Look...

Take a closer look...what do you see?
There is beauty in the ruggedness and recklessness of nature. Have you stood beside a raging, muddy current funneling between the banks of a rain-swollen river, or stared at a tree splintered by a lightning strike, or gazed in amazement at the violent aftermath of an ice storm that forced the mightiest of oaks and pines to bow--droplets of water colluded, froze, broke them--and amid the ruin seen beauty? Several times I have hiked the face of Mt. Saint Helen and stood aghast as a silent witness to the massive devastation she wrought when she blew her top.  Such visions I have tried to capture on film to serve as backup for a memory better than my own.

Macro photography, on the other hand, affords the privilege of capturing the delicate and fragile beauty of the created world. Learning to train your eye to see what you might otherwise overlook allows you to step into another world within the larger world. The camera's eye will often see things that your naked eye misses.

Case in point...

Look at the vivid pink daisy. Take a closer look...what do you see? Sprawled across the happy face of the flower is a daddy-longlegs spider!

Then there is this one...

Buzzing from flower to flower was the biggest bee I had ever seen--about an inch long. Setting my camera to its macro function, I followed this guy around trying to get him to agree to a sitting for a photo. Finally, he did. I leaned in, focused, and clicked the shutter. Then I shuddered! Ouch! I yanked back my burning left hand and tried to shake off the pain. I got stung! Again, take a closer look...what do you see? Just to the left of this bee-hemoth's head you can see that someone didn't care for my intrusion!

One more...

In China, bubble making wands are still very popular. Children are fascinated (and so am I) with the fragile colorful orbs created by the wave of their hand. On this particular day the sun was perfectly positioned, and I was trying to photograph the colorful spectrums filtered and separated by the thin shell of the bubble. Dozens of shots were taken. I was trying to catch the short lived rainbows that drifted with the breezes and then, poof, disappeared. I love this picture! Mission accomplished and so much more! Take a closer look...what do you see? 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Life In Eden..

The great blue heron who fishes in our pond
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them...Then God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground...Then God looked over all he made, and he saw that it was very good." ~ Genesis 1: 27-28, 31

Where Sandy and I now live is known as the Norton place--the Nortons being the former owners. Within its boundaries of fifty or more acres there is the main house, a guest cottage, a boat house, and another building that we call the barn. Most of the acreage is wooded, but there is a generous amount of rolling pasture land broken up by towering lines of pine and massive oaks that reach high into the sky and then spill out a whale-spout fountain of green.
A doe with her twin fawns
 To date, we have seen deer, gray squirrels, red squirrels, blue   herons, chipmunks, coyotes, turtles, fish, lizards, scorpions, and nearly every inland bird species that calls the southeast home. And, yes, I have even killed a few poisonous snakes, and caused more than a few turtles' roofs to leak.
Yes, that is a snake next to my 410

Are not God's words though, at the top of this post, magnificent? Look how he introduces himself and tells us about about our original selves. We are the crowning of all he created, and we were created in his image! Rest assured his image is still there, though marred and fallen. Like the rest of his original creation, the core image is still there. Since our redemption, if we have received Christ's work, we are in a place of blessing and restoration. Practically speaking, the image is being recovered.

Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it...

This is a unique time in my life. No one is paying me or demanding from me any kind of services. Daily rhythms are very different than any previous epoch, but my days are full. Although I am not pastor of a church, I stay involved with and available to people. I remain on mission, and getting my heart and soul back is the priority. God's intentions for me remain the same--be fruitful, multiply what you have been given, and reign. During this period I am reading voraciously: memoirs and novels and a variety of genres. Not sure I can explain this, but I am trying to read the Scriptures like a novel or memoir, while constantly praying for fresh eyes that see and ears that hear what God has to say. I am writing consistently. I am learning to cook, to sit still,  to meditate, to trust. I am trying to fully appreciate God's Grace and Love lavished upon Sandy and me. Very little time goes to writing a bucket list; instead I am focusing on a what really matters list.
Our home

I am also treating these fifty acres as my Eden--working the soil, clearing fence lines, cutting away scrub brush, mowing acres, tending to flower beds, ripping up thistles and thorns, and asserting control where nature got out of control. For now, this is where God has put me to bear fruit, multiply, and govern. My gratefulness far surpasses my ability to express it!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What Are We Holding On To?

I don't know how to edit out the commercial. Let it play through and then enjoy the clip from Lord of the Rings.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Dogeared Bookmark

Beijing, China
"Flip and point" has never been my method of Bible reading. Meaning, I don't open the Bible, and randomly let my index finger fall to the place I will read. However, the pages of my New Living Translation of the Scriptures were dogeared, so this morning was an exception. Sliding my thumb and index finger between the folded pages of the fading gold embossed edges I ended up in Deuteronomy 8.

Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you . . . Deuteronomy 8:2

The chance encounter with the verse above seemed timely. Timely, because yesterday I found myself retracing my journey. I think the catalyst being that I will be returning to Presque Isle, Maine on July 7 to speak at New Life Baptist Church--a church plant Sandy and I were immersed in most of the 1980's. Since then a lot of water has gone over the dam.

I took this picture of the Howland dam two summers ago

Doubling back on my thoughts took me along two trails where memories of China and my childhood in Howland, Maine merged. Last year, along with my son, Josh, a group of us spent a weekend walking the ancient and uneven brick paved streets in the center of old Beijing. Just taking a stroll in most of China can be hazardous (i.e. the uneven brick paved streets). Weaving through a sea of black-haired tourists and merchants selling their wares, we honed the necessary art of dodging electric scooters and full sized vehicles navigating pathways originally designed for the speed and width of an oxcart. It's a skill you had better learn, because drivers give no consideration to slowing down for us bipeds. No matter how congested the narrow streets.

Juxtaposed were childhood remembrances of living on the river in Howland. How many hours did my friends and I spend under the apron of the dam, leaping pools of water, bounding from one treacherously slick island of rock to another, spearing suckers, fishing, and misspending youth?

Outside, a hawk screeched and brought me back to the present. I ended the sentimental journey, chuckled, and said aloud, "Shorey, how in the world did you get from Howland, Maine to Beijing, China?"

Hours later, I am writing because I stayed with the question. It's a good question for any of us to ask: How in the world did we get where we are? It's a query that can delight or trouble us, but I believe is always good for us. Of course I am referring to a much larger context than just the physical location and audience of me, myself, and I. In the text, as far as personal responsibility goes, God wanted his people to know why they were--where they were. God was leading them, but they were not always following, and because they were not always following, they were not always where God was leading them. I know, I know; at first blush that can sound confusing. But it is how it works. God stuck with his people even when his people didn't stick with him, and that is the grander truth. It was meant to humble them--not confuse us. It was meant to magnify his love for them. Their character and circumstances were a mixture of their response to God.

I think it's a good practice for us, too, to frequently stop and ask ourselves: How in the world did we get where we are?

As it was for the foot-sore people of Israel, so it is for each of us. When we prayerfully recollect our journeys, we can see--with new eyes--epics that were designed to humble us, not discourage us. Pride is  replaced with humility, disobedience with obedience, weakness with strength, fear with courage, and faithlessness with faithfulness. Reflecting on where we are affords us the privilege to evaluate our choices and put them into context: recollections of exhilarating experiences on spiritual mountaintops and debilitating dark valleys, times when God has given and when he has taken away, profound moments of clarity and fog banks of confusion, spiritually fruitful vineyards and barren deserts, tests we passed and tests we failed, and switchback detours and straight line advances are measured by the benchmark of our response to God. Character development that elates us and character flaws we repent of are all there. It's all there when we ask: how in the world did we get here?

How in the world did I get where I am? A dogeared bookmark got me to stop, think, and answer that question. It's been a time of rejoicing and a time of repenting. It's all good!

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill Shorey

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Assignment: Enjoy the Pleasant Places

Our guest cottage at daybreak
Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. ~ Psalm 16

Yesterday, every blade of grass and tree branch became like a wick, as the hot Georgia sun siphoned water from the earth into the heavens. Hour after hour it filled cloudy storage tanks that grew taller and taller, and sagged lower and lower. Then, like wineskins trying to hold new wine, they burst. The thirsty earth drank its fill. Our guests, twin boys and their sister, splashed in the puddles and chased after frogs and worms.

A day later, dawn was shrouded by a gauzy canopy of haze. Mist hung over the pastures and pond. Early on, the sun pulsed behind the fog as it burned off the excess moisture. Shades of blue appeared.

Some portions the Lord assigns are more pleasant than others. Would you agree? Like you, though my resolve to do so ebbs and flows, I try to find the purpose in each portion--the good and bad are part and parcel of the whole and are meant to shape us back into God's own image. Whether we acknowledge it or not, for saint and sinner, each day starts with an appointment with God.

God knows my heart, and the One who knows my heart has shaped my heart. That being said, the artistry of His created world never ceases to enthrall me. Observing the work of His imagination strengthens me and helps me sort out the two worlds I must live in: the spiritual and the physical. But believe it or not, I have always wrestled with an undercurrent of guilt for my need of the solitude in nature. "It's a waste of time," whispers a condemning voice.

I know that accusatory voice is not the Voice because while meditating on His handiwork, my view of God grows loftier, and my communion with God goes deeper. I will never be able to articulate it, but I can never stop trying to write about it, either.

This morning, I simply took God at
his word. "You are where I want you. Your cup is running over. I AM is here. Be at peace. Take a good look. Enjoy this pleasant place."

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill Shorey

Thursday, June 6, 2013


**This being the anniversary of D-Day, I thought this repost was timely. 

My father joined the Navy after Pearl Harbor. He turned 18 on a submarine somewhere in the South China sea. Dad was raised in Enfield, Maine and ended up on the Pintado (ss-387); the Pintado's keel was laid down by the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery Maine on 7 May 1943.

Many a night my brothers and I went to bed listening to my father's stories. As a boy, I thought my father was a hero. As a man, I now realize he truly was. Though there is nothing romantic about war itself, there is something incredibly romantic, heroic, and endlessly compelling about the generation of young men and women who fought against evil. O God, how I pray we will never forget that there are some things worth sacrificing and dying for.

I have posted the history of one of the subs my father fought on. All I have to do is close my eyes and the images of an 18 year old scrambling through a steel tube, manning his station, and praying that the depth charges stay out of range come vividly to life. Take some time to read about our forgotten heros.

"On her first war patrol, Pintado served as flagship of a wolfpack, commanded by Captain Leon P. Blair, which also included submarines Shark (SS–314) and Pilotfish (SS–386). The attack group departed Pearl Harbor 16 May, touched at Midway 20 and 21 May, and headed for waters west of the Marianas and south of Formosa. On the 31st, they formed a scouting line in search of a convoy reported by submarine Silversides (SS–236). After sparring with the convoy’s escorts through the night, Pintado managed to reach attack position shortly before dawn and fired a spread of six torpedos at overlapping targets, destroying 4,716 ton cargo ship Toho Maru. She then daringly came within 700 yards of an escort while bringing her stern tubes to bear on another merchant ship. Although explosions suggested that some of the second spread of torpedos had scored, no second sinking has been confirmed. Pintado then skillfully evaded angry Japanese destroyers and sped away to safety.

About midday on 4 June, Pintado spotted smoke from a Japanese convoy heading toward Saipan. She and her sister subs headed for the enemy, and soon Shark sank 6,886-ton cargo ship Katsunkawa Maru before slipping away from a heavy depth charge attack. The American submarines continued to shadow the convoy and early the next day Shark’s torpedos accounted for two more cargo ships.

Pintado made her kills shortly before noon of 6 June, D-day in Normandy, with a spread of torpedos at overlapping targets. An awesome explosion tore one ship apart, her bow and stern both projecting up in the air as she sank. The stern of a second was under water before she was swallowed by smoke and flame. These victims were later identified as 5,652-ton Havre Maru and 2,825-ton Kashimasan Maru. An airplane and five escorts tried to box in the submarine and dropped over 50 depth charges, but she escaped damage.

Pintado and her sisters in the wolfpack had all but destroyed the convoy which was attempting to reinforce Japanese defenses of the Marianas. While escorts rescued many of the 7,000 troops whose ships had gone down, they had lost weapons, tanks, and equipment. This greatly weakened Japan’s defensive capability in the Marianas for the impending American invasion of Saipan. Pintado then headed for the Marshall Islands, arriving Majuro 1 July for refit.

Her second war patrol took the submarine to the East China Sea. On 6 August she sank 5,401-ton cargoship Shonan Maru and damaged another target in a Formosa-bound convoy, before scampering away through a downpour of exploding depth charges. On the 22nd Pintado spotted an 11 ship convoy guarded by three escorts. After dark she moved into the center of the convoy, passing a scant 75 yards from an escort, to attack Tonan Maru No. 2, a former whale factorywhich Lt. Comdr. Clarey, as executive officer of Amberjack, had helped to sink in Kavieng Harbor, Bismark Archipelago, 10 October 1942. Since then the Japanese had raised the ship and towed her to Japan where she was repaired and converted to a tanker.

Two spreads of torpedos from the submarine left the monster ablaze and sinking and damaged two other tankers. Tonan Maru was one of the largest merchant ships sunk byan American submarine during World War II. Following lifeguard station duty off Japan, Pintado turned eastward 1September and arrived Pearl Harbor on the 14th.On Pintado’s third war patrol, Lt. Comdr. Clarey commanded a wolfpack which included Atule (SS–403) and Jallao (SS–368). The group departed Pearl Harbor 9 Octoberheading for the South China Sea. Meanwhile, General MacArthur was preparing to return to the Philippines. When histroops landed on Leyte 20 October, the Japanese Navystruck back with all its force in a “go-for-broke” attempt to smash the invasion. The result was the decisive Battle for Leyte Gulf.

As the American Navy turned back the three prongs of the Japanese offensive, Clarey’s submarines sped toward Luzon Strait to attack the Northern Japanese Force which Admiral Halsey’s Fleet had engaged off Cape Engano. On the night of the 25th, Jallao, made radar contact with bombdamaged light cruiser Tama fleeing from Halsey. Pintado closed the scene with Jallao but held her fire while her sister submarine attacked, ready to join in the fray if needed. Jallao launched seven torpedos, and Tama broke up and went to the bottom, the last cruiser to go down in the Battle off Cape Engano.

A bonus came on 3 November when Pintado’s periscope revealed “the largest enemy ship we have ever seen”, apparently an oiler in the support group for the Japanese carriers. Clarey fired six bow torpedos at the huge target, but enemy destroyer Akikaze crossed their path before they could reach their target. The destroyer disintegrated in a tremendous explosion which provided an effective smoke screen protecting the original target until the two remaining Japanese escorts forced the submarine to dive and withdraw to escape exploding depth charges.
Pintado joined Halibut on the 14th and escorted the damaged submarine to Saipan, arriving Tanapag Harbor five days later. After a week in port, she resumed her war patrol South of Takao. On the night of 12–13 December, she sank two enemy landing craft, Transport No. 12 and Transport No. 104, and an unidentified ship. Two days later she headed for Australia and arrived Brisbane on New Years Day 1945. She won the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary skill and heroism on her first three war patrols."

My Dad was on Pintado's first patrol, which made him a Plank owner. He, along with his other shipmates received a Presidential Citation for their service. I have been on a sub of the same size and class, the Lionfish. I have seen the cramped sleeping quarters, the torpedo room, and the dark narrow corridors that run from section to section in the bowels of the ship.

The men of the "Silent Service" were a breed apart -- all warriors are.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I Am Fixed To A (Grammar) Star...

Obstacles cannot crush me, every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind. ~ Da Vinci

Where did that poster come from? You probably have already guessed. While at Sias, in Henan Province, China, I taught Business courses for the university. On weekends, I tutored Chinese students in Oral English. Not English grammar. In the small room we met in, off a dirty side street, motivational posters hung on the walls. Within those walls, young Chinese students labored to learn English as a second language. Trust me, learning to speak English is a physical as well as mental challenge for them. Our language requires verbal contortions that Chinese does not. As you can see by the poster, it was a work in progress. Go ahead and smile at the Chinglish...

I like the poster for several reasons. Look at it again. There is the Chinglish--that always cracks me up. There is the rappelling--I have never passed on an opportunity to rappel. It speaks to risk, strength, and trust. Anyone who has leaned back over the edge of the cliff will tell you--there is an adrenaline rush from the risk. Gripping a double rope with one hand above your head and a single rope near your hip--is a test of strength. Trust is huge--will the anchor point at the top hold, and will the person on belay--someone at the bottom of the fall standing by at the ready to pull apart the ropes--stop your descent should something go wrong.

That's all really cool and insightful! Right?

Mostly it is symbolic of my struggle with the proper use of punctuation, spelling, homophones, synonyms, antonyms, and contranyms, but it is an obstacle that cannot crush me! Every obstacle will yield to my stern resolve, because Sandy is done teaching at Columbus High School, and I am fixed to my (grammar) star. She will continue to help me write and revise until I, too, am a grammarian.

So friends, in the meantime, as you follow my posts: Please enjoy the pain which is unable to avoid!

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill Shorey


LtoR Michael, Lydia, Nancy, Elizabeth, Dr. Zia, Ezra
Dr. Caleb Zia is seventy-two years young. He and his family recently made a couple of day-trips to our home in Cataula, GA. from Atlanta, GA. He and his wife Nancy were visiting their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren who live in Atlanta.

Dr. Zia resides in California. He is an intellectual, educator, businessman, and leader in the Asian community in nearly countless ways. Like my friend Robert George, who is eighty, he also travels extensively. Caleb has a rich spiritual heritage: his great-grandfather ministered all over China with the famous missionary, Hudson Taylor. His grandfather ministered with the famous Chinese missionary, preacher, and writer, Watchman Nee. His father was also a Christian minister who spiritually impacted his continent. Several of his family were martyred during the turbulence that surrounded Chairman Mao.

Dr. Zia is a humble man whose love for Christ has been the anchor in his extraordinary life. Were you to Google his name, you could spend an afternoon reading about his remarkable accomplishments.

Sitting around our dining room table with him and his wife, Nancy, whose pedigree is beyond impressive in its own right, the Zias told Sandy and me their stories that read like a chapter out of the book of Acts. Caleb's parents' commitment to Christ, and the fact that they both held university doctorates, resulted in persecution of them and all those in their family. As a boy of nine years of age, he and his mother were sent off to live in what had been a death camp during the Japanese occupation. In his early years he could neither read nor write and began a process of self-education that opened doors for him to attend a Catholic boarding school and then on to higher education. He excelled at every level, and paid his own way through high school by singing and caring for the home of a foreign teacher.

Dr. Zia and I sat out by the lake for a good long while, talking about a broad range of subjects. Mostly, I just pelted him with questions. I wanted to pick his brain and hear more about his adventurous journey of Faith. I so need an older, godly man in my life. At one point he waved his arm in a panoramic fashion and said, "Bill, it is so peaceful here. I would love to move to Georgia and live in a place like this and write. You could write my family's story." There is no explaining his life apart from the Divine favor of God, and I had asked him earlier if his family's sojourn was on record for posterity's sake and for the sake of the Kingdom. It isn't. He continued, "I would love to get out of the city, but God knows that."

I wish I could sit at his feet and learn, but God knows that...

The Zia's grandchildren are well-behaved, bright, confident around adults, and adorable. When I was first introduced to them--Ezra(four) and Elizabeth(six)--I immediately named them "Pete" and "Repeat," something I have done for as long as I can remember whenever I meet children. Some of those children are in their late twenties now and still re-introduce themselves to me by those corny names. Pete and Repeat, like the generations before them, corrected me the first several times, but after a while gave up and just rolled with it. When they met Sandy, Elizabeth said, "I'm Repeat and this is my brother is Pete."

Did I tell you they have boundless energy? O yes! As you can see by the picture, I got them two little rods and reels, a generous supply of worms, and baited their hooks non-stop for three hours that first day. There are so many fish in our pond that within seconds of the bobber resting on the water, it began to jiggle, dip, and then plunge. Furiously, they began cranking on the reel like they had hooked on to Moby Dick. On their return visit I turned the baiting task over to their dad. He did great! Pete caught eighteen bass and brim. Repeat caught another ten. Mom and Dad caught a slew more. Dr. Zia actually caught a turtle!

Pete teared up when I unhooked the turtle (unharmed) and released it back into the pond...he wanted to take it home with him!

I am quite sure we will be seeing Dr. Zia and his family again, and I am sure you will be reading more about him and his family on this blog.

The final picture of Dr. Zia, his family, and me was taken on their first visit. Sandy was teaching school that day. I made them a meal and hosted them. On the second visit, they brought all the ingredients to make a meal--that may reveal something about my cooking--and Sandy and I shared time with them together.

After the Zias left, Sandy and I talked about the unshakeable faith and incredible impact Dr. Zia and his wife have had because they have lived yielded to God. We came away with the continued resolve to "live a life that demands explanation." Remaining relevant in the advance of the Kingdom all the days of our lives is our goal.

If not that, what? Isn't that the point and purpose of life?

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill Shorey

Monday, June 3, 2013

Section H. Row 45. Plot 14 (Father and Son Weekend)

(According to my blogger account, this was never posted. It took place 3 years ago)

After working under the threat of rain, in rain, or pouring rain, Justin and I slung our drenched, muddy clothing over every available rafter letting the wafting heat pg the wood stove do its work. In the morning we labored for a few more hours under dark skies slashed by light. In the afternoon we cleaned everything up, packed everything up, locked everything up, and started the journey back to Boston. It was Memorial Day.

During the drive back we listened to Justin's play list from his Ipod. My son is a throwback in many ways and likes a lot of the music from my generation. We talked about the lyrics, the musicians, and our response to the eclectic selection of tunes. Justin is a clever lyricist and musician in his own right. He knows the back-story of the songs and bards and provided insightful commentary about their poetry and journey. As the odometer clicked off mile-after-mile we talked about careers and business. Justin is pretty much fast-tracking in the tele-communication industry. I marveled at his ascension from climbing around on a caboose--to climbing cell towers--to a leader in his company.

Late in the afternoon we hit the outskirts of Augusta, Maine on Interstate 95. Justin excitedly said, "It's Memorial Day. Let's go by Papa's grave at the Veteran's Cemetery! What a great way to end our weekend!"

Section H. Row 45. Plot 14, is where Dad is buried. Soon, we were on Mount Vernon Drive entering the Veteran's Cemetery.

Wending our way along the ribbon of asphalt's lazy turns between fields and over undulating terrain, we quietly observed the resting place of thousands of our Nation's veterans. Fluttering vistas of red, white, and blue surrounded us. Each plot was marked by an American flag, while others were embellished with flowers and personalized memorabilia.

"There it is. Section H." Justin pointed to his left, and simultaneously pulled his truck to the grassy shoulder. Finding Row 45, we counted the headstones that lay flush with the glistening green sod. Birds chirped, the wind whispered, and swirling breezes curled the Stars and Stripes around their slender staff.

Six straight days of unrelenting rain meant soggy, water-saturated soil, squished beneath our feet. Arriving at plot 14, I was troubled--Dad's middle name, Vernon--the same middle name I bear--was stained by a dark loam-silted stream trickling over it. Getting down on my hands and knees, I scrubbed it away.

Silently, we stood over his grave giving thought to the drastic changes befalling him as a seventeen-year old. Dad's mother and father signed for him so he could enter the Navy before the age of eighteen. Volunteering to leave the wide-open spaces, fresh air, and countryside of Enfield, Maine, after a few months of training he lived in a steel tube beneath the sea. Sleeping on a hammock stretched above live torpedoes, air thick with the odor of diesel fumes, and the foul perspiration of shipmates scared spit less, young Burleigh went from shooting his .22 caliber, single shot rifle (that I still have) in the back pasture, to Gunner's Mate, Third Class, to moments of sheer terror as deafening depth charges, dropped from Japanese warships, exploded around a teenager barely old enough to shave.

Dad was a Plank Member on the U.S. Pintato sub. He and his crew received the Presidential Citation for their effort to bring war to an end. Papa and his comrades were First Class Heroes. In their minds, as was the case with my father, they were forever haunted by the memories of the brutality of war.

"Let's stay here until sunset." Justin said.

For the first time in nearly a week the sun was unobscured and brightly shining as it sunk toward the horizon. So appropriate. So appreciated. Such a God-thing. We took another walk among the hundreds of rectangular granite markers. The sun streamed from the heavens and afforded us the opportunity for one more photo--the shadowy forms of Justin and me. It reminded me of a dramatic truth; in this dimension we are alive and Papa is memories--a mere shadow of who he was. But in the Final Dimension, where Dad is, where the Hope of Faith is replaced with the fulfillment of Faith, Burleigh Vernon Shorey, GM3C, U.S. NAVY is beyond this shadowland. His redemption and restoration is complete. He walks  by sight--not faith.

It is we who live as shadows.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me...and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Burger King and the Little Red Caboose...(Father and Son weekend continued)

We said good-bye to John and Jane, snapped a couple of more photos, and began the three hour trip south. But before we left Presque Isle we had one more stop. The little red caboose at the Burger King!

Let me begin the story this way...

The Apostle Paul said. "I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything." And I can say  that my family and I have experienced that same feast or famine dynamic as well. Back in the day, church planting was much different than it is typically done today. In my early twenties we planted churches via a "parachute drop." What that meant was you simply dropped into an area with what ever support you could raise, began knocking on doors forty hours a week, invited complete strangers into your house, shared the gospel with them, and trusted God that you were following His calling.

It worked for us.

When we started the church plant Justin was one month shy of being three years old, and Josh was one month shy of being one. If memory serves me well, as soon as they were old enough to enjoy it, Nana and Papa, or Glen and Paula Carson, or some kind soul would always see to it that resources were available to celebrate special occasions. For Justin and Josh, the interpretation of the Pauline theology to  have "everything" was fulfilled by climbing into the upper deck seating of Burger King's little red caboose! The Burger King caboose was a BIG DEAL. Our rambunctious little guys absolutely loved that place and with a little boost from Sandy or me they scaled every high place within its walls. Hey, it was Burger King and they could have it their way!

How things have changed...with one powerful lunge, Justin was seated on the upper deck. No! He did not have to help his aged father up there. Nope! Time aloft passed quickly. We alternated between smiling like the cat that ate the canary, laughing, reminiscing, and contemplative silence. Never enjoyed a Whopper as much, sitting up there in the Engineer's/Conductor's booth!

Soon a little girl and her brother, about the ages of four and six, came in with their food balanced on a tray. The boy was the youngest, and just like my own sons, in days-gone-by, he was wearing a Burger King Crown. I wish you could have seen their expressions as they looked up at us in the Conductor's seat (or whatever they call that perch at the back of a line of railroad cars). There above them sat two grown men. Both unshaven for a couple of days. One six feet tall, and the other with a pate of white hair!

I introduced Justin and told them how I used to take him and his younger brother to this very spot twenty-five to thirty years ago when they were their ages. They liked the story and figured we were safe, so they climbed up into the seats across from us unwrapped their meal and ate.

Over the years Sandy and I have learned (and continue to learn) that to have nothing can be to have everything--and to have everything can be to have nothing...

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill Shorey

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sons and Signatures (Father and Son pt. 2)

Comparison--Justin is now 32 years old. 
My tiny office would be on the northwest corner of the sanctuary at New Life Baptist Church. The building would rest on what was called an "Alaskan slab," six-bag cement reinforced with heavy rebar and poured onto a bed of pea-stone several feet thick. Before it completely set-up, I brought our two sons, Justin and Josh, to the corner that would be my office. I wanted their handprints in the concrete for posterity. Justin enthusiastically pressed little hand into the wet cement; he thought it was really cool. Josh--who, by the way is now a very gifted ceramic potter--fought me at every step of the process.

Later on, when it was time for the carpet to be laid down, I cut it on two-sides around the prints, didn't put down any glue, and tucked the edge of the carpet under the baseboard. For me, it was a Holy Ground spot. During our stay there I pulled that carpet back many, many times and prayed for the future of my sons and our family--which would eventually include Miss Meagan--and a plethora of other things that a young pastor frets over!

Shortly after John and Jane let us into the building, we asked if we could go back to my old office.

"There is something special there we would like to check out." I told them.

"It's not an office any more. It's not even locked. It's empty." John and Jane said, simultaneously. "

Nobody, other than my family, knew what lay beneath the rose colored rug. Justin and I were a little anxious, as we wondered if it had been discovered and the carpet was glued down. Stepping through the doorway, our eldest son immediately knelt down, felt for the seams, and pulled back the carpet. First, the little-boy hands appeared, then the date: 7-20-85, then the names I had scratched in with a nail. Justin burst into laughter and amazement. I went tear-blind. John and Jane just gasped.

Twenty-eight years ago Justin and his baby brother Josh had placed little hands in the soft cement. At the time, Justin had barely taken five laps around the sun, and Josh, barely three. But there they were--indelible signatures--a moment in time unchanged by twenty-eight years.

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill Shorey