Monday, October 30, 2006

What a Weekend

Hey readers -- I haven't had time to post anything since Friday. We had a super weekend at church with our guests from out of town. The translation of "super" for me is BUSY, BUSY, BUSY. By the time the service was over on Sunday I was exhausted and a bit physically sick just from overdoing it to make sure that everything went right. Ben was a great help and support to me as always. I'm telling you, folks, if you are active in your church, it is a blessing to have a partner who not only supports your efforts but also is willing to share the load. The picture above right shows Ben chatting with one of our guests who is planning to enter seminary soon. After we got home from church and rested for a few minutes (or tried to) we loaded up our stuff and the dog and headed to Ben's for last night. He had an appointment in the Detroit area today and i invited myself to go with him (Aren't I the bold one?). A little before 10 last night, I gave out and went to sleep while he posted his blog update. The weekend had done me in. Anyhow, we got up and got moving this morning and headed toward Detroit. While Benwas taking care of business I was enjoying the weather (it was sunny and 70 today --can you believe it?). The other picture above is one I took while waiting for him. It shows a tree in fall color on what should be a wintry day but is a summery 70 -- welcome to Michigan! But isn't it a pretty tree? After he finished his business, we went hiking through a nearby park just enjoying the day and each other's company. Then we decided it was nearly lunch time so we headed back toward home looking for a lunch spot. We were riding merrily along enjoying the scenery when Ben mentioned that it seemed that the truck was out of alignment ==pulling to the right. Then we heard the noise -- thumpa thumpa thump. We pulled off on a side road to see what was up. The right front tire was flat as a pancake. When we discovered our dilemma, Ben remembered that he has road service, so let's call someone else to do the dirty work. God forbid we should get our hands dirty -- LOL. I walked a little ways and found Arbys and brought back lunch which we consumed while we waited. Several people stopped and offered assistance (including a state trooper and a sheriff's deputy). As we ate, we were bothered by an unlikely phenomonen for the last days of October -- the bees thought that the french fry grease smelled yummy and a couple of them buzzed around us like it was July. Finally, after the anticipated hour wait, the road service guy showed up and had the tire changed in a few minutes. Of course Ben and I stood there and watched him work -- nice view too LOL. He finished up and was on his way and so were we. We stopped for ice cream (again, OCTOBER??) and headed home. Then we sat snuggled on the sofa for an hour or so while Ben processed some feelings about his situation and I held him and listened. That, boys and girls, is what partners do --listen and support one another. Then, sadly, I had to head for home. The odd part is that I left the dog at Ben's this week as I will out of town from Wednesday through Sunday and he is babysitting --bet his cats will LOVE that. I said a prayer as I started the car to head out because yesterday when I was almost there, it began making funny noises, let out a backfire, gave off the aroma of burning rubber, and then moved ever forward. I made it to the house, parked in the driveway, and in my best Scarlett O'Hara voice told myself, "I'll worry aobut that tomorrow." Imagine my relief then this afternoon when it started and ran like a champ all the way home. It's old, it's tired, it's ventilation system has a mind of its own, the drivers' seat is supported by two plastic buckets, but it looks decent and usually gets me where I'm going AND it's paid for. (Gee, it sounds a lot like me.) So I'm home and gearing up for my trip and missing Ben and the poodle already. If you have a mate, cherish him or her. If you don't have one and are looking, seek one who is supportive and caring. Have a good rest of the week and tell someone you love them. It brightens the day for both of you.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Sad Commentary

Let me begin this post by admitting my bias. I have never been or wanted to be a hunter. The thought of killing a living being is horrendous to me. With that bias clearly stated, I offer the following observation. A few weeks ago at the beginning of the bow hunting (deer) season, I was out for my usual Friday morning breakfast when into the restaurant came a group of hunters. It was obvious from the camo clothing and the bright orange hats (a real fashion statement -- NOT!). Among the group was a teenage boy (probably about 15) who it turned out was celebrating his first deer kill -- a cause for celebration? I thought it sad that this boy had now learned the "joy" and the "thrill" of taking a life. I made comment to a few friends and then let the scene go, attributing my upset to my previously mentioned bias against hunting. Then, a bit later, I heard about Michigan's upcoming proposition 3 which will allow the hunting of mourning doves. If you are a Michigan voter, vote NO on 3!! These birds are neither particularly usable for food nor a nuisance to anyone. Maybe shooting these innocents is cheaper than shooting clay targets or going to the shooting range. But I digress. Today, while out for breakfast at the same restaurant, I saw what I consider to be the topper of this whole conversation. In came another group of hunters (again with the latest in camo and orange). Along with the adults and dressed in his own camo and orange was a little boy no more than maybe 6 to 8 years old. I find that offensive on several levels. First, there is the safety issue. Is a child that young responsible enough to be out where there are bows and arrows (and probably in the next few weeks he will be out with the guns)? I sure wouldn't want my kid out there. Second, why is a kid that young out on a trip that is obviously an adult event? I think that kids grow up too fast as it is and that there are family type events, kids' events, and adult events. I think that hunting is an adult event. Get a sitter or leave the kid home with Mom unless she is a hunter as well. Third, and this is my biggest dilemma, what are we teaching our kids? An eight year old is in no way mature enough to deal with any of the myriad issues around killing anything. Our kids are exposed to way too much violence as it is between television, news, movies, and the like. Can an eight year old be expected to distinguish right and wrong between the killing of deer and doves and the killing of kids in school? Now I know that there is someone reading this who will crticize my logic, but it is my blog and I see it this way. I will admit that 200 years ago it was necessary to teach young boys how to hunt, trap, and shoot. It was part of survival at that time in history. That is not true today and to expose an eight year old boy to the shedding of innocent blood is just wrong. In fact, in many cases, it could almost qualify as abusive. It is a sad day when our kids have to deal with death and violence when they should be playing and enjoying life. I imagine the Field and Stream set will not like this post much but that's the way I see it. Think about it!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Good Grief - What a Day -- Part 2

To continue from my previous post -- I got all my complex work done in time to head to the church to do a bunch of stuff for this weekend. While I was there I got a call from my mother to tell me that my 44 year old brother is in the hospital with heart trouble. He is supposed to have a stint put in tomorrow. Now that really set well with me in light of my blood pressure news earlier today. Ah well, maybe it's a wake up call -- who knows. I will worry about that tomorrow. Then it was a quick dinner and back to church for a special board meeting which dragged on and accomplished little if anything productive. Tomorrow it's back to church for the evening and I get to teach Bible Study as well as my regular duties -- oh joy! It is now pushing midnight and I am tired yet somehow still wide awake. I will finish this post, dream a bit about Ben, and go to bed thinking about the day past and wondering about the one ahead. PLEASE GOD, let it better than today. Good night all; Ben, I love you! And to Steve who commented on my previous post-- know that in God's time and way, the right thing will happen for you. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. Later!

Good Grief - What a Day

Well it's only 11:30 AM and the day has already been a little crazy. I've had a couple of odd jobs around the complex to attend to, chatted with several tenants, talked to the fertilizer guy, and welcomed the blood pressure nurse. She had some not so good news for me -- my BP is up again 138/104. She said, "You need to see a doctor." I said, "On whose insurance?" and the discussion went on from there. I need to start eating a little more responsibly and exercising and all the good things that one should be doing anyway. I still have to finish up one chore here and then go off to church to do some planning an computer stuff for this weekend. All this and deal with missing Ben -- again it was early in the AM when I woke up and reached for him only to once again encounter empty space. When oh when is that job going to happen? I found an ad for one for which I need to apply in person which is not possible today. I will see what the rest of the week looks like, but by the time I can reasonably get there the job will no doubt be filled. If I had any amount of money saved for a rainy day, I'd be moved over there and this would not be such a dilemma. Ah, what to do , what to do. If you have someone special in your life, cherish them -- God puts them in our lives for a reason. Ah well, yet one more boring post about my so called life. LOL. Have a great day and stay warm.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I Hate Mondays

I'm starting to hate Mondays. There is nothing inherently wrong with the day I suppose, but for me Monday is a down day. Usually I spend the weekend enjoying Ben's company and doing things that we both enjoy and then I wake up on Monday morning and I am alone. I really noticed it this morning when I woke up about 6:30, and rolled over to cuddle but there was no one there to cuddle with but the dog. I really need to find a job that will allow us to be together and eliminate the extensive and exspensive driving back and forth. The job market in Michigan is extremely depressed and the prospects aren't great. But I believe that God is greater than the economy and that the right job will come along at the right time. We just keep hoping that the right time will come soon. In the meantime, the roads will become more and more familiar.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Scarecrow and the Stud

I took this picture of Ben and the scarecrow at the festival I mentioned in my previous post. Isn't it just sweet?

Another Weekend Fades into History

Gosh! It's Sunday night and I wonder where the weekend went. Ben arrived Friday night after a long day at work and we just hung out. Being Sweetest Day, I bought Ben a yellow rose and a blueberry pie for dessert. So then he show up with guess what! Red roses and a peach pie. LOL. Saturday began with going to church to teach a class -- how exciting! After class, we headed to the town of Lowell for the "Festival of the Scarecrows." We had fun even though it was an underwhelming experience. Towspeople come together and buld scarecrows along the street -- really weird, but hey, it's small town America. In the first picture above, Ben is taking a picture of a scarecrow family in front of the church. The second picture is of some ornamental lettuce that I found in a flower bed == I thought it was awesome -- never seen anything like it before. I took the third picture as we visited a park and looked at the river. We saw several deer, but they were faster than our cameras.

We still had time before our evening event, so we took in a movie. We saw "The Prestige" with Hugh Jackman, Chrsitian Bale, Michael Caine, and Scarlett Johansen. We both recommend this one. It has more twists and turns than a long mountain road, and it doesn't get sorted out until the final seconds. I was dying to go to the bathroom, but couldn't tear myself away from the drama long enough -- thank God the movie ended before my bladder gave out. Then it was back to church for our annual Dessert Auction and Cake Walk. We came home with two cakes, a pie, cookies, and candy. Ben is taking some to work tomorrow, some went in the freezer, I will share some with the neighomeneighbors, and the rest will go in us I guess.

Today was church, a trip to the mall and out to lunch. Now it's back to the mundane existence that is my life from Monday through Friday. It was a glorious weekend even though we were busy and the weather sucked. I sure hope a job comes through for me in Ben's town before the snow flies!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Blog Integrity

I love to link to other blogs of interest and to visit and comment on their posts often. After all, blogging is about communication. In fairness to and belief in those who read this blog, however, I strive to link only to blogs that show integrity and common decency. In reviewing links recently I discovered two that fell short of the standards I have set for this page. It is, after all, my page and my choice to link or not link to other blogs. The first was a situation where I was attacked without benefit of personal communication. The writer did not have all the facts but chose to anonymously lambast me based solely on the information at hand. To not check facts and get full information is, in my opinion, poor blogging. The second instance involved a group of bloggers who were maing fun of another blogger's posts by doing rather heartless imitations of content and style. Not every blog is set to everyone's taste, but eveyone is entitled to his or her own opinions and content.hose who would poke this kind of fun are not the type of folks that I want to share with my readers. Therefore, tonght my links list got smaller. As I explore the wonderful world of blogs and find pages that share my interests or give pertinent information, I will add then to my page. I would urge every blogger to visit your own links occasionally so that you know where you are referring your readers. Let's maintain some standards of fairness and integrity and keep blogging fun and clean. That's my opinion -- take it for what it's worth!

Monday, October 16, 2006


My goodness, what a busy weekend. Somehow there just isn't time to post much on here when we are busy running back and for the between Ben's house and mine, going to church, and trying to have a little together time. Anyhow, the last post I made talked about Friday night's dinner party with friends of Ben and my anxiety level. As usual, my fears were groundless. Everything went well, dinner was delicious, the company was fine, and even the animals were friendly. We had a great time and then went home and crashed. Saturday was an adventure day. If you read this blog much, you know that we like to take off and go places, sometimes planned and sometimes not, but always fun. This trip was to Bronners. Now if you've never been there, you've missed an important piece of Christmas. They have everything from A to Z for Christmas and other holidays. Being typical gay men, we LOVE Christmas and going to Bronners gives us Chrsitmas "fix". Sometimes we buy stuff, more often we just go wander and "Ah" and Ooh" over all the really great stuff. After Bronners and lunch we headed back to Ben's, picked up the dog, and headed to my house for Saturday night and for church on Sunday. Then it was back to my house after church, pick up the dog, and head to Ben's for Sunday night and for him to go to work today. THis morning I made another job applicationand headed home for the week. If you find all this running back and forth a little confusing, you should be in our shoes. The poor animals don't know what's going on, and I think we havve to look out the windows to remember where we are on any given day. I thinkk the day is coming where we can be together in ONE place without all the planning, running, and catching a moment here or there. What an awesome idea. Just keep the job hunt in your thoughts -- think of the gas we can save LOL.

It was a fun weekend, but Ben was having some anxiety about the job. He finished training on Friday and was starting the real thing this morning. He was concerned as to whether or not he could do the job, whether the training had been sufficient and so on. He called me a little bit ago and things seemed to be going okay so far. We will get a more detailed report tonight when we chat. New jobs and nex experiences, while exciting, can seem a little daunting. Maybe that is part of what keep slife interesting and moving forward. And Move Forward we must.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Another Debut

Oh my, it's Friday and, after finishing up my weekly routine here in mid-afternoon, I will head over to Ben's to be there when he gets home from work. This evening will be another new experience for us. We are having dinner with a couple of Ben's friends from his former church. It will be our first social gathering of this type as a couple and somehow I feel as though I am on display. Now he has assured me of how nice these folks are and I am sure all will be fine. In fact, on many levels I am looking forward to the evening. Still, there is that nagging voice asking, "What will they think of me?", "What if I make a social faux pas?" I know that all will go well and that it will be a lovely evening. Still, in many ways, it is like the coming out thing all over again -- oh they are fine with us being gay and all that, but still, up until the moment we ring the bell, I have been an abstract existencein their lives. They know ABOUT me, but now I am becoming a reality as are we as a couple. Maybe it's not just me that I am a little anxious about. Ben has beena friend and pastor to these folks. He came out to them and they have been fine with his being gay -- again, in the abstract. Tonight, for the first time, we will be "in their face". Oh, I don't mean that we will be sucking face on their sofa or anything. Still, knowing is different from seeing. I don't know why I am like I am today -- I know that I can function well in most social situations and that I do not have BO or two heads or stuff hanging out my nose. It will be a lovely evening. It will be a lovely evening. It will be a lovely evening. And I will be with Ben -- a place where I want to be as much as possible. He is so good to and for me. Well, I guess I'd better close this post before I get too mushy and before I have an online anxiety attack. Watch for a report on the evening in the next day or two. Hug someone special!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

NCOD + 1

Today is the day after National Coming Out Day (NCOD) and I am amazed at some of the things I am reading and hearing on blogs and elsewhere. I am finding gay people judging one another for either coming out or for choosing to not come out. I'm hearing people wondering why we should even bother or find the need to come out. Folks, coming out or not coming out is a personal decision that is no one's business but the individual involved. For some coming out can have disastrous consequences. For others it can cause personal discomfort for which they aren't ready. FOr some coming out can bring a great sense of relief or comfort. Some choose to come out to bring honesty and openness to relationship in their lives. Some come out for political and social reasons. One of the key facts that I stress in talking to people who are struggling with the coming out question is this: WHY are you taking this step? Are you doing it for healthy reasons like openness and honesty? Are you doing it to shock and cause controversy or hurt? Are you doing it because someone told you you should? Are you not doing it out of fear? Whatever reasons you have for coming out or not coming out, know your motives! If they are positive in nature, then go for it. If they are negative, hurtful, or malicious then rethink your course of action. Your sexual orientation/preference or lifestyle is YOUR business. What you do with the information is YOUR business.

Moving beyond that for a moment, anyone who has been gay for more than a week or two has quickly learned that coming out is not an event but an ongoing process that sadly never ends. From showing up at Mom's for Thanksgiving dinner with your boyfriend to opening a joint checking account, to talking to folks at work, to coming to terms with your own sexuality, it never ends. Sometimes it is openly verbal; other times it is apparent by actions or the company you keep. There are some who have posted on their obviously gay blogs that they have chosen to not come out. Guess what? To some extent, the very existence of their blog is an act of coming out.

I guess the gist of this post is to say that I am amazed that the very people who are painfully aware of the risks of coming out (our own people) are judging and criticizing the rights of others to make this very personal decision. The more of us who come out in any number of ways the easier it may become for others, but it is still their choice. So lighten up already! If you are bold enough and able to come out, do so and speak up for the countless GLBT folks who, because of society and its pressures cannot or choose not to publicly proclaim their orientation.

Just a quick note to close: today is the anniversary of the death of Matthew Sheppard. Is there any clearer evidence of some of the potential dangers of being out? Take a moment and remember Matt today and pray for a brighter today and tomorrow for people everywhere. Let us learn to live in a society in which we don't rush to judge a person's worth based on who they are or on whether or not they go public with their information.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Deer Me

Yes it is spelled correctly. My friend Dand and I were headed home from church tonight in his van. As we headed up the freeway chatting all at once he uttered something "Oh SH**!" and there was a thump just as I looked out and saw the back side of a deer bounding off the right front corner of the van. The damn thing seemingly appeared from nowhere. It seems that Michigan is the number 2 state for car deer crashes in the country (Pennsylvania is first). This was, for me at least, a first. I have avoided one or two deer in the past year, but this is getting near the really busy season for them to be running. It is currently bow hunting season and rifle season is just a few short weeks away. Thankfully, Dan and I are both fine--don't know about the deer (it took off as quickly as it appeared)and the van, while driveable, has a good bit of damage to the right front corner. I will say that the state police officer was very efficient and personable. Cell phones are great -- we sat there and Dan called the insurance company, the police, and his sweetheart. Let's wait and see what great adventures await on the morrow.All I can say to all you who read this is -- drive carefully!

What's Fair is Fair

I've been listening to the unfolding of the Mark Foley incident and its apparent negative backlash against the gay community. We've been painted as pedophiles and worse and there are calls to arms to control this gay thing coming from all over the place. I was sitting here this morning as I watched the rain coming down about a US President who had extra-marital sex with a woman in the oval office. Now, based on the "logic" of responses to the Foly affair, we should find a way to paint all married heterosexual men as unfaithful, unethical jerks who shouldn't be allowed to hold any responsible position. Yet in that case, there was a narrow paint brush used, aimed solely at one person. In the Foly situation it seems that the paint is being applied with a Wagner Power Roller or a fire hose, shooting blame and innuendo on anyone who is part of the "out crowd." Mark Foley's unethical behavior is his, not mine and not yours. I wonder what would have happened if his emails had been to a female staffer. His behavior does not make anyone a pedophile, nor does it negate your right or mine to love whom we will love and to have that love and relationship affirmed and recognized by church and state. For the sake of you southpaws out there, I sure hope Mark FOley is right handedIf he's left handed, then by logical extension, all left handed people have become suspect. Come on, America, wake up! Let's put this mess behind us and look at some of the real problems in our country and world -- war, economy, discrimination, etc. But, oh no, it is much easier to jump on a popular bandwagon and to point accusing fingers at entire groups of people based on the actions of one than to stand up and take action in things that really matter to all people. What's the answer? Let's hold each individual accountable for his or her actions without labeling everyone else. Come on people, let's grow up and get on with solving some real problems!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Moving Forward

I last posted on Sunday and since that time have been very busy. Most of Monday was spent doing work around the apartment complex. Besides dealing with the usual tenat problems, I arranged with a woman in the neighborhood to come and cut up the two trees that fell in last week's storms. If I'd waited for my boss to come down with his chainsaw, it would be next week or sometime in the next millenium. I already waited a week for him--hmmmm! Then it was dealing with the results of the state inspection from June and answering questions for the big boss. Finally, I was able to get away and head for Ben's to share in his birthday. I had hoped to be there waiting when he got home from work, but that didn't happen. I got there and we went out to dinner before he had to head out for a rehearsal. When he got home, we celebrated his birthday in "style" and turned in for a night's sleep. Today I had an appointment to see about a temp job in Ben's town. I arrived early and was doing well until I discovered that my wallet was in the pants I took off last night. So I made a mad dash to the house, got the wallet, and headed back -- arriving 5 minutes late (I called them to say I was running late). Everything went well and there is a strong possibility that it will become a reality. Then it was home and back to the grind. That's all for this post. Have a great day.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday Night

Another weekend is winding down and I am both exhilerated and exhausted. Ben arrived Friday evening after work and we had a quiet night at home. Saturday dawned cool but beautiful. We headed out starting with a tour of the annual Red Flannel Day celebration in Cedar Springs. The trip included breakfast, craft fair, street vendors and more. After we finished that tour, we did some shopping, and then headed out to enjoy the beautiful day. As usual, Ben headed out, not sure where we were going. We headed toward Lake Michigan and ended up in Hoffmaster State Park right on the lake. We headed into the park and moved toward the dune climb. Now, I had no idea how far we would climb, but part of the climb is pictured above. Once we went up the ramp and down the wooded pathway, we came to what I affectionately call "the killer stairs". There are 168 steps up to an observation deck overlooking the lake from 775 feet above sea level. The other picture above is taken from the deck and is just a hint of the beautiful colors we saw during the day. After we came back down (again 168 steps), we went by to visit Ben's good friends -- it's kind of neat meeting folks important to him and introducing him to people I know -- makes a real couple out of us eh? The it was off to lunch to celebrate his birthday (TOMORROW!!--drop a note)and finally back home for some much needed rest. Much of today was church related stuff and then home for some rest and together time before he headed home to get ready for tomorrow's workday. On another good note, i have a job interview Tuesday that if it happens will allow Ben and I to be together all the time --send us good thoughts. That's all to report today; hug someone and tell 'em you love 'em -- and mean it!!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Rainy Wednesday

It has been raining and storming all night here and the power even went off for a little bit. I love waking up to blinking electric clocks that have absolutely no idea what time it is, but instead blink how long it's been since the power came back on. Between the clocks and the effect that power outages can have on the computer it's been quite a morning. Of course, why should today be any different? I came back from my busy weekend, hoping to have a day or two to kick back and relax -- HA HA! Monday I had some major chores in the building and a meeting at church. Tuesday I tried to catch up on finances, get some churdch stuff done, and make nice with the tenants, all followed by another meeting at church it's budget time. That opens a whole new topic of conversation here.

It seems that our income is lagging behind where it needs to be and that creates a dichotomy between our "business based" leaders and our "faith based" leaders. The business camp wants to reduce expenses to match current income; the rest want to make responsible decisions regarding expenses, but build in some challenges in the giving department. Some say "The church is a business!" Otheres say, "The church needs to run with some business principles, but we need to follow the leading of God and step forward in faith. There is yet another budget meeting next week and I fear it will not be fun -- probably rank right up there with a root canal without pain killers. I really need some input here, folks -- how do we address the two camps that are forming so as to reach a consensus that we can present to the members? So, as I continue to watch it rain, I will be pondering the philosophical and theological impllications of the ages old church budgeting process. All Jesus had to do was go tot the cross -- thank God he didn't have to sit in budget meetings. Can you tell how happy this process makes me?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Bizarre Adventure

I had a first time ever expereience the other day at the conference hotel. I entered the men's room to take care of business (Now keep it clean, guys). As I entered, I encountered a woman fixing her hair in front of the mirror. For a split second, I htought I had made a tactical error, but then I noticed the wall full of urinals and I knew I hadn't goofed. She looked and said, "Oops, I guess I'm in the wrong room." DOn't you love it when people state the obvious? I laughed it off and went ahead and did what I was there for as she headed out the door. Now I wonder why she didn't see the urinals -- or was she in there for some purpose other than potty? Had she met up with someone for some quick fun? Who knows? Anyway, it was pretty weird and I lived this long in life before experiencinf it. Does this stuff happen often??

Back and Beat

Well, as promised in my last post, it's Sunday and I am home and posting again. The conference I attended was wonderful and energizing, but also very tiring. Somehow the going to bed time and the waking up time are too close together. I took time out of the schedule to have lunch with Ben on Friday and with Mother on Saturday. I headed back this morning and stopped off to see Ben and to pick up the dog. Ben and I had some time together, but I was so tired that I really needed to head for home. We have reached a point where we agree that I need to find a job that will allow us to be together on a regular basis. One of the hundreds of resumes will come through eventually, but the waiting is stressful on both of us. Tomorrow morning it will be back to the job searches and more resumes going out. It will also be back to work at the complex -- cleaning up whatever messes the tenants made in my absence. And it will be a busy church week with meetings three nights in a row -- more exhaustion. But life is good and God is blessing.