What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


He has the kind of writing style that makes his characters so totally believable (even though the main character in this book is a 10th century monk), and the story so fascinating that you don't want to put his book down. Byzantium is about the pilgrimage of a band of Cele De monks from Ireland on a mission to deliver a prized copy of The Book of Kells to the Holy Roman Emporer in the far off capital city. What happens along the way not only makes for an exciting adventure story but also a stirring tale of the work of God across the years of our lives in the episodes that test our faith.

I guess you would classify this book as historical fiction - since monks from 10th century Ireland did end up in the situations the book depicts. But I won't give those situations away should you happen to want to read the book.

Published in 1996, I've been meaning to get to this book for some time. Glad that vacation finally afforded me the free time to enjoy this thick reading treat.

Aidan, the Irish monk whose personal struggles are chronicled in Lawhead's novel, like all of us, wrestles more with what goes on inside his heart and mind than he does with life's cruel twists of fate. I would use this story as a sermon illustration if it weren't so long and didn't have so many plot twists.

Aidan could be a Bible character; his struggles parallel those of Joseph in some ways. My favorite passage in the book is how he tells the Vikings the story of the cross in a way they can understand. I shed a few tears there - not only because I thought of the cross, but also because I long for more adventures in my own life to share the Good News with those who have yet to hear. It's a great example of cross-cultural evangelism - even though Aidan is wrestling to hold on to his faith. I think it reminded me there's a price to be paid to lay a foundation for spreading the Gospel.

This is my first foray into Lawhead's skillful storytelling. I will take another trip when the thrift store coughs up another title.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Family Vacation Recap

Deb likes the beach and I prefer the mountains. This was beach year for family vacation. We rented a villa this past week with our two daughters and their husbands. Our son Brandon and his wife Keshia just recently returned from their honeymoon so they weren't with us this year.

We spent the week at Seagrove Beach in Florida - on the Gulf Coast.

My main thought about family vacation this year was that it sure is good that your kids still want to vacate with you even after they are grown and out on their own!

My second thought was it sure was good to have three couples to split the expenses and the cooking and cleaning with!

Our last full day was spent eating at a restaurant called Boatyard overlooking the water, followed by a by a two-hour boatride on the Sea Screamer. We saw a lot of dolphins and got a lot of sun.

It was good to read and rest (notice Deb and I both with books in our hands in the picture above) and more than anything to be with our family that we love more than anything!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Guitar Prayer Precisely Answered

Reached the big 5-0 plateau last Wednesday, June 7. My wife, children and church family helped me celebrate.

I have been praying for well over two years for a better guitar to play as rhythm guitarist for the church's worship team. I finally decided I wanted to buy a Blueridge acoustic/electric, but last year when I went to the local dealer's shop here in town that sells them, he had none in stock and didn't know exactly what one would cost since they were a new addition to this line of guitars. I came close to buying something else a time or two but wanted to keep praying and see what God would do in answer to prayer.

First, a young family in the church approached me several weeks ago with a gift of $150 for the guitar fund. The husband was in a small Wednesday night prayer group with me and another man in the church where I requested prayer for a new guitar.

Next, a bunch of folks in the church gave me gift cards to bookstores and restaurants at the "surprise" party Deb threw for me on the Friday night before my actual birthday. One couple gave me $50 cash toward a new guitar.

Next, my family got together (without my knowledge) and plotted to give me money for my 50th birthday on the day after my birthday when we were all together for my son's wedding in Indiana. Their gifts came to $465.

Before I left Alabama to go to Indiana for our son's wedding, the church treasurer approached me with a gift from the church for $100 for my birthday - at the direction of the deacon/trustee board.

If you're keeping pace, that comes to $765. No one, including myself, knew the cost of the guitar that I was specifically interested in purchasing. No one but God.

I picked up my new guitar and case today. (That's a picture of it above.) It came to $765.72 - tax included.

I almost asked the dealer to knock off the 72 cents - but the amount was close enough for me to recognize the hand of God in answering my prayer!

I realize this is not a large amount. It's just that it reinforces the principle that, if you wait on the Lord, you not only get your prayers answered - but you also have the confidence that the time is right.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Wedding Results

Our son Brandon's marriage to Keshia yesterday was great. [Here with our son and his bride at the reception are his sisters (Brooke & Bethany - on the far left and the far right) and some of his Atwood cousins (Jared, Justin, Rachel and Candace) Thanks for the pic Candace!]

I am sitting here at Brandon's computer composing this blog entry while he and his bride are on their honeymoon. I only got choked up once during the ceremony, which is not bad because I am real tenderhearted about our three children. (I can't imagine what a softie I am going to be when the grandchildren start arriving - the first is due this fall - Brooke and Matthew's son - they're still working on a name). Having officiated for all three of our children's weddings has been one of life's greatest blessings for me. To see them each marry a wonderful godly person has been the fulfillment of a life goal for their mother and me.

Brandon is youth and worship pastor at his church here in Indiana. He's been here for four years and met Keshia in the church here. She is completing her degree at Ball State University in Muncie. They went to Montreal for their honeymoon. It was great to be here with Deb and Brooke and Matthew, Brandon and Keshia, and Bethany and David. Time with all of them is always too short. Heading back to Huntsville, Alabama shortly. Today is one of my rare Sundays away from Pathway Church. I know I will be thinking of the church and praying for them while I am on the road.