Peaks and Valleys of Living the Life

They say variety is the spice of life. One must be careful how that is applied, but I think I can see their point. Last week my family and I drove from our beautiful East Tennessee mountain home to southern Florida and back. Our route took us down I-26. The course between Erwin,TN and Asheville, NC is one of the most picturesque drives in our nation. As we left, I made sure Ellie took note of the scenery and she took her glance away from her DVD movie screen long enough to give me a token, “Wow!” and back in she went.

South Florida presented a different, but equally satisfying vista as we walked along the sandy beach, palm trees swaying underneath the force of the sea breeze and waves billowing forth in blue/green splendor.

We returned home to Tennessee only five days later, but those five days gave time to intensify the magnitude of the amazing fall foliage. Those days away from the mountain majesty only served to strengthen our appreciation upon our return.

Life truly is full of diversity in many ways.

Yesterday, my experiences ran the pastoral gamut of emotions. My morning consisted of a few visits in the hospital to some folk whose health had taken a sudden down turn. My afternoon brought a meeting with some folks in the midst of personal struggle and in need of guidance and prayer. Then, last night, I was able to share the glorious gospel with one who was seeking and further honored to get to see him repent and confess Jesus as his Savior and Lord. What a day!

May you be reminded today of the truth of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, there is a time for everything under the sun. Perhaps you are in a time and place where things don’t seem so grand. Take heart! In Christ alone you will find that though times and seasons are sure to change, they can always change for the better.

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Fall Break 2012: A Rapid Review

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Up until a few weeks ago we had no plans to go anywhere for Ellie’s fall break. But after exchanging messages with my cousin and new sister in Christ, Audra, we decided to make a trip to Florida so I could have the honor of baptizing her. More about that in another blog later.

After driving to Hollywood, FL for those festivities, we circled back to take Ellie to Universal Studios / Islands of Adventure. Here are a few quick, random thoughts:

The Florida Turnpike (toll road through the middle of Florida) is proud of their road. If what I paid is indicative of what kind of money that thing takes in, it ought to be paved with gold bricks.

When did Americans stop going to theme parks? I’m not trying to be a nationalist, but I felt like I’ve spent two days at the United Nations.

European people dress funny. I’ve never seen so many men wearing clam digger short pants in one place. Oh… and ma’am, where I come from women wear shirts over those particular garments.

Remember when tattoos were for the rebels? I’m beginning to think I’m the rebel by NOT having one. Nothing against them, they’re just everywhere now. I saw a few islands that were a few biscuits away from being continents if you know what I mean.

The Hulk roller coaster is the first roller coaster I’ve seen that might be as impressive and awe-inspiring just watching it as it is riding it. According to my family, it rocks! It also roars.

After waiting in line for 45 minutes at the Harry Potter Fobidden Journey attraction and getting all the way to the loading area, I was pulled out of line and told, “I’m sorry sir, but we cannot accomodate a person of your size.” Yes, that happened. I must say, the next few minutes were not very pastoral. It’s a good thing I didn’t have a $32 Voldemort magic wand in my hand at the time or I would have gone all mad muggle on him.

Best Food: Mythos Restaurant at Islands of Adventure. I had Pad Thai with chicken. Excellent.

Best Treat: Butter Beer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Before my deacons assemble, it’s just a cream soda.

Coolest New Tech: Two venues, Disaster! at Universal Studios and Harry Potter’s Forbidden Voyage use Musion Systems 3D Holographic projection technology. Christopher Walken looks like he is really there walking around a stage as Frank Kincaid, the bumbling director of “Mutha Nature” in the Disaster! attraction and Harry, Hermione and Ron look like they’re really standing in a balcony in Hogwarts Castle. Cool stuff.

Best Attraction Overall: The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman in 3D. It was the best combination of sensory/techno/thrill ride I have ever experienced.

Seemed like a third of Universal Studios was under construction. That was kind of a let down.

The Twister attraction at Universal Studios hasn’t changed. Seeing Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt in low definition video from 16 years ago as part of the setup is kind of nostalgic. The attraction is still pretty cool though.

The Dr. Seuss Landing and the comic strip area brought back a lot of memories.

If you love rides and coasters then Islands of Adventure is for you. However, all things being equal, I still prefer the magic of Walt Disney World. Take away a few of the rides at Islands of Adventure and it wouldn’t be close.

I have great family and friends, but I would rather spend time with my beautiful wife and daughter than anyone else on earth. I think that’s healthy.

I wish we had a Whole Foods in Kingsport. We shopped in one here in Orlando and really liked it.

If you find yourself in Orlando, look up Anthony’s Coal-fired Pizza. They have some great pizza and oven-roasted chicken wings.

If my current vocation doesn’t pan out, I’m banking on J. K. Rowling needing a new agent.

Parts of Orlando remind me of Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg. Unfortunately, it’s the not-so-great parts.

And finally…

If you will repent of your sins and confess Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, I will come baptize you and write a review of cool things in your area too.