Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Redemption Project!

The Redemption Project! It starts tomorrow, September 1st. For a church of 500 or so, this is a major leap forward and a huge milestone in the short 5+ year history of our church - Summit Crossing Community Church (SCCC), in Madison, AL. Tami & I looked for almost 1 year in Madison, Huntsville, and surrounding communities for a church before we found SCCC. Remarkably, it is only 2 miles from our home. We would actually attend an early service at a church on one side of town, and then drive to the other side of town to attend a later service somewhere else in our attempt to find a church home.

When we lived in Lexington, KY, we attended Southland Christian Church for over 20 years. It is your classic contemporary mega-church (~8000 people) with facilities, programs, and staff that most other churches would envy in a heartbeat. Something right is going on there, because it continues to flourish and thrive as one of the most effective Christian churches in the country. The church has expanded and refreshed several times thus requiring at least two capital campaigns.

Maybe we were looking for something similar to Southland as we searched the Huntsville area. There are no churches here that are the size of Southland, but we have found a smaller group of believers that are authentic, Bible-believing, and loving. We were looking for a place that taught from the Bible, had up-to-date contemporary praise & worship, was mission-minded, loved God & people, and had places for us to plug-in and serve. We found it at SCCC.

We attend church on Sundays at 5 PM, co-lead & host a group of Young Adults (18-25 people) at our home each Monday night, and attend a community small group (our age) each Wednesday night. We are plugged-in and lovin' it! Our current church facility is not large enough for small groups to use on Sundays. We have maxed out our space, even with three identical services. So, the leaders have been looking for alternatives for some time now. This brings me back to The Redemption Project....

The facility used to be a Sunbeam bread-making company. Then it was used as a party place - not birthday parties, but a strip club and dance club. We will be renovating the facility... kind of like "redeeming" it. We hope that this newest use of the building will redeem hearts, lives, and relationships. One of our ministers stated that he hopes the same women & men that frequented the club, would one day revisit this location and change their lives for eternity.

We are trying to raise $300K for renovations. Today was the day for our Redemption Project offering. I pray that we get off to a great start, and never look back. We are excited about the future and hope that this Redemption Project will not be only about buildings and money - but about changing and redeeming lives - starting with ours. Stay tuned....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dear Savannah 2...

Hey Savannah... it's your Granddad!

I know you probably don't remember me, but I am the guy who flew 1/2 way 'round the world to greet you in person on your birthday. I was there for 2 weeks while you played hard-to-get.... remember? But, finally we met and I was blessed to spend almost 2 days with you.

Now, you are are a little over 5 weeks old and already you are changing into an even more beautiful person than when I last held you. You really are beautiful! I know that all grandparents say that about their new bundles of joy, but just between us.... you REALLY ARE gorgeous.... really!! Maybe it's because you look a lot like me..... yeah right! And, you even seem to be beautiful on the inside & the outside.

Your Mom says that you are very pleasant, sleep well, feed well, and have longer hair than me. That's OK..... I'm man enough to take it. Other than the hair-thing, I'm also pleasant, sleep well, and feed well too. I hope you will continue to cooperate with your parents and continue to grow into a healthy, God-loving, young Windsor.

I am so much looking forward to your visit here in December. Of course, it will be good to see your Mom & Dad too, but I really can't wait to hold you again, change some nappies, snuggle with you, and just enjoy your company - even in the middle of the night, if need be. Your visit will be the highlight of our holiday season. And you will be the highlight of my heart...

You have been part of our family for only 5 weeks so far, but I often think about how much you have in store and how God might truly use your life in the future, for years to come. It's something that Granddads do, I guess.... think about the future possibilities of their new granddaughters.

You'll get to know me better in the future. I can't wait! You can already melt my heart young lady. Savannah, I have missed you greatly already, and can't wait to kiss your chubby, soft little cheeks. Hurry to see us! I love you so much, Savvy..... Granddaddy...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do Opposites Really Attract??

I hate to shop... she loves it. I love sports.... She goes to a game mainly to socialize. I use almost no covers in bed.... she uses socks, sweats, and several blankets. I put things back where they belong... she places them where ever its convenient. I am a "Type A".... she is not. Do we seem like opposites to you? We've been married for over 27 years and it still amazes me how really different we are!

I suppose we have as many similarities as we do differences, but sometimes the differences drive me crazy, even after 27+ years. But, just what are the really important things....?

Religion: To me it was critical that we shared the same faith. We might even be at different places along our spiritual path, but at least we are both headed in the same direction. The differences always involved where we should plug-in and serve. Should we serve separately or as a couple? Consequently, I changed many diapers in the nursery, helped Tami teach elementary kids, served in the high school ministry, and now we both help out with Young Adults. Usually, we served together, but not always.

Children: I was OK with 2 or 3.... she wanted 5 or 6! This is a big difference! We had three... I won! And they're great! My theory was that getting a table at Applebee's for 4 or 5 people was much easier than getting a table for 7 or 8. Actually, now, we never eat at Applebee's anyway.

Decision Making: I am too logical... she is not. I am conservative... she takes risks. I take too long to decide... she is faster. I make a final decision.... she changes it. Hmmm?!

People Styles: Tami is a "People Person"! She LOVES talking to people (in person, on the phone, on Facebook, etc.). I enjoy solitude. After church, she loves to stay behind and talk to everyone! This past Sunday, we were actually the LAST 2 people to leave. I was ready to depart 30 minutes earlier. Hungry!!

Finances: If it weren't for me, Tami would be in jail by now. No worries though - there are many people there that she could talk to. I pay the bills... She spends most of the money - usually buying things for other people.

Emotions: Tami is very compassionate and caring.... This is not my gift. She is encouraging and helpful. This is not my gift. Are you seeing a trend? I prefer to organize and delegate. But, we both cry as we watch "Extreme Home Makeover".

Even with all of these differences, we are a great pair. Maybe it's a ying & yang thing... Maybe it's a "You complete me" thing.... maybe we are actually attracted to the attributes in each other that we ourselves lack...? Not sure, but I do know this. She's the one for me, even if she does drive me crazy. There's no one else I'd rather be crazy with.... She's asleep on the couch right now.... I think I'll change the channel to ESPN....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What Do You Read...?

How much do you read everyday? What do you read? Why do you read it? When do you read? I've been thinking about where I spend my time each day, and how much of it is attributed to reading...

You've heard that "Readers are Leaders!" Well, most everyone reads, right? Maybe not... I know plenty of people that actually hate to read. Of course they read billboards, packaging labels, street signs, and maybe occasional headlines. But, to sit down and actually spend time reading something of duration.... well, it ain't gonna happen. Often they prefer to be read to - usually via the television or other video means.

For me? Everyday at work I peruse the following web sites for starters:

Reference Desk - You might enjoy this one.

I also get a daily positive quote and a short daily devotion e-mailed to me. I read them all...

In the print arena, I read these:

The Huntsville Times local newspaper

I almost always have a novel in progress from some of my favorite authors:

Ted Dekker - Christian Fiction
Dean Koontz - Suspense and Mystery
Francine Rivers - Christian Fiction
And of course, The Bible... (here is an on-line version for you)

Our home office library is full of books. Many are non-fiction, reference, fiction, etc. We even still have a complete set of encyclopedias....! Talk about obsolete!
But they look good on the
shelf.... and maybe our 1-month old granddaughter will get a kick out of them someday.

Not sure if I'm a good leader, but I certainly enjoy reading! Do you?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Football vs Basketball ??

Tami & I lived in Lexington, KY, for almost 24 years. In Lexington we raised kids, plugged into a church, made great friends, endured ice storms, cheered for UK, built 2 houses, and grew deep roots.

We've lived in Madison, AL, (just outside Huntsville) since July 2006... 3 years. For almost three years prior to that, I actually lived in Huntsville during the week and returned to Lexington on the weekends. That was not much fun - although I did become a Delta Platinum Medallion Member during that time....

So, even though the duration scale is tipped in favor of KY, I recently wondered about and reflected upon the differences between KY and AL. Now granted, there are huge differences even within each individual state itself. I mean Louisville and Lexington are quite different from places in, say... eastern KY..... as Birmingham and Huntsville differ from the lower central part of AL. Anyway let's give it a try....

In KY, when you ask for tea, it automatically comes unsweetened... in AL, it's sweet - really sweet. It goes nicely with the Alabama BBQ that seems to be everywhere.... and not just chain restaurants....I mean "real, real BBQ places". Granted, NASCAR is popular in both states, but horse racing rules in KY. One could also argue however, that Talladega is where racing really happens...

The weather is usually similar in both states too. The temperature difference between Lexington and Huntsville generally averages about 7 - 10 degrees, with Huntsville being warmer. The big difference is winter.... no snow on the ground in AL! We get occasional flurries, but I have never seen more than a brief, "gone by 10AM" dusting... and when this "dusting" is forecasted, the bread & milk are gone!! KY can get significant accumulations, including ice. Remember the recent ice storms? Don't miss those!

But without a doubt, the biggest difference between AL and KY, is the passion for college football versus college basketball. When in KY, I thought no one could ever top the passion and excitement the fans exude toward UK (and U of L) basketball. Never could I have imagined what goes on in AL, however, regarding Alabama and Auburn football. Where basketball is king in KY, football reigns in AL. It even starts in high school... high school football games are attended, followed, and promoted just about as much as college.

I remember one time in Huntsville when Tami was shopping in a store and she spied a person wearing a UK shirt under an opened zip-up jacket. She ran up to the person and exclaimed, "Hey! Another UK Fan! Hello, I'm from KY too!". The person strangely said nothing, but simply opened their jacket further to reveal the dreaded word "DUKE" written across the tee shirt. If only I had had a camera....

I am clearly a UK basketball fan, and am earnestly looking forward to the upcoming season with new Coach "C". But, when it comes to football, I have yet to declare a favorite. This is intentional of course. You see, you can make and break friendships based on your choice of team colors... and, I don't have many friends.... so I want to keep the one's I have. Consequently, in AL, I'm currently riding the fence. I'll attend both Auburn and Alabama football games and yell and scream with the rest of the rabid fans, accordingly.

I'm sure there are other differences, but mainly, the people are the same. There are good and bad folks no matter where you are. We miss friends in KY, but we have made wonderful friends in AL. If you're in the area, stop by.... we'll be watching either Auburn or Alabama beat up on most of the SEC teams, while we eat our BBQ ribs & drink our sweet tea. Of course, that's just until basketball season begins...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Summer Vacation...

A whole summer is whittled down to the last 3 days in Alabama... Tuesday, my son Jordan returns to Upland, IN, for his Senior year at Taylor University. (Why the name Upland? It's the highest point in Indiana.) We have really enjoyed having Jordan spend his final summer with us. Unfortunately, he was unemployed for most of the break. He did yard work for us, neighbors, and church, but serious money was clearly not in his summer plans.

I was reflecting on the pros and cons of Jordan spending the summer with us.... check these out:

  1. We got some serious yard work accomplished that Tami has been asking me to do for a long time.
  2. The main sign at our church got repainted - and I didn't have to do it...
  3. There was someone here to keep Cody alive and house-sit while we were in Australia. It would have cost me big bucks to board the dog for 2 weeks.
  4. I had someone to eat sushi with.
  5. I had someone to ride bikes with.
  6. I had someone to see "District 9" with... definitely not a chick flick. Be careful....
  7. Tami had someone, besides Cody, with her each day while I was at work. I believe she enjoyed Jordan's company, but not his debate-style of conversation regarding The New Perspective on Paul. Cody just listens....
  8. We got to see Bethany, Jordan's girlfriend, a couple of times this summer. It probably wouldn't have happened if he hadn't been living with us.
  9. He sharpened my humor and hoisted my humility. Jordan is a very funny guy. The problem is... he thinks he's funnier than me... no way dude! (humble, right?)
  10. He demonstrated that 21-year old college seniors can in fact have a solid and meaningful relationship with his parents.
  1. My utility bills increased by at least 33% over the summer. For some reason, he can't remember to turn off light switches.... he also struggles with placing items back in their original "home" location. Hmm, might be a DNA thing....
  2. Chick flicks will now return to the Bolte family of entertainment choices.
  3. I will be eating much less sushi at my favorite restaurant, Mikawa. Tami won't touch the stuff. Although, the last time she accompanied me to Japan, she actually tried eating sea urchin. I won't even eat that! Now I can't get her close to any of it....
  4. Tami will have to return to "Cody conversations" during the day while I am at work.
  5. Cycling will be a solo activity again.... I wonder if Tami would consider it? Yeah right....
  6. We won't have anyone in the house sleeping 'till noon....
  7. The heady, philosophically-rich spiritual debates will come to an end. Fundamentally, Tami and I are very simple people... often our heads would just about explode after an exchange with Jordan... check out his blog! You'll see a marked difference between his and mine...
  8. Since Jordan was here with us, Tami felt compelled to go shopping - more than usual... yep, just looking for an excuse to buy something for someone... If any of our kids decided to come home and live with us.... well, I'm guessing it'd be Christmas everyday! Dude, get out of town!
  9. No one to do "guy stuff" with.... you know: cussing, smoking, spitting on the floor, sitting around in our underwear, watching science fiction movies, eating junk food (butter pecan ice cream!), etc.
  10. Realizing that this is the final time we will have Jordan living with us. All of our kids know that they are welcome to come home anytime... for as long or as short as they want to stay... anytime!
We have a 7-hour drive ahead of us as we move Jordan into his campus apartment. It's exciting that he is finishing his college experience and will spring board into his upcoming future next year. What will his future hold? Not sure.... but at least for now, I can say we certainly enjoyed our summer vacation with Mr. Jordan Bolte....

Sunday, August 9, 2009

It's Just a Cup of Coffee...

In November I will have been with my current employer for 22 years. It's been quite a journey during the last couple of decades. When I think back to the starting point in 1987, I can realize that many changes have taken place, from then 'till now. I have also learned and experienced many things that have helped developed me into the person I am today.

I've been to Japan about 35 times. It's a wonderful country and culture. It's also a long flight from Madison, AL to Nagoya, Japan! I have stayed in Japan as long as 2 weeks, and as short as 24 hours. Actually, the 24 hour trip was the easiest because you're not there long enough to be effected by the time zone change. If you can get through the 24 hours in Japan, the return jet lag is almost zero. Twenty years ago there wasn't much English signage, no English TV stations, no English newspapers, no English spoken in taxi cabs, no Internet to speak of, and very delayed telephone connections. Young Japanese students would look at us and point. It was like we were some kind of alien in their home land.... I guess we really were. One time several young Japanese girls actually convinced us to get our picture made with them standing next to a life-sized replica of KFC's Colonel Sanders. They giggled through the entire episode. It was a bit challenging.

But today, it is an extremely comfortable place to visit. Several English TV stations are available via satellite, high speed Internet is common in even the smallest of local hotels, phone calls are high quality, English newspapers and magazines are up-to-date and accessible. Even the cab drivers are much more comfortable speaking to foreigners in the English language. No longer do the locals point us out or even recognize that we are there.... no more pictures with the Colonel! Despite the long flight to the Far East, I always enjoy the people, country, and experiences in Japan.

The thing I have realized the most in the past 20+ years is that "people are people" - no matter where you live, or where you're from. There are strong people, and weak people... smart ones and not-so-smart ones... humans are humans. You can see Mothers caring for their children, business people caring for their careers, and children just being carefree. We may all look different, but mostly, we are all the same.

I've also learned to think more deeply about many things. (you probably don't realize that from reading my blog posts...) Here's one good example that I often recite: After only 2 weeks on the job in Georgetown, KY, I went to the cafeteria with my Japanese colleague to get a cup of coffee. I proceeded to approach the industrial-type coffee machine, lift the lever, and place the hot java in my cup. Then I moved to the right and poured some milk into the coffee. Then I also added a bit of sugar to the cup. After a final stir with the small plastic stirrer, I was ready to pay for and consume my beverage.

But before I could leave the coffee station my Japanese partner asks " what are you doing?" I stated that "I was getting coffee". It was at this precise moment that I thought, "maybe working here is going to be tougher than I thought". But, then he said, "but why are you doing it that way?" Well.... I said, "this is the way we get coffee in Kentucky...". Then he said, "but, why are you doing it in that sequence"? Well I hadn't thought too deeply about why I was getting coffee that way... in that sequence. So, I said "I don't know, why?" He stated that "when you put the milk in the coffee before the sugar, the temperature of the drink lowers, and the sugar doesn't dissolve at quickly as it would otherwise". "Man, I'm just getting coffee!" was the only thing I remember saying. But, in that first early encounter, he was teaching me to think more deeply - about everything. Whether it's a big business decision, or simply making a cup of coffee.

There have been many examples in the past 20+ years that are similar to the story above. And, I suppose I will continue to learn everyday as I encounter people from all sorts of backgrounds and with a wide variety of experiences. Maybe I can even pass some of them along to other people along the way. So... what can I glean from all of this? I drink my coffee black now!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

One Way Detour...

Today I rode a familiar route on by bicycle... it happened to be 26.5 miles. But, I changed it up a bit - I reversed the route. I covered the same ground, but in reverse. It was intriguing to me how everything seemed different and new. It was the same scenery as usual, but it felt like I was covering the route for the very first time. When you're riding for 1.5 hours, you have time to think. I think about many thing usually - why does my butt hurt so much, why do my legs feel like cement, what if someone clips me on my left while passing, etc. Also, I usually wonder at the beauty of the back roads in North Alabama. Early on a Saturday morning, the fields of corn, cotton, etc. seem wonderful as you pass by at 18 MPH. Very freeing and relaxing - even if your butt does finally go numb.

But today I thought about taking different paths and ending up at the same destination. I covered the route in reverse and everything seemed different - but I actually traveled the same path and ended up at the same place. People do this in life. Maybe there isn't just one way to travel. Maybe each of us takes different paths because we're wired differently, have different strengths and weaknesses, contend with unique and different circumstances, make wise and/or unwise decisions, or sometimes just don't know what to do - so we just fall forward in a particular direction.

But, I believe that some paths might be harder than others, even if they do eventually end up at the same place. Some paths might take longer... some might be tougher given a certain time of life... some might go it alone.... some might wait for others to join.... Anyway, while on my bike today, I decided that my way & method isn't the "only" way. My way is "one" way, but others might have their "own" way. I need to respect that. Honestly, sometimes I really feel that my way could be an easier path, but nevertheless, each person needs to contend with their own circumstances and decisions. Diverse opinions and ideas really do make us stronger.

Today's ride was good, but I believe I like the original route better. Why? Not sure.... I just remember that when I rode the original path several weeks ago, my butt felt great! That's good enough for me....

Friday, August 7, 2009

Do's & Don'ts for a Senior

In about 10 days, our son Jordan, will be headed off to begin his senior year at Taylor University, near Indianapolis. I've been thinking about what I would like to tell him before he leaves. You know, something wise and brilliant... something fatherly and discerning.... something that he will always remember and even share with others. After all, he was elected the school's Student Body President (SBP) for 2009/2010. So, he needs some practical & tactical advice from the person he admires the most in this world: Dad! (Maybe that last part was a bit over the top....)

So here are a few Do's and Don'ts that are chocked full of years of experience, value and usefullness for the new President:
  • Don't participate in, let alone organize, any campus-wide pantie raids

  • Don't let people bash the South - maybe you're one of only 2 students from Alabama

  • Don't let your SBP duties negatively effect your grades - after all, we are still paying gobs of money for this final year of education.

  • Don't stay up all night playing "Lord of the Ring" Risk, and then miss your first Board Meeting with the Taylor Administration.

  • Don't forget to call home every once in a while to see how Mom & Dad are doing, and to recharge your confidence.

  • Don't hesitate to begin looking for a new job - jobs are scarce - start networking now!

  • Do remember to check your fly before you get up to give speeches or address an audience - you don't want to be remembered as the Taylor SBP that had the "wardrobe malfunction".

  • Do things that will represent the majority of the students - you can't please everyone, but you can listen to many diverse opinions.

  • Do put people ahead of projects. People will remember you - projects won't.

  • Do strike the right balance between faculty, administration, and student relationships.

  • Do have fun your last year of college - being SBP is a wonderful responsibility and honor, but fully experiencing the senior year of college is a treat in itself.
  • Do keep in mind that there's always enough time to do the right thing!

  • Do always remember how proud your parents are of you... really!!

There you go.... maybe not priceless, but certainly worth sharing with your room mates, at least. Don't forget to call.....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Are you Addicted?

Things are pretty much back to normal. My wife, Tami, has seemed to have overcome her jet lag, all of the mail has been reviewed, the bills are caught up, the house is still standing, and the dog is still alive. I was in Australia for two weeks - Tami was there for three. She struggled a bit longer with the time readjustment than I did. For the first few nights, she was coming to bed around 3 AM. You may have seen some Facebook entries at about that time.....

Speaking of addictions..... Do you Facebook? More than you should? Is there something else that is not being done because you have to leave a comment on FB? Do you update your status from your mobile device while stopped at a stop light? Maybe Tami's not that bad, but I would definitely classify it as an addiction.
The whole FB concept is very intriguing.... just to think that people actually care about your hour-to-hour (or minute-to-minute) status is amazing. Actually, I don't think people really care, but it's a great entry point into a conversation. Honestly, it was a very effective way for Tami to keep everyone up-to-date on the progress of our Australian adventures and the birth of our 1st grandchild, Savannah. After Savvy was born, and it was announced via FB, Tami received 37 pages of emails, generated by FB, congratulating her of Savvy's arrival. 37 pages of inbox messages!!

Selfishly, we have also advertised this blog site on Tami's FB. Over the 2 week period that I was down under, this blog was averaging 115 hits per day. Unbelievable, really!! But, the traffic clearly increased when it was mentioned on FB. FB was also a great place for us to post pictures of the trip. Many of you commented on those as well. Actually, many of you didn't comment about my blog on this actual blog site - you commented on the blog on Tami's FB. Interesting.....

This week our church is asking everyone to fast regarding some key decisions that need to be made. Of course most people give up food for a day or more. But, I wonder if it would be more of a sacrifice for Tami to give up Facebook? Could you easily give up FB for a few days? Honestly? By the way, I don't have a FB account. I simply refuse to personally buy-in to the concept. After all, if I want to see how and what everyone is doing.... I'll simply use Tami's account. And, look for more hints about visiting Jim's blog site.... if Tami will allow me....

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Welcome Home, Tami!

My wife, Tami, is returning from Sydney later tonight after spending 3 weeks with our new granddaughter and family. It is quite a journey to go round trip between Madison, AL and Sydney, Australia. In all, it's about 21 hours of flying time (1-way), not including the early airport arrivals and layovers. I know she will be beat tonight when I meet her at the airport.... I was - I made the exact same return trip just one week ago.

I can image that her departure from Sydney was a teary one.... It has to be bittersweet to leave the new addition, yet want to get home and stop living out of a suitcase. It was so hard for me to leave (see previous post) - it must be even harder for a Mom to leave her daughter and new baby. There's a very special bond there... I know Tami is envious when she speaks to other first-time grandma's. They talk about holding, playing with, buying for, helping, babysitting, giving advice, and showing off their new bundle of joy. And that 's the way it should be! So, leaving behind the chance to be able to do those things.... well it had to be hard....

But, on the positive side - she gets to come home to me!! Well, at least I'm excited... not sure about her yet. I have been home alone for the past week with Cody, our black 2 year old Flat Coated Retriever. In a nut shell, he doesn't like me.... He much prefers Tami. When I arrived home from Down Under last Saturday, his first reaction & greeting was: "Oh, it's you.... where's Tami??" But, nevertheless, I have faithfully returned home from work each day at lunchtime to ensure he is fed, watered, and alive. I expect he will be thrilled tonight when "his favorite" walks through the front door!!

We also received our 1st official grandparents gift since Savannah was born. It's a beautiful picture frame with the following engraved: "When a child is born.... so is a grandparent..." It is personalized with Savannah's name and birth date. Thanks Nao!

So, as of tonight, the Australian adventure will be complete. All in all, it was a trip of a lifetime... one we will never forget! Not sure if I'll ever get the chance to return, but hopefully someday.... In the meantime, it will be good to get our Alabama lives back to normal.... it will be good to see Tami again.... Maybe I'll meet Tami at the airport with flowers, maybe candy, maybe a big "Welcome Home" sign, maybe I'll even bring Cody with me.... Nah... I think a hot shower and her own bed might be all she needs.... No worries, Mate..... Welcome Home, Tami!!