Tuesday, August 24, 2010

You know that person in your family that has taken on geneological exploration in an attempt to establish your ancestral roots? Uncle Jack is that person in my family. The son of a sharecropping tobacco farmer, Uncle Jack eventually assumed a leadership position in the Department of Agriculture at the federal level. In their spare time, he and his wife "Aunt" Lottie (who didn't know her real name until her teenage years, and never went by it) have tracked down the Forlines' ancestry to the French Huguenots.

While visiting with them in the Raleigh-Durham area (and not, unfortunately, in southern France), Michelle and I were able to spend an evening with his older sister, my Great Aunt Christine, and her son Carl. Now Carl is 72 years old, so quick math will lead you to the truthful conclusion that Aunt Christine comes close to pre-dating the Huguenots. In fact, she was born during World War I, yes ONE (1918). But no one has told her she's old yet - she still wears high heals, hosts formal dinners, hops up-and-down the staircase in their house, and drives Carl around to deliver meals-on-wheels to the "old" folks in their neighborhood.

We enjoyed hearing about their lives and getting a tour of their museum/house and the fine antiquities displayed within.

Uncle Jack & Aunt Lottie took us on a rather fascinating field trip to see an art installation near their house. Although impressive during the day, it must also be seen at night. This multi-acre art installation is covered in thousands of reflectors. When approaching at night, car headlights bring the art to life, giving the illusion of a county carnival. Turn the headlights off (briefly) and watch the entire carnival disappear. Incredible! As an added treat, we ran into the artist on site. He's a young 92 years old.

The "Carnival"

Jack, Lottie, and the artist Vollis Simpson

Mr. Simpson's creations

Saturday, August 21, 2010

City Church of East Nashville pastor Craig Brown once said, "you haven't experienced real community with others until you have annoyed the stew out of each other."

I suppose we always thought of the Jubilee as being exclusively a joyful time - one filled with quality moments shared with our closest family and friends. Somehow we forgot that life still goes on, even during Jubilee, and that life this side of heaven is filled with trial, pride, and brokenness. This reminder came during our recent time in Nashville, where real-world responsibilities, strong-willed family members, and automotive difficulties tested our patience and righteousness. But as God has a tendency to do, He used our weaknesses to teach us about His strength, and we've gained a greater appreciation for His long-suffering and, ultimately, the promise of eternal perfection through the blood of His son, Jesus.

Lest we give the impression that our time in Nashville was completely miserable, it wasn't. As a matter of fact, overall our time was quite encouraging and enjoyable.

We visited with like-minded FWBs wanting to plunge completely into the gospel-starved bowels of inner-city Nashville, celebrated the beginning of the 23rd year of one sibling and the 27th year of another, experienced the cooling refreshment of Kingfisher Branch Creek, defied death-by-speeding-roller-racer, and pushed the limits of Farkel fun.

Although our issues associated with automotive dysfunction remained unresolved, we have ventured out from Nashville for a 6-week exploration of the exotic lands of the Carolinas.

Downhill Roller-Racer

Hangin' out at Kingfisher Branch Creek

A few Forlines men

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Michelle with the Battle family

Our two years in Memphis was a very fruitful time for both of us. One of our most cherished memories of Bluff City will always be the community of people God blessed us with being a part of. We were excited to see many of them recently while passing through on our way to Nashville.

We are currently reading Wisdom of Stability, a book about the value in rooting one's family in a particular place for the long term. Jubilee as described in scripture seems to work only when people find the wisdom of stability . . . for one thing, the duration of time (50 years) between each Jubilee presumes longevity. But more than that, the attitude expected of people toward their neighbors is more realistic when people are a part of an established community rooted in a place.

Although we do believe in the power of place identity, and are praying God will direct us to our place, our present Jubilee journey is teaching us the connection people can have to one another through Christ's love. The power that sustains the laws of the universe is deep enough to unite young and old, rich and poor, introverts and extroverts, Free Will Baptists and Presbyterians.

We all know there are forces vying to tear the body apart. We must rely on the power of the One who has claimed victory over everything, to give us the strength to overcome selfishness and hyper-individualism for the demonstration of His love to all.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

When Michelle and I were in the courting stage of our relationship, I asked her to name some things that uplifted and inspired her . . . one of her favorite things to do is summit a mountain. As we made our way to my boyhood home of Batesville, AR, I knew I wanted us to conquer the rocky crag of Sugarloaf. We couldn't understand just how good of an idea that was until we experienced that vast vista from the top.

The sweetest part of Batesville is the people: old high school buddies, former sunday school teachers, and family friends. Thanks to Mark C, the Prothros, and Wades for taking us in despite the hard times they received from me during the ol' days of mischief.

On the way to Memphis . . . a stopover at the mountain biking paradise of the Grassy Creek basin near Batesville. Back in high school, this land held a sacred place for our group of thrill-seeking daredevils equipped with Trek mountain bikes and adventurous spirits. More than a decade later, through vast expanses of natural beauty, the Grassy Creek territory is still able to inspire spiritual meditations and thoughts of our Creator - as well as a little fun.

Apparently, we weren't the only ones.

Jimmie, here we come.

Sumpin bout diamonds

We were trying to decide between New Orleans, LA and Murfreesboro, AR. Murfreesboro won. You may be asking "Why?" It was the lure of the treasure hunt. Murfreesboro has the only diamond mine in the world where you can keep what you find. That's where the diamond in my ring came from.

We found nothing but a piece of quartz.

Thanks to Greeson Dam, we spent the night at Greeson lake after a hard day of mining. We were the only tent in the camp for the night.