I cannot thank Vida enough for thinking of me in her nomination process. I thoroughly enjoy reading her blog “Good Graciousness” mainly because I share an affinity for those who are not comfortable with the prevailing definition of what it means to be a Christian/Conservative. I especially grow from reading blogs by women on this issue and Vida graciously challenges me with her observations!
Part of receiving this award includes answering a set of questions that Vida has prepared for me. So, here goes:
Why did you start your blog?
I was encouraged way back in 2006 to start a blog by a dear friend and former parishioner, Roy Blackwell. Truthfully, at the time I did not see the need and “A Pastor Ponders” kinda slipped away. However, shortly after moving to Princeton I felt a strong desire to “write” something beyond my normal weekly sermon. “Not Quite Home” developed from that desire. At first, I let my work as a pastor really determine the content, but in the last six months, I have moved the focus away from that and really have attempted to use this as a creative and spiritual development tool for myself. (Other than the short story “Sarah’s Story” I can’t recall the last sermon I posted. It just doesn’t seem to fit anymore.
What is your favorite hobby or activity – one that really makes you feel happy and peaceful?
This one is fairly easy to answer. I love to walk. Although the weather in Southern West Virginia isn’t great in the winter months, I still enjoy getting out as often as possible just to wander around. I have worked this in as my “reward” for completing certain things on my daily “to-do” list…if I actually manage to write one out. Either way, a good walk beings me happiness and peace. The best ones I remember were the hours and hours I walked the gorgeous Duke Memorial Gardens while a student at Duke. I can still smell the Japanese Paper Bushes blooming and even the memory brings me to a great place.
What is your favorite book?
This is almost like asking me which child is my favorite. My heart is literally torn as I look at the shelves of books across from me in this study. I honestly have to answer in two parts. My favorite book for reading purposes has to be the “Harry Potter Series.” I know that they were written as separate books, but give me any one of the seven – I will read it again. I think I am fond of these books because first, they got me interested in reading and writing again. Secondly, I read the first two volumes to my daughter Erin out loud. Those are memories I will cherish for a lifetime. (And yes, she read the others on her own. We did the midnight book purchasing together and, with her sister, even dressed in costume for midnight premieres of the movies – I was Professor Lupin.)
I also have a favorite book that sits on my shelf. It is Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” (Book VII). Once again, I love everything written by King, but this book is special to me because it is a signed first edition. I actually like the book “The Stand” the most from King’s collection and I have a first of it also, but alas…it remains unsigned!
Tell us something about you not many people know.
When I was a teenager, I used to do a fairly regular “bit” on a local radio station during their Friday late night shift. I wasn’t a DJ but I would call in and the DJ would put me on the air for his time with the “Mt. Hope Madman.” I know I told a lot of very corny jokes during those bits and occasionally gave “road reports” which is where I first developed a love for sarcasm as a form of humor. I am not even sure everyone in my family knows I did this!!
What was the most magical day of your life, and why?
One day, my oldest daughter, Leslie, had to attend classes with me at Duke Divinity School. While I was in class, my classmates would keep her entertained. Between classes, we would walk around the campus and just find things to do. During one of those breaks, I pulled out a jump rope that I had brought with me and the two of us began taking turns jumping rope. Sometimes we would jump solo, sometimes in tandem. At some point in our little “fun time” I looked up and noticed that we had attracted something of an audience of Divinity School students. They were all cheering us on. At first, I was embarrassed. Almost immediately, though, Leslie encouraged me to take my turn and I did. I realized in that moment what it meant to be “Daddy” and I hope and pray I never forget it.
I have had many magical moments – births, marriage, and even ordination – but none of them hold a candle to that day and that event.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?
Nope. I believe in lust at first sight…even strong attraction at first sight, but sadly, not love. The reason for me is that love is something that must be worked at like any other art in our lives. I deeply and truly love my wife, Pam, but I know that this is something much more than any attraction I have. I have the desire to make her happy. I have the desire to share life with her. I want to communicate openly with her. All of this is work. Rewarding and wonderful work, but work nonetheless. This can’t happen at first sight.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Riding with my brothers and friends on the tailgate of Mr. Summers’ truck as we headed out to his farm several miles from our house. I’m sure it either was against the law or is now, but we loved those trips up the mountain to that farm. Good times!!
Describe yourself in three words?
Husband, Father, and Wanderer
If you could spend a day with one person, living, or dead, who would it be and why?
I would choose to spend that day with Deitrich Bonhoeffer. First, I would pray that his English was better than my German – which is non-existent but I would still choose him. Bonhoeffer’s ability to maintain a loving presence even while fighting one of the greatest evils to have possessed our world is something I would just love to experience for a day. I think he would have a lot to say to those of us fighting for a new definition of conservative Christian in the United States and I am sure I could learn something from him about that battle.
Who is the one person who can always make you smile?
I could easily pick my wife for this one but I want to choose someone else. (Hopefully, she will understand. If not…well, I will have more work to do!) I also have two other daughters that I could choose because they too bring love to my life, but since I have to choose…
My youngest daughter, Allie, is the one who can always make me smile. She is special to me because she is my youngest, but also because she reminds me of all the things I love about myself. When she was very young, she made me feel like the Dad I want to be and treated me as her hero. Now, we share a great love for “Superheroes” and “Doctor Who.” For years, she was at the mercy of my wit and humor but now this Dad is being schooled by his little girl. Thanks, Allie. You make every day brighter.
Now, for those that I want to nominate – should you decide to accept it, here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
2. You must answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you. (That list is below the nominations.)
3. You must nominate 10 of your favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers and notify them of their nomination.
4. You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
(Drum roll please…) And my nominees for the Leibster Award are:
My questions for you are?
1. Why did you start your blog?
2. If your life were a movie, who would play you?
3. Describe yourself in five words.
4. What is the next thing to do on your bucket list? (If you don’t have one, why not?)
5. What was the best day in your life thus far?
6. Who was your childhood hero?
7. If you could have any “superpower” what would it be?
8. Coffee, Tea or “Just leave me alone in the morning”? (What gets your day started?)
9. Who is your closest family member (not living in your house) and why are you so close?
10. Describe the perfect vacation for you?
I am looking forward to reading each and every one of your answers!!