Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Spiritual Sword Lectureships

Donna and I have received the Spiritual Sword publication for more years than I can remember. It’s an excellent publication always full of good articles by sound teachers of the church of Christ. It is a publication of the Getwell church of Christ in Memphis Tennessee. I have visited that congregation many times over the years whenever my family is in Memphis. I always thoroughly enjoy our visits there and I can heartily recommend it to anyone visiting the Memphis area.

They have an annual lectureship that covers several days. They have been doing this for several decades. Donna and I finally were able to go there for the lectureship two years ago. We totally enjoyed it. We were both taught and edified by the excellent speakers there. We were pleasantly surprised to see our friends Keith and Kathy Anderson there when we arrived. We decided that would strive to attend this lectureship each year. Last year though, we were derailed in going by the unfortunate shutdown of the plant where I worked. That very week, I spent multiple long days working to finalize that. This year, with my now being retired, Donna and I had nothing to get in our way of going.

We left after worship services on Sunday. The trip to Memphis was totally uneventful and we arrived at our hotel (Poplar Avenue Hampton Inn) about 4. We like to stay in this area because it’s only about a ten minute drive to Getwell plus we don’t have to venture out on I-240 to travel there. We noticed across the street that the McDonalds offered two Big Macs or two Fillet O’Fish sandwiches (mix and match) for five dollars so we decided to have that for supper. I went across the street and ordered. Per my recent experiences, it took over ten minutes to get our food but at least it was good and inexpensive. We headed to Getwell for the Congregation Singing at 6:30pm. The theme of this year’s lectureships was “Great Bible Portraits of the New Testament”. We heard two lessons on Peter and Paul which were excellent. We went back to our hotel and went to bed.

We got up the next morning and had breakfast and headed out for a full day of lessons. We saw eight speakers over the course of the day and they were all excellent. I even found some Krispy Kreme doughnuts between sessions. The Getwell congregation also provides and excellent lunch for the attendees. Donna and I enjoyed talking with the people who sat at our table. I did make the mistake of mentioning John Calipari though. As you are probably are aware, he is not thought of too highly in Memphis. Between the afternoon and evening sessions, we had a long enough gap to eat dinner with my brother Kevin and nephew Zach (who live in Memphis). We had a really good time with them.

Tuesday was another full day of lessons. Again, we really enjoyed them and had an excellent lunch. Randall Evans spoke on Mary, Martha and Lazarus. I’d had Randall in my teenage Bible class years ago. He did a great job but it sure makes me feel old to see him as an experienced Gospel preacher now. We also saw Ben Giselbach speak on Ananias and Sapphira. He’s spoken several times for us at Central and his brother Brett was our youth intern last summer. We grabbed dinner from Taco Bell and attended the evening sessions then came back to the hotel and went to bed.

We got up Wednesday and attended the morning sessions. We had decided to leave after lunch so we could be back home for Wednesday night services at Central. Donna and I went around to say goodbye to several people we had befriended over the past several days. I gave our phone number and address to a young man who had made the excellent food all week and was also a Cardinals fan. He said his wife and he occasionally made it up to the Western Kentucky area and would look us up the next time they were up this way.

I would heartily recommend this lectureship. We learned quite a lot over the week as well as being edified both by the lessons and spending time with fellow Christians.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pizza Hut and War Eagles

Ever since the UK football schedule was released, the big game everyone pointed to was with Auburn. It would be the first ESPN Thursday night game at Commonwealth Stadium ever. Auburn was ranked in the top ten at the year’s beginning, but lost a couple of games and seemed beatable by Kentucky. Jonathan had invited me to come over and watch the game at his apartment. I had hoped I would be at game 5 of the NLDS that evening but alas the Cubs ruined that plan for me. So, we made arrangements for Donna and I to go over there. I had seen a deal where you could get two pizzas at Pizza Hut for 6.99 plus get a large chocolate chip cookie for 5.99. So, we decided to go for that. I got online and set up the order to pick up on the way to his apartment.

I got there early but within a few minutes, I had the pizzas. We got to Jonathan’s and prepared to eat. The first issue I noticed is you couldn’t really tell the pizzas apart. I had ordered one Meat Lovers (my Pizza Hut favorite) and one with beef and bacon. I am used to the Meat Lover’s being so full of toppings that you couldn’t see the cheese or crust. This wasn’t the case. I had to look for the pepperoni to tell the difference. The beef and bacon was all beef and no bacon. The pizzas were OK, but not up the usual quality I’m used to there. I’d read that Pizza Hut had made changes to their pizzas but if that’s the case, they are a disappointment in my mind. The chocolate chip pizza was pretty bland – not too sweet at all. I probably won’t go back.

The game proved to be equally disappointing. Auburn gashed KY’s defense and jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Kentucky tied the game, then Auburn scored again. KY looked to be driving for a game tying touchdown but Patrick Towles threw an interception in the end zone. Auburn kicked two field goals and KY got one. With the score 20-10 and the half winding down, KY punted. Auburn drove into KY territory and narrowly missed a TD pass. They managed a long field goal on the last play of the half to make the score 23-10.

The second half was a bit better. KY got the score to 23-20. Auburn scored with about eight minutes to go in the game to make it 30-20 and things looked bleak. UK got a touchdown though and forced Auburn to punt with about 2 minutes to go but they were out of timeouts. They drove the ball to the Auburn 45 and had a 2nd and five. Unbelievably, they ran the ball and got two yards as the clock continued to move. Then, they tried a long incomplete pass and finally on 4th down and 3, got sacked – all the while Jonathan and I were yelling at the TV and the bizarre offensive play calls. Auburn ran out the clock and that was that.

You’d think about 40 years of these type games, I’d get used to this kind of thing. But, I guess I haven’t.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


I’ve known since I’ve started working at Martin Marietta in 1984 what the magical formula for being able to retire with a full pension was. It was when your age and company service added up to 85. So, my earliest retirement date would be August of 2015. That seemed a long way off for a young 22 year old computer programmer who didn’t even have a steady girlfriend at the time. But as life has a way of doing, time marched on. I ended up with a steady girlfriend who ultimately became my lovely wonderful wife. We had two wonderful sons who graduated high school and college and ended up with really good jobs (and consequently left us with an empty nest). Our plant went through several shutdown scares and finally in October of last year, shut down for good. A few of us retained our jobs. I had a really good arrangement. I was allowed to work from home several days a week plus actually work in a real office area where I could come and go as I pleased. I honestly planned on working at least through 2016. But the job started getting more and more stressful. As a lot of companies seem to do, there was the expectation of the same amount of work to be produced by a diminishing staff. I actually ended up doing quite a bit of work on two vacations in Wisconsin. I had to spend more and more time working from the office instead of home. The final straw was getting home after a particularly rough day and finding my blood pressure was 148 over 95! Right after I checked it, I get a call asking me to drop everything and take care of an issue. I became concerned that my health was going to get worse and worse.

So, I sat down with Donna and we talked about my going ahead and retiring. She finally convinced there was no reason to stay. Our pension had been frozen several years ago, so I would not get any bigger pension by staying longer. The only possible pro was that I could withdraw from my 401k if need be penalty free if I waited til 2016 to leave. We only planned on doing that in a real crisis. We had the pension plus a good amount of other savings/investments – we’ve been following the Dave Ramsey plan and we’d been out of debt for years. I prayed about it for several days and made the decision to leave at the end of September and let my management know. Just about everyone seemed to understand my reasoning for leaving. I worked on knowledge transfer with the people who’d be taking over my work. I spent a LOT of time on the phone with our benefits service center. I found out there is a TON of paperwork you have to fill out to retire. In additional to getting my pension distribution set up, I had apply to get my pre-65 retiree health, vision, and dental plans – our company is very generous in providing these for us. After some back and forth and a lot of help from our Centrus Energy Benefits person, I got that done. There are also a good amount of things that have to be done before you leave the company (items that have to be confirmed and checked off). My co-workers had cake and ice-cream for me one day (a very nice gesture) and Donna and Cheyenne came to my office for that.

The day finally came and once I got the final paperwork filled out, I was ready to go. I said goodbye to everyone there. There were several people I’d known there for over 30 years. I would especially miss my fellow network admins Bill Griffin and Skip Hancock. I finally walked out the door and got in my car and left I called Donna to happily tell her “I am retired!”. It was a strange feeling. It’s still a strange feeling; it’s finally sinking in that I don’t have to go to work each morning. I still look at my cell phone or think I should go check my work email and then realize that I don’t have to do that anymore. A couple of days later we went to Longhorn Steakhouse and Krispy Kreme in Clarksville to celebrate.

The question I get the most is “What are you going to do now?”. I had a couple of work offers but I really didn’t want to jump into working again unless I had to. I’d hoped to spend a lot of October in St Louis, but the Cubs messed that up for me. We’re going to the Spiritual Sword Lectureship in Memphis later this month. I’m running a marathon in November plus going to see UK play in Lexington. Donna and I and the boys and Cheyenne and Shelby plan to go to Miami and Fort Lauderdale at the end of November. I’m hoping to make a trip to Glendale Arizona in January for the NFL Playoffs. I have all sorts of places I’ve always wanted to go to – Hershey Pennsylvania, Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. But, the thing I want to do the most is be more involved at church than I have been. I’ve already started doing that. I’ve also agreed to become part of our eldership. I’ve made the excuse for years that I didn’t have the time but that certainly isn’t the case anymore.

The other question I get now is “How is retirement?”. I tell people “Great, but you should ask Donna what she thinks” (with a smile on my face). I’ve asked her a couple of times and she says she loves doing more things with me and having me around more. I’ve said it before and will say it forever I suppose – she’s the most wonderful woman in the world.