Reconstruction of the West Liberty Christian Church

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We won another victory over the tornado of 2012.

Almost four years after a horrible tornado took our 102-year old building from us, we moved into our new church building.

Previous to this, we worshiped at another church.  I know it was a great sacrifice on their part but they  graciously provided their building to us for about a year.   This was a wonderful act of kindness to a reeling church body after taking a devastating blow.  Luckily we were able to stagger back to our corner and get our wits about us.

We were at this time able to go through the difficult stages of shock and grief over our building.  Also the healing started as we dealt with the emotional attachment to a building that was so meaningful to many of us.  Seeing our children coming to accept the Lord Jesus and go through the act of baptism, walking some of those same children down the sloped aisle to their awaiting spouse, saying good-bye to those who meant so much to us at their funerals was on all  our minds as we started planning for a new building.  We all knew how hard it would be, for we had not planned on bidding adieu to our old friend on the corner of Prestonsburg and Broadway.

We then worshiped in a mobile unit for another eighteen months or so back on our lot.  As we stared at a vacant lot where the old building stood, a constant reminder of what was taken and how much work lay ahead of us as we tried to fill that same lot.

We then built a metal building on the back of our property and praised God there.  We shared this building with the food pantry.  On some Sundays we could smell rotten potatoes or onions or other produce.

Eventually God’s grace and mercy brought us through the storm as He promised.  We had our first service on the first Sunday of 2016.  We were so excited. We moved in before the building would be finished and we are still waiting for the downstairs and kitchen to be completed.

I am very grateful to our congregation for their perseverance and their faith in the one and only Creator.

I took this photo during the construction of our new church building and loved the shadows on a late afternoon.  You can see the domes of two buildings in the background, the dome on the right is atop our old, 109-year old court house.  The tornado weakened the roof and the dome collapsed into the courtroom.  The dome on the left is our new judicial building that was close to completion when the tornado hit.  It had to have major reconstruction.

Through it all, when our faith was struggling and our strength seemed to be fading, God answered our prayers and reminded us that His Grace is sufficient for us.

As I write this, I am listening to a song by Jeremy Camp called “Same Power”.  He sings about “the same power that rose Jesus from the grave, the same power that commands the dead to wake, the same power that moves mountains when He speaks, the same power that can calm a raging sea, lives in us.  He lives in us.”

I know we have a long way to go.  We still have to pay for this building.   But we have already had one to commit her life to the Lord Jesus and was baptized.  There will be more.  There will be weddings and funerals and memories for the next generations of God’s people, if He permits.  He has blessed His people since the beginning of time and will continue till the end of time.  Then Jesus will usher in His Kingdom and I will see some of those I said good-bye to in that old building.

After the tornado,  I was interviewed by CBS reporter Anna Werner as we looked at the pile of rubble that was the old building and she asked me what it would mean to see a new building standing here.  I replied, “God always wins.”

He has won another victory for our small town.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

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Ezel Presbyterian Church

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I was in a testosterone fog.

Like the tops of the eastern Kentucky hills hidden by the fog of this particular winter, rainy, day, my judgement was clouded by the current state of my machismo.  My bravado gauge seemed to be in sync with the RPM gauge on my Fiat X 1/9, both maintaining a level above what could be considered safe at the time.  You get the picture.

I had my new girlfriend, now my lovely wife of 29-plus years, sitting in the orange leather passenger seat of this Italian classic sports car (description may be an embellishment).  Our destination was Ezel, Ky.

I had invited her to come with me for her first trip to Morgan County, my home, to witness her new boyfriend perform the most manly of courtship rituals.  Amid all of the Animal Planet and Nature Channel shows that focus on the singing, dancing, spreading plumage, and so forth found in nature, there is one facet of the male-to-female attraction ritual that never seems to be shown…the male’s invitation to the female to travel a long distance to watch him play in a basketball tournament in a small rural gymnasium.

As if her femaleness wasn’t clicking on all cylinders in the anticipation of watching me display my prowess on the court of the old Ezel High School gym, added to her delight was riding in a car that barely had the weight to stay within the gravitational pull of the planet at 70 mph.  Not only that, but throw into her experience a driving rain and road spray coming onto a vehicle that wasn’t as tall as the semi trucks’ tires I kept passing.  The six-inch Italian wiperblades could not keep the amount of water cleared off the windshield long enough to see the small ponds formed on the rain-soaked Mountain Parkway.  I assumed each episode of hydroplaning that showcased my daring-do car handling ability would further add to her confidence in opting for my affections.

I was thinking none of her past beaus would have been able to deliver an unprecedented afternoon such as this.

Ezel is a beautiful section of rolling hills and farmland in western Morgan County.  Sitting atop one of these rolling hills is the Ezel Presbyterian Church.  It is one of my favorite sights in all of Morgan County.  This church building was built about ninety years ago.

Remarkably, my wife still continued to date me after this inglorious day.  Although since this day,  when we travel there is a constant update on weather changes and road conditions and speed monitoring coming from the passenger seat.

Also my team made it to the finals of the basketball tournament that day so my lucky new girlfriend was able to be impressed by my manliness for a whole day in that gym at Ezel.  We lost in that game, but not before I was able to keep my man from missing a shot and holding him to about thirty points.

I am happily married today because my wife never understood the fundamentals of a man-to-man defense.

 

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Wrigley Tunnel

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We were racing up the steps to the platform.   I knew it would be close.

My wife and I were trying to catch the subway in Midtown Manhattan to go to Battery Park to ride the Staten Island Ferry.

I had been to New York City one earlier time in my life, at a student convention.   This was my wife’s first trip to the Big Apple.    She had on a pair of shoes that were more fashionable than comfortable.    I had some experience on my previous trip with subway doors closing unexpectedly in my face.  I was trying to relay this bit of valuable information between my gasping breaths as I was climbing stairs about ten feet ahead of my lovely wife, who I know was shooting gamma rays at me out of her eyes ala Gort in “The Day the Earth Stood Still”( the good one in 1951 not the Keanu Reeves one).

I ran up to the train, as if waiting would keep the doors open.   The doors to the subway train closed on me faster than a Budapest housewife greeting a kilt salesman.   I turned to see my wife hobbling up the stairs to the platform.  My gentle reminder was met with a  not-so-gentle-use of English phrasing.    We sat in silence for thirty minutes waiting for the next train as I shot gamma rays at her stylish shoes.

My previous experience with mis-timed subway doors was on the previous trip mentioned above.    My buddy and I decided to skip the lectures one day and catch the train out to Aqueduct to watch some horse races.   After a typical day at the track where we both donated money to the state of New York, we headed up to the platform to catch the train back to Grand Central Station.   I went onboard to ask if this train would get us to our destination.  When I was told to catch the next train, the doors closed and separated me from my buddy, who was smiling and holding up the subway map.

As the train pulled away, I could sense the pity he had for me as he was kissing the map.   I was struck at the shock in the eyes of the New Yorkers.   Apparently they had never seen anyone actually guffawing on a train platform.

I have had some really good experiences on trains.   My wife and I traversed parts of Italy on trains and though we were oblivious to what was going on, we were having the time of our lives.

I wish train travel was easier in the United States.

This is a photo of the Wrigley Tunnel.   It was built a few years after 1900.   It had to be built before 1908, the first year of the Morehead & North Fork Railroad.   Otherwise, the trains would have come to an abrupt halt outside of Wrigley.

I took this photo on a cold January morning on the west side of the tunnel to get the sunburst shining through the tunnel opening.   I liked the effect of the fish-eye lens to capture the starburst and long shadows through the tunnel.

The Wrigley Tunnel sits west of Wrigley in Morgan County, KY.   We are lucky that Rt. 711 runs through this tunnel.   It is still being appreciated for its history and connection to a time long ago.   I would have loved to have ridden the M &NF line from Morehead to Redwine.

I bet they wouldn’t have shut the door on my wife limping to the train in her new pair of Parisiennes.

If you like this picture, you can see more of my photos here.

Old Paint Creek School in Winter

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Today is one of those days when the snow is coming down,  the snow is coming down,  the snow is coming down.

I am sitting in my office at my laptop writing a blog.   I haven’t been very busy today because, you see… the snow is coming down.

So far today, I drank a cup of coffee…had to pee.   I  went to see a friend at his office because if I am not doing any work, neither should anyone else.    Oh yeah, had another cup of coffee…had to pee.  Went back to the office and listened to a Tim Keller sermon, while drinking coffee…had to pee.   I went home so I could give my bladder a lunch break.

I came back to the office and, lo and behold, I did some work.   I got so excited… had to pee.

I worked the USA Today crossword (in easy mode of course) while drinking another cup of coffee…had to pee.

I participated in a Facebook discussion on Creationism vs Science.   Afterward I was amazed how God created our bodies to expel liquid waste.

Then I started this blog, with another cup of coffee at my side…odds are I won’t finish this before…uh, oh be back in a few.

At this time, I would like to apologize to those who instructed me in the power of the written word and to Johannes Guttenberg, who made this current writing possible.   Especially to those who read this work, don’t worry I will probably have to pee again soon, so it won’t last much longer.

I took this photo of the Old Paint Creek School that sat in Morgan County, Kentucky.   It was a one room school, built in 1900.  It served the students of northeastern Morgan County for ten years.  The original building was about two or three times larger than this present building.  It was also moved to a different location in a roadside park.  It has since been moved again.  It’s whereabouts, I do not know.

I took this photo a few years ago on a day like today.

Evidently, since then, things seemed to have changed with my urinary system.  I don’t see any yellow snow around the school.

If you like this photo, you can see more here.

Old Mill Park Swinging Bridge

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I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas from West Liberty in Morgan County in eastern Kentucky in the United States of America on the North American continent of the planet Earth in the Solar System of the Milky Way Galaxy in the Universe of God’s Realm.   I don’t know how to use Google Earth or my car’s system for navigation, so I thought I would locate where I lived by actual words.

I wanted to use a picture that depicts serenity.   I like to think of Christmas as a peaceful and serene time in our lives.   In the midst of all that is Christmas in our society, there are usually a few moments of peace and serenity that can be found if we look for them.   I hope you find them this Christmas.

I took this photo a few years ago.   This swinging bridge was in West Liberty at the Old Mill Park.   It spanned the Licking River.  Unfortunately, it was one of the things lost in our town to the tornado in 2012.

I originally started to use this picture and use the bridge as a metaphor (or simile…I don’t the difference).  I was going to explain, in tired, overused terms how we are crossing the bridge in  various stages of our lives.  But as often happens when I couldn’t continue with what I started, I jumped off.

I love Christmas time but lately it seems more involved than I would like it to be.   As I was doing my pre-Christmas rant this morning in our kitchen, my lovely wife  happened to be in a direct line of spewn verbage that blew her hair back as if she sat too close to a space launch .   When she could again find enough replaced oxygen in the room to speak, she calmly asked, “Problem?”

I always enter into the Christmas season remembering my times as a wee lad.   I assume as most of you as well.   In my Beaver Cleaver- sort- of- fogged -recollection, Christmas was a wonderful time.   I wonder if my parents and grandparents were stressed with the responsibility of trying to make sure everyone in the family would have a wonderful experience.   I wonder if my rant this morning in the kitchen was any different from a million other rants by a million other parents and grandparents.

My wife has a wonderful way of dealing with the stresses of life.   After varying stages of worry from Defcon 5 to Defcon 1 (yes this is the correct sequence, I looked it up), she just takes care of it and I don’t ask questions.   I, on the other hand, start at Defcon 3 and stay there in a paralyzing cauldron of what-ifs until my lovely wife rips the key from my trembling fingers and pushes the launch button.

I have a wonderful family and I really enjoy spending time with them.    Like all families, as we grow things become more complicated.   Our children and their families amass other obligations  and soon they will have their own pre-Christmas rants.     We are all part of God’s family.   As His family has grown, look at how complicated it has become.

Somehow, I think He handles it a little better than I do.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Remembering Park Drive-In

image_1-1Today I am feeling a little nostalgic…

I don’t know if looking at this photo made me nostalgic or nostalgia came  so I looked at this picture.   Either way today I am thinking about the past.

I took this photo of the Park Drive-In.   It  seems like only a few years ago.   It sat outside of Maysville, KY on a hilltop on Route 11 before descending into town.   I would pass by this old drive-in on my weekly commutes between Highland Heights and West Liberty.   It seems like only a few years ago but in reality it was taken about twenty years ago.   I liked the Peter Bogdonavich-Last Picture Show kind of effect it had when I developed it.   (Yes it was actually shot on Tri-X film and developed and printed in my dark room, before being reborn into the digital world).

I never saw a movie here but every time I drove by and saw the remains, I would think about all of the teenagers and adults that enjoyed an evening at the drive-in and how it was another part of my generation’s past that was slowly slipping away.  And I would always think about going to our drive-in  outside of West Liberty.

At one time West Liberty actually had two drive-in theaters.   We had the West Liberty Drive-In and the Morgan Drive-In.   The funny thing is, there is not much flat land in our area that wasn’t used for farming, so these drive-ins were located in bottom land of the Licking River.   More times than not, my movie experience included watching the last half of the movie through a thick fog.   If you factor in trying to hear through bad window speakers, my movie experience is not too different now.

My dad always told me that listening to that loud Gary Puckett music would make me go deaf.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Tree in Fog

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It was a dark night, such as the one pictured above.   Three irresponsible college males with a less-than-thought-out notion, conceived about ten minutes previous to the odyssey, set out on their trek.

Their destination was Amburgey Rock, a ledge atop Clack Mountain outside of Morehead, KY.   Their goal was to take night photos of the town of Morehead.

As you may have guessed, I was one of these adventurous lads.   The other photographer was a friend of mine.   We both worked in the Morehead State University Public Relations Department as student photographers.   We were freshmen at the time and living in Alumni Tower.

All well-planned expeditions seem to have a capable driver or guide…we had neither.   Our “capable” driver was  a friend, worldly and well-traveled, who was bored one mid-week evening.   To us,  a capable driver meant someone with a working automobile.   Our driver’s price…a night out of his dorm room.   He assured us his VW Bug would be able to traverse the terrain of the rain-soaked off-roads of Rowan County.

The next hurdle was to actually get some photography equipment.

Naturally, we assumed the university would have no problem with us borrowing $2,000 worth of their best equipment to take out into the wilds. We were so confident, we didn’t even ask.  So at about ten o’clock in the black of night, we were off…

Our trip was uneventful until we encountered a rather large mud hole about a half-mile from Amburgey Rock.   Our driver navigated this with some difficulty.   But with the will of Washington and his men forging the Delaware, we made it across.  Our driver assured us that this would not be a problem on our way out, since he already figured out the best way to get through this potential snare.

After about an hour on the ledge, taking what we thought would be Pulitzer-winning shots and reveling in the thrill of the hunt, we decided to return to the reality of our college lives and 8:00 AM classes.   We loaded up our, excuse me, the university’s equipment, thankful that we didn’t drop any of it off the one hundred-foot cliff, and headed back to Morehead.

We shortly encountered the large mud hole again.   There was no trepidation since our driver knew how to steer his car around the large muddy obstacle.

There was trepidation, however, when he thought the best away around this was to speed through the center and part it like the Red Sea.

After about an hour of pushing and pulling, we were able to free the car from the quagmire.   Unfortunately, the only way we could free it was to push the Bug back out of the mud hole where we would have to re-navigate it.   We scavenged the area and found some boards and rocks.   We placed them in the mud so he would have a dry path to drive across.

This brilliant plan was predicated on only one thing, the driver had to actually drive across the makeshift bridge we built…he missed.

After another hour of pulling and pushing on a car that was buried deeper in the mud than the previous hour, we decided it was useless.   We grabbed our, er the university’s equipment, and headed out on foot.   We felt that the car was as secure as Excalibur stuck in the stone.  It was after midnight and we had a five or six-mile hike ahead of us.

As we entered Morehead from Clearfield, a city policeman stopped us.    I’m sure we looked a little suspicious at 2:00 AM, covered in mud and carrying bags of camera equipment, walking along the road.   He inquired as to our situation and we were happy to regale him with our saga.

Finally, he said ,”College boys, huh?”.   Then he drove off into the night without offering us a ride for the final two miles of our journey.

I don’t recall being in attendance for the 8:00 AM roll call.

I took this picture of one of the trees in the Old Mill Park in West Liberty one foggy night.   It gives an eerie effect.

Night photography is very cool but takes a little more effort.   You need a tripod, a flashlight to see the settings and a camera with the ability to shoot long exposures, and as always… a capable driver.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.