Church Disputes: Calvary Chapel Boise Pastor Bob Caldwell Sets Good Example

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There are a lot of sad church stories that come my way.   Many times we discuss really difficult situations and happy endings cannot be found.  Although this next story is not over, it is headed in a completely different direction than it was earlier.  My friend and fellow blogger, Alex Grenier of Calvary Chapel Abuse blog posted a wonderful story today and has given me permission to copy it in its entirety to share with you.   I think you’ll understand why I wanted to share it.  I have to give kudos to Alex.  He is truly the real deal.  I’ve had the opportunity to work with him on a few projects behind the scenes  and let me just say that I feel privileged to have him as a friend.  His heart is in the right place.  He is honest, vulnerable, a bit rough around the edges, sometimes snarky, a load of laughs (which we definitely need in this business), but what an amazing champion for victims!  He, like me, comes from  an abusive family and is currently in the midst of a defamation lawsuit brought on by his step-father, Bob Grenier, who also is the pastor at Calvary Chapel Visalia.

Alex is a gifted communicator and when he heard about this story which happened to be in his neck of the woods, he took a chance and contacted the pastor to see if there was a possibility of mediating.   I also have to give kudos to Pastor Bob Caldwell of Calvary Chapel Boise.  Mediation could have and should have been done years ago, but this is not a story about shaming, but a story of possibilities and hope.  There is a lesson to be learned from Pastor Bob Caldwell and I hope that this message spreads around to others.  Church conflicts do not need to escalate to lawsuits.

A big thanks to Alex for allowing me to share this here!

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photo credit: enriqueburgosgarcia via photopin cc

 

Pastor Bob Caldwell of Calvary Chapel Boise sets a good example

for dealing with offenses in the CC System

By Alex Grenier of Calvary Chapel Abuse Blog

 

Hell froze over yesterday. And, I’m pretty sure I saw some pigs flying around in Boise.

OK, not really, but it seems like it.

I’ll admit it (as if it isn’t obvious)…I’m jaded, skeptical, un-trusting of Calvary Chapel and its 1500-2000 affiliated official Senior Pastors. Well, there are some good ones in there after all, good in the context of they try to do the right thing and they are approachable and give it a real shot at resolving a tough situation…without attorneys and bodyguards and stone walls.

I am happy (thrilled really) to report that one such rare case happened yesterday at Calvary Chapel Boise with the help of Pastor Bob Caldwell.

Here’s the gist of the controversy in a nutshell:

There’s a guy “Greg” who’s been protesting/picketing Calvary Chapel Boise…literally standing out front of the mega-church (it’s a really big CC) on a busy road, with big signs, expressing his beef with Calvary Chapel that has, up until yesterday, remained unresolved.

It would be easy to paint the guy as “crazy” and dismiss him as a nut and move on. That’s the easy thing, and not the right thing, IMO. It’s also not the wisest thing for Bob and CC, as the guy was quite resolved, and he wasn’t going anywhere.

Obviously there’s a problem. Who pickets a church? Well, either a total nutcase…or a guy who has a beef that he can’t get passed and needs some closure…and feels he hasn’t got a fair shake inside the church walls.

I’ve talked with Greg, he’s not a nutcase. He’s a little different, but not institutional different…more like very bright and talented and determined and passionate different. Is he a homogenized “normal”? Heck no, what vanilla normal person pickets a church in public and opens themselves up to that kind of embarrassment?

When I look at a situation like this, I see it through a lens of someone who knows what it’s like to be kicked out of a church Group (or a family unit, as dysfunctional as it is) and blamed for the separation…even though I tried to do what was right and righteous…and in fact commanded in the bible (which is supposedly “the” authority that the same church and family says is the final say on all matters). IMO, a guy like Greg is either an institutional nut and needs to go spend some time in a padded room…or there’s something legit there that needs to be resolved.

It didn’t take me long to believe that Greg is legally sane and had some legit beefs and that Calvary Chapel should/could sit down and help work this thing out.

I agreed to try and help Greg approach Calvary Chapel. I called and left a message for the Senior Pastor (CCSP) Bob Caldwell. I explained who I was, gave info about CC Abuse, stated briefly what the inquiry was about and requested a call back.

I was shocked when my cell phone rang just a little time later, and it was Bob Caldwell.

The guy didn’t get a word in for quite a while as I was pretty amped up and expected a knock-down drag-out.

To my pleasant surprise, Bob was very gracious, yet frank and not patronizing. He listened. When he spoke, it felt real and candid and not guarded and even more importantly, not as if he was some special prophet/guru who should be approached from afar with sacrificial gifts and chants of praise and allegiance…and there was no kissing of rings.

Bob’s a real guy. If I didn’t know he was the pastor of a huge mega-church, I would have thought I was talking to a really nice laid-back guidance counselor or something.

I presented Greg’s beef and asked Bob for his (CC Boise’s) side of the story. Bob shared some stuff in a straightforward manner. There was a little push-back on both sides of the convo in a couple of spots (Bob’s still a man and a Leader, and I expect honest push-back where it’s warranted). The result of the convo was an agreement to an in-person meeting with the offended party, me and Bob.

The biggest take-away from the phone convo that gave me some hope about the meeting: Bob seemed to sincerely care about Greg…and not as much about himself or the church business.

I phone Greg and told him the news of the meeting. He was ecstatic, while having some butterflies (a very normal human reaction). I told him how excited I was with the opportunity and that, IMO, this was rare (in my experience) and a great sign so far.

THE MEETING

Bob’s taller and skinnier than I thought. I patted him on the back and encouraged him to eat something…commenting that most of his fellow affiliated CC Pastor brothers aren’t so svelt and are usually busting out of their Hawaiian shirts or Tommy Bahamas.

Staff was friendly, just like at CC Costa Mesa. Some of the folks looked so innocent and naive…and a couple looked as if they thought we were really weird and looked a bit uncomfortable, my perception.

We met in a small conference room upstairs. Bob on one side of a smallish table, Greg and me on the other.

I tried to take some control of the meeting, explaining that we have three chiefs in the tee-pee and needed some sort of structure to get through this. I explained how I thought the conversation should go (in regards to a structure/order). Bob suggested we open in prayer and turned to Greg to pray first. Greg prayed. I was offered to pray, I declined (I pray to God in an unorthodox way, I pretty much keep an ongoing dialogue in my inner-voice and I feel that public prayers are pretty much not praying to God, but a prayer performance for the others present, and I don’t like that. If I’m going to pray to God, my Father…others would be very taken back at what they’d hear…and I didn’t want to freak these two out, especially Bob. He probably thinks I’m weird enough already). Bob then prayed.

After the prayers, I provided a synopsis of why we were there, thanked Bob for the opportunity and then summarized what I had gathered was the “situation” from both sides, what the beefs were and asked how we could resolve this so Greg doesn’t feel compelled to picket CC Boise any longer and feels he has closure on these issues.

Greg spoke at length about his side of things. Bob responded many times. I interjected and pushed back in some spots for consideration…for both parties. It seemed to keep some balance to the discussion…as both sides tend to see things through their personal lens.

Greg conducted himself very well…so did Bob.

Bob showed me, and more importantly he showed Greg, that he was sincere in wanting to help work this out. That’s a HUGE factor. Bob’s good leadership is the reason this meeting was a success, not me.

The controversy was many years old. It started in 2004 and reached a climax in 2005 with Greg being banned from a single’s group at CC Boise, which resulted in an arrest for trespass (misdemeanor) when Greg showed back up to the group.

Greg’s side of things was that he didn’t know why he was banned and felt it was wrong to then be arrested when he tried to return to the group. Greg said there was some conflict between him and the leader of the single’s group at the time, an associate pastor who is no longer with CC Boise and according to Greg was fired for just cause by the church. The banning and the arrest for trespass really bothered Greg. He felt he was treated unjustly and he reports he never got a clear answer of what happened and why it happened. All the sudden, he’s out, he’s arrested and he’s the bad guy. He was not able to move on and let it go without some sort of resolution. He felt he was bullied by the assistant and some others and felt he got a raw deal.

In around 2007, Greg’s wife reached out to Bob and expressed concern that Greg was still spinning over this unresolved issue. Bob agreed to a meeting. He met with Greg and gave him a general apology and tried to work things out. Greg still believed he wasn’t told what happened and why it happened. No details were given to him previously or at that time of what the beefs against him were, specifically, that led to his banning from the group. Greg left this meeting feeling better for a time, but the underlying issues had still not been fully resolved.

Flash forward to 2013. Greg sees the “Save Saeed” campaign and sees CC Boise beating the drum to save the Iranian missionary (whose church home is CC Boise) who has been arrested wrongly in Iran and is in prison for being a Christian…(a really good Cause that Greg agrees with, and I agree with. Iran needs to free Saeed now and our State Department and our Government needs to do more to make that happen).

This is what is called a “trigger”…something I’ve learned from licensed therapists, etc in the psychology world.

Greg felt this was quite hypocritical, since CC Boise had not fully resolved his beef with them…and he was arrested, too. How about “Save Greg”?

The negative feelings and emotions popped back up. The scab had not healed. Greg began to rehash the situation and got angry. When folks get angry, sometimes they make signs and protest…a healthy and legal choice to deal with the frustration…a much better choice than turning to drugs and alcohol…or even worse, breaking the law. Again, many vanilla normal folks probably would’ve let it go…we’re not all vanilla normal…God makes us all a bit unique and some of us…in this patchwork quilt called this life, this existence…are not just like everyone else in all regards. Heck, some of the craziest dudes I know are CC pastors…literally. Some of them really think they have the “gift” of “seeing demons in people” and some think they are really prophets of God…talk about delusional…but Greg’s crazy. Got it.

Greg has some great qualities. Part of his good qualities, like his passion and his bright mind, can be a challenge for him in letting something go (believe me, I know this from personal experience). Greg’s not a circus freak, he’s not a threat to society. He’s a human being, with a soul, with a family. He needed some help and some grace and some good Godly leadership in this situation and some sort of resolution that made sense to him.

So, Greg’s been picketing CC Boise…and now, here we are in a meeting with the Senior Pastor and we’re hashing it out (again).

This time around, Bob provided the details of what went down in 2004/2005. He presented a copy of the police report that detailed the situation and some complaints CC Boise had received from some others in the group about Greg. Greg was told specifically what those complaints were. They were not allegations of a crime or anything like that, but they were allegations that warranted the church deal with the situation. If the church is expected to take Greg’s complaints seriously, they have to take the complaints of women in their flock seriously as well. I affirmed that Bob was in a tough position with regards to that issue. Without a ton of evidence to the contrary, Bob is left with some women saying one thing and Greg saying another…and if the church doesn’t respond to the claims from women, and it turned out Greg was a psycho and something bad happened, then the church gets their arses sued off and accused of not protecting women.

The specifics: A couple of women in the church said Greg was stalking them. Greg said he was just involved a lot in the group and volunteered for lots of stuff and was around them a lot in church-related functions. It was a single’s group. Without the benefit of tracking down the women and getting their side, we can assume they were uncomfortable at the least and they expressed their discomfort to the church. OK. That info would have gone a long way for Greg back then…and in the first meeting with Bob in 2007. Greg feels the specific charges against him would have given him the opportunity to respond better and to know why he was banned, etc.

This was a big thing for Greg. He really wanted to know what he had done and he wanted the opportunity to make it right. He appeared very relieved to get the specifics and claimed he was not aware of those details. Bob was under the impression he was from what he was told from others back then (one of them being the ex-assistant who later got fired).

In reviewing, again, the climate of the single’s group under the leadership of the former assistant pastor…IMO, it became clear that the assistant didn’t handle the problem well…and that there was some sort of p***ing match and personal beef with Greg over some stuff Greg had challenged him on. Without the benefit of speaking with the assistant, I come to this conclusion based on Greg’s take and the fact that the assistant got canned from CC Boise for not dealing with other situations in the best manner as well. Bob didn’t throw the guy under the bus, but he did acknowledge that there were things the guy could have handled in a better way and he apologized to Greg for that (again).

Here’s what became clear…and here’s what I think just resolved the issue and has helped Greg to burn up his protest signs and to hopefully move on: Bob Caldwell heard him out, again. Bob Caldwell provided the specifics of the other side and of the stuff Greg was accused of. Bob Caldwell was open, he acknowledged some mistakes, he offered to help…he is even providing counseling from a psychologist who helps in their church. Bob sat across the table as a pastor who was more concerned about Greg at that moment, than he was about being 100% right and protecting his man kingdom.

Greg did great as well. He is a good guy, IMO, he just wanted to know. He just wanted to hear that it didn’t go as well as it could have or should have. He just wanted to hear all there was to the situation and not be left guessing. He handled the accusations against him very well. I tried to explain that Bob is in a tough spot when he’s got one sheep saying this and that about the other sheep…while agreeing that Greg had a right to know the specifics and to get some sort of airing of his grievances and some sort of shot at finality.

I think we got that shot yesterday. I think Greg got the closure he was fighting for. I think Bob Caldwell acted as a Servant Leader and got off his stage, climbed down from his ivory tower and got dirty with some regular sheep. I think what happened yesterday was right and righteous and I think that if the Faith is real, if the bible is true and if God “is”…then God is pleased with it.

The take-away from this one, IMO: Some folks need resolution, they need a fair shake and a frank discussion with the Pastor. They need to hear they aren’t the “enemy” and of the devil. They need the church and the Pastor to slow down for a minute and to take the matter seriously. Yes, CC Boise is extremely busy. Yes, they help a lot of folks. Yes, it was probably very inconvenient for Pastor Bob to have to deal with this in the manner he did. Yes, that’s what the bible calls him to do regardless. If a “pastor” can’t slow down enough to take some of these situations seriously and really try to resolve them in a positive manner…then I question the validity of their supposed “calling”.

If Jesus Christ the SON of the living God was/is not too busy for dirty muddy stinky sheep (even when it’s tough and uncomfortable)…then what the heck are you doing? Leave the 99 to save the 1. Try to resolve beefs. If you’re too “busy”…if you have underlings to handle that stuff…you aren’t really a pastor, you’re a paid public speaker. Go read the news off a teleprompter or join the local theater or become a politician….but get the heck out of my Father’s House, you brood of vipers.

36 comments on “Church Disputes: Calvary Chapel Boise Pastor Bob Caldwell Sets Good Example

  1. This story was a trigger point for me! In 1984 my husband and I bought an unfinished house. It was a house we had contracted to build, fronting the builder $20,000 in order to buy the lot. The builder worked on the house then went bankrupt, leaving our house an unfinished shell. After the house went up for sheriff’s auction, with only the bank bidding, we were able to emotionally able to let go of the house. Through one of the Lord’s many miracles in our lives we were able to buy the house back for a price that would enable us to almost break even.

    We did a lot of the work, like installing cabinets, the heater, ac, etc. For the rest we had some bids to finish the work, hiring a guy we thought was honest. When the work was almost finished the guy went to the bank and took the last draw out on our building loan without our permission. It was $5000, money that we had kept to pay for our appliances. For some reason this guy felt that the money belonged to him. He didn’t provide us with an invoice for the money, he just took it. Why the bank gave it to him we will never know.

    We knew where the guy went to church so asked our pastor to call the pastor of the contractor’s church to ask him to sit down with us and him along with the pastor from our church. They were Mennonites and told our pastor that the rules for solving disputes that we read about in the Bible were for Biblical times. They no longer applied.

    We really wanted to resolve the situation biblically but unless we wanted to take the man to court and sue him we were out $5000. We never did take him to court.

    The story had a good ending. My husband’s Uncle ended up giving us $5000 which we were able to use to buy our applicances. We never had any sort of resolving with the contractor. For many years when we would drive past his house my stomach would flip. I haven’t had a bad feeling about it in years. Funny how this story brought it all to the surface again.

    Not too many years later we found out that this same pastor, who had a side job doing small jobs, had an affair with one of our neighbors and was responsible for breaking up her marriage. I guess those rules about adultery didn’t apply, either, at least to him.

    Lord, I forgive RD and his pastor. For whatever reason, they did what they did and said what they said. I trust YOU to deal with both of them in your own way. Thank you for showing me that I was still harboring bad feelings towards both of them. The older I get the more I realize how much of a sinner I am myself and how much you still love me! Not trusting you to handle situations that are out of my control shows a lack of faith on my part. I am sorry, Lord, that I do not always trust you the way that I should. Amen.

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  2. Hi Lori: Thanks for sharing your story. Yes, I can definitely see how this story would bring your personal story to mind. What a shame that mediation didn’t work in your situation. There’s no fool-proof method, but I tell ya — I really think Christians should try all avenues to get situations resolved peaceably. I wonder what bible translation that pastor used? Some people get to make up things as they go, I guess.

    You know what else I find interesting? You very easily could have justified taking him to court? You allowed God to take care of him. And look at what happened with the pastor!

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  3. this is kind of an irrelevant, but I can appreciate Alex’s thoughts on praying. I am at the same place with that. I am glad to hear that Bob was willing to meet and the meeting with Greg and Alex went well. I still feel jaded, as well, about church leadership, but I’m hopeful that we will see more and more of this happening.

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  4. So glad to hear this. It’s so sad that this is considered noteworthy, rather than the norm in churches…:( I just pray the Lord keeps us humble and our eyes on him so we don’t start to think “we” are above anyone, or above correction…………

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  5. Alex, this is most beautiful!

    Praise the LORD!

    . .

    Lori, your prayer was most beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. The power in what you did—was openly confess things we all might confess and identify with. You gave us words our spirits may agree with. You brought us sweetly to the throne of grace.

    Thank You LORD!

    . .

    like Alex’—my life itself is my prayer. .

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  6. I didn’t realize it until hours later – – – – did you all realize that Lori was discussing a situation from 29 years ago and was triggered? That really demonstrates the power these kinds of conflict situations may have over us in our minds. They may remain “dormant” until something reminds us of it again and then we have the opportunity to deal with it once again. Beautiful, Lori. Thanks again for sharing.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this. So often only the horror stories are shared. I forget that there really are good pastors and good churches out there.

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  8. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. (Gal 2:20a).

    hey craigvick—notice (as He lives His life out through me) the chiastic structure of my 2:42 comment!

    . .

    ok friends, i’m in a bit of a giddy mood. . looking forward to some ncaa basketball games this evening. . i’ve picked Michigan State to win the tournament. . i’d LOVE to see Oregon drop Louisville (but that’s not likely to happen). . Michigan might have a chance against Kansas. . just poured my first Leffe Brown. . anyone else fill out any brackets?

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  9. Monax- Wow, you picked Michigan State to win, bless your heart, we live in East Lansing, & though we didn’t attend college here, out blood runs green. It is hard for us to cheer for Michigan, but after that stunt that Kansas player slapped on U of M player, well that was rotten. My husband filled a bracket faithful to the Big Ten, Ohio State & Indiana… not going happen for the Hoosiers.

    I wanted to respond to you on another thread, you left me in tears & awe and I felt shy to post to thank-you. GO GREEN

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  10. you know, scared, i grew up in Michigan. . and my blood runs BLUE!

    few weeks ago i watched the Michigan vs Michigan State game—best game i saw all year. State demonstrated themselves to be the better team, so I’ve backed the Spartans to represent the Big Ten. .

    at half-time Michigan’s down. . they’re sort of gettin spanked. . we’ll soon see how Michigan State does against Duke. .

    GO GREEN!

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  11. Since you are a past fellow Michigander, maybe we can co mingle our blue & green together to be teal or turquoise. Thankful that we are both cleansed by the blood of our dear Lord Jesus. And I am very nervous about the Duke game.

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  12. i realize i am going way off the thread here… but o my goodness monax… can u believe this game… holy macaroni..

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  13. that’s the problem with these blogamjigs—threads topics (and no lounges for us to just kick it). .

    Well, Surprise, Surprise, Surprise—Michigan advances!

    Michigan State’s still the better team. They’re up for the moment against Duke. .

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  14. It would be lovely to have a side lounge!! I am dialed in to MSU now…
    That was some great basketball between MI. & KA. wow.

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  15. ja, we could do an SSB chat room, yes? i remember doing this with another forum years ago. it was pretty cool. people could chat w/ others live if they were connected—and there was a record of the conversations. i don’t necessarily know what’s the best system. but maybe you or some else might know? you’ve got kids. . aren’t the youngsters supposed to be up on all this newfangled technology?

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  16. Thank you, Julie-Anne. And thank you Bob, Greg and Alex. So good to hear a story of Christians resolving tough conflicts in the way Christ calls us to. And Alex, you are indeed a gifted communicator. 🙂

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  17. A chat room sounds like fun. I have no idea how to do that. If anyone knows, please let me know. I don’t think my kids would know about a chatroom-type place. They do skype, though. The other day my 18-yr old was rolling out dough for dumplings Skyping with another friend who was making dinner. How cool is that? They could talk to each other and watch what they were doing.

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  18. ok so funny there are so many Michiganders here! So’m I. well currently anyway. I grew up in Ohio though. So I’ll always be a Buckeye, but when it comes to a MI team, I’ll go Green everytime.. 🙂

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  19. I grew up in Ohio but spent 9 years in Michigan, mostly in E. Lansing but one in Royal Oak while commuting to Ann Arbor. I am an alumnus of the Green and White, and was there in the 60’s for the national champion football teams. Also saw Ara coach the Irish to take a tie rather than try to win the game, with ball near mid-field and time to try to score (CHICKEN that he was!). And the idiot national sports media gave ND a share of the championship that year, after he pulled that stunt.

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  20. Well Ladies,

    Having grown up in Western Michigan it has become the measure of beauty for me—especially the lakes, and the dunes along Lake Michigan, and the farms, and the Midwestern personalities, and the violent spring thunderstorms (spawning potential tornadoes). .

    See we don’t have lakes here in Pittsburgh for the hills, just large dirty rivers, and we rarely get thunderstorms like the ones I remember as a child in Michigan. And, of course, any twisters that dare develop and attempt to set down here in Western Pennsylvania are usually broken up by the hills.

    One thing Pittsburgh doesn’t have (as a result of her fast watershed) is much standing water for mosquitoes to breed. I often don’t put screens in my windows in the spring and summer because we generally don’t have a bug problem here. As a child (who lived on the lake) the mosquitoes of Michigan would eat me alive!

    So with BLUE in my veins—I, of course, grew up hating Notre Dame. Even though I discovered last Summer that I’m ethnically Irish (from my biological dad’s side)—Still, I hate the Fighting Irish. I hate Ohio State for the same reason—for being a die hard Michigan fan! [Fyi: I use the word “hate” in the Grouchy Smurf sense of the term.]

    But I’ll back the Big Ten regardless. I have a buddy who’s daughter is attending Ohio State—so I’ll get behind the Buckeyes as long as they’re not up against Michigan, which is not likely to happen this tournament. .

    Glad to be able to geographically position some of yinz (Pittsburghese for “y’all”).

    GO BLUE!

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  21. and speaking of Blue—Go Marquette!

    she tips in a bit. .

    i’m partial to the Big East; Marquette’s a Lake Michigan team; and i do like Buzz and Vander Blue. .

    woohoo!

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  22. hi michigan peps: arce & marie and monax, ( sorry julie anne if i am breaking any blogging etiquette rules) love the connection to our beautiful state! my husband & I spent our honeymoon 25 years ago with the Spartans at the rose bowl, and they won. i was sure it was a sign lol because if you follow spartan football it was a mini miracle.
    ok enough.

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  23. While our son was at MSU, we enjoyed several trips to Michigan. We visited the UP with him and saw the Lake Superior shore line, a massive spring, wildlife galore, and of course, The Bridge. We also traveled up the east shore of Lake Michigan, climbed Sleeping Bear dune, visited some of the shore towns, saw ruins of old towns, and ate in some really interesting and not expensive places. Also enjoyed our visits in Lansing including long walks along the river. One of the best things is the MSU campus, especially the gardens and landscaping, including the children’s area and the plots done by graduate students in landscape architecture.

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  24. My last trip to Michigan was the Summer of 2010 with my last girlfriend. We camped the first night in Van Buren State Park, watched the Lake Michigan sunset, took in some quaint South Haven restaurants both that evening and the following morning, then drove up along the Lake through scenic Blue Star vineyards and blueberry farms. From Holland we let our navigation system beeline us through the forests of Big Rapids and Cadillac so we’d arrive at our Traverse City campground before dark.

    This turned out to my best vacation ever. When I made our reservations by phone I was assured a quiet spot with no mosquitos. I was truly elated to find no mosquitoes in our campground. As far as noise. That evening a team of cops and firemen who had driven up from Toledo for a Traverse City hockey tournament set up camp next to us.

    They shared our fire pit and fine beers we had earlier scored at a Big Rapids beer outlet near Ferris State University. These men, I tell you, were nearly out of control. The campground owner had to more than once golfcart herself over to us to sternly soften our exuberance. Nevertheless, it was a sincere joy to be surrounded by these Midwestern personalities. I felt at home with these boys, men who age-wise were just a bit older than myself, but who embodied a certain extroverted affability I find characteristic of the Midwest—a most lovely persona I don’t encounter much in Pittsburgh.

    This vacation was for my girlfriend who just graduated from med school and was in need of some serious rest and relaxation before entering a most grueling internship. So the young doctor and I explored this area of Michigan (including Sleeping Beer Dunes) at her leisurely pace. Sometimes we just stayed near camp.

    One evening we watched on radar a severe thunderstorm developing over Lake Michigan. As it slowly heading our way I cooked our dinner over some hot coals, packed up the car to keep everything dry, and made sure the tent was stocked. I love being in tents during rain storms. I like the feel, smell, and sound of it all.

    Well, unbeknownst to me, my girlfriend’s tent wasn’t very rainproof. If I would have known this fact—we would have brought my tent instead. But here we were with a leaky tent. Which is no fun. I don’t recommend it.

    It rained hard all throughout the night. So at some point we hopped in the car and headed down to the bay to try to find some hotel accommodations. We called and drove everywhere. It was the height of the tourism season. There was no room in the Inns anywhere. We found a 24 hour Wal-Mart and bought a tarp and a dry blanket and made do with our tent. It was fun.

    Fwiw, my beloved girlfriend was an exceptionally smart, beautiful and godly woman. I was ready and willing to spend the rest of my life with her, but shortly thereafter, for whatever reason I decided to end the relationship. It was possibly the most difficult decision I have ever made. I never want to breakup with a woman ever again.

    Happy Resurrection Day, everyone!

    {{{{ Michigan advances to the Final Four }}}}

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  25. Monax- This sounds like it could a Pure Michigan ad! Till the last paragraph, heart breaking. We spend a good amount of time in the summer on Lake Charlevoix.
    I am going to cheer for Michigan, but it is a little hard to swallow being that we MSU beat them by 20 or more points at home, and lost to them at their house in the few seconds of the game.
    I will be cheering for Louisville because my 2 year old grand daughter, Charlie has them in her final four bracket. (She picked Wichita State too)
    Charlie & the story of her brackets. First year with Daddy at a month old she picked by blinking, last year she picked by choosing blueberries, this year it was colors, mascots & alphabet! She is brilliant, I will fill out a bracket next year based on her picks. ( : but I’m not a biased grandma at all ( ;
    Her daddy posted this on facebook:
    “You have to be kidding me Charlie!!! 99.7 pct in ESPN brackets, has 2 correct in final four and the other 2 still alive…wow!
    Either she has infinite wisdom or it really does go to show that colors, mascots and alphabet are the way to go”

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  26. My second bracket had Gonzaga going all the way—but Wichita State came out of nowhere and bumped them out of the tournament early.

    Well I like Charlie’s foresight. And fwiw I need Wichita State to beat Louisville otherwise I owe my buddy a beer. I’m meeting up with him this Tuesday for Happy Hour, so I should probably just concede and pick up the check. Louisville is just way too strong for anyone left except for maybe Syracuse.

    Thing is: this time around I didn’t do much research on the teams and I only bet a beer. I picked with my heart and put no money on the brackets this year. And it worked out wonderfully well for me not being too emotionally attached to my picks—especially with our Michigan surprise!

    Torch Lake is my favorite lake up there. I should check out Lake Charlevoix next time I’m up there. Actually, I’d love to relocate up there myself. That’s right at the at the 45th parallel. Just perfect for me. . =]

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  27. Munising harbor on Lake Superior is beautiful as are the many waterfalls along the Lake Superior shore. I still have photos from an early 1970s trip to Munising.

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  28. Well now, here’s a coincidence!

    Over the Memorial Day weekend I was having a conversation with a family member about the inadequacies of the church we both attended, I likened it to an outpatient clinic/theme park instead of a full service hospital it made itself out to be. They acknowledged that but also shared their perspective which helped shift the focus from them to me… was I positioned to do something about it? A repairer of the breach, so to speak.

    Soon after, a couple of other family members came out and joined the conversation, asking what we’d been talking about. I summarized, saying pretty much what’s written above, seeing an opportunity to do something… to effect change. Then after a brief pause, joked that I was going to protest out front… we had some fun with that imagery for a bit and then shifted the conversation.

    Because, while the individual is helped, the body isn’t. The culture remains unchanged. The initial charges can’t be verified and the individual is sidelined/idled through christian counseling… there will always be the question hanging over his head… the doubt, and with it the stigma. To me, restoring (Gal 6:1) means just that.

    The best man can do is insufficient to restore the man… period. All the counseling sessions in the world, may help lessen the pain of years of being stigmatized but it’ll do nothing to remove those labels. He’s the one who…; Oh, he’s in counseling… Wasn’t he the lunatic picketing?

    When Jesus restores, even the demoniac was seen as ‘clothed and in his right mind’ and told to “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” Not just healed, clothed and restored… but a witness to God’s grace. With man’s plan… how many years before able to minister? … participate in ministry?

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