For a number of reasons, not least of which was a scheduling conflict at our normal location for church tomorrow and the fact that most people want to be with their families on Christmas day, we had a Christmas Eve service today instead. It was a fairly small, informal affair, with only about 20 people in all including more children than adults. After the service, I took this picture and if I have their names right, they are Olivia, Alyssa, and Ellie behind Hope and Sugar (the dog).
Cross Community Rockville
It’s December and that means all sorts of Christmas parties (or, if work-related, holiday parties, but that’s a post for another time). The first Christmas party of the season was with our church family. It was hosted by our pastor and his wife (and their kids, I suppose) and it was a full house. I honestly don’t know how many of us were there but it was a good crowd. Of course, being a pot luck, there was way more food than we could eat, although I guess some folks didn’t get to try things that ran our early. For me, the highlight was little smokies wrapped in bacon and then sprinkled with brown sugar and baked. Man, were those good (thanks, Joanna and Juan). There was an excellent cake, as well, made by Brigitte with candied cranberries on top. While the cake was excellent, to me the cranberries were the best part.
Naturally I took pictures and this is one I really like, a couple of wonderful young folk named Lizzy and Josh. I enjoyed sitting with them a while and chatting and I’m glad this pictures turned out so well.
It’s a small and fledgling youth group, I admit, but this is at a small and fledgling church, so perhaps that’s appropriate. This is one of a bunch of pictures I took to promote our youth group. We cannot offer crowds and huge events. But we can offer something a little more individual. Our ministry goals are really the same as for Cross Community church: to share the gospel, love the city, and build community, all within the context of youth.
Will and Ethan have both been in pictures posted here, both separately and together. We were at their house this evening and I took a few of Ethan and then this one of the two brothers together, which I think is a good picture. I’m finding that on the days I don’t go out during the day at work, I’m having a harder time coming up with a post-worthy picture. Going to someone else’s house is helpful, of course, because there is always something new to photograph, even if it’s just their kids. Will asked me to send this to him, which I did, so if you’ve already seen this from him, you’ll now know where it came from.
We had originally planned an outing for folks from out church to the family property in Pennsylvania for August but a lot of folks couldn’t come that weekend so we moved it to today. The day we would have gone in August was sweltering and muggy. Today was cool but beautiful. The wind was a bit strong but we had a fire going the whole day and I think that those who went all had a good time. I know I did. Being outside all day, cooking over a fire, and of course being with friends (old and new) is a great way to spend a day. Cathy was the first to go out in the canoe, battling the wind. As you can see, the trees are starting to turn.
One nice thing about being involved in a new church is that it’s forcing us to meet lots of new people. This is a family we’ve started to get to know. On the left are Victor’s parents, Gamal and Monira, then Sally’s mother, Sue. To the right of them (their left) is Sarah in the back and Daniel in front, Sally, Victor behind her, and Vera on the end. Of course, there are upsides and downsides to many things in life. Being heavily involved in this church has been really good but it’s meant that we’ve seen some good friends a lot less, much less than I’d like. Hopefully we can remedy that, at least a little.
Today was a significant day in the life of our young church (Cross Community Church / http://www.cross-community.org/). For the last 20 months, we’ve been meeting at First Baptist of Rockville, for 8 months in a room downstairs and then for a year in the sanctuary, always in the afternoon. We are and will always be grateful for their generosity to us but it was time for us to move to a morning church service and to do that, we needed to be somewhere else (they wanted to continue using their sanctuary in the mornings for their own service, which I suppose it reasonable). Starting this morning we had our first 11:00 AM service at the Rockville Senior Center (1150 Carnation Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20850 / 39° 06′ 00″ N, 77° 10′ 36″ W).
Nooree and Jane moved out today, heading back to Philadelphia and the next stage of their epic journey. We are so blessed to have had the chance to get to know them and look forward to hearing about the next stage of their lives. We’re also going to miss them and their darling, wonderful, exuberant, and beautiful children. Cathy and I have been involved in countless moves through the years and now that we’re the other side of 50 we have less trouble saying that we’ll play with the kids or I’ll take pictures for posterity. We actually didn’t even show up until the truck was about 99% loaded. Nooree asked if I’d take a group picture for them and here it is. Note: I’m in this picture. That part was taken by Cathy. The rest is mine.
We had a bit of an unusual church service this week. Our pastor was out of town. He knew he would be leaving sometime but didn’t know when, for sure. This is all due to an adoption process that is very time consuming (not to mention costly) and fraught with all sorts of hurdles and hoops over and through which the adoptive parents must leap.
Instead of a regular sermon, we heard from six people from the church, four individuals and one couple. One of them was Alshadye, the young woman in this photograph. As we were preparing before the service, we were looking for pictures of the various speakers to put up on the screens. I had at least one of each of the others (and we also found some on Facebook) but I didn’t have any that were any good of Alshadye.
So, after the service I got out my camera (as I often do) and took some pictures, including this one of her with her son, Adera.
Not having a picture was pretty irrelevant, of course. What she shared with us was much more important and I’m so thankful to have her worshiping with us and involved in our community.
It was a pretty eventful day, but more about that in a minute. We want to Ben and Erin’s house for our bi-weekly prayer meeting and Bible study. It was a good time, both for the actual prayer and Bible study and simple as a time with friends. As usual, I brought my camera. I don’t always get it out, but I typically have it with me anywhere I go. This is Will and Ben (or more precisely Ben and Ben, but the younger Ben goes by his middle name, which is William.
Will took a bunch of pictures with my camera, as well, and I thought I’d share one of them with you. So, this is a self portrait that he took, not really realizing that the flash would totally overwhelm the rest of the picture. But I kind of like it. It’s a somewhat surreal self portrait and suited to his personality. He also took a really good picture of me making a weird face at the camera. I won’t be sharing that one.
We were over at Ben and Erin’s this evening for a prayer meeting and Bible study. Before we got started I took a few pictures of various people. The I let Wil and Grace both take some pictures with my camera (with decidedly mixed results). When I took my camera back, I got this picture of Wil, Grace, and Ben (in the middle). I think it’s a pretty decent picture, especially of Wil and Ben (sorry, Grace, you looked down just at the crucial moment). But then, I think they are pretty decent people.
Taking pictures of kids can be fun but it can also present some very unique challenges. One of the biggest issues with kids is that, even if they want to be photographed, they often don’t know how to smile naturally. That’s sometimes true for adults, as well, of course, but not as common. With kids, even if they have the most beautiful smile in the world, if you ask them to smile, you get a very forced, very unnatural, toothy grin.
What’s really nice, though, is when you are able to catch an real, natural smile on one of these little ones. This picture is a great example. Rena’s “smile please” isn’t terrible, but it’s still a little less natural than her “real” smile. This is her real smile. It may not be her biggest, happiest smile, but it’s genuine and delightful.
This is Grace. Grace likes babies. I mean, she really likes babies. The baby in vogue at the moment is Marley, an adorable little thing, although her mother says she beginning to exhibit signs of being naughty in a stealthy sort of way. She makes up for it by being so darn cute, but of course, human nature being what it is, she’ll need some correction along the way.
It’s been about eleven months that we’ve been getting to know Grace and her family, as well as all our wonderful new friends at Cross Community Rockville. We’ve been greatly blessed by them and I don’t know that my feeble writing skills can do justice to how grateful we are to them all.
One thing I’m especially looking forward to, as I do wherever I am, it watching these little ones grow up. This is one of the few benefits of being old—the ability to see the trees and not just the forest. On the other hand, of course, with age comes oldness, as we like to say.
I had dinner with these guys this evening at Matchbox in Rockville. If you go there, I can highly recommend the spicy meatball pizza and the plate of six mini-burgers. The burgers themselves are good but the pile of thinly sliced, fried onions were really great. We had a great time talking about whatever came to mind. Thanks, guys for putting up with my puns. This picture was taken outside, where there is a fire burning at the corner of the building. I didn’t have anything to put the camera on, so the platform around the fire takes up a fair amount of the foreground.
We had our bi-weekly prayer meeting and Bible study this evening and these three were having fun with the harpsichord at the Brights’ house. Each played singly but when I got out my camera, they gathered and all played together.
As you can see, they are all on the hammier end of the spectrum, mugging for the camera. They actually can play pretty well and I’m looking forward to hearing them play more as they get older and more accomplished.
We had a somewhat impromptu get together this evening (which as I write this, on July 30, was actually a very long week and a half ago). Our house isn’t necessarily set up for kids these days, with Dorothy having moved on from dolls and toys, but we managed to find things that would entertain the younger folks. This little gem, Addie by name, deserves to have an exclamation mark after her name. She is a bright light wherever she goes and we were terrifically glad that she came with her family.
She is not bashful in the least, while her brother, Jonah, is a little bit shy. I got pictures of him, as well, but they don’t do him justice. I think, however, that we will get along very well and I’m looking forward to getting to know them in the years ahead.
Our church has a longstanding tradition, going back at least a month, that on the first Sunday of each month we have a lunch together before our service, which is at 2:30 in the afternoon. It was such a beautiful day today and being the Fourth of July weekend, we thought a picnic would be appropriate. I took a few pictures and it wasn’t hard to pick this one as my favorite. The girls are Hope, Grace, and Charis (from the Greek χάρις, meaning grace). So, Hope, Grace, and Grace (or Grace2).
Before church this afternoon (our gathering is not until 2:30 on Sundays) a bunch of us went to York Castle for ice cream. If you happen to be in the Montgomery College (Rockville) neighborhood on a hot afternoon (or anytime, really), you could make worse choices for a refreshing snack. I went with Caribbean cherry (although I’m not entirely sure how that differs from mainland, North American cherry) and was not disappointed. Cathy had lychee, which is quite different but also very good. A lot of folks played it safe with mango, which is always a sure thing. I was taking pictures and Kellan wasn’t sure he wanted his taken until I suggested we take one together. He smiled for the picture that Abbie took with my camera after this but I’m posing pictures that I took, so that’s what you get. Taking a selfie with an SLR isn’t quite as easy as with a phone, but this one turned out pretty well.
I’ve really enjoyed getting to know a bunch of new people in this church plant in which we’ve become involved. Normally meeting and getting to know new people terrifies me, but I’m actually enjoying it. At the same time, I still have moments of terror. You see, I suffer from a serious but somewhat strange malady. I don’t know what it is called or even if it has a name. For all I know it is called “you’re an idiot”. Anyway, I have a hard time with names. Always have. I remember faces pretty well but when it comes to associating names with them, not so much. I’m not talking your normal level of forgetting names. This is serious. Even with someone I know reasonably well, I hesitate to use their name because I’m afraid I’ll get it wrong.
As for this photo, I have only known these folks for a couple months, seeing them at church once a week. It makes me nervous to label the picture with their names. Someone, please correct me (gently) if I got it wrong. Nevertheless, I’m glad to be stretched in this way. This is where I need to be.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I went camping with some of the guys from church. When Ben (our pastor) suggested a camping trip, I mentioned that our family owns some property in Pennsylvania and it might be a good place to go. While talking about the place, I mentioned something about my niece planning to have her wedding there next year and that there was some work that needed to be done. He thought it would be great to have the guys do a bit of bush whacking. We cleared the brush growing on the inside slope of the dam around the pond as far as the overflow pipe (about half way around).
I didn’t work as hard as some of the younger guys (or as hard as the one guy there who is older than me, for that matter). Mostly I dragged the cut brush down the dam and into the woods. I also took a few breaks to take pictures, both of the guys working and of the flowers growing on the dam. While I was photographing the bluets in the first picture here, a small insect came to visit them. At first I thought it was something related to the sphinx moths but after doing a little searching I believe instead that it is a bee fly (Family Bombyliidae). Anyway, pretty neat.
After the work on the dam, cutting brush including trees with trunks up to about three inches in diameter, we did a bit of shooting. We had in our number a former county police officer as well as a few gun enthusiasts. We had a gun safety talk and then we shot the heck out of a few targets. I’m happy to say that no one was hurt, although the ground behind the targets was a bit torn up. The photo I have posted here of yours truly was taken by Joel, one of my fellow campers (thanks, Joel!). Yes, that’s one of the hated (and also much loved) AR-15s you hear so much about. I found it to be quite easily handled, much lighter and less kick than my .35 Remington, which has a significantly larger cartridge. In addition to the rifle, I also fired three handguns, a Glock .40 caliber a Glock 9mm and a Ruger .22 long. I quite enjoyed myself. Our neighbors (about a half mile away) came to see what the fuss was all about, but once they saw it was nothing untoward and it was me, not some local kids, they left us in peace (or whatever, but this clearly isn’t Maryland).
While the shooting was going on, there was some serious meat being cooked over the fire. David had brought two boneless rib roasts, which he put on a spit and wrapped with bacon. They cooked for about two hours and where between medium rare and medium when they were taken off. I have to say that while there are not many pieces of meat that I don’t enjoy, a good piece of rib cooked over an open fire is about as good as it gets. This meat was about as close to perfection as you are likely to find.
When the shooting, with its significant noise, was finished and our delicious lunch was consumed, some folks packed up for the day and headed home. It was early enough, though, and Andy and his son wanted to do a little more fishing. So, those who were still there spent a much quieter hour or so pulling bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus) out of the pond. I think their chances of catching bass would have been increased with spinners rather than worms but I don’t think it made much difference to Ethan. What he caught was much less important than that he caught something. We weren’t catching breakfast, so the fact that everything was too small to eat didn’t matter. Also, the guns and their noise had made him a little nervous but the time we spent fishing in the quiet, afternoon sun was just the thing to help him relax again. I have to admit that even though I enjoyed the shooting and would do it again, I’m more likely to head out with a rod and reel for some solitude.
All in all, it was a great time. I haven’t known any of these guys for more than about five months and this weekend helped me to get to know them and them me. We need to do this again.
Some of the men from Cross Community Church went camping, up at my family’s place in Pennsylvania. We had a nice time around the fire on Friday night after a great dinner of burgers and hot dogs. Of the ten people there that evening, there were four Bens (although one of them goes by Will). Two of them are in this picture, Ben and Ben on the left, with Marc on the right. We stayed up talking until about midnight. What a way to spend a cool, spring Friday evening. It doesn’t get much better.
I’ve posted a few pictures from the church plant that we’ve become involved in. This week, despite the somewhat lousy weather (or icy weather, anyway, trying to put a more optimistic spin on it), we met this afternoon. We even had a pretty good turnout, all things considered (and why anyone would make a judgment without considering all things is beyond me). As usual, I took a few pictures and I like this one the best. Most of you will recognize Cathy, of course. This is Erin that she is with.
Two church-related posts in two days. Sorry about that but it’s what’s been going on. They are from two different churches, neither of which is the church of which we are members, which I find a bit interesting. I posted a picture last week of David (February 15, 2015) and mentioned a church plant in Rockville that we’ve become involved with. This evening there was a service to install pastor Ben as a member of the Potomac presbytery (PCA) as an associate pastor of McLean Presbyterian Church. His job, however, will be here in Rockville. It was good to gather and celebrate this event with our newly found friends, our brothers and sisters, and we look forward to the weeks and months ahead as we walk down this road together.
Through an unlikely series of connections, we’ve recently become friends with a new group of people. One of Dorothy’s classmates was Jack. Through him, Dorothy met his girlfriend, Abbie. Through that, we met her parents. He is a pastor and has been led to plant a new church in Rockville. We have become involved in that and are meeting with them on Sunday afternoons.
They have already started getting used to the idea of me taking pictures fairly often but I’ve hesitated to post any of them. This one makes me laugh, not least because when he noticed my camera aimed at him, David put on an expression and posed for me, looking thoughtful and serious. Then we both laughed.
Love the beard, David.