Thursday, August 31, 2006


Monday, August 21, 2006


SAN BLAS, Mexico. Three Mexican fishermen have been rescued after drifting for about nine months across thousands of miles of the Pacific Ocean in a small boat, an ordeal they survived by eating raw birds and fish and drinking rain water.

The shark fishermen said on Wednesday they left their home town of San Blas on Mexico's Pacific coast in November and were blown 5,000 miles off course after their 25-foot fiberglass boat ran out of gas and they were left to the mercy of the winds and the tides.

Their families had given them up for dead, but they found a way to survive in what appeared to be one of the most impressive feats of endurance on the high seas.

The news stunned friends and relatives.

"It's truly a miracle. Everyone is very happy," said Jose Guadalupe Guerra, a town hall official in San Blas.

The three men were sunburned but otherwise in good health. Vidana said they always believed they would be found.

They were lucky to be picked up in the end because they were fast asleep and only noticed the rescue boat was coming for them when they heard its engine.

Details of the extraordinary journey were sketchy. First reports said they were lost for three months but relatives confirmed Vidana's version that they left nine months ago.

Vidana also said five passengers set sail that day for a three hour tour. The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew their boat would be lost. He added that his lovely wife had gone to visit her parents for awhile and he thought it would be a good time to go for a short trip.

Vidana, also known around San Blas as El Cristiano Fumando, stated, “I’m just glad to be back. I need to get back into my garage and check the status of my blog. I haven’t had a smoke in nine months and the garage is almost completely aired out.

People had been concerned about the whereabouts of the former adman but neighbors said they had noticed nothing at all unusual around the house.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


All of you alumni of the Harvard of Evangelicalism, you better sit down. Are you sitting? If you need a bracer, I suggest you go to the fridge or the cabinet and pour a tall one. OK. Are you back? All right then. Here we go.

The U.S. News and World Report has come out with their annual ratings of American universities and colleges.

Wheaton is listed under “Top Liberal Arts Colleges.” It is ranked number 61.

Ahead of Wheaton are colleges like Oberlin (22), Macalester (23), Wabash (51), and Wheaton (MA) (55). We are tied with Illinois Wesleyan. (We’re not even first in our conference!) Thank goodness we beat out Hope, Lake Forest, and Transylvania (KY) who came in tied at 95!

Does this call for a day of mourning or introspection?

And they think things have gotten so much better since they got us out of there!

On second thought, maybe it still is the Harvard of Evangelicalism because Harvard came in third behind Princeton and Yale!


It was with a certain amount of jealousy that I read the Yakimaniac’s post about going skiing in August with his son. I thought to myself, “Now there is a man who knows how important it is to have quality father-son time! That’s a good thing!”

My best father-son time with Aaron and Caleb came when they were younger; before college. I coached both of them in baseball and football. We spent a lot of time together in sports activities. Back in those days we used to take at least one really good vacation together every summer. When I was pastoring in the Baptist General Conference we tied our family vacations to the denominational annual meetings and got to see a great deal of the United States. They were really good days.

But with Aaron living in Lake Tahoe and Caleb at university up in Sault Ste. Marie, we haven’t had a lot of good father-son time in recent years. True, Caleb and I spent a lot of time together this summer working on the basement. He was a huge help when it came to hanging the drywall. And he practically put up all the trim himself. We probably spent more time together this summer than we have in quite awhile.

Still, I kept wishing we had more fun things we could do together. So, last week we went nuts and had some really good, quality, father-son time. You need a little background information.

I got really involved in doing Moorhead genealogy a number of years ago. Before my paternal grandmother died, I sat with her and asked her all the questions I could think of and then wrote down her answers. One time when I was in Scotland I had a great break and found a Moorhead who had done a huge amount of work on the genealogy. In fact, he had traced us back into the 900’s. To all appearances, we were a lowland family that had settled in the Strathclyde district southeast of Glasgow. Most Scots-Americans want to find out which highlands clan they are related to so they can find a coat of arms and a clan tartan. It seemed there would be none of that for us. We were a lowland family with no connections to any clan.

Then last year I found a website run by Clan Muirhead (Scots spelling of our name). I began to look into it and discovered that the Muirheads really were a clan; a lowlands clan! There are a number of interesting technicalities about being a lowlands clan which I don’t need to go into here. The point is, there is a petition before the Scots Parliament to recognize the Muirheads as an official clan of Scotland. A coat of arms and a clan tartan have been discovered after much research.

Well this information filled the Moorhead men with a great deal of Scots pride. We were together in California for Christmas and we were all talking about it. We wanted to express our Scots pride in some way. What to do?

Well, last Wednesday Caleb and I took the first step and spent some really quality father-son time together. We took the artwork (pictured above) for the Clan Muirhead badge up to the tattoo parlor in Grand Rapids and had it tattooed on our shoulder/biceps. We made quite a hit at Mos Eisley’s (the tattoo parlor). They were very impressed that a father and son came in together to get family tattoos. They were even more impressed when they found out I was a pastor! The artist (his name is Aaron!) kept saying he’d never worked on a pastor before!

Mos Eisley’s is a very reputable place, nothing like I expected. The smell of disinfectant was everywhere! They had nice private booths that looked more like doctors’ examination rooms than anything else. I was happily impressed that it wasn’t some back alley joint with a bunch of bikers hanging out there.

I had heard there is some pain involved in getting a tattoo. I went first. The outlining part was a breeze! In fact, I almost fell asleep! But when he got down to doing the details and the shading I woke up right away! The skin had already been stressed out where he was working and the needle was moving much slower with the lettering and the shading. I thought the guy was trying to drill a hole in my shoulder! I tried to keep the smile on my face while I talked to Caleb. You know, good old father-son time; but it was hard to do!

So I’m now tattooed! My Scots pride is flowing out everywhere. Elizabeth, daughter #1, thinks it’s the coolest thing in the world and keeps coming up and pulling up my sleeve just to gawk at it. At church this morning she kept bringing her friends around to see it. I was a little embarrassed and a little proud at the same time.

By the way, the motto on the badge says, “By the help of God.” Good motto!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


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Monday, August 14, 2006


August 15, 1965…

They brought the mask close to my face and the last thing I remember was someone saying, “Count backwards from 100…”

Just short of my twelfth birthday I was about to have my chest cracked open, my ribcage spread apart, and a lung temporarily removed so the heart surgeon could correct a recently discovered birth defect…a coarc in my aorta.

Spring, 1965

All the sixth graders in the Long Beach Unified School District were going through the usual tradition of having physicals in preparation for going to school camp. It was something we looked forward to all through sixth grade. Soon our class would go up to a camp in the mountains for a week of nature and science studies. For most of us it would be our first time going away to camp. But first, all the kids needed to have a physical which was administered by some kindly doctor the school brought in. He couldn’t really do much because he had so many kids to look at. In my case, he didn’t need to do much at all.

Summer, 1965

I was taken to the family doctor. I couldn’t figure it out. I felt fine. What I didn’t know was that the school physical had revealed a blood pressure reading of 220/180. Something wasn’t right. They needed to find out why my blood pressure was so high. What really bothered me at that point was that they wouldn’t let me play baseball all summer. I had made the major division of our Little League and was supposed to play for Douglas Aircraft. Had to sit out the whole summer.

Our family doctor sent me on to a heart specialist who started a battery of tests that were rather scary. First, I had to save all my urine for a week. Those were the days when milk was delivered to the house in glass bottles. I peed in one of those milk bottles for a whole week. If you think carrying a urine sample through the waiting room is embarrassing, how do you think I felt walking into the office with a whole milk bottle full of urine?

They seemed to have some trouble figuring out what my problem was. One day I had to go to the hospital and have a bunch of heart specialists examine me individually. I guess they were hoping to come up with a common diagnosis without consulting with each other. By the end of that day I was so sick of being poked and groped that I never wanted to see the inside of a hospital again!

Finally they decided to do a heart catheterization. I had to be admitted to the hospital for that one. It was way worse than the surgery itself! I had to be awake for this test. They made about a one inch incision on the inside of my right arm just above the elbow and slipped the tube into the artery. They shoved that tube all the way up and then down to my heart and then injected radioactive dye into it. There was a nurse standing by my head talking to me and trying to distract me the whole time. It still hurt like crazy! It just burned and burned and I didn’t think it would ever be over!

That test did it. They were able to see the dye backing up at the aorta. It seems I was born with a coarc (pinch) in my aorta right near where the aorta attaches to the heart. My heart was working way too hard trying to pump the blood to my lower extremities. The doctors all nodded at each other and agreed that this was the reason they couldn’t find a pulse in my groin or feet. Not enough blood was getting down there. It had to be fixed.

They decided to go through my left ribcage. They could pry my ribs far enough apart to take out a lung and do the surgery that way.

It was a tough summer. The Dodgers were on their way to winning the National League pennant. (They would beat the Minnesota Twins in the World Series that October.) The Dodgers sponsored a contest for kids who would keep a scorecard for every game that summer. With all my appointments and hospital visits I missed a few games. The Watts riots were in full swing. As for me, I was going into Long Beach Memorial Hospital for heart surgery!

August 15, 1965

Actually, I don’t know what the date was when I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit. I don’t remember much, really. My parents were there. Our pastor came in once and prayed over me. I had a drainage tube in my left side. The nurses kept trying to get me to cough. They told me that if I couldn’t clear my own lungs I would have to stay in ICU. There was a girl in the next bed who coughed better than I did. She got out first. My chest just hurt too bad.

I was on some serious painkillers. I don’t know what they were, but I hated them. I was having horrible dreams and time seemed to stop. I remember one dream I had. The hospital maintenance guys came into the ICU to paint it while I was lying there. They covered everything up except for my bed. Then they proceeded to paint the unit with all kinds of psychedelic colors. I kept asking what time it was and the nurse got sick of telling me. Seems I was asking the time about every minute. That was my first and only experience with hard drugs.

I finally got out of ICU and into a room. The one thing I really remember clearly is that my feet always felt hot. I couldn’t figure it out. Finally a doctor told me that I was getting strong circulation in my feet for the first time and my feet felt hot because of that.

I think I was in the hospital for about seven or eight days. I really can’t remember now. I got a lot of attention and everyone was really nice to me when I got home.

September 9, 1965

My twelfth birthday. My dad wanted to treat me to something really special so he took my Grandpa Larson and me up to Dodger Stadium to see the Dodgers play the Cubs. That was the night Sandy Koufax pitched his perfect game. Yes, I was there.

I started 7th grade at Leland Stanford Junior High. Amazingly, I played football that fall. All of my post op check ups were fine. Now my high blood pressure must be due to stress!

Forty one years ago tomorrow. I remember the date every year and thank God for the years he has given me.

Thanks for stopping by. You guys are all great!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


We just returned from a very nice week away up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Friends from Shiloh have a cabin up on the St. Mary's River and they invited us up for several days.

Ben had to go to band camp all week and Caleb and John had to work so we took our first trip with only the three girls. Let me tell you, I love the boys but the girls are just so much easier!

It was a great getaway. The cabin is ideally located with a gorgeous view of the river where it is about a mile across. It’s actually called Lake Nicollet at that location. I love watching the huge ships going by on their way up to or down from the Soo Locks. It was a very relaxing time away. I did a lot of reading. We had a big bonfire one evening out beside the river.

We left on Friday morning and drove down to St. Ignace and took the ferry across to Mackinac Island. What a gorgeous day that was! It may have been the prettiest day I have ever spent on the island.

The highlight of the week was by far the wave runners. The kids always look forward to going for rides on the wave runners when we go up north. Tom has a couple of really nice machines. We took them out for awhile on Wednesday evening. Tom takes one of the girls on his machine and I take another. (Mary doesn’t like them so she stayed in the cabin.) I was driving Elizabeth (15) on my wave runner. Turns out she likes to go fast. When I climbed in back and let her drive she had the thing up to 60 in no time! (I decided drivers’ training could wait at least another year!)

On Thursday a couple of huge freighters went by the cabin and we jumped on the wave runners and started following them up the river toward the locks. We passed the first ship and I was stunned by the size of it! You get up close to one of those 1,000-footers and you feel like an ant. I had a pang of nervousness as I rode by with my daughter on the back. What if I did something wrong and we fell off? I pressed on heroically and all was well.

We passed the second freighter and continued up toward the locks. We stopped the wave runners in the channel and looked at Canada there on the right, the International Bridge from the US to Canada, and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on the left. It was just beautiful! The second ship we had passed was beginning to approach so Tom said we should probably fire up the wave runners, cross the channel and head back. Sounded good to me. I didn’t want to sit in the channel with those ships coming up.

Tom started his machine and took off across the channel. I started mine and gave it a little gas as I turned around. Just as I began my turn a one foot rogue wave hit the side of the wave runner. It felt like the Poseidon Adventure! I was caught completely off guard and was pitched right into the channel. Catch this picture: I’m in the water looking up at Elizabeth on the wave runner and behind her is a 1,000 foot freighter. OK, no problem. Just climb up on the back, start the machine, and calmly move out of the way. Plenty of time!

I succeeded in climbing onto the machine. Then Elizabeth and I had to change places. I told her to go left while I go right. Needless to say, I am much heavier than she is. The machine started to tip dangerously in my direction. I looked up at the ship as I fell headlong into the river a second time. By this time, Tom had looked back and observed this comedy of errors. He was riding to the rescue.

I climbed aboard a second time. I kept taking little glances down at the approaching freighter, trying to act calm, cool, and collected while wondering what the headlines would say. Since I am here writing this, you know that Elizabeth and I were able to change places and escape the tragic disaster that was bearing down on us.

We all laughed about it at dinner but it was something I’ll never forget. Isn’t that what vacations are supposed to be all about? Making memories?

Welcome back, OG. Thanks for stopping by. You guys are great!