Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

This past weekend was a particularly busy one.  It began Friday night when we attended the monthly Movie Night at our local church in Smyrna, DE.  Saturday morning I assisted our Pastor in a memorial service for a 97 year-old saint in our church, Thelma Shriver.

That afternoon we drove to Spring Grove, PA to attend the TFC York Chapter's 24th Annual Banquet.  We stayed in York, PA Saturday night and then Sunday morning we visited Lighthouse Fellowship Church in Red Lion, PA. We have been associated with Lighthouse for many years.  From there we drove back to Smyrna, DE to attend evening service at our home church.

Monday morning our Pastor and I drove to Linwood, PA for the interment service for Thelma Shriver followed by lunch with the immediate family.

Monday night Margaret insisted that I sleep with a young lady named Susan. [Did he just say what I thought he said?!] Susan is a sleep technician with Delaware Sleep Disorder Centers here in Smyrna. I spent the night with Susan for a polysomnogram (a sleep test) to confirm that I have Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  My OSA was discovered while I was in recovery following knee surgery back on May 28.

The test involved a video recording of me sleeping with 28 sensors stuck to me.  After confirming my OSA, Susan woke me up and hooked me to a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine.  The test concluded when she awakened me at 5:00 A.M.  I will be given the test results and recommended treatment after the data has been reviewed by a pulmonologist.

OSA could be a factor in my migraine induced vertigo.  OSA is known to cause headaches.  It can also affect short-term memory—mine is sometimes measured in nanoseconds!  Most importantly to Margaret is the potential to eliminate my snoring!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Busy Weekend

We had a wonderful and busy weekend.  Our 10 yr-old grandson, Patrick Sean, was visiting with us.  Friday afternoon the three of us went to the Air Mobility Command Museum located on the Dover Air Force Base.

AMC Museum

This is a picture of the tarmac next to the museum which is located in the hanger in the top center.  There are 19 restored aircraft inside and outside the museum.  I got this photo from the museum website.  It is a great museum and the admission is right, free.

Saturday was my 62nd birthday.

Birthday 1

Margaret and Patrick Sean had a birthday cake for me, complete with 62 candles!  I am amazed that our smoke detector did not go off!

Birthday 2

It is a wonder that the cake survived! (Chocolate Oreo, of course)


Patrick Sean shot a video of me opening his present to me, a bar of extra dark chocolate.

Saturday afternoon we drove to Lansdale, PA for the 29th annual TFC Bucks-Montgomery Chapter Pig Roast and concert

Pig Roast 1

As always, the food was great.  You can just see Patrick Sean at the far end of the serving line in the yellow hoodie.  Margaret is just to the right of him.

Pig Roast 2

Here is a closer picture of them.  Next to Margaret is Peg O'Hare, wife of TFC Director of Chaplains, Bunny O'Hare.  That evening there was a great Gospel Concert by the Mark Trammell Trio.  I brought two CDs and a video of them home.

I drove home after the concert.  This was my longest stint driving since my accident.  We were ready for a snack when we got back into Delaware and went to one of my favorite restaurants.

Charcoal Pit 1

The Charcoal Pit is a 1950's hamburger and ice cream restaurant that I started eating at when I was still in high school.

charcoal Pit 2

Patrick Sean was fascinated with the table-side jukebox

Charcoal Pit 3

Charcoal Pit 4

"The Pit" still serves milk shakes the old fashion way, in the metal mixing containers.  I had a triple thick, double chocolate shake (chocolate syrup and chocolate ice cream).

Sunday afternoon we went to the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington, DE.  Patrick Sean took a bunch of pictures of the animals there.

zoo 26

On the way home we stopped at another restaurant dating from my growing up days, The Dog House.  They specialize in foot-long hot dogs with a big assortment of optional toppings.

That evening we went to another Gospel concert.  This time we heard a great choir from the Smyrna AME church that came to our church to share their music ministry.  Today, Margaret and Patrick Sean drove to Philadelphia to tour the U.S. Mint.

Praise the Lord for a wonderful weekend.  I guess Patrick Sean enjoyed his visit because he was reluctant for Margaret to take him home to Virginia when it was time to leave this evening.  He wanted to stay a little longer.

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Roller Coaster Week

Monday was a rough day, especially for Margaret.  She had to have our 16 year-old pet cat, Darn Cat (DC).  He had lost more than half of his body weight and the vet said all of his tests were negative, it was just old age.

DC 4

Margaret holding DC shortly before he was put to sleep.
(see all of the photos)

On the up side of the week, our youngest grandson, 10 year-old Patrick Sean, is visiting us from VA for a week.  Tonight we went to watch a little league game.  Our church sponsors one of the teams and this was a good opportunity for us to check them out.

LIttle League1

Margaret and Patrick Sean sitting in the stands.  The temperature was in the mid sixties with a stiff breeze, quite chilly.

Little League3

The kids are really young.  The coaches operate a pitching machine to pitch the balls.  If you look closely you can see one of the bright orange balls in the air on the way to home plate.  If the batter doesn't hit a ball before their turn is over then a tee-ball stand is set up and they hit the ball on that. We had a good time.

Little League6

Patrick Sean spotted this purple car and had to take some pictures for his mom, Sheri.  Purple is her favorite color.

(see all of the photos)

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Anna's Baptism

Anna Marie Houchins is our granddaughter.  She was baptized September 9, 2008.

"My name is Anna Houchins. I'm 6 years old. I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was 4 years old. Easter was coming up, and my teachers Mrs. Sawyer and Mrs. Beale told me about Jesus: about His birth, about Him teaching people, about riding into Jerusalem, dying on the cross, and Him rising from the tomb. Then God answered some special prayers I prayed. I loved Jesus, so on my Mom's and Dad's bed, I asked God to forgive me forever because what Jesus did. Now I get to go to Heaven. I want to be baptized because I love Jesus."


(if you don't see a video above)

Her dad, Sam 2, and mom, Liane, are standing with her in the water.

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy Birthday

Last Saturday Margaret and I went to Arundel Mills, south of Baltimore, for a surprise birthday party for our friend and co-laborer Chaplain Hoppy.  Hoppy serves as the Lead Chaplain for God's Trucking Ministry at the TravelCenters of America in Jessup, MD.

Hoppy 3

Hoppy, on the right, was totally surprised when he arrived at the restaurant and found a group of us waiting for him.
Left to right: Linda (wife of Chaplain Tom), Evelyn, Jerry (head of God's Trucking Ministry), John (a truck driver), and Chaplain Hoppy

Hoppy 1

Chaplain Hoppy and Me
It was a wonderful party.  Hoppy is doing much better now and able to get around with a cane but makes sure he has someone with him when he ventures out.  He is now legally blind.  Controlling his blood sugar is still a challenge.  Hoppy recently moved into a larger room at the motel where he lives.  He now works part-time on the chapel (which is located in a room inside the truck stop).

Hoppy 4

Chaplain Tom, me, Chaplain Jim (Retired), Bonna (Jim's wife), Jake (grandson of John and Pat)

Hoppy 5

Chaplain Tom, driver John, Pat (John's wife)

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Refrigerator Art

The days of paper and crayons are over.  No more unrecognizable children's crayon squiggles on craft paper put up on the refrigerator door with a cute magnet.  That stuff is old hat for the electronic generation.  Now it's digital photos, doctored with photo editing software and distributed electronically.  For proof see the below photo art work from our youngest grandson, Patrick Sean, titled Me Me 1.  (I expect the "1" means there is more to come, or maybe that Margaret is his #1 Me Me?)

me me1

Me Me 1

Thank you Patrick Sean smile_regular

(Pray for me. I could be sleeping in the shed tonight for posting this.) smile_embaressed

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jim's Birthday

Our friend Jim Lipp's birthday was this week, Thursday, July 17th, and we wanted to do something special for him.  Margaret organized a card shower for him.

Jim 2

Margaret was in Elkton that Thursday to run some errands and met Jim at the truck stop for breakfast and gave him his cards. You can see how happy he was.

Jim 1

Jim had never heard of a card shower. Margaret had to explain what it was.  He received 20 cards Thursday plus three more that showed up later.  Jim says, "Thank you!", to all of those who sent him cards.

Jim 5

The rest of his celebration was a home cooked meal at our house yesterday, Saturday.  Margaret had asked Jim what he wanted and he requested kielbasa sausage, real mashed potatoes, and Bush's baked beans. Pictured above on the right is our friend, driver and Volunteer Chaplain Ron Jones, who was also invited.

Jim 4

Jim enjoying his special meal

Jim 3

Ron's dietary restrictions preclude kielbasa and potatoes so Margaret also fixed fish and rice for him.  I'm not a fan of fish so Margaret doesn't get it at home very often. She opted to have fish and rice also.

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Book Review: I Want To Believe

I Want to Believe: Finding Your Way In An Age of Many Faiths (Amazon) by Mel Lawrenz (Senior Pastor Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, WI) is a book that got me thinking about my faith from a different perspective.

Chapter 2, Why God Wants Us to Believe, was my favorite part of the book. Instead of focusing on why I should believe in God, Lawrenz instead reviews five reasons why God wants me to believe in Him. That gets to the core of Christianity, a personal relationship with God.  I found it to be a refreshing perspective.

As reflected in part of the title, An Age of Many Faiths, five chapters are devoted to the contrasts between Christianity and some of the other major world faiths, including Atheism.  Lawrenz does a good job here of using real-life examples of the influence various faiths have on their followers. This discussion is useful for Christians who interact with people of other faiths as well as non-Christians who are interested in exploring the differences.

Another highlight of the book for me was Chapter 6, Doubt. I believe we all have doubts about our faith from time to time...sometimes big ones and sometimes small ones.  Lawrenz does a nice job helping us to keep those doubts in proper perspective.

Overall this book was a refreshing read for me.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Friday, May 09, 2008

Zambia, Africa Film

Kevin Hansston recently contacted me and asked for my help in spreading the word about a film made by his church in Zambia.  Purchasing and viewing the film will not only introduce you to life in Zambia but also support God's work there.  From the film's website:

This unique film follows the work of a detective in modern Zambia who is hired to look for the missing body of an executed religious figure named 'Joshua'. We get a glimpse into Zambian life as we follow Tembo through a series of interviews leading to an exciting final meeting calling for Tembo to make a choice about "truth".

You can read a review of the film here.

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Black 'n Angus

How to tell when your anchor man is a city boy...


(if you don't see a video above)

Thanks to Bill Henderson for sharing this!

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Teen Challenge Banquet 2008

Last night Margaret and I attended the 2008 Teen Challenge of Philadelphia Annual Banquet (view post from last year's banquet).  As before, the event was held in the Hilton ballroom. We went to be with Volunteer Chaplain Alan Graham who volunteers with Teen Challenge in addition to his work on the TFC Elkton chapel.

This year is extra special for Teen Challenge because it marks the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Teen Challenge International by Dave Wilkerson. Last night we had the opportunity to view part of a special anniversary DVD the ministry has produced.

Teen Challenge 1

Cover of the evening's program

Teen Challenge 3

Chaplain Alan Graham and Margaret

Teen Challenge 5

Little Austin sat next to Alan and they had fun together before the program started

Teen Challenge 7

Austin and his mom, Tomika, who is on the Teen Challenge of Philadelphia full-time staff

Teen Challenge 8

The opening ceremony was a processional of current participants in the Philadelphia program.  The guys had flags and the gals were in front with various percussion instruments...all were singing.

Teen Challenge 9

Other than hearing the great testimonies, the highlight of the program for me is listing to the choir, led by Sherry McMillan.  Choir members are all current or past program participants. Sister Sherry has been involved in this ministry for 20 years.  They do a fantastic job!

Teen Challenge 10

No one sits when the choir sings!  We were all standing and praising the Lord!!
(view a flickr slide show of all of the pictures)

It is always inspiring to hear the personal testimonies of how God has delivered so many people from addictions.  We serve and AWESOME God!

(A special Thank You to Chaplain Ron Jones who kept the chapel open while we were at the banquet!)

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Making A Difference

This is a very good video about making a difference in other peoples' lives.  Well worth watching!


(if you don't see a video above)

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Monday, April 14, 2008

Non-Christians View of Christians

What do non-Christians think about Christians?


(if you don't see a video above)

As Christians, we have a lot of work to do in order to focus more on positive
interactions with unbelievers without diluting the message.

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Margaret's 60th Birthday (post script)

I forgot a very important part of the celebration at home.  After everyone else had left, Patrick Sean said he had something special for Meme.


Patrick Sean had picked out a special birthday cake for Margaret.


While Sheri was giving Margaret the cake, we all sang Happy Birthday with Patrick Sean playing the song for us.
He had learned the tune for the occasion. That was his special gift to Meme.

New Neighbors

The weather was mild Saturday morning so I opened most of the windows at home to air out our house.  Early in the afternoon, Margaret motioned me to quietly come to the doorway of our spare room.  When there, she pointed to the open window.  In the sand berry bush, just outside the window, was a mother robin sitting on her nest.

I had seen the nest when I opened the window that morning but there was no bird sitting in it then.  The bush is still bare and it didn't occur to me that the nest could be in use.


The flowers in the lower right are part of an arrangement of artificial flowers in a basket inside the window.
We probably wont be able to see the nest once the bush blooms.

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Margaret's 60th Birthday

Margaret's birthday is April 14.  Back in February of this year she told me that she had never had a surprise birthday party.  I decided that her 60th birthday would be an ideal time for her first surprise party!lightbulb

The first challenge was how to organize this without her realizing what was going on.  After all, we not only live together, we also work together.  Normally that's one of the blessings of our being in the same ministry.  It's a major problem though for something like this.  I needed someone who was sneaky and devious to help plan and coordinate this project without Margaret finding out.

My first choice for the job was Sharon Orshaw, our Pastor's wife.  She was not sure if my asking her was a compliment or not.  She did like the idea, though, and agreed to take on the job.  She in turn enlisted two more gals from church to help her — Sharon Daniels and Sharon Cahall.  These three did a great job of organizing all of the details for the surprise party.  We kept in touch with email and IM (instant messaging).  We chose 3:00 PM, Saturday, April 12, in the church fellowship hall, to have the party.

I began inviting folks to attend via a Windows Live Event website (setup so Margaret could not access it) plus a church emailing sent out by our church secretary, Marnie.  Folks without email were invited by phone or in person.  Obviously, we could not put this in the church bulletin!

It worked!  The party was this Saturday and Margaret had no clue what was coming.  I had told her not to make any plans for that afternoon because we were going out for her birthday.  She jumped to the conclusion that we were going out to eat.  After we got into the car, I told her we needed to first stop at the church because the Pastor had something to give us. (Thanks Marnie for coming up with that idea!)

The fellowship hall at the church is downstairs.  I parked in front of the church, so she couldn't see the church parking lot, and went in the front door.  (I found out later that a number of folks had parked elsewhere so she wouldn't see their cars in the lot.) She finally got suspicious when we got to the top of the stairway to the fellowship hall.  She could hear the voices of a lot of folks downstairs.  She looked at me and said, "You didn't?!".

Everyone there shouted "SURPRISE!" when we opened the door to the hall. What followed was one emotional high after another as Margaret recognized unexpected out-of-town friends and family one at a time.  She was so excited and surprised she actually walked right past our daughter and two grandsons the first time without even noticing them.  It was great.  A number of folks remarked that it was the first time they had ever known Margaret to be at a loss for words. smile_regular


Margaret finally realized daughter Sheri, and grandsons Jonathan and Patrick Sean were here from Virginia


left to right: Chaplain Tom Kramer; Chaplain Don Jaggers; and his wife Carol


Charlotte , Margaret, and Kenzel
Pastor Kevin Wall from Chesapeake City, MD, back left, and Sharon Orshaw way back in the kitchen
(that's the ribbon on a balloon in front of Margaret's face)


Lorraine, Thelma, Janice, and Tootsie - ladies from our church


very dear friends, Gordon and Edwina, who came all the way from western PA


Jessica with baby Danny, Pastor Kevin Wall and wife Dawn


front, left to right: Chaplain David Weaver, Linda Kramer, and husband Chaplain Tom Kramer
daughter Sheri is standing behind Margaret
(Chaplain Ron Jones was also there but didn't make it into any of my pictures)


Margaret with the three Sharons, left to right: Sharon Orshaw, Sharon Daniels, and Sharon Cahall
They are showing Margaret the birthday cake made by Sharon Cahall


The Pooh cake.  Half of the cake is lemon, for Margaret, the other half is chocolate, for the rest of us


Pastor Dan Orshaw, and his wife Sharon, and their granddaughter, Emelyn


Margaret posing for pictures with her cake


Of course the kids were first in line for cake and ice cream!


A Pooh piƱata filled with candy.
You don't hit this one with a bat to break it open.  Instead you pull the ribbons on the bottom, one at a time.
Only one of the ribbons opens the bottom to let the candy spill out.


Margaret and the kids took turns pulling out a ribbon until the right one was pulled


That's our grandson, Patrick Sean, on the left


The last activity at the church was Margaret opening presents. I think the kids were as excited as she was.
Notice the country girl without shoes — can't take her anywhere!


Some of the folks had time to come to our house and visit after the party.
(including Charlotte, on the left, and Patty, on the right)
Patty worked with Margaret and me years ago in ministry in Virginia.  She now lives in NJ.


Sheri and her two sons spent the night at our house.
We had breakfast together at a local restaurant, the Wagon Wheel, Sunday morning and
then they had to get back to VA for Sheri's father-in-law's birthday party.
(Patrick Sean is hiding)

The last birthday weekend activity was lunch at the TA in Elkton, MD. with Chaplain David Weaver, Chaplain Tom and Linda Kramer, Gordon and Edwina, and driver Greg.  Margaret and I drove to the TA after attending church in Smyrna to meet up with the others.  We had a great time of fellowship there.  No pictures though...I didn't have the camera with me.smile_sad

You can watch a Flickr slide show of all of the pictures here.

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins