Hello #8: The House

We have a house!

I had been working with a realtor before I came, since — predictably — I have some unusual parameters.  I submitted the financials before I came, so all that nonsense was out of the way.  And today, I did the grand tour.

None of them was a perfect fit, but I explored with Ann (over the phone) the one I thought we could fit the best, and once she was assured that there was provision for her unusual form of gardening, she signed off on it.

I hit the bank for a couple of cashier’s checks, then went to the realtor’s office and signed and signed, as usual.

But at the end of all the disclaimers and responsibility shifting, I have the key!

It is a bit more space than we need, but after having been cramped for space for most of the last 22 years, I am game to be able to spread out just a bit.

It is half way between the office and the airport, which is wonderful for my commute.  Ann has grocery stores and other helpful resources within two miles and the whole Westgate Mall in ten miles or so.

I was hugely amused at the nearby medical services.  Side by side was a pediatrician and hospice care.

I love that medical model.  Get a little help coming in and going out and skip the doctor for the 70 years in between.  Bring it on!

I have already tagged one of the upstairs rooms as my prayer lookout.

Ann is looking forward to re-establishing her sewing room.

All told, it was a relatively painless experience, and once again, a greenback goes a lot farther in South Carolina than in California.  We are paying a LOT less and getting a WHOLE LOT more.

We will start the process of cleaning it spiritually and physically, then do an initial light furnishing, just to get by.  I will go back to California next week to get Ann and get her settled here.  Then I will go back to get the truck with the office furniture and ours.

It is feeling very good to have one solid piece after another coming into focus.

Pray for the process of meeting our neighbors, whether it is casually on the sidewalk, or formally by knocking on the door.

I have pondered the flavor I would like to have in the spiritual climate.

For the downstairs, the phrase is “Proper progression.”  I think of Abraham, Moses, David and sundry others who lived seemingly generic lives, not knowing that God was leveraging their daily “stuff” for greater purposes in the end.

Take Moses.  He thought he was herding sheep.  In reality he was getting a PhD in Desert Survival Techniques, little knowing how he would be called upon to use those.

So the downstairs seems like the place where “ordinary” stuff happens in an ordinary way.  Dishes, laundry, trash, couch time, etc.

I would like to erase the line between the secular and the sacred and have God cause the downstairs life to have positive implications for the future that we cannot even imagine.

And the upstairs is a totally different world.  My prayer focus is for a right cadence.  For the most part, that means me chilling out when I come home.  But it can also mean being out of bed and in the prayer lookout in the middle of the night if the Spirit is calling.

There is a time for spiritual intensity, and a time for soul pleasure.  A time for the body to sleep and a time for the whole person to press through in travail.

Pray that the chronometer of God will be clearly heard and felt in the upstairs.

Our New House

I think I am going to love it here in Duncan, South Carolina.

Copyright August 2018, by Arthur Burk

Posted in Hello to South Carolina | 16 Comments

Hello #7: The Beater

I arrived early afternoon at the Prophet’s chamber I have been privileged to use, near Spartanburg, and lay down to rest for a while, and to absorb the trip and the arrival.

Eventually I got up to go check out the car situation.  For years I have been driving by TLC Motors.  It looks no different than all the other used car dealers that dot the area, but it has always attracted me, even though I was not in the market for a vehicle.

Now I was, so I went there and found a used pickup with an eight foot bed for about half the price of what I had seen on Craigslist for short bed pickups with more miles.

I bought it for cash, will fix a few things on it on Monday, and will then have wheels to pick up the furnishings I will be buying for the house.  That way I am not stuck home for hours, waiting for a delivery.

Very pleased to have that piece in place.

I asked a 50 year resident for a mechanic, and he was quick to tell me who to go to, and to use his name.

So on Monday, I will drop the truck off, go see the realtor about the three houses he has found for me, then go to the DMV and get a South Carolina driver’s license, get registered to vote, circle back around to pick up the truck, and that should be a solid day’s work on Monday.

My New Wheels

Eight Foot Bed

South Carolina has been good to me on my first day here.

Copyright August 2018, by Arthur Burk


Posted in Hello to South Carolina | 13 Comments

Hello #6: The View out the Windshield

I left California early Wednesday morning, the 8th, feeling very good about the progress at the office.  Energy was high, so I pushed through to Santa Rosa, NM where I spent the night.

On Thursday morning, I left early and enjoyed the sunrise through the clouds as I drove East.  I stopped in Amarillo for breakfast, queried a table full of good old boys about a mechanic and was directed to someone nearby with an excellent reputation.

When I was a kid, and Dad was the sole mechanic for all things at our mission station, he taught me to listen to the frequency of a motor.  I was to memorize “normal” so that I could tell when something changed and was not right.

A half a century later, that knack is still with me.  I had fussed at two mechanics back in California about the fact that the pitch of the engine was not quite right.  They checked it out and assured me all was well.

By Amarillo, it was clear the car had problems.  The mechanic agreed this time, since it was quite loud, and said it was the differential.  Not worth the repair, so I sold it to a mechanic there and rented a car to finish the trip.  Fortunately there is a glut of rental cars in Texas, so a one way rental to South Carolina was massively cheaper than a flight.

Thursday evening I spent in Shawnee, OK and by Friday night I had made it to Mt. Juliet, TN.  I should be in Spartanburg by mid day on Saturday.

Monday I have appointments to look at some houses to rent then will see about another set of wheels.

Driving through the hills of Tennessee today, for many hours, I was reminded again of what I love about the South:  trees!

California is a desert, with massive irrigation sustaining the scant foliage in urban areas.  And because of the cost of land, the concrete jungle often extends right up to the freeways, in a most unappealing manner.

Driving on the Interstate through the South, I am surrounded by green on green, for hundreds of miles at a time.

It is astoundingly refreshing.

I had blocked the pain of the paucity of trees in California, but now that I am driving through this area, the huge AHHHH of pleasure in my soul, tells me how deep the dearth has been felt.

Copyright August 2018 by Arthur Burk

Posted in Hello to South Carolina | 13 Comments

Hello #5: What Do I Bring?

Gifts from those who are coming into a new season or place are legendary in Scripture.

Best known are the gifts of the Magi.

God specifically instructed the tribes in the desert to bring gifts for the dedication of the Tabernacle.  David invested hugely in bringing the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem.  Jacob sent an unnecessary gift to Esau when he was on his way back from Paddan Aram.  The Queen of Sheba tried to one-up Solomon with her gifts.  And the list goes on and on.

There are three gifts that stand out to me.  The first is David at his accession to the throne.  After the successful assault on the Amalekites, he did the traditional thing and sent tangible assets from the booty to the elders of Judah as a token of goodwill.

But the real treasure that he brought with him to the throne, was his men.  Saul had a spirit of slavery and slaves reproduce after their own kind.  So the national government lacked sons in the administration.

By contrast, David significantly upgraded the intellectual and social capital of the national government with the men who came out of the desert with him.

1 Chronicles 11:10  says, “These were the chiefs of David’s mighty men —  they, together with all Israel, gave his kingship strong support to extend it over the whole land, as the LORD had promised —”  NIV

The second picture that I find quite compelling is the Apostles being sent out as representative of the King of Kings with no gift in hand.

I pondered that a lot for years.  Why would the King want his ambassadors to be branded as paupers?

My conclusion is that his objective was just the opposite.  Far from branding them as paupers, Jesus wanted to define the “currency” of the new Kingdom.

The treasure that they brought to the home of the leading citizen of each community was their virtue, their wisdom and their spiritual power.

I see this in Matthew 10:11ff.  “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave.  As you enter the home, give it your greeting.  If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.”  NIV

So the gift that they brought was themselves — who they had become while walking with Jesus, and this was a bigger, better gift than all the trinkets they could have purchased in the marketplace with the currency of the culture.

Peter crystallized this issue of alternative currencies with his laser sharp statement.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  Acts 3:6  NIV

So, circling back to David, we see the hand of God preparing him through hardship.  The time as a kid caring for the sheep, prepared him.  The time in the court, prepared him.  The time in the wilderness with his messy warriors, prepared him.  The time as a double agent with the Philistines, prepared him.

It is a fascinating study of God’s technique in grooming a man for kingship.

Now let’s come down from such lofty heights and explore what the last 12 years here in Anaheim have done to me.  My life has not been easy here, but it has been good.  God has met me so many different ways.  And this second season of SLG has been a very overt preparation for the third season — in Spartanburg.

For those of you who have known me for 12 years or so, I would be curious to hear your perspective on what God has done in me here (not through me).  What changes have you seen, or to put it in specific terms, what am I bringing to Spartanburg above and beyond the business?

Copyright August 2018 by Arthur Burk

Posted in Hello to South Carolina | 14 Comments

Hello #4: The Missionary Kid Syndrome

If you were a missionary kid in the 1950s, you probably lived with 50 gallon steel barrels (AKA “drums”) which shipped goods to your country of choice, and also served as storage containers in the face of bugs, humidity and other variables.

They were a wondrous supply of interesting things.  When Dad would say he needed to go look in a barrel, there were always curious eyes surrounding the enterprise.

The other facet of being a week away from the nearest hardware store was the propensity to save all sorts of odds and ends.  Empty powered milk cans were pressed into service and the workshop had cabinets with rows and rows of cans that had miscellaneous stuff in them.

It was a rule that you saved every bit of hardware, but not much of a rule about putting them in the right can at the end of a project when you just wanted to go play.

QC sagged quite frequently.

I was the OCD one of the bunch.  I spent many a happy afternoon dumping a can of “stuff” out in a tray, and sorting them into their appropriate categories.  Then I would break out a bunch of milk cans and joyfully create new sub categories for nuts, washers, screws, bolts and anything else that I happened to be sorting.

By the time I was a teenager, Dad had been collecting stuff for a decade and a half, and his shop was a formidable resource center for someone graced with Yankee ingenuity.  I cannot ever remember Dad or any of the rest of us fussing about the hardware store being in the city 200 miles away.

There was always a way to bubble gum something.  Someone would confidently go to the workshop, poke around and come back triumphantly with a collection of parts that would get us going again.

Thus, as an adult, a collection of spare parts was simultaneously an essential part of legitimacy in my manhood and pragmatically a safety net for all the vagaries of life — even though there is always a Home Depot nearby.

My rarely-used stash here at the office got looked at with smug superiority many times a month, as it collected dust.

Now You See It

Today it had to come down since the racks are coming down tomorrow.  I found a buyer for them, even though they are old fashioned.  They will be picked up on Monday.

But while I was packing them up, I was thinking ahead to South Carolina.

There is a two and a half car garage on the property.  (And honey, that half a car is a trick to drive, lemme tell you!) When I have arrived and the immediate drama subsides, I can cover the entire back wall with peg board, buy some more of those lovely little bottles and caps and keep on collecting hardware that I will only need access to once or twice a year, since BOTH Lowe’s and Home Depot are just a mile away!

Meanwhile, the rack is sadly lacking emotional content.

And Now You Don’t!

I am going to enjoy that garage, but since Megan is the slalom queen, she will have to drive that half a car.

Copyright August 2018 by Arthur Burk






Posted in Hello to South Carolina | 10 Comments

Hello #3: Burden or Delight?

When I arrived at our new office the first time, to meet the owners and the two realtors, I was aware of how unkempt it was, horticulturally.

I brushed it aside and went in to meet all the new faces.  There were three alpha males in the room overpowering the two young salesmen trying to find their place in the storm of testosterone.

When the traditional male rituals subsided, the two tried to ease their way back into the conversation.  Greyson was thinking about our transition and volunteered a number of resources that were available so we could start fast.

One of which is that the owner knows someone who would care for the lawn for $50 a month.

I smiled inside.

Not happening!

That was going to be MY personal play space.

It took me back to when my parents went to the mission field decades ago.  The plot of land the mission had was several acres and in the tropical rain forest, grass grew ferociously.

And needed to be cut with regularity.

Usually that was the job of the hired help, with their machetes and the rhythmic, long strokes.  But for a season the mission had to economize significantly, and it was up to the missionaries to mow the lawn with our 24″ push mower.

The area was divided up among the available adults, and I jumped in at 4 years old, adamant that I needed to have a plot assigned to me.

Eventually, intransigence won over logic and I was allotted a patch to mow.

Mom told me years later how intriguing it was that I would work so hard on the lawn, trying to push a mower whose handles were at about ear height.  It didn’t make sense.  It wasn’t required of me.  But I was GONNA do it.

Because I wanted to.

Not much has changed.  I still love mowing the lawn.

It has been a LOT of years since I had a lawn to mow.  But soon, I will again.  The “lawn” is the size of some people’s living room, but it will be mine, with intensity, mowed with tenderness and precision.

The shrubs will be trimmed and fertilized.

And in the back corner, there will be an assiduously developed compost pile, unlike any other in Spartanburg County!

And within a year, the earthworm population will have quintupled and the benefit to the land and the lawn will be immense.

I am really going to enjoy getting some dirt under my fingernails in Spartanburg, SC.

Can’t wait to get there.

Copyright August 2018 by Arthur Burk

Posted in Hello to South Carolina | 21 Comments

Hello #2: Building Details

I used to work in new construction, doing tract-work plumbing, in Southern California and hated it because of the incongruence.

They would put a $250 faucet on top of the counter, and $3 parts under the sink, and cheaper than cheap inside the walls where no one could see.

Congruence has always mattered to me.  I watch people on airplanes spend a whole lot of money decorating a body and soul that are wracked with toxicity.  Ugly.

I watch a women with a huge ring that says she is loved, be emotionally abused by her husband for some minor awkwardness in getting on board the plane.

Incongruities abound.

I think that this is commonly a deeper issue with Prophets than possibly other gifts.  I generally feel that I want the external to be less than the internal.

So looking at a person, if in reality you are a 65, on a scale of 1 to 100, then why don’t you present yourself as a 45 instead of an 85?

Understated not overblown.

Against that backdrop of my emotions and expectations, we have the new office building.  The gentleman who owns it bought an absolute wreck.  He showed me pictures of the original.

He is VERY forward thinking and designed the rebuild around high quality and very high accessibility.  That translates into Ethernet jacks and phone jacks and outlets all over the building.  He was actively converting the house to a business center.

He even ran conduit underground and has some junction boxes in the middle of the floor, where someone would logically put a desk.

Eventually his company grew to having 30 people working there and his foresight was rewarded.

So his remodel job was vintage Prophet style — +90 inside the walls, attic and everywhere else people won’t see it, and a modest +50 on the surface.  Good taste!

Unless you had worked in construction and had eyes to see, you would not notice the hidden excellence, but it was a huge hug for me.  I HATE cords running across the floor because there are not enough outlets.  I hate doors that have to be wiggled to close because the door frame sagged.

And one of the things I was particularly insistent on, with the realtor, was no buildings with aluminum wiring!  I have no interest in setting a place on fire because we have too many electronic gadgets plugged in.   Here it is fairly new wiring, with a huge breaker box including room for additional circuits, in the highly unlikely event we would need them.

So THAT was a big hug.  To go to a building that is going to FIT wonderfully, rather than one where we have to do work-arounds, is a delight.

I still don’t know how we are going to lay out the various offices, but I know that when I do make the decisions, it will be based on how to leverage the strengths of the place, rather than diminishing the inadequacies.

Now, Megan is, as you well know, much more about presentation than I am.  And for her, presentation means curves.

And the God Who Is Big Enough To Make Both Of Us Happy effortlessly built some curves into the building, just for her, years ago, when the building was being designed.

So both of us are looking forward to saying HELLO to a new work space that has so much more emotional appeal than our current concrete tilt up building!

South Carolina is being very welcoming to us.

And we are not even there yet.

Copyright August 2018 by Arthur Burk

Posted in Hello to South Carolina | 24 Comments

Hello #1: Pastor Eadie Did It!

This series began with Solomon’s phrase that he did not know how to go out or come in.  That would adequately describe most of my transitions in life — poorly done.  So I decided with the huge transition from my 45 years in California to a massively new chapter in South Carolina, I should take a swipe at improving my negative numbers.

Hence the series of blogs called “Goodbye” as I journeyed and journaled through sundry vicissitudes of my season in California.

Now that the goodbyes to California are intentionally worked through (by me, anyway), it is my delight to look forward to South Carolina.  Hence the Hello series.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in Pastor Eadie’s office, discussing how to come into the Southern culture appropriately.  She was graciously sharing her wisdom on sundry different aspects of the culture.

Eventually the discussion turned to office space.  She is the head of the police Chaplaincy in Spartanburg and that very day she had done a ride along.  While out, she had seen a house for rent in the business district that drew her attention.

She and I are both people of action (a gracious term for “terribly impulsive”), so we jumped in her car and went to see it.  One look and I knew it was probably not suitable, but I called the realtor who had it listed for rent, and made an appointment to talk to him the next day.

He agreed that it was not a good fit for what I wanted, but took me to look at another place he had listed.  It was also less than compelling.

Finally, he suggested I talk to his son who was freshly graduated from Clemson and was working for a large commercial real estate firm in town.

He bragged about his boy for a while, then pulled open his desk drawer and handed me Greyson’s card.

Greyson and I met later that day.  I wowed him by knowing (all the way in California) that Clemson is famous for football and engineering (in that order), having produced a very high number of NASA personnel over the years.

I also ribbed him over the fact that his father didn’t have to look very far for a business card from Greyson.

I explained the oddities of my situation.  He said all the right things about getting on it immediately, so I left for California.

A week later, I got an email from Greyson with data on three commercial sites that were everything I didn’t want.

I wrote back and said, “Hey!  Were you present when we talked?”  I admitted that his properties were wonderful, for someone else, but that I had a really unusual wish list and would he please work at getting me what I want?

A long silence ensued.

I wrote him off, spent evenings on the web looking at property in the Spartanburg area, especially south of 85 and west of 26.

He eventually surfaced with two more options.  One was so rectilinear in every regard, I groaned.  The other was quite interesting.

So the dance began.

I fired off questions.  He hunted down the somewhat peripatetic owner and extracted answers.  I sent more.

Finally I put a challenging time line in front of him.  I would send him my financials on a Monday.  He would get them approved within 48 hours.  He sends me the lease and we get it hammered out by Wednesday.

I fly to Spartanburg on Thursday.  Look at the property on Friday, along with another property, make a decision, sign and fly home.

I pushed hard.  Could he make it happen?

He assured me he was up to it.  Youth and inexperience are wonderful foundations for unbounded optimism.

So documents were scanned and emailed.  Phone calls went back and forth.

The boilerplate lease he offered was awful.  100% of the risk was on me, and no responsibility on the owner except to cash the checks.

I pushed back saying it was a wonderful lease for a landlord, but I am a tenant.  I would like some shared risks!

Basically I educated him on a number of things he had never seen in the fine print of the boilerplate.  He was a bit shocked at some of the things I found — like the landlord could sue me, I had to pick up the tab for his attorneys if he sued me, but I could not sue him for anything, any time.

He had no idea that paragraph was buried in there.

Anyway, we did a bunch of iterations, the landlord pushed back on some things.  We were still dickering over the phone when I flew through Dallas on Thursday, but when I got to my computer on Thursday night, about 11:00 p.m., there was a remarkable lease waiting for me, with more than I have gotten from any other landlord.

Friday morning, I met the owner.

I hate doing business exclusively through a middleman which is how the last three leases were negotiated.  I wanted to meet the man who would be my landlord, look him in the eye, shake his hand and hear his story.

I did!

Much to share there.  Bottom line is, he passed inspection with flying colors.  I think I will be his best tenant ever and he will be a great landlord.

I looked at the other property, decided this one would be better, and signed the lease for five years, with two five year extensions.

Then I called Pastor Eadie and told her it was all her fault.

My coming in to South Carolina has begun wonderfully.

Oh, just as a point of reference.  My current California lease is 42 pages, plus the imaginary pages that have recently emerged from the fertile creativity of the landlord.  By contrast, my South Carolina lease is three pages.

I’m gonna like it in South Carolina.  We can get on with the process of building something, without all the paranoia.

Copyright July 2018 by Arthur Burk


Posted in Hello to South Carolina | 14 Comments