Hello #12: All Because of a Gas Can

Saturday morning was a scattered time, but a lot of little things came into alignment and got done.  It felt good when noon rolled around as I got closure on some nagging irritants.

And I DID invest an hour in the big project.  I had been the choke point, but I was able to do my part and the ball is on the other side of the net for now.  But I know it won’t stay there long.

By early afternoon, I was itching to do something fun, not something necessary.  I went to the patch of Mercy land which I am using as my recording studio at present and did a Facebook post on James Bond, Uber drivers and the poverty spirit.  Thought it came out pretty well.

Then, since my truck has been doing noble duty to the county dump and back for a couple of weeks, I decided to take it to a good car wash and get it all gussied up.  They did a good job and the black paint looked great when they were done.

About that time, a varmint that has been skulking around the shadows with one of my peeps made the mistake of sticking its head up above the parapet, so while I went to Lowe’s, we played Whack-a-Mole.

A great game.

I managed to put a hurt on the critter while picking up a lawn mower and forgetting the gas can.  I checked out, still wrestling with it while I drove to the office.  I realized I had missed the gas can, but didn’t want to go back and get one, so I biped over to Megan’s house, since I had the key to her storage room, and pinched her gas can for the day.

Eventually, we got some release.  The person in question has some work to do in the next few days, working through a section of her time line to see every place where it got empowered, but my work is done for now.

At home, I had a wonderful triumph.  The week has been marred with lack of laundry facilities.  One thing after another went sideways.  But this afternoon I got the final piece in place, with a functional washer and dryer, so we started on the piles of laundry that have backed up.

THEN it was play time.  I broke out the lawnmower, gassed and oiled it, and pulled the cord.  Like a good old Briggs and Stratton, it started on the first pull, right out of the box.  Gotta love that brand.

I had a delightful time mowing a patch of variegated green that loosely goes by the term “a lawn.”  It has been a long time since I have pushed a mower, and I relished the patterns and the smells.  It is one of my dopamine reward activities.

The clippings were carefully bagged and loaded in my clean truck with all of their hot nitrogen content.

When I finished at the house, I headed back to the office, with a stop at Lowe’s to buy a pitchfork.  My compost pile now has 64 cubic feet of decomposing matter in it, due to my alertness to all available resources in the recent days.  I joyously added the high nitrogen green matter to my abundant dry carbon-based material and mixed it with the pitchfork.

Then I mowed the back lawn of the office and added that green stuff.

The compost pile is coming along so nicely that this evening I ordered a bunch of red wigglers and some European night crawlers to multiply the effectiveness of the chemical work going on.  A happy day.

THEN, the plan God had been working on for months came into play.

I went to the gas station and filled my truck and Megan’s gas can.  I went a couple of blocks to her new house and returned the gas can in good condition, relocking her storage room.

(Megan is still in California trying to finish up things at the apartment, so they can head this way with another big truck full of office and domestic stuff).

As I drove away, a neighbor of hers was frantically signaling to me, so I pulled over, parked, got out of the truck, and walked over to chat.  His name is Antonio, and when he is not in a gym, building a bone crunching hand shake, he is a first responder and a neighborhood observer.

The short version of a long story is that he wanted to tell me that the house Megan has rented is haunted.

The last four people living there have died.  The first one was by natural causes — old age — and the next three were from heart attacks.  The widow of the last man who died stayed there until the end of the lease and often heard his spirit knocking on the windows in the middle of the night.

The body builder has a tendency to sit on his back porch during the night, and he frequently observed lights going on and off for no reason at 3:00 in the morning, and other such things, associated with a classic haunted house.

He thought I should know.

I loved it.

Now before you waste any emotion feeling sorry for Megan having signed a lease for a year in a haunted house that kills people, zoom out and look at the bigger picture.

-If you were God, and had a haunted house on your hands, who would you send to live there?  An ignorant, powerless, heathen who would be murdered by some critter?  Of course not.  Four is enough. It is the most logical thing in the world to send a Noble Subject to live in a haunted house to clean it up.

And goodness knows Miss Megan has no lack of experience with portals, death, AHS, defiled time, land, etc. ad infinitum.  God sent her to Belize recently to deal with the Spirit of Death on a Mayan level, and she passed the course with flying colors.  She is ready for this.

And she has a loyal group of friends around her who will leap at the chance to give her a hand in the process.

So this is the most logical thing in the world.  Save your pity for something else.

-The house has been vacant for five months since the last widow moved out.  Megan watched it on the web for all that time, and was drawn to it repeatedly.  Since the day she signed the lease, there have been all sorts of people wanting to lease it.  There are signs on her doors from people wondering if it is for lease, and asking the owner to call.  Clearly God made it invisible for a period of time because He wanted her there.

-Clearly God was micromanaging me all day.  He flushed out a critter that has been dodging me for five years, so I would be doing deliverance in Lowe’s and not be focused enough to get my own gas can.  And everything along the way during the day was designed to consume just the right amount of time, so that Antonio would be sitting on his porch, watching the haunted house when I went by to drop off the gas can.  God makes it look so simple.

-Spartanburg is Teacher Redemptive Gift and the principle is Responsibility.  One high point of responsibility is to voluntarily clean up other people’s irresponsibility, even when it is not your fault.

One thing is for sure — she did not kill those four people.  But she is going to own the mess that is not her fault and clean up that house for the King, so whoever moves in after her is in good shape.

-And that brings us to the fact that the Teacher day of Creation was when redemptive death came into the world.  No telling how big a treasure God plans to give her through the redemption of those four lives.

-When Megan and her mom were cleaning the house, they both knew that the master bedroom was massively dirty, so they doubled down on their physical and spiritual cleaning.  Clearly they are way out ahead of the game.  God just got Antonio involved to confirm what they already knew.

-When Megan left the house to go back to California to get her stuff, she left some MP3 players going in the house, in strategic places.  “Blessing Your End of Life” on some, and “A Celebration of God” on others.

Gotta love it.

-AND as she was trying to figure out how to allocate the space in the house, she was really conflicted about the master bedroom.  There was a strong push/pull but she did not know what it was.  Now she knows.  There is something of God that is very big there, as well as an overlay of plain old fashioned murder-by-demons.

She is up for it.

And I think the Tribe will be able to contribute some strategic bits of life to the house when she moves in and needs some significant celebrations of life.

For now, I am tired.  I am going to send this to Sandy for proofing and publishing, while I go to bed with a smile, chuckling over the elegant simplicity of a missed gas can.

God plays a mean game of chess.  Those critters guarding the AHS at the house had no clue what the implications were of my meandering through Lowe’s playing Whack-A-Mole, most unappreciative of the timing, but not at all willing to let that rascal escape after watching for him for years.

Copyright September 2018 by Arthur Burk


Posted in Hello to South Carolina | 11 Comments

Hello #11: Responsive Land

Today was a work day at the new office.  People drifted in from three states with sundry skills and expectations.  The project was too big for the team and the time, so I established three priorities.

First, was to paint the front office where Megan will anchor the flow of the building.

Second was to clean the two bathrooms and the kitchen, even though we were not going to paint them at this time.

Third was to deal with the trash on the property and contain the landlord’s stuff (that he is remiss in removing from the property) to one place.

At the end of the day, we checked all three boxes.

Chris is doing a lovely job of doing a two tone presentation for the front office — after David removed unnecessary electrical “stuff” and after Terry cleaned and taped.

Terry and Pam knocked out the bathroom and kitchen cleaning — after I rebuilt a toilet in one and cleared a clog in sink — as well as cleaning a lot of crud off a bunch of windows.

David was the utility infielder, being pulled every which direction most of the day.  A big block of time was spent wrestling with untamed vegetation, facilitating my taking two loads of plants and trash to the county dump.

The land felt so much better after we hauled off old furniture that has been left out in the rain for years, and removed massive amounts of unneeded plant life.

At the end of the afternoon, he and I built a generous composting frame, and Megan brought her brand new lawn mower over, mixing nitrogen-hot grass clippings with dry leaves from the back of the property that her mom raked up in prodigious piles, to start our new process.

Holt brought lunch and facilitated some fun conversation about the changing dynamics in the area.

And Rosemary got unceremoniously booted well out of the competence of her soul, into a realm where she had to depend on her spirit to make a decision.  The verdict is still out, but I was callously enjoying her growth process.

In between there were sundry irritations and interruptions and lack of this or that or the other, but we managed to keep the ball rolling in our focused areas.

I am so delighted to have land to work with again.  The 12 years at Anaheim were simply a concrete and asphalt experience.  We did not have one inch of land that we could nurture with vegetation.

I am looking forward to feeding the compost pile, trimming the bushes, mowing the lawn, and engaging with the land with love.

The relief from the land today when it realized I actually cared about it, and was not just moving trash, was a sweet experience.

Copyright September 2018 by Arthur Burk


Posted in Hello to South Carolina | 8 Comments

Hello #10: Willa Cather

She was quite remarkable in her character development.  Unfortunately, the plots of her novels were equally remarkable, but opposite.

The descriptions of her failed humans were so precise as to move me to awe over her wordsmithing and so depressing as to keep me from making it past chapter two in any of her novels.

I often wondered if any of her tragic people ever found redemption, and more to the point, if the angst she wrote about so incisively, was merely a redundant description of her own failed life.

Two quotes drip suggestiveness.

“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”

Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.

Despite my scant acquaintance with her pain and her genius, she did grace me with one quote that has been oft used in our office.  “So little makes; so little mars.”

That has been the theme of the last few days as I raced against the clock to get the house ready for Ann.  I leave on Wednesday to go get her.

It takes a lot of effort to line up all the little things that take the edge off the rawness of a move-without-the-moving-truck.

Door mats; TP; night lights; waste baskets; soap.  Most important was a wee bit of surgery performed on a certain shower head to significantly increase the flow of dopamine.

I also did some of the little things that no landlord would do, like replacing a bunch of busted door stops that long ago ceased to function as anything but an eyesore.

God is a great fan of that Willa Cather quote.  Every evening for the last three days, after I am safely ensconced for the night, there is thunder, lightning and precipitation which are little things that produce really big emotional responses in me.

I think I am going to like living in South Carolina.

Copyright August 2018, by Arthur Burk


Posted in Hello to South Carolina | 5 Comments

Hello #9: The Referral System

It is Wednesday evening.  I am tired!

People locally and offsite have been working hard on crusty critters and common crud, getting the house ready for living.  It has not had much love from the time it was built, so far as we can see or sense.

Tomorrow we have someone coming to clean the carpets and that should be a significant punctuation point in the cleaning process, although there is always more to do.

Late this afternoon, I got on the web (a California approach to things) looking for a place to get the headliner in my pickup replaced.  I chose an address, drove there and found out that the craftsman had retired the first of the year — and neglected to tell the keeper of digital data in the cloud.

I asked the good old boy who was in his former shop, where I could go (the Southern way) and he directed me to The Beacon (which meant nothing to me) and said there was a shop across the street from it.

I Googled “The Beacon,” was duly rebuked by the web for not already knowing about such a landmark, and proceeded to the location.  The owner of the upholstery shop quoted me a price on the spot and gave me a Monday morning appointment, with the promise of good service.

With that checked off, I went hunting for furniture and found some geometrically interesting shelves for Ann’s sewing room.  She has a ton of fabric and lot of what women euphemistically call “notions.”

They did not have as many as I wanted, but I cleaned off their shelves and loaded the back of my pickup with the boxes.

Yes, some assembly required.

I chatted with the young man who helped me, asking about University of South Carolina where he attends.  I floated the idea of approaching them about an internship, where the students get paid, get experience and get school credit.

He shared a few insights into how the programs are crafted there.

I am learning.

Now, I need to find out who I know who knows someone who knows the head of the department I am considering.

Clearly, I should not just write him cold turkey!

Today Megan was talking with someone in the area about our health insurance policy, and in addition to providing great service, the lady went out of her way to offer to connect us with anyone, in any context, that we might need to connect with!

I am slowly getting the hang of how things are done here in the South.

Copyright August 2018, by Arthur Burk


Posted in Hello to South Carolina | 9 Comments

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 | 28 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