Monday, August 9, 2010

Um, well, OK, go here for wedding pictures

I really feel odd doing this, but in case you were at the wedding, there may be some pictures of you. If not, I will have to say that our photographers, James and Jen Tarpley, are some of the best anywhere and you may enjoy viewing these just for the photography itself! And, for the beautiful pictures of my beautiful bride! I will include the two paragraphs that they sent to us about the pictures, which will give you the proper links and passwords.

From Visio Photography:

I hope you're having a great day! We are excited to let you know that you can now view your beautiful images online. :) But first, before you go to your gallery, make sure the volume on your computer is up and go to

We hope you enjoy watching the preview slideshow of a selection of images from your day. Feel free to pass it on to family and friends for the next couple of weeks. Once you have seen your slideshow, you can view your full gallery by going to our website, Once there, click on Weddings, then Client Login on the bottom menu bar. The main galleries page will come up and your password is kasbe-talley.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Homeward Bound

It is our last night in Australia, and on this last day I have seen some beautiful views of the Australian Outback. No, I didn't actually go there, but I got a taste of the Australian heartland on the Aussie Reality Show, The Farmer Wants a Wife. Do I really need to explain? The scenery was beautiful, and if you are in to such reality shows, you may want to check it out online. I am continually surprised and amazed by this remote land that is teeming with life.

We are heading home in the morning. It will be a bittersweet goodbye. I have grown to love Joan Cotton (Alison's "mum") in these three short weeks. She was great on the phone and in letters, but she is better in person! I have been truly blessed with in-laws of all kinds in this life!

We will leave Sydney at 1:50 Thursday afternoon and arrive in Los Angeles at 10:17 Thursday morning - another marvel of air travel with significant distances that involves crossing the time line. You may recall when we began this trip that we chased the sun out of Los Angeles (departing an hour or so after sunset) on a Monday night and ended up just beating it into Sydney on Wednesday morning some 14 hours later. Tomorrow, we get our lost day back.

In addition to leaving family, we will also leave behind good friends. These dear ones in Australia have had significant spiritual input into Alison's life, and I am the beneficiary. Alison's mother told her tonight as she went to bed, "I am so happy for both of you - everyone is!"

As Alison and I have said many times, "Neither of us wanted to be where we are - but neither of us would want to be anywhere else." Indeed! Can I explain that? No way. Life can be extremely painful - and, there are no promises that life will get better. We are well intentioned when we say, "God will always make things better," but we are often wrong. God is good, but He is God and His ways don't always make sense. A father in North Korea, no doubt, was dragged away from his family on the way to prison and maybe execution in this last week because of his faith in Jesus. We can't make sense of this life that is so often painful, but we can know that God is sovereign and that God is good. Our hope is not in this world - it is in eternal life with Jesus.

But, sometimes - many times, in fact - God brings beauty out of the ashes. It is just a taste of what life will be with Jesus in heaven, and it can be a treat to the senses and the imagination as we wait for the day when our Father calls us to be with Him. Do you know Jesus? As much as I have enjoyed meeting so many new friends in Australia, and as much as I love my friends back home, I SO want to be with you in heaven! Call out to Jesus, would you? He died to take the judgment of God that was directed toward you and me - until He stepped in the middle as a sacrifice that would satisfy God's righteous wrath against sin and against sinners. Repent of your sin (acknowledge it before the Lord) and call out to Jesus, believing that He died for you. He has promised to save you if you will!

It has been quite a trip, and an extremely full one. I will be back in the States soon, so if you see someone driving on the left side of the road . . .

Monday, July 26, 2010

Whales, Kangaroos, and Shrimp on the Barbie

Is this an authentic Australian experience? Oh, yeah! There is so much to report from the last trip that I would never get it done if I recalled all of it, so I will just hit some highlights. Alison and I spent two wonderful days with her sister, Heather McAlpine, and John (husband), Melinda, Christine, Matt (children), and Jo (Matt's good friend). On the way down to Kiama (over an hour south of Sydney), where the McAlpines reside, I saw possibly the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.

Alison and I have been quite busy on this trip meeting dozens of people and spending quality time with many of them, so the trip down was quite nice just to catch up with one another. We went through a National Park (we would say National Forest in the States) for about 8-10 miles. The Australian bush is much, much prettier than I had anticipated. The large variety of Eucalyptus trees - there are over 700 total - and palm trees, often situated along spectacularly beautiful rivers, well, it is quite a scene. In this particular National Forest, we went downhill for 4-5 miles and then went uphill for about the same amount of distance in curvy, mountain-like roads. It reminded me, in fact, of Three Mile Road in Avery County, North Carolina where I used to live. Three Mile is actually Hwy. 194 between Linville Falls and Hwy 19E, close to Spruce Pine. The road we were on was quite curvy, one of those roads on which you wonder if you will ever come out of the curves and the hills. All of a sudden, we burst out of the forest to find ourselves quite high and overlooking the incredibly blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. The view was very much as one you might see on the Pacific Coast Highway in California - only much more beautiful. It was lunch time, so we stopped just a few miles down the road and ate at a restaurant overlooking the Pacific. Magnificent!

We did not see a whale on Thursday, but we did see three whales on Saturday and one breached (leaped out of the water rolling over on his back). That was on the same day we saw the famous blow hole of Kiama, a cove in the rocks that border the ocean and in which the water rushes in and gushes up into spectacular spray. By the way, I exhausted my admittedly meager supply of descriptive adjectives to describe this beautiful land and this particular experience in Oz several days ago.

But, what about kangaroos? Can you have an authentic Australian experience without kangaroos? No worries, mate! We ate lunch very close to kangaroos on Friday in another National Park. OK, OK, it is like bears in Alaska hanging out close to picnic areas, but you have to admit it is better than seeing them in a zoo! Indeed, we had a mother and two joeys hanging out, just hoping that we would give them a snack, which we did not, of course. The kangaroos were within 25 feet of us just about the whole time we were eating.

The Rosella's - beautiful tropical birds - did not wait for us to throw them a morsel. They were all over us, literally, competing with us for our food. They were on our shoulders, our heads, on the table, trying to eat the sandwiches out of our hands. What a day! I am constantly thinking about how much Professors Bartlett and Metz (biology profs at Campbell University and part of the Grace Community Church Family) would enjoy being with me. In fact, I would enjoy having them with me immensely, telling me all about the plant life and wildlife in this magical land! And, by the way, did I mention the incredible views of the coastline and the bays along the Pacific Coast of Australia, south of Sydney?

Sunday night, we went back to Gil and Jo's home for shrimp on the barbie! It was a barbecue (I can't believe I am using that word as a verb!) that almost any American would award the highest of marks! We had steak, shrimp, chicken, and beef sausages, in addition to salad and risotto. What a great time with these good friends! Today, Monday, has been a day chock a block (full) of meetings with more of Alison's close friends. One lady, who is a close friend of Alison and her mom, happens to be the grandmother of Bonnie Wright, better known as Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films. Doreen, Bonnie's grandmother, is a gracious and beautiful follower of Jesus.

It has been a wonderful trip, but I am very much looking forward to being back home later this week. We leave Sydney at 1:30 on Thursday and get in to Raleigh that night at 11:30, so it is a 10 hour trip. No, wait - with the time change, it is about a 24 hour trip, with stops in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Maybe there will be time for one more post from here, but if not, I will see you in the States!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More from Australia

Alison and I are more than half-way into our stay in Australia. We have gone nearly non-stop. It has been quite a ride. This past Saturday night, we gathered in Gil and Jo's home (see earlier post) along with around 50 of Alison's family and close friends (mostly, friends). In one of the speeches, which are important at nearly all celebrations in Oz, it was noted how amazing it is that someone could be gone from the country for 14 years and this many people show up for a celebration. Indeed! Several more had planned to come, but were unable to for various reasons. The numbers are a testament to Alison's commitment to stay in touch with her friends, even on the other side of the globe. It has me thinking about the importance of staying connected with the people who are important to me.

At Tuesday lunch, 15 more people gathered at the community center of the village where Alison's mother, Joan, lives. They joined us to celebrate our marriage with us. 15 more will gather next Tuesday at the same place. My memory is not as sharp as it once was, so even though it is great to meet so many new family members and friends, it is a challenge to remember names.

Food. Lots of food! We eat five times a day. Breakfast, morning tea (or coffee) with a snack, lunch, afternoon tea (or coffee) with or without a snack, and dinner. It will be "work it off" time when we return to the States.

If there is one place that I have heard that people want to visit, but have not yet done so, it is Australia. It is a long flight - 14 hours - with significant jet-lag (at least for me) and an expensive ticket (though Alison is flying free from miles and I am on a relatively cheap ticket because I got it early), but it is well worth the trip if you can make it.

I have engaged in several interesting conversations with people about theology, ministry, history, and politics. Several people have asked me about Obama. It is interesting to interact with people from other countries on the topic of America. I have found everywhere I go that Americans are treated very, very well. When the discussion turns to politics, however, very few people seem to like America, considering her (as a country) arrogant and aloof. I quite disagree, of course, but that is the perception that others have. I am eager to engage in these conversations, but they always have the potential to go awry.

The conversations about theology, ministry, and history have been invigorating and enlightening. It is so encouraging to find that the kingdom of God transcends national boundaries, and that differences inherent in politics are transcended by life in the shadow of the cross. I guess it is true that (Jesus') blood is thicker than water!

While America is waking up, I am getting ready for bed - tonight, in the States! I will close by telling you how very much I was blessed reading from the Gospel of Matthew today. The Sermon on the Mount was particularly encouraging. Jesus' words are very straight-forward in chapters 5-7. Laced with grace as they are, however, my heart soared to think that God cares for me so deeply and that He desires my full heart and attention, which will be seen in the kind and forgiving ways that I treat others. "Thank You, Jesus, for telling me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear."

Friday, July 16, 2010

Driving on the Wron - I Mean - the Other Side of the Road

I have been driving for several days in Australia. I have been driving so much, in fact, that I have been unable to get to the computer to update our stay. We are meeting so many people that I had better dispense with trying to recall everyone - more of the same, though. Wonderful, wonderful friends Alison has here, just as she does in the States!

Have you ever driven on the opposite side of the road than the one you are used to? I have been driving on the left side of the road of late. The steering wheel, of course, is on the right side of the car. I took a few days to get acclimated to the Aussie way of driving on the left side, then I asked my beautiful and lovely mother-in-law, Joan Cotton, if I could drive her car. She agreed, and off I went on a very short excursion. By the next day, I was driving all around Sydney and having a grand time.

The place that gives me the most trouble is in parking lots, where I find myself reverting back to a "right side" mentality. Actually, the most difficult aspect of the whole experience is hitting the correct lever for the blinker. I am forever turning the wiper on trying to get to the blinker, which is on the right side of the steering wheel. As for the driving, so far, so good. No doubt, I am much more careful and focused here than I would be at home. It was unnerving at first (and still is, a bit), but quite exciting all in all.

New experiences - both scary and exciting. It is like that with many of life's ups and downs, isn't it? I have been having my Quiet Time in Philippians 1. Early in the chapter, Paul calls the Christ-followers at Philippi, "partners in the gospel." In verse 12, he seeks to encourage them by saying that all that has happened to him has actually served to advance the gospel. You may know that "what had happened to Paul" was that he had been arrested and put in prison. I wonder if Paul thought this was a good thing for the gospel at first when he was arrested. I wonder if perhaps he thought Satan was having a good go and now the gospel would be hindered. I doubt it, really, knowing Paul's understanding of God's sovereignty. Sometimes, God’s ways are not always clear to us. Often, though, as in Paul's case, the not so wonderful turns in life make sense later on.

As a special prisoner, a member of the Imperial (Praetorian) Guard would be chained to Paul at all times. The guards were assigned to the apostle in four-hour shifts, which meant that 6 different guards would be chained to Paul in a 24 hour period. Do you think Paul witnessed to them? Verse 13 tells us that the entire guard knew that Paul was a prisoner for Christ! Surely, some of these men trusted Christ. No doubt, many of these elite soldiers went on to serve the Roman Empire in important posts around the world - and, the gospel advanced!

It is easy to see how Paul began to understand clearly what God was doing. Oh, that we will make the most out of opportunities, no matter how they look at first – even if they appear to be disastrous. Far better for us to trust God from the beginning so that we are doubly blessed when God's purposes begin to take shape in front of our eyes.

Tomorrow night (Saturday), we will have an Australian wedding reception with about 60 friends! We are looking forward to a great evening. I am quite excited, also, about meeting Alison's sister, Heather, and her husband, John, for lunch, and then meeting my new nieces and nephew (Melinda, Christine, and Matthew) at the party. We will spend a few days with them next week in Kiama - a spectacularly beautiful place (as just about all of the East Coast of Australia is - I can only speak for what I have seen).

Hopefully in the coming days I can catch up on our experiences at the Australian Reptile Park and the Central Coast and incredible views and food, etc., etc., etc. For now, sweet dreams for those of us Down Under, and a good Friday to those in the West.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Whirlwind in Oz

It is not exactly the tornado in The Wizard of Oz, but it sure feels like it! This cyclone is named Alison, who goes, it appears, non-stop when she is in her native land. Well, actually, she goes non-stop in her adopted land, also. My children talk about how I am constant motion and activity. I have met my match in my new bride - but, I knew that, of course, before we married and I wouldn't have it any other way. What a delicious natural disaster!

What a first week (not done, yet) it has been! After arriving Wednesday and recovering from the flight (well, I needed the recovery time, anyway), we headed for friends in the Blue Mountains on Thursday - the Hugh and Barbie I wrote about earlier. On Friday, Alison, Barb and I drove up into the Blue Mountains, which remind me, in many respects, of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We saw the Three Sisters, a special rock formation of the sandstone that is so prevalent in this range and about which there is an Aboriginal legend. The temperature turned cold, as it should in this colder than normal Australian winter. Back at Hugh and Barbie's home, we enjoyed a delicious dinner and marvelled at the pictures from their recent 200 plus kilometers hike in the high mountains of Nepal. Exactly the kind of trek I like to experience - vicariously!

On Saturday morning, we were blessed to meet more ministry friends - George and Dim - awesome minsters for Christ! These faithful friends of Alison's provided incredible support. George had the same theology books on his shelf that I have! Later that morning, we went with Hugh and Barbie on a bush walk. We walked down one spot so grown over and narrow that there is almost no way I would walk that path in the summer with Australia's large number of venomous snakes and spiders! If you don't know about those, google them and prepare for reading-induced sweaty palms.

We got home to Sydney just in time to shower and head for the city for an awesome night on the town with Hugh and Barbie, who provided us with quite a wedding gift. After dinner right on the water at the Harbour, we walked a few blocks to the famous Sydney Opera House to watch the Broadway Play, A Little Night Music, starring Australia's own Sigrid Thornton (The Man from Snowy River) and Anthony Warlow (who has played the lead in Phantom of the Opera). None of us knew the plot to this play or we would probably not have gone, but it was fine theater, great acting, and great singing! As we exited our section of the theater, we walked into the lobby to find massive glass and a fine view of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Beautiful, beautiful city, this Sydney, Australia.

Sunday after church (see last post), we went back downtown with Gil and Jo, two more of Alison's good friends. We took a ferry to Watson's Bay where we were generously treated to lunch at the famous Doyle's Seafood Restaurant. Delicious fish and chips! Gil regaled me much of the day with interesting facts about Australia, particularly Sydney, while the ladies shared their hearts with one another, both being breast cancer survivors and mothers of teenagers and sisters in Christ and - you get the idea. We went up to The Gap and looked out on the Pacific Ocean where we saw a whale (at least the other three assured me that spot in the distance was a whale). The Gap is a narrow expanse of land that ends in cliffs high above the Pacific and separates Watson's Bay from the Pacific ocean. More than a few Aussies have committed suicide at this place, jumping off the cliffs. It was so good to reflect on life in Christ and the joy that is in my life with my wife, my children and their families (Jonathan, Sarala, Ben, Brian, and Laura being the same as my own three) and the beautiful body of Christ - at Grace and around the world.

Sunday evening, Alison and I met with Kayla (sp?) Wall, granddaughter of GCC members, Jay and Ellie Wall. We first met Kayla at the fireworks extravaganza at the Moneypennys on July 3, less than 36 hours before we flew out of North Carolina, heading here. We learned that she was also heading to Australia for a semester at the University of New South Wales while they reside in Coogee Beach (what sacrifices these young scholars endure), just south of Sydney, so we planned to connect Down Under. Kayla and her friend, Bridgette, met us for dinner at the Circular Quay (pronounced "Key") at Sydney Harbour. It was great to watch Alison help these girls acclimate to their new home for the next five months.

As I wrap this up on Monday evening, we have just returned from dinner with two more of Alison's 1,237,538 friends in Australia - these two are Ross and Sarah. What a great night! I have met one really interesting person after another in this country (and enjoyed some wonderful food - lasagna tonight!). An aside - on the flight from LA to Sydney, we sat beside Tim, a flautist with a chamber group out of Chicago named "Eighth Blackbird." Did I mention him before? Interesting guy! One of the things he loves about living in the U. S. is that he says he is far more interesting in the States than he is in Australia - the accent, you know. So, I ask myself about these Aussies - is it the accent, or are these genuinely interesting people? It is ABSOLUTELY the latter! I'm blessed, though, because I am so used to finding the exact same kind of people in North Carolina, and, particularly at Grace. Ross and Sarah (whose four children - vibrant, I understand - were in bed) jumped right in to spiritual conversation, which turned to theology, which turned to the sharing of deep issues (where but in the body of Christ can that happen so quickly?), which turned to discussions of books and history and politics. Riveting!

Tomorrow is an off day. Sort of. It is a bit in flux, but perhaps we will spend the day at Manly Beach, reading (I am really inspired after the conversations this past week), praying, writing thank you notes to our good friends here and at home, talking and continuing to indulge in the blessing of getting to know one another more, and just being quiet at times and reflecting on God's Word while being sensitive to His Spirit. As for now, sleep callllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllls.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Body of Christ - in Sydney and Worldwide

St. Philip's Church in Sydney reminds me a great deal of Grace Community Church. Alison's home church is an Anglican Church. The relaxed liturgy at St. Philip's has much the same feel as the services that I have attended at Church of the Apostles in Raleigh (special Thanksgiving and Good Friday services, though not a Sunday morning service). It was, as you can imagine, quite a blessing to be with brothers and sisters in Christ who love our Lord so much, and who love my dear wife, Alison, so very much, as well. Even as I enjoyed the sweet fellowship with new saints, my heart was drawn in spirit and prayer to the services at Grace Community Church that would begin some 14 hours later. The powerful preaching on the Sermon on the Mount and the friendly spirit of so many believers at St. Philips that held us for an hour after services (morning tea, you know - quite right) filled and warmed my heart on a cold Sunday morning.

It is always a joy to worship with brothers and sisters in different parts of the world. We have the common fellowship around Jesus that binds us together before we even meet one another. It is always heartening to see that the truth of Scripture that is so important to one's life (beliefs, thoughts, philosophy, worldview, etc.) are equally important to Christ-followers anywhere in the world you may find them. Sadly, I often find the level of commitment to be greater in other parts of the world than I do in the U. S. Of course, that could be a perception based on limited knowledge.

It is easy to love and enjoy new brothers and sisters in Christ, especially when you meet them in different parts of the world. The challenge is to love those same brothers and sisters 15 to 20 years later when you have lived life together all that time. Such reality is a picture of the truth found in Scripture that we are never commanded to create unity, because it is already built into the body of Christ. We are, however, strongly commanded to keep and protect unity because it can be such a fragile thing. It is surprising (or, not so, really) how much the NT speaks to this very issue, whether directly or indirectly. It is the point Peter is making in 1 Peter 4:8 when he says that we are to "love one another earnestly, because love covers a multitude of sins."

The Lord is the same everywhere. We know that, don't we? The believers in Sydney are beautiful - but, I have found them to be so, as well, in Prague, Budapest, Beijing, Chengdu, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Rome, and many other places around the world and in the States. Why? Because our Savior is beautiful! Thus, the body of Christ is beautiful, as well, and the Lord loves us deeply, regardless of where we reside.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

In Australia

Alison and I arrived in Australia yesterday morning, having chased the sun out of Los Angeles on Monday night and then beating it to Sydney by about 30 minutes Wednesday morning. I just got Internet access earlier today (Thursday evening) for my computer. I have been able to access emails and the Internet via my Blackberry, but there is no way I was going to post anything from that! Besides, yesterday was a day of recovery from the flight - the most difficult I have had in a long time.

Although it was a difficult day physically, there was no let-down in the anticipation of meeting Joan, Alison's sweet and hardy Mum. Joan had a stroke two years ago while visiting her son's family in Spain. It appeared she may not ever see her home again, but the Lord brought her back from the brink and I am blessed for her resilience. What a delightful lady who loves the Lord, loves people, and loves life! I look forward to many coffee's and tea's and hours of conversation with my mother-in-law.

Currently, we are in the home of dear friends of Alison's, Barbie and Hugh. Barbie met us at the airport (along with Alison's cousin, Max, and Joan), as is the tradition for these close friends of many years. Alison has a passle of friends in the U.S., and it is becoming apparent that she has an equal number of pals in Oz. Tomorrow, we will go higher in the Blue Mountains - hopefully I will have more to report after our adventures. We may go to an area where we can expect to see kangaroos in the wild. Tonight, we may be able to hear a local wallaby from Hugh and Barbie's home on the edge of the bush.

Australia is a beautiful country, but the people are more beautiful than the landscape! Easy and fun (yet meaningful and purpose-filled) conversation is the norm, here. The bread is delicious - and that, my friends, is trouble. Oh, do pray for us!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Going Down Under

It has been quite some time since I have given serious attention to this space. I have written to announce the births of grandchildren and to announce my engagement to the lovely Alison Kasbe. She is now my wife - the new Alison Talley - and she becomes lovelier every day. We were married on June 14 at a ceremony at Alison’s Raleigh church – Church of the Apostles – in what would be characterized by all who were there, I feel certain, as a true worship service. Patrick Dominguez, lead pastor at Apostles, led us to the very throne room of God where many of our friends gave thanks for God’s beautiful grace in sending His Son, Jesus, to make a way for us to relate to God. And, our friends gave thanks to God for bringing us together, thus, blessing us immeasurably!

So, now we head to Australia to meet most of Alison’s family. Hey, I’m no fool – marry first, meet the family afterwards! I am just kidding – we have already fallen in love with one another from opposite sides of the world. Alison’s brother, David Cotton, and his incredible family (wife, Catherine and children, Sophie, Laura, and Josh – awesome missionaries in Spain, by the way) blessed us with their presence at the wedding and then were able to stay with us for a week in Fuquay after we returned from our honeymoon. I cannot tell you how wonderful that time was – well, for us, anyway! They helped us move from Alison’s house to an apartment in Raleigh, where we will be staying for a year while Sarala graduates from high school (more about our first year – I am not going anywhere, GCC!). Most of what was moved from Raleigh, though, went to storage in Fuquay, where my daughter, Autumn, and her husband, Brian Stafford, will be staying this year while we are in Raleigh (though we will be in Fuquay on the weekends and plenty more).

Waiting for us in Oz are Alison’s mother, Joan, and her sister, Heather (finishing treatment for breast cancer), her husband, John McAlpine, and children Melinda, Christine, and Matthew. I can’t wait to meet this dynamic family that is deeply committed to the kingdom of God! Additionally, we will meet a host of friends in this place that many think of as the friendliest country in the world.

So, I will stay in touch while we are in Australia. Many of you have expressed excitement with us about this trip, and a few have suggested that I chronicle the days and events while away. Our stay will be a decent one – we will not return until the end of July. Shaun Cross and David Calvert will be preaching at Grace while I am away, so please pray that I still have a job when I return!

I have been meditating on the first four verses of the book of Philippians for the last few days. I have, yet again, been struck by the Apostle Paul’s committed heart of prayer for others. My ADD mind (never diagnosed, but, hey, come on . . .) finds it difficult to sustain lengthy periods of prayer. In these last few days, I am working hard to pray for you when I think of you – and, I have been thinking about you quite a bit as I have contemplated blowing the dust off the old blog and cranking up again. You must know that Paul’s prayers focus on the spiritual rather than the physical, so that is guiding my thoughts and prayers for you. I am quite eager to share experiences with a whole new family (both those related to Alison by blood and those precious friends who mean so much to my dear wife) on this excursion, but I also want to share what God is doing in my heart and mind. I will be giving much prayer and thought to what God is doing at Grace Community Church as I interact with elders and staff back home in this marvelous age. I am certain some of those thoughts will spill over here.

Travelogue? Hardly! I wish the quality of the writing would be worthy of such a title. Experiences shared on paper? Oh, yeah! In fact, may I tell you about the 12 hour layover in Los Angeles in which we currently find ourselves? Not interested? OK – talk with you from Sydney!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Audrey Elizabeth Talley - My Fifth Grandchild!

This morning at 4:28 AM, Audrey Elizabeth Talley entered this world. Luara, my daughter-in-law, went into serious labor last night. Michael and Laura arrived at the hospital (in the snow) at about 10:30. Praise the Lord, it was not an extremely long labor, especially for the first child! We are thankful, as well, that Audrey is beautiful and healthy. She weighed in at 7 lbs., 14 oz and was 20 inches with a head-full of hair. Thank You, Father, for this beautiful new addition to our family!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

She Said Yes!

This past Sunday afternoon, Alison Kasbe became my fiance when she said YES to my proposal of marriage! We both knew before Sunday that God had brought us together in His gracious, sovereign plan, but Sunday was a day of pure delight for us both. It was a day when weeping (for both of us) was officially turned to laughter and rejoicing. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that God has called her to be by my side as we, together, seek to follow His plan for our lives as we minister together in the kingdom.

The current plan is for us to be married at 6:00 PM on Monday, June 14. I say "current plan" for two reasons: 1) We have considered several other options, from a destination wedding, to a small local wedding, to a larger church wedding (the current plan); and 2) I am still holding out hope that I can talk her into eloping before that! Just kidding.

Sort of.

For those of you who don't know the Kasbe's, Alison has two wonderful children - Jonathan, a freshman at Elon University, and Sarala, a junior at Leesville Road High School in Raleigh. Jonathan and Sarala both love Jesus and follow hard after Him! In order for Sarala to be able to finish her senior year at Leesville Road High, we will live in Raleigh next year, so I will be commuting backwards. The elders of Grace Community Church have graciously granted my request for this arrangement. I am not going anywhere - I LOVE being the teaching elder at GCC, and if God will allow me to, I hope to retire at Grace. That will occur when I am 85 years old. Just kidding.

Sort of.

Alison and I plan to travel to Australia in July. I am so looking forward to my time Down Under and meeting my new friends (and, readers) in Alison's native land. What a pleasure it has been to correspond with some of you and to speak with some of you on the phone. I very much look forward to meeting many of you in Australia! Of course, there is family to meet in Oz, and I can't wait! In coming days and years, you will read more about Joan (Alison's awesome Mum), John and Heather (Alison's sister, who is battling breast cancer - please pray for her), McAlpine and their children (Melinda, Christine, and Matthew), and David (Alison's brother - missionary in Spain) and his family, though I will meet David, Catherine, and children (Sophie, Laura, and Joshua ) here this summer rather than in Australia.

OK, any more would be information overload. There is more to say, and I promise to get to kingdom matters in this space, but this is big news, and I'm not kidding! Thanks for caring! Oh, one more bit of info - for you Americans who don't know, Alison is spelled with one "l," which, apparently, is more common in Australia.

Friday, January 15, 2010


That's her name. Most of you know about Alison, but in case you don't, she is the beautiful (inside and out) Ozzie (Australian, in case you didn't know) lady that God brought into my life this past year. I tell her that she is my happy song because on the day that I met her, I stopped listening to sad music and began listening, once again, to happy music. Music is a big part of our lives. Last night, in fact, we enjoyed listening to Joshua Bell play violin with the North Carolina Symphony. He only played for about 35 minutes, so we figured it cost us about $2 per minute - each! You do the math. It was worth every penny of it! If you have not heard about the Washington Post's experiment with Joshua Bell playing in the entrance to a Washington, D.C. subway, check it out on You Tube.

Back to the topic at hand. Alison, though originally from Australia, lives in Raleigh. We share a deep commitment to Jesus, identical values, and many of the same interests, though football is a challenge for her and board games are equally difficult for me. Her smile lights up every room (and, always, my heart) and her genuine love and concern for people attracted me to her very early in our acquaintance. You will hear more about Alison on these pages, but I just wanted to introduce you to her in case you didn't know.

Thanks for hanging in there!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is Anyone Still Out There?

Long time, no posts. That will change, soon, though, with so many kingdom matters on my heart and mind and with many interesting and wonderful events occurring in my life these days. So, in case anyone is still checking, stay tuned!