Festival of Lights with the Family at Cincinnati Zoo

Ohio Star Theater, Sugarcreek OH

The lovely Robin and I indulged in a performance at the recently-built Ohio Star Theater in Sugarcreek, Ohio, last Saturday.
The theater is beautiful and spacious, and the show--"Our Christmas Dinner"--was enthusiastically performed by a cast of eight. 
Though I was disappointed in the quality of the script and some of the acting, both of which were quite awkward at times, a few of the musical numbers in the show were extremely enjoyable. 

The Ohio Star Theater is located at 1387 Old State Route 39 in Sugarcreek, Ohio.

Holmes County Largest Book Signing, Berlin OH

Last Saturday, J. M. (Joan) Hochstetler Shoup and I met up again at the annual Holmes County Largest Book Signing at Gospel Bookstore in Berlin, OH. We were there to sign our two coauthored historical novels (based on our Hochstetler ancestors' experiences), Northkill and The Return.
The event was well attended, we met a lot of old and new friends (both "plain" and "English"), and had a great time. Oh, and we signed a goodly number of books too. 

Spiritual Formation Retreat, Chicago IL

Earlier this week, I had the joy and honor of speaking to an avid group of Salvation Army cadets (in training for ministry) at the College For Officers Training in Chicago, IL. The venue for the event was the historic Tilt Mansion (above), built in 1914 for shoe manufacturer Joseph E. Tilt, just a few blocks from Wrigley Field, which was built the same year.  
It was my first visit to this amazing structure, which has been a holy place to generations of Salvation Army officers and delegates to the Brengle Holiness Institute.

My room (above) was comfortable and commodious in every detail. 
Most importantly, I couldn't have asked for a better reception from the cadets (who had finished finals the day before) and staff. I felt perfectly at home and prayerfully hope that my participation was helpful and effective. 

Wrigley BBQ, Chicago IL

This last Wednesday evening, having arrived in Chicago for a speaking engagement to start the next morning, I was hosted by a new and dear friend for a meal at Wrigley BBQ

It was a delight. The half slab of ribs were perfect, as were the sides of green beens and mashed sweet potatoes. I love it when the ribs are so delectable that sauces aren't even needed.

Wrigley BBQ is located at 3555 N Broadway Street in Chicago.

Ohio Christian Writers Conference at First Baptist, Mason OH

I spent much of the last three days at the inaugural Ohio Christian Writers Conference at First Baptist Church in Mason, Ohio (Cincinnati area). When I drove up, I realized I have been to this church before. In fact, I've spoken at this church, long ago, for something related to Right From Wrong or Don't Check Your Brains at the Door. 
I keynoted on Thursday evening and Friday morning, taught a couple workshops, met with numerous writers, and reunited with many dear, dear friends. 

It was an exhausting and productive conference--and is now among my favorites, since it is a mere 33-minute drive from my home. 

Mini Reunion, Concord CA

The lovely Robin and I enjoyed a mini-family-reunion today with our Baker relations in Concord, California. Our cousins George and Jeanne Baker had journeyed to Concord (east of Oakland) to visit with our cousins Glen and Linda (Baker) Madsen and their mom, my Aunt Dorothy. So we had lunch together at the Sun Valley Mall (I think) and thoroughly enjoyed visiting and reminiscing and loving on 91-year-old Aunt Dorothy.
The visit was too short but oh so wonderful. We shared many wonderful memories and made a handful more. 

Hostetter Road, San Jose CA

Main Street Burgers, Los Gatos CA

Apple Store, Los Gatos CA

Today the lovely Robin and I accompanied our son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids Miles and Mia to Los Gatos, California, where we visited a number of businesses in the town's tony shopping district.
Of course, one of those businesses was the Apple store, where Aaron and Nina had scheduled a genius bar appointment for Nina's fun. But I'm NOT saying that the reason for the visit was that she had dropped her new iPhone after just a few days of owning it. Because that would be unkind. And I'm not that kind of guy. 

SA Officers Councils at Big Bear Lake, CA

The lovely Robin and I were honored and excited to share in this past week's Salvation Army Officers Councils, held at Pine Summit Camp in Big Bear Lake, California, in the San Bernardino Mountains. What a beautiful setting for an incredible event.
I was asked to present most of my "Dancing with God" series (available here in ebook format), so I did. The group mostly stayed awake and attentive throughout, and it was a delight to participate in the many ways the careful planning supported the theme. 
It was such a delight to re-connect with my cousin, George Baker (above), with whom I shared many memories (and mischievities) growing up. He's still a pretty good guy, but spending time also with his wife Jeanne (below, with the lovely Robin) was even better. 

Keeping with the "dancing" theme, one of the evening activities was a session of line dancing lessons for which we were told to wear our best western garb. Since we flew to the event, I had to leave my boots and hat at home (seriously), so had only a borrowed shirt. But it had fringe. So there. 

The whole week was a great blessing, thanks to the Bakers and all of our new friends in the Sierra Del Mar Division.