FIELD NOTES: Stationary for Those Who Aren’t

Pictured: Field Notes’ 36th Limited Edition, “Dime Novel”

If this blog has a theme, it would probably have something to do with transience—hence the words “wayfaring” and “pilgrim” in the header—perhaps in the spirit of the hobo culture of the 1930s and 40s, when working people went wherever and did whatever they had to do to make ends meet. We may not be in the Great Depression now, but the same tenacity back then has been passed down to many of us now. No matter what our vocation, we strive to do our best because we care about what we do. 

The folks at Field Notes reinforce that ideal with quality notebooks and accessories such as pens, pencils, and leather notebook covers (all made in the USA). They make a quality product because they care about what they do. So it’s no surprise to find that they have a generous selection of notebooks marketed with the working person in mind. At their page you can find great notebooks, which generally come in 3-packs, such as their Original Kraft memo books , Utility, which comes in graph or ledger and a flip-out ruler to boot, as well as a host of other cool editions. Their design team is top notch, creating notebooks that salute the pragmatism of yesteryear while contributing stylish subtleties like embossed letters (especially in their newest edition, Dime Novel) and a ruler printed on the inside back cover. They make notation a pleasure for hard-working people in the field.

Which brings me to the meat of this post. Having a pocket notebook was at one time a common necessity—not just a small part of a subculture today. Not only for writers or artists, pocket notebooks were largely utilitarian, used for practical purposes by people in job sectors such as agriculture, transportation, and trade jobs. My late grandad would often carry in his shirt pocket a small composition notebook to check off each stop on his water softener route, write out a lumber material list, or jot down tasks to be completed. I worked on drill rigs for drillers who would keep their own shift logs in addition to the ones they were required to keep in the rig clipboard. 

As for myself, I keep a notebook to sketch, make quick notes, log how many cords of firewood I’ve cut (see what I did there?), or scribble out a poem once in a while. For me, the folks at Field Notes have tapped into an unpretentious mixture of blue collar durability found on the job site and literary creativity found in a corner booth at the local coffeehouse. A real win.

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A Sketch: 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

It has been a while since I’ve jumped in the blogging saddle, so here is a sketch of the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada—home to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. If you’re a fan of folk music and you’re unfamiliar with Elko, the Gathering, or with the concept of cowboy poetry, do yourself a favor and look into it. Going on thirty-three years, the multi-venue event runs from the last weekend of January through the first week of February. On the last night of the Gathering this year, my wife, kids, and I met Don Edwards, a cowboy singer from Texas, during a meet and greet held at the Elko Convention Center. We also met Montana-based poet, Paul Zarzyski, who inscribed “Spur the Words Wild!” beneath his autograph in my Moleskine notebook.

To Those Just Passing Through

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Rambler, rover, stranger, soldier—
Roll on, roll on!

Spite the pagan road.
Traverse the heavenly highway.
Glory in the Master Cartographer—
Rambler heart, roll on, roll on!

Desert springs will sustain thee,
Tho’ the villages disdain thee.
And while you bid them adieu,
Leave behind the dirt on your shoe.

Rambler, rover, stranger, soldier—
Roll on, roll on!

Mount Tenabo

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The summit of Mount Tenabo, in Eureka County, Nevada, sits at 9154′ above sea level. Cortez Hills Mine, owned and operated by Barrick Gold, rests at the base of the mountain venerated to some extent by the local Western Shoshone tribe.

While out on an afternoon family excursion, my oldest child and I scrambled up a ridge in a canyon nearby. We both had fun, and he revelled in exerting some energy by climbing rock ledges and boulders. We found a simple cairn at the top of the summit.

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It was a good diversion, nothing crazy, but it was a good bonding moment with my boy. Love to make these kinds of memories.

Paintbrush in the Edna Mountains

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Another sporadic post. It has been a fair length of time since the last one. Life has been busy. This photo was taken on my HTC Desire 626 (super technical way to say phone, haha) on a whim. The wildflowers are exquisite against the high desert plains, hills, and mountain slopes this time of year. The grass hasn’t caught up with the flowers in this part of Nevada, so the colors very much contrast with the sagebrush.

Book Review: Family Worship by Donald S. Whitney

Family Worship_Cover

As part of my own 2016 Reading Challenge, I decided to purchase a copy of Donald Whitney’s Family Worship (Crossway, 2016). It helped that Crossway unceasingly advertised this book on my Facebook feed (it goes to show you how impressionable I am, I reckon). And I am glad that I both purchased and read it. The theme of this book is that there ought to be a planned, routine, established time of worshiping God as a family through the reading of the Bible, praying together, and singing praises to God together.I was taken aback during and after reading Family Worship because, to my surprise, this little book packs a punch in the form of heritage and exhortation in just sixty-four pages. Whitney addresses the theme of the ages and one of the celebrated tenants of Christianity, namely, that God deserves our worship. He both deserves and delights in our worship, as individuals and as families who are a part of his Church (Psalm 96:7,8).

From a heritage standpoint, the book gives a quick rundown on the spiritual disciplines of men like Abraham, Job and Joshua in the Old Testament as well as mandates for husbands and fathers from the likes of Paul and Peter in the New Testament. In addition, Whitney generously refers to respected men of the faith down through history, from Tertullian, Luther, the English Puritans, Spurgeon, as well as Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John Piper. Their words add a rich perspective to the argument that our families ought to have purposeful, regular time set aside for worshiping God at home in addition to assembling with other believers in our local churches.

A little more than midway through Family Worship, Whitney shares some serious words from J.W. Alexander, a Presbyterian minister from New York in the first half of the nineteenth century, who wrote a book called Thoughts On Family Worship. In the last chapter Alexander wrote, “Laying aside all flattering words, I may say plainly that I regard the neglect of family worship as springing from lukewarmness and worldliness in religion.” To be fair, Whitney adds his own anecdote.

     But, that’s not true if people have never learned about family worship. You can’t expect Christians to do what they’ve never been taught to do. I once taught a class of 115 seminary students, in which I asked, “How many of you grew up in homes where family worship was practiced?” Only seven raised their hands. Then I asked, “How many have visited in homes where you have seen family worship taking place?” No one raised their hand. In a conservative, Bible-believing seminary which attracts some of the most devoted, gospel-zealous Christians on the planet, people preparing to be pastors and missionaries, only one out of sixteen students in a class on spirituality had any familiarity whatsoever with family worship.

What does that say about the situation regarding family worship in our own churches, the kinds that are blessed to produce such committed young believers? What is the likelihood that students who have never even seen family worship would go into the ministry and teach people to practice it and how to do so? Of course, if they were not first taught about family worship themselves, we would never imagine them teaching it to others.

Here is what I mean when I wrote that I was taken aback. I was personally convicted, as Whitney meant to accomplish in telling this story. Based on the personal experience of 115 devoted young seminary students, he finishes with this:

So we can’t agree with Alexander that “the neglect of family worship [springs] from lukewarmness and worldliness in religion” if people have never heard of it. But, in reading this book, now you have.

It is in this part of the book where all my failed spiritual aspirations as a husband and father came calling. But where many popular “Christian living/ family” books perhaps may leave their readers feeling guilty and demoralized, thankfully Whitney’s book did not do so to me. In it, he encourages his readers, husbands and fathers first, to resolve to lead their families in purposely worshiping God together (through Bible reading, praying and singing) instead of dwelling on past negligence or failed attempts at family devotions. Families, single men and single women, and empty-nesters are also addressed.

Above all, Whitney makes a good case for family worship in his little book, but he is careful to distinguish this practice of family worship from the Christ of the gospel, who alone is the source of salvation. He makes it clear, “We are not made right with God by practicing family worship, or by how well we love and provide for our families, or by anything else we do. The gospel—the message that can lead to being right with God—is the truth of what God has done for us through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

But what good does it do our families if we never exemplify the gospel, by living it out every day, or by communicating God’s worth? My resolve was strengthened as well as inspired by reading this small tome. I’ll finish this post with something Whitney wrote at the end of Family Worship. “Blessed is the family where the good news of what God has done through Jesus Christ is declared, day after day, generation after generation.”

 

 

 

Lone Butte, Nevada

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LONE BUTTE, Humboldt County, Nevada—Located between the southern end of the Osgood Mountains and the northern end of the Edna Mountains, Lone Butte overlooks Red House Flat and the sea of sagebrush and bunch grass which grows there. It was undoubtedly a familiar geographic landmark for weary travelers on the California Trail, being north of one of the Humboldt River crossings along that old historic byway. As of March 2016, the landscape lies cold with hints of spring found in grass up-shoots here and there.