Saturday, December 15, 2012


"Great news. World-record jet stream."

The flight left an hour late out of Newark. “But don’t worry,” the gate agent assured us, “The jet stream is amazingly strong today—I think it’s a world record—and so what would normally be a five-hour flight will take about six hours.”

That became just fine when I realized the seat between the window dude and myself would remain unoccupied. Thank you, God, for small and large favors.

The last time I was in Las Vegas was 1984, when bicycling across the United States. I’ve pedaled the trans-con twice, both times passing through Vegas. Therefore, these two odd facts stand out to me: I have never been in this town except on two wheels (literal truth), and have never traveled through it faster than 15 miles per hour.

Midway through the flight, I enjoyed a glass of wine, finished the rest of my Hershey dark chocolate bar, and listened to Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love four times. This inspired me (obviously) to write two video scripts for our new video company in Windber, Yeah-Yeah Productions. The guys back home will be happy to hear this. They have been dying to make another movie ever since the release of “Psycho Boy.” By the way, if you have not seen “Psycho Boy,” head here:

I am feeling much saner now, thank you. 

Floating into it at night from heavenly realms, Las Vegas sparkles, pretty, like the wondertown it is. On final approach, it occurred to me: If I think this is impressive, what will the New Jerusalem of the new earth do to me? My very next thought about New Jerusalem was: Will Shania Twain be performing? Wayne Newton? David Copperfield?

You probably want to know if I am nervous meeting people I’ve never met, picking me up at airports. Am I worried about being kidnapped? No. I am trying to be content in all circumstances, including kidnappings. I got off the plane, and there was Joe Newman. He was brandishing neither a gun, nor a large canvas bag—just a big grin and a welcoming hug. I liked him right away.

Joe is a funny guy. I was wandering around the terminal trying to find him, and he texted me: “I’m the guy with the haircut.”

We talked easily on the way to his house. Do I ever like his family! Joe’s wife Melinda, and his daughter Hannah and son Matthew, all greeted me and made me feel instantly at home. I sat at the kitchen bar while Melinda made salad and Hannah relayed her recent adventure/trauma sharing truths about human free will with close friends. (“She read your book The Really Bad Thing About Free Will,” said Joe in the car, “and it got her into trouble, like, within three days. Nice job, Zender.”)

Matthew and Hannah, magneted onto the refrigerator.
Matthew’s favorite school subject is science; Hannah hates Math, but everything else is okay with her. She’s already thinking heavily about God, which is quite something for a fourteen year-old. Oh! Check out this awesome painting she did, hanging in her room:

(Click to enlarge.)
Interesting that I'd just taught on that verse on my last Zender show.

There are two pets here, a dog and a cat. I forget their names, but the cat is a female and seems to know how cute she is. She can get away with anything, including drinking directly out of my water glass this morning. I will discern the name of this dehydrated animal (well, she is not dehydrated any more), and report to you forthwith.

Let me know if I can get you some breakfast with that, kitty.
Hannah gave up her room for me, so I’m enjoying a decor I never would have chosen for myself, but that is already growing on me.

Check out my pillow:

And my lamp:

I forced myself to stay up last night; it wasn’t hard because fellowshipping with the Newman family was so gosh-darned fun. I woke up at 3 o’clock, though. Yep—up came the shutters of the mind and they weren’t going back down. Obviously, my body still thinks its in Pennsylvania. I tried to go back to sleep: no dice. So I came down here to the kitchen at four to post yesterday’s blog and write this one. 

The family is still asleep; all is quiet and peaceful. (I found a bag of "raisin medley" in the fridge.) The only sounds are the tick-tock of the clock, and water being lapped from my glass by a disobedient, formerly dehydrated, but very cute cat.

The meeting starts at 10 this morning. There will be three meetings between now and Thursday. Come on out! There is still time, if you hurry. (From Los Angeles, do not attempt it on a bicycle .)

I’ll get some real photos of the real people today. Yesterday evening was too much fun and the conversation too engaging to drag out the camera.

Thanks for traveling along with me on this adventure. We are one big happy family, is the way I see it.

© 2012 by Martin Zender


I am at the Newark International Airport, across the river from New York City. I flew here from Pittsburgh on the way to Las Vegas; it seems I am going in the wrong direction. Awaiting takeoff, I shared this sentiment with a friend via text, who answered: “Sometimes we go the wrong way before we fly right.”

Ain’t that the truth. I can see how United Airlines has become an imitator of God (Ephesians 5:1). Have you ever known God to steer you as the crow flies? God invented the crow just to show us how things aren’t going to go. (Unfortunately, Satan invented “The Shortest Distance Between Two Points” concept. Another name for it is: “Wide is the Way That Leads to Destruction.”)

Apparently, God despises the great Eisenhower Highway System of Life. He’s into the two-lane ribbons of asphalt meandering around mountains, along fence posts, and through towns that suffer blackouts when someone trips over the extension cord. Forget convenience stores, or their fast-food equivalents. He’ll stop you for lunch at Ma Cooper’s Country Diner and force people you’ve never heard of to tell you more things than you ever wanted to know. And yet, somehow—in spite of spending $3.50 for the breakfast special (including orange juice)—you leave richer than when you came.

Sometimes God goes off-road completely, into the pines and plains, where the deer and the antelope play—before pooping on your shoes. (Oh, speaking of shoes, I’ve got to find some professional here who can improve the looks of mine.)

I realize now how used I’ve become to the lively buzz at the Pilkington home. The hive-like activity there has saved me. I used to think I liked working alone, in a booth, in the back, in a corner, in the dark. Not anymore. I need the warmth and sound of loving people working hard—and simultaneously laughing about something.  

Ever since bicycling alone across the United States in 1980, I have been comfortable with my own company. But that was before two families got pulled out from under me. It’s harder now to be alone. Doable, but harder. I’m a much keener observer of people. This, I suppose, makes up for the lack of company. I try to find a shred of fellowship on the people-movers at airports. Or at the luggage carousel. Or on the bus between terminals A and C.

Clyde and Janet drove me the two hours to Pittsburgh. I give thanks to God for the buffer they provided between the buzzing hive, and seat 14B.

I bought them breakfast at a Bob Evans a few miles from the Pittsburgh airport.

Part of me isn’t perfectly right yet. Rebecca was supposed to be on all these trips with me. God has to remind me that I’m whole, and I am; I’ve always tried to believe God; He’s smarter than me. I’ve always been whole, and even sometimes “a hole.” But two wholes make—what? A super-whole? A circus act? A baby? A disaster? A chapter in life? A memory? A scar? A Hippocratic-type oath to never do harm? A promise? A broken promise? A new dream? A future diamond in the aquarium? A green, leafy salad? A dark Hershey bar at the Hudson News Stand in Newark? The promise of new friends in Las Vegas?

All of life is not knowing. I just don’t know. All I know is what I know, which is truth. All I know is that I am destined to be spent for the sake of truth. Some of it will be enjoyable, much of it will destroy nerves and mitochondria. All I know is that I am called—and so is the guy picking me up at the airport in Las Vegas, seven hours from now. All I know is that God ordained this moment before there was this moment, as well as the millions of moments coming down the pike. Me? I’m merely discovering the moments on the pike—the Pike of Life. And here in Newark, New Jersey, that seems just fine.

For now. 

© 2012 by Martin Zender