Palentalia (or) The Divorce

by David Schell
based on a re-re-re-re-reposted message some friends posted. 

THE divorce was complete.

Hardly had the ink dried on the separation papers before the great migration began. “Liberals” from the east coast were moving west, and “Conservatives” from the west were heading east. Both had decided that the other could not be saved. A conservative law student named John J. Wall had written up the terms, and after some discussion, the conservatives and liberals had agreed to them. The text was as follows: Continue reading “Palentalia (or) The Divorce”


Joseph Garlington once told the story of an Asian woman looking for a house. Everywhere the realtor took her, she would look around and say, “Nice house. No statue.” The realtor, thinking she was a devout catholic, took her to houses with statues of the Virgin Mary, statues of St. Joseph, and every other statue he could think of. Still, everywhere they went, she would go inside, look around, and simply comment, “Nice house, no statue.”

Finally, back at his office, the realtor looked at the lady in frustration and asked, “Ma’am, everywhere we’ve gone, you’ve said “Nice house, no statue. Just what IS a statue?”

She picked up the phone on his desk, held it to her ear, and said “‘Stat you?”

Oh, the places I’ve been these past four weeks looking for church. The first week, a church called “Good Shepherd” (aka “The Well”) visited Huntington University and did church here. The next week, I did church with The Well again. It was nice, but it felt like something was missing.

Continue reading “Statue?”

“He’s not finished with me yet” (and) the search for home

It seems like every time I turn on the radio, I hear Brandon Heath’s song “He’s not finished with me yet.” This last time, I started wondering about that.

I was born in Tennessee
Late July humidity
Doctor said I was lucky to be alive

I’ve been trouble since the day that I got here
Trouble till the day that I disappear
That’ll be the day that I finally get it right

There is hope for me yet
Because God won’t forget
All the plans he’s made for me
I have to wait and see
He’s not finished with me yet

Ok, I wasn’t born in Tennessee. Or “lucky to be alive.” …I have been trouble, though. But that line “He’s not finished with me yet” kinda made me think. It made me think that maybe just because I’m over 350 miles away from anything familiar that my usefulness isn’t over yet.

Continue reading ““He’s not finished with me yet” (and) the search for home”


I was assigned to do a one-page essay in my Academic Writing and Research class. Mr. Cotton gave us 40 minutes to write it. The topic was “Heroes,” and I had to pick someone. I went with Ree, because picking Jesus, though it would’ve been more accurate, just seemed a bit cliché somehow at a Christian college. And I assumed he meant besides Jesus.

Without further commentary, my paper, titled


If I had to pick a hero, someone who I feel has made the biggest positive difference in my life, I would have to choose Ree Enlow. Ree is a forty- or fifty-something-year-old woman whose official title is “Director of Guest Services” at Jumonville, a Christian camp and conference center near Uniontown, Pennsylvania. The group of college-age kids who worked there this past summer just called her “Mom.”

Continue reading “YOU ARE A BUM”

Thief in the Night – I’m supposed to be here.

Oh my word.

I was just doing a google search to see if anyone had made a music video for Rich Mullins’ song called “Thief in the Night” when I made a discovery that let me know that God is in what I’m doing here.

See, how this whole thing started was like this: I had just listened to that song on my netbook up at Jumonville. I walked into Ree’s office and asked if she’d heard it and she asked if I meant the movie. I remembered the movie. “Thief in the Night” is one of the worst “Christian” movies of all time, and that’s saying something.

That conversation got me thinking about about how I’d wanted to make GOOD Christian movies for such a long time but never tried. Later that day while building a tent, I asked God if I could do that.

Through a ridiculous, almost laughable series of events, I ended up as a Freshman student at Huntington University with a Film Production major. But mentioning that title to Ree, and remembering the movie, was really what got me started thinking about this and kinda got those thoughts rolling. And then today I was doing a google search to see if anyone had made a music video for that song.

Turns out that’s not even the right name. It’s called “Steal At Any Price.”


Now that’s irony. And it’s just like God to do something like that.

You’ve gotta be kidding me (or) I don’t WANT to survive, Otto! I wanna LIVE!!

This is ridiculous. I really… yeah. This is just crazy.

The past 3 days have been a crazy blur of activity, inactivity, activity, and insanity. And I still don’t know quite what’s going on. I guess I’ll start with Monday.

Monday, August 17, 2009
I called the place I was gonna rent an apartment from. The apartment I was looking at last Wednesday had been rented already. Crap. But I drove out to that apartment community anyway, to look at a different one they would have available by THIS Wednesday. It was quite ok. I filled out the application, paid a $15 fee, and left.

On my way toward home, I stopped at FedEx Ground, where I’ve worked before. Everyone seemed happy to see me again. I filled out the application, and it was just a matter of getting a DOT physical taken again, and FedEx having my references checked. The job was as good as mine.

Continue reading “You’ve gotta be kidding me (or) I don’t WANT to survive, Otto! I wanna LIVE!!”

A Time To Weep, and a Time to Laugh

The summer is over.

The Jumonville grounds echo the sounds of a full summer; when you walk outside, you can almost hear the echoes of the kids laughing and the staff shouting out important safety rules, then explaining that every last one of them is a beautiful, unrepeatable miracle, or BUM.

The staff cabins, Andrew and Martha, are now filled with empty beds. I think I miss my room being a disaster area, because when it was a disaster area, it was also filled with friends. The common area once looked like a hurricane came through it. Now it looks abandoned and empty.

The dining hall, once cramped from squeezing fourteen staff members at one 8-place table, now comfortably seated the eight who remained at lunch. Then Tyler’s parents came to pick her up, and there were only seven. Kelly and Caitlin left without saying goodbye, and Caitlin M. is leaving at dinner.

The office is distinctly quiet, so much so that Ree had turned on a television for noise. The challenge course and the tower, yesterday (and even this morning) filled with screaming kids, are now empty and lonely.

True, through Jumonville’s autumn and winter there will be groups who come up to visit, and the forest, the dining hall, and the cabins will once again ring with childrens’ voices – though only for a little while. In the meantime, Ree and the very mountain of Jumonville will long for the coming summer and spring.

When the ground finally shakes off its fluffy white coat, and the green grass makes its bold appearance. When buses from the Laurel Highlands Outdoor School once again struggle up to the mountaintop and through the entryway, and Jumonville will once again be filled with the sounds of squealing bus brakes and squealing children.

There will be another group of summer staff, who will become a body, a church, and a family of friends. Nate and Ree will teach them about love languages, team building, behavior quadrants, and everything else they need to know.

And Ree will tell them that they are BUMs.

There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven…
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
~Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4

Jumonville Update I

Hey everyone! Thank you for your prayers for me and the people you know and love up here… and those you don’t know yet. You know, I’d been thinking of all the things I wanted to say… and now that I finally have a keyboard and a few minutes to collect my thoughts, I can’t think of any of them. Except the GOD IS SO AWESOME!

This is the first week of camp (actually, it’s week 2, but the first since training was over). On Monday, I found out in part just how much I desperately need God to work in and through me. I was facilitating one of the activities and basically just being a jerk – to the other counselors, to the kids, to the dean… It wasn’t right. My priorities were all mixed up – I was so crazy worried about getting stuff done right that I didn’t take into account that these are PEOPLE I’m working with – and kids, even more! So Saturday night I got a chance to pray with James, my accountability partner, and I found out more stuff that’s broken in me. I guess I tend to push people’s buttons.

Continue reading “Jumonville Update I”

“But I tried hard as I could….”

Bear with me. This note is gonna be hard totype because for the first time I’m writing a facebook note with my eyes closed, so I don’t know how it’s gonna work out. Some background….

I was at a friend’s house last night and just snapping wood and tossing it into the fire and when I snapped one piece another chunk flew off and hit me in the left eye. I’m opening my eyes from time to time to make sure I didn’t misspell any crucial words, but this is mostly eyes closed ’cause it hurts less. So forgive any typos and misspellings. On to the content…

I was listening to the radio the other day… I guess it was yesterday… and I heard a pastor say that all our good works can’t get us to heaven, we have to pray and accept Jesus into our hearts. This is true. But see, where I come from, I had managed to make praying the sinner’s prayer a work that I could do to be saved. Something I could do to gain favor with God. I would pray it hard, pray it sincerely, and make sure I used all the right words. And this went on for YEARS! Finally one day I decided to call it quis on sinners prayers and just trust that God would tdo it. That wasn’t when my crazy relationship with this Awesome God began, but it was part.

See, at first all I’d heard was, if you pray this prayer, you’ll become a Christian. And I prayed it and I trusted God to do the saving. Or at least that the prayer was good enough. Then along came more people who said if yo didn’t pray it sincerely or if you didn’t pray it meaning it, you weren’t saved. And so this thing that was meant to be a cry out for God for help became just another good work. So then I was at a place where I could pile up all my good works and add to them this sinner’s prayer and hope that all that together (or just the prayer alone) would be enough for God to save me. Sorry if I’m rambling, but I’m trying to get the point across: that was, for me, a form of religion, where if I prayed right God would love me and save me.

And that was totally arrogance on my part but I had no idea.

Continue reading ““But I tried hard as I could….””

Saviour, renamed.

So I was reading Numbers a week or two ago and I came upon this odd little verse tucked away in chapter 13:

“These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land; but Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.”

Why, I wondered, did Moses change Joshua’s name to Joshua? What did his other name, Hoshea, mean? I looked them both up in my strong’s hebrew reference. Here’s what Hoshea means:

Howshea, from the root yasha, meaning 1) to save, be saved, be delivered, to be liberated, be saved, be delivered, to be saved (in battle), be victorious, to save, deliver, to save from moral troubles, to give victory to.

Well, that’s pretty clear. Hoshea’s name meant saver, deliverer, liberator, victor… savior. But what about Joshua, the new name?

The Hebrew for Joshua is Yĕhowshuwa. It’s a blend of Yĕhovah and Howshea. Yehovah. That’s the word most English bibles translate “the LORD” with LORD in all caps. It’s God’s holy name. It means “The Eternal One,” “The Existing One.”

So Joshua is a mix of two words: One, the name of our Lord, and the other, Savior, redeemer, rescuer. What just happened here?

Here’s what I personally believe: Moses needed Hoshea to know that he is not the savior. God is. So Moses changed his name to “God Saves.” It was a reminder that no person gets to be savior – God does. I wrote some of this down in my notebook. Hosheas must be renamed to Joshuas before they can be of any use to God. Before we can be of any use, we must be renamed from “I save” to “God saves.”

And then over the past couple weeks He’s been showing me how desperately I try to be the savior. I use Him for my plans to save people, instead of allowing Him to use ME for HIS. Last sunday in church I hit my knees and repented. I’m praying now…

God, I’m not the Savior. You are. I don’t want to use YOU as a part of my plan, but instead I want YOU to use ME as a part of YOURS.