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Chrysler is bringing back the Dodge Dart for 2013, a car it is rolling out at the North American International Auto Show.

The Dodge Dart is meant to appeal to the younger crowd as well as those in their 50s and 60s. It’s got a fancy, high-tech interior, sleek styling, blah, blah, blah.

Hey wait a minute. There’s something wrong with this picture.

Not ours exactly, but kinda like it.

Ah, that’s more like it.

A significant chunk of my world view was developed looking through the windows of an early 1970s Dodge Dart. In my formative years, me and my kin were carted about Alpena County in a shiny army green Dart. Its predecessor was a blue Dart with a white hardtop. My parents must have been passionate about Darts and their V-8 engines and roomy interiors. More likely, it’s all they could afford. Now I suppose this new fancy Dart is supposed to be exciting with all its aerodynamics and high-tech gadgets.

Kids, let me tell you about excitement!

Every day was an adventure in our Dart. The first challenge was, will it start? You see, back then, cars didn’t have none of that “fuel injection” stuff. You had to be blessed with exceptional gas pedal pumping skills. You had to learn the right combination of cranking the key while pumping the pedal. Too much, and you get flooded. Not enough, and you wear out the battery. I should tell you it helps immensely if you talk nice to your car, which is not a machine, after all, but a sensitive creature usually named Nellie. I always knew that when the car was temperamental, Mom could start it with her magic words, “C’mon, Nellie!” Worked every time!

In Mom’s mind, if that car was good enough to get us out of our snow-covered driveway, it was good enough to go anywhere. Like 3,000 miles to California! Our family’s idea of vacation was get in the car and drive wherever you felt like driving that day. So we saw America in our Dodge Dart.

My most everlasting memory was driving through the Mojave Desert. After leaving Long Beach, Calif., we decided to take a ride in the Dart through the desert. Why? Because it’s beautiful, of course. And waiting for Dad at the other end was beautiful Las Vegas. Funny, that was the calmest and most focused I’ve ever seen pop on a car ride.

As we entered the desert, we were warned that it was 300 miles with hardly any place to stop, that temperatures were near 120 degrees. Guess Mom was unfazed. This is, after all, the same woman who smeared bacon grease outside our Yellowstone campsite, hoping to attract cute bears. So off we went, with a half glass of water each. Fortunately, we had air conditioning. ARE YOU KIDDING? This was a Dart. Air conditioning meant stick your head out the window, whiny baby. About midway through the trip, we finally came upon  a tourist trap. I mean a restaurant! We were either dying of thirst by this point, or I had imagined we were dying of thirst. But they wanted to charge us for water! And Mom would have none of that. That’s just common sense. I mean, can you imagine paying money for water in a bottle? “Highway robbery!” yelled Dad. My sisters and I decided to explore the desert countryside near the restaurant. That was fun for a few seconds until we noticed the sign that said beware of rattlesnakes.

We scampered back into the car, more thirsty than ever. I was near death, I think. And that was just from the beatings inflicted upon me by my sisters. The Dart, fortunately, was small enough that Dad could easily reach back and smack us when we got mouthy. (That was acceptable back then. We usually deserved it, especially Heidi.) Later, someone decided to invent seat belts so you could strap your kids in the back seat and better control them. A positive side effect was the belts also made you safer.

My cries for water eventually were ignored, so I gave up. Besides, we were coming upon Joshua trees, which were just cool.

That rock formation in the background looks like Abe Lincoln.

You may have guessed I survived our 300 mile trip through the desert despite no water nor air conditioning, being chased by killer rattlesnakes, and mental and physical torture applied by my sisters. Dad’s favorite part of the desert was Circus Circus. Mom was so inspired by our bravado, I think she took us to the mountains the next day.

And our Dodge Dart was a true champion! Thanks, Nellie!


Click on that logo to go to the EACH website.

Just wanted to connect you with a great article by Annette Kingsbury on what’s in store for EACH.

She talked to Ron Risher, executive director of EACH, and Doug Schmidt, senior pastor at Woodside Bible Church in Troy.

The story emphasizes both the cooperation among Detroit area churches, and the outreaches planned.

“A huge group of metro Detroit churches and Christian organizations is taking that message directly to the community this year. They will spend the 40 days after Easter working to heal hard-hit parts of metro Detroit in what organizers believe is an unprecedented attempt to resurrect a community in its time of great need,” Annette writes.

When all is said and done, EACH will mean one million hours of service to metro Detroit. I’m thinking that could make a huge difference. Hope you’ll hop on board.

There’s another important facet to EACH: The 2 Word Story. I heard some this weekend, and they were awe-inspiring.I hope to hear many more! Here’s a vid that tells more about the 2 Word Story.

I hope your Easter weekend was inspiring. Mine was. I’m excited about the EACH campaign, I’m excited about metropolitan Detroit churches working together. One thing I didn’t have to worry about was my safety and the safety of my family. Whether or not you think America is a Christian nation, bear in mind that we have freedom to worship as we please. You may be ridiculed or scorned by some peers or some family members, but you are not under the same persecution as Christians in many other parts of the world. Christians in Sudan or China pay a heavy price — often their lives — for sticking to their beliefs. This weekend in Iraq, on Easter Sunday, bombers struck outside a church in Baghdad. Nobody was killed, but four Iraqi police officers and three bystanders were injured. I’d like to think that after all this war, there would be a semblance of freedom for Iraq’s Christians. Sadly, it seems the situation shows only signs of deteriorating. Fortunately, attacks in Baghdad were few this Easter Sunday.

About 700 Christians attended Easter services at Baghdad’s St. Joseph’s Chaldean church where security forces closed off the roads leading to it, laid razor wires and searched all worshippers before entering the church.
“Our life in Iraq is full of fear,” Father Hanna Saad Sirop told worshippers. “But we have to live in faith and trust … we have to trust almighty God,” Hanna added.

So when you count your blessings, make sure one of them is that the place you worship is not surrounded by razor wire.

Kensington is making a big move this weekend. Two of its campuses, Rochester and Lake Orion, are merging and will meet as one at Lake Orion’s home, Lake Orion High School.

Carol Hopkins has the story.

Don’t mistake this for downsizing. Call it streamlining instead. Rochester has been meeting at Rochester Adams High School. In the short term, Rochester’s 1,800 visitors and Lake Orion’s 1,200 will have to share some space. After Easter, services will expand to three each Sunday: 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon. I love that noon service! That sleeping-in excuse just doesn’t fly.

Click on the pic to watch video. Becky Lee, Campus Director for Kensington Orion church inside the Lake Orion high school auditorium. Kensington church is merging both their Rochester Adams and Lake ORion congregations into one at Lake Orion starting this weekend. The Oakland Press/TIM THOMPSON

Somewhere on the horizon, sites are set on a big building becoming the permanent home to the Rochester-Lake Orion congregation.

“Plans are under way to acquire a building of our own in north Oakland County,” says church spokesman Karl Nilsson in the article. “If all goes well, we will move from Lake Orion High into an existing 72,000-square-foot warehouse located about one mile north of the Palace on M-24.”

BTW, if you haven’t made Good Friday or Easter plans yet, Kensington’s churches have some awesome services planned for the weekend.

Get your tickets now. They’re free, but going fast.

Last weekend’s Easter egg hunts across the area were a hit, even amid a downpour. If you missed them, don’t fret. Here’s two more (at least) this Saturday.

The first is at Heritage Church in Sterling Heights.

Did you catch the part about INDOORS?

And then there’s the Egg Drop at Lakepointe Church, which BTW has a cool new website. An Egg Drop, you ask?

The bunny can fly a chopper?

Kensington’s Clinton Township campus helped the bunny scatter tens of thousands of eggs last Saturday. The rain had no prayer!

egg hunt

Alanna Clark, 3, and her brother Ashton, 18 months, gather eggs during the event for 1- to 3-year-olds Saturday at the football field at Mount Clemens High School.

The 4- to 6-year-old group hopped to it. (Photos by Craig Gaffield, The Macomb Daily)

OK, so Easter is about much more than bunnies and egg hunts and those awesome Reese’s eggs! When my girls were young, we used plastic eggs to tell the Easter story. I stumbled across this vid that explains how.

There are many ways and places to celebrate Good Friday. Churches in New Baltimore this Friday are holding the traditional Passion Play in a not-so-traditional venue. The story of Christ’s crucifixion will be portrayed outside in New Baltimore. It begins at 10 a.m. Friday on the steps of St. Marys and ends at the waterfront at Burke Park. It’s an effort that joins members from various churches in New Baltimore, New Haven and Chesterfield Township.

Click on that logo to go to the EACH website.

The Everyone A Chance to Hear campaign puts some feet to its message Saturday. Thousands are expected to gather in the heart of Detroit starting at 8 a.m. for a prayer walk. The walk begins at Comerica Park, and travels down Woodward faster than a cruise to, fittingly, the Spirit of Detroit. That’s 1.6 miles. Go here for details. Part of the morning will include worship music from four churches. One group will be Selected of God.Yup, the choir from the Super Bowl Chrysler ads.

selected of god

Selected of God

That’s got to inspire you!
I’d love to hear your comments on EACH. Go to the top of this article and click that “Leave a Comment” link.

Skip that “Hop” movie and get the real deal. Churches across the area are having Easter egg hunts. Here’s two to start with this weekend.

Living Hope of the Bay in Ray Township is hosting an Easter Party and Egg Hunt this Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon.

Kensington is having ginormous egg hunts hosted by its Troy, Rochester, Birmingham and Clinton Township campuses. I’ll give you a number to call for more info: 248 786-0600

Now if you’re booked this weekend, how about this? Lakepointe Church, which meets at Lutheran High North, will have an egg drop on April 23. A whirlybird will drop 20,000 eggs for all to scoop up! I’ll take mine over easy.

Egg Drop

That’s at least tens of thousands of Easter eggs to hide. No wonder rabbits multiply so fast. We used to have trouble hiding two dozen eggs at our house. Sometimes there just aren’t enough couches and lampshades! Then there’s always the eggs you forget about and find later by following your nose.

Now that it’s illegal to text while driving (I can’t text while sitting still), we can turn our attention to more important matters. Like reading billboards. If you travel I-94 enough, you can’t not notice a billboard courtesy of Vox Church. It looks just like this image below – borrowed from the Vox website – but a thousand times bigger!

Now that’s an intriguing message. In my recent talks with church leaders and members, I’ve found two all-too-common themes. First, pastors are quick to point out how much church attendance has declined in metro Detroit over the past two decades. There are various reasons people don’t go to church. Of course, they may just not believe Christianity is the truth. However, the other common theme that I am surprised to hear about is how many people actually want to go to church, but have had very negative experiences at the churches they’ve grown up in or have visited since. If that’s you, maybe you should check out Vox or at least hear them out. Here’s a video from Vox about the subject.

Gotta like the honesty. I grew up in a small church and for the most part, I actually (gasp!) enjoyed church. I was surrounded by the greatest people I’ve ever met, and it was like a family to me. Okay, so lots of times, the sermons were BOOORRRRINGGG! But overall, it was not the negative experience that so many other people remember. Still, that Vox video has some sobering and inspiring lessons.

BTW: I’m adding to my blogroll the blogs from Vox pastors Matt Woodburn and Jonathan Seller.

Ah, vacation! No Florida or Cancun for us, but I’m thankful for a few days off from work and away from computer screens. I’m planning to get back to blogging on a daily basis, and I’m still planning to get out and meet many of the Christian leaders and people in the community. But I can’t let this one go by without giving you a heads-up. This Sunday, April 10, the EACH effort stops at Second Ebenezer Church for a Youth Rally. The gathering begins at 7 p.m., but you might want to arrive early.

Click on that logo to go to the EACH website.