Thursday, September 30, 2004

Today's Features Section

  • The State: I blog, you blog, we blog
    Honestly, I should've told Jonathan that blogging is just something done between losing weeks in fantasy football.

  • Wednesday, September 29, 2004

    How To Be A Coffee Snob (Emphasis On Snob)

    This article @ was written with me in mind. Gotta have coffee - it does a body good - and it's got to be done right. Grind your own beans, brew your own pot, and cream/sweeten to taste. I'm not addicted to coffee or caffeine - I can prove it if you've got a couple of hours and you're springing for the latte's. But I do enjoy coffee - the smell, the taste, and the experimentation.

    Coffee. Don't blog without it.

    Boy Tech

    Had the photos of C-beth last night making pizza, knew that T-bird would want to have his picture posted, too. So here he is, a 9-yr-old in his natural habitat.

    He's a wee bit taller & lankier than his little sister - you think?

    "Lonely People"

    "Life is like a box of chocolates" - only someone else has usually gone through and tasted all the pieces before you get there, leaving only the marshmallow creme and cherry-filled pieces, maybe a licorice flavored one that no one but the dog will eat. We need people, and we hurt people - that's our "chocolate box" existence. God has created us to need and to enjoy each other's company. We are to love God and to love others - and I'm convinced most of our lives are spent trying to live this out. Even if you don't believe in God, even if you're the staunchest atheist or most confused agnostic, at least you're probably trying your best to love others and to be loved in return. But we also hurt the ones we love, betray those who have our loyalty - because we are messed up and in need of something more. Am I right?

    I've been listening to the new Jars Of Clay CD this morning, and they've got a cover of "Lonely People", one those favorite songs that you'd never think of as a favorite song, but you know all the words and you like to sing-along.
    This is for all the lonely people
    Thinkin' that life has passed them by
    Don't give up until you
    drink from the silver cup
    You'll never know until you try
    - dan peek, cathy peek

    In this world, there is trouble and stress and lots of screwy junk - and there are people all around us going through those things, too. My question for life isn't "if I were to die right now, do I know that I'd spend eternity in heaven with Christ?" Instead, my question has morphed into something like that: "am I living a life right now that shows I love Jesus, and am I surrounded by people who are doing the same thing together? do I surround myself with friends who are working all this out in Christ in community together?" Because we are all ultimately lonely people - but loneliness fades a little when other people are tracking with us...

    So here's to you, Mrs. Robinson - drinking from the silver cup of God's grace, God's mercy and God's forgiveness, together.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2004

    Pizza Night

    Making pizza tonight - my kids are weird, not wanting to eat anything with a tomato taste. So when we order pizza, we have to order extra cheese with no sauce - or we use the Pizzazz, one of only two things I've ever ordered from an infomercial (the other hasn't been that productive yet).

    Not yet - it's a little warm while it's cooking...

    My pizza, on the other hand, needs something other than cheese - like taco fixings: refried beans, chili tomato sauce and salsa. Mmmboy.

    Uncertain Faith

    "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified." - Paul, 1Corinthians 9:27

    This morning, I'm struck by the thought that we are all mostly doing the best we can - and that in spite of that, we might still find a way to get ourselves "disqualified" in the end. There's such an emphasis on "getting saved", and a much lesser emphasis on "discipleship", that we might all be heading the wrong direction away from the judgment seat when it's all said and done. And before anyone says, oh, Rick, don't be so hard on yourself, don't lose the assurance of your salvation - take a look again at who wrote the verse quoted above. Most people would agree that Paul was the man among the leaders of the early church, and yet here he is talking about how hard it still is to live a life worthy of the calling placed upon him.

    Could it be that Paul lived with a certain level of uncertainty in these matters? I don't think that would be a bad thing. On the contrary, we make it too easy to say "I'm saved", and we might be missing the point entirely. Where there's uncertainty, faith and hope have room to take root. If I can't rely on myself or my own understanding or my own learning of what Christ did for me and of what He "owes" me because "I'm saved" - if I can't rely on any of that, I've got to rely on Christ alone and Him crucified. There can be nothing else giving hope like that. Who cares if you're "once saved, always saved" if there's no real faith and no real hope to hold onto Christ with all we're worth? Who cares about a "doctrine of salvation" if I've got more faith in the doctrine than in the One who brings salvation freely to those who join in fellowship with Him?

    Just thinking out loud, wondering if I could live with Paul's "uncertain" faith? If there's anything else giving me "assurance of things hoped for and evidence of things unseen" - if there's doctrinal proofs or theological reasoning that's propping up my thoughts on salvation - then is that real "faith"? real "saving faith"?

    Monday, September 27, 2004

    Write-In Candidate?

    A friend forwarded an email to help Park Gillespie win a Reality TV contest on Showtime: American Candidate. After watching his clip and reading some of his "platform" issues, I've got one question: can I write this guy in on 11/02?

    Monday Madness Meme

    Something to fill the space from Monday Madness:

    Name THREE of your........

    1. Pet Peeves:
    Weather Channel hurricane coverage - enough already!
    Pop-ups while blog-surfing
    Leading questions

    2. Favorite Sounds:
    Coffee brewing - the gurgling as the pot's almost done
    Rain on the metal roof of our playroom
    "Go back to sleep, dear"

    3. Desk Items:
    Travel mug
    Anniversary clock
    "Get Fuzzy" desk calendar

    4. Biggest Fears:
    Fear of making a fool of myself
    Fear of foolishness in public
    Fear of foolishness in public with TV cameras

    5. Biggest Challenges:
    Getting over above fears before the inevitable
    Raising kids well, meaningfully, purposefully

    6. Newest 'Toys':
    XM Radio
    Portable DVD
    Tiger Woods 2004 (for Gamecube)

    7. Most Used Words:
    "Stuffed up"

    8. Most Mispelled Words:
    Apprciate (that's the way I spelled it before correcting above)
    Rikc (my own name, misspelled more than I care to admit)

    9. Favorite Disney Characters:
    Nemo's Dad

    10. Bookmarks on Your Homepage:
    XM Radio

    Used To Love The Weather Channel

    I don't know if I'm tired of hurricane coverage, or of hurricane coverage reporters who "risk their lives for the sake of the story. If there were no hurricanes to report, they'd have to start making up dangerous things for ratings, wouldn't that?
    "As you can see from my gaping wound, running with scissors is indeed dangerous - back to you in the studio..."

    I know folks hate to see Jim Cantore walking through their airports, wondering what weather catastrophe he's reporting on. The guy I saw on some local news feed last night getting blown over by the high winds has to have some short-circuit in his head to think that this is the way life is supposed to be:

    "Well, as you can see, the winds are very oommpphh yikes, ouch - very high, just knocked me down".

    I can imagine some of these folks playing with toasters in the bathtub, or grabbing a boiling pot in order to report that it is indeed hot to anyone close enough to listen and to perhaps be in need of such news. For all the people smart enough to evacuate danger zones, it's not comforting that there are reporters still inclined to move into harm's way.

    One crew over the past couple of weeks reported something like this:

    "We'll keep broadcasting throughout the storm, although the local authorities say that they'll have to move to stronger shelter and higher ground in order to protect themselves in the next few minutes."

    Can you give me one good reason why you wouldn't be following them to "stronger shelter and higher ground"?!? As it is, this storm is moving into GA, and we're seeing local school districts begin to close and send kids home early. Now if it would just snow a little, too.....

    More Wind & Rain

    T.S. Jeanne is headed towards the Midlands of SC today, bringing rain and wind and who knows what else. The radar shows the rain bands creeping slowly to the north, meaning they'll get here right as the kids and I are heading out the door for school and work. Oh joy.

    We haven't had any of the kind of devastation that Florida has enjoyed the last few weeks, but we've taken alot of the rain and wind that has passed through the area. I'm glad I got the yard mowed and cleaned up a little over the weekend. Wouldn't be cool trying to do it right after this mess comes through town the next few days. By tomorrow afternoon we might have sunshine - so here's praying that our power stays on so the A/C will be able to work when that happens.

    It's going to be a funky week: the article in the paper's supposed to come out Thursday; C's birthday is a couple of weeks away so invitations are going out; we're looking for a "free" weekend to get away to the beach or the mountains in the next month or so; we're going to start our book discussion at the end of this week; and I've got a ton of stuff to wade through at work. I guess I'm just taking time this morning to think about it, making coffee not just for this day's frivolity but for the week to get started on the right foot, no matter what the weather pixies in store.

    Sunday, September 26, 2004

    Sunday Schtuff

  • Sometimes, it's nice to remember that your wife is spiritually mature, too, and that some of the things that you've shared from your own spiritual growth have made an impact on her. This morning, neither one of us was feeling well - stiff from last night's ballgame festivities, and stuffed up from whatever is filling our sinuses. At about 9:30a, I asked: "Do you need me to say, c'mon honey, even though we feel bad let's go to church anyway? Or do you need me to say, I feel bad, too, so let's stay home?" She responded: "I don't want to go, so I know that means I should probably go." That's my line, but I tried anyway: "But we don't feel good - let's stay home." She pushed me off the bed, and our morning started with a shower, a shave, and blowing my nose.

  • We visited another new church this morning. Even if we didn't have to go through the "looking for a church" exercise, I would've enjoyed the past few weeks of visiting and seeing what other congregations are doing. This church meets in a local movie theater - most comfortable seats I've ever had at church (and it's a good thing the servicewas just around an hour and a half). It was nice - and I didn't have high hopes before pulling up to the entrance. There were greeters all along the way in, and everything was very... intentional, like they'd thought of things that fit, made arrangements that would be appreciated. The kids met with their age groups in an adjacent theater, playing games and watching a video on Sharing. In the main theater, the full band played a good mix of Vineyard/Passion-esque music. From the website it looked like the message might be shared by video, and that's what happened. Like I said, I didn't have very high expectations for going to church to watch a video sermon - but I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it worked. The pastor spoke on "Jeopardy: Courage", and while it might've been more topical in nature than I'm nomally into, his use of scripture was dead on. Besides, any time you base a message on Joshua, I'm hooked.

  • So now, out of the four churches we've visited over the last month or so, we've got a top three and a no-not-really. I'm in no hurry to join a church, and I'm not putting out feelers for needs or preparing my resume' for applications. Right now, I want to find a place to just grow, to just respond, to just get involved a little at a time and get to know people, to be known as people. It's important that the kids are happy in their service/ministry, and that my wife is intrigued and on the same page, too. We're trying to make it as much a family decision as we can.

  • My fantasy football team sucks. I think too much - if I never touch it again, I'll probably go 50% on the rest of the year. As it stands, I tweak the wrong personnel on the wrong weeks, and after winning the first week, I've now lost two in a row. Scratch that - I've got one more player playing. I'm down by 50+ points, and if my TE has a brilliant and record-breaking day, I might lose by only 20 pts. Fun, fun, fun.

  • Saturday, September 25, 2004

    Three W, One L

    Well, the Gamecocks are 3-1 on the season. Just got back from the game this evening against the Troy Trojans. Carolina won 17-7, and it wasn't pretty. Too many turnovers, too few big plays. I thought we could put this one away early and never look back. Didn't happen that way. And I'm not impressed with the "two-headed QB" - so far, it just looks to my uneducated eye like Syvelle Newton needs to be given the reins and the confidence vote from the coaching staff to do what's got to be done in terms of leadership on the field.

    Good game since we won - but 43-7 would've felt better. That's just me.

    [more photos here]

    Garden State

    I've read only good reviews for Garden State. I must now see this movie. Hopefully before leaving theaters, definitely on DVD. Any movie that continues to grow into the blogosphere with Zach Braff ... that's cool.

    Friday, September 24, 2004

    Christmas Shopping

    Anyone looking to buy my Christmas present yet? Just checking. This is on my list:
    "To save the world we need something more biblical than higher standards. We need higher relationships. We need less to be 'true to our principles' and much more to be true to our relationships. To save the world we don't need the courage of our convictions. We need the courage of our relationships..." - Leonard Sweet, Out Of The Question - Into The Mystery

    Walking & Praying

    I went for a walk last night, around 9:30pm. My wife was on the phone, catching up with college friends who'd just moved back to the area. The kids were in bed, the chores mostly done, and frankly I had no excuse to not go walk. I need to exercise, make activity more a part of my life. So I went for a walk. Not the first of an extended exrecise regimen, not starting a new thing that will change my life - just a walk. I can talk about "going for *my* walk if it stays a habit for a few weeks. For now, it's just *a* walk. And I'm planning on taking another one tonight.

    As I walked, I noticed things. The neighborhood was quiet, except for the slight breeze in the trees and an occasional dog in the distance. It was late enough that I didn't pass anyone else walking, late enough that all the lights were already out in some homes, a dull blue TV glow visible in the draperies of others. It was dark in the spots too far away to be illuminated by the streetlights, except for the just over half-moon that did a decent job reflecting light to see for the next stride. It was actually a very nice night, and while I didn't walk that far - only about a mile or so roundtrip - I did appreciate the layout of our subdivision, the peace & quiet, the calm after the storms.

    As I walked, I prayed. I talked with God out loud, being alone and in the seclusion of the darkness and the rustling breeze. I thanked God that He saw fit, as un-understandable as it is for me, to make us need each other, to build into us a need for community and compassion and companionship with Himself and with each other here in this life. I thanked Him for friends & family, for people He's placed in my life and who I've grown accustomed to in community and real heart-to-heart fellowship. I forgave people, people I've loved and who've loved me and who've hurt me while loving me. I asked for forgiveness for being a putz, for taking things so far, for hurting those I love, for holding onto hurt more than grace, for asking too much and not giving in return. I asked forgiveness for not forgiving myself, for not walking in God's mercy & grace, for relying more on my own understanding and pseudo-intelliegence than on the Almighty and His everlasting brilliance. I asked for strength to move on, to be strong and courageous, to choose life & blessing in the course of human events. I asked for restoration of relationships, reconciliation on so many fronts that are out of whack right now. And I thanked God for the walk, for the steady pace and next step that always seemed to come.

    I was sweaty and hot when I got home - from the walk, and maybe from the conversation.


    Photo Friday Challenge - Furry

    And of course, I can't just take pictures of one of the animals. There are four non-human mammals living under our care, and since all of them are furrier than the family, they fall appropriately under this heading.

    This is Squint - can you tell why?

    This is Gracie, the only dog in the pet adoption center who didn't scare Cammi.

    And this is Rudy and Jimmy, the gerbils in T's room who sometimes play with the wheel and the wood blocks in the cage, and sometimes run around and play Gamecube - at least, I'm pretty sure it's them.

    Last one: I also asked Cammibug to take a picture of her top bunk, undeniably the furriest place in the house:

    Thursday, September 23, 2004


    From TheOoze Blog - "Confessions of Leaders & Pastors Who Are Reimagining Church":
    1. We'll confess that we are often cynical, whether it be from a past hurt or a Radical Empiricism.

    2. We'll confess that we are often optimistic and hopeful. That it's our great love for God and Jesus as proclaimed in the scripture that propells us toward living the way we do, and believing about what we believe. Often this leads to Idealism.

    3. We'll confess that in our desire for faithfulness and enthusiasm for new ways of living out the Kingdom of God, we are often guilty of the very same narrowmindedness that we say we have left.

    4. We'll confess that we need humility in these matters. We need to hold great convictions and simultaneously live with, what my friend calls "a posture of I don't know".

    5. We'll confess that we will likely do good, badly. That we will live rightly, wrongly.

    6. We'll confess that we are optimistic about the mutual admiration of the various faces of the Church. This leads us to diving headlong into discussions on the Bible, the church and philosphy often with frustrating outcomes. Ironically, it is these outcomes that actually reinforce our cynical thinking about the Church, leading us toward narrowmindedness. (see #3)

    7. We'll confess that we have nothing to prove, but we often live like we do.

    8. We'll confess that it's hard to confess some of these things because we fear others will take them in a manner they are not meant and use them against us. (see #7)


    There are certain things in life that become necessities because they're actually used. Coffee pot & grinder is one; dainty handtowel in the bathroom is another (took me forever after getting married to get used to it, to figure out how to use it without messing up the decor). In our kitchen, "sink disposer" is another thing that's more than a luxury. A couple of days ago, I don't know what I was grinding in there when it stopped - just stopped. You could hear the motor, but nothing turning. Then the motor stopped - no sound or vibration at all when flipping the switch. I found a reset button that caused the motor to engage, but still no movement on the blades. It was hosed.

    I asked my brother if he'd ever worked on one & knew how to fix it. His advice: go to Lowe's and get a new one, since it's probably burned out. Well, at this point I decided to wait until payday to make that trip, and spent a little while last night pricing units online - $70 to $1,000 - holy cow!

    At that point in time, my superior reasoning skills finally kicked in to try to google some troubleshooting stuff for disposer units. I found one good site, found a 1/4" allen wrench, and went to work. I looked funny - and would've been maimed if anyone had pulled that switch, I'm sure. But it worked - I fixed the in-sink-erator. It grinds again, and I can rest knowing that I didn't have to write out a repair bill to a plumber and I didn't have to watch a home-fix-it show to figure out how to replace the thing myself.

    For one shining moment, I was the man. And I think the sink wanted to thank me.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2004

    Words Mean Things

    I wanted to write something non-descript about needing a "cathartic" evening at home. But when I looked up the definition, I think that's more informative than I intended. Oh well.

    Praying, Decision-Making

    I've got a friend who's making some decisions in ministry - possibly leaving one ministry for another, knowing that might be where God's leading but also knowing that folks will be hurting from the loss and unsure of direction. I've never seen a really good transition in ministry - where you're going isn't as good as it might've seemed at first, and the folks left behind have a tough time moving forward and grieving properly. Staying put has it's own turmoil of "what if?" and "what now?" questions.

    So we're praying that he & his family will make the "right" decision - what do they want in their heart? I was telling him that we tend to put too much emphasis on "I want to feel a peace about this". What if "peace" isn't the right thing to look for when making one of those huge change-my-life decisions? Satan can stop beating you up, and that's "peace" - but if you make a decision that's going towards godliness and holiness and usefulness in the Kingdom, expect something to "disrupt the peace" and make it seem like you're making the wrong choice. Ever been there?

    Leaving ministry should be difficult - it shows that you've done a good job and that relationships have been real and flow deep. Not leaving, making the decision to stay, has it's own turmoil of "what if" questions and such. Either way, if we've prayed and if we're really trusting God and growing in Christ, then "ask whatever you wish" - you can make the decision you want to make because you're thinking with a mind being renewed and transformed in Jesus. And even if you make a mistake - make it at full speed, knowing that His promises are sure and full of hope.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2004

    Just Posting

    Somewhere along the line, I deleted the post from earlier this morning about staying home. Kinda like accidently tearing a page from my journal back in high school - making a note, tearing it out, then realizing it had something else on it, etc. Sometimes, this technology stuff gets the best of us, huh? Anyway, feeling better this afternoon - more a dull throb in my back right now. Nothing another good night's sleep can't fix.

    Someone had commented on the "How To" post: "how did you get a lifesize poster of Gary Coleman?" Got it off eBay from Vanilla Ice, who made a bunch of copies of Coleman during filming of The Surreal Life a few years back. Thanks for asking.

    Monday, September 20, 2004

    How To Blog

    I've posted before on WHY I blog, but the new question of the month is HOW do I blog, and what is the backstory for this hobby that is growing in popularity and faddish-ness even as you read this post. So I'm going to try to post a literary glimpse into the preparation and planning that goes into every post here at Rambling Adventures. Let's take a look... behind the scenes.

  • The actual room where I do the blogging, dubbed The Blogging Room by the staff, is pretty sparse. Other than a small wooden table, a small laptop with wireless connection, a large La-Z-Boy recliner with Matsua Crazy-Finger Massage, a fuzzy fuchsia pole-lamp from the late 70s (ambience is everything), a blue lava lamp (ambience is everything), a microwave and pantry stocked with TGIFriday Potato Skins, a freezer with pints of Ben&Jerry's Cookie Dough ice cream, a map of the Eastenr US in Russian on the large side wall, a mobile of lego concoctions from my kids hanging from the tropical palm frond ceiling fan, a bookcase full of the collected works of Eudora Welty and my wife's prize stash of Precious Moments figurines, a double-bed futon, a life-size poster of Gary Coleman under the pewter light switch, a Mr. Coffee grinder/espresso/latte machine (taking up most of the small wooden taletop), a Wilco jukebox loaded with Hank Williams and Devo tunes, a wirebound notebook for doodling pictures of passersby on the street as seen thru the large plate-glass window overlooking the Starbucks outside dining area, and an autographed LP of Stryper hanging on the back of the door - there's not much in there. Pretty bare actually.

  • Over there's Melanie, our statistician and fact-checker. Yes, she's very pregnant, and she'll be leaving us soon, with twins on the way any day now. She & her husband have decided to homeschool their other eleven children while taking care of the newborns. We wish them all the luck & diaper $$ they need! Wave bye, Melanie - how far apart are they now?

  • There's my intern, Luigi. He's 57, going back to college to get his degree in journalism. He's never seen a PC before - I keep him the other room, where a bulky IBM Electrowriter and three pallets of white-out keep him pretty busy.

  • Each morning at 4:45am, I arrive at the palatial digs to read my papers, drink my macchiato from the Starbucks next door (thanks, Luigi - you're the best!), and to surf the net for a little while, always on the lookout for inspiration. Sometime around 12noon, we order lunch from the Fun & Frolic Deli across the busy intersection. Usually it's just chicken salad, and it's really not all that good - but watching each week's new delivery guy dodge lunchtime traffic is, quite often & quite sadly to be honest, the highpoint of our day.

  • Staff Prayer Time & Chapel is at 6:45am. We normally invite a local pastor into the offices to lead (hard to get some demoninations' leaders to get up that early, if they're not on the golf course already). Joanie Kestenhauffer, local artist and musician, often comes by to try out her new tunes for our worship time - though, we're thinking of changing that, since Joanie's found a new niche for herself playing the accordian, and Luigi starts to do a very jerky and unbalanced polka that really detracts from true worship. By 9:35am, we're through with the service and ready to tackle what's left of the work day.

  • I almost forgot to introduce Steve, the posse control guy. I don't actually have a posse, or anything even remotely resembling an entourage at the moment. But you never know, and my daddy always told me to make sure I had someone handy for crowd control. Steve eats donuts and drinks Sprite Remix all day, asking for nothing in return except a handshake and a couple of cups of coffee (don't have to pay him, since his daddy owns the state of Delaware), and he's just fun to have around. Never ever ask him to do his impression of Jimmy Stewart going through caffeine withdrawal - the belly laughs will make you sick.

  • By 2pm, I am usually ready to blog. Or not - in which case I find myself lounging in the Lounging Room adjacent to the Blogging Room. This spacious room has a mattress on the floor and a set of headphones attached to the iPod for listening to the latest Ramones cover band or to the collected works of Tony Robbins. Occasionally, someone will rip Third Day or Jars of Clay - but my snoring usually disrupts the rhythms.

  • Melanie starts shooing us out onto the street around 4pm, needing to move furniture and lighting systems to make room for her lamaz classes every evening. She leads 14 classes a week, being an old pro at this birthing business. We're going to miss her - but not the classes.

    So there you have it. From 4:45am to 4pm, it's all about blogging. And it should be. Our crack staff is up to any challenge, and we're always looking for ways to better serve humanity and our online communities - and to make a quick buck anywhere we can. After work, Luigi and I usually find a happy hour at the local ice cream and wireless internet joint around the corner - where I've been typing this post for the past 15 minutes. Don't tell Luigi this is a computer though - I told him it's my really large cellphone, and keep holding my ear down to the LCD to pull off the charade.

  • Reading Group - First Selection

    FYI for anyone interested: We're going to start our online reading group with A New Way To Be Human by Charlie Peacock. He's an artist, and that perspective comes out as he writes about us in community as Christians together. Scheduled to start Chapter One on Monday 10/04. Sign-up below if you're interested in participating.

    After that, we're going to read Life Together, Bonhoeffer. I think we'll probably install a "rule" that we read something new and something old, alternating like that to stay grounded and not get off on too many faddish tangents.

    Anyway, feel free to join & read along, or to just lurk around the archives at the link below. I'm looking forward to the exchange, and there's always room for more - as long as you call ahead so we can put on extra coffee.

    Good Word for Monday

    Here's a good word for kicking off a Monday: reconciliation -
    "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." - 2 Corinthians 5:16-19, niv

    I'm looking forward to a good week. It's going to be busy, and busy can be a bad thing. But I'm challenged to make it count, to make this week one that's full of hope and God's grace, working towards a good end. I pray for restoration, for renewal, for hearts overflowing from the well that won't run dry. And I pray for my friends, old and new, that we will have fellowship together and with Him.

    That's not to much to ask for a Monday, is it? Maybe - if I don't get to bed soon so I can actually wake up on the "real" Monday morning, ready to do what's got to be done. Goodnight.

    Sunday, September 19, 2004

    Pruning & Blessing

    "My Father is the Gardener." - John 15:1

    It is a comforting thought that trouble, in whatever form it comes to us, is a heavenly messenger that brings us something from God. Outwardly it may appear painful or even destructive, but inwardly its spiritual work produces blessings. Many of the richest blessings we have inherited are the fruit of sorrow or pain. We should never forget that redemption, the world's greatest blessing, is the fruit of the world's greatest sorrow. And whenever a time of deep pruning comes and the knife cuts deeply and the pain is severe, what an inexpressible comfort it is to know: "My Father is the Gardener." - Sept. 9, Streams In The Desert, L.B. Cowman

    There have been occasions in my life when this line of thought has been proven out to be so true. The only edit I would make as a writer is that in saying that "outwardly" things might "seem" painful, I'd add that "inwardly" things "are" painful, and the hurts are not "seemingly deep" but are to the marrow gashes that still, in the Gardeners expert ways, bring needed grace and blessing. The idea that there can be no healing without first hurting is nuts - but true. Doesn't make the hurt go away, but at least the promise of new growth and hope of reconciliation and restoration gives us something to hold on to, to hold out for.

    I hope this man, this family sees this somehow, soon. Praying for their grief to be real, for his heart to be comforted, and for deep joy, not something to take away the pain but something that mingles with the hurt, would well up from within.

    Saturday, September 18, 2004

    Cookies & Ice Cream & Birthday Presents

    We had a really nice birthday party for T-boy at the Nestle Toll House Cafe'. Any time you can fill kids full of sugar and then send them home, it's a good thing. They loved decorating their own cookies, and then eating devouring their concoctions. Highly recommended for your birthday pleasure.

    Ha! - Like This One

    Love the sinner, hate the sin = Don't hate the playa, hate the game

    Too much.

    Friday, September 17, 2004

    Watching Football

    Saturdays and Sundays are days for football, and this weekend is no exception. Lots of games on TV, and USC hosting South Florida at Williams-Brice Stadium.

    [We do have to watch for news on this: USC self-reporting what appear to my untrained eye to be very minor infractions.]

    Got to juggle all the family stuff around the football. Ever have to do that? Birthday party at five, so I've got to get in the early games, make sure we've got an XMradio to catch the NC State game during the party, and then coming back to the house to "tailgate" with wings and fixin's while watching LSU/Auburn and Clemson/Texas A&M. Woo hoo.


    Photo Friday

    Nothing says "domestic" like handy baskets full of stuff. Nothing.

    It's going to be a nutty fruity weather weekend. Right now, the T.D. Ivan is merrily vacationing along the Appalachian ridgeline, and it'll take a tour through GA, TN, NC and SC before settling back into ATL, probably looking for a flight out. Rained all night here, and there appeared to be a huge thunderstorm over the eastern part of town on my way into work this morning - but I had to put on my shades for the bright sunshine and blue skies. That's crazy.

    I snapped the picture above this morning. Vicki cleaned up the PC cabinet for the photos being taken by the paper this week. She'll appreciate this post more than the one I did a few months ago of all our overloaded bookcases.

    Thursday, September 16, 2004


    Overheard on FoxNews/XMRadio as I was getting out of my car at lunch (paraphrasing):
    Reporter: You guys in Louisana must be doing something right.
    Public Official: Well, God's really blessed us, sparing us again...

    Almost made me cuss. Want to get me riled? Try attributing "blessing" to the fact that some catastrophe didn't wreck your house. Try telling me that another area of the coastline was, ipso facto, *cursed* because they got hit by the hurricane and you didn't get much more than a few thousand power outages. God's hand of blessing isn't that easy to follow, and His wrath is more than a little wind and rain and a storm surge. Florida is getting wrecked this season because we live in a fallen world and bad things happen to everyone - period. People die, houses fall, and rivers flood all over because there is sin, because creation is moaning and groaning for the Redeemer to end the madness.

    To say that God's blessing is on New Orleans is nuts, and it's bad short-sighted theology. God's so far beyond what we think... dang it.

  • UPDATE: - Sen. Clinton: 'We feel blessed' blockage found - Sep 16, 2004 - Like I said... don't get me started.

  • Ego-centric

    I never realized how "me"-centered this blog really is until I was asked questions about it as part of someone's research into blogging and connectedness. He called me Wednesday afternoon, and part of the conversation went something like this:
    Him: You said that you blog about Christianity, Sports, Movies, Writing, Books - is there one thing your blog tends to dwell on?
    Me: No, not really. It's about me, what I'm thinking and doing at any given time, whatever I want to write down in my own processing. It's about life, not any one area in particular.
    Him: But do you have an hobbies, anything that tends to come out in your blog more than other things?
    Me: Hmmm... the only "hobby" I've got, honestly, would be writing. I don't have an "agenda" behind what I right. It's just about me, whatever I feel or think, whatever I'm going through, my story...
    Him: Why is Christianity a big part of your blog?
    Me: Because it's a huge part of who I am - but it's not intentionally evangelism or anything like that. Just me writing about what I'm seeing or studying, what God's showing me, my story, etc.

    Sheesh - "me" "me" "me" all over the place. Still, I tell people that I write for me, that I'm the only audience that I'm really thinking about, that I'm just using the keyboard and journal to process life - and that the idea that anyone else is remotely interested in any of this drivel is beyond me.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2004

    One More Post Today

    It's been a long day - fairly productive at work, getting ready for stuff tonight, looking for a free weekend in October to go to the beach or the mountains sans kiddies. We've had such a hectic and busy month or so, it's really time to find some down time, some no-responsiblities time. It's amazing how full a schedule can get, and how little can still be accomplished, isn't it?

    I've had quite a few hits from folks looking forward to the book group. One more thing to add to the place - but no worries. I am looking forward to it, too. I'll post it this weekend, invite the email addresses I've received, and set up a way to select a first book to read together. It's the "together" part that I'm looking forward to the most. Plan for an October 4th timeframe to get things started.

    Jessica's here taking pictures - smile big.

    We've also got to get things ready for Trace's birthday party. Hoping it won't rain, that folks will have fun, and that he'll enjoy himself. Birthday week is half over, and he's living large. This morning's gift: a Fairly Odd Parents beach towel that's bigger than him. He loves it, and we'll probably never get him to use anything else after showers for the next five years or so. He's also gotten a few books, some pencils and a Spongebob plastic cup, and there's more on the way through Satuday's party. Then it's over - birthday week is wonderful if it's your birthday, but it's long if you're the giver instead of the givee.

    Now if I can just get to bed some time before 11pm. With football two nights, and then I don't know why last night, I haven't slept well all week. It's catching up to me, and coffee only helps so much. If only Starbucks could deliver....?

    More Storms

    Praying for my friends in Puerto Rico, getting pelted by T.S. Jeanne as it moves across the island. They dodged Frances and Ivan, but Jeanne's a little more persistent.

    More On "Book Discussion"

    Getting a bit of feedback on the book discussion idea - thanks so much. I think we'll set up something with an email list, where everyone gets all the replies, and you can set yourself to get all the email or a digest of the day's posts or whatever/however you feel like participating in the conversation. I'd like to have a group setup by this weekend, and I've already started. Won't roll it out 'til then (sneaky, huh?) - but if you've commented that you'd like to join, and you want me to sign you up when it kicks off, please send me an email with the email address you wish to use - mail me at rick1j13[at]gmail[.]com, and add any questions or suggestions you might have.

    If we get something kicked off this weekend, we might have enough time to pick a book and get everyone settled by the first of October. Right now, the working "club name" is RamblingReader - I don't know if that's hokey or not, so if you've got any other title suggestions, let me know that, too.

    Thanks again for the interest - I think this'll be fun.

    The Question

    Our lives as we live them seem like lives that anticipate questions that never will be asked. It seems as if we are getting ourselves ready for the question "How much did you earn during your lifetime?" or "How many friends did you make?" or "How much progress did you make in your career?" or "How much influence did you have on people?" or "How many conversions did you make?"

    Were any of these to be the question Christ will ask when he comes again in glory, many of us could approach the judgment day with great confidence. But nobody is going to hear any of these questions. The question we all are going to face is the question we are least prepared for. It is: "What have you done for the least of mine?" As long as there are strangers; hungry, naked, and sick people; prisoners, refugees, and slaves;people who are handicapped physically, mentally, or emotionally; people without work, a home, or a piece of land, there will be that haunting question from the throne of judgment: "What have you done for the least of mine?"

    - From Henri J.M. Nouwen, "Seeds of Hope" [quoted in today's DailyDig]

    Tuesday, September 14, 2004

    Book Discussion, Anyone?

    Would anyone be interested in an online book discussion? I'd like to start something with all of my online friends - whether it's an email list or a team blog where users and post and anyone else can join in comments. Maybe read a book together, chapter or two a week, ask questions and chew up stuff together. Christ-oriented, probably "emergent church"-oriented, probably mostly non-fic but fiction's good, too. Books from, Len Sweet, Brian McLaren and a ton of others. Just curious - a group might be something I/we need right now. Comment and let me know.

    Thanks ahead of time for the consideration, y'all - I appreciate it.

    Slow News Day

    Here in the South, we're either boarding up again as Hurricane Ivan makes itinerary changes, or we're waiting for next weekend's football. Other than that, not much going on - so I thought I might peruse the news this morning to see if there's anything else going on in the world:

  • - Millionaire show tests pastors' loyalties
    "LOS ANGELES - A group of seven pastors is suing Fox Television Network for allegedly misleading them during their participation in a reality show, 'Catch a Tither By the Tail.'

    The program, which airs in September, features the pastors vying for the affections and attendance of a Christian man worth $100 million. But producers introduced a twist: The millionaire didn't believe in tithing. Would the winning pastor love and care for the man anyway, or would the lost opportunity for large tithe checks ruin the relationship?"

  • - Man enjoys smallest small group
    WESTCHESTER — Stu Clark belongs to what is believed to be the smallest small group in America: himself.

    "I meet at my house every week in the living room," he says. "I bring snacks and my Bible, and after some chit-chat I get down to discussing that week's reading, sharing my burdens, my praise reports. Then I pray for myself."

    Slooooooow news day - and I need a nap.

  • Monday, September 13, 2004

    Evening Cooldown

    I'm sitting upstairs in a quiet house after a long day. Really long. But it's been good. T's birthday, good progress on stuff at work, talking with friends a little tonight, watching football - it doesn't get much better than this, does it?

    Alot's changed over the past nine years. Who'm I kidding? Alot's changed in the last month. But over this past decade, we've really been through some stuff. Always with friends - either old friends or making new ones. I think that's what I miss the most right now, going through so much of this without some of our best friends, not "making new ones" fast enough. But it's moving forward, or at least it has its moments. I felt really down earlier today, wondering how long it would take for the pain to go away, how long would I be able to hold hope for some reconciliation. Tonight, I've got all kinds of hope - and I've got good friends who still talk, still share, still laugh and call and write. I can hold out hope forever, even if that's what it takes, to restore friendship and fellowship. What else is left if we give up hope?

    I'm going to call Scott, seeing if I can talk smack about our fantasy football teams, just enjoy the ongoing conversation. Kinda late, but they're there, you know?

    Morning Commute

    We got out of the house fairly early this morning. Other than his eye bothering him, Trace had a wonderful birthday morning. With yesterday's family party, he's begun "birthday week" - and will get a little present every day until his friends-party at the park next Saturday. He's really looking forward to it, and it gives him a chance to see that we really enjoy having him around, really enjoy making him happy, and really have fun find little things we know he likes. We left the neighborhood, got to school about ten minutes early, and then I had an uneventful drive into work for the next 25 minutes or so.

    I watch people as I drive - mostly those coming up behind me, tailgating a bit before changing lanes to pass on the interstate. Where are they going in such a hurry? What are they doing in their cars that might be making them less than attentive? What are they thinking, and to what are they listening? What's on their to-do list for the morning? Do they know Jesus, and are they rushing to that introduction faster than they're ready for? Things like that cross my mind as I drive the beltway each morning. That, and why couldn't Starbucks be closer to my route?

    Sunday, September 12, 2004

    "Day By Day"

    I started linking to Chris Muir's "Day By Day" sometime over the past year. I liked the way the characters embodied a wide range of political and cultural philosophy, and no one looked down on anyone else except with dry wit and sarcasm. I'm sad to see that Chris is having to take DBD off the table for now. I'm sad to learn that there is illness in his family, and that his time is being taken away by things beyond his control. I'm sad that things change - for all of us. But as he mentions in his "thank you" to those who've been paying attention, there's always a hope that the future will be better.

    Real Courage

    You risked your life, but what else have you ever risked? Have you ever risked disapproval? Have you ever risked economic security? Have you ever risked a belief? I see nothing particularly courageous in risking one’s life. So you lose it, you go to your hero’s heaven and everything is milk and honey ‘til the end of time. Right? You get your reward and suffer no earthly consequences. That’s not courage. Real courage is risking something you have to keep on living with, real courage is risking something that might force you to rethink your thoughts and suffer change and stretch consciousness. Real courage is risking one’s clichés.
    - "Another Roadside Attraction", Tom Robbins

    The men and women who risked their lives on 09/11/01 were heroes - both those who didn't make it, and those who survived. For those who live on, their heroism has probably transformed them more than we can know. In living after such an experience, do people now have to choose to *live* heroically? Real courage might be exemplified on another level when each of those men and women went back to work the next day - and as they put their uniforms on once again, serving even now. The risk of losing your life might be small compared to living it out in courage every day *after* something like that has invaded your life.

    Yesterday was the third anniversary of the tragedies ot 09/11/01. Today is the anniversary of somebody having to go back to work.

    Saturday, September 11, 2004

    Night Games

    We just got back from the football game: USC Gamecocks 16, Georgia Bulldogs 20. Not that close - UGA controlled the ball most of the second half and finally scored to go ahead on a defense that had played very well but that was also very tired. Good game - and I've got the croaky post-yelling voice to prove it. I'm kicking myself for not taking the digital cam, a must have for the next game & tailgating adventure.

    It amazes me how many people can be so completely full of themselves and properly inebriated, doing things they would never put on their resume's, things they wouldn't want repeated to their children. But it happens - and it seems worse with night games when everyone's got a little extra time to marinate in their juices. Rudeness comes out all over the place: Vicki was rudely pushed in the big crowds a couple of times, and we watched in a crowded parking lot as the owner of an H2 couldn't wait long enough for pedestrians and a golf cart to move out of his way before pushing things & people around. Rough crowd. Of course, I got a few knowing laughs at my MOO-ing as we were herded though the stadium gates (Vicki's idea, giving credit appropriately). And when the guy behind me accidently knocked my hat off, someone below over the rail picked it up and decided to give it back instead of keeping it - not all people are that bad.

    Mean People Suck. Nice People Blog.

    There comes a time in folks' lives when they need to ask, what am I doing? who do I think I am? And it's the same for those who blog, because we write a good bit on what's mostly those two questions, and when it really begins to hit home we might take awhile wrestling with what we really mean, what we're really about.

    Just to throw it out there, I blog for me. I used to journal in those smaller-than-8.5x11 spiral notebooks, 5-subject thick ones, starting in high school. I wrote then what I wanted to write, doodled a bit like some of my friends, and loved it when anyone else wanted to read them. It was never a "secret diary", so it was no big to share. But it was still mine, so I still wrote for me and not an "audience".

    A few years ago, we started an email list for the young couples/singles I worked with at church. Lo and behold, a more conversational way for me to journal online with friends. Did that for a few years, and then discovered blogging through an article by Andrew Jones @ TheOoze. It took on a life of its own, somewhere between the spiral notebooks and the email list - I could write to everyone, and not feel like I was spammin' your email box.

    But still, in all those outlets, I write/wrote for me. I'm the hardest person to impress with my writing, my toughest critic. I know what I like, and can write and edit for me easier than worrying about what others might say. The "conversational" aspect of blogging is wonderful - I really enjoy the feedback and discussion that can take place in the comments. But I still write for me. I might hide some of the tougher or more hurtful details of a life story in an entry, but that's more to shield those involved than anything else. For me, it's my release, my outlet to process life - and if no one else ever reads, I'll still be writing.

    All that to say: this isn't an evangelism blog, but I hope you see Christ because I want to reflect Him in all I say, do and blog. This isn't a commentary blog, but I'll post on things that move me to write - you would, too. This isn't an apologetics-style blog, arguing for the truth of the gospel - you can hopefully see my "embodied apologetic" by my words and conveyed lifestyle, better than my arguments or theological prowess. This is not a "Christian blog" as much as it's a Christian's blog, dealing with God and life and anything else popping to mind.

    Ministry and worship flow from within the heart of a person being overfilled by the Spirit. That's where I want to be, overfilled and overflowing - and that's how I like to write, embracing all of His grace and reflecting Him from this keyboard.

    ... Amen?

    Friday, September 10, 2004

    "Wasting" Time

    "The only really important time in our lives is the time we waste with those we love."
    - Antoine de St. Exupery

    I'm certainly looking forward to "wasting time with those I love" this weekend. Is there really any such thing as "wasted time" if you're doing something together? We're made for community, for being and experiencing life in the context of groups and families. In the first couple of chapters of A New Way To Be Human, Peacock writes about how we might have the whole gospel story wrong since we normally think of it and talk about it as a "personal salvation" experience, instead of contexting it properly as a community and "body of Christ" kind of thing.

    Basically, if *I* come to church for *me* to feel better or for *my* ministry, and if *my* family comes every week and *we* get what *we* need from the church, then there comes a time when *I* feel like *I* don't need to come this week, or *I* don't need to participate in this event because *I* was so committed to the last event, etc. *You* get the picture. What would change in *my* psyche if *I* became more focused on *the community* and how *we* really don't have diddly-squat *by ourselves* outside of the connectedness and interplay of groups of people honestly seeking to live the Kingdom here and now?

    That's why it's been important to us to *not* miss church with all the stuff that's been going on. We'll visit a new church this weekend, looking for a place to connect because that's what we're supposed to be about, being people of God together. We're not necessarily looking for *our* church home, but for a community that clicks with us and us with them.

    Visual Soundbites

    Got these from a friend's email. Supposedly, they are from a Washington Post columnist who prints a column each summer, listing interesting T-shirts observed at Maryland beaches:
    • I'M NOT 50! I'M $49.95 PLUS TAX.
    That's me... physically "pffffffffffftt".

    Thursday, September 09, 2004

    Time Heals...

    ... but yesterday was better. Today, not so good.

    "Jane - stop this crazy thing!"

    In The Fall

  • I love the weather in the fall. Gets a little chilly, maybe wear a sweater or jacket to work. I enjoy the breeze that hopefully is blowing just a bit as I walk out the door each morning. The humidity lifts and it just feels like cleaner air fills in the void left behind.
  • I'm so ready for football in the fall. Our fantasy league at gets into gear with tonight's first game. The Gamecocks are 1-0 and champions (so far) of the SEC East. And we're tailgating this weekend - though it's not getting chilly and breezy yet, it'll still be a nice day to eat wings and listen to the pre-game.
  • I appreciate the way nature changes in the fall. The cycle of the seasons begins to close shop, changing the colors on the trees and laying the flowers down for winter. It's a reminder that life is rolling to an end - not dead yet, as winter suggests, but always just around the corner.
  • I look forward to the days getting shorter in the fall. When the time changes and we get more sun in the mornings, I enjoy driving home in the dusk & twilight and feeling that much more cozy and warm when I get in the door at home, you know? Really nice when it gets chillier - make some coffee, start the fire, curl up on the couch to watch ESPN - ahh, those are the days.
  • Unfortunately, relationship with God was severed in the fall. With the fall of man, there is also sweet redemption, isn't there? Just like the chilly breezes that remind you you're alive. Just like football (stretching this metaphor too far? I think not), working hard for the sake of a Sunday afternoon where victory is sweet and losing makes you work that much harder. Just like the seasonal changes in nature, bringing death in order to renew life and beauty. Just like days getting shorter... hopefulness and anticipation of His imminent return...

  • Watch Out - Spot is Packin'

  • - Pup shoots man, saves litter mates - Sep 9, 2004
    How ironic - this dog will probably be on Letterman and Leno next week, and the guy will be watching from a cell. I'm waiting for the just-in-time-for-Christmas marketing of plush toy dogs with a revolver - woo hoo!

  • Wednesday, September 08, 2004

    What's Up With That?!? - a Prayer

    Ok, Lord - I'm paying attention. You are God, and You are wise, and You are holy, and I am reminded time and again how "Your ways" are not "my ways". And while I've been going through all kinds of junk in the last couple of weeks, You've been orchestrating something that's... well, loopy. What's up with that?

    I take responsibility for the mistakes I've made that have hurt people I've loved. But since that one major screw-up, Lord - I've had more and more of these "little connections" then I ever remember having before:
  • That same day, I heard from Jonathan in Charleston, wanting to "ask a religious question, if you've got time." I worked with Jonathan years ago, and we've just barely kept in touch as he's moved on to other things, gotten married, etc. But this was out of the blue. In answering a question about the Trinity, I also re-connected with him and found out about his future plans and his wife's school plans.
  • I also heard from a few folks from the soon-to-be-revamped email list - writing to see how I was doing, to encourage me in moving forward, to check in and make sure I was breathing.
  • Got an email yesterday from someone at the local paper, looking to do an article on blogging and connectedness. Just interviewed with him, found out that he was a Christian, too - got to share that I blog as a way of processing together with others, as a way of asking questions and finding answers and asking bigger and better questions. Really cool conversation.
  • There was an email waiting when I get back from the interview from Eric, someone who's trying to startup a blog and who wants some pointers in adding links and sidebar text. I'm an "expert" now?!?
  • Then I get another email from a former church member/friend who I probably haven't had contact with in a couple of years - checking to see if I was involved with a small group, maybe watching and discussin THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST together. I'm not involved with anything like that at the moment, but she mentioned how she remembered doing a study in Revelation (five years ago?!?) off the back porch, how much fun that was, how challenging that was.
  • Today, I've gotten at least twice as many hits to this site as normal. I know that most of them are from "next blog" links from the Google/Blogger navbar at the top - but why me? My average at the new site has been about 60+ hits a day, and I've got over 125 hits already.

    Years ago, in questioning my own calling, You showed Your hand a little more than I was used to, Lord. When I stepped into the small Christian bookstore, the salesperson at the cashier asked if I needed any help. "No, just looking" was my standard reply, and he dealt with his one customer. After she left, I turned from the CCM and books to head out the door, and he asked out of the blue, "Are you a pastor?" I'd been struggling, Lord, and I didn't know how to answer that question, so I replied with my own question: "What made you ask?" He said that sometimes he just knows, and that this time he knew, and "God wants you to know that you're right where He wants you, that you're in ministry because He wants you, and He loves you." I wept quietly all the way back to work after thanking him for his openness to be used of You.

    Lord... I feel that same... filling & encouragement... right now. I don't know what it means, and I don't know where it will lead, but... I'm encouraged by the love and connectedness of the people who are re-connecting and who continue to remember our times and lives together. Thank You, Lord... thank you for the cross, for mercy and for grace, and for loving me in this very real way.

    In Jesus' name, may I reflect that love back to those around me now... filled to overflow, O God... amen.

  • Wanting to Please God

    There's an article at Relevant - "Confessions of a Flake" - that "feels right" to me right now:
    I think Thomas Merton had it right in his prayer in Thoughts in Solitude: "Just because I think I am doing Your will does not mean that I am actually doing it. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You, and so I will trust You always, even though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will fear no evil, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone."
    I find myself wanting to please Him, but not knowing where to go, what to do, what to say or how to say what probably needs to be said. But I really want to please God. There's so much going on in our lives right now, and so much of it's just cruddy - but I still want to be sure that we're moving forward in a way that's pleasing to Him, you know? If anything makes it "worth it", it's hoping that we're following that much more closely through the storm than we were before...

    Clear Skies

    It's beginning to clear out as the storms move northward and the sunshine comes in behind. Very nice morning - everyone got "enough" sleep (it's relative, because I'm sure Vicki & I could use a few days/nights more of "good night's sleep"), and no one really got bent out of shape as we got ready for work and school this morning. That's a good thing, makes the day go so much smoother when it starts well. I'm looking forward to a conference call here in a few minutes (as much as you *can* look forward to a conference call), and then I'll be interviewed for an article on blogging and connectedness for The State newspaper. Don't know how that'll pan out, but I think it's cool that someone looked for someone to say something, and I've always for something to say - right? I really need to run out at lunch and get some coffee for the house - Starbucks Breakfast Blend, my sweetie's favorite - and then spend the afternoon finishing up the fixes for a couple of outstanding issues on the system. All-in-all, a full day - and that's not a bad thing, especially with the sunshine and blue skies.

    Tuesday, September 07, 2004


    God knows it all, and loves me anyway. My "working definition" of forgiveness is that whatever a person's guilty of, real or perceived, shouldn't cloud my view of him/her as an individual. Sure, you can make judgment calls on how much you trust, but as far as love or honest interaction, real forgiveness is present when what I've done doesn't cloud you view of who I am. But, wow - God knows it all, and still pursues relationship, still longs for conversation, still sits patiently waiting for interaction. And we're supposed to reflect that in our mercy, our forgiveness, our relationships.

    Thank You, Lord - for Your mercy, Your forgiveness, and Your continued passion for us. May that passion be reflected in our mercy, our forgiveness and our continued pursuit of fellowship with each other, and together in Christ... amen.

    Awfully Soggy Around Here

    It's moist - damp - wet in the aftermath of Hurricane Frances as it moves slowly up into the Southeast USA. The weather is worse here than it was in Puerto Rico last week. Lots of traffic accidents this morning, but my commute was thankfully uneventful. Tornados have been touching down in various parts of the state, and it'll rain all day I'm sure. I'm back in the office today - whew! - and need to debrief from my trip, fill out all of my reimbursement materials, and settle in to the normal work routine.

    But is anything ever really "normal", or is it just a figment of our collective imaginations? Unlike the endless reruns of cartoons on Nickelodeon every week, life's not like that. We might get into a rut, but things change all the time. We change with them, or we crack in the transition. That's probably where alot of the pain of life comes from, if I'm just thinking out loud: from not wanting to change, or from changing in the wrong ways, or from being swept away in the change... right?

    Maybe a key is to get ahead of the change, or to make the change proactively instead of getting swept up reactively. Maybe that's what we're doing now, in looking for a new church, in getting re-settled and re-"normalized" in this life together. Like I said, just thinking out loud.

    Monday, September 06, 2004

    Things To Come

    Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God's curse. All creation anticipates the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us. Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom. For if you already have something, you don't need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don't have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently.

    And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.
    - Romans 8:18-26, nlt

    I was surfing through some of the blogrolls on other sites, and discovered Unleaded Bread. Good stuff - I like to read people who like to write, who are struggling with the words to describe what's going on, who appear to be honest and forthright with their problems and triumphs. In this post, Andy writes about how he wanted to tell his son that everything will be okay, but more importantly he probably wanted God to tell himself that everything would be ok. Life has lots of junk - death, broken hearts, pain - and in the midst of all that, He is still God. And his reference to Rom. 8:18-26 was spot on for me this morning, too. Any struggle, any hardship or angst or crap-of-life, is worth it if it's leading to the real and transforming revelation of Christ and His glory in this place... right?

    Sunday, September 05, 2004

    Holiday Weekend

    We decided to fix a picnic lunch and head to the park after church. Beautiful day, with a breeze that made the shade very nice.

    I don't think the church this morning was "it" for us - while we both appreciated the children's activities and the smaller groups for their classes, the main service seemed a little... stilted. The senior pastor was on vacation, so someone else filled in. A clip from Secondhand Lions was shown (towards the end of the movie it looked like, and made us want to add it to our Netflix queue), trying to say something about "wanting more", and that's why people look for things to fill their lives because they want this elusive "more", and only in Christ can we be truly filled with "more" - but it (the clip and the visuals) seemed forced. And I'm a stickler for a good metaphor, but his stories seemed to break down in the wrong spots. It seemed that the goal was to address a topic and see what the Bible said, instead of seeing what the Bible says and then showing how it impacts a topic - subtle, but very different in the way you approach scripture as a congregation. Very "seeker-sensitive", but felt like it lacked depth - not fair after one visit, but that was our general feeling as we left.
    "And Patience was willing to wait..."
    [from Pilgrim's Progress, quoted in Streams In The Desert]
    Finding a new church home shouldn't be easy. But it will be fruitful. I trust the Father for that. Even this message that "didn't do much for me" was still on target: we need "more" so we seek after the Father for our filling, and we seek Him together as His church, His body.


    Listening: Matt Redman, "If I Have Not Love" - XM32-TheFish
    Reading: 1 John 3:11-24
    Drinking: coffee, strong blend from gift shop in San Juan, PR
    Pondering: relationships
    Preparing: to visit a church this morning

    I woke up this morning stuffy headed in my sinuses, nose and throat. After a quick bathroom trip to blow all the gunk out, I crawled back into bed for a couple of hours. I think it helped - not sure. We're moving slowly this morning, heading to a church on the northwest side of town that has an 11:15am service. We've only been doing this a few weeks now. Vicki reminds me how important it is to keep going to church, to not pick this time to "skip church because we feel bad" and start a habit we have no intention of starting.

    I picked up new reading material at the bookstore last night: New Way To Be Human by Charlie Peacock. It jumped off the shelf and attacked me, something I admire in any good book. He has always struck me as the kind of person who'd be fun to join at Starbucks for conversation and coffee - he might pick up the tab, he might not, but you know the dialogue would be worth something, would be challenging and uplifting, like a good friend you just met but with whom you really begin to click. It looks like this book is going to be about language, words, relationships, stories and our culture that needs hope and life to be fully alive.

    On page seven, he writes:
    Borrowing from a device I've heard pastor-theologian Andre' Resner use, "I'd like ten minutes back".... Is there anyone you'd like ten minutes back with?

    Yes, there is. Perhaps one day, perhaps soon. I hope.

    Saturday, September 04, 2004


    Well, rumors of my return are true: I did finally make it home from Puerto Rico yesterday afternoon. Originally, I was to fly out of San Juan at 4:30 and arrive at CAE some time around 11pm, but because all of my work there was done and there was no need to go into the customer's office Friday at all, and because I really wanted to get home earlier than that and beat the storm through Florida, I made same-day arrangements on Delta to fly out earlier.

    Thursday night we had our fantasy football draft online @ (it took way too long - I've got to check with the Fanball folks about allowing one minute as a wait time for live draft picks). We had some hiccups with the process, but I thought it was fun and went well - except that when it was over it was 11:30pm and I needed at 4am wake-up call to get that first flight out. On top of that, I couldn't sleep (note the after 1am photo friday post below). I figure I got 2.5 hours of sleep, tops.

    But I made it to the ticket counter before they opened at 5am for the 7:55am itinerary change. I was first in line - and after a couple of printer problems and a change to another workstation, I got my boarding passes for SJU to ATL and ATL to CAE. I was supposed to fly into Columbia by 3:25pm - the plan was to drive to the high school and surprise the kids there. Instead, there were delays with the plane we were to catch out of Atlanta, and after another gate change or two it finally took off after a 4.5 hour layover there.

    Got home, surprised the kids (they were expecting me to get home after bedtime originally), ate pizza, made coffee, and promptly fell asleep before 10:00, I think. That part's a blur - did I say it had been a long day? Today, nothing on the agenda but being lazy and watching college football (USC vs. Vandy @ 12:30ET, among others.

    It's good to be home.

    Friday, September 03, 2004


    Photo Friday

    Just me and the kids - laying on a rock. What could be simpler than that?

    [from our summer vacation to Stone Mountain, GA]

    Thursday, September 02, 2004

    Wrapping Up

    It's really beautiful here today. Even the humidity doesn't seem as bad - but that's probably just me getting more acclimatized just before leaving. Looks like today's going to be a long day, but I'll get the rest of my tasklist done here in San Juan before leaving the office this afternoon.

    I'd like to try to fly home sooner than the 4:30pm tomorrow time for which I'm currently confirmed. I'd like to beat the storm home - right now the hurricane's in the flight path, but later tomorrow it might be even more severely in the way. On top of that, it would be nice to get home sooner rather than later. I know how difficult it is at home when one of the two is gone for an extended time - we're supposed to be sharing the responsibilities and burdens in our cleaving, but it's hard to "share" when I'm fifteen hundred miles away. I miss my wife & kids, and I want to head home to a nice, long holiday weekend together. After picking up the pre-flight souvenirs, of course.

    I'll be checking with my "bosses" here, seeing what they suggest, since they're footing the travel bill. Since I didn't check out this morning, the hotel room is still mine 'til tomorrow morning. But if they think it would be better & easier to get a late-night flight tonight, I'll take them up on it. If not, I'm not sure I'll be able to get another Friday flight (they're usually the most crowded, along with Mondays) before my scheduled take-off time. Either way I'll probably log alot of airport time between now and tomorrow - but it's worth it if I can get home to my own bed a little quicker.

    My mother, of course, wants me home early and safe - tired of worrying about me and this storm (it's gorgeous here today, so nothing to worry about at all). So if I do get home early, someone remind me to call her and let her know, ok?

    UPDATE 6:17pm: I typed that this morning when there was no internet access. Not flying out today, but first thing in the morning is hopefully a go.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2004

    So Sleepy

    I am so sleepy. It's Wednesday and looks like this trip is taking its toll on me. Making good time - I should wrap things up when I leave tomorrow evening and then I'll be free to look for an earlier flight home Friday. But that's still two days away - I need a nap. Permisso - una siesta, por favor.

    Midweek in Paradise

    It's Wednesday in the tropics, and that must mean "We Sweat Here" - the humidity and sunshine are back after the nice relaxing hurricane breezes. Yesterday was long and fairly boring - time passes faster when you're busy, not when you're cramped up in the hotel all afternoon. But I slept well, and I'm looking forward to a productive day today, hopefully wrapping up tomorrow to fly home ahead of the hurricane's arrival in the States. And then a long weekend... aaahh.

    I mentioned a few posts back that there's a way to read the Bible "conversationally", and that's what I am striving for when I read right now (helps to pass the time having my Bible to "talk to" - but I'm not going nutty, honest!). Compare it to a chat between two old friends. When we come together, we have some knowledge of the other person's likes and dislikes, mannerisms and sense of humor. But usually while we talk, we're open to whatever they say - we don't hold it against them if they don't say what we want or what we thought they would. There's a leeway given to the conversation, a flow that allows both parties to come with presuppositions but also to be open to changing the topic, to chasing tangents, to saying things that might be surprising, to challenging those presuppostions, etc. There's a mutual understanding that either party isn't going to try to lead the other astray, that you're not trying to hurt each other, so that the flow is allowed the freedom to just evolve as the conversation continues.

    But when we come to the Bible - I'm guilty of this, I know - we come into the "conversation" already knowing what the text is saying. We've read that before, or heard that sermon before, and we know what it means to the nth degree. There's not a newness and freshness like a good conversation would have. We tend to read the Bible with a stubbornness - unless we pray and release ourselves to see something new and exciting and fresh in the Spirit every time we open its pages. There's no room for untouchable presuppositions in reading the Word of God - it should break us and re-make us everytime we read it.

    More like a good conversation.
    [idea built upon from someone else - but I can't find the blog/article right now - aarrgghh!... something like this article from Eugene Peterson]