Deutschland #8… a Thursday

DAY 7, Part Deux –

I left the house around 12:15 p.m. to head over to the home of Levent & Ines  via the Ubahn. One of the most confusing things about using the transit system isn’t figuring out the trains – instead, its deciding which of the 4 exits leaving the underground to take. Each one leads to a different corner of the block, so choosing wrong can mean that you’re exactly opposite of where you wanted to go, & to make it worse, you can’t just ‘cross the street’ to get where you need to be. Instead, you have to go back down into the underground & guesstimate which exit is the correct one. Today, I ended up going to three (yes. 3) different exits, walking up 2 flights of stairs for each, only to find that I’d chosen…. poorly. There’s just some things you don’t know until you memorize them I guess.

My appointment was for 14:00 (2 p.m. for us ‘mericans) & I was running a little early, so I stopped at a pizza place for a slice. Turns out, ordering was simple – the majority of the staff spoke Spanish; while I’m definitely not fluent, I can have a conversation. And so I did. It was nice, & a little bit surreal to be speaking Spanish in Germany. But at least I got the right pizza. I walked across the street to Levent & Ines beautiful big Green Apartment Building, & within a couple of minutes, I was sitting at their kitchen table, watching 1 year old Samuel crawling around the room, stopping every couple seconds to try to figure out just WHO this person was in his house.

Levent & Ines were some of the first people I met when I came back to Frankfurt in March 2005 – they had just been married a year at that time. Over the years, they’ve added two kids to the family, 3 year old Saraya & the aforementioned 1 year old Samuel. The last 6 months have been very stressful on them, as Samuel has had to be hospitalized with an unknown condition that caused a lot of physical issues, including seizures. I can imagine that the strain of that, plus trying to care for another child, plus trying to work must have been overwhelming. We had great talks, & I was very blessed & honored to be able to be with them today, just a few days short of their 10th wedding anniversary.

IMG_1595After hanging out for a couple of hours, Levent needed to leave to pick up Saraya from her kindergarten, so he offered to drop me at the rendezvous point for my next meeting in Bockenheim, a region of Frankfurt I’m pretty familiar with because it is where the German church we have had relationship with, Treffpunkt Leben (TPLF) is located. (The picture to the left is the Bockenheim Tower, an old military/defensive installation set up on the edge of the city to give warning if any danger approached.) Saraya’s kindergarten is bilingual, using both German & Spanish. It was pretty cool to be able to hear the 3-6 year olds speaking both languages, sometimes in the same sentence. One of the students was a little Korean girl – couldn’t have been more than 3 years old, & she was talking to her mother, a mile a minute, in Spanish, about her music & dance class. It was precious.

IMG_1593Levent, Saraya, & I parked & walked to Leipziger Strasse so IMG_1594that they could buy a pastry, then we said our goodbyes, & I headed up the street & towards Kurfuerstenstrasse 14, where TPLF used to meet. A few years ago, the old church building was torn down, & this was built in its place.

IMG_1592I also went by to see if anyone might be at the TPLF office, but it was too late in the day, so I missed everyone. Ended up walking to the Kurfuerstenstrasse Park & sitting on one of the park benches & people watching until it was time to go meet Steve. Walked back to the Ubahn station just in time to catch him – we decided to head back to the park to talk until it was time to meet his wife, Sarah, for dinner. I had never met her (Steve was only engaged when he was in Reno, & they just celebrated their first anniversary last week.)

We had a great time catching up over the events of the last couple years since Steve visited us in Reno – the time almost got away from us. Fortunately, Sarah called & reminded us that she was on her way, so we walked back to Leipzieger Strasse to get dinner at KISH, a Persian restaurant right off of the main street with a great outdoor eating space. That the owner of the restaurant didn’t want us to sit at. He wanted us inside for some reason – didn’t catch it, but I think it had to do with the fact that it was a ‘prime table’ & we were there a little before ‘prime time’ with no reservations. Not that we needed them at that point, as there were a grand total of 5 other people at the place, & there were at least 40 open tables. He finally agreed to seat us outside, & brought us menus. The food followed quickly.

And then the rain started. It began with rolling thunder & a light sprinkle.

That lasted for about 10 minutes – we were protected from the rain by a large sun shade, so we didn’t think we had to worry about anything. Until the rain began to fall in earnest. Sideways. After a couple minutes of trying to ‘weather’ the weather, we gave up & took our food inside to an open table. And we watched the lightning show. And the rain falling, harder & harder until it seemed like the downpour rivaled the hurricane theBean & I endured in the summer of ’94. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but I had no umbrella & I forgot my rain jacket at home. IMG_1597

We finished dinner & tea, all the while hoping for a brief respite that would allow us to walk the 1/2 mile or so to the Ubahn station. It didn’t happen, so we decided to make a run for it. By the time we hit the station, I was soaked. But it was a warm rain.

Said goodbye to the Greenhills at the main U station, & we went our separate ways. Fortunately,  I had a beautiful walk home from the station near Alex & Linda’s. I tried to be as quiet as possible so I wouldn’t wake them if they were sleeping, yet somehow in my attempt to turn off the light outside their front door, I managed to ring their doorbell, making their giant Rhodesian Ridgeback bark at the sudden noise. Smooth. Very smooth.

Alex was just finishing a workout, & Linda didn’t wake up, so my faux pas wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Took out my contacts & headed towards bed, & took a couple of minutes to catch up on emails that couldn’t wait to be dealt with until later. It was a great day.

As I think about my yesterday (Thursday) on  this fine morning (Friday, about 10:40 a.m.) I’m musing on how much has changed since I was last here almost 4 years ago. In me. In others. And it feels really good to know that in the middle of all of that, we still have something very, very important: Friendship.

Thank you for praying. Blessings to you.


Life, right side up, & other musings…

Friends@FenwayI never thought I would have the opportunity to go to Fenway Park… Boston is on the other side of the country, a mere 2,888.2 miles (by car) from where I live. And then some dear friends moved there to take the pastorate of a church just outside the city… & then there was a hope that somehow, someway, we’d be able to visit them. One day.

One day happened. Jason & Alyse (our theWeez’ namesake) invited theBean & I to come be with them, their family & church for a week in early August. And, Jason said, if we came then, the Red Sox were in town. BOOM! It took me about 3 seconds to consider the invite & we accepted. It was a fantastic trip.

There were a lot of highlights from our time there – here’s a few:

  • walking the streets of downtown Boston in beautiful weather
  • visiting the park known as Boston Common, a place that I saw the whitest human beings in the history of the world attempting to add color to their skin through exposure to the Glowing Orb, which evidently doesn’t make many appearances in the great Northeast
  • watching theWeez & iDoey ride the trains like pros.
  • dining at the fabulous Regina’s Pizza in the North End
  • spending precious time with theAge & Sandra Nell, & getting to check out their new place
  • entering Fenway Park from the crowded street lined with vendors, getting a little weepy at the realization of a dream I’ve had since I was 10.
  • trying to squeeze into the oh-so-small bleacher seats in right field.
  • the anticipation of the space between the top & bottom of the 8th inning – its the time Fenway faithful erupt in a Boston rendition of the Neil Diamond classic, “Sweet Caroline.”
  • Singing “Sweet Caroline,” & catching the experience on video. It was SO GOOD, SO GOOD, SO GOOD!
  • Hanging out, doing nothing at our friends’ house in the forest.
  • Touring the Sam Adams brewery with theAge & Sandra… (it’s free, & if you go, you will enjoy it.)
  • Getting the opportunity to spend an intensive 3 day period with another church family… & rediscovering the commonality & bond that we have because of Christ.
  • hearing one of the people who attended the conference we spoke at tell us that the speech that evening was “Wicked Awesome!”

Happy sigh.

Our time invested in family, friends, & fun stands in stark contrast to a big section of the life I have lived up to this point. I haven’t vacationed much, relaxed much, let down much. Instead, I work. Study. Pour myself into my tasks. Something in my brain tells me that this is how life is supposed to go, working & producing, & yet I have found that in doing so, I have robbed my family of time that would have been better spent doing nothing. Somewhere fun. Something simple, time away, not working, being together. I have lived a portion of life Upside-down.

Rather than bemoan the messed up priorities & practices of days passed, I’m making changes – turning life right side up. Saying a resounding “No” to the voices & inner clock that drives to dominate my mind, & saying “Yes” to the things that matter. To the pursuit of abundant life, life in all of its fullness. To the taking on of the yoke of Christ, the One who promises rest & restoration of our souls.

It’s not too late.

And as long as I have breath, I will continue this pursuit.

Hope is my choice…

I’ve been down in a hole.

Emotional. A little depressed. Weary. Grumpy. Frustrated. Grieving.

It all came to a head last week as I realized what was happening, & forced myself to take a look at what I was dealing with rather than avoid &/or run & hide.

Change. Pasty Gangster is 99.9% moving to Tennessee in 6 weeks. I’m happy for him, but I’m also grieving the change that his move will bring to our family. I’ve wrestled regret at time lost that can’t ever be recovered. Wished for a do-over; an opportunity to go back in time & make up for the areas I totally biffed it as a dad.

Pasty, being the firstborn, was the child that got to experience, firsthand, my parental mistakes. Overzealousness. Immaturity. Inconsistency.

He got to live with the dad that didn’t know how to balance life. Who had wacky priorities. Who was confused about how it does no good to work hard to provide for a family if there is no time taken to BE with the family & enjoy it.

And now as he prepares to pursue his dream, I realize he is exactly the age I was when I married theBean. When I knew that I knew what I wanted from life, more than anything, was to be with the girl of my dreams for the rest of my life. The rest of the details of work, college, living life, etc. were mostly irrelevant details that I just knew would be resolved in my future by my Father in heaven.

I flash back to being 19 years old, & think of when I proposed to theBean. I didn’t have a job; I was filling in as a delivery driver for my uncle’s pharmacy, & I was desperate. I wanted to get married, to grow up, to be able to provide for my wife (& in the future, a family) but I had nothing. So, I listened to Christian radio. Every teaching I could find on faith. And I prayed.

One day, I ‘heard’ from God – not a voice, but an impression. The impression was of a page in the Bible, one from which I could clearly see the chapter & verse. Matthew 6:25-34… the verses before & after it were blurry, but those particular verses were crystal clear:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Nothing about my circumstances had changed; but something began to break inside me that day – worry. Anxiety. Fear of not having enough.

Faith grew. God would provide. He’d have my back. I just need to keep taking steps of faith.

So I did.

And now, I look at my son & the knowledge that in the very near future he’s moving. And I’m faced with the option to worry. Be anxious. Fear. Live in regret. Be depressed. Stay down in a hole.

And instead, against my feelings, I’m choosing hope. A hope that doesn’t disappoint. A hope that isn’t based in me or my abilities, but rather in Jesus Christ, the beginning & completion of my faith.

I can trust Pasty to Jesus. I can trust my family to Him too. And I can trust my present & future to Him as well, because He hasn’t changed His commitment to me.

waiting for change, my plans, & other musings…

…Jesus ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, He said, “you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, & you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem & in all Judea & Samaria, & to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8

Jesus was the Christ, this much the disciples knew. His resurrection from the dead had sealed that fact for them. And because He was the Christ, God’s Anointed One, the Son of David, Jesus’ next move should have been to follow in the David’s footsteps & lead Israel to military victory, evicting the Romans once & for all.

After 3 years, the disciples were still thinking in terms of “us vs. them.” They were still caught in the the temporary, the here & now. They still thought that their biggest problem was Rome, a problem that the Risen King could take care of quite well. Boom!

Maybe that’s why Jesus told them, strongly, to stay put in Jerusalem, to wait for the promised Holy Spirit. It’s like He said, “Guys, I don’t want you to go anywhere or do anything in your own strength. Wait for Mine. The kind of change that you & this world needs, My Kingdome coming, My will being done, isn’t brought about by human effort, but by the work of the Holy Spirit. So wait for Him. Then act.”

I get the disciples, especially how they were so quick to believe that God’s purposes actually mirrored their own. They needed to lift their eyes up from their myopic view of selves & get divine perspective.

This happens when the Holy Spirit gently confronts. Challenges. Convicts. Changes. Reveals. Fills. Empowers.

And suddenly, my agenda, my purposes seem small. Insignificant. Perhaps even irrelevant.

And there is a joy, a relief even, in the revelation of God’s purposes. Cause I FIT in them. And so do others.

Graduation weekend & other musings…

This last weekend was one of those where we found ourselves running… starting with Thursday evening. The Pasty Gangster was set to graduate on Saturday, & theBean & I wanted to host a graduation celebration. Being in Atlanta for the 4SQ convention the entire previous week didn’t help with our preparations for the graduation… getting the house & yard together, ready so that it would be clean enough & organized enough to host some family & friends.

So Friday was a blur of activity. Took theGiant table upstairs, & then tackled the floors. Vacuumed the tile (so as not to stir up a bunch of dust,) then mopped it. Twice. Using Fabuloso, which, I might add, is one of the best smelling cleaning products in the world. Not that I am a regular sniffer of cleaning products… which would be weird. And potentially damaging to the currently functioning brain cells. But it is wonderful. And purple, which is definitely a plus.

The business of the preparation for the graduation & the after-grad-party made it easier to distract myself from the very real & very powerful emotions that rose & fell in my chest like the incoming ocean tide.

Now, I don’t have any illusions about thePasty being my ‘baby.’ Just my firstborn. Now 18 years old. With 18 years of random memories & life lived that kept flashing back & forth in & through my mind & heart. A few of them…

Holding him in my arms while he slept, not wanting to put him down because I couldn’t believe I had my own kid. The ever-present ball he’d have in his hand, depending on the season. His infatuation with the music of Steven Curtis Chapman. How he watched the “Front Row: Steven Curtis Chapman” Video over & over & over, singing along to all the songs, & even memorizing the banter Steven Curtis Chapman exchanged with his bass player. The binky dance. The worry we had over his eye issues & inability to see… & the day he got glasses. The day he got contacts. The washing of the hands & refusal to open doors with anything other than his elbows. The joy exuding from him every time he participated in a team sport. He’s always been the heart & soul of the teams he’s on… His humor. Determination. Strong will. Compassionate heart. The rediscovery of a love for music. And a girl named Alex…

I stopped & pondered… allowed the rush of images, feelings, thoughts, & memories to flood my brain. I wept. Laughed. And resumed cleaning.

Saturday, the time for graduation came. We found our way through the frantic-ness of Lawlor Events Center, stumbled up the aisles to the balcony seats, & watched the ceremony. Our boy’s name was called; he shook the principal’s hand, went to the top of the steps of the stage & raised his arms in the air & let out a “Whoo!”

It was the same kind of “Whoo!” that we’d grown used to hearing from the football field during the pregame when the team would storm the sideline & jump around, bouncing into each other. I realized the comfort that I’d taken in hearing Pasty’s exuberant yells. And I smiled. And yelled my own “Whoo!”

The recent passing of basketball coaching legend John Wooden, had a profound impact on me… not because of the incredible coaching records that he amassed during his tenure at UCLA, but rather for the way he influenced & affected the people he came in contact with during the 99 years of his life: those that played for him, those he coached with & against, & those in the ever-widening sphere of influence that grew without any intention or design of his own… due to his character, integrity, insights, wisdom, & devotion to his wife, Nell. His “Wooden-isms” go far beyond pithy quotations that would adorn bumper stickers.

My mom sent me this picture, taken at Pasty’s graduation party last Saturday. It’s of Pasty, my dad, me & my brothers Moe & Ben… I’m trying to remember what I was thinking at the exact moment the picture was taken, what was running through my head that is so obvious in the expression on my face… Sigh.

musings on a quiet Friday…

Woke up this morning with a start. I think I was responding to something in a dream, a dream that faded as quickly as my eyes opened. My heart thumped & raced for several minutes as the adrenaline push kept me on ‘high alert’ status, while I talked myself down to calmness, reminding self where I was.

Fun way to wake up. Reminds me of the days when our big kids were oh-so-very-little, & they’d sneak into my room on tip-toe, trying to make it to mom’s side of the bed, trying not to wake dad. As if.

Then they’d poke theBean in the arm with their poky little fingers & whisper (ever heard a 3 year old whisper?) Which of course would wake theBean in a fright, (like when we watched the oh-so-suspenseful The Count of Monte Cristo & the over/under of theBean surprise-screams was 10. And anyone who knows her always takes the over. Always.) Which then would wake me in fight/flight mode.

Yeah. It was kinda like that.

Planning my 1st trip to catch some Ace-ball this coming Wednesday – the first day game of the year. TheBean got the day off from work, so she & I, Brintus & Meekus, will be soaking in the rays & enjoying baseball. Hmmm. Can’t wait.

This last week, my dad’s aunt passed away. Which meant that Tuesday was a family graveside ceremony & Thursday was a public memorial. Which meant time with family & friends, many that I haven’t seen in a while.

Which makes me see the benefit of a family reunion. Never thought I’d be contemplating putting one together. But I digress…

Standing graveside, I wept. For so many reasons. When someone you’ve known, & has known you for every day of your life passes, there is a shaking, a bit of a tearing, in the fabric of life, as though a well-loved & favorite pair of pants develop a significant rip along a seam, a seam that can be patched, but that will forever be different & less-than-whole.

The woman I knew as Dottie, my Grandpa Locke’s sister, & her husband Bruce had been the ones that had prayed with my parents 40 years ago, & had led them into relationship with Jesus Christ, an event that has forever shaped our family & altered my destiny.

Thinking of the influence of one person on another, & the long lasting & multi-faceted ripples that touch so many unforeseen people & places. Makes me want to be a better man.

I hear people apologize for crying all the time, as though the revelation that GASP! their emotions have moved them, & surfaced in the form of tears is a violation of an unspoken social contract.

Crying, weeping, happen because of the circumstances of life. Joy. Grief. Disappointment. Fulfillment. Hope. Loss.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-9 ESV

More coffee, & I contemplate the spectrum of experience this week. Aunt Dottie’s funeral & memorial Tuesday & Thursday; & Matty & Nicole’s wedding Saturday.

I’ve known Matty since he was about 9, when his world revolved around Batman, baseball, & cheese & crackers. (Now that I think about it, not much has changed… ) The joy I feel at my friend stepping into this marriage relationship, especially with someone as wonderful & incredible as Nicole, brings tears to my eyes.

Seems that tears will always be a regular part of the human experience, especially where your life touches & is touched by others in meaningful & significant ways. Which means being vulnerable. Risking. Persevering. Stretching. Hoping. Repenting. Forgiving. Living life well.

Gymnasium is calling, singing the siren song of the Kettlebell.

I’m coming, I’m coming!

I’m sailing! I’m sailing! I sail…

NOTE & DISCLAIMER: I’m not sailing. Haven’t sailed. Don’t have any plans to sail. Not against it. Just wanted to share a What About Bob?! moment I had this weekend.

Last Saturday, I finished my 40th birthday celebration. I do realize that the date was February 13th, & that it was almost a full 5 months since my ‘real’ September 19th birthday… but a couple of scheduling conflicts kept the final celebration from taking place; most notably, Petey’s 6-week National Guard deployment to an unnamed location in the Middle-East.

See, as a part of the inevitable ‘taking stock of life’ that my birthday always brings me, I decided that there were a couple of things that I would like to change – habits, patterns, ways of living. (When I was getting ready to turn 25, I read a statistic that said something to the effect that a person develops most of the habits & skills they will have by the time they hit 25. So, I decided that I needed to learn to play guitar. And I did.)

One of the things I decided to change this year involved a decision I’d made about a particular food that I had chosen not to partake of since a rather negative experience from 22 years ago. Sushi. I had it once, & I didn’t like it one bit.

I decided I’d try it again.

I’ve never been a fish or seafood guy. Don’t exactly know why, other than the smell of fish & fishy-ness sets me off. A fish market is the worst. (Actually, any really strong smell has the potential to do that. Fish. Chemical-ly & flowery perfumes. Floral ‘plug-ins’ that are supposed to make the air smell better. Most air-fresheners. Except for the new Febreze that is like the ‘clothes fresh out of the dryer smell…’ But I digress.)

Growing up, my family ate fish. Trout. Shrimp. Crab. Salmon. Halibut. You get the picture. I didn’t. I can remember trying a few of them, & feeling the repulsion, revulsion, the nose-wrinkling displeasure of EWWW!

I’ve heard from plenty of people that I just needed to try “fill-in-the-blank” seafood, prepared in the “fill-in-the-blank” way, & that I would be a convert. I tried a few. Always ended with EWWW!

My friends Petey & Debi kept encouraging me to try sushi again. Not just any sushi, but sushi prepared by Iron Chef Heif: Chris Heifner. My friend Chris is an artist in the truest sense of the word – amazing musician. Worship leader. Painter. Writer. And sushi chef.

And so, the combination of their gentle encouragement, Iron Chef Heif’s skill, & a willingness/desire to change created the perfect storm: a 40th birthday sushi celebration where I would once again give sushi a chance.

It happened Saturday, around our counter, in the company of a few friends, good music (theBean’s 40’s swing/big-band faves,) some Sapporo (as a shout-out to the real sushi-masters,) & a healthy appetite.

I don’t really know what I ate, other than I ate at least one part (portion? slicing? proper terminology would be helpful,) from every roll that Iron Chef Heif made.

My reflections:

    -I don’t like fish eggs. “Caviar.” Big or small. Black, brown, or pink. But I ate it. Salty. Like tasting a fishy part of the ocean.

    -Spicy is better. Jalapenos, wasabe, & the hot red sauce (don’t recall what it was,) were very much enjoyed & appreciated.

    -Soy sauce. The more the better.

    -Enough is enough. The pace of the eating, balanced by the time necessary for the preparation allowed me to know I was feeling full before I’d reached the proverbial “Super-Bowl” or Thanksgiving full-ness. Which probably made the whole experience more enjoyable, in that I didn’t have the “I can’t believe I ate so much” regrets. Other than the little fish-egg leftovers I was picking out of my teeth for at least 3 hours after.

I’ve been asked if I liked the sushi. It was good. Different. Don’t really have anything currently in my world to compare it to. Not a negative experience. Just don’t know.

But I’ll let you know if I end up craving it.

So… Thank you Chris, for your hard work & artistic preparation. And Pete-Debi, for your encouragement. And friends for celebrating with me.

Did you know what’s happening? I’m growing.

on waking up & other Friday musings…

Woke up today feeling something was different. The early morning fuzziness began to fade & I went through the hazy mental checklist to try to determine what it was… nothing came to mind. Hmm. Deep breath. Oh! That’s it. My sinuses aren’t clogged, & I can breathe through both nostrils… & my ears are ‘open.’ Sa-weet. What a difference that makes. It feels like finally waking up after dozing on-&-off for days. And my head doesn’t feel 3 feet thick, meaning that my words are actually accessible.

And theBean says, “The Olympics are starting.” Hmm. There was a day that that would have been big news, & generated a lot of excitement. Those days went away during the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Summer Games, where I was first introduced to the influence of propaganda, political rhetoric, & posturing politicians. And was reinforced in the former U.S.S.R.’s boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles summer games.

And that’s not even getting into the snafu that is the television coverage. Heard that the Vancouver Olympics, which happen to be on Pacific Standard Time thank you very much, will be broadcast in the PST with at least a 3 hour tape delay. Marvelous.

More than a few times in the last 2 weeks, I have been reminded of my desperate need for the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in my life, & my utter inability to “do” or “be” good. It seems that I’m holding a mirror, reflecting back in my face the scripture:

“There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one.” Romans 3:10-12 NRSV

Fortunately, there’s also the promise that the Spirit is at work in me, & also that I’m empowered to live & breathe to the praise of God’s glory. Booyah!

EllieG gave me a valentine yesterday. Cute little one with a watermelon sucker attached to it. She came into my office & held it up to me & said, “Here ya go, Tay-Tay.” I made a big deal out of it & said thank you. She interrupted me with the demand, “Give me the candy. Give me the candy NOW!” Turns out, I get to keep the actual valentine, but the sucker is hers.

And yet another reason I love theBean. This Sunday is Valentine’s Day. TheBean & I were discussing the Holiday, & deciding what we were wanting, hoping, expecting for the Celebration of the Day. Turns out we both aren’t so much into the Giving of the flowers, candy, bling, etc. (Please note: theBean does like bling. Just not enough to go into Debt for it.) And don’t have to go out to a Fancy Restaurant on the day. We’ll probably celebrate together with some quiet, face to face time in our getaway, with a favorite bottle of red & something spicy.

Watching GODTV today… because Dr. Chuck Missler is on. I love that dude. When he teaches, it’s like what he’s saying gets downloaded into my brain ala ‘The Matrix.’

I’m thankful for friends who stick with me through thick & thin, good times & bad. Who know me, strengths & weaknesses, the great things about me & my glaring flaws… who still offer grace, forgiveness, mercy, & the opportunity to share life together. Makes life richer.

I’ll end with that. Thank you friends.

a slow Friday

Sun. Blue skies. Beautiful Reno. Winter, shminter.

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us. And I find both the Colts & Saints compelling. Meaning I like them both. Could easily find a rooting interest in either team. Great stories, hopefully even better game. I shall choose the warrior Colts of Indianapolis to be victorious. But if they’re not, I won’t lose any sleep.

Where have you gone, Joe Montana? This Niner fan turns his sad eyes to you. Woo woo woo.

Saw “Night At The Museum 2” today, with the Pasty One. Forgettable, save for a great one-liner about the fiercest creature in all of nature: the Squirrel. Psha… I KNEW that.

It shall be WingStop tonight. For a celebration. So say we all.

Pondering Philippians 2 & humility. What it looks like lived out.

Moving the furniture again. Bedroom. Living room. Kids rooms. It is on. And I love it.

Engine lights, playoff football, & other musings on a Tuesday…

Last Monday, I climbed into the Outback & was greeted with a yellow “Check Engine” light – bummer. Yellow. Which is probably better than red. And it wasn’t blinking, so it had to be better news than if it was both RED & BLINKING. (Right?)

Took the car to Earl’s because he has a Cool Diagnostic Tool, which told me (digitally, of course,) that the car had a P0121 Error – meaning that the Throttle Position Sensor was figuratively saying, “Hey now.”

I checked with my resident Subaru experts, Mr. H & Brother, (experts because they both either own or have owned a Subaru in the past,) & neither of them had ever dealt with a P0121. But what they HAD dealt with was the Yellow Check Engine Light Syndrome (YCELS), where an otherwise healthy Subaru would inexplicably display the CHECK ENGINE light. Which would hang around for a day or 4, & then disappear. Brother had even taken his Sube in 2 times, only to be told by the tech, “Um. Not a problem. I’ll reset the code, & you’ll be good to go. $115 please.”

Hmm. Didn’t want that to happen. Also didn’t want to ignore my engine, even if it was only YCELS. So I called my local mechanic & made an appointment to get it checked. On my way to the appointment, the Murphy’s Law of “Check Engine” lights happened – it went off. As in DISAPPEARED.

Took the car in anyway. Mechanic said, “Um. Not a problem. I’ll reset the code, & you’ll be good to go. $115 please.”


I am very thankful for the ‘weather change’ we’ve experienced – it’s still a little cold, still a bit windy (we do live in Nevada, so wind shouldn’t be a surprise.) But the thing about the change I’m most thankful for is that we have left our record low temperatures in our rear-view. This thankfulness has been reinforced by 2 things:

  • -the continuing freezing cold spell happening all over
  • -the arrival of the December 2009 NV Energy combo Gas/Electric bill. Goodness. Our November bill was a 30% increase over October. December was 45% more than November. Ouch.

  • Tom introduced me to my new favorite place to eat – Uncle Vinny’s Pizza – breakfast, lunch, & dinner menus. Flat-screens galore. All the better to watch playoff football on. I’d recommend it.

    Speaking of playoff football – I loved the Cardinals/Packers game from last week in which the Cardinals won 51-45. I had no vested rooting interest in the game, so watching both teams offenses going off was amazing. Had me glued to the set like no other game of the year so far. (I am a 49er fan. Nuff said.)

    Woke up from a great sleep with the memory of a dream… I had dreamed that there was a new episode of Stargate SG-1 airing that evening. Silly me. Might be time for a marathon. Or at least a re-viewing.

    A few weeks ago, I was praying & had an impression… kind of a picture & an idea which is one of the ways I hear from God… anyway what I heard was an encouragement, “Read your Bible more.”

    No reason, no explanation attached. No condemnation or feelings of guilt, as though I’d neglected it. Just “Read your Bible more.”

    So I aimed to amp up my reading schedule – which for a long time has been my ‘own’ schedule, in that I haven’t followed any particular reading plan in a long, long time, almost since I started out with the “Bible Pathways” plan when I was 4. I followed that one for about 6 years, & it took me through the entire Bible in a year.

    At some point, probably my early 20’s, I realized that at times, due to familiarity with a passage, I would go on ‘auto-pilot’ & not really pay attention to what I was ‘reading.’ I was physically present, but my mind was miles away. Didn’t want to do that anymore, so I Changed it up. Bought a few “Gift & Award Bibles,” different versions (NASB, NLT, NIV, NRSV, The Message, & most recently the ESV.) Each one cost about $5-6. I’d read through one, then pick up another. But no real ‘plan’ to follow & go through the whole Bible, systematically & intentionally.

    The nudge I’d gotten to Read More made me wonder. To ask myself why I wasn’t reading on a plan. And the answer I got back, after lots of questioning & soul-searching, was that I didn’t NEED a plan. Plans were for “other people.” People not like Me.

    That sounded a lot like pride. Vanity. With a hint of un-teachable-ness. I didn’t like what was bubbling up. Too good for a plan? So mature in Jesus that I can do this on my own? Um. No.

    So I’m on a plan – I’m not following it religiously (meaning if I don’t read the whole amount on the day, I don’t consider the day a failure. Or that I’m behind.) And I need God’s Word in me more than ever, so that I will reflect Him, His priorities, values, & actions, & not those of a negative, bigoted, zealot that overlays God’s hopes, dreams, wants, & practices with his own.

    Love Is A Choice – may be the best interpersonal relationship book I have in my library. I recommend it at least 5 times a week. If you haven’t read it, do it!