Enjoying the fall, the day after, Retiring, & other musings on a Wednesday…

I was just telling theBean that our current weather is probably my favorite Reno weather. Highs in the low 70s. Lows in the high 40s. The air feels different, a little more crisp, a little sad & longing, as though the Fall is mourning the passing of the Summer. It reminds me of football, my kids, & ramping up to go back to school. It’s New Beginnings, New Life, & the  re-embrace of work. I’m soaking it in, & might just do a fire in the backyard fire pit…

If this wind would just stop.


Its the day after my birthday. Didn’t do a whole lot different than a regular day (except lunch with my parents.) My highlight from the Famous Daves lunch (besides the burnt ends. Those are like beef candy,) was the picture with my dad. It took about 10 takes to get one where my face actually relayed a “happy to be here” look, instead of the (evidently) hereditary RBF that normally is on my (& Owen’s!) face. Love my parents.


Had a couple people ask how  I was doing now that I am “Almost 50.” I’m good. I mean, its not like there’s anything I can do to stop the ever moving sands of time. Tomorrows gonna come, God-willing. And with it, comes aging. My mentor, Chuck, told me one of the greatest epidemics causing issues for people is they really don’t know how to grow old & to embrace the fact they’re getting older. He wasn’t talking about acting old, stopping fun behaviors/hobbies, or anything like that. It is more the attempt to look & be a (much) younger version of oneself, as though the current (& more, um, mature? version isn’t acceptable.)

So I’m trying to embrace it. And the things, beyond my control, that come with getting older. But I’m not going to go sit in a rocker somewhere & stop living life.


Speaking of my parents – a couple weeks back, my dad announced to the church he planted & has pastored for the last 30+ years that he will be retiring at the end of 2017. (You can watch the video about it HERE. Good stuff, especially if you’re in the spot of considering WHEN, HOW, & WHY retirement could happen for you.) He’s not retiring because “he’s toast.” Nope. He’s healthy, got a lot of energy, & has quite a few “at-bats left in him,” or “bullets in the chamber,” or “pick your favorite expression describing a person with a lot to give still.”

No. He’s retiring because he wants to start the clock on the next 30 years of life & ministry in Carson City, a city he loves, a city he has invested his lives & his family in, a city that drew our family there in the 80s like the proverbial Sirens (without the crashing on the rocks part.) He’s going to stick around (at the request of the incoming pastor, the perfect guy for the job, Chris White.) He’s going to teach every once in a while. And he’s going to be sent as a missionary to churches in our area (& beyond) that need a seasoned pastor, a guy whose been through the ringer, who has experienced “the worst” & lived to tell about the mighty delivering, restoring, healing power of Jesus Christ. He gets to be a Sage, a guy to be sought out & listened to in a time where too often the Sages are ignored or passed over as irrelevant for not being the flavor of the month or not having a large enough #twitter following.

I’m really proud of him – & I think he’s a forerunner, an example for other pastors  (in our movement & beyond)  to be able to look to & emulate. He’s giving them an example of long-term thinking & planning, as well as permission not to have to cling to the current role/title WAY after it was time to let it go & pass it on to another. My dad is a living breathing example of a man who knows his role, his significance, & his value on Earth, to his family, the church, & the world, is not minimized because his role is shifting. He’s still going to be “Him.” That won’t change. He gets to be the biggest cheerleader for a people who a) aren’t born yet, or b) are little kids.

And that inspires me.


I’m going outside to sit on a bench & enjoy the Fall weather.

If the wind will just stop it’d be perfect.

A whirlwind, life happenings, & other musings…

Whew.
Feels like I have been trying to live in the middle of a whirlwind of activity for the last 2 years… last week was the ‘high point’ of activity, centering on a family road trip to Los Angeles for my graduation ceremony from LIFE Pacific’s MASL program. Pardon the bullet points, but I have a series of fragments floating around my brain I am attempting to put into some sort of pseudo-coherent stream.

  • We drove. A lot. Nothing in Los Angeles was close to anything we needed to go to. By my calculations, we drove about 700 miles while in LA. Boom.
  • Spending time with thePastyGangster & his girl Alex was excellent.
  • Being able to have my whole family together, albeit for a short time, was the highlight of my time. The older I get, & the bigger my kids get, the more & better I understand this. Time together is precious.
  • I need my own bed like an engineer needs their Excel spreadsheets.
  • We stayed with theBean’s auntie Janet – she graciously accommodated our invasion of her home & space – it was a joy to be able to get to know her, & to have her see & get to know our family.
  • The pomp & circumstance of the actual graduation ceremony cracked me up – the outfits we wore (cap, gown, & HOOD,) as well as the get-up worn by the Doctoral faculty of LIFE were from another era… Looked like they were headed to a Renaissance Faire (with an “E”).
  • Now that I have walked in the graduation ceremony, it is now time to buckle down & finish my final project so I can be done
  • Disneyland on Mother’s Day was empty. It must have been the 100 degree temperatures that scared away the locals. We rode the underground & indoor rides as much as we could during the heat of the day.
  • We saw Stevie Wonder in the Main Street ice-cream store at the end of our night. ThePastyGangster waved at him. True story.
  • Dropping Pasty & Alex at the airport on Monday was a sad day. My heart hurts.
  • iDoey went home with my parents Monday, & it was down to theBean, theWeez & me. My heart hurts. Again.
  • I spent most of Monday & all day Tuesday in “Blue Sky Session” meetings discussing & working through the preferred future for the tribe we are a part of… it was encouraging, beautiful, & time well spent.
  • Got home late Wednesday & hit the ground running – wedding rehearsals, youth group, 4 weddings on Saturday, church Sunday, council meeting after church, Mexico mission team meeting after the council meeting… then home. And I crashed.

Tonight is our monthly book talk for “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” (which I wrote about HERE. To say I am excited about this would be an understatement… the opportunity to discuss one of my favorites with people who are discovering it for the first time gets a big “BOOYAH” from me. And even a “Hey Now!” One of the reasons I love the book is, to me, Peterson captures a central truth of the Christian faith: we are “DISCIPLES who spend our lives apprenticed to our Master: Jesus Christ. We are in a growing/learner relationship always… Further, we are PILGRIMS who spend our lives going someplace, going to God, & our path for getting there is the Way, Jesus Christ.” I can’t wait. But I have to.


Over the last several weeks between Easter & Pentecost Sunday, I have been challenged to expect more. I want to be a person with an exercised, growing, supernatural faith – these last few weeks have been full of miraculous God interventions in our church family, both financially & spiritually. It reminds me of the Scripture in James 4 that tells the reader that they don’t have because they don’t ask. I have to ASK…

Sigh. Time to engage… Until next time…

 

Day 11 & 12 – Deutschland Fall 2010 – Ottersweier & other fun things to say…

Day 11 –
After a great evening of being wined & dined by the Kern family, I slept great. Woke up to coffee & a small German breakfast with lightly sweet bread & homemade quitten geili mit amaretto (aka: quince berry jelly, with amaretto.) Oh so tasty. I ate waaaaay more than I normally would on a Sunday morning just because it was So. Good.

Julia took me to the church in Otterweier – it is the only “free” (non-Catholic/Lutheran) church in the village, & the building itself faces a mammon twin-spired Catholic church. The Arche Ottersweier (Julia’s church) has been in existence for 8 years, & has grown to about 50 people, a testimony to the goodness of God, prayer, & the faithfulness of pastor Roland. It is almost impossible to explain the missionary task that they face – attempting to live out a living, vibrant, loving, gospel-declaring faith in a manner & context that makes no sense in comparison to the traditional way of how things are… it’s not uncommon for church goers in the state churches (& Catholic) to not ever have heard, let alone understood, the news that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was resurrected from the dead, & now sits at the right hand of God the Father. People haven’t heard that salvation is necessary, let alone available to all who would believe, repent from sin, & turn to God through Christ. Roland (& others) are attempting to live out simple, faithful lives, aiming for reaching the next generation with a clear picture of Christ. It’s a life-long vision, which stands in stark contrast to the ‘microwave faith’ culture of a desire for immediate gratification that the Western church can often epitomize.


Julia did a great job translating me – we hung out with the church after the service, & I had the privilege of talking & praying with several people that really just wanted to pray for boldness – that they would live as witnesses for Christ, & not grow weary. It humbles me to think about it.

Headed back to the Kern house for food – & Goodness! there was food. Julia’s grandparents came over – he was quite the character & from the time he arrived until he went home 6 hours later, he didn’t cease to give me a good-natured hard time, going into painstaking detail about why Germany is better than America. Good times. Took a brief nap after dessert, then the whole family went for a walk in the nearby vineyards, (some of which had provided the wine we had last night. Cool stuff.) The vineyards are laid out on hills in ways that defy gravity, & left me wondering HOW the vinzer (vintner) would go about harvesting & caring for the grapes. We walked for about 90 minutes at a leisurely pace; the highlights were 3 generations of family humor, an amazing sunset (the top picture in this post,) & Heiko, the boyfriend of Linda, Julia’s older sister; he wore his Nevada t-shirt proudly, a relic from his visit to the states in 9/2008.


In the evening, I was invited out to dinner by Roland & his regional overseer, Jochen (who I last saw at the Foursquare Convention in Atlanta in May, where we had lunch.) They took me to a local restaurant called, “Blume” – which means flower – & we all got Amerikan Rumpsteak & Paulaner, the world’s best hefeweizen. And it was great, & came with a huge plate of french fries.

We ate to our heart’s content; I was really encouraged talking with the two of them about their strategy for the region – they live in an area made up of small villages – so, they’re attempting to plant smaller, relationship-based churches that share resources. Each one has a pastor, & each church is ‘autonomous’ – but they all intentionally choose to work together, to cover each other with a layer of relationship & accountability that insures no one (& no church) is isolated or solo. Great ideas that left me with all sorts of ideas & inspiration.

Made it back to the Kern’s in time for some late night hanging out & prayer; giving thanks to God for the budding relationship & friendship between us, celebrating the commonality we share with other people who follow Christ. Truly precious.


Day 12 –
Today was a travel day, meaning Julia & I had to head to the train station by 9 so we could make our way north, me to Mainz, Julia to Frankfurt; she’s flying to Norway Tuesday to visit her sister & her family. After a goodbye at the train station, Julia & I navigated our way through the maze & haze that is the DB (German train system.) Our 2nd train connection was randomly canceled, so we were escorted to another train, a high speed one that normally you have to pay big $ to ride on. However, we were assured that because our train was canceled, we’d have no trouble. Right. :)

We made it to the first “ticket checkpoint,” about 10 minutes into the train ride & took a tongue-lashing & dressing down from an uptight DB agent. Fortunately, we were rescued by a supervisor, but not until we had heard how wrong we were to be on such a fast train without having paid the extra money for the extra speed. Good times.

Said a tearful goodbye to our dear Julia, made my way to my meeting point with Jan, the pastor of enChristo church & National leader of Foursquare Deutschland. Normally we do pizza together, but he spared me the anguish of yet Another trip to Italy by taking me to a favorite Chinese place he frequents.

We had deep talks about the state of Foursquare in the US, as well as what is happening in Germany. Good stuff. Both of us were plagued with sneezing & coughing fits, so lots of hot tea was consumed, along with our duck in plum sauce, surrounded by vegetables. Yes really. Can you hear that? It’s me! I’m growing.

Caught the train back to Frankfurt, & walked the last couple blocks to Eddy & Laura’s in the hardest rain I’ve ever experienced in Germany. I was absolutely soaked by the time I arrived. Changed out of my wet things & into my Reed hoodie & sweats, & warm, dry socks. Ahh. Comfort. Hot tea helped too.


Just packing tonight, then heading out with Levent & Ines as soon as I post this. We’re going to grab some Turkish food & celebrate their pregnancy. Ines is about 7 months along if my counting of weeks is accurate.

I absolutely cannot wait to come home & see my family. Hug myBean. Be with my church family at Hillside. Celebrate a good trip with lots of answered prayers. Sleep in my own bed.

Booyah! And thank you. I am grateful, & filled with thanks tonight.

Blessings to you.

Day 6 – Deutschland 2010

Day 6 –

I woke up this morning mostly rested, with enough time to shave & shower today (hooray!) Headed out with Eddy & Laura to the youth hostel where the conference is being held. Fortunately, we arrived in time for breakfast – which for me means copious amounts of German coffee, & mueslix (kind of a home made granola,) with cherry quark (kinda like yogurt, except creamier, with no fake sugar aftertaste.) Unbelievable.

We all gathered together for worship & teaching – Volker Heitz  talked from Matthew 14 (from the story about the feeding of the multitude with the 2 fish & 5 loaves of bread,) as well as from John 2 (Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding.)

What stood out to me from Matthew 14:

  • Don’t focus on what you DON’T have, but rather on what you DO have: God will use it & will multiply it
  • Faith is trusting that what God has provided will be enough for you to do what God asks of you
  • Be thankful for what you have – complaining poisons your heart & makes your eyes bad… & even what you have will be lost

John 2 –

  • A shortage or lack is an opportunity for a miracle (Mary saw this)
  • The only way a miracle ‘fails’ is if the workers don’t obey (no faith)
  • Thankfulness & faith gives Jesus room to work

We weren’t going home during the afternoon break, so Steve & I decided to take a walk through the streets of old Bad Homburg. I got a chance to know Steve better & hear his story. He’s ‘bent’ toward the area of evangelism & worship – & has an incredible sense of humor that keeps everyone around him laughing. He’s truly a joy to be around.

I ate lunch with a couple of pastors that are from an independent church that is in the process of exploring whether or not they will become a Foursquare Church. In Germany, that process takes a couple of years & has several defined phases. At any time during any of the phases, its possible for either one or both parties (the church & the Foursquare Deutschland leadership) to stop the process completely or to put it on hold. The Foursquare leadership really wants to make sure that any non-denominational church thinking of joining the movement really understands what it is they’re doing – what the ‘DNA’ of Foursquare is, & what it means to be in relationship & accountability with the other churches & leadership.

The couple I was talking to asked a lot of questions about Foursquare history in the US; they were especially interested in knowing about Aimee Semple McPherson & the stance of the Foursquare Church towards Germany during World War 2. Fortunately, I have collected a few publications over the years that were produced by Foursquare in the ‘war years’ & was able to communicate that Foursquare was staunchly anti-Nazi, but for the German people. And since I’ve been around the Foursquare world a while, I was able to pass on some interesting stories that helped clarify some thought processes they’re working through. They also loved that Joni’s paternal grandparents were married by Sister Aimee, a fact that earned me some ‘Oooohs’ & ‘Ahhhhhs’.

This evening is the traditional celebration banquet, though instead of eating at the hostel as we usually do (& have done over the past few years worth of conferences,) we’re being shuttled to a nice restaurant in one of the nearby castle. (I must be tired because I’m cracking up at the idea of there being a plethora of castles nearby. Castles. We don’t really have those at home.)

I had the opportunity (& the invitations) to set up a few meetings over the weekend & Monday – I’m thankful for the increased favor that I continue to experience, & the opportunity to give input to & encourage pastors in their work & in their families. Its especially cool when something I’ve lived through can be used to help others.

Dinner was great & the fellowship was priceless. Life is beautiful.

Packing for a trip & other musings…

This morning, theBean & I are headed out for a week… going to Atlanta for the ‘Foursquare Connection’, our church family’s annual convention. It’s a great opportunity to reconnect with friends (like how I incorporated the “connection” theme seamlessly into my post?), be a part of some training workshops led by a couple of people that really challenge me, stimulating simultaneously my thinking & my spirit.

It’s also a momentous & crucial opportunity for Foursquare as on Tuesday, the next president will be selected. I’ve got a million thoughts on this, & have been a part of the selection process since January… but I’m not writing about that now. Perhaps later for the 3 other people that are interested in that sort of thing.


So theBean & I prepare to leave – we had great news earlier in the week: our 6 a.m. flight departure had to be changed to 11:47 a.m… meaning no 4:30 a.m. mad dash to the airport on too little sleep. TheBean must have told me “thank you” 20 times. Funny thing is, I felt like the change in schedule was a ‘let down.’ It occurred to me that the two of us were functioning off a different set of expectations & hopes when it comes to traveling.


I’m thinking, “The earlier we leave, the earlier we get there & can relax, hang out, do whatever we want to. So what if we have to get up before the chickens do, all bleary eyed, not seeing straight. The goal is to GET there; if the journey is a LITTLE unpleasant, that’s ok.” Meanwhile, theBean is thinking, “Starting the day off in a hectic rush is painful, difficult, & stressful. Getting to sleep in until a normal (6:45) time, then leisurely put the finishing touches on our bags… kiss the kids, jollywag* our way to the airport. Enjoy the time. And if/when we don’t get to our hotel until midnight, that’s ok, because we had a great travel day…”
*Jollywag – to take one’s time, going along at a slow & enjoyable pace; to strol; meander. From the Dictionary of Words According to theBean, ©2010.


Might seem like a no-brainer, but to me it was bordering on epiphany… considering my wife & her different definition of what makes a great travel day matters. Taking the time to enjoy the process, the just-the-2-of-us-lost-in-a-crowd, & being together instead of rushing to get there & missing the opportunity of the day.

Sigh. I have a lot to learn about marriage.


On to packing… earlier this week, the Miser in me took a look at the $23/checked bag fees & thought it might be worth considering to see if we could fit our stuff for the week in 1 bag. So I asked theBean… & to my surprise, she said, “Sure. Let’s do it.”

What? Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” erupted, the Hallelujah chorus followed, & my own special version of Michael Flatley spilled into the room.

So, in preparation of our packing, on Wednesday I made a list of everything I would be taking – & encouraged theBean (1 time, & 1 time only…) that it MIGHT be prudent to do the same. Early Friday morning, I pulled the last freshly washed clothes from the dryer, carefully folding them & placing them next to the 1 (one) suitcase Chosen to be the Vessel that contained both of our clothes for the week.

I got the bright idea that I’d let theBean put all of her clothes etc… in the suitcase 1st, then find a way to fit my stuff in the nooks & crannies of the Chosen Vessel. Which seemed like a good plan. So good it was a Good Plan.

One problem. TheBean seemed to be…procrastinating. Doing stuff around the house. Tinkering with things in the closet. Cleaning up the bathroom. It seemed like she was looking to do ANY-thing except pack. I sat on the couch & watched her bounce from place to place, task to task, all the while keeping my eyes on the Chosen Vessel & the carefully folded clothes I’d placed next to it. Waiting. Patiently. Sighing. Louder sighing.

11 p.m. came & went. Still no clothes in the Chosen Vessel… Feeling a leeetle frustrated. The Good Plan wasn’t coming together. Had an idea that what I NEEDED to do was to get grumpy & tell theBean just what she needed to do & why. Because I was inconVENienced. I had been WAITING to pack together, & now she was proCRAStinating.

Fortunately, at this point, before the meltdown, I realized that for $23, I could avoid all the marital strife & antagonism that a grumpy episode would bring about. So I let theBean know that she could have her own Chosen Vessel, & I would take the other one. It took me 30 seconds to put my stuff in the suitcase, arrange everything to my liking, & then, BOOM. I’m done. No more stress. Just sitting on the couch, catching up on the evenings sports highlights, letting theBean go at her own pace & in her own way… which is SO different that mine. That I don’t quite understand. Ok, don’t understand at all. But that is uniquely hers. And rather than SQUISH her, even try to antagonize her into compliance, I could just LET HER BE.

Who’d a thunk it?


Now its 9:09 a.m. Saturday. Departure for the airport happens in 45 minutes. We’re both packed. No pre-trip fights. No regrets. Just a renewed sense that stuff can & will be accomplished without me riding herd on it to make it happen like I would want it to, like I would do it. Perhaps I’m growing?

Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010 Day #3

I arrived in Mainz about 7 p.m. as the preparations for the BBQ were beginning in earnest. It’s a bit surreal to be witness to the hustle & bustle of activity precipitating a church event, but not being a part of the actual “hustling…” Loved the energy.

Jan arrived & he, Eddy, & I spent some time talking, catching up, & making sure our calendars were synced – Eddy was on staff with Jan for several years as his associate, his right hand man. It’s an interesting dynamic between them, in that there is a lot of history & ‘being known’ that is obvious, as well as a deep love & mutual respect.

After Eddy left to head back to Frankfurt, (Tuesdays are “Date Night” for the Dueck’s, no easy feat considering they have 3 boys under the age of 6,) I talked with several of the people that had arrived, a couple of whom I have known (or at least met,) through the November Pastors’ conference I have attended for the last several years. The question of the evening, esp. with those that I hadn’t met before, was:

Why do you come to Germany?

Jan had told me that he wanted me to address the group on this topic later, so each time I answered the query with, “I will tell you later. ” And a smile.

My attendance at the BBQ was a bit of a surprise for some – they didn’t know I’d be there. This dinner gathering was a regularly scheduled get-together for the pastoral staff & ministry leads (childrens’ ministry, administration, hospitality, small groups, etc.) An intimate group of about 15 of us gathered outside on a patio with a U-shaped table configuration to maximize interaction. It was a pot-luck in the best sense of the word, as several great salads, meat selections, & desserts were provided by the people in attendance. The majority of our time involved interacting under the stars in the cool evening, talking, laughing, & enjoying each others company & a good Portuguese rotwein. It reminded me a lot of hanging out with my church family. :)

After about 90 minutes or so, Jan asked if I would tell the gathered group a little bit about me, & also tell WHY I was there… around the tables there was a general anticipation, as those who’d wanted that question answered earlier were FINALLY getting their wish.

I talked about my first trip to Germany, an accidental one. The friendship that developed with my friend Johannes. The discussions about the practicality & process of missions. My trip down the river Main, & how God used the simple invitation, “Come to Germany,” to sear a deep, lasting, committed love for the country, people, & pastors in Germany. Our attempts to move to Germany in 2/99. Beginning pastoring Hillside. The reestablishment of relationship with Johannes & Germany. Mission trips to Frankfurt that resulted in the budding “sister-church” relationship Hillside has with TPLF. The commitment to go to the German pastors’ conference each November, to get to know pastors for the purpose of supporting, praying for, & encouraging them in their endeavors. You can read more about that HERE & HERE & HERE & also HERE if you’re interested

After I finished talking, Jan had me field some questions… a few I remember:

    -what is your long-term vision for Germany?
    -What do you think the German church needs?
    -Does your church support you (believe in you) coming to Germany?
    -Do you really pray for us?

As in any group of close friends, the talks gradually broke into small pockets of conversation, & Jan & I had the opportunity to just sit & soak in the brisk night, observing the people, & conversing ourselves about hobbies, exercise, kettlebells, (Jan was very interested in this, & even asked me to demonstrate several kettlebell exercises & techniques… which I so gladly busted out, much to the amusement of those who observed my demonstration but hadn’t been privy to the discussion leading up to it. Imagine me doing the swing, the figure eight with hold, & the famed “2 hand anyhow…” Good times.

It was close to 11 by the time Jan took me to the home where I’d be staying – words can’t begin to describe the thankfulness I felt at not only being prepared for, (which Wolfram & Heidi had done, setting up a great room & space for me, including wifi password & wasser mit koehlensaure,) but also that they were up & answered the door for their late arriving guest.

A quick tour of the home followed, (so I wouldn’t stumble around in the dark,) & then a quick phone call to theBean, then to bed for me. The picture at left is the garden (backyard) of the home where I’m staying.


I woke to the sound of giggling kids – evidently, having an American staying in Spare Oom is a pretty funny concept for little ones. I quickly shaved & showered, then stumbled out to a German breakfast, complete with strong German coffee. Heidi pulled out all the stops, & I was again so thankful for the love & care shown to me in something as simple as mueslix, yoghurt, the dark German bread, & plenty of coffee. Did I mention the coffee? Mmm.

One of my favorite things about staying in homes is the opportunity to get to hear the ‘story’ of the hosts; these serendipitous meetings have often resulted in the development of deep & lasting friendships, (ala Martin und Sandra, Alex und Linda, etc…)


Today, I’ll be having lunch with Jan & discussing the happenings within Foursquare Germany, specifically relating to the churches that I’ll be visiting over the next couple of evenings, & also hearing about the recent developments in Foursquare Europe (fresh from the conference that just took place just outside of Valencia, Spain.) Then, this evening, I’m headed to a place in the hills about 30 minutes from Mainz called Taunusstein. I’m looking forward to another great evening.

“The best laid plans of mice & men…” or “How I’m learning to roll with the waves…”

The best laid plans of mice & men go oft astray… Robert Burns – To A Mouse

I’m scheduled to fly to Germany on Sunday, 4/25, & this particular trip is something that I’ve been looking forward with great anticipation. April 27-30, I’m supposed to be meeting with pastors & leaders in Foursquare churches in & around the Rhein/Main area of Germany – to further relationships, to encourage them in their current life & church situation, & to be encouraged in return.

Probably the biggest thing I’d be doing is helping bring a deeper understanding & connection with the larger church family that we’re all apart of… to communicate & hopefully live out the core, the heart, purposes, & essence of what it means to be Foursquare, something that the Foursquare Deutschland national leader, Jan von Wille, believes to be especially important & timely for the German churches he oversees.

Connecting with, encouraging, & investing in pastors & churches in Germany is something that I’ve been doing for about 12 years now, & to be able to be a part of what is happening there is a real privilege, & is something that brings me great joy.


And then there’s an ash cloud. In case you’ve missed it, (& I know there’s a few who have, as I’ve spoken to you,) a volcano in Iceland has been erupting for the last week or so, steadily spewing volcanic ash into the atmosphere… which has resulted in most of Europe being ‘closed’ to any air travel, as ash is very damaging to airplane engines, often building up in them, causing them to overheat & stop working. Which is not a good thing.

Europe is closed? Hmm. Didn’t see that coming.

There is talk that the wind patterns may change this Thursday, allowing air-traffic to resume; & there’s also talk that the expanding ash cloud may result in disruptions off & on for the next 6 months or so.


My brain is all over the place rehearsing different scenarios… if it clears up this week & flights resume & I go, will I be able to make it back? What if the wind shifts, the ash continues? I find myself laughing out loud at the thought of talking to my friend Eddy, the pastor of our sister church, Treffpunkt Leben (Meeting Point Life): “Hey Eddy. Good news & bad news. Good news, If you need any help around the church, I’m in. Bad news, I’ll be staying with YOU for the foreseeable future.”

TheBean has weighed in… she would definitely prefer me living in Sparks with her. Thanks babe. I appreciate it.


In all of it, I’m praying for peace & clarity. And I’m rolling with the waves, yet firmly anchored.

catching-up on my musings on a Friday, & Happy Birthday Johnny!

Interesting week. Got a call from a friend Sunday evening – someone who’s been living out of the area for a while, but that is still near & dear to my & my families hearts for a plethora of reasons. His younger brother, E-Lib (my name for him; his parents are truly kinder than THAT,) had been in a fight in Reno, & had been stabbed. My friend was coming to Reno to see his brother, & wanted to crash at the house.

Absolutely. My heart broke. I have 3 younger brothers. I know his brother.

Though we only had a couple of minutes for greetings when he arrived at our home, it was good to reconnect, even under the duress that such a situation brings with it. And the good news is that E-Lib should be okay, albeit with a lengthy recovery.

It was good to see you Kurt. And to meet your buddy Tyler too.


Left in the wee hours Monday for a 3 day meeting with our larger church family leadership in Glendale. In a nutshell, the group I met with has been charged with determining a process for & the selecting nominees for the presidency of our denomination. It was lively, though my sitting muscles are incredibly sore from parking on hotel ballroom chairs for way to long. Truly. By the end of Day 2, I needed a crane to lift me out of my chair because my poor bum hurt so bad. Not funny.


Ed Stetzer led a big portion of the ‘presidential profile creation.’ I love listening to him process out loud, & always come away challenged in my own thinking & assumptions. He’s a living example of “iron sharpens iron.” Thank you Ed.


Today marks what would have been my brother John Leavy Locke’s 37th birthday. Which means that this June will mark the 20th anniversary of his death, & his going to be with Jesus. Looking back, I can believe that its been 20 years… & at the exact same time, it seems like only yesterday. My memories of him seem like moving snapshots. Thinking of our hours of playing Batman & Robin in our backyard on Upson Lane. Playing wiffle-ball in the backyard & his constant quitting when he didn’t get his way. I’d try to tell him, ‘You forfeit. I win.” This caused confusion because he was 4 years old & must’ve thought it was an age thing I was referring to, because he’d always respond, “Nuh-uh! You 7-fit!”


Playing & wrestling with all 4 of us – Louie, Johnny, Joel, & Ben. They’d gang up on me, & I had to develop a strategy to deal with the waves of brothers’ attacks: charley horse to Ben’s leg. Charley to Joel. With them both incapacitated, I was left to take on Johnny. More often than not, he’d leave me with a bloody nose. Only person (besides theBean,) to give me one of those.

When we shared a room, we’d have late night talks about life, family, hopes, dreams, & sports. He was a terrific athlete in Football, baseball, & basketball. I was so proud to be able to watch his games & see the ease at which he played them. Amazed me.

And his gentleness & compassion. And tenacity. All of those came out full bore when the cancer was diagnosed. In how he interacted with others. Faced adversity. Grew & matured in his faith in Christ, the One who gives a hope in times of hopelessness & despair. I learned so much about what it means to be a Christ-follower from him, esp. because he didn’t shrink from difficulty or disappointment. Didn’t question why. Just kept going.

I miss him terribly.

When I look at my own kids, I see things every day that remind me of him. Pasty’s rosy cheeks after a work out, & his intense, self-motivated competitive drive which makes him invaluable on a team. IDoey’s intensity & combustability… Weezer’s sweetness. And her laugh. All 3 of them have his compassion. Truly. I’ve seen it. Like to see it more. :)

I’m looking forward to the day when we’ll be reunited. Hope its a while away, but it will be a good day when it happens.


Time flies. Today is also marks a great anniversary – the 5th anniversary of the day my brother Ben married Jessica. She is truly a gift, & I am so thankful for her & how she loves my youngest brother; you truly are a source of joy. And for the girls, EllieB & Zoe-Hawk. Many blessings to you 2 today.


Working with Pasty on the possibility of going to a nearby JC for school & football. He’s a workout beast, & is really pressing into preparation for this. I’m very proud of his determination, & KNOW he can do it.


Can’t wait to watch the Vikings-Saints game this week. Colts-Jets will be good too, I suppose, but the NFC game is the main one on my radar.


Think I’ll make some more coffee.