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.

 

Day 3 – Deutschland Fall 2010 – Revolution of the Soul

I woke up early today, mostly due to the 24-hour road construction that began around 11 p.m. last night. The City of Frankfurt U-Bahn/rail system is taking out the pavers that surround the rails in certain parts of the city, & replacing it with asphalt. The “perfect storm” has happened & the next few days have the section of street in front of the Dueck’s home getting asphalt-ed. Fortunately I made it to about 5 a.m. before the backhoe in the street woke me up by dumping pavers into the metal dumpster 10 meters from me. I have to believe that the LORD gives sweet sleep to those He loves.:)

Had coffee & prayer with Eddy, then we headed over to the rooms that TPLF had rented for the “Revolution of the Soul” seminar – it was truly a great space in a phenomenal building. It reminded me a lot of the building in  “The Office” episode where Michael falls into a koi pond. Because it had a KOI POND Booyah. Major excitement from This Guy.

The seminar went well – I told my own story of God’s dealing with me about the Sabbath. Talked about being thankful & content. The affect of adrenaline & stress on the body, & the built in need for rest we have. The talk about adrenaline & stress probably got the most response – it seemed that many had never really heard how our bodies work – that when we have a ‘high demand’ time where we produce a lot of adrenaline to meet the demand, it’s followed by a ‘low time’, which is our bodies natural resting & restoring property – though during the rest & restoring time we usually feel “blah.” Irritated. Down. Like something is ‘off’. And all it is is the ‘normal’ process that our body uses to heal itself. It just feels so different from the ‘on,’ adrenalized, up version of us that it feels something is wrong.

With Christians it can be worse, because in the down times, we think something is wrong with us, & that we’re doing something wrong. So we try harder to ‘get right’. Pray more. Read more. Do more. Thinking that it will cause our ‘low’ to turn around.

One lady shared with tears in her eyes that for the first time she realized something WASN’T wrong with her when she experienced her post-adrenaline lull. That it was just her body recovering.


I had a lot of fun today, in part because the majority of people there were from TPLF &/or were people I’ve known for many years. It was very gratifying to be able to share with others  something that God has used so powerfully to work inside of me. Also, dear Julia! who lived with us for almost 6 months, drove for 2 hours from her home to be there. I love that girl. What a special treat!


At the end of a long day with way too much of me talking, I am spent. Looking back, I would do things a lot different today, most notably have more opportunities for people to interact amongst themselves. Still, it went very, very good. Eddy was on his way to a kindergarten party, so he dropped me off at the house. I Skyped the beautiful Bean, (I miss that woman!) & then made my way down the street to the corner Pizza Parlor for a pepperoni & pineapple pizza with a dunkleweizen. Ahhh. Life is beautiful.

Tomorrow is church with our TPLF family. I can’t wait.

Day 2 – Deutschland Fall 2010

Today was Eddy’s day off, which perfectly coincided with my day too. I woke up at 7:15 to the sound of the Brandenburg Concertos, my preferred alarm. (It’s hard to be grumpy hearing the sound of Bach, even in the morning when one’s body is telling you that its really 11:15 p.m. & you should be GOING to bed, not getting up. But I digress.)

Laura made pancakes, Eddy-style, meaning they were filled with almonds, apple, & coconut. I ate to my hearts’ content, using syrup, Nutella, & apple marmalade as toppings for different rounds of pancake-ery. Good times. The coffee was excellent as well.

Beings as it was the day off & the two oldest kids were at school, it seemed like a good idea to take a nap. So I laid down on the couch with a favorite book, (Heschel’s The Sabbath,) & read/napped for about an hour. I think. :)

Woke up in time for lunch, which was raviolis. Eddy & family headed off to a birthday party & I set myself for an afternoon of solitude. Which is my favorite. Read & dozed for a bit, then decided to head towards the city, through Bockenheim, which is where the church is located. Walked past the White Tower, which is located near the university. It used to be a watch tower, a line of defense for the city of Frankfurt.

Made my way past the familar cafe’s & university dorm-style apartments towards the city center. It was quite a ways away… further than I’d remembered, which is funny, because I usually take the U-bahn downtown. And now I remember why.

This is the “Hammering Man” – he symbolizes the 24/7 work ethic represented within the city of Frankfurt.

He’s about 45 feet tall – makes me think about the Sabbath & the need for rest. (Probably because this is where God first ‘convicted’ me about my own work-a-holism…) To me, Hammer Man stands for the worst parts of humanity,  Western Civilization & how we so easily work ourselves to an early grave, valuing each other only based on what we make or produce. I know its just a sculpture, but it stands out in my mind as a symbol of what God has rescued me from.

It also makes me think about tomorrow – I’m giving a presentation called, “A Revolution of the Soul” on the topic of living life in all its fullness; talking about rest, life rhythm, & the Sabbath. I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. :) Truly, God’s work in my life in this particular area has been one of the most impactful things that has ever happened to me, & the thought that I get to share what He’s done in me, & what I’ve been taught & what I’ve learned brings tears to my eyes. Sometimes I get weepy. It happens.

Came home from my walk just in time for pizza & movie night with Eddy, Laura & the boys. Then to bed early so I can get good rest & be ready for the day tomorrow.

Blessings to you!

Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010 – musings from a long day…

The last couple of days have been something of a blur, which usually happens on the travels home from East to West. My core42 processor in my brain is on the fritz, so I’m trying to set myself up to have a ‘reboot’ week & ease back into life at a rhythm & pace that is healthy for me & others, & also engaging. At some point in the not so distant past, I might have tried to hit the ground running, frantically trying to catch up on & make up for the time out of country over the last 2 weeks; an impossible task. So rather than attempt the impossible (& thereby delay the reboot by denying my own limits & humanity,) I’m trying to take it slow. But steady. And a ‘musings’ post…


Checked in to my United flight #901 on Saturday night, & all was right with the world. Woke up Sunday, & double-checked my check in, only to find that the status of my flight had changed from “On-time scheduled departure” to “Cancelled.” No explanations. Just a phone number. So I called.

Unfortunately, the ‘customer service’ had been outsourced, & communication was tough. In 45 minutes, I learned that there were no other flights on my route on Sunday, (Frankfurt to SF,) & that I’d have to hope to get one on Monday. Tried to get the rep to check other potential routes (to Denver, Chicago, Washington-Dulles, & other United International hubs…), but to no avail. Said she couldn’t do it. Sigh. Booked for Monday, then called theBean to explain what was up & recruit her to do what I couldn’t: spend time on the phone trying to get me on another route &/or a partner airline. And expectantly thanked God in advance for His favor & blessing.


Turns out she was just on her way to bed (the 9 hour difference :) & she was NOT happy about me not coming home for ANOTHER day. So, she took the mission & said she’d get back to me.

About 15 minutes later, myGirl called with a revised itinerary – she got the rep she spoke with to switch me to the #1 United partner in Germany – Lufthansa – on a flight scheduled to leave at the same time THAT day as my original, with a connection to Reno through Denver.

Excellent. And THAT is myBean.


The change in plans (& the knowledge that the FraPort would be crazy,) meant a rushed goodbye to my wonderful hosts, the Dueck’s, & a voyage via u-bahn to the airport. And it was a good thing I got there when I did.

My flight hadn’t been the only one canceled, & about 15 minutes after I arrived in the Lufthansa line, about 400 frantic travelers queued up behind me. The LH desk attendant was great, & confirmed my seat on a flight… but told me that I’d have to make sure to get the specific seat assignment at the gate – As she talked, I pictured myself in the middle of the last row on the plane, squished between Gunther & Hans. Banished that thought from my mind, & thanked God again for favor… & a good seat. Which turned out to be a window seat next to a smallish person. Booyah!

Flight was delayed for 97 minutes (yes, I was counting.) Which meant that about 200 of those on the flight to Denver would miss their connecting flights & have to be rebooked by the United personnel in Denver. I didn’t care… I was coming home.


Going through the inconvenience of missing a flight AFTER being on a cramped plane for almost 12 hours is quite the experience. My people watching skills were in effect as I got to observe people from a variety of backgrounds, countries, & cultures in various states of meltdown. The Americans were the best at complaining. Go figure. Loud & often… Go figure.

My rescheduled flight was only 2 hours later than my original flight (thank you Jesus! Again.) So I made my way to the New Belgium Hub for nachos, a stout, & NBA playoff hoops. Nice.


Slept the whole flight. Barely made it through the boarding process before my eyelids crashed together.

TheBean picked me up solo. And we were THAT couple having the reunion in the airport at 11 p.m. You know the ones that I’m talking about.


Thank you all for your prayers in my travels. It was a great trip. And still, it is So good to be in my city. In my home. In my own bed. With my fam. Sigh.

Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010, Day #13

Meeting for breakfast with an old friend, Claudius – took the u-bahn in the brisk morning air to the Willy-Brandt-Platz (named after a German politician.) I got there a bit early, & spent some time people watching. Met a guy from Brazil who is playing basketball at Westerm Michigan U in Kalamazoo, Michigan, & talked hoops a bit. He’s traveling with friends, & I took some pictures of them in the park, standing under the big “E” monument celebrating the European Union.

Claudius arrived & we made our way to a café we’ve visited many times over the last few years. He is something of a ‘romantic’ in that he likes to plan surprises & this time was no different. The breakfast that came out for me was nothing short of incredible, with an American style omelette with all of my favorite ingredients; fresh squeezed orange juice, a croissant & brotchen (little bread) & of course a bottomless cup of coffee. It is truly meaningful to be thought of & planned for. I greatly appreciated our talks, the opportunity to catch up & hear about the happenings in each others lives. Good times.


Made my way to the KonstablerWache (a kind of police station in the downtown of Frankfurt,) & met with our dear friend Dudi (sister of Philip, who I got together with for breakfast a couple days ago,) for my next meeting. TheBean & I connected with Dudi on our first mission trip to TPLF in 2005; over the last few years as she’s been working her way through university, she’s had a couple of opportunities to come & stay with us in our home, most recently this last September. We made our way from the KonstablerWache to a quirky little restaurant called, “Maingold” – reminded me a lot of Reno’s own Java Jungle crossed with Deux Gros Nez…

One of the themes that came up (again!) was fatherhood – the need for positive, encouraging, supportive-without-being-controlling male input in the lives of 20-somethings. Its something that I’m meaning to write about in more detail soon – but hearing Dudi talk about the great need for this encouragement, positive pouring in to help young men & women step into their own calling & stage of life, made me a bit weepy. Its something that I’ve felt the Holy Spirit’s ‘nudge’ about for the last couple of years, & it’s very gratifying to hear the confirmations over & over & over again from such a variety of sources… reminds me that I might be on to something. ☺


Walked along the Main River for what seemed like an eternity – the sun has finally come out after 10 days of wind & rain. I’m just soaking it in, thinking back to the happy times along this river with myBean, pondering my initial ‘tug’ to Germany so long ago that happened in this very place.

It’s Saturday, which means the downtown area is hosting a festival – this time it’s a wein & sausage party with wall to wall people. I took a couple of snapshots & enjoyed the feeling of being surrounded while at the same time being anonymous. Enjoyed a glass of the Dornfelder with a few passersby, & listened to the live music coming from a stage setup nearby. We’re in Germany, so the band must be playing “Winds of Change,” by the Scorpions. I think this just might be the unofficial national anthem of Deutschland


Walked to the Hauptwache (main station) to catch the U-bahn to Alex & Linda’s. Caught up with Alex at the WeisserStein station… & drove to their new flat. Alex & Linda are very special to me, & I always love spending time at their home. This time was no exception. After giving me a tour of their new place, the 4 of us (Alex, Linda, & their dog Jonathan,) took a walk in the park next to their home – felt great to stretch our legs & catch up.

We were all hungry, so we headed home, where I hung out with Alex as he grilled… chicken wings(!) that he had started prepping the day before. Linda brought a great salad, some weissbier, & potato wedges to the table & we spent a couple of hours in conversation. Alex & Linda started a church since I was here last in November, & they are affiliated with the Vineyard movement. I loved hearing their stories of what God is doing in their church, & most exciting to me, with them in their lives as they step out into new areas.

We wrapped up our evening with the most recent episode of the Office, something we always do when I’m here. Shared routines are special too. ☺ It was getting late, so they graciously drove me back to the Dueck’s so I could finish packing my bags & prepping for my early afternoon flight tomorrow.

Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010, Day #10

Eddy asked me to talk to the TPLF ‘team’ on the topic of developing a culture of love, acceptance, & forgiveness. In preparing for the talk, I was studying my notes & reviewing all the life lived, highlights (& otherwise ☺) from the last 10 years at Hillside. Thinking back, I get weepy, pondering the cost of attempting to figure out just what that “love, acceptance, & forgiveness” looks like, lived out in the lives of fallible, imperfect people.

Trying to condense it into a 25 minutes window almost seemed impossible… but then it’s not. At this point, I think that while I (& we. Yes we,) are still a work in process, there is enough water under the bridge, the development of God’s purposes for me (& us. Yes us,) that talking to the TPLF’ers about this seems simple…

I found it spilling out of the overflow of what’s getting more & more bubbling up in my heart. I started by defining culture as a ‘set of shared attitudes, values, goals, beliefs, & practices…” & rolled on from there to HERE.

Living out love, acceptance, & forgiveness is costly… in that its risky & feels ‘dangerous’ because of the personal & corporate vulnerability that results. It’s also freeing, as it seems like living with no net, with a deeper & more reliant (desperate) need for cooperation to what God-the Holy Spirit is doing in & around us. Cause really, living love, acceptance, & forgiveness is simply putting a human suit on God’s heart & purposes for humanity.



On another note, evidently I had taken a picture at the Sunday coffee party at the Dueck’s house that had caught Aris’ beautiful girlfriend with her eyes closed. So, I’m posting another one that I snapped last night to make up for it. Very, very sweet.


After the meeting, Eddy & I were invited by a couple of people to head over to a place called “Loonas,” a kneipe (restaurant/pub) run by an Italian guy named Gianni (Johnny) right around the corner from the famous Bistro Sahin. Hung out there for a while, talking about times when we’ve been embarrassed by saying something in our mother tongue, not knowing that there was someone nearby that understood it… good times. Embarrassment & the gift of putting ones foot in ones mouth – truly a universal trait of the human race.

Gianni was quite taken with us, partially because it was the 2nd evening in a row that we’d been there… & business was pretty slow. I ordered a Maisel’s Weissbier from Austria. The hefe glass it came it was incredible, so much so that I asked Gianni if he had any for sale. He got a big grin on his face & went & grabbed one from behind his counter – & said, “For you, the American guy, it’s free. Just promise me one thing: don’t EVER put American beer in this glass. If you do, it will BREAK!” We all had a good laugh at that, & I’m coming home with a great souvenir reminder & sign of God’s blessing & favor. Booyah!


I’ve spent today meeting with a couple different people – for breakfast & then again for lunch. The last two days I haven’t been able to walk as much as I would like, so I took the U-bahn to the Hauptwache (main station,) where the outdoor mall (& the KatherinenKirche is, where we did the Leben ist Schoen outreach in 2007.) Walked up & down the mall, looking for a new shoulder bag. (NOTE: a shoulder bag is different than a man-purse. I can’t explain all the nuances of it, but you’ll have to take my word for it, especially if I ever actually pull the trigger on buying one.)

Been using a borrowed (& flimsy) backpack on the trip, & the more I wear & use it, the more my upper back & neck hurt. I’m at the point where I’m looking to spend money to deal with the pain, which should tell you that its become a nuisance… I’ve tried adjusting the straps etc. but to no avail – hence the search for a bag that would be easier to support, & more evenly balanced. Your prayers for healing (& relief!) are greatly appreciated.

Anyway, it’s been raining for most of the day, so I put my hood up, thanked the LORD that theBean had made me take my rain jacket, & walked. And shopped, which consisted of me looking into the stores as I briskly went by each of them. If anything caught my eye, I’d wander in for a few, & then get out as quick as possible. Truly, I am skilled at this. Oh yes.

Found about 4 different, very, very manly shoulder-bags, complete with the imprint of a manly sporting goods company on it. Thinking about colors at this point, & may take the plunge & actually get one tomorrow. Just sayin…


I’ll be snagging a spare umbrella for the walk to TPLF tonight for Flying Ducks (College Group). Aris, the leader of the Ducks, asked me to bring something challenging, so I’ll be speaking from John 8, talking about the difference between BELIEF in Christ & being a DISCIPLE of Christ. Hillside-ers would most likely recognize the text & the substance of the message as we spent a good weeks on the topic in our Living as a Christ-follower series… Good times.


Something I’d like to ponder & work through later deals with a topic that has come up repeatedly over the last 10 days: fatherhood. I’ll put a “,” there & we’ll get back to it soon. Gotta study a bit, rest for 20, & then head over to TPLF.

Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010, Day #8-9

Monday is Eddy’s day off, & I heard that the family would be headed to a couple of hardware stores to check out & price supplies for the garden project. I asked if I could tag along, as one of the things I’ve never seen in Germany is a hardware store. Now I have. We went to two stores, both of them very reminiscent of the Home Depot & Lowe’s superstores; one, the Hornbach, even had the same color scheme & ‘feel’ of Home Depot.


In the afternoon, the Dueck’s went to a family birthday party, & I made my way over to TPLF to meet with a local pastor of an English speaking church named Richard Morschel. Richard is South African with German roots, & he & his family have been in Frankfurt since 1987, & he’s been pastoring Kingdom Life Church here since 2006. We made our way to the bakery/coffee shop near the Bistro Sahin, & had some cappuccino & spent a couple of hours getting to know each other.

I’d met Richard before a couple of times, but determined on this trip to actually try to connect for more than a brief conversation. In addition to pastoring, he’s employed by the Frankfurt Opera, & plays bassoon. We had great talks about philosophy of church, the significance of relationships, the process of building trust, & how our paths keep crossing in interesting ways. (For example, the man who leads the youth group came back to Jesus during the “Leben ist Schoen” outreach in August 2007… You can read about it HERE) I found that though we come from very different backgrounds, Richard & I have a lot in common when it comes to our ideas about what really matters… This Friday morning, I’ll be participating in Kingdom Life’s men’s breakfast, & giving the devotional. I look forward to seeing how our new relationship will develop.

There was a short interlude before my next appointment, so I took advantage of the down time to read. I’m currently in a book about Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Some of it is great, some absolutely cracks me up.


My ride arrived in the form of Levent’s VW; we chatted as he skillfully wound his way through Frankfurt’s crazy rush-hour traffic, making his way to their home. Levent is Turkish, & was one of the 1st people that I met at TPLF in 2005, & it is always good to be able to visit with him & Ines, his Bolivian/German wife. They prepared an excellent dinner with burgers, brats, bbq’d corn-on-the-cob, salad, & a South African Pinotage. We caught up on their lives, & also the new happenings in one of the areas that they help out at church in, the Twens Gruppe (College Group,) which is affectionately known as “Flying Ducks.” We made some tentative plans for Ines & I to go to Levent’s workplace on Friday for a tour & for lunch. (He’s in TV. Meaning, he is working to bring streaming television live to the internet.)


Day 9 began at 5:50 a.m. as I staggered my way out the door & down the street to TPLF for prayer for TPLF, led by my friend Sam Clayton. Several of us gathered for about an hour to pray for the church, Eddy & Laura, & whatever else we were led to. And coffee was served, which filled my prayers with a bit more energy than they otherwise might have.

Sam (from Manchester, England,) took me to his house right after prayer to spend time with his family: Wife Mirjam (Swiss), & their 3 kids; Danny 4, Becky (my god-daughter,) 2, & Benjamin 1. Danny had to go to kindergarten, leaving Sam, Mirjam & I to eat some great food, play with the kids & catch up on life. Sam & Mirjam had been a part of the Roundabout team with me, & have also been at TPLF since 2006. Sam feels a call to inter-national reconciliation & peace, & is currently studying to be able to put himself in a spot to help facilitate this. Their story always reminds me of the often winding road that our lives take: Sam left England & went to France, where he met Mirjam, a Swiss national on a mission trip. He tried everything he knew to learn her language (French) & her heart… which he was eventually able to do, marrying about 6 years ago. Then, this international couple felt led to relocated to Frankfurt – & so Sam learned German to go along with his English & French… They have story after story to tell about God’s faithfulness, provision, & care in their lives. I’m honored to be able to be in their lives.


I’ve been trying to catch up on blogging this afternoon, to take a nap, & then do some studying for the meetings I’ll be having over the next few days. My contacts with home have left me feeling a bit home-sick I must say. More than once, I’ve loaded a picture album of my family on my Mac & watched the slideshow play over & over, often pausing on pictures of each of my dear ones to pray for them… & extra long on theBean & her clear blue eyes, gleaming like sapphires, calling to me, making it hard for me to think anything at all except of her… sigh. Soon, my dear.

Tonight, in just a few hours, Eddy & I are going to a Man Meeting to talk about Manhood & what it means to be a Man. Great topic, & I’m really looking forward to the discussion on this, especially considering that there will be people from all sorts of backgrounds & cultures participating. Good times!

“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.

I saw the sun in Frankfurt, even though it was only for a moment…

For some reason I woke up early; really early today – 4 a.m. Maybe it was to compensate for the sleeping in until 11:30 the day before, but for some reason I was up & ready to go. So I read. Looked at the dark, pre-dawn sky. Counted sheep. (not actual sheep… more the pretend kind in an attempt to lull my brain into thinking it could go to sleep.) No luck.

Thought about the events of the last few days. Time with Johannes & Anja. Anja’s famous Thai Chicken. Bulgarian Wine. “Coincidental” answers to prayers unlooked for. Hard conversations wrought with pain, challenge, & hope for a future. Continue reading