Day 2 musings… – Columbus, OH – Connection 2011

Day 2 – Columbus
This has been a very rich experience for me – every meeting, every interaction has been full of significance & meaning. As I’ve looked back on the day to try to “sum up,” I find that my words are inadequate to do justice to describe it & will probably leave . So, here I go with some musings…

From the messages –
• Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good; He came to make dead people alive.
• In the context of 1Kings 17 & Acts 20 – if/when you come across death, hug it – the life that is in you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will bring life… For the same Spirit of God that raised Christ from the dead is alive in you, & gives life to you…(Romans 8:11)
• Bitterness, unforgiveness & resentment from past hurts are deadly, spreading poison, barrenness, disunity, & isolation – with the ultimate result a lack of fruitfulness & sensitivity. The only way these can be truly dealt with is with true humility & repentance.
o Isaiah 58:8,9; Isaiah 1:18,19; Matthew 11:28-30; John 7:37-39
• On the heels of repentance, God calls us to hunger & thirst for righteousness, & for the work of the Holy Spirit in, through, & around our lives
o To determine to repent, forgive, to be healed
o To see God work physical miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit
o To release to the church signs & wonders that point to Jesus Christ


I met for lunch with Jan von Wille, a friend & pastor from Germany – we spent several hours catching up over food & coffee – talking through the commonality of experience we have, albeit in different contexts. I came away feeling refreshed & encouraged, like 2 parts of my life that haven’t been ‘connected’ in a long time had come together. There’s a piece of me & my heart in Germany, & when I’m gone from there too long, I really feel it. Here’s to hopefully being there again this November for the Foursquare Deutschland pastorenfortbildung (Pastors training/strengthening/conference.)

In the afternoon, I had the privilege of being a part of a ‘task force’ that is specifically strategizing how to help the Foursquare church (local, division, district, etc.) find ways to reach, train, empower the next generation – over the next months, we’ll be offering up practical suggestions & steps to help do this, looking 3-5 years into the future. Good times.


The highlight of my day happened on accident – right after the task force meeting, I had to make a run for the facilities… unfortunately, there was no restroom. So, I had to make my way down a couple of escalators & search, (increasingly frantically, I might add. And BTW: that isn’t the highlight.)

In my search, I ran into my friend Jason D. – he is a dear friend that I haven’t seen in several years; his wife, Alyse, is theWeez’s namesake – they were a part of our church & youth group leadership team in Carson City, & they now live in South Carolina.

They’re at convention working in the ‘exhibit hall’ – serving as sponsors of a booth that is helping raise money for kids in Nepal – they’ve been active in missions in India, & have a heart for the kind of life & ministry that meets practical, tangible needs, as well as presents the gospel Good News in a way that makes sense to where people are.

I spent more time than they had, just listening, talking, & well, looking with disbelief at these two. More times than I can tell you, I’ve wanted nothing more than to be able to see these guys again… I feel very rich to have the relationships, friendships, & community that I do in Reno; I realized today that my heart has longed for the reconnection of the very old & dear friendship of these dear people.

Still can’t quite believe it. Feeling thankful. Alive. Joyful.

feed the hungry bird, & other musings on a Friday…

I’m amazed at how God can use the most mundane of life activities to bring people together. The Apostle Paul left Athens and headed to the booming metropolis (and wide-open mission field,) of Corinth. Left with the question of how he would support his gospel spreading and church planting campaign, Paul fell back on the trade he knew, tent making. And it just so happened that two members of the local ‘tent-making guild’ were Aquila and Priscilla, a couple of refugees from Rome that had fled to Corinth at the order of Emperor Claudius because they were… Christians. And, just like that, Paul had a team.

Paul’s followed his pattern of testifying to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ, His promised Anointed One. Here at Corinth, the message was soundly rejected, complete with threats of violence against Paul by the Jews. With the non-Jewish Corinthian audience, however, the response is drastically different. They believed. In large numbers, people in a city famous for sexual immorality and wild living flocked to the gospel of grace and the message of justification by faith.

Even though the Jews continued to threaten Paul, he knew that unlike Philippi, Berea, and Thessalonica, he was to stick around Corinth for a while. The LORD Himself confirmed this, saying something to the effect of “Keep it up. You won’t be hurt. I’ve got lots of people here, and you’ve got lots to preach, teach, and train.”

I often think about how the Apostle Paul wrestled through the dichotomy of the two responses to the gospel at Corinth, where one group soundly rejected and strongly opposed the Good News, and the other joyfully embraced and applied it. I think that this contradiction was at the forefront of his mind as he wrote letters back to Corinth:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1Cor 1:18, 22-25 ESV

One way I like to think about this is that my role in sharing the gospel and investing in discipleship is “looking for the hungry bird.” What I mean is this: when the mama bird comes back to her nest after a morning of worm digging and bug grubbing, the baby bird that gets to eat is the hungry one, the one with the open beak! In the same way, I want to be looking for the “hungry birds,” those people that eagerly hear and respond to the Good News. This doesn’t mean ignoring others, but rather is a picture of looking for where God is actively at work, and then intentionally partnering with the work He’s already done in preparing the ‘soil’ of their hearts.

I pray that we would have eyes to see the hungry birds in our lives today.

Nobody owes me anything…

January 2006, I was in Los Angeles with theMoses & brother for a the National Foursquare Youth Leadership conference. One of the plenary speakers is my now District Supervisor, Ron Pinkston. Something he said that morning has stuck with me to this day, & I repeat it to myself daily.

Nobody owes me anything.

When he first said it, I smirked, & my internal response was, “That sounds good… &, even better, I don’t owe anybody anything…”

That thought was still on the tip of my brain (you know what I mean; it was still bouncing around, being pondered & whatnot,) when he said, “And don’t go thinking that you ‘I don’t owe anybody anything’ is the same thing as ‘Nobody owes me anything.’ Cause its not. I don’t owe anybody anything is selfish. It’s petty. It numbs us to our personal responsibility to love one another, actively. To do to others as you would have them do to you…”

I was floored.

You know the times when someone is talking & it seems like they are talking just to you? That the subject matter & the things that they’re saying specifically address you, where you’re living, right on the dot? This was like that. Except stronger.

My heart was in my throat & it raced 100 miles an hour.

I. Was. Convicted.


The rest of the speech is like a dream in my memory; I remember bits & pieces vividly, other details not so much. What I do know is that the whole time Ron talked, I was consumed in an inner-dialogue with the Holy Spirit.

It felt a lot like Dickens “A Christmas Carol,” (the George C. Scott version of course,) where the ghost of Christmas Past, Present, & Future view scenes from Ebenezer Scrooge’s life, & let him be an observer to himself & to the people in his life.

Unbeknownst to me (or at least successfully ignored by me for a time,) a virtual bastion of thoughts, strong beliefs, & feelings that I was OWED something by others had born ‘fruit’ in & through my life.

Anger. Resentment. Entitlement. Bitterness. Offense. Pessimism. Negativity. Biting sarcasm. An inability to enjoy people, relationships, & situations that SHOULD’ve been enjoyed.

Some fruit.

I saw:

  • A wife & family that OBVIOUSLY didn’t appreciate all that I did – from working hard to provide for them, working around the house, personally going without so that they could play a sport or purchase a ‘want.’ I was OWED at least a regular diet of “Thank you’s.”
  • Countless times where others, especially those closest to me, should have known what I was thinking, feeling, hoping for, only to let me down. I was OWED more consideration.
  • ‘Friends’ who hadn’t reached out, hadn’t called, hadn’t sought me out, hadn’t done ANYTHING, when it was OBVIOUS that I was hurting – I was OWED more attention from them.
  • Times where I found out that my friends had gotten together to do something fun, & that I wasn’t invited – I was OWED an invitation.
  • People that had left the church without a word, a note, or an email – people I had loved, cared for, wept with, & invested in – I was OWED more than silence.
  • Being overlooked for a series of special assignments within our church family – that I was BEST qualified for, & didn’t even get ASKED about. I was OWED more.
  • Disappointment at unmet hopes, dreams, & expectations, even feeling let down by some as though they should have been a part of making MY hopes, dreams, & expectations a reality. I was OWED that.

You get the picture.

A really bad part  of the ‘fruit’ of my entitlement was the collateral damage  it had caused to other people through my example, my frequent ‘sharing’ of my feelings (complaining? gossiping?,) thereby influencing them towards the ‘dark side’ of cynicism, negativity, & self-focusedness.

I saw that I’d given away, neglected really, the responsibility for myself. My feelings of peace, happiness, &  joy. My contentment.

People had to walk on eggshells around me, not knowing what to expect… Because the very worst part of feeling like I was OWED, was that I didn’t express my feelings or thoughts to the people I was feeling OWED BY.  In retrospect, it feels silly to me to look back; embarrassing even.


This last week I ‘tweeted’ that I’d be writing a blog on this topic – my friend Tim wrote me giving his take on it & I want to share it with you…

I just saw your twitter post. Wanted to chime in.

Nobody owes me anything. I started to try to intentionally live this way a few years back. There are many great results, but one of the most unexpected ones was this: I am more confident in my communication of who I am and more bold about what I would like.

It’s like this: As long as I felt like people did owe me stuff, I’d either:

1. Sit around and expect that they would know what they owed me and wait for it to come, or
2. Speak out the things I felt I was owed and have emotional turmoil about the potential response.

Now, I can freely talk about who I am and even the things I’d like to see without putting a visible or invisible expectation on anyone else to actually give it to me…

Nobody owes me anything” allows for a kind of detachment that allows me to fully express my heart, because I don’t believe my heart must be confirmed by anyone else. If it is, great. If it isn’t, it does not diminish who I am or the dreams I have.

Nicely put.

Bottom line, I know that what I have learned & am learning can be redeemed, & maybe someone, somewhere can learn from me & what I’ve gone through, instead of having to choose the ‘way of pain.’ That’s my hope.

Nobody. Owes. Me. Anything.

Day 9 & 10 – Deutschland Fall 2010 – Friends Day

Day 9
Friday was mostly a slow, restful day; on purpose, as my weekend is packed… I spent the morning packing for my weekend trip to Engstingen & then Ottersweier. I’m taking one small bag for the road trip, & trying to squish as much into it as possible. Oh I wished I had the Bean’s mad packing skills with me at that moment.

I headed for the Frankfurt main station about 4. Fortunately, I made the 1st train, but somehow, someway that train was slow getting to the next station – meaning, I missed connection to Reutlingen by 10 minutes. There was another train headed that way that was delayed by 10 minutes from leaving – & I jumped on that one seconds before it started pulling away from the station.

Arrived about 20 minutes late – picked up by Juergen, the pastor. He took me to house where I would be staying, which turned out to be in the home of an English teacher, Frank & a doctor, Kerstin, (1 e, 1 i.) I had a great room, & immediately connected with Frank on an American history research project was working on – absolutely fun!

Frank took me to the church to meet with several leaders – it was not really a ‘meeting’ but rather a ‘meet & greet’ over good pizza (yes, pizza!) & good wine. We had long discussions about how I got connected with Germany, then spent some time getting to know each other. Around 10 p.m. left with Frank to head for bed, & crashed hard.


Day 10
I woke up early to the smell of coffee & biscuits – got to sit & talk with Frank about life & marriage – truly, cultures may be different, but the challenges facing husbands & wives are the same worldwide – great opportunity to encourage each other – too soon, we had to leave to go to the church for Foursquare Friends Day.

The Day was hosted by the “Shelter Alb – Foursquare Church” of Engstingen, pastored by Juegen & Gudrun Zeeh – the purpose of the Day was to give their church a perspective on the Foursquare Family, see that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves.

Juergen had asked me to speak twice on whatever I want – BOOYAH. Got to choose 2 topics close to my heart: First up, the Monday Morning Church. Spoke out of Matthew 5:13-16 – shining our lights, living for God, bringing Him glory – I had everyone break into groups to answer the question for themselves: “What would Jesus do & how would He live if He were in my shoes?”

Second, talked about the Spirit-filled Life – from John 16:5-8 & Acts 1:8. Talked about how God fills us with His Spirit so we can live for Him, & be His witnesses – that He doesn’t ask us to do anything that He doesn’t provide the ways & means to do it.

I tried to make it as interactive as possible & get feedback. I was really encouraged to hear that there was lots of connection with what was talked about, as well as affirmation that this hit where they lived – & better, went along with what they (& Juergen) had been talking about for the last several months.

Had to leave to catch the afternoon train to Baden-Baden. On the way, Juergen’s car suddenly stopped – he tried restarting it to no avail. So, in desperation, (I had to get to the train station,) we decided to ‘jump it’ by popping the clutch in 2nd gear, which meant I would push the car, & he would steer it, then pop it at the appropriate time. After 3 tries, the car sputtered started, & we were on the road again. Several people got a good laugh watching me doing my best Jamaican bobsled pushed impersonation. However, I made my train with minutes to spare, & made the rest of my connections with plenty of time.

Julia picked me up at the train station with her friend Hannah – took me to her house where I’d be staying with her & her family for the next couple of days.

I’ve been really looking forward to this time with Julia & her family – there really is a special connection since she lived with us for 6 months. It was such a fun time with her family. We ate Pflammkuchen (french style pizza. Yes. Pizza) with all sorts of toppings on it, & great wine from the region & vineyards around her home. Lots of laughter & fun, really feels like a home away from home.

Talked with Julia a bit about Sunday a.m. She will be doing her first bit of translation – working to help her ease into it. Teaching from John 13:34,35 on Living a Simple Life: Love God, love people.

Missing home, theBean, & the family. To minimize the missing, I headed for bed, & crashed hard. Booyah!

Day 7 & 8 – Deutschland 2010 – Rest, Talks, & Study

Day 7, #2 –
Martin & Sandra came & picked me up around 8:30 p.m. to take me to one of Sandra’s favorite hangouts from her university days. It’s a wine & cheese bar around the corner from the U of Frankfurt, & it’s located in a cozy cellar lit mostly by candles. My kind of place.

We sat at a communal table, meaning there were other people seated at the same table as us, having their own little ‘date’ & going about their own evening. This is a pretty common practice (sharing the space) here, though it wouldn’t fly at home. I mean really, sharing a table with a stranger? Who does that? :) One might even make a new friend.

Had a chance to catch up with Martin & Sandra over a Spanish Navarra red wine; it reminded me of a great zinfandel. Martin ordered us pretzels (yes!) & a vorspeise (appetizer) plate that came with hummus, bread, sun-dried tomatoes, some white beans (don’t know what they were but they tasted good,) black & green olives, parmesan cheeze, & some salami. Ahh.

Interesting talks about our kids – their oldest daughter, (2nd grade) is facing some pretty tough stuff right now & has a classmate who is seemingly well-versed & connected in the occult; her mom is a practitioner of the dark arts. Sandra & Martin were trying to figure out what they could do to address the situation; they can’t just forbid their daughter from seeing the classmate because they can’t move her out of that class. So, we talked about praying for our kids &  “blessing & cursing” – speaking life, God’s protection, & physical/spiritual covering over their daughter; basically taking a firm stand in the spiritual world.

The night was over way too quickly, & they dropped me off around 11, just in time for me to crawl under the covers & go to sleep.


DAY 8 –

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the shutters on a German home; I mean the kind that you lower at night for protection, heat retention, & ‘blacking out’ the room. Well, I must have lowered the shutters all the way, because I slept until 10:30 this morning – there were no tell-tale rays of sun coming in to alert me that the day had arrived. Must have been tired as well. I do know that I dreamed quite a bit.  :)

Had my morning coffee, then prepared for my only appointment of the day, a visit to Koriander (the Italian restaurant that has a killer pepperoni/pineapple pizza) with Tobias. We had a great time getting to know each other better over lunch. A large part of our conversation deal with the Sabbath (he went to the seminar last Saturday.)

He also had a lot of questions about Foursquare – I’m finding that many pastors & leaders in the Foursquare Deutschland churches are looking for a global perspective, insight if you will, on the movement that they’re apart of. Each person that has asked me questions about the Foursquare family has stated that they’re incredibly thankful to be a part of something bigger than just them & their church. They want to hear the “family stories.” It reminds me a lot of my daughter, theWeez, asking my mom to tell her stories about her own life growing up, & about the family & how it came to be like it is. These questions, (& the stories that follow,) give a piece of solidity & groundedness to us, & build a bit of confidence about our ‘world’ & our place in it. If that makes sense. It does to me. :)

I’ve walked Leipziger Strasse at least 100 times in my life – never have I seen what I saw today: Jacque’s Wine Shop. I stumbled into it & found a collection of wines from all over the world… except the USA. I’d been planning on going by the Aldi or the Penny Markt, to buy wine for Julia’s family for when I see them on Saturday, but Jacque’s provided a better alternative with a great selection. The pictures don’t do the store justice, but I think I was making the proprietor nervous. I know one of the other customers just about lost it when I pulled my phone out to take pictures. He gave me the Look of Doom, & shook his head at me just like my old German teacher Frau Carson used to do in order to show her displeasure at my inability to put the verb in the right place in the sentence. Ah, dear Frau Carson, I do miss thee.

Ended up getting a Spanish Tempranillo/Crianza for Eddy & Laura, & an Italian Primitivo for the family Kern. I could have spent a couple of hours (& a couple hundred euro) in Jacque’s but alas, I needed to get home so that I could study for my speeching on Saturday & Sunday.


Spent the afternoon/early evening going over my notes for “Foursquare Friends Day” – a multi-church celebration in Engstingen where I get to share ‘my heart’ – meaning what I believe is important & close to God’s heart. I’ll be talking at least 2 times (about 45 minutes a shot): the first will be about the Monday Morning Church; the second is about living the Spirit-filled life… which is HOW we live as the Monday Morning Church in the 1st place.

Sunday, I’ll be in Ottersweier (where Julia lives) & talking from John 13:34,35 about living a simple life. And Julia gets to translate for me. That will be some good fun. :)


The time flew by, & I ended up studying for several hours… it got dark & the rains came again. But by the time I finished my studies, I needed to get out & walk – so I did, rain & all. The rain & cold have left my right knee achy,  especially where the screw from my ACL repair goes into the bone.

Goodness.

Getting out & walking helps a bit & keeps most of the stiffness away. I had hoped for some running, but I’m not nearly hard-core enough to run in the dark, rain, & cold. :)

Day 7 – Deutschland Fall 2010 – #1

Today was the last day of the conference, which I started off with my traditional “Youth Hostel” breakfast of coffee, cherry quark & chocolate mueslix. Ahh. I will miss this.  We gathered for worship & then Jan taught on the declaration of the gospel (good news, God’s message,) from the book of Jonah. He talked about the selfishness & self-focus of Jonah, who didn’t want to declare the message given to him for the Ninevites. What really jumped out at me was the need for faithfulness & perseverance in the life of Christ-followers in living & speaking the gospel… & not just to those people for whom it is convenient/preferred for us to interact with.

The conference time closed with the “blessing of breaking of bread” – not communion, but a time where each person takes a piece of bread (the good, dark, dense German bread,) & goes to another person to pray a blessings over them.

I felt prompted to pray with Ryan, a guy from Connecticut by way of Newburgh, New York. He & his wife Rebecca are attending this conference in the final stages of praying about moving to Germany to serve in the Gau Algesheim church. It sounds like if they’re able to get jobs, they will relocate in January 2011. My heart is totally full, & I felt very encouraged to hear Ryan & Rebecca’s story – their heart for Germany & the German people, their desire to give their lives away here. I told them that they were answers to prayer: prayers that I (& I know others) prayed, asking God to send workers to serve in Germany… talked to them a little about the 6 pastors’ conferences that I’ve been to, praying & looking for ways to encourage, help, support, & ‘cheer on’ the pastors & leaders. I can remember at our first conference in November 2005 sitting in my room with Joni, praying for workers for the harvest. Ryan told me that it was 6 years ago that he & Rebecca, out of the blue, felt a pull & a stirring towards Germany. They’d never really had any inclination that way before, but in 2005 it started. Hmm.

I wept.

Prayed for favor, acceptance, & provision for them. That the LORD would bind the 2 of them together & pour them out (kinda like a never-ending pitcher of cool refreshing water pouring into the glasses of thirsty people…)

A couple of people prayed for & blessed me too.

Lunchtime was the final event before everyone piled into their cars (or onto the trains) & headed towards home. Eddy & I gave a ride to Rene (TPLF’s youth pastor, ) & to Stefan (the youth pastor of ICHTHYS church in Frankfurt, the church that TPLF was planted out of.)  I love youth pastors. And these 2 guys are good ones who love youth & love their city.


It has been absolutely POURING this afternoon – with the kind of cold that chills you to the bone. Laura made a “challah” & some coffee, & we all sat down, (along with a neighbor of theirs,) for hot drinks on a cold afternoon. Of course, it was at that point that I started yawning my face off, & excused myself to take a nap. I’ve got a ‘getaway’ planned late this evening (about 9 p.m.) with Martin & Sandra to catch up with them, & to check out one of Sandra’s favorite wine shops. Don’t know how late we’ll be out, & I’ve been to bed late & up early for the last few days, so squeezing in a nap seemed like a good idea.


I woke up to the 6 p.m. bells from the Catholic church across the street – though they’re loud, they’re also cheerful, welcoming, & they bring me joy. For reals. Once my brain clicks on, I will definitely see if it’s stopped raining long enough to get out & stretch my legs with a brisk walk around the block.

My upcoming schedule:

  • Tomorrow, Thursday is a ‘free’ day for the most part, which means studying for my “Foursquare Friends Day” in Engstingen, with Juergen & Guedrun Zeeh. I do have a lunch appointment with Tobias (who Matty stayed with last year,) so that will be fun.
  • Friday is a ‘rest’ day; I’ll be traveling to Engstingen via train about 4 p.m. & will spend the evening there with a planned celebration with lots of people from their church, as well as good food & drink. I’m greatly looking forward to it; it’ll be my first time there.
  • Saturday is “Friends Day,” a celebration at the Shelter Alb Foursquare Church – followed by lunch. In the later afternoon, I’m on another train to Baden-Baden to see Yoooooooouuuuuullllleeeeeeeeee-AHHHHHH! & her family. Good times WILL be had by all.
  • Sunday morning, I’ll be speaking at Julia’s church (the Arche Ottersweier, pastored by Roland & Manu Lorenz) then spending the afternoon with family & food. Did I mention food?
  • Monday, Julia & I will take a train towards Frankfurt; I get to stop off & meet (for lunch!) with Jan, the pastor of the enChristo Church in Mainz. He’s also the Foursquare Deutschland national leader, & I’m looking forward to talking & planning with him.
  • Finally, it’s back on the train to Frankfurt!

  • I’m not sure what my internet connection situation will be starting Friday afternoon, but at the very least, I will be blogging & posting upon my return to Frankfurt on Monday. Blessings to you, & thank you for your prayers.

Man Night, home, & other musings…

Sitting in the coolness of my office with a fan blowing on me drinking an iced-coffee. All to try to avoid the heat of the day, the heat that has been turned up to “11.” Thinking over the soon-to-be-happenings of Man Night. Proverbs 27, especially verse 17.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the countenance of another

Got me thinking about the ‘act’ of sharpening… & how in order for a tool (like an axe, a knife, or a sword – c’mon, it’s Man Night, so I’m thinking of wielding Manly tools) to be sharpened, one has to strike the item to be sharpened, skillfully, in just the right places with an item or implement that is stronger & harder than the item to be sharpened.

So how does ‘iron sharpen iron?’ One way for this to work is for the ‘sharpening iron’ to have been tempered – or put through a process of controlled reheating to harden & strengthen the implement. Interesting….

I wonder how this ‘tempering’ translates to people, to me. What does the heating process do? I don’t think of getting heated to red-hotness being something that is desirable.

But the process makes the forever-changed implement useful. To shape other implements. Hmm.


Regret raises her head occasionally, usually at times where I’m most pensive & introspective. Kinda like when I’m doing the deep cleaning of a room at home… opening up ALL the drawers, going through the corners of the closets, making sure the lights are on in order to see just what is in there… & then I discover a Mess. A big Mess that I distinctly remember thinking that I’d eventually get around to cleaning up. A big Mess that was forgotten, due to the forgetfulness caused by falling into routine busyness. A big Mess that begs to be addressed. But it’s such a big Mess. The only way to deal with the Mess is to put on the special gloves & head into it. A little bit at a time.

Even if it hurts.


Home is ultimately not about a place to live but about the people with whom you are most fully alive. Home is about love, relationship, community, and belonging, and we are all searching for home. Erwin Raphael McManus – Soul Cravings – Entry 8

That resonates with me – I think its because when I think about home, I don’t think about a place. Granted, I live in Sparks, Nevada, & have been a resident of Northern Nevada within 35 miles of my current home, all of my life. But instead of Sparks, I think of people. Faces flash through my minds eye. People that are intimately associated with being ‘home.’ Home is people, & being in a place without those people would be unbearable. No matter how ‘cool,’ elegant, spacious, or desirable that place is.

I see that I have changed. I’m changing.. Will continue to change. At one point in the not so distant past, home was being in my Cave. The place where I could be by myself & get lost in a book, a TV show, or a good movie. Alone. Where I didn’t have to be WITH people. Looking back, I can see times where even in the presence of people I’d try to be apart from them, to be by myself, to isolate & withdraw in the name of my (very real,) introversion. I regret that. The lost opportunities to discover “home” with others. With myself. Where I’d been so focused on my own discomfort that often comes being around people that I missed the joy & wonder of being WITH people.

A hard thought: in not being WITH people, I missed out on things that God wanted to do in & around me THROUGH people.

I don’t want to ‘miss’ God & ‘miss’ others in the name of a misguided self-sufficiency. Fear has stolen enough from me: fear of rejection. Inadequacy. Pain. Being unloved & unlovable. Of making a mess. Saying the wrong thing. Saying nothing. (like the lyrics from REM’s “Losing My Religion” “oh no, I’ve said too much; I haven’t said enough…” ) How many things, friendships, experiences I missed out on because of fear. Knowing that if I couldn’t do it perfect, I wouldn’t try it at all.

Heavy sigh.


So I’m thankful for the process & act of redemption. That as long as its still called today, its never too late for things lost to be regained, restored, healed, & transformed.

musings on a Pancake Sunday…

Today is Pancake Sunday… meaning that in place of our regular Sunday a.m. service, we’ve got tables set up all over the sanctuary & we’re making (& devouring) at least 3 different types of pancakes: Plain with Strawberry topping, Chocolate-chip, & Blueberry. Just thinking about pancakes makes me happy.

Why pancakes? No real reason – I think it could be just about any food, but I especially love hot pancakes smothered in butter & just a little bit of syrup… so I can pick up the pancake & eat it as finger food.

One of the reasons we’re doing Pancake Sunday is to put our proverbial Money where our Mouth is. We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of authentic, connected relationships. Every Sunday we spend 10-15 minutes in “the middle” of the morning for connecting & reconnecting – talking & catching up – hopefully getting beyond the “turn around & say ‘hi’ to the person behind you…” knowing that building a relationship, a friendship, requires that we share time, space, & experience… & that this goes beyond sitting in rows looking at the back of the persons’ head in front of you… to facing each other & interacting.

Funny (& true story:) Last week at our Foursquare Convention in Atlanta, one of the speakers was talking about the importance of building relationship & community – he challenged us saying:

If you REALLY want to get to know somebody, you should sit around a table & eat pancakes with them. There’s nothing that brings people together like pancakes. And syrup.

It cracked me up – because it reminds me that the idea to do pancakes for ‘church’ isn’t unique to us… & that there’s a common thread & desire for knowing & being known that is popping up all over the place.


Last night at 10, just as we were headed toward dreamland, we heard shouts of alarm from thePastyOne downstairs. He’d been in the garage creating the usual culinary masterpiece: deep fried chicken, made with his special BBQ Hot sauce.

Turns out the water pipe leading to our water heater burst. Again. Happened last week as well, & fortunately, also as someone was in the garage to see it & minimize the damage.

So, after some trials & tribulation, we were able to get the main water turned off & the plumber called. Hopefully, they’ll be able to get the pipe replaced (again!) & hopefully it will hold for more than a week. And then we’ll have water powering the faucets, shower heads, & toilets…

The momentary inconvenience serves as a reminder to me… that there are a lot of people in our world (& some in our country,) that go without fresh running water every day. Something that can be done about that is to click HERE.


Got to thinking about friendship last week at convention after one of the main sessions… mostly about friendships that have faded, dissipated, waned, &/or downright disappeared. A few names & faces came to mind, & I pondered… with some of the people I know EXACTLY what happened, the very MOMENT the friendship started to go south. But with several others, I have no clue. Zero. Don’t have any idea of what took place (or didn’t…) what led to the drifting apart. The break down. The development of actual animosity even… which is worse than just losing touch… something has happened, some real/perceived violation (or series of violations) that caused a breaking. And I’m clueless.

Sigh.


Yesterday, I had the privilege of doing the wedding for Dave & Kim. I’ve known Dave for 9 years. He lost his 1st wife, Sue, to cancer a couple years back. It was incredibly painful ordeal for the family & for our church family as well. One of the most challenging & difficult seasons of church life we’ve navigated.

I found myself yesterday reflecting on the pain of death & loss. Grief. Confronted, & even surprised by joy. The strange mixture of all of the above. Seeing Dave so happy, absolutely beaming as he watched Kim walk down the aisle to him. I wept as they declared their undying love & devotion to each other, repeated vows, & spoke their thankfulness at all that God has done in bringing them together. So happy.

Dave got a job that will require him to relocate to Sacramento – meaning that the wedding was also a “goodbye.”

Sigh. My heart feels like mush.

musings on a Wednesday…that’s actually Tuesday…

I thought that my jet-lag was 100% conquered only to be reminded several times that while my brain is mostly back, I still functioned for a good portion of the day thinking that it was Wednesday. Sigh.


Since I got back last Monday, the weather has been… unpredictable. Snow. Rain. Sun. Wind. Ahh. Nevada. My home.

On that note, the more I travel & see the parts of the world I get to see, the more I appreciate home. Reno. This area. I know its not green, & the weather is crazy. But it’s home. I like (usually) the “you-never-know” weather. The warm days & cool nights. The valley. The mountains nearby. And even the expanse of desert to the east.


Yesterday, our Ford Expedition went on to its great reward. More specifically, to Reno Auto Wreckers. It was totalled in the crash of 2010, a casualty of a snowy day crash where it was tragically t-boned by a BMW SUV. Ahh. We’ve had a good run with the Ex, & seeing her unloaded into the lot was a bit emotional. Silly me. Just a car, right? Nope. It was OUR car. TheBean’s first Big Car. Trips to Disneyland in that car. Carrying kids & their friends all over. To camp & back, again & again.


Got to catch up with Brintus today at Uncle Vinny’s Pizza for the all-one-can-eat-pizza & salad buffet. Every time I go, I am surprised at how good it is. Yay Uncle Vinny.


And theBean bought me new socks. My old new socks developed holes in only 6 weeks. Sigh. Hope these socks last a while. I have a new pair on Right Now. They make me fast. Feel nice on my toes & heels, like they’re not even there, as socks should, in the world of scoey that is.


One of the highlights of coming home to my Home is seeing what theBean has done to the house. Its kind of a tradition – I leave & she moves stuff. Paints. Reorganizes. Changes things around. Makes something extra special & beautiful. I love it. At least as much as someone who doesn’t really LOVE change can love the changes. It used to bug me a bit, & I’d wonder WHY she had to MOVE stuff. Now, every time I see something new, I think of her investing herself in us, making things great. And I can smile at that.


Lately, every time I read my Bible, I see the instruction to BE thankful. GIVE thanks. PRACTICE thanksgiving. And I think its because its not normal. Thankfulness doesn’t flow from the mouth & life of a human; it has to be cultivated & stirred up. Intentioned. Every day. Its a re-training of the critical eye, retooling & re-orienting it to be a ‘thankful’ eye. Looking for & responding to the goodness of God revealed all around us.

Plus, the alternative is complaining, grumbling, self-focused whining, & the like. And who wants to listen to that.


We’re off for a date with some friends… to share a little vino & some snacks. Can’t wait.

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.