Deutschland #11, #12, #13+

I’m writing my last couple of Germany posts from home, very jet-lagged, sleep-deprived & very fuzzy. So if/when you read this & it doesn’t make sense, that’s my excuse.

DAY 11 – SUNDAY

Like at home, I woke up early… it’s Sunday & I’m speaking… my brain was running a mile a minute, so it was pointless to attempt to catch an additional 20 minutes of sleep. Ate some oatmeal with Jan, then headed off to church. He delivered me to the espresso bar in the fellowship area, where I was able to caffeinate to my hearts content while he took care of business.

The EnChristo Church in Mainz feels a lot like home – informal, personal, & relational with a definite focus on Jesus. I really enjoyed worship & also connecting with Flo (big guy, about 6’6″) my translator for the service. I find that it always helps me to talk with the person translating me in advance of the actual message. Spoke on John 20:19-22 – simple message on Jesus sending us as His representatives into the world where we live, work, & play. Had several comments afterward on the simplicity of the message – & its applicability. That’s what I was aiming for. Had an interesting moment in the beginning of the message when a lady in the front row started yelling… she eventually stopped, got up & left. No one knew who she was. Good times.


After service, Jan & I grabbed a quick bite at one of his favorite Chinese restaurants – then headed to the train station.

Waves of fatigue hit me when I got on the train. Hard. I have been pushing myself for the last 3 weeks of travel (Mexico & then here) & have been running on fumes, knowing that at some point I would have to pay the price for it. And that was today. I fought off slumber because I knew if I crashed, I would miss my train stop & end up drooling & confused on the other side of Frankfurt. Somehow, I managed to stay awake until my stop – at which time the heaven’s opened & a thundershower of epic proportions kicked into full gear. It was only about a mile from the station to my host’s flat, & I was thoroughly soaked by the time I arrived. They weren’t home from their own weekend jaunt yet, so I dried myself off & threw myself on the bed. Don’t know how long I was out, but Alex woke me up just in time to head out to watch the World Cup Finale – Deutschland v. Argentina.


I can honestly say that the atmosphere in the pub was the most electric of any I’ve ever experienced – & the tension was tangible. And when Mario Goetze buried his shot in the upper right corner of the net during extra time, the celebration was beyond words… only to be surpassed when the final whistle blew. Unbelievable. Truly a life-highlight for me, as was the celebration afterwards. We drove around Frankfurt along with thousands of others, honking horns, waving flags, singing at the top of our lungs. It was AWESOME. The theme for the night was Pharrell’s “Happy.” Every time I hear it from now on, I will be transported back to that moment.


DAY 12 & 13

My last full day in Germany was packed – &, as hard as I tried, I was unable to connect with several people that I really wanted to see. Such is life. Had a great final evening of talks & dinner with Alex & Linda.

Then, on Tuesday, Levent & Ines picked me up & took me to the airport (thank you!) & I spent the whole trip home reading & trying to stay awake to make my acclimation to Pacific Standard Time easier.

Slept most of my Wednesday, & now I’m trying to stay awake so I don’t mess with my sleep cycle any more than I already have.

I’m grateful for the last 2 weeks – for the opportunity to see friends & for God to work in & through me in reaching a people/place that I love so much. And I’m so happy to be home with my theBean & my kids. And I can’t wait to reconnect with my church family – so thankful for them.

Now, back to real life. After a nap.

Thank you for your prayers while I traveled – it made a difference. Blessings to you.

 

Deutschland #7+

DAY 7 –
I have to confess, I’m a little discombobulated & am not really sure what day it is… either of the week or the # of days I’ve been in Germany. I do know that this day was my last with Julia’s family. Woke up early & drank coffee & spent the day with Julia talking about everything. And nothing. Made our way to a favorite spot of hers in beautiful downtown Achern, the RatKeller, which literally means, “the advice cellar” as it used to be a place where the local politicians gathered to share information. I ordered “Grandma’s potato soup” & a salad. The soup was inedibly salty – when I told the waitress, she shrugged & said, “The cook must be in love,” which evidently is an acceptable explanation as to why it was ok for me to be served the Great Salt Lake with potatoes… & pay for it.


The family Kern came home just in time for me to depart for the train station. What a special family. Saying “goodbye” is tough – it makes me sad, but thankful to have such wonderful people in my life. Pia (Julia’s mom) told me next time I come to their region, I will have to stay with Julia & her husband, who is not currently in the picture :). Yes, that would be nice. I’m praying for him right NOW. And if I need to export an American who wants to live in Germany & marry a beautiful, smart, & confident woman, I will do it. :)


The train trip from Baden-Baden to Frankfurt was fast & uneventful. Jumped on the U-Bahn & made it to the grocery story meeting place where Alex picked me up so I wouldn’t have to walk in the rain. We made it home just in time for a phenomenal dinner Linda made for us – it was several different types of sweet potatoes baked with peaches, chilis, shallots, & radishes, along with some red-wine vinegar & balsamic, acoompanied by carmelized bacon-wrapped dates. Dessert was a coconut milk-vanilla pudding with rose-water & Johannes berries, a tart berry that added a great kick to the dessert. Fan-TASTIC. Alex & Linda usually eat paleo-style, & Linda is ultra-creative when it comes to making great-tasting & very healthy foods. Alex & Linda remind me a lot of Colby & Claire in so many ways, (interests, gifts, personality, etc…) & I dream of eating a dinner prepared by Claire & Linda one day. It shall happen, I declare.

I was pretty wiped out from staying up so late the previous night celebrating the German victory that I headed to bed fairly early for a night of fitful sleep.


 

DAY 8?

Woke up this morning just in time to wish theBean a good night’s sleep. Sigh. Coffee & good talks, along with another great meal – omelette, proschutto, salad, a corn muffin & banana-crumble. Goodness.

It’s about 11:27 a.m. & I will be heading out in just a few minutes. My appointments today include Levent & Ines this afternoon, then Steve Greenhill this evening. I am looking forward to meeting Levent & Ines’ 2 kids for the first time, & celebrating their anniversary with them. And I haven’t seen Steve since he got married. I’ve got a feeling today is going to be great.

Talk to you soon – many blessings to you, & thank you for praying.

Deutschland, #1

On a whirlwind trip.

My flights to San Francisco & then to Frankfurt were on time… early even. For the 11 hour flight to Frankfurt, I ended up next to a burly Russian bear of a man. He claimed the center seat’s armrests & didn’t give them up for the entire flight.

Either I haven’t flown United in a long time or my memory of palatable airplane food is revisionist history – both dinner & ‘breakfast’ this morning went largely uneaten, in large part to a) my inability to discern WHAT it was I was eating & b) the gnarly gnarly odors coming from the food trays. I ate yesterday, thanks. I’m good.

Claimed my bags (yes!) & navigated out to the U-Bahn – I had confirmed with Alex that I’d be going to the Hauptwache (main station) & waiting until I heard from him, so I followed the plan & grabbed an authentic German delicacy, “Coke Light” from the McDonald’s. And I waited, read, people watched. And then I got Alex’s call. Jump on a U1, U2 or U3 (UBahn trains) & get off at Hueglestrasse. And then wait for instructions. Man. It seemed like I was James Bond for a second.

After getting off on Hueglestrasse, I waited at the Rewe (local supermarket) for the Uber taxi driver to pick me up. Uber is a phenomena we experienced in San Francisco over spring break – & I’m really glad its made its way to Germany. Uber are run by private citizens with 2010 or newer cars – & they serve as an on-demand taxi service. I was picked up by my driver & delivered to Alex & Linda’s home in about 20 minutes.

Words can’t describe the joy I feel at reconnecting with Alex & Linda – a very special couple who we hit it off with in 2007– &, on top of that, the joy of being able to be in their home again. Alex was at the dentist when I arrived, so I had a glass of water & took some time with Linda to catch up on the happenings of life for the last 3 years. Linda is a teacher – & she is a bundle of energy, very passionate about education… but even more so, she is passionate about Jesus. With her job in the German school system, she gets paid to share the gospel – to give students an understanding of what Christianity is – & I can’t think of a better messenger than her. If you are a Hillsider, let me describe Linda for you, using people in our church family as examples of a little of what she’s like. Imagine crossing Katy D & Danae L – & you get a little insight as to the kind of person Linda is. Alex arrived home & our talks were precious – pointed, raw, real, & full of wonder. I love these 2.

Tomorrow I’m off to Baden-Baden to see our dear Julia, our adopted daughter who lives near the Germany/France border… Julia lived with us for about 6 months, then came back & visited for about 2 more months. Can’t wait to see that girl & her family too. Also, we’ll be connecting with the regional pastors for a youth group/youth leaders event. Saturday, we’re heading to a town on the Swiss border called “Engstingen.” It’s a one-day gathering of pastors from all over the southwestern/south central region of Germany. Then Sunday, I will be joining a gathering of 5 churches for their monthly ‘celebration’ service.

I’m having fun already :)

Rosarito, Day 1

Met at the church today at 5:30 a.m. & had the van packed by 5:50… on the road by 6. Quickest pack job ever. 9 of us prayed & piled into the van for the long trip that would eventually end with us in Rosarito, Mexico for day 1 of our mission.

I was the driver today… didn’t initially plan to drive the whole way myself, but it worked out… & I don’t feel like a zombie. The only difficult part was when everyone in the van went to sleep, leaving me cruising down the I5 attempting to will any drowsiness away. Didn’t turn on the radio until we hit LA traffic.

Made it to our destination, Carl’s Jr in San Diego where we met up with Don & Sandy Godwin, the pastors of Hope Chapel Rosarito, & their daughter Emily (who lived with theBean & I for several months last year.) They will be serving as our hosts for the next week. Don & Sandy guided us the remaining 3 miles to the border, & led us across. Our van was stopped by a border agent – he asked a question or 2, looked in the van, & sent us on our way. Rosarito here we come.

20 minutes later, we were reminded WHY we have been told over & over that we need to be flexible – the place we were supposed to be staying for the next week turned out to be double booked, & we, like Joseph & Mary at the time of Jesus’ birth, found there was no room at the Inn. Stables, anyone?

A few phone calls were made & we found that we would be able to stay at the same children’s home we did last year – this could be a win-win situation, as we are already familiar with the home & many of the children… our only wild-card is we don’t know how the ‘cooking our own food while the children’s home staff are in the kitchen prepping their kids food” thingy will go. Here’s to a couple of necessities: Flexibility & Humility.

Emily prepped us for some of the outreach work we’re doing tomorrow, & gave us all a lesson in cultural norms & appropriateness. We wrapped up our day with a short debrief & a quesadilla snack. The weariness of the day’s travel is setting in. Please pray for us over these next days – our team is safe & doing well.

Life is beautiful… & full… & other musings…

I’ve been functioning at ‘high-demand’ the last 8 weeks – & I’m feeling it. A full complement of pre-marrieds, Wednesday night Revelation class, & deadlines for my “Human Behaviour In Organizations” (aka HBO) class have been shoe-horned into the normal life schedule, leaving me with at least 4 nights/week spoken for… so I’m shaking it up. Finishing the grad school class tomorrow, marrying off a couple (booyah!) & zealously guarding the evening times wherever possible. Here’s to living in balance.


Got to fulfill a lifelong dream: saw U2 in concert in Oakland on Tuesday with theBean & a couple of great friends. It was a great time. Even the part afterwards where we got to experience traffic jams, a BART snafu, & the Amazing Disappearing taxi cabs of Oakland, CA. The show ended at 11:40ish, & we arrived back at our hotel at 02:45… That experience is its own blog, which I can now write because I have lived it. Now just to recover enough to do it.

My final project for the HBO class is a “Conflict Analysis” – I get to review a conflict that has taken place at a place of my choosing, (I pick my church!) review Conflict Management Theory, & apply relevant theories for managing & resolving conflict in a functional (aka beneficial, good, productive, healthy) manner.

As I prepared for the project, I had the “good fun” of looking back over many conflicts within the church from the last several years. Many of them began as differences of opinion. Some as hurt feelings. Unmet (unspoken?) expectations. Frustration. Real/perceived violation.

In retrospect, the conflicts that seem to end up as “functional conflicts” had a few factors in common:

    -clarified, persistent communication from both parties, even when the words spoken were hard to hear;
    -little to no ‘outside communication’ (aka pleading one’s case to other parties, people not directly connected to the situation in question)
    -humility & grace extended;
    -believing the best for & from the other person;
    -a willingness not only to ask for & extend forgiveness, but a determination to LIVE in it, thereby rejecting the temptation of being offended & not developing the always deadly & always resulting bitterness

My hope in life isn’t to attempt to remove conflict; I think that would be impossible, because whenever 2 or more people live life together & attempt to accomplish something, conflict WILL happen. But it doesn’t have to be destructive.

I’m contending for that. & purposing to try to live in such a way that I can hope for & bring out God’s best in people’s lives.


Looking to head to the gym with theWeez as soon as her breakfast settles. I haven’t been able to gymnasium for a couple of weeks as I’ve been letting a couple of minor ‘ouches’ get better & heal on their own. Today, I’m going to go at it lightly, & hope for the best.

Day 1 – Deutschland Fall 2010 – Travels

Left early on Wednesday morning for the airport with my favorite Transporter, theBean, in the drivers seat. We had the full gamut of emotions on the trip, from laughing to tears. It’s hard to leave home.

My flight from Reno the LAX was uneventful, but the gate for my LAX  to Washington-Dulles flight was on the other side of the concourse. Which meant a sprint. And a prayer to hope that the baggage handlers were sprinting too… :)

On my flight, I felt the LORD dealing with me about faith & believing – specifically in regard to anxiety that I have had about this trip, most pointedly about the “Revolution of the Soul” mini-seminar I’ll be doing in Frankfurt this Saturday. I’d like to say that I’ve been the picture of a man of faith, full of resolve & confidence about what I’m doing, & about what is happening. But if I said that, it wouldn’t be true. I’ve been anxious. Worried. Stressed. About the unknown. And even some of the known.

I felt the LORD saying that He’s given me everything that I need for what I’ll be doing – the mini-seminar included. And that by worrying, stressing, & being anxious, I was not believing Him for that provision, for the words, for the direction, & that somehow, someway, whatever happened good or bad, was somehow MY responsibility.

Ooh. Not good.

So I repented. Asked forgiveness for my ego-centrism, worry & preoccupation. Prayed for a heart & mind  renewal. Thanked God for what He’s preparing for Saturday… & that I get to be a part of it.


After my 4 1/2 hour flight to Washington Dulles, I looked around to see what gate my Washington-Frankfurt flight would be departing from. It wasn’t listed. That made me a little nervous, so I checked with a couple of United personnel to see if they had a clue. No dice. I pushed away my anxiety, & thanked God for the peace that I knew He gave & will give, a peace that I determined to contend for.

Walked to the other end of the C Concourse to the United Customer Service desk – & on the way, called United Customer Service as well. The automated ‘agent’ on the phone was very helpful & told me exactly what I needed to know, & where to go. The personnel at the airport were having some troubles locating the airplane & gate, & my flight never did end up showing up on the Departures board. I did however board my flight. Right where the automated agent said it would be. Thanks Hal!


Landed in Frankfurt, & picked up my bag (Yes!) then headed out to meet Eddy, the pastor of our sister church, Treffpunkt Leben Foursquare Church (TPLF.) We took a few minutes to catch up as he drove us back in to town to pick up his 2 oldest boys from school. On the way, he took me by the site of the old TPLF building – there is literally NOTHING there – The entire building, all the way down into the ground, was torn down & the rubble removed. A new building will be built in its place as soon as a new foundation is being poured. I hope to get a picture or 2 of it when I go on my walk this afternoon.

We took a brief foray by the new TPLF church offices, said hello to the multi-talented & imminently gifted Elena, then made our way back to Eddy (& Laura’s)  house for lunch. I have to confess: one of my favorite things about staying with Eddy & Laura is the FOOD. Spaghetti & meatballs. So. Good.


It was about at that time that I passed out on the couch, & woke up… slowly. It took me a while to realize who (let alone) where I was. Turns out, I slept for about 30 minutes, then stumbled around groggily to get my bearings. Took my daily “EmergenC” & myVitality. And my brain turned on, & I took a few minutes to catch up on the election coverage from the vote Tuesday, & decided to blog a bit.

The sum up: I’m well, encouraged, jet-laggy, in a safe place with great friends, in one of my favorite cities & places in the world. Praying for focus, clarity, & the ability to see what is really important for me to pay attention to & do today. I’ll post pictures later, God-willing.

a series heavy sighs, or wondering how many times I dance this dance?

Oops. I did it again. Over-scheduled my life, with the best of intentions, & a complete disregard for the fact that:

  • a) I’m human;
    b) I’m married & have three kids, each with their own complex layered schedules;
    c) Just because something is fun doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a toll on you
    d) sitting in meetings for hours on end counts as a double no-no

  • And so I find myself to be spent; physically, emotionally, & relationally. Spent. Done. Finis. In need of a ‘hit the alarm 2x in the morning,’ followed by a 2 p.m. nap. And to bed early.

    I’m not scratching my head, wondering, “What happened?” I know exactly. I went to Sacramento the week of 9/13 for our fall pastors conference. Great conference. Fun with friends. Challenging speakers. Meaningful interactions. Late nights & early mornings. Came home, hitting the ground running to catch something that could not be caught: Monday & Tuesday – they were long gone.

    Jerry came in Friday, & I spent the weekend trying to spend as much time hanging out, talking with him as I could. And Friday/Saturday, I managed to shoehorn in a wedding rehearsal & wedding, a gathering & hang out on Saturday morning with Jerry & some friends, another gathering Saturday evening, & a full Sunday. Which was my birthday.

    Ended the day with packing… cause I had to catch the first flight out on 9/20 to Burbank for special meetings… in which I sat on a ballroom chair for a total of (drum roll please…) 21 hours over the course of Monday – Wednesday morning. Rushed home for round 3 of a special Marriage Enrichment series (which I’m loving, btw,) & staggered to bed.


    We’re hosting friends, a family of 4 Germans from Mainz, Germany through Friday 10/1. NOTE: this is not a bad thing to have & to host friends. But it does take it out of you.

    Did a Quincenera Saturday – absolutely wonderful time. Church on Sunday. Home & slept for 3 hours in the afternoon. Oh goodness.

    Still trying to catch up. Heavy sigh.


    Throughout the madness, theBean mentioned to me once or 30 times that this pace wasn’t ok. That my sabbath day of rest & recharging wasn’t getting the priority & attention needed. That the schedule I was keeping was… wrong. Too costly. Heavy sigh.


    At some point I gave at least mental assent to what she was saying, then hurriedly justified the 2 week sprint as “fun” or “mostly fun.” She wasn’t buying it. I’m not either.


    Today I spent time in repentance, embracing a change of mind, asking God’s forgiveness for the pace I’ve been functioning at. I know better, but it happened anyway. And I’m paying the price. A small part of me is questioning my ‘toughness,” as though if I were just BIGGER-FASTER-STRONGER this wouldn’t have happened, & I SHOULD’ve been able to make it through this, kicking the calendar & schedule’s proverbial butts, taking their proverbial names. Heavy sigh.


    Then I realize this small part of ‘me,’ isn’t me after all… its the enemy of my soul. The one who wants to steal, kill, & destroy. To poison & drain the very “life in all of its fullness” Christ came to bring & give. Hmm. Duly noted. Heavy sigh.

    On that note, I look at my calendar & see I have 34 days until I’m off to Frankfurt – November 3 -16. And the schedule there is full-ish, but I have some downtime intentionally included in the travel schedule. Praying for wisdom. Aiming for balance. Staying on rhythm. Heavy sigh.


    I might fall down, but I’ll get back up.

    Got a note from another ‘scoey’ the other day (2 weeks ago now… at the beginning of the madness.) He had the same nickname as me – who’da thunk it possible? And lots of similarities in the happenings in our lives. I wrote him back, but it seems that the earthlink spam filter may have been bouncing me back. So scoeyB, if you’re reading this, thank you for writing. And I’d love a penpal. :)


    Pasty is dominating his college schedule, passing all tests with flying colors. And getting A’s, which is better than colors. His girlfriend from Tennessee is coming to visit in just about a week. We’re so excited, we just can’t hide it.

    There I times I have to literally refuse to get offended… to not be antagonized by someone else’s (real or perceived) actions, words, slights, condescensions, etc. My anger & indignation rises up… & I realize that at that very moment, I’m thinking an awful lot about me. ME. And goodness, am I of primary importance? Oh yes. Heavy sigh.

    Last night, I was playing with EllieG, my niece… we were wrestling around on the ground (which means I lay on my belly with my face in the carpet & she & her little sis the ZoeHawk use me as a jungle gym. Good times.) EllieG stopped climbing for a second & touched my head, smack dab on the big bald spot. She did it again, harder. Then she asked, “Tay, what HAPPENED to your hair?”

    “Ellie,” I replied, “it fell out. Sometimes when a man gets older, his hair falls out. And I’m getting older…”

    She pondered this for a second & said in the sweetest voice, “Oh. I’m SOOO sorry Tay. But I still like you.”

    Heavy sigh.

    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 – 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.

    a book response, & the start of a great week… or Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010 Day 2, part 2

    On the plane over, I started reading Donald Miller’s latest, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.” It’s written in classic “Miller-style” as a series of seemingly unrelated essays, thoughts, & musings, that are all somehow, someway connected to each other in such a way as to cause a deep & probing introspection & evaluation of self, life, & priorities.

    What’s it about, you ask? It’s about Story.

    Using the context of a movie being made based upon his life, Miller explores the elements of a good story… which ultimately is really about the elements of living a good story, one worth reading. A story of life means deep & meaningful relationships, hope & loss, joy & pain, risk & stretching for the difficult, unique, & hard to obtain.

    Makes me examine the story I’m writing with my own life; where I’ve settled for the comfortable instead of pushing through difficulties, hardship, pain, & inadequacy.

    Reminds me that most of my life’s most rewarding & blessed moments are directly tied in to relationships – people who know me & are known in return; who’ve seen me up close & personal, in my strengths, weaknesses & frailties… & who love me anyway.

    I ponder life looking through the wrong end of the binoculars… a glimpse, a backwards view, from the end towards the beginning, through the years, wanting, hoping, praying that the Most Important things in life would actually have been the main elements of my story. That I didn’t get lost on a rabbit trail, a selfish pursuit that had no lasting value or contribution to the Story.

    Faces swim in front of my eyes. People, each valuable & precious, representing the interconnected & intertwined lives that touch my Story. Now it’s my eyes that are swimming.

    I’d recommend the book. And even more, to re-evaluate the Story we’re living with the only life we have.


    Headed to Mainz in about 2 hours to spend time with Jan & the enChristo Foursquare church. We’re having a BBQ & then talking about what it means to be Foursquare…

    The Foursquare churches here in Germany have been going by the name FreiEvangelischeGemeindeWerk (FEGW, which, loosely translated means Free Evangelical Fellowship) – just last week, they have officially decided to change their name to Foursquare Deutschland… & part of what I’m here to do over the next week in a few churches is help bring a deeper connection to the Foursquare US church, but also to the heart & values of Foursquare.