Deutschland #4 & #4.5

Woke up early on Sunday & got ready for church – on a whim, I decided to try to FaceTime theBean (it was midnight at home, so I thought my chances of catching her awake were slim to none.) Imagine my surprise when she answered on the first ring. There’s nothing in the world like the sound & sight of myOne. Our brief connection made the rest of the day seem doable.


After a quick breakfast, we headed out to church. Actually, it was to a regional church service – every 8 weeks or so, the 5 Foursquare churches in the area get together for a joint service. On a rotational basis, each church takes part of the responsibility for elements of the service (kids ministries, hospitality, worship, announcements, preaching/teaching, etc.) The reason behind the get-together is two-fold:

  1. Fellowship & relationship building – there aren’t many Christians in Germany, so opportunities for getting together with other Christians are rare. The kind of encouragement & ‘life boost’ that comes from these get-togethers is huge.
  2. Many of the “free” (non-Catholic/Lutheran) churches in Germany are small – 40 people & under. Partnering with other churches allows them to share resources & do more than they could do if they were organizing a gathering on their own. It’s a cool picture of parts of the body of Christ functioning well for the benefit & growth of the whole body. It really makes the self-focused, “doing church my way for my church’s benefit” that is emerging in the Western Church seem pretty silly, petty, & shallow.

Tim spoke on the 3 marks of a disciple from Mark 3 – emphasizing that disciples have 1) been with Jesus; 2) been sent by Jesus; 3) have lives marked by the power of God as evidenced by declaration of the gospel & overthrow of the kingdom of darkness. He did a great job bringing things into a context that made sense regardless of our nation of origin/language. Made me proud, & I’m loving watching he & his wife Deborah fall in love with the people, church, & nation of Deutschland.

IMG_1557I was whisked away right after church to the house of Julia’s sister, Linda, & her husband Heiko. I haven’t seen them since right before they were married a couple years back, so I really looked forward to catching up with them. They spent the morning prepping a BBQ for us – & goodness, it was tasty. We ate steaks, white sausage, tater salad – German style, cucumber salad, & a kind of meat that came from France that no one really translated. It was French, but even so, it was palatable. Here’s a picture of Heiko & Julia, representing Nevada & the Wolf Pack, surrounded by German flags. I had to tell them to put their index fingers up to make “#1” – because in Germany/most of the rest of the world, they start counting numbers with the thumb being #1. They were happy to look like ‘real Americans.”


IMG_1558We’d barely finished lunch when Linda decided to take us on a brief walk through the forest near their home, overlooking a green, tree-filled valley. Didn’t walk too fast – didn’t want to hurl. It was a beautiful, refreshing walk through the trees – except for the 50 meter section where the midges showed up in force. Mr. Frodo, I feel your pain. I ended up with several bites on my right leg – evidently that one is much tastier than the left.


Unfortunately, I had to leave early from the family dinner to head out. Julia drove me to meet Jochen (the regional leader) & Tim & their families for a dinner in a local biergarten in the village of Ulm. Think Great Basin-Sparks outside sitting area x3 & covered with a well-trimmed & lush grass patio blanket, surrounded by 30 foot tall trees. It was nice. Over the pub-brewed beer, we discussed Foursquare, both the US & Deutsch churches, & went back & forth asking/answering questions… there were a few times as we talked that I could see that some of the political/bureaucratic activities that unfortuntely happen as denominations get larger really struck a nerve, & gave me new & fresh eyes to reconsider what has been our (US) normal for church life.

For the most part, we schemed different ways for an interchange to take place between the US & German churches… & have a couple potential dates on the calendar for next year. We’re meeting to firm them up over dinner tonight.


Got back to the house of Kern in time for a snack – salami, cheeze, pretzel bread, & some vino from a local vintner. One of my highlights from this trip has been time around the tables, both in the kitchen & on the patio, with the Kern family: Klaus, Pia, & dear Julia. They’ve taken great measures to ‘stop life” & make the days I’m here very, very special. Words are inadequate to describe the special, special gift that this has been to me, & I am very, very thankful for this ‘chosen family’ who have become some of ‘my people” on the other side of the world.


The storm hit about 10 p.m. Rain. Thunder & lightning. Wind. Reports of a tornado touchdown in nearby Rammstein. It was hot, humid & loud. Made it very, very hard to sleep. I guess I eventually drifted off around 2:30 a.m., as my last iMessage to theBean was at about 2.


Woke up on Day 5 (4.5 for blog purposes) with a start at 8. FaceTimed theBean again as she was off to bed. Weirdness to be starting & ending our days at exactly opposite times. Winding down while the other is winding up. But the 9 hour time difference is cool too, as it provides a great communication window. This morning, I wished I was home getting ready for sleep in my own bed. And I would have turned on the air. TheBean told me she turned the air off upstairs because she likes to be warm. Evidently, 90 degrees in our room is just about right. No exaggeration, no kidding. That girl.


IMG_1563My man bag has died. I bought it 7 years ago in Frankfurt, & it has survived travels all over the world, carrying my lappy, journal, notebook & all my other ‘go-tos’. It has holes in the sides & bottom, & it no longer zips. Therefore, I decided to replace it – Julia took me shopping a couple of places until I picked out the newby. Here it is.

Found out that the store we were shopping in had a familiar name, so I decided to get a pic of the sign with Julia in it. IMG_1565

A successful shopping trip deserves a reward, so Julia & I drove a whole 7 minutes to get out of town & go to McDonalds. It was an experiment really – I wanted to see if the beef in the McDonalds burgers tastes the same as it does at home. Got a McDouble w/extra ketchup. Turns out, they taste totally different. It might be that they use Australian beef here like they do in Eastern Europe. Not sure, but the burger tasted… beefier? More real? Its not like I eat at McDonalds at home very often; more like 2 or 3 times a year. Maybe it was because I was a hungry elf & anything would taste good. It was time well-spent.


Picked up a couple of gifts & then headed to the house to study a bit for next Sunday (I’m preaching in Mainz, Germany at the church of Jan von Wille, a pastor & the national leader of Foursquare Deutschland. I’m doing a variation on the last message I preached at home: We Are On A Mission From God, text John 20:19-22. For the last hour or so, Julia & I have been sitting at the table, not talking, working on our laptops. She’s my kind of people, & I’m so thankful for this wonderful adopted German daughter. Love being her Ami-Papi (the name she gave me, means “American Dad.”) I’ll finish my Monday blog sometime tonight or tomorrow morning, after I live it. :)

I close this blog before I head to take a nap with a picture of the old Man-Bag next to the new one. Distinctly heard the old one say to the new one, “Carry on.”

IMG_1566

 

Opening Day, a book I read, & other musings on a Thursday…

I don’t think I’ve ever anticipated baseball’s Opening Day like I have this one… this one is special – because I get to say (& hear repeated over & over by announcers & play-by-play commentators) “the World Champion San Francisco Giants prepare to defend their World Series title…” Nice.

And today its against the Dodgers. Fitting.


Why, yes. I HAVE been blogging more. The reason? I’m in the middle of a project. A few friends & I are writing a devotion/response for every chapter in the book of Acts – started a couple weeks back in the middle (Acts 15,) & worked through Acts 28. Then, I’ll take the next couple of weeks to finish Acts 1-14. All of my thoughts for this project are showing up on this blog, so if you read it, you already have seen some of them.

What happens when we’re done? Good question. We shall see.


Finished Love Wins the other day. Interesting (in the German sense.)

Choosing words carefully… I’d say that this book presents a reinvented, reinterpreted, more ‘palatable to the masses’ christianity. Love, as an attribute of God, is elevated above & seen almost exclusive from all of His other attributes, & therefore provides the canvas for the reinvention. e.g. “Because God is a god of love, we can know that hell isn’t permanent or eternal, & that ultimately even the hardest hearted individual won’t be able to resist God’s love, & will be saved.” And it seems that any time there is a mention of God’s judgment or addressing the consequences of sin in the book, what is presented is a small, twisted caricature of a ‘little g’ god, not the God revealed in Scripture & in Christ.

After I finished the book, I read a couple of reviews from people that had actually read the book – here’s one that is pretty thorough & isn’t mean-spirited, antagonistic, or an ‘anti-Bell’ diatribe.

What we believe about God matters. The cross matters. And this isn’t one of those topics where we can just say, “I guess nobody really knows, & everybody has an opinion, & everyone’s opinion is just as valid as the next…” We have Scripture, & we have Jesus’ words on the subject of both heaven & hell. Simply because in our oh-so-enlightened 21st century the idea of hell is distasteful & repugnant to many doesn’t mean we can validly redefine & re-imagine it (& God. & Christ. & the Bible. & the cross,) to better fit our own, more ‘appropriate’ world-view. Sigh.


TheBean is down to one job – officially doing Starbucks & only Starbucks as of last Saturday, 3/26. To say I am a little excited would be an understatement. Saturday nights are now free.


Evidently, the Glowing Orb will be especially bright & warm the next couple of days. And then we get rain, clouds, & coolness on Saturday. I love Reno.


Sweetness. We get to go to Reed High tonight to tour it with theWeez. Tomorrow, she gets to spend the day there for a soon-to-be-a-Raider-freshman-orientation.

Yes. TheWeez is on the verge of High School.

Oh Goodness.


Coffee calls. Enjoy your Thursday.

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. :)

Monday, Monday, an anniversary, hotness, & water issues…

Remember a couple of weeks back, when we were bemoaning the fact that warm weather seemed to have overslept, & hadn’t remembered to grace northern Nevada with her lasting presence? Well, she’s here with a vengeance. It is just plain hot.

Which reminds me – last Saturday, I did a wedding on the roof of the Nevada Museum of Art at 5:30 p.m. Which meant that the temperature was about 100F…+ an additional 20 or so degrees due to being on the roof, heat magnified & held by the concrete tiles that adorn it. Oh, & I was in a black suit. Which meant that though I tried to stay in the climate controlled museum as long as possible, the 20 minutes I was out in the open on the roof I was absolutely drenched in perspiration.

As soon as I declared “Man & Wife,” I bailed… to head to 7-11 for an icy water… I was absolutely pouring sweat, & setting the A/C to ’11’ didn’t even take the edge off. Walked into 7-11 & headed for the cooler – the clerk behind the counter greeted me, “Hey! How you doin’?” I’m thinking, isn’t it obvious? I’m in a SUIT on a day that is so hot one wouldn’t even need a magnifying glass to fry bugs on the sidewalk… But, in the name of common decency, I simply replied, “I’m hot.”

To which she said, “Wow! Aren’t you sure of yourself!” I was caught off guard… she thinks I’m saying that I believe I am Hot…? Not temperature hot, but capital H Hot.

Goodness. “Uh, no. Not what I meant…” Errr…


The main water line going into the water heater in the garage broke. Again. That makes 4 times in the last month. TheBean mentioned to the plumber last time (or the time before. I forget,) that the PVC pipe piece that keeps breaking might, just might be better replaced with a metal piece. Previously, the plumbers didn’t agree with her, & insisted on using a ‘factory approved’ (read: needs to be replaced on a regular basis…) piece.

This time, the plumber agreed… & went to Home Depot to buy Copper piping material. He cut & soldered & MacGyvered the piece until such a time as the leak was repaired, & the water was returned to our home. Booyah!


Thinking about marriage. Being married. This Thursday is anniversary #21 for me & theBean. We married at 19 & 18, respectively. Thought I knew what love was. What it meant to sacrifice & love another with the whole heart. Reflecting on what I know now, the lessons learned over the last 22 years of life with the girl of my dreams. I’ve learned…

-Communication is more than speaking louder & slower.
-Eye contact is under-rated.
-Sometimes the problem is not enough sleep.
-The real issue isn’tthe toilet seat.
-She really doesn’t want me to fix her. She just wants me to listen. Who knew?
-Sharing food doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as I thought it would.
-Down-time doing ‘nothing’ is the best time there is.
-I think I understand a little bit more what it means that “love covers a multitude of sins…”
-Sitting on the porch doesn’t hurt either.
-Vino is truly a sign of God’s blessing. And enjoyed with theBean, its the best.
-Going through tough things, together, is one of life’s great joys.
-Grace is absolutely beautiful. When displayed, it shines brighter than a diamond in the sun.
-The wife of my youth makes 39 look amazing.


And we just now, this second, verbally agreed (which is binding, don’t you know) on how we’ll be celebrating our anniversary. Makes me smile to think of it: Panda Express (theBean’s favorite), a Stags Leap Petite Syrah, & candles. Lots of candles. Sigh.

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.

A Sunday Snow Day, & other musings…

When I went to bed last night, I saw that there was some snow. Checked the local forecast, which happened to call for a rain/snow mixture, tapering off around midnight. Ok. Beings as I usually leave the house around 7:30 to head to church, I mentally figured I’d give myself a couple extra minutes for the morning drive.

Woke up this morning to the surprise of Snow, with a capital S. 9″ to 12″ worth.

Snow like I haven’t seen since the January 2005 blizzard that threw Reno into a 2-week long funk of Snow Days for school-aged kids, & transportation issues galore.

Brother was already on it – he’d been calling & texting the house, trying to awaken me from my slumber. He was wondering – “Are we going to cancel church today?”

Shaking the cobwebs from my brain, thanking the LORD for a coffee machine that has a Magic Timer that allows it to be set to go off at the Desired Time in the a.m. Looking outside again. Consuming the nectar of the java bean. Watching the Snow fall, with flakes the size of silver dollars. Goodness.

Checked in with a couple of friends to get a report on other parts of the Reno/Sparks metroplex. It was just as bad (good?) all over. Ok. We’re canceling.


When it comes to canceling church, today was a no-brainer. Lots of Snow (with more falling,) little-to-no notice of the storm, messy roads… the only thing that really runs through my brain is, “Can we get the info communicated in time to those that need it?” Between email, Facebook, texting, & the 411 Mass Email Program that Mr. H is masterminding, I think we were able to get the word out.


Sitting inside with a full belly, hot coffee, & myBean, I’m pondering the falling Snow. The accumulated Snow. Thinking back to the last time Hillside canceled church & had a Snow Day. It was the 1st week of January, 2005, & we got absolutely slammed on a Saturday. I can remember struggling for about 30 seconds over the decision. Mostly because of a feeling deep inside that you really CAN’T cancel church. Almost like it was doing something bad.

So I prayed & asked God for clarity – was this sense from Him, or was it not? The gentle encouragement I received quickly was that I was feeling Fear, something that was most definitely NOT coming from Him. Fear of what people might think of me for canceling church. Fear of not measuring up. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown.

So I rejected the Fear. Smacked it away like it was a ping-pong ball. Said, (out loud even!) “I will NOT be afraid!”

And BOOM! It was outta here.


Not too long after the 2005 Snow Day, I was at a ministerial meeting & the topic turned to the big Snow that we’d recently had. When it came to my turn to talk, I shared that rather than try to ‘have church’ we’d decided to take a Snow Day. Talked about my confrontation with Fear, & how I responded.

One of the guys said that he would never, ever, ever cancel church, no matter what. I asked why, & the answer blew me away: “Because you can’t receive an offering if you cancel church.”

Another guy agreed, & added, “If you lose a Sunday offering, you’ll never get that money, cause it’s not like the people are going to give it the next week…”

Hmmm. So the reason to have church, to not cancel, is so that people can give money? And that if they don’t have the opportunity on that Sunday to give the money, that money is lost?

Ok. That sounded a lot like more Fear to me.

We can talk a great game about God being our provider, & sing the songs, quote the verses, but when confronted with Snow & people missing an offering opportunity, Fear shows up.

I’ve GOTTA believe that God is my Source & my Provider, for everything I need, in every area – & not look to or put my trust in people, offerings, or Publisher’s Clearinghouse, for provision. Because He has promised not to abandon us. Or forsake us. Or forget us. So say BOOM! to the Fear. Booyah. Hope that didn’t end up sounding like a rant. But, goodness!


And the neighbors are out riding their snowmobile down the street. Marvelous. Now THAT brings me joy.


TheWeez is off to Hawaii for 11 days. Lucky girl. Which means we’re down to 2 children. More like 2 mostly grown men. And probably less Taylor Swift playing in the house… One of the results of theWeez leaving is that theBean has gone into cleaning mode… in & around theWeez’s room, the loft area, & the upstairs.

Me? I’m watching the Olympics. Pondering going outside to watch the neighbors some more. Shovel a bit. Thank God for always watching out for me. & enjoy my Snow Day.

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


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

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

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

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

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

Funny.


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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Saturday-ness in the Inclement Weather…

    Just got in from shoveling. Again. It’s like a competition. This bout with the shovel was the best, because it was raining. Truly. Nothing like it, especially with the promise of more snow for the evening. Ahh.

    I got to perform a wedding earlier this afternoon. Right before I went into the sanctuary, I stopped to look through the foyer windows & out into the world – amid the falling snow, I saw sun. Little blue sky. Rays sparkling off the plentiful snow piled on the ground. Beautiful, like myriad diamonds. What an environment to do a wedding in, I thought.

    After the wedding, I was lurking outside the room where the pictures of the bride & groom & their families were being taken… thinking about the weather, wondering when in my life I’d learned to hate snow. Don’t know. At some point, the sheer joy that falling snow would bring had been replaced by a dread, a tangible negative response in my gut. Tried to pin the time down, but nothing came to mind. It’s fear.

    Fear? Of snow? Why? Hmm.


    Weez - 01/2005 SnowstormIs it from worrying about having to transport youth group kids from home to Camp in the mess of snow? Worrying about theBean traveling from Sonora to C-town when we were dating? Getting stranded during my Domino’s delivery days? Or is it more recent, from the blizzard of 2005?

    Why fear?

    Something comes to mind: Danger. Separation. Isolation. Being without. Lack.

    Hmm. Not sure why, but the realization & beginnings of identification with the pit in my gut makes me feel better. I pray. Ask for a new way of seeing snow. For comfort. Truth. Confidence in my God’s care & provision for me.


    I look outside again & see that there is a backhoe in the Church parking lot. Scraping the snow off the lot & the driveway. It’s Rod, a guy from Church – he found out we didn’t get the lot scraped after the big snow Monday & borrowed the backhoe from his workplace. Then, he came up on his day off & spent a few hours plowing & scraping the residual snow & ice from the lot. Went out & talked with him. He was beaming. Glad to help, to do ‘his part.’

    I wept…


    Now, it’s later, & I look at the winter wonderland that has enveloped all I can see around me. Flakes the size of Silver Dollars (remember those!?) are falling. I sense awe, & wonder. Ponder the beautiful blanket of snow that makes everything it covers a work of art. Amazing.

    I want to go shovel again… maybe later.

    Down in a hole…

    Down in hole, feelin’ so small… was how Brother & I spent our Tuesday. Not that we’d planned it that way. Sort of fell into it when I was greeted with the sound of many waters… that sound is a really good thing if you’re reading the book of Revelation, but it is decidedly NOT a good thing when one is standing inside a church building, hearing the echoing of running water through the pipes in the walls…

    A call to thePlumber brought the desired result – a visit from an expert. Turns out our expert could only confirm that:

  • We have a leak.
  • It seems to be coming from outside where the main water valve meets the building.
  • In order to be 100% sure of this, & in order to repair the leak if it’s down under the ground, is to dig.
  • Digging is something that our expert could do, but it would cost. And since I have a thing about not selling my kids off, or auctioning arms & legs, I decided that I would dig. And so would Brother. And so we did. Even though Monday would have been a better day to dig, considering it was S/O weather, instead of the driving snow, biting wind, & occasional ball of hail falling from the grey skies…


    I know the hole doesn’t look so impressive, especially with the sprinkler box strewn so haphazardly over it to cover the work that we did until our friend Jim-The-Sprinkler-Man-Taylor comes out on Friday, but I have to say that I am proud of the work Brother & I did. It was so easy to dig in the lush Nevada soil. Made me so happy that unlike many other states, Nevada soil has no rocks in it. None. Just lush, rich soil that gives in to the shovel like ice-cream does to a hot ice-cream scoop.

    Actually, I must say, we worked for most of the day, & found that even with the water mains off, we still had a hole that filled with water in approx. 10 minutes. We bailed & bailed but couldn’t keep up with the leak. I got tired after removing about 75 gallons of water (in 5 gallon increments, don’t you know?) & still making no head way.

    That’s when my edu-ma-cation kicked in & I realized that there HAS to be a better Way of doing this… Images of water pumps rolled through my head & after a quick visit to our friends at Ahern Rentals we came away with a 2″ water pump & 50 feet of fire hose to Clear the hole of water in No Time. Turns out the pump worked well, but only kept us at EVEN with the leak… We were stymied, cold, & wet… so we cried out to the LORD. Truly. The ladies intercessory group in the parking lot (so fortuitously meeting on Tuesdays) prayed as well. And the LORD heard our prayers & sent us exactly what we needed: a foreman.


    When I say what we needed was a foreman, that’s just what I mean. Imagine if you will Brother & I, tired & work-worn, leaning on our shovels, resting, pondering what would come next. What I didn’t realize is that we hadn’t met the appropriate “shovels/workers ratio” to finish a given job.

    The arrival of our foreman, aka real NV Energy Superman John-the-Wiser took us up & over the ratio… Plus, he seemed to know a few things about Plumb-age… spotted a few things we’d missed, like an alternate water valve that miraculously turned off the water to the leaky valve, thereby allowing the pump to catch up & even surpass the water in the hole. Brother dug with renewed vigor, & found the source of our problem, that ancient evil known as “the leaky irrigation valve…”

    With the valve now exposed, we were confronted with something that neither Brother nor I had considered… it was suggested by John-The-Wiser that since the valve that was leaking was Good For Nothing, & fed nothing but a previously Vandalized & Broken line itself, that we should cut the valve off & cap it. Ourselves.

    After a few minutes of hemming & hawing, we agreed. In fear & trembling. Brother did the cutting, under the watchful, skillful eye of John-The-Wiser… we purchased a 1 1/4″ Brass Cap & applied it, with a little smidge of plumber’s tape. Tightened it up. Tested our work by actually turning the main water valve on. It held. (It must be noted that Someone said we should probably just fill the hole up with dirt 1st, & THEN test it, but Someone was overruled.)

    Victory.


    I want to give a big shout out of thanks to:

  • Jackie for calling John-The-Wiser to come help us in our time of trouble.
  • Jacqui, Pam, Helen, & Marta – the intercessory prayer group.
  • Brother – for being a good sport & going mudding…
  • John-The-Wiser – for his foreman-ing skills.
  • The LORD – for answering prayers, & for sending all of above people my way today…
  • weather…

    It’s raining. And cold. And windy. When I went out today, I wore my jacket.

    On Monday, it was 98, & I wore shorts, flip-flops, & a t-shirt & I stillroasted.

    Who’d a thunk it?


    Reno is a funny place for weather… I never cease to be amazed. Maybe by the 4th of July things will even out.

    Or not.

    Happy Memorial Day weekend! Enjoy the lake. Your BBQ’s. Fun in the (invisible) sun. I know I will.