On the way…

A big chunk of life happens “on the way.” Our on the way time could be when we’re driving to/from work. Walking our neighborhood or heading to our next appointment. Waiting in line while getting a coffee.  I believe much of our on the way time flies under our radar because our focus/our thoughts are on something else. Stuff like: 

What’s next. Where we’re headed. What we’ll do when we’re done with work. Our destination. What has to be done at the destination. Our ‘to-do’ lists. Afternoon snacks. 

I find that my on the way time is often “multi-tasking” time where I pop in my earbuds to listen to the audio book I want to read, or the podcast I’ve been meaning to catch up on, or zoning out to a favorite playlist. It can be a great way to get stuff done, but with these on the way time fillers, I don’t often take time to sit in silence & think or observe closely what’s going on around me.

You get it.

I was thinking on that this afternoon while I was sitting in the sauna… not much to do in the sauna except for sweat & drink my LMNT-filled Nalgene bottle while waiting for the timer to wind down to zero. One of the things that came up for me was something I read in Acts 3 .

Peter & John were on the way to their church for the 3 p.m. prayers & ended up having a conversation  with a guy who had been lame from birth, that turned into a Holy Spirit inspired healing & life transformation, that turned into a “What’s going on here?” moment that caused a couple of thousand people to have an encounter with Jesus Christ.  

Really cool stuff. And it made me think, & it made me wonder about my own usage of my on the way time.

Ultimately, the nudge I’m following here is to write out my desire to be more alert, aware, intentional, & present while I’m on the way. To take stock of where I am; to purposely build a little time into my schedule for on-purpose Holy Spirit interruptions to my day; to not immediately pop the ear buds in as soon as I sit in the drivers seat… or head into some other version of being on the way.

We’ll see what happens…





ZAPPED! & other musings on a Tuesday evening…

Several times over the last few weeks, I feel like I’ve had the same conversation. It starts with someone bringing up something about God. Church. Religion. And each time, the person has said something to the effect of:

I would NEVER, EVER even think of going to church… if I did, as soon as I walked through the doors I’d probably:

  • get ZAPPED by lightning
  • burst into flames
  • cause the building to fall down around me
  • experience something crushing, cruel, & horrible…”

The first couple of times I heard it, I was in Germany; once in downtown Frankfurt, once at the youth hostel where we were having the pastors’ conference. I attributed it to the general state of unchurched-ness of The Fatherland. Silly me.

And then in the last 10 days, I’ve had similar conversations here at home, at Starbucks, the new & improved Great Basin Brewery, & even in the parking lot at church. All people bemoaning the probable (& most certainly horrible) outcome of their crossing the threshold of the church building.

In a couple of the situations, I had the opportunity to pursue some clarification – here’s a ‘sum-up’ of what the people I talked to thought…

  • most had funky ideas about God & His character.
  • A couple thought that somehow, someway Fred & the family Phelps are accurate representations of God’s heart for people.
  • Most expect church to be a place of  self-righteous nitpicking, & an endless barrage never-measure-up condemnation & accusations.
  • A common thought was seeing self as Excluded. Beyond help or rescue.
  • Not seeing how they in their uniqueness could or would fit in a ‘church world’ that is perceived as mostly irrelevant to ‘real’ life.

I don’t know whose quote it is, or how bad I’m mangling it, but  it goes something like this:

You may be the only church a person goes to, & may be the only Bible someone reads.

For me, it speaks to the need to live in a way that accurately & faithfully reflects Christ’s love, acceptance, & forgiveness – & a love that meets people right where they are. And it reminds me a bit of a post my friend Tim wrote not long ago about getting the church to people.

TheWeez is on her middle school basketball team; I love going to her games. The last several, her playing time has been next to nil, & she’s discouraged. More than that, she’s frustrated with what her coach says to her (& the 2 other girls in similar spots:)

“I’m really sorry I didn’t play you; but we needed our good players in the game so we could win big, ’cause I really don’t like the Coach from (insert school name here). Next time I’ll try to get you in the game more”

My theWeez is a smart girl – & after this happened the 2nd time (its been 4 games & counting by now,) she vented to me, saying, “Daddy! Does he think I’m DUMB? That I don’t know that when he’s ‘apologizing’ for not playing me he’s really saying I’m not a good PLAYER.”

I’d love to be able to soften the blow to my precious theWeez, to somehow make this situation better… but I can’t. She’s getting a chance to experience, up close & personal, that just because someone is an adult in their 30s, there is no guarantee that they’ve ever really grown up.

I’m sorry my girl.

Oh, & Coach N, theWeez is on to you. And she is not amused.

December, where are you GOING in such a hurry? Stop, sit a spell, & hang out a while.

I’m reading, slowly, through a great book right now by Dallas Willard called, The Spirit of the Disciplines . I know for some that the word ‘discipline’ has negative connotations; I love how Willard works through & around the twistings & perversions of the good word ‘discipline,’ which comes from the root word disciple. In it, he discusses the actions, behaviors, attitudes, & practices that go towards spiritual formation, which to me is something like the nuts & bolts of what it takes to grow up in Christ. I’m already thinking how I can take what I’m learning & apply it, both personally (in my life,) & corporately (within our church family.)

iDoey is in the final week of preparation for his Christmas holiday extravaganza – a song & dance-fest put on by his show-choir-type group called Intermezzo. I’m amazed at the preparation this group of 40 students puts in, & am thankful for the dedicated coordinator & the staff that makes this so much fun for my boy. Thanks Mr. Lorentzen!

Ahh. Pondering greatness: The San Francisco Giants are STILL the World Series Champions.

I’m sailing! I’m sailing! I sail…

NOTE & DISCLAIMER: I’m not sailing. Haven’t sailed. Don’t have any plans to sail. Not against it. Just wanted to share a What About Bob?! moment I had this weekend.

Last Saturday, I finished my 40th birthday celebration. I do realize that the date was February 13th, & that it was almost a full 5 months since my ‘real’ September 19th birthday… but a couple of scheduling conflicts kept the final celebration from taking place; most notably, Petey’s 6-week National Guard deployment to an unnamed location in the Middle-East.

See, as a part of the inevitable ‘taking stock of life’ that my birthday always brings me, I decided that there were a couple of things that I would like to change – habits, patterns, ways of living. (When I was getting ready to turn 25, I read a statistic that said something to the effect that a person develops most of the habits & skills they will have by the time they hit 25. So, I decided that I needed to learn to play guitar. And I did.)

One of the things I decided to change this year involved a decision I’d made about a particular food that I had chosen not to partake of since a rather negative experience from 22 years ago. Sushi. I had it once, & I didn’t like it one bit.

I decided I’d try it again.

I’ve never been a fish or seafood guy. Don’t exactly know why, other than the smell of fish & fishy-ness sets me off. A fish market is the worst. (Actually, any really strong smell has the potential to do that. Fish. Chemical-ly & flowery perfumes. Floral ‘plug-ins’ that are supposed to make the air smell better. Most air-fresheners. Except for the new Febreze that is like the ‘clothes fresh out of the dryer smell…’ But I digress.)

Growing up, my family ate fish. Trout. Shrimp. Crab. Salmon. Halibut. You get the picture. I didn’t. I can remember trying a few of them, & feeling the repulsion, revulsion, the nose-wrinkling displeasure of EWWW!

I’ve heard from plenty of people that I just needed to try “fill-in-the-blank” seafood, prepared in the “fill-in-the-blank” way, & that I would be a convert. I tried a few. Always ended with EWWW!

My friends Petey & Debi kept encouraging me to try sushi again. Not just any sushi, but sushi prepared by Iron Chef Heif: Chris Heifner. My friend Chris is an artist in the truest sense of the word – amazing musician. Worship leader. Painter. Writer. And sushi chef.

And so, the combination of their gentle encouragement, Iron Chef Heif’s skill, & a willingness/desire to change created the perfect storm: a 40th birthday sushi celebration where I would once again give sushi a chance.

It happened Saturday, around our counter, in the company of a few friends, good music (theBean’s 40’s swing/big-band faves,) some Sapporo (as a shout-out to the real sushi-masters,) & a healthy appetite.

I don’t really know what I ate, other than I ate at least one part (portion? slicing? proper terminology would be helpful,) from every roll that Iron Chef Heif made.

My reflections:

    -I don’t like fish eggs. “Caviar.” Big or small. Black, brown, or pink. But I ate it. Salty. Like tasting a fishy part of the ocean.

    -Spicy is better. Jalapenos, wasabe, & the hot red sauce (don’t recall what it was,) were very much enjoyed & appreciated.

    -Soy sauce. The more the better.

    -Enough is enough. The pace of the eating, balanced by the time necessary for the preparation allowed me to know I was feeling full before I’d reached the proverbial “Super-Bowl” or Thanksgiving full-ness. Which probably made the whole experience more enjoyable, in that I didn’t have the “I can’t believe I ate so much” regrets. Other than the little fish-egg leftovers I was picking out of my teeth for at least 3 hours after.

I’ve been asked if I liked the sushi. It was good. Different. Don’t really have anything currently in my world to compare it to. Not a negative experience. Just don’t know.

But I’ll let you know if I end up craving it.

So… Thank you Chris, for your hard work & artistic preparation. And Pete-Debi, for your encouragement. And friends for celebrating with me.

Did you know what’s happening? I’m growing.

40 going on 21, part 1

I’ve been ruminating on a series of conversations that I had with my buddy, Chuck, while I was at CSR this last August.

The conversations were brought on by the fact that my 40th birthday was coming soon – & how much I was looking forward to that event & the stage of life that would come with it. (And, by the way, I’m 40 days into my 40th year, & so far, I’m loving the fact that I’m a man! I’m 40!)

A lot of our talks centered on the infatuation our society seems to have with YOUTH & being YOUNG… & the seeming inability to accept the fact that people age… & aging is seen as a bad thing, something to be ashamed of, avoided, &/or denied.


Part of what really drove it home for me was that a lot of my ‘thinking time’ happened on & near the Virginia Tech University campus – there were literally thousands of 18-25 year olds all over the place just arriving in Blacksburg for the start of the fall semester… In Walmart. Starbucks. Borders. The campus bookstore. Swarms of people. Checking each other out, visually measuring self against others, masking anxiety with volume… The pretty young things got the most attention & savored it.

In the midst of it, I felt strangely secure. Comfortable in my own skin. I pondered Chuck’s words, & thought about what he’d said about the privileges & things gained as one ages…

…experience & wisdom to be shared. Perspective at having seen seasons of life, fad, & fashion come & go & come back again. The weight the words carry of one who has not only lived, but has lived well, without striving, through the tides, peaks, & valleys that life brings. The joy of watching one’s children grow. Peace at being able to simply enjoy the moment.

The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. Proverbs 20:29 New Living Translation

Being 40 is great. I’m lovin’ it.

Things I’m thinking about:

  • Associating ‘young’ & ‘youth’ with childish, irresponsible, immoral behavior
  • Peter Pan syndrome…
  • valuing people by their outward appearance…
  • living selfishly, without regard for others
  • attempting to avoid the responsibility that comes with the making of choices – & the consequences (outcomes?) of those choices
  • the inevitability of aging… something that no amount of cosmetic surgery, hair dye, or botox can avoid.
  • my dream…


  • Wednesday was a funny day…

    I found a new gym. Or should I say, it found me. Its only .9 miles from my home, & my whole family can gymnasium (I totally verbed a noun) for less than $30/month. Haven’t left my old gym officially, but I’m not going anymore, because my new gym has NEW equipment. Functional treadmills. Nice barbells. And kettlebells. They had me at kettlebells.

    Worked out today. Happened to put my car/house/every-important-thing-that-requires-a-key-in-life-key chain in a locker. Forgot my own lock, but that’s ok, right? Came back to pick up my keys to find… someone had put a lock on the locker. Sigh.

    I went around to every male in the gym (thank you Jesus that there is a Men’s locker room, because it totally limited my search) asking, “So, did you happen to put a lock on locker #37? Cause my keys are in there, man.” Everyone said, “No.” It was awkward, especially with the BIG men, the guys that have a Routine, guys listening to their iPods, guys like Sal who seem like they’d rather break me into several pieces as soon as look at me…

    So I called mytheBean. She brought me keys to my car so I could take care of some of the errands I needed to run. I rationalized, “I will come back in 2 hours & the lock will be off #37 & my silliness at not putting my own lock on will be but a distant memory…”

    I had planned on driving the Ex down to the gym to pick up my keys. Turns out, everyone left me at home WITHOUT keys to the Ex. So…

    TheWeez & I walked the .9 miles down to the gym & I expected that my keys would be at the front desk by this time. Not so. The lock was still on #37. I was able to convince the manager that the best course of action was to CUT the lock on #37, & let me get my keys. Then, I would buy a new lock at the Home Depot & bring it back. A small price to pay for my… forgetfulness.

    Got my keys. Ran the .9 miles uphill home, while theWeez waited at theBean’s work. Got the Ex. Drove to pick up theWeez. Went to the Home Depot. Tried to find a lock that resembled the 1 that was cut for me. No dice. Looked for 1 that I would want, & found 1 for only $6.34 (tax included.)

    Went back to the gym to drop off the lock. Girl at the front desk was amazed at the quality of the lock I chose. Go figure.

    Turns out the guy that had put the lock on #37 had been in the gym the whole time, (4 hours bro?) & had said, “NO!” when asked if he had put a lock on #37, but had obviously been simply trying to avoid the responsibility of locking a space that had held my keys… go figure.

    Drove home with theWeez. Weary. 3 hours & counting of my life, poured out in the pursuit of right. Gonna watch a moving picture with my girl – Shanghai Noon? That’ll work…

    coffee in the afternoon, & other musings…

    Maybe its a coping mechanism, but when I am noticed that certain days I crave coffee in the late afternoon. Its not the need for caffeine, because the decaf will do… its the smell of the brewing process, the taste of the 1st sip, the reassuring heat emanating from the ceramic cup. Sigh.

    Took a spill last night in our softball teams’ victory… lunging for a ball hit just beyond my reach, I landed on my left shoulder. Thought it came out of the socket… had brother PULL on the wrist to see if there was any give… nope. Just a jammed shoulder. Its ache-ey today. I will have to apply the Bio-Freeze.

    I was taken off guard today by Baby Zoe. She was sitting in her little bouncy chair, as she usually is, but this time she had her eyes open. And she was looking at me. And when she noticed I was looking at me, she smiled & yelled for me, “Tay-tay, I want you to pick me up & play with me.” (That last part about the yelling I’m PRETTY sure happened. Though no one else seems to have heard her do it… I did.)

    The more time that passes, the more I am convinced that 3 of the really great Sci-Fi shows of all time were:

  • Stargate SG-1
  • Farscape
  • Star Trek: TNG
  • Others, like BSG, Star Trek, & even the other Star Trek off-shoots are good. Still, I can put in a DVD of one of my personal big 3 & watch it over & over.

    That might say more about me & my longing for the old than it does about the new stuff. But I could be wrong.

    Off to soccer with theWeez. Lucky us. We have a 6:15 p.m. game tonight instead of the 7:45 game that ends at 9:15. Sweet.

    I saw love…

    I saw love…

    Last week, I decided to be proactive & deal with my soon-to-expire drivers license. Brother told me what Tom had told him – waiting in line FOR-ever at the Galletti NV-DMV is over-rated… so he told me about the NV-DMV Commercial license renewal place thingy on E. Greg. Evidently, the word on the street is that the Commercial Drivers License place also does REGULAR license renewals for Rubes like me. Even better, Brother had spent a total of 15 minutes in the place & finished all the business one could ever want to finish. Ahhh. Sounds like my kind of place.

    Found it. And let’s just say it was a leettlle bit busier that when Tom & Brother had been there. Waiting room had 10 people in it, (which I know is still less than Galletti on an average day,) so I went to the cool, “Take A Number” station, pulled Lucky 403, & found a seat. And waited.

    I hadn’t brought any of my normal time passers with me (books, chocolate, portable coffee, or wasser mit kohlensäure) so I went into introspection mode, which unfortunately lasted only about 37 seconds. Done with that, so I decided to look around the room & ‘observe’ the other individuals that were sharing the space that I had mistakenly assumed would be empty.

    A couple in the waiting area caught my eye – it was the worried look on her face, & the hushed but strong tones they were speaking in. If I had to guess how old they were, I’d have said 50, but it was hard to tell, because it appeared that they had both lived ‘hard’ lives… you know what I mean… the years had etched themselves into their countenance, leaving visible marks from grief, disappointment, & hardship. Other signs – clothes: a worn & grubby sundress… workman’s shirt, jeans, & boots that had seen much better days… the tell-tale yellowish residue on skin & hair from smoking too many packs of cigarettes for too long, resulting in the visible affects that your mom warned you would happen if you smoked all your life. The woman looked a bit like I remember my Grandma Ramona looking…

    I watched from the corner of my eye as their communication became more animated – it became apparent that the woman was scared… she had to take a vision test for her license renewal, & it was obvious she didn’t think she’d pass it. The anxiousness & worry became more pronounced as she got closer to her turn at the vision-apparatus. The man touched her arm gently & made “Shushing” noises… not the “be quiet” ones, but the kind you make to comfort a crying baby.

    Her body stiffened when her number was called; she sat in the chair in front of the machine, & he sat next to her, his hand on her back. She took the test & passed. She was relieved. Now to get the picture for the new license.

    They walked together to the area where the new pictures would be taken – she was self-conscious – I saw her look disapprovingly at herself, her clothes, & run her fingers through her hair – the signs of sadness, not wanting to get her picture taken.

    The man pulled something out of the back pocket of his work pants. It was a hair brush – making the same, reassuring “Shushing” noises, he turned her towards him & began to gently, carefully, brush her long hair. After a couple of minutes of this, he put the brush away & with great care arranged her hair behind her ears, pulled back a bit from her face. And as she was called to the picture taking station, he put one hand on her chin, gazed into her eyes, & quietly said, “You are so pretty.”

    The eyes that had been downcast, preoccupied, & self-conscious glimmered & sparkled with the confidence that comes from being loved by someone, that comes by choosing to believe that what you’ve just heard is the God’s honest truth. She sat & smiled for her picture, then arose, took the man’s hand, & they walked out together.

    I saw love… & it touched me…

    the demise of #5…

    This is a note about the demise of #5, the treadmill pictured at left that is having issues with her speed system. I took this picture in the hopes that she’ll rebound soon. This is the story of how I came to love #5.

    I’ve never been much of a “runner” – meaning that working out for me has always meant weights, some cardio (jump-rope, ellipticals, etc.) & whatever sport I happened to be playing at that time. There have been a couple of exceptions – when I was going into 7th grade, i reaaaaallly wanted to drop weight so that I could play in a lower football division (back in the days of Pop Warner weight class based leagues,) so I ate lots of salad & ran around the block several times a day. It worked. I also picked up the habit of eating my salads without any dressing on them; further, I had a hard time with the whole “eating lettuce with a fork,” so I would just pick it up & eat it. Still do.

    I also like to run to clear my head – so when things would get noisy in there, I’d go for a run through the streets around my house – often at night. At some point, I found that I really liked the solitude of running, the night air, & being able to wear one of those cool Neon Yellow Vests so that I wouldn’t be invisible to vehicles… still, running was really only done sporadically.

    Then something changed – a few years ago, a group of friends started training for a marathon – using the Galloway method, I found that I could run a lot longer & farther than I’d ever been able to before. I was able to go 10K no problem… only to find that my surgically repaired right knee (& the 2 pins in it) didn’t like the distance running… & would let me know about it. Being heavier than I wanted to be also put stress on my hips, knees, & ankles, from the pounding on the streets & sidewalks.

    I didn’t end up running the marathon (made it to a 1/2 marathon,) but I kept running – & as long as I kept my distance at about 3-5 miles a couple of times a week, my body seemed to recover well.

    I lost some weight (about 3.5 stones) & got used to running the streets about 5 times a week… this last March, the combination of running & playing softball 2x/week left me feeling it in my hips, knees, & ankles again. I missed running & didn’t want to stop, so I started running on the treadmill at my gym… & after the learning curve (the process of learning to walk then run on the treadmill without holding onto the rails,) I came across #5. I’d tried several other treadmills & they all had issues – they were poorly placed in respect to the TV that was tuned to ESPN (see photo at right) – others wre always dirty, or made too much noise for my tastes; a couple would wildly fluctuate their speed & buck like a bronco (I was only thrown twice…)

    #5 didn’t have any of those issues – just kept on going, doing her thing. Always clean, always under the TV tuned to ESPN, never bucking. Soft cushion met every step, allowing me to run as often as I wanted. Not outside, but in the cool of the gym, running in place, thinking on everything & nothing. It became a date – if I went to the gym to run, it was always on #5…

    And then there was Wednesday – I was at the end of a 5K. Literally as I took the last couple of strides before my cool down, #5 abruptly seized up & ground to a stop. There was a subtle humming noise… a message appeared: “CHECK SPEED SYSTEM.” I tried to do a reset. No response. NO! #5, come back.

    I reported the message to The Powers That Be in hopes that #5 will be up & running again soon. And until then, I’m giving #8 & #15 a try.


    blasting through memories about fasting…

    Oprah fasted… not for Jesus but for weight control..

    I used to think that fasting was an activity that was intended to gets God’s attention. A way to shout with ones actions: “Hey! Look at me! I’m not eating, & its for you!” I may have even believed that it was transactional… not that I’d have ever spoken the words out loud, but there was a thought, however small, that would say, “Ok God. Since I am fasting, You HAVE to do what I am praying for. Have to. I am doing my part. Now its Your turn.”

    Something about the ‘spiritual-ness’ of fasting used to make me want to make sure that I slipped it into conversation, something that would kind of get mentioned in passing… its not that I was going all “woe is me hypocrite” on anyone… its just that I found ways & means to happen to be places where my lack of eating would be observed.

    I tried to fast once a week, Tuesdays. Which meant Monday nights at 11:50 p.m., I was loading up a plate or 3, just to make sure that I wouldn’t be passing out from hunger on my ‘fast day.’ During what would normally have been meal-times on ‘fast-days,’ I tried to pray – which often meant I tried not to think about eating. Kept having to corral my runaway mind, & to try not to pay attention to my stomach which seemed to be flipping over in a complaint at not having been paid attention to.

    A guy that I knew got really into fasting… at meal time he’d just read his Bible & pray… he got a bit carried away with it, so much so that over a period of 3 months, he dropped about 50 pounds… pounds that he couldn’t afford to give up. In talking with him later, he told me that somehow he had reasoned to himself that if God likes it when we fast, then he was going to make God really happy with him.

    That put me over the edge. Got tired of acting like I understood this – so I tried to study up on it; read through every passage that mentions fasting in the Bible. Talked to people, asking questions. Read books.

    What I found out is that people are all over the map in their understanding about fasting… that a lot of people see it the way I used to…its a way to twist God’s arm, to play the trump card that He can’t ignore.

    And what I think I came to understand about fasting is that its not that at all – instead, as a ‘personal practice,’ its about humility – humbling myself – a reminder that my stomach is not the boss of me. That I don’t live by bread alone. And that the reality of the situation was, i was keeping God at arms length & trying to impress Him (& others) with superficial ‘stuff’ – behaviors & conversations that never went beyond the surface, focusing mostly on my own needs & my own will.

    I wanted it to be different.

    Isaiah 58 was insightful. And helpful. So was Daniel..

    silly vandals…

    Last night, Pasty & I-Doey made their way to Coconut Bowl for some bowl-age…

    They came out 2 1/2 short hours later to find that some miscreant had taken the liberty of bashing the back window of the Infamous Ex…

    Post-church, I contacted the Coconut Bowl & reported the destruction (as the PastyOne had been too incensed to do it.) Then, I filed a PO-leece report with Sparks’ finest

    Called & left a message with my car insurance dealer (no, I don’t have Geico. Or Progressive. My insurance agent takes the weekends…)

    Now, all we have to do is… wait.

    It’s interesting – the emotions that have been stirred up in my kids. Anger –> Rage. Disbelief. Disappointment. Disgust. Frustration. Sadness. And back again.

    They want A Plan of Action. A Way for us to Stick It to the person (persons? perps?) that Perpetrated the vandalismo. Like somehow, Dad will know what to do, & how to locate the Violator(s). More interesting to me is the boiling over desire for Revenge. And you thought the Empire Struck Back! Just wait til lil Pasty gets going.

    Talked about letting God be our defender & avenger. Not giving away peace. Being thankful it was Just a Window. Believing it.