Thursday, October 20, 2016


I cut my hair this morning. I can't believe it had only been a month since my last one, but I was not very happy with it. I'd asked that it be rounded in the back, and she did, but she left two strips on each side down the back of my neck. Anyway, so I just buzzed it off with a #1 this morning before I went to work. I wasn't going to, but I was rushed for time and it's just easier that way. It's actually easiest to just shave it, but Jane doesn't like it like that. So, it's the next closest thing to it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Scruffy hospitality

I have long thought hospitality was the key to the development of authentic community, if not church life in general. I probably wrote about it years ago when it was something I was trying to foster in myself or my church community. A couple weeks ago our pastor mentioned the idea of "scruffy hospitality" in a sermon, and it caught my ear. I don't think I'd ever heard that term, but I like it.

I simple google search unearthed what I think is the source as Jack King, an Anglican priest in Knoxville, Tennessee. There is a great little blog post about it - 'Why Scruffy Hospitality Creates Space for Friendship' - and I suggest everyone read it, especially if you're interested in such things (and there's a great wine cork idea).

He starts out with this familiar scene to those of us who've tried to be hospitable folk:
After seven years of marriage, my wife and I have welcomed numerous friends into our home. Once we decide to host friends for an evening, we usually kick into get ready mode, a fast and furious sprint in the days and hours before our friends arrive. We divide and conquer the to-do list: select a menu, complete grocery shopping, mow the lawn, sweep the floors, run the vacuum, clean the playroom, wipe the bird crap off our lawn chairs (we have lots of trees), set the table, clean the playroom (again), and somehow, someway, pray all that happens before the doorbell rings.

Sound familiar? Or maybe you're like us and you usually just end up forgetting the whole thing because it's too much work.

That's where "scruffy hospitality" comes in. He defines it as such:
"Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together."

As much as I like this idea, I do have to admit that it's a real struggle for me. Not only am I an introvert, but I'm also a bit of a perfectionist neat-freak. So the thought of people coming over and seeing our collection of empty wine bottles stacked on the counter, or my dirty socks strewn about the living room... is not something I'm entirely comfortable with. And that's the problem. I need to be. I need to be more of a people-person than I am. For as authentic as I like to think of myself, I can tend to only be that way under certain conditions. Which is really being truly authentic.

So, I hope to try to make some strides here. I'm not much of an entertainer - especially since the way we failed so miserably with hospitality at the church we used to lead - but I suppose you have to start somewhere. Scruffy just might be a good way to do it.

Here's the challenge: Invite some people over, then...
  • Don't take more than 10 minutes preparing for your guests.
  • Don't purchase anything special to eat.
  • Wear whatever you have on (though I highly recommend having something on). 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Every day - raw journal

Awhile back we went through a course at our church that is called "Every Day: Simple Faith Habits for Everyday People." It was written and taught by our pastor, Brian. It consisted of learning a few simple faith habits we could use everyday. We learned:
  • A simple way to consistently read the Bible and pray.
  • A basic theological lens to help us understand and apply what we read in the Bible.
  • A way to connect with other people in ongoing, faith-sustaining relationships.
Personally, I thought it was a great format and discipleship method for people just starting out in developing faith habits. Practically, it was fairly typical of classes I've been involved with before (on both sides of the aisle). There were 12 of us at the first session; 6 at the second; and 4 at the third. Anyway, we both enjoyed it, and will likely try to start some groups ourselves.

The simple way we were taught to read the Bible and pray is by keeping a "RAW Journal." R.A.W. stands for "Read, Ask, and Write."

Step 1 is reading a passage of Scripture every day (or most days). The idea is to use a short enough passage that you can read a couple times through, and highlight the phrase that jumps out to you the most.

Step 2 is then ASKing questions - both connection questions as well as reflection questions. Some connection questions might include:
- Why do the words or phrases I highlighted have my attention?
- Do they relate or speak to a current struggle or challenge or joy?
- Do they stir an emotion or feeling in me?
- Do they relate or speak to a recent experience?

Some reflection questions might include:
- What does this remind me about who God is?
- What does this remind me about who God says I am?
- What does this remind me about what God promises?
- What does this remind me about the good news I know from the Bible?

Step 3 is then WRITING a prayer based on your highlights, questions, and responses. Part of the RAW process is writing it as though writing a letter to a friend. Personally, I have done this for years when I've journalled. I always end my prayers by telling God I love him, and thanking him for loving me, and then signing, "Your son, Dan." But that's just me.

Section two deals with looking at what we read through consistent themes and ideas found throughout the Bible (rather than proof-texting). The three main themes Brian suggested are:
- Grace
- Relationship
- Participation

Grace is the assurance that God loves us no matter what.
Relationship reveals how God loves you as a son or daughter.
Participation reveals God wants you to participate in the family business by loving people well.

So, overall, it's a lens with which to look at what we read, ask and write.

The final section deals with the challenge of meeting regularly with one or two other people to share what you're learning and experiencing. It will help you:
- stick with your healthy faith habits.
- find answers to your questions.
- learn things you wouldn't otherwise.


Part of what I like about this is that it can be done in a very informal manner, and it's pretty generic. It doesn't require a lot, but it also fosters a level of intimacy and accountability that can develop great friendships and great faith. So, I've been praying about trying to start a group or two. We'll see. If nothing else, I like the RAW journaling aspect of it. Good stuff.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Benny's b-day bash and a parental visit

We celebrated grandson Benny's 4th birthday with a party held at our house this past Saturday. My parents made the drive out here for it, and according to my mom this will likely be the last time, until.... you know. Anyway, it was a good party, and a nice weekend all around.

My parents arrived shortly after we both got home from work Friday night. It takes them around 7 hours to get here (it takes us about 4 1/2). The Feipel's joined us and we got chicken from Krogers for supper. Saturday we hung around the house and made preparations for the party. It started around 2 pm. Drew's dad brought his grandma Esther, Drew's mom and grandma Tommy were also there, along with all of us, Drew's cousin Sam and her kids and husband, Kate and son, and Andy and his son (from DC's small group). It wasn't a large gathering, but big enough. Fortunately it was a beautiful day so the kids mostly played outside or in the basement.

The party broke up around 5-ish. After that Jane, Carrie and my mom went to a 'Ladies Night Out' at our church. The men host and serve a nice meal for the women. They also had a guest speaker and music. Jane said it was very nice. I was unable to help (and therefore didn't get to wear a pink "tuxedo" t-shirt) since I had to stay home and watch my dad. Anna also stayed with us. Drew took the boys and went home. Anna was super good and other than playing Connect 4 with me, she spent most of her time playing with the caterpillar she captured that day.

Sunday we took my parents to our church with us, as well as Anna who ended up spending the night with us. After church the Feipels came over and we had leftovers for lunch, then my parents drove back home.

That was about the extent of it.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall aeration and overseed

With an interesting twist of irony I FINALLY got around to calling Spring-Green today to see if they were planning to do my aeration and overseeding. I believe I've written previously about paying for it earlier this spring, but that they'd not yet done it. I was worried maybe they would forget. So, after a couple months of procrastinating, I called at 11:44 am today and asked about it. The nice lady on the phone said, "Well, this is interesting, actually Paul is scheduled to do that for you today." The receipt says he was here at 10:54 am - so it was just before I'd called! How's that for coincidence? :)

So, for the first time ever, we have had our lawn aerated and overseeded. If I can manage it correctly, this should be what really puts it over the top. Ever since we've lived here I've wished the grass were a little thicker.

The note left in our door says:
"Today we core aerated & overseeded your lawn with Kentucky blue and rye turf blend. Be sure to water sufficiently to keep the soil surface moist. Continue to mow lawn slightly shorter to allow faster establishment for the new seeding and quicker fill of the thin areas..."

They also left a card on caring for a newly seeded lawn:
"Proper watering is the key to achieving good success with your seeding. The areas need to be kept moist, but not soggy. Depending upon the weather and location of the seeded area, this may require daily watering of 20-30 minutes per area. Less water is needed in shady areas or if your lawn receives rain fall. Continue daily watering for two weeks after the seeding is completed.

Continue mowing the areas as well. Mow at 2 1/2 inches throughout the growing season. Even when the new grass begins to germinate, it is important that it receives adequate sunlight. Allowing the established grass to grow too high will block out the sun and inhibit the growth of the new seed.

New seed also needs fertilizer to help it become better established. Continue on your regular fertilization program to ensure the new seed properly develops."

So, there ya go. I guess I need to dig out the hose and sprinkler. I've never been very good about watering the lawn. I should probably take this a little more serious.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bennett turns 4

Today is my grandson Bennett's 4th birthday. I have always appreciated that he was conveniently born on an easy-to-remember date like 10-11-12. He is the middle child of daughter Carrie, and the first of the boys. He started preschool this year, and it sounds like he likes it. As you can see in this picture from our house this past Sunday - he can even write his name!

Benny is a rather quiet child who is content to play by himself or with others. He likes cars, trucks, planes, and little toy characters. He also enjoys sitting at the piano and strumming the guitar at our house. If it were up to me I would say he might be the one I would insist on enrolling in piano lessons (though I hope all of them learn it). He's a pretty happy boy, but he also seems to be a deep thinker even at such a young age.

Rumor has it that we may be invited over to enjoy noodles (his choice) for supper tonight. Drew Carrie are also having a family-sort-of birthday party at our house this Saturday afternoon.

1st day of preschool.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Finished my fourth half marathon

Traditional post-race beer with Jane & Carrie

I ran - and finished - my fourth half marathon yesterday. As with the previous two, Jane and I ran together (so this was her third). She finished in 1176th and I was 1177th. We both had a time of 2 hrs 36 minutes. That included a couple of potty breaks and stopping to chat with the grandkids along the way. So we probably averaged closer to 11-minute miles than 12, but time was never our concern. Daughter Carrie, on the other hand, ran the 4-mile and set a personal best for her. She didn't even train and got 82nd out of 1748 women!

As I wrote previously, we were neither one overly prepared for this year's half. However, I think we probably felt better at the end of this one than any. Jane's shin splints (from earlier in the summer) never bothered her, and my back pain - which had just happened this past week - was not a problem at all. I did experience some slight left knee pain around the 10th mile, but it wasn't an issue. I'm not sure what caused it because I haven't had any problems with my knees all summer. Otherwise, we were both breathing nice and easy and able to chat the entire time. So, I count it a success. We don't even feel too bad this morning. Just some minor soreness in our legs.

As for the race itself, it was pretty typical. I have no idea how many ran this year. It didn't seem like quite as many because we were never too crowded, but who knows. We purposely chose to start farther back than our corral assignment and that seemed to work out pretty well. We didn't really encounter any idiot runners or fans/volunteers along the way. About the only 'problem' I can think of was the mental aspect of having the 4-milers blowing by us over the final 3 miles. It's just a little demoralizing while trying to hang on and finish 13 miles, but it wasn't that big of a deal.

I still have the memory of a dream of running a full marathon someday, but I will likely settle for just trying to do a half once a year. It's something to shoot for every year, and is usually doable. It would be nice to run it a little faster, but again, time is not really the concern.

So, that's about it for this year's race. I'll be 54 in a month, I'm feeling fairly healthy, so I'd say I'm pretty blessed.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Least, worst, most - preparing for my 4th half-marathon

I am supposed to run in the Fort Wayne Fall Festival's Fort4Fitness half marathon tomorrow morning. This will be my fourth one. The first was in 2012 - which was also my fastest time (1:47) - followed up in 2013 with Jane and I running together (2:26). I had to settle for the 10k in 2014 because of my brief regress into smoking cigarettes, and last year Jane and I ran the half together again (2:27).

This year is likely to be our slowest time, and as of right now I'm actually just hoping I can even participate. This is the least prepared, worst shape, and most weight of any of the previous years. Plus I wrenched my back Wednesday and was barely able to walk yesterday. I still couldn't do it today, but considering the improvement I made yesterday, I'm still hoping I can run tomorrow. But still....

This is somewhat of a toss up. On the one hand, my legs probably feel the freshest of any year because I haven't been running as much. On the other hand, though, I haven't been running as much. Last week was the longest run of the summer for me and that 10 miles just about killed me. Not only have I not been running as many days a week as normal (3-4 days/week as opposed to 4-6), but I haven't been logging as many miles either. I used to average about 5 miles per run on my short runs, and then do a long run once a week. This summer I've only been doing 2-3 miles on short runs, and there were way too many weeks when I only ran once or twice. So, while my legs do feel fresh and I don't have any knee, foot, leg or back pain, I'm also a little worried about adding 3 more miles tomorrow.

A natural consequence of not being well prepared is that I am not in very good shape either. I have just recently started to get my breathing down, but I'm still struggling more than in previous years. I get winded easier, and my legs tire quicker. Actually, aside from last week, I still wonder if I will make it during the first mile of almost every run. Not only from a physical standpoint, but I'm not in very good mental shape for running either. I lack confidence and a comfort level of knowing what I can handle or how hard I can push myself. Sometimes it's like I can't even remember how to run - foot placement, stride, speed, etc. I don't like not knowing what to expect.

Following each of the first two conditions, perhaps the one I dislike the most is my weight. This will be the most I've weighed for a half, by quite a bit. I am tipping the scale at 170 lbs right now, which is 15-30 lbs heavier than the previous times. I was probably around 140-145 the first year. Generally I don't like to get over 165 in the winter. I don't know what my problem is right now. I think I got down around 160 a couple months ago, but.... not right now. I was really hoping to be around 155 this summer. Instead I will be running for a couple hours like I'm carrying a couple sand bags around my belly. It's one thing to lack conditioning, but this could have been helped, and it's probably the most serious of issues facing me this year. It exacerbates the other two conditions. So I'm a little bummed about it.

All in all, I am still just hoping to be able to run tomorrow. If not, I'll be disappointed. So I'm not going to think about not being able to do it just yet. If I do run, I will be relieved on several levels. I hope to take another week off running afterward, and then I would like to start back on the treadmill for awhile. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, September 26, 2016

A weak week

I am glad last week is over. It was a bear. Mostly because of work. I don't know if I've mentioned on the blog about changing our computer software at work. Apparently they didn't like the old software, and they switched to a different company I guess because it's more popular. Unfortunately no one bothered to check it out before the switch so when it happened, literally nobody knew what they were doing. It's getting better, but I'm still not sure it's a better system.

Anyway, suffice it to say there were a couple days I seriously thought I was going to quit - do to the stress - and there was one day I actually thought I might get fired. I ended up having to make a trip to my doctor one day because my blood pressure was so high. But, I think things are starting to settle down a little. I'm still not sure if I'm a good fit with this company or not, but what's an old man like me to do at this point.

The week ended with Jane and I doing our last long run before the half-marathon (10 miles), and we kept the kids overnight Saturday into Sunday. It was also the second of three Sundays we've been involved in an after-church study called 'Every Day Workshops.' It's a discipleship tool taught by our pastor. I will likely share more about it later.

This week I start off tomorrow with a meeting with my lawyer for the pending work case. It is also my week off from running as I prepare for the half this coming Saturday. I am happy for the rest from running for a time.

It felt weird not writing at all last week. I don't remember the last time I did that. I was literally too busy and/or worn out every day to find any time at all to write. Most of the time it wouldn't have been suitable anyway. Hopefully that will change a bit now.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Spring green lawn visit #6

Friday we had our "Fall Visit" from Spring-Green to fertilize our lawn. It says they applied 28-0-3 fertilizer at a rate of 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet and spot treated broad leaf weeds as needed.

The lawn is probably looking nicer this September than it's looked since we've lived here. I meant to call sometime since the last visit to remind them to do the aerating and over-seeding, but I forgot. I need to do that one of these days pretty soon or it will be too late again.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fill my..... bucket, lord

Every now and then you'll here of someone who crossed something off their "bucket list." A bucket list is a set of special achievements or experiences you hope to accomplish during your lifetime. It might be a special trip, jumping out of an airplane, painting a masterpiece, owning a porsche, or some such thing. It seems for a couple months now I've been pondering my bucket list..... or lack of one.

About the only thing I can think of that I've always wanted to do was run a marathon. It doesn't look like that's going to happen at this point, so I'm feeling a bit empty. I'm not big on traveling, so I can't really say there are any places I'd like to visit. I am not too adventurous, so there are no mountains I'd like to climb or anything like that. I can't really think of any possessions I lack that would make me feel more fulfilled. Sometimes I wonder what my problem is. Why am I not like other people?

I suppose part of the problem is a lack of motivation at the moment. I have no purpose in life. I've settled into a rut and can't really imagine myself enjoying much of anything anymore. Shoot, even a 26-mile run doesn't sound all that enjoyable. But what's a poor soul to do in such times???

One day I was thinking about my empty bucket list and I suppose I was sort of asking God for help, and it reminded me of the old hymn, "Fill My Cup, Lord." It was written by Richard Blanchard a few decades ago. There is also a somewhat interesting story about how he came to write it. According to the book "Amazing Hymn Stories"...
"Life was never to be a bed of roses for Richard Blanchard.

A severe lung problem developed, and Blanchard was left with one-third of his lung capacity. But a diminished physical well-being did not stop young Blancard.

In 1953, he became the pastor of a church in Coral Gables, Florida, and one day, was asked by a young couple to perform their marriage ceremony. However, the couple was quite late for their counseling appointment.

Blanchard told his secretary, I will wait for thirty minutes and I'm leaving. He then went to a nearby Sunday school room and sat down to play the piano for awhile.

He later said, 'When I was not in the mood to be used of God, God was in a mood to use me.' In less than thirty minutes, as he waited for the young couple, God gave him the inspiring song Fill My Cup, Lord."

I'm not sure exactly how that might apply for me, but I guess for now I will hum this old tune and hope that God might still be in the mood to use me. Fill my cup, Lord, and if it's not too much trouble, my bucket as well.

Fill My Cup, Lord

(1) Like the woman at the well I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy;
And then I heard my Savior speaking:
"Draw from My well that never shall run dry."
CHORUS: Fill my cup, Lord, I lift it up, Lord!
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;
Bread of heaven, feed me 'til I want no more-
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!
(2) There are millions in this world who are craving
The pleasure earthly things afford;
But none can match the wondrous treasure
That I find in Jesus Christ my Lord.
(3) So, my brother, if the things this world gave you
Leave hungers that won't pass away,
My blessed Lord will come and save you,
If you kneel to Him and humbly pray:

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I paid for a haircut

I was planning to cut my hair yesterday morning. I had an extra half hour before work and it needed cleaned up around the edges. I finally decided I was too tired to do it, so I signed in online at the Great Clips by my office and paid to have someone cut it instead. It was totally worth $15 to be able to sit in a chair and have someone massage my head with clippers and a comb.

Usually I use my own clippers and just do a #2 cut all the way around. The only difficulty I have is doing the back. Sometimes I have to have Jane trim a straight line (or rounded line) along the back. Sometimes it's better to let someone else do it.

I hope Michelle (the person I had yesterday) wasn't offended that I just closed my eyes and didn't talk. Everyone else was making chit chat, but I treated it more as a meditative moment. I'm wondering if it wouldn't be a good idea to just do this once a month. It only takes 5-10 minutes for my hair, but it's 5-10 minutes of total relaxation. And I swear just having someone run the clippers down the back of my neck would be worth it alone. I love that feeling.

So, we will see. I am hoping I won't be this stressed and constantly tired all the time for much longer. For yesterday, though, a haircut was a nice way to start the day.