Monday, July 28, 2014

Let's try this again

I have gone 1 day without a cigarette. Again. Ugh. Sunday's probably shouldn't count though, because they are such a different day than the rest. The real test will be going to work today. We'll see.

This has got to be one of my biggest fails over the past year (or ever). Who starts smoking after having quit for 25 years??? I guess it's not like I WANTED to. I don't WANT to have a cigarette every time I have one. I hate doing it. But I like doing it too. The best one is that first one of the day after breakfast. But I'm a'gonna try again to stop. And I don't really need any encouraging words. I know them all, and they honestly don't really help. The urge to smoke is never going to go away. So it's just going to be a struggle.

Here we go. Wish me luck. Pray if you believe in that sorta thing. One day down...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

FAIL - the best ministry book i may have ever read

I just finished reading J.R. Briggs' phenomenal little book, Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure. I think it may be the best ministry book I have ever read. If not, it was at least the best book for ME at this point in life.

I think it was Scot McKnight who suggested it, so I ordered my first book in over a year. I started reading it with the typical skepticism of "oh yeah, right, just another book that won't deliver what it promises"... I finished it on my back patio, teary-eyed at the realization there might actually be hope for me yet.

I tried to blog about it while reading a chapter a day. It just didn't work out. I HOPE to blog about it now that I'm done - and while reading it again - but first I want my wife to read it. I'm not sure I can put things into words on a page yet... but I need to one of these days. It's hard to describe the feelings that came through - similar to finding a friend or soul-mate; someone who made you feel "okay," accepted, validated, ashamed and encouraged all at the same time.

I'm not sure about recommending this for non-church leaders, or even for seminarians or those just starting out in ministry. However, I would think just about anyone who has served in ministry for any length of time knows what it is to feel like a failure, and you should read it. Every denominational director should have stacks of this book available for the pastors they serve. It is the perfect size for someone who's burned out on reading - a mere 178 pages in paperback. It's easy to read, and while it provides plenty of introspection on its own, there are also reflection questions at the end.

While trying to find the best words to describe it, I will just share from the back cover:

Sometimes ministries are shipwrecked by moral failures. But for most of us, the failure is more ordinary: disillusionment, inadequacy, declining budgets, poor decisions, opposition, depression, burnout.

J.R. Briggs, founder of the Epic Fail Pastors Conference, knows what failure feels like. He has listened to pastors who were busted in a prostitution sting or found themselves homeless when ejected from ministry. With candid vulnerability, Briggs explores the landscape of failure, how it devastates us and how it transforms us. Without offering pat answers or quick fixes, he challenges cultural expectations of success and gives permission to grieve our losses. Somehow, in the midst of our pain, we are better positioned to receive the grace of healing and restoration.

I'm trying to not get my hopes up too high, but I feel really good right now. Not like I've overcome anything or that all is right with the world, but more like 'I'm not alone;' and like I said earlier, there may be hope for me/us after all someday. Nicely done, J.R., and thanks.

Hopefully I will be able to write more about it in the days and weeks ahead...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Golf cart tires

We got 2 new tires for the golf cart at work. The front tires both have nails/screw in them, but they apparently still hold air. The back tires were almost completely bald and had threads showing through. So I suggested we look into the price of new tires. Two other facilities had carts with flat tires too.

So I called Bill Miller Golf Cars and asked some questions. First I discovered they are golf "cars" and not "carts." Who knew? Then I found out that golf car tires are pretty much all the same size: 8x8.5.... they are $66 for the tire already on a rim and $47 just for the tire (but they don't install them on rims).... and I didn't realize that this place is just a couple miles from my house!

So the OM and I asked one of the owners about getting some tires and he was like, "well, yeah, just get them." So the OM gave me the company credit card and I picked up 4 tires yesterday morning before work. Two were for mine, one for Time Corners and one for Lima/Cook. I then delivered the tires to their respective places, and headed to my facility and put the new tires on my golf car. It only took about 10 minutes. I used my car jack and the four lugnuts are the same as on a regular car tire.

I don't know about the other facilities, but my cart/car rides a LOT better. It used to wobble along, and now it's pretty smooth.

Friday, July 25, 2014

I finally got my own work shirts

I think I've said this before, but this time I think I actually got shirts for work that are mine. I was originally given two that had the wrong facility name on them, and they were larges, which were huuuuuge on me. Then I got what I thought were the shirts I ordered, but they had the generic FWS embroidery rather than my specific location. Well today I received four shirts that are my size and they have the correct facility name embroidered on them. The only problem is... I don't think they're the shirts I ordered at all. I could be wrong, but I think I would remember if I ordered two-tone shirts (which these all are). I could have sworn they were all plain colors. But... this is probably as good as it's going to get for me. They are at least nice shirts, even if I don't like the colors. And they're mine.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jason, windjam, music on main = home

This past Saturday we made a quick trip back home to Illinois. Sheffield was having their annual 'Music On Main' celebration. They block off main street and have food, drinks, music, and games for people of all ages. There was quite the crowd, as there were several class reunions being held that same night. It was fun.

Not like that wasn't enough going on, but Brothers Pub - perfectly located right at the end of Main Street - was having a special performance that night as well. Sheffield's own, Jason Ringenberg, played there. Jason is known as the front man for the band Jason & the Scorchers. He also performs solo, as well as impersonating his "twin" brother Farmer Jason from time to time. It was a packed house at Brothers all night long. And good to see.

Jason took the stage with his acoustic guitar at 10 pm. He did a solo set, as well as this rousing rendition of the Farmer Jason song, 'The Tractor Goes Chug, Chug, Chug.' I'm not even sure how long he played, but it was nice for all his hometown friends to finally get to see him play Eventually the house band - Windjam - backed Jason up and they did a set of Jason & the Scorchers songs. Then Windjam ended the evening doing their own wonderful blues music.

I saw sooooo many old friends from high school and from when we used to live here. It really was an awesome time. Even daughter Carrie was brave enough to leave her three young-uns with my parents for a few hours so she could take in the festivities.

I did get a chance to chat with Jason some before the show, and then again as the night/morning wore down we sat on the bench on main street and reminisced and talked about kids and church and farming and such. He is one swell guy. As are Mike & Danny, who own Brothers. And I was a proud uncle as Dr. Tim - one of the organizers of Music On Main - was one of the last people to leave after cleaning up. How many town doctors put in free time and effort to help the town they work in and are from? It was a great night to be in Sheffield.

As far as logistics and our family... Carrie and the kids (Anna, Bennett and Caleb) picked Jane up Friday evening and drove to my parents house in Drew Carrie's van. I drove out by myself Saturday morning. Drew had to work. Then I turned around and came home Sunday after lunch, and the girls and the kids came back Monday. I guess poor little Caleb cried almost the entire drive there and back. Other than that, though, it was a great time. Here are a few random pics from Saturday night.

Daughter Carrie and Jason

Jason's mom (on left), Wink and Darlene

Jason Ringenberg

Jason & Windjam (Danny, Linda, and Joe - minus Mike and Lisa)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Yes, i know

I am aware that I have not been keeping up with the name of the blog. I have no excuse, but several reasons. I have been fighting a cold, cough, allergy and sinus issues. My energy is not the greatest right now. I've also taken on some additional responsibilities at work. And I was out of town this weekend. However, I think mostly I have been coming to terms with some grief/sorrow issues. I probably have not done a real good job of processing things lately, but the book I am currently reading is helping. One of the main changes I've made is trying to read every morning again. It's nice. So, one of these days I need to get around to writing about: the weekend home, my new job responsibilities, getting a raise, the book I'm reading, and... I've been thinking about concentrating my writing more on the grief process I've been going through for the past year. I've not been allowed to share much about it (by the leaders of my former church), but I have learned a great deal. I'm finally starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel (ever so faintly). It will probably take a lot of fumbled attempts to get it across. So please be patient, my friends. I still value this blog, but the picture is big and we've got a lot of time.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mowing. tired

I mowed the lawn after work today. It was pretty high in the back so I raised it to the highest setting again.

I was plenty tired too. I didnt feel very good today, and even though I didn't have a lot of customers in today, I was pretty busy. My duties have been expanded to include the office buildings. We are currently in the process of moving two office tenants in building three to building two. The rest have moved out of three and we are converting it to storage units. Which is what we just got done doing with building one. So I had a lot of conversations and phone calls today as the liaison between the owners, office tenants, and construction workers. It was tiring, but it beats bouncing a tennis ball against the wall.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bug-bombed the garage

I set off a Hot Shot No-Mess Fogger (with odor neutralizer) in the garage yesterday. Our house isn't too bad, but we seem to have a lot of gnats and spiders in the garage. I figured it was worth a try. I thought about doing two foggers at the same time, but there was a warning against that. So I tried one of the three that came in the pack. I figure if it didn't work, I can still use the other two at the same time. The garage is a slightly larger area than what one fogger should cover. I just set it off in the middle of the room when I left for work. It was shut up all day, then we opened both doors when we got home last night to air it out. We'll see.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cheap trick at trf

M'Lady and I had the pleasure of seeing Cheap Trick open the 2014 Three Rivers Festival at Headwaters Park in Fort Wayne last night. What an awesome time! I was never a huge Cheap Trick fan - never owned any of their music - but I liked them alright. They are one of those bands that is much better live than just listening to their music (imho). You also realize that even though you might not be able to name too many of their songs, you recognize them all as soon as they start playing.

I'm surprised I wasn't more of a fan of theirs. They hail from Rockford, Illinois - just a mere 90 minutes from where I grew up and lived most of my life. They also started playing and touring during my high school years. Perhaps I was already set in my musical ways, or maybe I just wasn't paying attention. Anyway, it was nice to see that Robin Zander, Rick Nielson, and Tom Petersson were still together. They may be a bit older, but boy do they still know how to put on a show! It was well worth the $25 day-of-show ticket price.

There was also a great crowd there. Perhaps the largest crowd I've seen at the park in my years here. I was glad to see it. We arrived at maybe 7 o'clock or so and there wasn't an empty chair to be found anywhere, and standing room was even somewhat limited. We hung out in the alleyway that led to the porta-potties for the opening bands (Orange Opera & Unlikely Alibi). We also took several walkabouts through the grounds under and just outside the pavilion. We finally settled on leaning against a gate section on the south side of the stage. It is a favorite spot of mine. You are behind the speakers (to try to save what's left of my hearing), and you get to see all the behind-the-stage happenings. I think it's interesting to see how different musicians warm up or prepare to take the stage. You also get to see them interact with other band members, roadies, and workers.

I suppose they played most of their hits. Which was nice of them. Can you imagine going to work every day for the last 30+ years and doing the same thing... and looking like you're enjoying yourself!! But they did. It was a great show. I had a blast not only listening to the music and watching their performance, but I thought the crowd was great too! I love people-watching, and there were plenty of characters to put a smile on my face last night.

We did run into a few people we knew. We saw Amish John and the Sizzler (Mike). We chatted with them for awhile. We hadn't seen them in a long time and it was good to visit. We also saw Bob & Leta from our old church. We chatted briefly, but not long once they mentioned church.

I could probably write about the experience for awhile, but that's probably enough. A very fun night, a great way to kick off the festival, and I'm glad Fort Wayne supported them bringing in a 'name' band to headline. Very nice.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Books and bookshelves

So I had been thinking about getting another long board and some cinder blocks to add to the bookshelf along the west wall in the basement. My books don't all fit on it (or the other three bookshelves we have). Then it occurred to me.... maybe I just need to get rid of some books. I probably don't need a lot of them, but they're hard to part with.

Speaking of books... I ordered a book the other day. It seems like it's been ages since I got a new book. I don't read at all. I tried reading David Platt's "Follow Me," but... I just kind of lost interest. I'm sure it's a good book and all, I just had a hard time getting into it.

However, Scot McKnight put up a thing on his Facebook about J.R. Brigg's new book, 'Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure.' It struck a chord, because... I am a ministry failure. Probably not forever, but right now I am. It doesn't matter if it was my fault or someone else's. That just where I am. I could try to ignore it, avoid it, or deny it... so I thought maybe I would read J.R.'s book. I checked how long it was - and it's only like 200 pages. I think maybe I can handle that. Maybe.

So... we'll see. I'm hoping it will be waiting for me when I get home.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

I forgot how... or, stage fright

I desperately need to start running again. Not only to get back in shape, but for my mind as much as my body. But it's like I don't even know how to start. I can't remember how to do it. I actually think I walk different now (since the plantar fasciitis).

Plus... I have to admit that I'm kind of scared. I'm scared it will be discouraging. I'm scared of another injury. I'm scared that I will give up.

That seems to apply to a lot of things anymore. I got asked to do a wedding recently, and I really wanted to do it... But I just couldn't. I can't imagine speaking in front of a group of people again. I don't feel like I can speak for God, or about God.

The same goes for preaching, or speaking in general. I just can't imagine it.

I suppose it's only natural though. This is kind of who I used to be. Before. Before any of it.

But to be "running" from running... Ugh. I dunno. Life is a funny thing.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The wall

I had kind of forgotten about the words painted on the living room wall of the Exodus House until Jane took these pics the other day. Good, good stuff. [I think if you click on the pic it will enlarge. maybe]

The left side.

The right side.

The whole thing.