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.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Isaac and ricci's third anniversary


Today is son Isaac and his bride Ricci's 3rd wedding anniversary. I wrote about the whole wedding event HERE (complete with the awesome wedding video). That was such a great time.

They are still living in Atlanta where the boy is finishing up his Masters degree and working on getting into a PhD program. Ricci is still teaching at the same elementary/middle school she's been at. I would guess life is busy and good for them.

In reminiscing about their wedding day I am honestly a little torn. That was the summer I was forced to resign from my church, and we went through so many emotions as a family. It was also one of the best summers I'd ever had. At the time of the wedding specifically, I had just been released and declared healthy by my counselor, I was reading Bob Goff's book 'Love Does,' I was running regularly, and feeling really good physically and mentally. I also felt very free at the time. While it stung to be betrayed by so many friends, there was a sense of relief at not being the pastor-on-a-pedestal anymore.

However, in light of where I am today, this is not how I thought things would transpire. I did not expect to never pastor a church (or preach) again. I did not expect to be ignored and seemingly left for dead by so many former colleagues. I did not expect to find myself trapped in a dead-end job where I hated going to work most days.

I was just saying to Tom yesterday that I was feeling pretty humbled lately that I've not had one single person/church ask about my availability as a pastor. I don't know that I could do it, but I did at least think I'd be considered for some openings. And I've only had 1 person even ask me to do pulpit supply for them. I guess maybe I had a little higher view of myself than I should have. I guess maybe I was way worse than I'd ever thought. So I'm not feeling the best about myself right now.

Then I was reminded by Facebook this morning of something I posted in 2011. Apparently I said:
"What if we measured our successes not by the things we accomplished but by the kind of person we were?"
I think it's a good quote (and ideal), but it doesn't make me feel any better about myself. I'm not all that happy with the kind of person I've become (and apparently was). I didn't expect this to happen. So.... I dunno.

Anyway, there I go again, making this about me instead of who it should be about. So, today I pray that Isaac and Ricci are becoming the kind of people they hope to be. Successful not because of their achievements, but because of who they are.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A quiet weekend alone


I spent the weekend pretty much by myself, and got some much needed rest. Jane, Carrie and Anna took a trip to Bloomington, IL and met my mom for a couple days of shopping, swimming, and "girl time." My mom was only able to be there during the day Saturday due to not having anyone to watch my dad, but I think these girl weekends are good for all of them.

The Fort Wayne girls left Friday night after Drew and I got off work. Their drive was a little longer than expected due to some serious rain and high winds, and they didn't arrive until near midnight. They are expected back sometime this afternoon (Sunday), and it should be a much better drive since it's a beautiful sunny fall day.

I had some plans to visit with an old friend in town while they were away, but with my work being so crazy hectic lately, I ended up being sort of a vegetable. Friday night I came home from work, said goodbye to Jane, and that was about it. I was simply exhausted from the stress of my work situation right now. We are changing computer systems and some integral people are gone and basically no one knows what they're doing or supposed to do. Not to mention the pending lawsuit. So after Jane left I went to the store and bought a Tombstone frozen pizza, ate half of it, drank two beers, and basically just sat and stared at the TV set the rest of the night. I couldn't even tell you what I watched.

Saturday I had to work at the Downtown facility. With the computer switch, apparently we can't presently do anything in either system - the old or the new. Fortunately it was a slow day, so I took a few payments - writing them down on a piece of paper for later recording - and avoided answering the phone as much as possible. Afterward I went to the grocery store, kind of drove around town a little bit, and went home and sat on the couch.

Last night I went to "Beatlefest" at the downtown library. It was the last library music event of the summer, and it was pretty crowded. I got my usual Saturday night hamburger there, and sat in my lawn chair. One of the acts last night was the worship leader from our church (Sunny Taylor). She did a set of Beatles songs with her three daughters. It was somewhat of a surreal moment as the four girls held hundreds of people in the palm of their hand. I moved closer to the stage and was simply enjoying the show when all of a sudden I noticed someone leaning against the railing beside me. At first I thought it was a long-haired hippy guy. At one point they said something to me and I noticed it was a woman. I also noticed she was kind of having a hard time keeping it together. She was teary-eyed. Certainly "Hey Jude" will do that to you, but something she said keyed me in to more going on. So we struck up a conversation. It turns out she is from Findlay, Ohio - where we lived prior to coming here. She'd moved here a year ago to be with a guy she met, and she'd just found out he'd been cheating on her. I was a bit torn, because on the one hand I really didn't want to get involved - I'm not a pastor anymore - but on the other hand, my heart sort of tore a bit as I listened. So I actually just used some coaching logic and let her talk. It finally got a little awkward, so I wished her well and said I needed to use the restroom (which I did). While I'm still not sure what the right thing is in situations like that, I moved to a different location and silently prayed for her. After that I continued to listen to the rest of the bands and also continued to be amazed by the young musical talent in Fort Wayne. This could easily be a musical post, but there are more pressing things on my mind right now.

As the fest ended I called Jane and intended to go see if a friend of mine was at our old hangout. Somewhere along the way I just sort of spaced out and ended up home. I think I watched a few episodes of 'Stranger Things' - which we started watching at the urging of friends, but Jane determined she did not like - and I must have just crashed at some point.

This morning I intended to go to church. I continue to be amazed by the impact of communion and a regular liturgy. However, I actually didn't wake up until 9:45 am. I'm not in the habit of setting an alarm on Sunday mornings because I'm usually up in plenty of time to leave for church at 10:15, but apparently my body needs to recoup from all the stress it's been under. I suppose I could have made it to church, but I decided 9/11 would maybe be a good morning to miss.

I am not what you would call a "patriotic" person. Not that I am "un" patriotic, but I just don't get it. I guess I live for another kingdom and have pledged allegiance to something/someOne else. So part of me was hesitant to attend this new church on such a Sunday because I didn't want to find them doing something like saying the Pledge of Allegiance or similar. I seriously doubt that they would, but it just seemed like a good day to hang out alone.

So.... I did. I am feeling more relaxed than I was last week; even yesterday. I think it was good for me to spend some time by myself. Not that I don't love my wife and there's no one I would rather spend time with, but sometimes I gotta get away too. And "getting away" to me is often staying home and sitting in silence.

I shared a thing on Facebook from a blog post I wrote a long time ago. I actually don't even remember writing it (it was in 2009). I went back and forth over whether I should share it or not, because I feel like such a different person than I was then. But maybe it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit or something. Or maybe I shared it because I'm just stupid. At any rate, it was interesting that as I did so, I noticed all the plains at the airport. The Fort Wayne airport is putting on their annual air show this weekend, and there were plenty of planes flying this morning. That was quite a contrast to the tragic 9/11/01 terrorist attack. What really stood out back then was how QUIET it was. They didn't allow any air traffic and the silence was deafening. So today the sound of planes is.... interesting. One would hope we've come a long way since then. I suppose it's also possible that we've just fallen that much further. I do not know.

Anyway, this is a too-long post turning into nostalgic nonsense, so I think I'll just stop.

Peace out; and in.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

My first 'grandparents day'


Yesterday I had the pleasure and privilege of attending my first ever "Grandparents Day" (as a grandparent). Our sweet little Anna-bug is in kindergarten at St. Paul's. I was fortunate to get a couple hours off work so I could join her class, along with grandpa Andy and great-grandma Esther. Jane would have loved to have been there, but with a new job and all it just wasn't workable.

The day was somewhat complicated by the fact that there was a fog delay. So instead of being at the school from 8:30-10:45, it was just 10:30-11:30. It was further thrown into turmoil that Carrie locked herself and the kids out of the house with no car keys when she went to take Anna to school. Fortunately Drew just happened to be covering for my at my facility, so I was able to take his key and give to Carrie, and then I just took Anna to school. She was only about 5 minutes late.

So I got to take the granddaughter to school for the first time. She had to show me where and how to enter the building, and where her classroom was. Of course this was after she found me a parking spot right in front of the school. :)

I really like this school, and her teacher seems to be nothing less than spectacular (Ms. German). The grandparents (and other VIP's) sat at the tables with their child. At first we listened to the daily Scripture reading and prayer over the intercom. Then the teacher shared a little. As she said, Kindergarten is fun because the child starts as a preschooler and ends as a first-grader. So a lot of changes take place during this time of their lives. I've actually already noticed changes with Anna (positive).

Anna apparently shares a table with another girl who is even more shy than she is. We sat and watched as the teacher had the children do this exercise where they brought two items in a paper sack and they had to rhyme. The child gave clues until someone from the class guessed what was in the bag. I was so impressed with Anna because after the first few kids (while she was still be shy), she eventually joined and would raise her arm up high when she had a guess. I think she answered like 4 times (with the correct answer too). It was so nice to see her participating and talking and interacting with the other kids. Then they played a game where they rolled dice to help them draw a picture. She is an excellent draw-er and color-er. Then it was over.

I left a very proud grandfather. I suppose I will always be a little partial to the first grandchild, and only granddaughter (so far). She is such a sweetie.

When I left the school I then ventured down to Jane's place of work and saw her office for the first time. It's pretty cool. It's on the fifth floor of a downtown building. She has her own little cubicle with 2 windows that look over Ewing Street toward the St. Francis Performing Arts building. We went to lunch downtown and then both headed back to work.

So the day started off pretty well. Unfortunately I then had to go to work, and it was pretty much downhill from there.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Attitude


So.... my job has sucked a big one lately. I've mentioned a few things in the past, but this week our company switched computer software - which is how we do everything. And let's just say it is not going well. Integral people have been gone. There has been minimal training. No one knows what they're even supposed to do. I don't even know how to take a payment, much less rent a storage unit or do reports or bank reconciliations or anything else. So it's just a little stressful.

Add to that the fact that tomorrow I will have to cover someone else's facility, so not only do I not know what to do at mine, and it's just one big jarbled mess.

But I was thinking this morning... Not only has my job sucked, but so has my attitude. I've been more concerned about how all these things impact me, and not at all concerned about trying to help, or helping anyone else. Yes, I'm old, and maybe too old to learn new tricks, but I should also be better than this.

I need to let my mind dwell here for a little bit (Philippians 2:1-11):
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

I have not had this mindset. I wish it was as easy as simply putting my mind to it, but it's not. So I confess my poor attitude and ask for forgiveness. Help me, Lord, to keep things in perspective and to have a better attitude about work, and life in general. Amen.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Benny starts preschool


Benny's first day of preschool 9/7/16

The middle grandchild started preschool today. Oh my. I can't believe how Bennett has grown. Carrie said he was very excited to be starting "school" and went to his first day without a hitch. He is attending the same one Anna attended.

Currently he likes to be called Benny or Bennett, but no longer just B. He is a super-easygoing kid who laughs easy and likes to have fun. He can also be very serious about his cars and building towers. He's always been good about playing by himself, and he and Caleb play really well together. So I don't anticipate school being much of an issue for him. Caleb, on the other hand, did not handle things so well this morning - as you can see from the picture below. Poor kid. I'm sure he will adjust soon enough.

Bennett and Caleb 9/7/16

Just for kicks I looked back and wondered how Anna's first day of preschool picture compared. I'm surprised how much taller Bennett is, because Anna seems to be so tall now. They are both pretty darn cute in my opinion.

Anna's 1st day of preschool 9/3/14

Sunday, September 04, 2016

New running shoes


I bought a new pair of running shoes yesterday. I bought the last ones in June of last year. I opted to once again go with Adidas. I got the Energy Boost 3. They're pretty much just like my previous shoes with a few minor upgrades. I got them at 3 Rivers Running, as usual.

This was probably the quickest I've ever purchased a pair of shoes of any kind. We walked in, I told the sales girl I wanted a pair just like my old ones, we looked through the sale rack and didn't find my size, so she got me a pair of the current model, I tried them on, and bought them. In years past this process would have taken close to a month with several visits and try-ons. I didn't even ask how much they cost, and I'm a little embarrassed that I paid $160 for a pair of shoes. However this is one of the few expenses to this hobby, and it's a pretty vital element, so I don't feel too bad.

I have yet to run in them, but can't wait. They have a larger drop than I would probably like, but I think I need it. This year's also have a little more "boost" surface, and that's what I'm curious to find out about. We will see.

So, not only do I have new running shoes, but I was probably more in need of a new pair of everyday shoes. The old running shoes will now switch to that role.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

The juno webmail scam


So, back on June 30th of this year I wrote about how I'd finally decided to cancel the old Juno webmail account I had when pastoring. Well, apparently I only thought I'd cancelled it. It appears that Juno isn't that easy to get rid of.

When I originally called to cancel I thought it was weird that I started getting "welcome to Juno" things, and I actually got a Juno cd in the mail. It would appear that instead of cancelling, they re-signed me up or something! It was hard to know because the person I talked to didn't speak English very well.

So...... the other day (9/1/16) I called back - after finally finding on their site how to go about deactivating - and once again got someone who spoke very poor English. I tried to explain that I wanted to deactivate/cancel my account and she tried signing me up for a different plan. I finally had to get a little stern and explain that I didn't want any of it! I wanted to be done with them, and I wanted my credit card info taken out of their system! She finally seemed to understand and said to do that I simply needed to stop using the account for 60-90 days. I asked how I could get my credit card info removed and she said that wasn't possible, that I just needed to leave the account dormant for 60-90 days.

I don't have a good feeling about this, but I guess I'm going to have to leave it dormant and watch my cc statements to make sure they don't automatically extend my subscription. Or, maybe it would be easier to just go ahead and get a new card.

So, what I have I learned? DON'T USE JUNO FOR WEBMAIL/EMAIL/INTERNET SERVICES. Which is unfortunate because we still have our very first email account with them under a different account. It sounds like we may have it forever.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Running like "L"


I am gearing up for my annual half marathon so this morning I was trying to think of a few things to keep in mind. As a more-than middle-ager I'm not interested in times or competitiveness. I run just a few days a week (between 2 and 4 miles) and one long run on the weekend. At this stage I simply run for enjoyment and hope to avoid injury. Gone are the days of running like a 'bat out of hell.' Now it's time to run like "L." This is how I do it:

LUMBAR (back) -
The first thing I try to remind myself of is to keep my back straight. The lumbar is the lower back, and keeping it arched helps me run better. I don't want to slouch, so I can breathe easier and fuller. I also don't want to lean forward, so I can keep a smoother stride. Keeping my back straight or slightly arched allows for more fluid movement, better foot strike, and might even give a mental boost - it's like keeping your head up (hey, we need all the help we can get).

LUNGS (breathing) -
Another important thing to keep in mind is breathing. A straight back helps in breathing deeper, from the lungs, rather than short chest breathing. The idea is to let my breathing emit naturally through my mouth, rather than blowing or sucking in with my mouth. I want to feel my mid-section expand and contract. I also believe it's important to establish a breathing "rhythm." I breathe out 3 breaths and in 2, and I sync my breaths with my foot strike. So each step I'm taking a breath in or out. This allows for a more relaxed and smooth pattern and helps me avoid hyperventilating or simply getting too winded.

LOOSE (baby) -
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the need to stay loose. I've heard that the best distance runners run like 5-year-olds. You know, they have fun. Watch a group of children run around the schoolyard. Their arms and legs are flailing, they're smiling and laughing, and it seems they can go on forever. It's important to stay relaxed when running a long distance. I try to concentrate on keeping my face loose, my hands, and as much as possible my legs. I usually keep my elbows bent at less than 90 degrees, but I want them to swing freely. Many runners say that after a half their arms and shoulders are more sore than their legs. It's probably due to tightness. Relaxing the jaw and hands usually helps the rest of the body relax.

So, these are three "L" words to keep in my while running: Lumbar, lungs, and loose. Hopefully they can keep me in love with the sport, lest I lose my legs and lull myself to... sleep. :)

Thursday, September 01, 2016

WWJHMD


So I've been thinking about my life lately. A week or so ago someone mentioned the WWJD phase that ran through the Christian world. You know, what-would-jesus-do. There were handy little bracelets and stickers and all sorts of marketing reminders. Actually, I thought it was a great way to get people to think about following Jesus in their daily life.

However, I remember reading or hearing somewhere while I was still in seminary - in the mid to late 90's - that rather than asking what Jesus would do, it might be more helpful to ask: what would Jesus have ME do? The idea being, since we are not Jesus, and we have all been uniquely gifted, rather than trying to discern what Jesus himself would do, let's think about what he would want ME to do in various situations and seasons of life.

I like that, and that was my application from our weekly Bible Study on Monday night. I had, of course, kind of forgotten about it until this morning, but I suppose it's never too late. At any rate, I want to try to keep that at the forefront of my mind: how does Jesus want me to respond to people; how does he want me to think about things; how does he want me to view things; how does he want me to interact in different situations; how does he want me to do my job; where does he want me to go; what does he want me to do? And the list could go on to infinity......

So, that's my goal today. I just got back from a walk, and I was trying to think about how Jesus wants me to perceive myself, even. I find it an interesting thought, and something I could use much of.

What would Jesus have YOU do?