Thursday, August 28, 2014


One part of my job that I don't really like all that much is making collection calls. Every day we are supposed to call people who are 8, 18, or 28 days late - giving them a courtesy call to let them know that a late fee is going to be assessed on the next day. It seems every day there are several of these calls to make. We also need to contact people whose credit cards did not go through that are on autopay. It is usually either because they don't have enough money in their account, or they got a new card. We also need to keep in touch with people who are in lien status (past 30 days late, and they've been locked out of their unit), or auction status (past 90 days late, and they are scheduled for the next auction).

I admit that there are days I just don't make any calls. I need to be in the right mood. However, there are some days that I just get on a roll and I call a whole bunch of people. There have been times when I've contacted everyone on the late list - which could be up to 40 people or so. I often seem to have better luck emailing certain people, so I will do that if I think they prefer that method.

When I make calls I kind of assume that the person will not answer their phone. It's almost always a shock when they do. It also seems that unless someone is new and they just forgot it was their payment date, most people are on the list every month. Those people can tend to irritate me, especially if they gripe about the late fees or something.

When I first started I was scared to death to call people. Now it doesn't bother me near as much, but I still don't like doing it. I also used to have a hard time charging people late fees. I would waive them more times than I didn't. I am getting much better at sticking to them now though. Not sure if that's really a good thing or not. But if you're late, you're late.

One thing I do enjoy is watching my collections pie chart go down after someone has paid. Son-in-law Drew told me he likes to keep his collections down around 5% or below. That means only 5% of tenants are late (I think). So I work pretty hard at trying to do that as well. Last week I got down to 4.0 and I was pretty happy. But the very next day it shot up to 4.7. I am currently sitting at 5.2. 

So there's that. It doesn't help that I don't like talking on the phone, period. Oh well. I guess that's why they call it "work."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Think about it (a jakob dylan story)

I'm friends with a lady in New York. We met on this thing called the "Reckless Country Soup" and we are both big Jason & the Scorchers fans. Last night she (Nadine) went to see Homemade Sin - which includes Warner Hodges (guitar legend from JATS, as well as Dan Baird - from the Georgia Satellites). Anyway, Nadine shared this story (and pics) about Jakob Dylan on Facebook this morning:

So Dan Baird and I are talking after the show and this guy walks up, interrupts and says, "Hi Dan, I'm Jakob", and waits for a response. Dan gets a quizzical look on his face and Jakob says, "Think about it". I knew immediately and left them alone to talk. Jakob is a huge JATS and Homemade Sin fan.

I LOVE Jakob's music. And also his dad's (Bob). Very cool that he is/was a Jason & the Scorchers fan like me. :)

Warner Hodges, Dan Baird, Jakob Dylan

Warner, Jakob, Nadine

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I thought it would be different

When I was preaching every week, one thing that was always a concern in the back of my mind was... when the time came that I wasn't preaching, would I be able to sit and listen to someone else? I was afraid it might be difficult for me; that I would listen with a critical ear; or, worse yet, that I would constantly be comparing my preaching to theirs ("I wouldn't have said that," or "why didn't they mention this?", etc., etc.). I have to say, though, that I have been quite content with listening and learning. I actually don't miss preaching at all. I thought I would. In reality, it is quite refreshing to listen to and learn from others - and sometimes from people who aren't all that good at teaching/preaching. I truly believe we can learn something from anyone though, and for now anyway, I am very comfortable doing that.

So it got me to thinking this past weekend, as I listened to a preacher I'd never heard before - was I 'out of position' all those 14 years that I preached on a weekly basis? I certainly used to like to preach. I liked researching, writing, and crafting sermons. It was invigorating. I was not a super communicator like some people, but I think I was okay. I don't think it was forced at all. I even vaguely remember feeling that it was exactly what I was born to do - especially in a small church. So maybe it was just one of those things that I was supposed to do for a time, and now my time is up. Or maybe I wasn't really that good at it and I never knew. Or, perhaps, like my counselor said, I was simply burned out and needed a break. I have to wonder, had things not ended the way they did - with a group of leaders who seemed intent on completely humiliating me as a pastor and a person - maybe I would want to preach again. But I don't. I know that could change, especially if I ever get over the hurt and pain, but for now I really like listening and learning. And I'm glad that I do... because I can't imagine ever being able to preach again.

Monday, August 25, 2014


I had my 6-month dental cleaning this morning. The appointment was at 8 am, and I was out of there at 8:30. So I was waaaay early for work. But I was happy for the clean bill of dental health.

When I arrived and was waiting in the reception area there was another guy waiting too. He started asking about my Buick. Turns out he works for GM. He rambled on and on and was asking me all these questions, and giving me all this info about cars.... and I was still half asleep. I was glad when he got called back so I could just sit and space out. Since I don't start work until 9:30 I'm not used to be functional that early in the morning.

Once I got called back I went to my usual spot - the corner chair that looks out onto Jefferson Blvd. I can't remember my hygenists name, but I like her. She is real quiet and sweet, and she never asks me questions while she has her hands in my mouth. Mostly she just cleans my teeth, polishes them (I chose mint over cinnamon again), and then flosses. Then the dentist comes in and looks at my gums and each of my teeth. He is nice too. And that's pretty much it. I was a little surprised they didn't do x-rays, but maybe they only do that once a year.

So now I have a new toothbrush, tiny tube of toothpaste, and a small box of floss. :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014


I mowed the lawn yesterday. Man, was it hot. Of course I did it at one of the hottest, muggiest points in the day - around 5 pm. I haven't sweat that much in a long time. Anyway, I mowed on the highest setting again. It was really long in the back. When I got done I also pulled some of our towering weeds from between the two "face trees." I had to stuff them in the garbage bin since it was full from cleaning out the garage earlier in the day. Btw, our grass is about as green as it's been all year. Seems weird at the end of August.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cleaned the garage

I've spent the last 5 hours or so cleaning the garage. Ugh. And it is HOT outside. But it needed it.

I threw a bunch of stuff away, I rearranged stuff, I hung stuff up, I swept, I used the blower, I sent some stuff over to Drew Carrie's (my old red wagon and my old pedal John Deere tractor).

I had two reasons for wanting to clean the garage. 1) I would like to paint the floor sometime. The concrete is starting to look a little nasty, so I'd like to use that garage floor sealer/paint stuff to try to keep it around for awhile longer. 2) I'm hoping to have room for a motorcycle in there one of these days. I think I actually might be able to do it. Maybe.

Now that I'm done with that... I need to mow the yard. It is way overdue as well. But it's still way hot. I suppose I should take a shower when I'm done with that. I'm pretty hot, sweaty and dirty right now.

So this is what Saturday's are all about, huh? :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

An old arrow...

I was sitting down to write something this morning and I noticed that someone had reached back into my archives and was taking a gander at this old post from 2009. I was writing much better back then, and about much more interesting topics. So I thought I would re-post this quote from James Bryan Smith's great (great) book, "Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven." At the time I was lamenting my need to re-read it. I still do. It was such an impactful book for me. Anyway, this is the quote I posted from it.

From p. 2...

It was more than a picture. It was the summation of a person's life, a symbol that said more about who he was than mere words can. Rich Mullins was a man who stood among the ruins - the ruins created by his own faults and failings, the ruins that result from the ravages of time. In the midst of the ruins he pointed to heaven, to the God who bundles our brokenness and heals our wounds. He felt the winds of heaven as he stood upon the stuff of earth and pointed, through his words and his music, to something larger than even our own dreams. Rich Mullins was an arrow pointing to heaven.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Nothin much to say today. It rained off and on. Still supposed to storm yet again tonight.

I went to put the garbage out by the curb - because they pick it up early Friday morning - and when I opened the can it didn't have anything in it. I found a few sticks in the yard so I put them in and wheeled it out to the street.

Pretty exciting, I know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Travis Reed posted the following quote by Walter Brueggemann on his Facebook status last night. I remember seeing Brueggemann speak in person once. He was giving a lecture at the seminary I was attending. He said "son-of-a-bitch" or some such harmless word, and a bunch of people got up and walked out. I didn't really even notice that he said it, I was pretty into what he was talking about. I thought it was amazing.

Anyway, I don't know that I have any real thoughts on this quote at the moment.... but it struck a chord, and I wanted to save it. It's from an interview Travis did with Walter.

From my time with Walter yesterday...He says, "I think the conversation needs to always begin with pain. What pain have you got? And where does the pain come from? And if the person is innocent enough to say I don’t have any pain, then the question is, who do you know that has pain? Or do you think your actions and investments are causing any pain for anyone? I think there is a huge bias in the Bible about taking pain as the primary language of human possibility. We always want to juxtapose joy and pain in the gospel, or in my church tradition we speak of the cost and joy of discipleship. But I think that pain is always privileged in the gospels. So you know the exodus story begins with They groaned and cried out under their pain in Egypt and that led to the whole business. And Jesus encounters it seems to me are largely with people in pain or with the people who are causing the pain...need actual engagement with those who bear the pain of society.. . . the good nuns . . . they kind of move back and forth between places of pain and the Eucharistic table, back and forth. I think that is the story."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rhythm, heroin, jesus, and things

I have no idea how to title this. I was originally going to write this morning about getting up late. I usually set my alarm clock for 6 am (even though I don't leave for work until around 9). This morning I woke up at 7. I don't know if I forgot to set the alarm, or if it went off so many times I finally just turned it off. At any rate, I decided that I was not going to rush myself. I still went about my usual morning routine, and somehow I still ended up being able to get everything done - including a 30-minute walk. Weird how that happens sometimes.

Well, while I was walking, I remembered reading a Facebook post someone put up yesterday. I don't really even remember who, but they were quoting someone else (I don't remember who that was either). Anyway, the quote was: "Jesus is not like heroin; he's more like 3 square meals and 8 hours of sleep a day." I have no idea of the context but... I get that. I think.

It's not that Jesus can't transform us in an instant, or that miracles can't happen... But we can't sustain ourselves on a life of that sort of dramatic event. They can happen, but there also needs to be some sort of daily rhythm involved in following and living out the ways of Jesus. It's like Eugene Peterson's, "a long obedience in the same direction."

So... that's just a brief morsel of 'all that'... but it's where my mind was this morning. I am a person who needs life rhythms. And, honestly, right now I could stand to establish some new ones (or old ones). I do not need any heroin though.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Trying another church

We decided to check out another church yesterday. We've been attending the other one for about a year now, and while we really like the Sunday worship gathering... that's about all there is to it for us. We just can't seem to connect with anyone. Or else we just don't fit in.

So yesterday morning we went to C2G (Come2Go Ministries). We've been to this place a bunch for other events, but it was our first time there for a worship service. You can see the service from their Facebook page (if you watch it on the page). It is only about 10 minutes from our house.

I have to say, I was pretty nervous going in. I didn't know what to expect, and, honestly, I'm just getting tired of having to try so hard. Plus there's a little bit of fear that we're never going to fit in anywhere. I mean, who really wants an old broken-down pastor hanging around. I used to love visiting other churches, but now it's getting a bit awkward. So I was kind of glad that no one talked to us or recognized us (though Jane did see someone from work there; and Sunny Taylor leads worship).

Anyway, it was a little more "formal" than I expected. Not that it was overly formal, but I forgot that they're connected with some stripe of Lutheran Church. So they have communion every Sunday, and it was all fancily displayed. There were also quite a few people there who were dressed up (neckties and dresses). There were also plenty who were not dressed up. It was a pretty good mixture of ages and varieties of people. So in a way it made me feel a bit more comfortable. It was also not near as polished as the gatherings at Grace... and I like that. It was nice that everything wasn't "perfect."

The service starts at 10:30, and I would guess there were maybe a hundred or so people there. It was over just before 12. It was okay. They have coffee and donuts, and a pretty extended "passing the peace" segment. They also end with everyone saying the Lord's Prayer. I forgot we used to do that.

So... we'll see. I 'think' it might actually be our turn to be greeters at the other church this Sunday. Not sure if we should just go ahead and get out of that commitment, or if we should keep a foot in both doors. I don't really know what we're doing.


Sunday, August 17, 2014


One of my new favorite Fort Wayne bands is Trackless. We heard them Friday night at the botanical gardens. We arrived towards the end of their show and didn't really get into it. But last night we saw them at Rock the Plaza, and they are fantastic. A 'fun' 7-piece band consisting of sax, trumpet, keys, guitar, bass, front man, and they feature a female drummer/singer who is just phenomenal. Her voice is like butter and the front man provides some sweet harmonizing. They don't overdue any one instrument and have a really nice song mix. Not only fantastic musicians, but they put on a really good show. I like 'em.