Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spring-green lawn visit #1

I signed us up to have Spring-Green take care of our lawn fertilization and weed control a couple weeks ago. They finally showed up Thursday, 4-28-16, for the "early spring visit." That's what I get for waiting so long to contact someone. They've already done the neighbors yard at least twice. Anyway, I'm just glad they showed up. The note says they "double sprayed our weeds today."

So, now I suppose I need to keep track of how many times they come. I also need to mow the grass today, but I'm not very excited about it right now...

Friday, April 29, 2016

Caleb turns 2

Today is grandson Caleb's 2nd birthday. And he has totally embraced the attitude that goes with it. :)

These two pictures capture his personality pretty well. In the top photo he shows his spunk and all around love for life. In the bottom photo he displays the stubborn streak that will hopefully keep him from going along with the crowd for a long time. He can be both the sweetest, cutest kid in the room, as well as the holiest of terrors. All in all he has always been good at playing by himself and standing up for himself. He really is a good kid, and as usual with the youngest of three (I think) seems mature for his age. He's a fun person.

He is all boy and loves playing with cars, trucks, drums, or anything that makes noise, and he loves to play outside. He also does his best to keep up with his older two siblings. I look forward to seeing the kind of youth and man he turns into.

There was a small party for him last Saturday, and we are keeping all three kids overnight tomorrow, so I'm sure we will do some more celebrating.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Discovery bookmarks

I have mentioned the Discovery Bible Study process on here before. We meet with another couple on a weekly basis, and the other day I worked up the gumption to make some bookmarks for us. One side has the questions/process, and the back has some Scripture verses to study. It's not necessary to use any particular passages (you can literally use any in the Bible), but I have a couple different ones with different texts/topics.

There also isn't any magic formula when it comes to specific questions, and I've kind of tailored mine to ones I've seen others use plus a few I like myself. One thing I'm thinking about, though, is maybe changing a couple of the "Response" questions to something more along the lines of:
  • "How can we spur one another (or you) on towards love and good deeds this week?"
  • "Who can you serve in the love of Jesus this week?"

Aside from that, this is what I currently have on the front side for questions:
  • What are you thankful for this week?
  • What is one good thing that happened to someone you know this week?
  • Where have you seen/felt [sensed?] God at work this week? 
  • Read the Scripture for today.
  • What is happening, or what does this passage say?
  • What does this teach us about God; people; our relationship with God?
  • What other questions do you have about this passage?
  • If this is God speaking, how will you respond?
  • Who outside our group would benefit from hearing what you have learned?
  • How can you show kindness to someone else this week?
  • What do you need prayer for?

So... that's about it. As I've said before, I like this process. It's simple, reproducible, adaptable to any situation, and anyone can do it. I wish I could get motivated to start a group or two...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It's bigger than you think

One thing I have noticed in my discussions with a couple atheists is... they're really much smaller thinkers than I'd imagined. I always thought atheists were generally more intelligent than your average person - and these people are - but I'm surprised at how narrow minded they seem. I doubt that they would see it that way, but that's how it appears to me.

I am still reading Eugene Peterson's 'Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading,' and in chapter 5 he talks about the "immense world of the bible." He says this on p. 67-68:
As we cultivate a participatory mind-set in relation to our Bibles, we need a complete renovation of our imaginations. We are accustomed to thinking of the biblical world as smaller than the secular world. Tell-tale phrases give us away. We talk of "making the Bible relevant to the world," as if the world is the fundamental reality and the Bible something that is going to help it or fix it. We talk of "fitting the Bible into our lives" or "making room in our day for the Bible," as if the Bible is something that we can add on to or squeeze into our already full lives.

As we personally participate in the Scripture-revealed world of the emphatically personal God, we not only have to be willing to accept the strangeness of this world -- that it doesn't fit our preconceptions or tastes -- but also the staggering largeness of it. We find ourselves in a truly expanding universe that exceeds anything we learned in our geography or astronomy books.

Our imaginations have to be revamped to take in this large, immense world of God's revelation in contrast to the small, cramped world of human "figuring out." We learn to live, imagine, believe, love, converse in this immense and richly organic and detailed world to which we are given access by our Old and New Testaments. "Biblical" does not mean cobbling texts together to prove or substantiate some dogma or practice that we have landed on. Rather, it signals an opening up into what "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, [but] what God ... has revealed to us through the spirit" (1 Cor. 2:9-10).

Woe. Yeah. I'd never really thought of it like that. The world through God's eyes is so much bigger than we can ever imagine. So it only stands to reason that the world through the eyes of those open to the things of God is so much bigger as well.

The frustrating thing is - I don't know that you can get someone to see the immensity of the bible, or God for that matter, if they aren't open to it. As Peterson says on p. 69, "If we have not entered this text as participants we aren't going to understand what is going on." I would agree. So... all I can really do is participate myself, and continue the journey through this huge world of spirituality in hopes of one day taking it all in.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Say what?

I think maybe I'm running out of things to say. I just can't think of anything I want to write about. I suppose it's possible I am beginning to operate a little differently too. I dunno.

There's really no reason. I'm not depressed; not mad about anything; not busy doing something else... I guess it's just one of those things.

I have been doing some reading about the upcoming NFL draft in a couple days. Usually I expect the Cowboys to totally blow it by making a bad pick, or else they don't have a high enough pick to get excited about. This year they are at #4 though, and it could be interesting. I kind of hope they take Ezekiel Elliot, but we'll see.

I still read way too much on the Illinois Loyalty site in regard to basketball recruiting. Ugh. It's such a tedious thing. Not sure why I bother.

Well, that's about it for today.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Out on the weekend

We enjoyed a nice weekend after what seemed like a rather long week.

On Saturday we celebrated grandson Caleb's 2nd birthday - even though the actual day isn't until Friday. There was a small party at Drew Carrie's and the kids seemed to have fun. Poor Caleb didn't understand that he was the one who was supposed to open the presents. He kept trying to give them to other people. We just got him a book that makes truck noises and a little car to play with. He seemed pretty happy.

After the party we headed directly to Takaoka to have Japanese food with a group of friends. Once again we managed to fill out a table with 8 of us. Mike, Greg, Dave, Joni, Jeremy, Lisa, Jane and myself. It was fun as usual, and Jane didn't even get sick this time.

Sunday we decided to re-try C2G for church again. We've recently decided to open back up the church search again. We will probably always hold a spot at Grace as long as the grandkids are there, but we've been debating between a couple others. C2G "feels" really good to us. Their service is almost identical to the services I used to plan, plus they serve communion every week. Which is totally weird, because I was never very into communion before, but now it just seems very right to have that be sort of the culmination of things. It would be nice if we knew some people there, but I like the liturgy - group confession of sin and praying the Lord's prayer - and it's a crowd that seems a little more like us. I dunno. We'll see. It was a nice morning though.

We went to lunch with the Feipel 5 at Munchies, and then we headed home. We actually got quite a bit done around the house Sunday afternoon. Jane painted our patio furniture. It used to be green, and she spray painted it black. We also put a round table top where the in-ground grill used to be. Jane painted the "stem" bright green, the table top purple, and put a dab of yellow in the center to make it like a flower. I started on another children's picnic table, as well as a wine rack. Oh, and I also mowed the lawn.

It seems like we did some other things, but all in all it was a nice weekend. So, that's about all there is today.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fixed flapper

I suppose it started when Jane commented that our water bill was higher than usual one month. Then there were these odd moments, during the night while laying in bed, and I could hear an ever-so-slight trickle of water. It was difficult to decipher because we sleep with a sound machine, and I believe at the time we listened to it rain all night long (most of the time it is ocean waves). Finally I decided to take the top off of the toilet in Jane's bathroom and... sure enough... there was a leak.

I have repaired toilets many times before. Shoot, I've even replaced them. However, for some reason, my first instinct seems to always try that, "Let's just ignore it and see if it goes away" approach. That rarely works. So, I started by just turning the water off at the toilet. The water drained out of the tank in less than an hour, so that indicated it was likely the flapper that was the issue. I pulled it off, and it wasn't cracked or broken, but it had grown a bit deformed in one area. I went to Menard's and looked over their menagerie of flappers and finally settled on this $5 one instead of a $4 one (or a more expensive one). I don't really know why - probably because it looked better than the others, and had that little yellow sponge-thing. And... it worked. So there is no more leaky toilet.

It feels good to have actually done something right for a change. However, I am a bit ashamed that I didn't do it sooner. Leaky toilets can really drive the water bill up in a hurry. So... lesson learned.

Friday, April 22, 2016

My first y workout

Wednesday night I went to the Y and worked out for the first time. Jane and Carrie were both working, so I stopped on my way home after work. I felt like I needed to at least open my locker and set foot on the premises.

I managed to get to the locker room and change out of my work clothes and into shorts. First I decided I would look around the locker room. I'd been inside, but didn't know where the showers or anything were. So I meandered back and right away realized I was stupid to pick the locker I did. I got one right inside the door, and it's on the top row. I have to stand on my tiptoes to open it. I had no idea there were lockers around the corner - which is where most of them are. Then I found the restroom, and when I walked around the corner there were two naked guys sitting there in chairs with washcloth-sized towels over their "privates." I have no idea what they were doing there but I said, "Hi. I'm new here and just looking around." The one guy said real fast like, "Pool through there, jacuzzi there, sauna, steam room." At least I think that's what he said. So if that's the case, then I still don't know where the showers are.

Anyway, I decided to just walk around the indoor track. Fourteen laps make a mile. I have no idea how many times I walked around it, but I just kept my head down and went in circles for about 1/2 hour. There weren't a lot of people there, but I still felt awkward and out of place.

After walking I decided to be brave and walk down where the exercise equipment is. I walked past the treadmills and bikes and things, and there were only a couple people in the weight machine area. So I did a few machines that worked my upper body. Then I checked my blood pressure at the little table along the wall.

It was nearing time for Jane to get off work so I headed to the locker room. There were some guys chatting in my area, so I just grabbed the stuff out of my locker and wore my gym clothes home.

Of course, just to kind of put my late lot of insecurity and feeling stupid in perspective, when I walked out to my car I didn't remember that my ID card - which both gets me into the Y as well as my locker room - was still in my shorts pocket. Apparently when I pulled my keys out, the ID must have fallen out on the ground. After I got home - still feeling tense from my first foray - Carrie texted me that someone found my ID card. I hadn't even realized I'd lost it. So thank God for good people.

So, that's the story of my first workout. I don't know why I'm feeling so shy and afraid of everything right now, but hopefully it will get better as I become more comfortable there.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Take this job and...

I've been reading the book of Job lately (from the Christian bible). My daily bible reading routine involves reading a section from the Old Testament, the New Testament, a Psalm and a Proverb. So I'm only in like chapter 20 of Job. Ugh... it is depressing stuff, to me.

If you're not familiar, the devil challenged God to see how Job will respond to different situations. So all these catastrophes happen to the poor guy, and his friends basically blame Job for it. Job does not understand why God allows these things to happen to him, but in the end all is restored. Well, I'm still in the part where Job doesn't understand.

I feel very much like that. I don't "not believe" in God; I don't disagree that the ways of Jesus seem right and good and true; I don't even have a problem with the church being full of half-baked sinful people such as myself. But geez... sometimes things just make no sense to me.

So, that's where I am right now. Wondering. Wandering. Passively watching the river flow. Certainly I am not delusional enough to put myself in Job's category. I am not an upstanding man of righteous God-character. I'm simply trying to find my way right now. The 50's are such an odd age.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Running on empty

I'm just not feeling it right now. It's not depression; I don't think it's physical; I can't really even point to any one thing that has me feeling down. I just have no motivation; no gumption; no reason to hope.

I know I am a difficult person, but I still don't understand how people can just ignore me - especially in a professional and/or ministry sense.

A friend and co-laborer (of sorts) just had his ordination removed in the most gutless, heartless, and ridiculous manner I can imagine. My heart hurts. Not only for him, but for the people who share in the responsibility of the act, and for the church and world as a whole.

I am having trouble getting back into the habit of running. I just can't seem to do it. I can't get out of bed in time in the morning, and by the time I get home from work I don't feel like doing anything. It's very discouraging.

I have a pile of pallets in my back yard, and I have zero interest in making anything else out of them. It was great fun making the picnic table, but now that I've done that... I don't really care anymore.

That's probably my biggest fear in life..... I am hesitant to get excited about anything because I'm afraid once I do, it will soon fade. It's like I am destined to be unsatisfied. It's not the same thing as being unhappy. It's just... I dunno... it's different. I don't trust myself. And that can really throw a wrench into ones outlook.

Well, I'm running out of things to say. I actually just received an email from someone wanting to know if I would write some blog posts about a specific content (running). Ha! Right. I would like to... but I know once I agree to, I will lose interest. That's just how it goes.

It's a slow day at work today. I think I will do some reading. Yesterday I started Eugene Peterson's 'Eat This Book: A Conversation in The Art of Spiritual Reading.' I didn't realize it was the 2nd in a series, but I'm going to read this one before the first one anyway because I don't have the first one. At least I'm going to start. We'll see if I can finish it. He is one of my favorite writers, but I noticed yesterday that I seem to be getting dumber. It's harder for me to hold thoughts in my mind; I have to read and re-read more and more, and I'm still not sure I understand. That's kind of depressing too. I have become conditioned to not thinking deeply. Ugh. Oh well.

Anything is possible, I suppose.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bloomington, rawlings, oliver winery

This past weekend we took a grand trip down to Bloomington, Indiana. It was our first time there, and as a life-long Illini fan.... well, let's just say I was a little hesitant to venture into such a wayward wilderness of Big Ten foolery. But I actually have to say... it isn't a bad little city.

We really didn't see much of the town at all - and never even went to the University. We were there because perhaps one of my best friends-I've-never-met provided us with complimentary tickets to see The Dave Rawlings Machine. Not only was it our first time in B-town, it was also our first time to see this incredible group of musicians. After one of those weeks where I was ready to quit my job, move away, and say f*ck the world, it ended up being just what we (or at least "I") needed. On the way home we stopped at the Oliver Winery just north of Bloomington, and it was indeed just about as perfect as a weekend could be.


The road from Fort Wayne to Bloomington is fairly smooth. We took the recommended route of I-69 South to Indy, caught I-465 South around to Rt. 37 on the SW side. We followed that another 45 miles, got off at the Walnut St/College Ave exit, and we went straight to our hotel. It should have taken about 3 hrs. 15 min., but there was a bit of construction and it took us almost 4 1/2 hours to get there. Still, it's a nice drive.

We stayed at the lovely Hilton Garden Inn right downtown, and though it's not exactly cheap, it was a really nice hotel. The room was great, the bed was great, they have a great little restaurant and bar, and the service was fantastic. I would highly recommend it. It was also only a block away from the Bluebird, where we were going to see the band.

The Bluebird night club is a decent little place for a bustling college town. It is nothing fancy, but has several bars throughout the many rooms, and holds a pretty good crowd. There are no seats, and the different levels of rooms made seeing the band a tad difficult. The bartenders were also pretty typical of what you would expect at a place like this. But it was okay. Unfortunately (I think) we didn't arrive until just before showtime. The construction delayed us so we didn't get very close to the stage. In fact, we didn't even get in the same room as the stage. We talked to some people who arrived 15 minutes before the doors even opened and they said there was already quite a line and they didn't get a very good spot to watch from either. So, Jane and I just stood in the back for most of the show. We could see now and then, and the sound was still plenty good.


I must admit that I was not overly familiar with Dave Rawlings' music, but I did know OF Dave, and Gillian Welch. On this night they consisted of 5 members, all on some sort of stringed instrument (guitar, banjo, violin/fiddle, bass, etc.). The first half of the show seemed more bluegrass/country style music. While it wasn't bad, it isn't exactly our cup of tea. However, they soon ventured into a folksy, almost bluesy sound later in the evening and.... wow... it was FANTASTIC. When they wound their way into Cortez The Killer I was almost in heaven. I love this kind of music/show/band. They did quite a bit of original music - which most of the crowd seemed familiar with - but they also did a fair number of covers, which I liked. It was a very nice night, and I am so thankful for the internets for connecting me with friends like Jim.

After the show we walked back to our hotel and stopped in the bar. The bartender was actually from Fort Wayne, and she treated us very nice. A couple other couples came in who had been to the show and we chatted with them and had a good ol' time. One couple was from near Cleveland and drove all this way just to see the band. The other couple was from Franklin, IN (where our daughter-in-law is from). We had a really nice visit with them and I wish we'd gotten their contact info. Anyway, we closed the bar down together and headed to our room where we got a good night's sleep.


After sleeping in Saturday morning we had breakfast at the hotel, drove around Bloomington a little, and headed back north. Jane is a fan of Oliver wine, and we went right by their winery just north of Bloomington. We stopped in, and were not disappointed. It is a beautiful winery with a lake and park surrounding it. They have a main store and another little building where they were holding tastings. The place was packed and we finally managed to get into the smaller tasting room. For $5/each you could try up to 8 different wines apiece. We were also served several different kinds of gourmet cheese. The staff were super nice and friendly. We ended up buying a couple bottles and heading for home.

It took us just as long to get home because I was too stubborn to go around the construction, plus there was a wreck that stopped traffic for a long time. It was another beautiful day weather-wise, though, so we just rolled the windows down and enjoyed the scenic hillsides of southern Indiana.

We arrived back in the Fort late afternoon. I promptly traded my jeans for a pair of shorts and we cooked Delmonico's on the grill. The perfect ending to a really nice couple days. As I said, for some reason last week was just brutal on my psyche, and this little jaunt helped a great deal. Now it's back to the grind... Not sure what the issue is, but there's a restlessness a stirrin' in my soul. We'll see...

Monday, April 18, 2016

The first mowing; and outsourcing lawn fertilization

I moved the lawn for the first time of the year yesterday. Last year's first mowing was on April 18 - so just one day apart. Yesterday was also the first time I used the new/old mower. If you remember from last fall, I found a mower deck that was in great condition but the motor was no good. So I switched the motor from my old mower to this new deck. It's not a perfect match (the motor is a little big for this deck) but it worked pretty good. And... the motor once again started on the first pull. I mowed on the 2nd to highest notch.

In other lawn care news.... I finally admitted defeat and just hired someone to fertilize our lawn. I've been trying to do it for the past few years, and I either forget to do it in time, or I just don't know how to do it very well. It doesn't look very good. So from now on I will just mow and trim, and let Spring Green handle the fertilization.

I checked with several companies and decided on them. Tru-Green annoyed me with their high-pressure sales department; another local company said they were already too busy; and it seemed the majority of people in our neighborhood have the little "Spring Green" signs in their yard. So that's how I decided on them. They were also considerably cheaper than Tru Green.

We will get 7 applications per year (~$38 per), and I also signed up to have them aerate and overseed. Our grass is pretty thin, and I've had people tell me that's what it needs. I wasn't sure if it was too late for that or not, but I guess not.

So.... hopefully this time next year we will have a much nicer looking lawn.