Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Random thoughts on words, community, presence, etc.

So I've just been thinking about a variety of things lately. I wish I could focus myself into writing more intentionally - maybe an article or two, even - but I don't seem to have a time spread where I can give proper attention to it. So, here are some randomlies.


This past Sunday I was thinking a thought I've had many a time over the last few years. I was listening to a sermon and it struck me just how much I really do enjoy hearing sermons. Yes, there are some that are gruesomely awful, but I generally like just about any sermon, and feel I can learn something from just about anyone. I especially like those who teach from the Bible. Even though I did it for years myself, I still sometimes sit in awe.

On the other hand, though, I have come to a point where I honestly do not believe I could preach a sermon again. For awhile I just thought I needed a break. I had lost my creative edge. However, now I am afraid I don't have the emotional framework to be able to do it. I just can't see myself standing in front of people with any sort of confidence. Sometime I forget just how amazed I used to be when I did it regularly, because I have ALWAYS been very shy, yet for a time at least, God empowered me to speak in front of people in ways I never imagined I could. I'm afraid those days may be gone. And that's okay.


On a separate but similar subject, last night we met with our (small) small group, and we always have someone read a Scripture passage. I then read the same thing from a different translation, and it was while I was reading it that it just started to sink into my bones. I'm not even sure if I was still audibly speaking it, but it was almost like I was living the words. It was a little eerie, but it also felt so very good and right. I am considering suggesting that we might try having each person read the same passage from now on (there are four of us in the group), just to see what happens.

Then, this morning I met with Tom for breakfast and we were talking about the idea of community. We eventually stumbled into a conversation about the importance of mere PRESENCE with others. So often I think people believe we need to be accomplishing something when we're together - that whole idea of 'quality' time over 'quantity.' But maybe our simple presence with one another is just as important as anything that's accomplished. Jesus isn't in our midst when "two or three are gathered" and are ACCOMPLISHING something. It's just when we're gathered in his name.

Tom shared about how in some cultures it is normal for someone to stop by and maybe just read the paper at your house or office. It's not always about what you talk about, or do, or anything.... but just being together. Then we wondered together about young people who get together and play video games, or look at their phone. We tend to discredit this as actual time spent together, but maybe it is just as worthwhile. Even a family hanging out watching TV at night. I dunno... Just thinking.

So, then, my morning reading (at work) from the Spiritual Formation workbook contained these words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Life Together):
"...the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God's Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother's is sure."


So, that's some innaresting stuff that's occupying my mind at the moment (innaresting to me). Words. The Word. Presence. Community. There's a real connection there. And it has nothing to do with 'orders of service,' times, structure, or denominational affiliation. Christ, however, runs through it all. I think that's what I've been looking for. May I look deeper, and become content more with the looking than any sort of achieving.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Jane starts a new job

The wife started her new job today and is once again a full-time member of the workforce. She is now employed as the Records & Receipts Specialist for the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne. She will work out of the Metro Office downtown.

I'm sure she will miss the public interaction of working at a branch, but full-time jobs at the Y are not too plentiful, and this sounds like a pretty good one. I imagine with will consist of a lot of data entry, but won't have near the headaches or responsibility of the bank job she had.

So, here's to hoping it works out well.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Spring green lawn visit #5

Yesterday we had our "Early 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.

They also wrote in the 'remarks/recommendations' section: "I do recommend aerating this fall." I'm a little concerned about this, because I'm pretty sure I already paid to have that and over-seeding done, and they've yet to do it. So I will have to follow up and find my receipt from when we signed up.

Fortunately, with the little rain we've had lately, the lawn looks much better (greener and fuller) than it did on the last visit last month. Now I need to go out and mow it.



I found my original receipt and did, in fact, already pay for the aeration and overseeding. Dated Wednesday, April 13, 2015 at 3:05 pm. This is exactly why I blogged these visits, as well as why I like to keep my emails properly filed. This was under "Bills & Receipts."

Thank you for choosing Spring-Green, your neighborhood lawn care professional.
We appreciate your business and are looking forward to caring for your lawn and landscape.

Order Item: Preferred Program
Price Per Visit: 37.95
Extended Price: 265.65

Order Item: Grub Control
Price Per Visit: 0.00

Order Item: Core Aeration & Overseeding
Price Per Visit: 210.00

Subtotal: 451.87
Tax: 31.63
Total: 483.50
Prepay Discount Amount: 23.78
Amount Paid: 483.50

Friday, August 19, 2016

No jury duty, but an auction

I had been called for jury duty yesterday. I was kind of looking forward to it. It would be a chance to get out of work, plus a little something different. However, I called in Wednesday night and was told the case had been settled. So, instead, I had to go to work yesterday.

Of course, work was extremely busy yesterday for some odd reason. There were people waiting for me when I arrived. By the time I actually opened (on time), I had one person renting a unit, someone there for the truck, two people wanting to look at units, and a guy wanting to transfer -- all at the same time. My office was literally full of people - and I hadn't even put my water on for tea yet!

By the time the initial wave of people left, then it was time for my auction to start. I'd not had a storage auction for a few months. I had five units for this one. There wasn't a very big crowd. I think I counted 17 bidders. None of my units brought very much money, but I was glad they at least all sold. So, after the auction, and assigning temporary gate/building codes to buyers, taking money and whatnot, then there was all the paperwork of moving out auctioned units. It's nothing difficult, but just time consuming, and you have to think about it because it's not a daily part of the routine - plus it kind of needs to be done right for legal reasons.

The rest of the day was kind of a blur. Typical stuff, but then the intern showed up for work. Apparently I am going to have a high school kid working with me every afternoon during the school year. I was aware of the intern, but I guess I didn't fully understand my role in the situation. At least until soccer season is over he will be working with me every day. He seems like a super kid, but..... well, you know me. I'm kind of a loner, so while I realize it's part of the job, I can't say that I'm super excited about it. Nothing against him, but it really alters my daily schedule. Things are going to have to change.

And.... that's where I'm at today. Not real excited about pretty much anything. Work is no fun. I can't seem to get into running anymore. Church has become uninteresting. I don't seem to have time to write or read. And that's about it. That's basically my life right there. Ugh. Hopefully it's just a phase. I don't do well at "just existing."

But today is a new day and maybe things will change. Probably not, but we'll see.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Thoughts on prayer

I am reposting these thoughts on prayer from Will Willimon. I first ran it in July of 2007 on this blog, and was for some reason drawn to it again today. Good stuff (imho):

Prayer, at least prayer in “Jesus’ name,” as Jesus practiced it, does not come naturally. Most people I know think that our prayers ought to be “heartfelt” or “sincere.” Jesus apparently could care less about such sentimental mush. He has a definite, peculiar notion of what constitutes prayer. Prayer is not whenever I spill my guts to God: prayer is when I obey Jesus and pray for the things that he teaches me to pray for and when I pray the way he prays. Prayer is bending my feelings, my desires, my thoughts and yearnings toward Jesus and what he wants me to feel, desire and think.

In most churches I visit, a time of prayer is often preceded by a time of “Joys and Concerns.” I notice that in every congregation, the only concerns expressed are concerns for people in the congregation who are going through various health crises. Prayer becomes what we used to refer to as “Sick Call” in the army. Where on earth did we get this idea of prayer? Not from Jesus. He healed a few people from time to time, but he doesn’t pray for that. He prays for the coming of God’s kingdom, for bread (but only on a daily basis, not for a surplus) and for forgiveness for our trespasses. It’s curious that physical deterioration has become the contemporary North American church’s main concern in prayer. Jesus is most notable for teaching that we are to pray—not for recent gall bladder surgery—but for our enemies!

To be a Christian, a disciple of Jesus, is to pray like Jesus. Therefore Luther called the Lord’s Prayer “a summary of the whole gospel.” A Christian is someone who talks to God about what the Lord’s Prayer talks with God about. Thus this prayer is not only a gift that Jesus gives us, but also judgment against us as we measure our own fidelity against the standard of Jesus.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Anna starts kindergarten

Oh my. How in the world did this happen? Our first grandchild started kindergarten today. Gulp.

It still amazes me how quickly she has grown up. I suppose before you know it she will be graduating high school.

Anyway, she is attending St. Paul's Lutheran School in Downtown Fort Wayne. It is kitty corner from where Carrie works, so it's very convenient, and seems like a really good school.

I will be anxious to hear how the first day went, but am praying that she will find school an exciting adventure, she will learn much, and make some really good friends. She is such a sweetheart. :)

First day of preschool.

First day outside the womb, and in grandpa's arms.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Babysitting (extended)

We have had the three grandkids for a long weekend while Drew Carrie took four days to visit Isaac & Ricci in Atlanta. It was a short vacation for them, and I imagine the grandkids think it was a bit of a vacation for them to get to stay at grandma's house.

Drew Carrie dropped A, B & C off Friday morning and flew from FW to Atlanta (via Chicago). They are scheduled to be back later tonight. So this is the longest we have had all three kids. Actually, it's probably the longest we've had any of them. It's also the longest Carrie has been away from her babies. Fortunately they were able to Facetime both Saturday and Sunday.

The kids have been fantastic the whole time. They've slept all through the night every night, and have even gone to bed fairly early considering they were at our house (around 9:30-ish). Last night (Sunday) was the only time we had any issues. We'd had a long day and I think they were just squirrelly after their bath. The boys just did not want to settle down. So I finally had to plop Caleb in one chair and Bennett in another. Fortunately that's as bad as it got the entire weekend.

Grandma Jane has, of course, taken the brunt of responsibility - taking off work both Friday and Monday. Saturday we played outside quite a bit, as well as going to the playground at Jefferson Pointe. Sunday we took them to our church for the first time. The boys went right in the nursery just fine, but Anna takes a little longer to warm up, so she stayed with us during the service. We went straight from church to the open house at Anna's school. They had a cookout and we dropped off her school supplies in her room. She found her seat and we got to meet her teacher. I can't believe she will be in kindergarten. It seemed like a really nice school, and we liked her teacher. After that we then went to the zoo. Jane had taken them there Friday, but the horses weren't out. So we looked at a few things, then Anna and Bennett rode ponies. Anna picked the very biggest one they had and she rode by herself. We think this may have been Bennett's first time, and he got on a spunky little medium-sized pony. Jane walked along with him, but he did great. I tried putting Caleb on a teeny pony but he would have none of it. Anna also got me to touch a Stingray. It was pretty gross, but kinda neat too.

This morning they were all out riding bikes in their pajamas when I left for work. Jane eventually took them to the downtown library to play, then they came to my office and we ate lunch. They ran around and around and around the climate controlled building attached to my office. I think that wore them down pretty good. The plan was then for her to take them back to the JP play area, but I'm not sure if they had the energy left or not.

Tonight we will go back to the Feipel house after supper so they can get ready for bed there. Anna has her first day of kindergarten tomorrow, so hopefully her mom and dad will make it in on time.

It was a little tiring for us old folks at times, but honestly the four days went better than we imagined. We may need to take a stay-cation next weekend to recover though. :)

They each made their own pizza pie.

Friday, August 12, 2016

If trees could wink

I think it was last year, or maybe even the year prior, that I changed my route to work. I'd heard the Grand Wayne Center was hosting a Global Leadership Summit viewing, so I decided to drive by there on my way to work just to kind of 'see' church leaders gathering together. It was a chance to reminisce, if even only in my mind, and I recall thinking good thoughts each day as I would pass by and see them with their briefcases, coffees, and lanyards.

This year I was only aware of the GLS because there was a bit of a kerfuffle at work because the GM was attending (not because he was attending, but.... never mind). Sure enough, when I drove by on my way to work, there were the same church/business leaders, doing what they do, on their way to this years summit.

Something seems different this year though. When I drive by, it's like I cannot connect at all with the people I see. I kind of recognize them (not that I know them, but more the type), but I don't think I relate to them anymore. I'm sure many are simply business leaders - whom I wouldn't relate to anyway - and that, to me, says a lot right there. In my opinion, business leaders and church leaders should not have much in common. But, obviously, what do I know.

Anyway, so when I drove by yesterday and today, it made me a little sad, because I did not realize how good I had it when I was a pastor. Life is very different working at a mundane job day in and day out where I basically just pass the time until I can drive home.

On the other hand, I think I'm probably better off (and my church is better off). I am not a big fan of "church leadership" anymore. Not that I have anything against church leaders, but it's not for me. It didn't really seem to be something Mother Teresa was too interested in; or Billy Graham; or Eugene Peterson; or... well, plenty of people. Again, nothing against church "leaders," but that is not a position in the kingdom I aspire to. Fortunately I know plenty of local-church pastors who feel the same way.

So, to be honest, I would probably go to the leadership summit if I were able to. But I'm not, and I'm okay with that too.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

When I hate myself

I'm writing this on Wednesday, August 10th, from my thousand foot hole of darkness (and at work). It's one of those days. Those days when I hate myself.

I don't really know what caused it. Maybe nothing did. But I started feeling down last night. Then I got up and went for a jog with Jane this morning. That didn't really help. Just made me miss the days when I could run by myself; when running was 'my' thing.

Anyway, I got to work and started my day job. I was putting air in the golf cart tires when the GM pulled in. That is rarely ever a good thing for me. Interestingly enough, he had some really good news to share with me about a pretty sizable raise. Unfortunately it was delivered in such a way, and taken by me in such a way, that it was anything but joyful. How messed up does someone have to be to not even want a raise?

I hate it when I am hard to talk to. I hate it when I'm hard to get along with. I hate it when I can't get someone to understand what I'm thinking, feeling, saying. I hate it when *I* don't understand what I'm thinking, feeling, saying. I hate it when I get frustrated, and then angry, and then I hate myself some more and then I want to just go hide from the world and have everybody leave me alone.

I so hate to be like this. I hate to be difficult. I hate to draw attention to myself. I hate to make others feel uncomfortable. I hate when the darkness closes in and my eyes narrow and my head feels like it's going to burst. It makes me feel hopeless. Like I will never not feel this way. Like no one will ever understand me. Like I will forever be a burden to people and will be a source of pain and confusion to them. Like I will never be normal. I so do not want to be like this.

Right now I am listening to the Bob Dylan station on Pandora and giving a thumbs down to anything not slow and quiet.

So far I've managed to not have to talk to very many people today. I hate talking to people when I hate myself. I also hate listening to people when I hate myself. The last thing I want to hear are "nice" things when I hate myself. I really, really, really hate being patronized, in this condition or any. It ranks right up there with people trying to figure me out. I hate being asked questions. I hate hearing noise. I hate everything.

So... this is the way it is right now. If and when I get around to posting this it means I am no longer in this hate-filled hole. Until then, I'm trying to minimize the damage to others.


Okay, this is today. Whew, I'm glad that's over. Yesterday was a miserable rotten day. I stayed that way until well into the evening. Then it finally lifted. It was almost like a fever breaking. I could suddenly relax.

I went to bed and slept well last night. Interestingly enough, when I got up this morning, the pain I'd been having in my neck was completely gone. That makes me wonder if I'd had some kind of a bug or something, and yesterday it fought its way out of my body. I don't know. Regardless, today I have a better outlook, even though I actually am a bit physically worn from the stress of yesterday.

I don't remember the last time I'd gotten that depressed/stressed. It's been awhile. And I hope it's a good long while before it happens again. Gah... I hate it when that happens. ;)

Sorry for the little dalliance into my psyche. I felt it personally worthwhile to write it down WHILE I was feeling that way though - for later consideration.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Haircut and a new trimmer

I gave myself a haircut last night. It was long overdue. I just did a #2 cut all over. I wasn't too concerned with how it looked, but just wanted to get it done. I kind of messed up the back, but Jane kindly said it didn't look too bad.

I also got a new beard trimmer thing. My old one quit working, and I just got the newer version of it because it had always served me well.

That's about all I've got on this rotten fucking day.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Words of grace

I actually stuck the below snippet in here last week one day (as a draft, not published). Then, this Sunday our pastor mentioned "words of grace." I don't know if it it was a coincidence or not, but anyway, it's simply keeping track of good words that you hear or read. It could be Scripture passages, something on Facebook, or anything, really.

My daughter posted an article on Facebook last week dealing with why evangelicals are losing people her age. It was a good article, but that's not what I wanted to remember. Below is a comment a friend of hers posted on Carrie's post, and also a response Carrie made to her (and others). Not only do I think it's a very insightful comment by Carrie, and not only do I admire her resolve and passionate faith, but mostly I wanted to keep it because of what she said about me and her mother. It brought a tear to my eye, and I have yet to be able to even respond. She is quite a gem, and she makes us very proud. :)

Comment from a friend of Carrie's, written on her FB post:
I’ve been thinking about how to write this, because I saw this post yesterday, read through it, and loved it. It really, really resonated with me. I left the church about 8 or so years ago, after becoming disillusioned with a lot of the things this author mentioned. Especially the progressive ideology. Even the couple of times I’ve gone back since then have made me angry and depressed (one of the last experiences I had was at a Christmas service, where the pastor somehow managed to denigrate gay people. At a Christmas service!). Anyway, I’ve been noticing your posts, and posts from a couple of other Christians that actually seem reasonable. More than that, inspiring. Like, people who actually think like me, who respect others’ choices and want to live in a world of equality and love. It gives me hope. Anyway, sorry for the long rant. I just wanted to say thanks for posting this. It was an awesome read, even for someone who isn’t necessarily an Evangelical.

Carrie's response:
I've truly, honestly, never wanted to walk away from the church more than I've wanted to these last 3-5 years. I've seen some horribly nasty stuff, both personally and in the news, and I'm sure I haven't even seen the worst. But I've also seen and experienced some of the greatest things come out of the church. The church is not bad, people just suck. And they tend to suck even worse in groups, right? I haven't left the church because I see a movement rising. I first noticed it 10 or so years ago (I noticed it because my parents are awesome and my dad is usually about 5 years ahead on major trends.) Anyway, there are tons and tons of great thinkers challenging the mainstream christianity fluff who refuse to accept the lame ass answers we've been given to life's toughest questions for the last 30-45 years. There's a movement of brilliant intellectuals who arent afraid to ask questions anymore. But if we all quit going to church, what will happen? I think very bad things. I think very bad things are happening with the American church at large because too many people who need to be at the front lines have quit going, but I cant give up. I think we all need to be prepared to do church different (ahem, Dan Horwedel, I'm still waiting on you to organize a beer study and Bible tasting.) I wish there were an easier way to organize believers who are completely disillousioned with whats happening in this country's church.

That's basically one large rant that says nothing but that, I feel you girls. I want to leave as well. But I see our generation and some of our parent's generation opening our eyes to whats going on, and I want to be a part of the revolution :)

Ok.... this is me just smiling now. :) Carry on.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Weekend visitors

We had several visitors this weekend. First, Jane's niece and her boyfriend came for the weekend. She is her niece, but they are both actually just a little younger than us. She's always thought Fort Wayne sounded like fun, so they drove out Friday and left Sunday after lunch. We had a good time.

Friday night we went out to eat and then just hung around the house. Saturday we watched the grankids at soccer practice in the morning, then we went to The Deck for lunch, then we went to the Urban Hippy so the ladies could shop (and the guys drank beer in their lounge area), we followed that up with a Sundae at DeBrands in the new Ash Building. It was then time for us all to take an afternoon nap. Saturday evening we went to our usual spot - Rock the Plaza at the library. We hung out there for awhile - with a brief visit from Carrie and Caleb. Sunday morning Jane and I went to church, then the Feipels came over for lunch and we all ate. Then Allison and Greg went home.

Hopefully they had a nice too. For some odd reason people think that we're always doing exciting things. We are not. Sure, we go places, but most of the time we just go and sit. We rarely talk to anyone, or know anyone. We're both classic introverts in that we kind of like to be in the middle of a crowd, but not necessarily have to interact with anyone and certainly don't want to be the center of attention. Mostly we like listening to music, being with each other, and people-watching. Anyway, we had a good time.

The other visitor was a surprise visit by the boy. Son Isaac decided at the last minute to drive up from Atlanta for his 10-year high school class reunion. Actually, he just drove to Louisville and then rode with a couple former classmates the rest of the way. The class reunion was Saturday night at the downtown Marriott (I think), and they spent the night at the LaSalle Street Inn downtown. He was dropped off at our house around noon Sunday and spent the day with us. Jane took him to Zanesville this morning to pick up his ride back to Louisville then. It was a brief visit, and, again, we didn't do much, but it was nice to get to see him for the 3rd time this summer. We spent most of Sunday watching the Olympics and then Sunday night we watched the 4th Bourne movie (so Jane and I can now go see the new one).

So, all in all it was a good weekend. Nothing spectacular, but good nonetheless. The only bad thing, which we didn't realize until everyone left, is that we didn't take pictures of anyone. Oh well. Such is life.