Monday, June 17, 2024

Fathers day, 5k, kindle, afib

Well, that was fun. Most of it.

Father's Day 2024 has come and gone. We started the weekend with the annual Associated Churches Father's Day 5k. It had been a few years since we've run in this event. We get a free entry since Jane's work is one of the sponsors, but we would gladly pay anyway. It's a nice course, and I like the guy who started it. We did not set any land speed records (right around 30 minutes), but we saw a lot of people we knew - including a decent sized group from church.

After that moseyed over to the Farmers Market and perused, then got breakfast at a downtown eatery. 

We got back home around noon and... wouldn't you know it... my dang heart rate went wacky again. I had another AFib episode with high and completely random heart rate. I tried the usual remedies (which never seem to work) and just sat on the couch for most of the afternoon. It finally settled back down after 3-4 hours. I was pretty wiped out physically afterward, but worse than that, it's just such a bummer mentally. Like, I have tried to do everything I'm supposed to do, and nothing seems to matter. I'm guessing another dang ablation is in my future.

Saturday night we were still able to enjoy the first Rock The Plaza at the downtown library this year. This is a yearly summer tradition for us on Saturday nights where they have four bands each night, we take our lawn chairs, enjoy supper and beverages, and just kick back and relax. This year is a shortened schedule, but I'm thankful for every year they're still able to get away with this free event. Rumor has it that it's more and more difficult with all the 'downtown revitalization' and more people living there.

Sunday we did not "go to church" because it was a service-project-day, so instead we watched a message from a previous week when we'd been absent. In the afternoon we ventured down to Headwaters Park for another Father's Day tradition: Ribfest. We've been taking in Father's Days there for 14 years now (that's where we all gathered after we found out about our first grandchild). I had a pulled pork sandwich meal. Afterward we went out to Drew Carrie's for cake.

For gifts: I got myself a new kindle. It's this Amazon E-Reader (2022 release) 6" display/16GB. I went back and forth between a Fire Tablet or a Paperwhite, and finally just got this one for $99. It's not paperwhite, but has a glare-free display. I don't anticipate reading a lot on it, but I needed/wanted something since I still have some unread books on there and my old one crapped out. I do kinda like how small it is. Also, the grandkids each made me a Father's Day card, and Carrie got me a bag of snacks!

So, aside from the AFib, it was a pretty nice Father's Day.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Five things friday

After traveling the last two Fridays it's kind of nice to be home again this week. Although, for some reason I seem to have zero interest in reading emails and newsletters and things like that... So here's just some random stuff running through my sleepy brain this morning:

  1. It's sort of starting to sink in that... Maybe I don't really have anything to offer the world. What if I'm just supposed to ... be? I mean, all I've really been trying to do lately is maintain this measly little blog and... I don't even know if anyone reads it! And what if they don't? Does it matter? I don't think so. And I don't say that in a negative Danny Downer way... It's just like, "Here's another day: what shall we do?" Eh, who knows...
  2. Last night I wanted to go to opening night of Ribfest to hear the local band The Wailhounds. I like them and apparently they've been playing around Fort Wayne for 29 years now. There was a Van Halen tribute band playing after them and, while I listened to VH in high school, I wasn't that concerned with staying up late or anything. I thought we'd listen to a couple songs and head home. Then when we read they were all born in the 90s and 00s I really wasn't interested. However, the moment they powered onto the stage... whoa, boy, lookout!!! We ended up staying for the entire show! The 'David Lee Roth' character just turned 30 the day before (and is oldest in the band), and he does a SPOT ON DLR! Wow! He looks like him, sings like him, acts like him, and... that guy is in shape! He totally makes this band. And the drummer is only 16!!! If you liked Van Halen (during the DLR years especially) and get a chance to see JUMP: America's Van Halen Experience, you should go. Just check their website even.
  3. I've been reading David Fitch's book 'The Church of Us vs. Them: Freedom From A Faith That Feeds On Making Enemies.' I got it from him for $5 when he was in town. I wasn't overly excited about starting it but it was the only un-read book I had at the moment. I think it's really good though! 
  4. I didn't go to the Y to work out for a couple weeks (elbow soreness, laziness, etc.), but finally got back to it this week. You know, it really makes a difference for me. Mentally more than physically. I go to the one where I used to work, and still know most of the people there. I need to be around people now and then. And not just be around them, but TALK TO people now and then. That's something that matters.
  5. "Old and young, we are all on our last cruise." - Robert Louis Stevenson


Thursday, June 13, 2024

Now i become myself (book)

I'm not sure it happened...

Last week (or maybe the week before) I finished Ken Shigematsu's book Now I Become Myself: How Deep Grace Heals Our Shame and Restores Our True Self. It's not that it was a bad book - it was an enjoyable read - but the title hoists a pretty bold claim. 

I bought this book because I'd heard Ken speak on a podcast about shame. The show was helpful to me and I was looking forward to reading more. Again, I liked the book, but I was a little disappointed in the content. Sometimes people are better speakers than writers (and sometimes they're better writers than they are in person). I'm guessing, since Ken is a pastor, the book may have come from a preaching series or something. There were a lot of stories... and, honestly, some of them left me just a little... meh. Plus his stories of Asian culture and heritage didn't really connect with me. But that doesn't mean the book wasn't helpful at all.

Chapters 5 & 10 were both really good ('Masterpiece In the Making' and 'Choosing Joy' respectively). I will consider using them for sermon fodder.

I also really liked how he ended each chapter with a Prayer Exercise, Reflection, and Study Guide Questions. This would lend itself nicely to use in a book club, bible study or small group. They were all very practical and useful.

One particular Prayer Exercise he used several variations of was especially helpful for me (and I have continued using it). This is the exercise at the end of chapter 3:

My friend Curt Thompson, a psychiatrist and author, introduced me to the following meditative prayer practice, which helps me focus on the astonishing, far-reaching, enduring, and inclusive love of God, which is beyond measurement and transcends our understanding (Ephesians 3:17-19).

Take a few deep breaths in and out through your nose.

Imagine you are in a beautiful place in nature - by the ocean or a lake, in a forest, a meadow, or the mountains.

Invite God's presence to be with you in this place.

Listen to the words God the Father says to Jesus at his baptism: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22).

Now imagine hearing God speak these same words to you, calling you by name and saying, "_______, you are my daughter/son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." Repeat this affirmation two more times. [At the end of the next chapter he words the second part: "...I am so pleased with you. I delight that you are on the earth." -I like that-]

These words are not only for Jesus but also for each of us. If you have trouble believing you are as loved as the Father loves Jesus, remember Jesus tells all his disciples, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you" (John 15:0). The Hebrew prophet Zephaniah declares God "will take great delight in you; and in his love he will . . . rejoice over you with singing" (Zeph. 3:17).

I invite you to practice this meditation for the next six weeks. As you do, it will not only affect you spiritually but physically as well. It will begin to change the neural networks in your brain, making you physiologically more receptive to the felt experience of God's love for you.

At first, you might experience this deeper awareness of being known and cared for by your Father in heaven only during the meditative prayer time itself. But over time, you may find that your capacity to receive God's love is expanding, and you will begin to receive positive images, words, feelings, and affirmations during the other moments of your life, including times of discomfort and discouragement. As you continue this practice, it will begin to transform the way you respond to your life experiences.

That one exercise was worth the price of the book for me. Sure, it was nothing new, but it's so easy to forget the value of something so seemingly simple if we can just stick with it over time.

Shame is something I have and continue to struggle with off and on for as long as I can remember. As Ken notes, "At the core of shame is the fear of being unlovable and rejected..." and it's a terrible way to go through life. It effects everyone around us - which makes us all the more miserable!

This book, while not all I hoped it would be, was at least helpful. It's one I may revisit again as I continue to . . . become myself.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Illinois weekend

The "s" in "Illinois" is silent. I've known that all my life... because I'm from there. That was about all that was quiet in the Land of Lincoln this past weekend...

Friday morning we loaded up the car, stopped and picked up the birthday girl (Carrie), and headed west to my mom's house. My nephew and his girlfriend from Florida were already there, and later my sister and her other son from Minnesota arrived. We all spent the night at moms. Jane and I slept in the tent, and it's crazy how much noisier it is in this tiny village at night than where we live in the city. From the trains, to the pack of coyote, to the crazy birds the next morning... we did not get a lot of sleep.

Saturday morning everyone left there and we drove the two+ hours to the "Powell Reunion" in Rushville, IL. This is my mom's side of the family and they've had this reunion every summer since... I think the 1970s (though I'm not sure anyone ever agreed on the actual start date). At any rate, it usually goes from Friday evening until noon-ish Sunday, and there is food, camping, fireworks, a dj, dancing, smores, and more. And lots and lots of people. 

It had been a number of years since we had been there (like, maybe 15 or so??). It's just at an odd time of year (not just Carrie's birthday), plus almost everyone else lives in the area and we've always been the 'outsiders.' And, you already know I'm socially awkward anyway... so it's just never been a real priority for us. However, this year my mom really laid the guilt on about how much she would like all of us to be there (and she usually hints that we're the only ones not there... which is not even close to true), so other than the boy we all made it this year.

It actually was a fun time. Most of it. A number of my cousins, and even my cousins kids, have passed away over the years; as well as two of my mom's siblings. Still, there were a lot of people. I've no idea how many. It was nice to visit with people I hadn't seen in a long time, and who I sort of grew up with on holidays and whatnot.

The only real awkward moments were (1) the trump flag on the barn - though we could never determine whether it was my aunt and uncle's or the neighbor, (2) the bathroom being 'right there' off the kitchen, and (3) my mom making us drive over to my one aunt's house and one cousins house because I'm sure she thought we would be so impressed with how fabulous they were. I'm not sure how she thought the rest of my aunts and cousins felt, whose houses she didn't want us to go see. And... to be honest... I not only wanted to puke at the excessive opulence, but stuff like that really makes me kinda mad. But, I resisted, and just didn't say anything. I was proud of Carrie though for not even getting out of the car at my cousin's 7-bathroom/bedroom house with pool and whatnot that's still in the building stage (for her and her husband and their newborn twins). Ugh. Other than that, though, I was fine with everything else.

The big question mark for all of us out-of-towners was our sleeping quarters for Saturday night. My aunt had secured some rooms in a "hunting lodge" not far from her house. She told my mom it was "nice," and it was only $60/night! Not that we didn't trust her judgment, but we were a little concerned considering the super-rural location.

So we were all very much relieved when we found this giant cabin in the middle of nowhere. It sleeps like 35 people, has a ton of separate bathrooms, showers, and sinks, and we had the place to ourselves! There was a huge commercial kitchen, two giant living room/community areas, bottled water, sodas, coffee, towels, sheets, and basically anything else you would need. It was pretty incredible. The door was unlocked and we just left the keys on the counter with our money when we left! Crazy. I mean, if you don't mind a bunch of dead animals displayed throughout the house... AND if you can find your way down gravel roads in the dark of night... it was a great place. [pics below]

Anyway, we returned to the reunion Sunday morning for breakfast, then the three of us headed for home around 11am Central time. It took almost 6 hours to get back to Fort Wayne via Champaign and Indy interstates. 

I must admit, I'd had some moderate-to-serious anxiety leading up to this - plus I wasn't feeling the greatest the first day or so (head/neck ache stuff) - but, as usual, it wasn't that bad. I think the accommodations Saturday night helped quite a bit. It also helped that some of my aunts have mellowed and didn't treat me like a little boy and make a big fuss like they sometimes used to. I'm glad we went.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Minnesota weekend

We took a quick trip to visit the kids in Minneapolis this past weekend. Fortunately there is a direct flight on Delta between Fort Wayne and Minneapolis. We live about 5 minutes from the airport, and Isaac & Ricci are about 20 minutes from theirs. Air time takes roughly 70-80 minutes. It all makes for fairly smooth travel.

We arrived around 9:30am Friday morning and Isaac picked us up while Ricci was still at work. After stopping at the Hi-Lo Diner for breakfast (about a mile from their house), we asked if we could drive by the George Floyd Memorial area at 38th Street & Chicago Ave. It is just a couple blocks from where he gets his hair cut, and was somewhat moving to imagine all that took place there. 

Next up we visited Mia (Minneapolis Museum of Art). It is a very cool place just a couple miles from where they live. It's hard for my brain to wrap around the fact some of these things existed over 4,000 years ago. Though perhaps the coolest exhibit to me was the 'American Gothic' picture story from Gordon Parks. During a yearlong fellowship in Washington D.C. in 1942, Parks photographed government worker Ella Watson across the varied landscape of her daily life as a custodian, head of a household, and a deaconess in her church. I was especially moved by the picture of Ms. Watson reading to the children of her adopted daughter (who is in the background). 

Friday night we all went to a teeny little pizza place for supper and then just hung out at their house. Isaac's 36th birthday was Saturday, and he unfortunately woke up sick. Eventually we made our way to an Art Fair in nearby Edina, but that was about all we did that day.

Sunday we ventured to St. Paul for breakfast and a stroll through a Farmers Market, then we headed to Minnehaha Falls for a bit of a hike.

Mostly this trip was just about spending time with Isaac & Ricci (and the dogs, Tig & Crosby) before the arrival of their first child later this year. They have a nice little rental house in a residential area with a couple bedrooms upstairs, a nice big bedroom and separate bathroom in the basement (where we normally stay), and it's within walking distance to a grocery store, restaurants, and the Mississippi River.

We headed back to the airport around 6-ish Sunday evening for our 7:50 flight. Other than me getting molested by a security guard and having my deodorant confiscated, it was an uneventful (though slightly bumpy) ride and we landed a little after 10pm our time (9 Minnesota time).

So, that's about all there is to say about that. It was a nice relaxing visit as usual, but I wish they weren't so far away.

Friday, May 31, 2024

Five things friday (outta control)

Whew... its' the last day of May. This crazy summer is getting out of control already. Kinda like...

  1. I think I'm about over college sports. Especially my Fighting Illini. I mean, first it was NIL and the relaxed transfer rules - which I know are supposed to be designed with the athletes in mind - but now that schools can start outright paying players... it's just openly only about the money anymore! They aren't even hiding it! Gone are the days of developing a team; now you just buy one. And at least in this initial phase, it's just completely out of control. While it's possible that it may be better for the players, I have my doubts, and it certainly isn't better for me as a fan. Ugh.
  2. According to this Harvard report, between 1975 and 2010, the number of physicians in the U.S. grew by 150% and the number of healthcare administrators grew by 3,200%. And we wonder why the cost of healthcare has skyrocketed and the quality has plummeted? As my doctor nephew said years ago, "This is what happens when healthcare becomes for-profit." 
  3. Which is another thing I don't understand about trump's apparent appeal to so many people. To me he represents "big business" (whether he's a good representation or not is another issue), and why don't more working-class people see the evils that corporate greed is causing in the world? I do not know.
  4. On a more positive note: I attended a men's breakfast with our church community yesterday. I was anticipating having a donut and chatting a bit over coffee. Geezaroo! It was a 6:30am deep dive into addressing issues men are facing with full on feelings, emotions, and gut-wrenching honesty. I mean, I thought it was great! It was a bit unexpected, but I really like that about this church. There's not a lot of messin' around. It was good.
  5. I'll end with some (more) wise words from James Clear: "Clarity isn't about knowing what you want to do with your life, it's about knowing what you want to do this week. You don't need to have it all figured out. You just need to know your next step." 

My next step: Take a deep breath in; hold it; and let it out slowly... 

Thursday, May 30, 2024

A couple days with fitch

Last week I had the opportunity to spend a couple days listening to David Fitch talk about his latest book Reckoning With Power: Why the Church Fails When It's On the Wrong Side of Power. It was a three-session event put on by the Y and a local Methodist church. 

For several reasons I didn't take very many notes, but here are the few things I did write down:

  • "How do we not take over for God and squeeze him out?" was how he began the discussion.
  • The main point of the book is that there are two powers and not just one: worldly power (power over) and Godly power (power with, or under)
  • "A lot of reformed people somehow think government was formed BEFORE the fall... and all we need to do is simply get government working right again. This is false." Amen!
  • James 3 - wisdom from above
  • ** "There's nothing unpowerful about the Spirit of God." This statement had the most impact on me of all three sessions. The idea that we think worldly power is somehow the only power is ludicrous - especially for professing Christians. Read Ephesians 1:17ff. Btw, Fitch prefers the term "Power of the Spirit" to "spirituality." 
  • He mentioned something about the book Conflict Is Not Abuse by Sarah Schulman.
  • His definitions of power:
    • Power Over (Max Weber, Robert Dahl)
    • Power Within (Foucalt, CRT)
    • Power To (2nd & 3rd wave feminism)
    • Power With (MLK Jr., Butler, Schulman, Cone, Guitierrez)
  • "Without Jesus there can be not true Power With" (we end up defaulting into control). 
  • "If you can take control of this power, it's not God's power."
  • "Ideology can be demonic. The only thing that breaks the hold is when we make space for God. Making space for the power of God takes cooperation - it can't be coerced."

As for my personal observations:

I really liked the book. I think it's an important work and think it should be widely read in the church. I was also highly anticipating this chance to hear Fitch in person (again). I was honestly a little disappointed though. For one thing, he's simply not a very personable guy - which is fine; I'm not either. He apparently also struggles a bit with ADD, which seemed to be a little out of control at the Thursday morning (final) session. Perhaps the main issue was - and I don't know if it was his fault or the organizers - but the sessions did not line up at all with what was advertised. I think several of us in attendance had different expectations for what this was going to involve. Still, though, I highly enjoyed my time at all three sessions. It was nice to have something to do, it was good to be around other church leaders again, and I thoroughly enjoyed the mental stimulation. I was also glad Jane got to attend the Wednesday evening session with me. I'd kind of hoped to maybe invite Fitch out for lunch or a drink or something... but it didn't happen. I think it had to do with something I said Wednesday night. He gave me the mic and wanted to know what I was thinking. The main thing on my mind after reading the book and sitting through the first couple sessions was... How to avoid the Hubris Syndrome? He mentions it in the book, and also the story of Mark Driscoll's demise (basically letting power go to your head)... and I shared how, on a much smaller scale, that happened to me, and how I'm scared to death of it happening again. He'd suggested a number of things to "do"... but knowing what to do and not doing it are two different things... so how do I not go back there? His response was a sort-of "Yeah, I get that. It scares me too." However, he wouldn't even look at me Thursday morning. So I don't know if he mistakenly felt like I was calling him out; or it was probably more just my imagination. Jane thought it was my imagination, but you know me. Anyway, I didn't invite him out to lunch. He was probably already going out with someone else anyhow.

So, that's a really long paragraph to say... While the event wasn't what I expected, I still liked the book, and I'm still glad I got to participate. I wish I could do more things like that.

Here are a bunch of pics (completely out of order) taken by someone else that give a better idea of what he talked about:


Wednesday, May 29, 2024

A new string trimmer

I got a new string trimmer. This Black + Decker 12" 20v Cordless String Trimmer/Edger (model LST320C) from Menards. It was just under $100 and came with two batteries and charger.

Of course this wasn't the trimmer I intended to get. I started researching them awhile back because the batteries on my old B+D string trimmer were all giving out. At first I thought I was going to move away from cordless - thinking either gas or corded. However most sites suggested cordless over gas trimmers for residential use, especially if you're not going to use it on a daily basis. They say the cordless trimmers are now powerful enough that gas trimmers aren't necessary, and often gas are more hassle than they're worth. Certainly the old cordless trimmer I'd had was reliable enough. I don't even remember when I bought it, but it was awhile ago.

So, I began looking for another cordless trimmer. After my research I decided on an Ego or Worx. I happened to find an Ego on sale at Lowe's (online) and decided to go to an actual store and check it out. They were out of stock in the store. So I was going to just come home and order one online. Ha! By the time I got home they were out of stock online too. Drats.

In usual fashion, since I'd put this off for so long, I finally just trudged over to Menards and bought a random Black+Decker since it was reasonably priced and came with two batteries (instead of just one like many of them). How bad can it be, right?

I bought it last week and just got it out of the box and assembled the other day. I've still not used it. But it's here if it ever stops raining, and happens to coincide with a day I have the energy and gumption to trim weeds. Hopefully it will work for awhile. 

That process fairly accurately describes my lack of interest in yard work as a whole. I tried to take an interest, but it didn't last long and I finally just did the bare minimum. I really do not enjoy it. Wish I did... but I don't. Such is life...

Friday, May 24, 2024

Five things friday

Yes, I am still alive. I spent the past two days hanging out with some people as we listened to David Fitch talk about his book Reckoning With Power (among other things ... ... a lot of things; which I'll hopefully get to later). So, here's five things on my mind right now:

  1. After having something to do for two days in a row - and I had to be there at 9am yesterday - I was just about wiped out. I swear I think I'd still be asleep if Jane hadn't been able to pry my eyes open when she left for work at 7:30 this morning (which is a couple hours after I normally wake up). I slept really good last night... for a change.
  2. Speaking of which... I often sleep better sitting up on the couch (with my legs outstretched on the footstool) than I do laying in bed. Sometimes my heart rate elevates when I lay down, and it actually slows down while sitting up. Plus the cat likes when I sleep sitting up on the couch so she can nuzzle beside my leg.
  3. When I was finally able to drag my butt off the couch this morning I made my usual pre-run breakfast of peanut butter & jelly on toast and finally got in 11 miles before the heat cranked up too high. Then I decided to mow since I was already sweaty. So now I need a shower and maybe something else to eat.
  4. I think the next book I'm going to read is Ken Shigematsu's Now I Become Myself: How Deep Grace Heals Our Shame and Restores Our True Self. I'm looking forward to it, as it's been sitting here staring at me for months now. However, after getting a sneak peak at one chapter from Brian McLaren's new book Life After Doom I'm looking forward to that one of these days.
  5. “Of the twenty-two civilizations that have appeared in history, nineteen of them collapsed when they reached the moral state the United States is in now.” - Arnold Toynbee

I normally like to end these with a more hopeful & positive quote, but that one just really got to me. We gotta wake the f*ck up, people! However, for some good news... yesterday my grand-daughter finished second in the 100m hurdles in the middle school city track meet, and last night I got to see ultrasound pics of our soon-to-be newest grandson! Which, you know, is all the more reason I don't wanna let the world go to hell in a hand basket. Hand baskets are no place for worlds!

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Afib appearance

I know I've said before that there's something freeing in realizing we don't really have any control... but, dangit, this was discouraging!

For the first time since the first few days after the ablation I had a full blown AFib episode again yesterday. My heart still skips a beat from time to time, but this was the first high and totally random heart rate void of any rhythm. And for no apparent reason! 

I'd had a few restless nights of sleep (or lack thereof) lately - which is nothing out of the ordinary - but Monday night I actually slept the night through and didn't even get up to pee - not even once! I felt so good and rested yesterday morning. I actually skipped my normal workout because I seem to have tweaked something in my elbow, so instead of the usual weights I read an extra chapter in a book. I was dinking around in the afternoon and finally showered and got ready to pick Jane up and go to the kids' track meet, and I just felt a little "weird." I checked my pulse and it was all over the place... Ugh.

The episode lasted for a few hours and finally things straightened out but... I was just kind of bummed. I know I'm still within the 90-day window where this can happen occasionally, but I'm getting close to when they determine if the ablation worked or not. I just thought things were going okay, and this really sucked the air out of me.

I went to the track meet, but wasn't really there. Afterward we went to a Tincaps game where we were in a suite with some of Jane's co-workers. I couldn't even tell you who was there. I didn't talk to anyone. Pretty much just stared into space trying to look like I was watching the game. 

I don't know... I'm fine today. I did 7 miles this morning and things are running smoothly. It's just... I don't know... Is this what it's always going to be like? Am I never going to know what might happen at any given moment of any given day? Will I forever have to wonder???

Yeah... I suppose that's life. I guess it's like The Cat in the Hat said: "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how."

Someday I'd like to learn how.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Reckoning with power

I finished reading David Fitch's book 'Reckoning With Power: Why the Church Fails When It's on the Wrong Side of Power.' 

Fitch says in the introduction: "I intend to show that there are really two kinds of power at work in the world, not one. There is worldly power, which is exerted over persons, and there is godly power, which works relationally with and among persons." 

I thought it was good. I am actually scheduled to attend a 3-part lecture with him around the book tomorrow and Thursday and I'm looking forward to it. If there was one thing I wish he'd talked more about in the book were some practical ways of moving forward (though I understand it's difficult to do in a book, and he probably hopes those will come through conversation about it).

This is a topic that I have to admit I have struggled with over the years. I can recall so many times when I took the power over approach when I was in church leadership (and life in general). It seemed so much of the leadership culture at that time really emphasized this - or at least that's how I understood it. So it was helpful to see how it came to be. I will admit, though, that I am hesitant to ever be in that position again because I'm not confident of my ability to not go back to that way. So I appreciate what this book has given me to contemplate.

Here is the review I left on Amazon:

Fitch gives us a brief and readable overview of the church's struggles with power throughout history and how we might move forward. I believe this is an important book in America at this particular time (in light of 2024 election season), as well as for the 'leadership culture' so prevalent in the church. I wish all who proclaim faith in Christ - and especially those in church leadership roles - would give this a read and consider/converse the concepts of "power over" and "power with". I found it personally helpful in my own struggle to navigate worldly power and Godly power.

Monday, May 20, 2024

It may save your soul

For years I read from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals every morning to start my day. Sometime over the last year I stopped for some reason. Our pastor read from it yesterday and it was a good reminder to dig it out and start using it again. So I was reminded of this gem of a quote from Frederick Buechner today:

"Who  knows how the awareness of God's love first hits people? Every person has his own tale to tell, including the person who would not believe in God if you paid him. Some moment happens in your life that makes you say Yes right up to the roots of your hair, that makes it worth having been born just to have happen. Laughing with somebody till the tears run down your cheeks. Waking up to the first snow. Being in bed with somebody you love. Whether you thank God for such a moment or thank your lucky stars, it is a moment that is trying to open up your whole life. If you try to turn your back on such a moment and hurry along to Business as Usual, it may lose you the whole ball game. If you throw your arms around such a moment and hug it like crazy, it may save your soul. How about the person you know who as far as you can possibly tell has never had such a moment? Maybe for that person the moment that has to happen is you."

I am generally not good at being aware of moments like this. I appreciated the reminder to not only slow down, but also to look up and open up. You never know...

Friday, May 17, 2024

Five things friday

I started the day off with a "not terrible" 11-mile run in fairly humid weather, then lunch with my group of Y friends. Here's a few tidbits of info, a Prayer of Examen service I want to look into further, a super insightful quote regarding ethics/children, and some advice I hope to follow from now on (but probably won't)...

  1. High-end fitness chain Equinox launches $40,000-per-year membership. Do you think you could get your money's worth?
  2. New York City has more millionaires than any city in the world, with one in every 24 residents, or nearly 350,000 people, being millionaires. I am not one of them.
  3. Practicing the Way: with the Prayer of Examen -  a service
  4. From Scot McKnight's substack discussing Shai Held's Judaism Is About Love: Recovering the Heart of Jewish Life book (and the chapter 'Love Begins in the Home'): "In loving children we are to learn to love each child in that child’s uniqueness. That is, “ethics is about responding not to human beings in general but to human beings in particular – and in all their particularity.” Thus, “What is required of parents is not perfection but attention, a willingness to learn and relearn, repeatedly – what each child individually needs, and needs from us."
  5. Advice Warren Buffet received from his friend Tom Murphy: "You can always tell someone to go to hell tomorrow." (Wished I'd heeded that a little earlier in life)


Thursday, May 16, 2024

Wedding anniversary 41

We celebrated wedding anniversary #41 the other night. Whew... what a ride.

It was a typical day. We both got out of bed around 5am-ish, and somehow had cards from each other in front of the coffee pot. Jane had an early work meeting, and I left at the same time to pump iron (that may be the first time I've ever actually used that phrase in my whole life)...

We had dinner reservations on the north side of town at Cork 'N Cleaver. Oh my! We each had the 7oz melt-in-your-mouth Filet Mignon (with garlic butter topping), potato, salad bar and split a bottle of Cabernet. Then we shared the Mud Pie dessert. Maaaaaaybe I've had a better steak... but maybe not too. That's also my favorite dessert. It was a fantabulous meal. I don't know why we don't celebrate more special occasions there (well, maybe the $175 bill has something to do with it). I was feeling extra grateful so we tipped the waitress $41 in honor of our 41st.

From there we dashed back downtown to see Andy Squyres, who was performing at the Trinity Episcopal Church. Unfortunately we walked in after he'd already started, but it was in a small chapel and we were able to slide into a couple seats in the back. I was surprised there weren't more people there but I don't think it was overly well-advertised. Still, of the 20 people there, exactly half were from our church (who only announced it this past Sunday). It was absolutely worth it, though, and the intimacy of the setting and crowd was almost perfect. I was honestly not aware of him until Sunday but his writing and performance are top notch! I had tears in my eyes from the get-go. It just cuts straight through. Our lead pastor was there and I believe they set something up for Andy to play at our church later this summer. I can't wait. At the end of the show we got our pic with him (his 30th wedding anniversary was the next day), and I bought his book. Still feeling generous I just gave him all the cash I had in my wallet (maybe $60 or so). It was worth every penny and more to top off our celebration.

We did stop off at the Club Room on the way home for a nightcap. Oddly enough they seemed to be closing at like 9pm. What a weird place. 

So... that's a glimpse at the celebration for our marriage to this point. It probably fits fairly well with life itself for us: Some pretty simple-yet-spectacular moments interspersed among otherwise normal mundanity. I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Tuesday, May 14, 2024


Taken from Matt Tebbe's FB post this morning:

  • If you're angry try sitting with the question, "what is the violation?"
  • If you're sad try sitting with the question, "what is the loss?"
  • If you're anxious/afraid try sitting with the question, "what is the threat?"
        **some notes i took from our clergy retreat last month

Added by me: I don't think it's that the feelings cannot be valid. If they are, sitting with them may be a good and helpful idea. If they're not... hopefully sitting with them will reveal such.