Saturday, May 27, 2006


Haven't taken a snapshot of things since last February, so I'm due.

What I'm reading: "Unlearning Church" by Mike Slaughter and Warren Bird. It's about how the church needs to "unlearn" traditional methods of connecting people with God because we no longer live in traditional times. (There are some who would say that's a shame. Not me, but I understand the sentiment.) It's the kind of book that makes me put it down every few pages because something will grab my heart or my mind and I'll have to spend some time meditating and digesting it.

What I'm hearing: Not any one CD right now. My musical energy is focused on a couple of upcoming gigs my band is playing. The first is as the warm up band for national recording group "Big Daddy Weave." That's kind of a big deal for us. The other is the very next day as we play at the inaugural Arts Festival in Lapeer, Michigan. There have been a couple of songs that have grabbed my attention recently, however. One is "Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts. I love the lyric in the refrain: "God bless the broken road that led me straight to you." The other is the new single out by Mercy Me: "So Long Self." It's got an infectious 1960's style melody and some great lyrics. That band just keeps turning out great song after great song.

What I'm watching: Not much since the summer rerun season has begun. I enjoyed the season finale of "NCIS"; Gibbs won't quit for long because that show would collapse without Mark Harmon. We taped the season ender for "Lost" but we haven't watched it yet, so NOBODY TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS. Other than that I'm just keeping an eye on the baseball highlights.

What I'm celebrating: The successful refinancing of our home over the past couple of weeks. Without going into all the gory details, we were in some pretty severe financial straits in 2003 but with some good professional advice, some smart living and good choices, some long hours on the overtime list, and the grace of God (always the grace of God), we're back on top of our game, or nearly there. Not only were we able to sign contracts for $21,000 of external home renovations, we also are getting the bathroom remodeled, paid off both mortgages, tucked some extra cash in the bank, and still lowered our monthly payment by nearly $200. The only drawback? The mortgage that had only 14 years left to its payoff date now has 30 years once again. Hopefully we can add a little bit to the principal each month and get that date drastically shortened.

What I'm trying to get done: The aforementioned renovations, the aforementioned concerts, and get my son home safely for the summer months.

What I've paid money to see: "RV" was very pleasant, indeed, and certainly more enjoyable than the critics led me to believe it would be. We also got a big kick out of "Over the Hedge" and especially appreciated its gentle jab at our conspicuous consumerism. We're going down to see the Detroit Tigers play some baseball tomorrow afternoon and that's bound to be pretty good, too.

The smartest thing I've done lately: I'd like to say "hire the right builder" but only time will tell. The renovations start June 5.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Rainy Days and Wednesdays

It's been raining on and off for a week, now, with no end in near sight. Cloudy, cold, and hardly Spring-like. I can't remember the last time I had nothing to do and nowhere to go, but all this rain has me thinking about how nice that might be.

The first thing I'd do is sleep. The kind of deep sleep where you soak your pillow with the drool and wake up to three civil noise infractions from your neighbors due to the snoring.

Then I'd bail out my Inbox so Outlook Express doesn't go under from the weight of so many unfiled e-mails.

I'd catch up on some of the fantasy baseball research articles I seldom have time to read.

I'd brew a half pot of coffee and munch on toast and butter while reading some backlogged magazines.

I"d explore some new secret intimacies with the missus.

I'd curl up in a corner of the sofa with a really good science fiction book and go walking amongst the stars and visit alien vistas and feel, somehow, mildly disappointed when I put the book down and realized I was still here on Earth.

I'd reread my prayer and scripture journal and make a new entry.

I'd break out the Cribbage board and play a few matches with my kids.

I'd dust off some of the DVD/Video boxes in our collection and watch some classic movies or television shows.

And then I'd sleep some more.

So what would you do on a rainy day with nothing to do and nowhere to go?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Forty Niner

So I turned 49 years old today. It's just a number, right?

I certainly don't feel any older. Well, in an "all-at-once" kind of way. I mean, in the aggregate sense of changes building up over time, well, yes, I feel older. The beard I see in the mirror is no longer red. The lines around the eyes are there all the time, not just when I smile. I've caught myself grunting upon occasion when I get up off the sofa.

And just the IDEA of actually running anywhere makes me break out in a sweat.

But other than that, I'm still a young buck.

What changes have you noticed as the years have slipped behind?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Miracle Sunday

My church had "Miracle Sunday" today. It was the hope that our congregants would kick in extra money, sell off unneeded possessions, and even will property and other possessions to the church ... all in one massive attempt to buy down every last dollar of debt, freeing up our financial resources to pursue new ministries, make some long overdue building repairs, and unflinchingly follow where we hear God calling us to go. The church elders wanted to raise some $300,000.

The service was packed with specials ... the choir sang a benediction, the handbell choir played the offertory, our worship band played while the "Miracle Offering" was taken up. Letters from former pastors were read, we showed a 15-minute slideshow on the 85 year history of Calvary Church, one of our beloved former pastors spoke for 20 minutes, *AND* we also had Communion, this being the first Sunday of the month. And did I mention we still did all the other regular elements of our service (praise and worship songs, announcements, hymns)? The Pastor even preached his sermon, albeit he did skip great chunks of it.

By all accounts, it was a marvelous service, but it's sticking in my craw a little bit that SO MUCH was planned to fill our 90 minute service. I'm no stickler for walking out of church at exactly twelve noon and certainly believe in allowing the Spirit to move in the midst of our weekly time together ... but stubbornly insisting on stuffing in every little bit of planned item when it's clearly overkill - if I can use that word when referring to a service of Christian faith - seems to me to be poor stewardship of God's time and more than a little bit selfish.

There, I've said it and it's off my chest and I thank you for letting me do that.

By the way, more than $130,000 was brought in and many old members visited us, resulting in some very fine conversations.