Saturday, April 30, 2005

It was a dark and stormy night...

It's Saturday night, 10:22 PM, the thunder is rolling and the rain is falling. For some reason I'm writing a blog.

As Sunday nears, I'm gearing up for a great morning of worship and missions. Tomorrow in our assembly we're focusing on God's call "To Go!" As I looked again at Isaiah 6, I was moved by how compelling it is to truly see God. It's presence changes everything. His presence: re-shapes our hearts; re-establishes our purpose; and renews our love for others.

Isaiah discovered that it's a scary thing to be in the presence of God. I can only think of one thing scarier: not being in His Presence.

Here's something that may ring true: when it's the darkest, the stormiest is when God seems most visible.

So on a dark and stormy night I'm hoping each of us can catch of glimpse of the light of glory and the glow of his grace.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Have Your People Call My People

I eat lunch out everyday. Everyday. Since I eat lunch out all the time, what makes lunch memorable isn't the cuisine, the ambiance or close to the door parking. Most restaurants serve the same food, just with different names.

What makes lunch memorable is the people with whom I get to eat it with. Saturday has been Chili's with mom and dad and children (until they left for college). Few things in life are better than eating Chili's chips and salsa with your wife and daughters (and now son-in-law).

The rest of the week I have the opportunity to hook up with guys that go to our church. Most of these fellows have rough schedules, but they have to eat. I pull the old "preacher's guilt trip" on them and they make time in their week to get together.

Today it was lunch at Pot Belly's. I guess their name is their promise if you eat there regularly. And by the line out the door today many people do! What made this lunch memorable wasn't the heated ham and cheese. It was the good friend I ate with. It was wonderful to hear him talk about his family: his wife and his children. He shared that he couldn't believe that he was now as old as he was. I confessed the same strange reality. He listened intently as I talked of the loves of my life: my wife, my kids, our Lord and the church that he and I both attend.

Heated ham and cheese and a good friend. It was great.

I love my occupation for many reasons. Getting to eat lunch with great guys is one of them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Holy Cowper

I'm not typically one of those guys who digs into the "rest of the story" about how hymns we sing came about. But this week I was reading Charles Swindoll's book on Moses and the ended a chapter talking about English poet William Cowper. (He's the guy who wrote God Moves In A Mysterious Way.)

Evidently at one point early in his life William was deeply discouraged. Sensing no hope, William tried to end his life by drinking poison. Before he expired, someone discovered him. His stomach was pumped and his life was spared.

As soon as he recovered, William not to be deterred, hires a coach (old school for "taxi") and has the driver take him down to the Thames River, where he climbs out of the coach and up on the ledge to jump into the river. The driver keeps Cowper from doing a cannonball jump and drives him back home.

William had a strong will.

Frustrated, but not undaunted, he finds a knife and tries to kill himself by falling on it. When it does instead of sticking into him, the blade breaks.

William, ever resourceful, then rigs up a rope in the basement that he intends to use to hang himself. He is able to put his head in the noose, and jump off the chair, but someone comes and finds him before he is able to breathe his last breath.

William is really having a bad week. But after not being able to end his life, of all things, he turns to God's word and he finds a reason to keep living his life: God's Grace.

Years later Will would write:
God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs, and works his gracious will.

Will had mined many different ways to end his life, God's grace was a treasure that saved it and forever changed it.

Pretty cool.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Did You Back Up Your Files?

Did you back your files up?

Boy I've heard that a lot in the past few days. Ever since my computer went down, I've had no person after another ask me, "You did back up your files onto the server, didn't you?" Evidently everyone who knows anything about being on an office network knows that one of the great benefits is that if (or when) your personal computer crashes you don't lose any of stuff.

If you've backed your files up...

Why do I have such a hard time backing my files up?

I'm not really that lazy, or that stubborn, or that stupid. (Okay, maybe I am that stupid.)

Actually, I'm a creature of habit and for the past decade plus I've saved my files a certain way and now I need to learn to save them another way.

When I continue to keep from doing things I need to do, that actually are for my benefit; and aren't really hard, I see where and why I need God in my life. Most of my problems and my failings are in the basic everyday stuff of life. I struggle with simply backing up my files; you know stuff like:
taking care of my body
being thoughtful and kind
listening
being patient
expecting more from others than I do myself

You know, the "backing up your files" stuff of life. Not brain surgery, just everyday routine.

Makes me glad God and His grace has my back.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Hey kids. My computer at work has completely crashed. A new one is ordered and hopefully I will be fully functional soon. (Yeah, like a new laptop would make me "fully functional!)

But with that written, my entry today will be minimal. (Please hold your applause!)

Yesterday I preached on James 2:1-13. It was one of the hardest sermons I've preached in awhile. Not that it isn't a great passage. In fact, it was just the opposite. It is an incredibly important passage; a life-defining passage. My trouble was saying what needed to be said in the time allotted. You heard it saw that I struggled with it.

But I'll tell you studying and preparing for that sermon on discrimation and "playing favorites" had a huge impact on me. James hit me right between the eyes. He reminded me how easy it is to become spiritually smug. It is so easy to be about the "significant things" that we forget the basic elements of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. You stuff like treating people with love, respect, dignity and common kindness.

That's it.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Hey the NFL has its draft tomorrow. And I don't care!

Here's what I do care about...

Lately, I spend more Friday nights at Costco and Wal-Mart than anywhere else. Sure we'll first have a fine dining experience at Applebee's. Who can resist an onion pedal appetizer followed by a plate of riblets? Yum, yum. But even after a great culinary start like that, to end up in the Costco food line and feeling all tingly inside about getting such a good deal on the Very Berry Sundae ("It's so much cheaper than what you would pay at the Ice Cream Shop. And it's good quality too!) Doesn't that scream, "Get a life?" Or maybe more sadly, "You never had a life."

Actually tonight may be different. UVA daughter is home and we may just throw caution to the wind, kick up our heels and go out and paint the town. If I can find the coupon, it may be a trip to Ruby Tuesday's to feast on Ruby's salad bar and 4-pound-baked-potato. We'll follow that with one of Ruby's famous $12 desserts and then off to Blockbuster for our favorite Vin Diesel movie. Oh, that's right that movie hasn't been made yet!

Well it's TGIF on ABC.

And the fun doesn't stop there. After all that excitement, we may turn the channel and watch a gripping episode of Law and Order: YHNETOAE (You Have No Energy To Do Anything Else).

No wonder our daughter doesn't come home from school more often.

Have a great weekend. Enjoy the draft if you have to.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The weatherman predicted possible thundershowers late tonight so of course it started raining at 1 PM this afternoon...

I'm getting ready to go get my hair cut. I've come a long way in the world of haircuts. We were on a family vacation visiting our grandparents in Oklahoma City. To my surprise I had a distant uncle who was a barber and my dad had set up for me and my younger brother to go get our hair cut from this unknown uncle. ( I think his name was Bynum or Noble or some other bookstore-sounding name.)

As we left to go to my uncle's shop, I remember my mom telling my dad to take "the boys" to get a trim before we had our "professional family photo" paid for by the grandparents. Bynum must have been part Native American because in his native tongue "trim" meant "scalping." I've seen 13 boys with more hair on their chin then I had on my head after that buzzing.

(Speaking of 13-year-old boys and facial hair, didn't all of us have one kid in middle school that had a moustache? This facial hairy guy in my Jr. High was named Vincent. What was that kid's deal? By the time he was in 8th grade he was shaving twice a day, had mutton chop sideburns and a Fu Manchu.)

Growing up in the sixties, my parents insisted that I keep my hair short. Every three weeks it was back to Frank's barbershop where I would get "The Princeton" haircut. Which basically meant getting buzzed on all sides with about two inches left in the front to comb to the side.

For the longest time my parents told me that I could never have longer hair than "The Princeton" allowed because I was born with a "double crown." (Or for those of you in rural America, a "double-cowlick.") Their contention was that since I had the double-crown, the hair on the top of my head would always stand straight up. So if I grew it long it would look freakish. The amazing thing is, I think they truly believed this "hair-brain" idea. They had convinced themselves that somehow if my hair grew to 2 feet in length it would stand straight up on the top of my head becoming a "natural Mohawk."

After years of my protesting "The Princeton" my parents relented and allowed me to grow my hair out. As this blessed event began so began a daily ritual began between my dad and me. Everyday he would come stare at my hair and warn: "You're going to have to train that hair if you don't want it sticking up. You're going to have to really train it! (You have to understand that this was coming from a man who had spent a lifetime getting his bump to stand up with just a little dab of Brill Cream.)

So, I starting growing and training my hair. Which translates into buying a big jar of Dippity Do and plastering that jelly on my double cowlick to keep those top-of-the-head-hairs of mine from sticking up. It was a long and sticky process. I felt at times like the "Lester Hayes" of hair care. (That is an extremely obscure NFL reference that I would guess only I get.)

But eventually my hair was trained and it grew to a length that it could actually be seen and combed. I finally felt as though I had entered the late sixties. Unfortunately it was 1973! So I was leaving for college where unknowingly I took on one part of the Nazarite vow: no razor was allowed to touch a hair on my head. (Unfortunately, that just meant the hair on top of my head. My beard was still 10 years behind my junior high friend Vincent.)

During my college years I wore my hair long and I wore it proud. (Evidently I wore it out, because it soon started falling out!) While in college I would wash and comb my hair every day. It needed no further training. My flowing locks lay flat on my head as they cascaded down my neck to my back.

That was then, and this is now.

In just a minute, I will drive to a hair salon where a Korean woman named Kim (who has highlights of cobalt blue in her jet black hair) will cut my hair about the same length as Frank did when he gave me "The Princeton" (unfortunately there is not much in the front left to comb over). As Kim finishes up my hair she will compliment me on how other men will be envious of the way my hair sticks up on the top of my head.

I will give her a generous tip.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Computers and Their Kids That Rule The World

Yesterday, shortly after I finished entering my blog, my computer froze up. It was lovely. I tried to reboot it. A message came up in simple white text on an all back screen: Operating System can not be found. Oh, that made me all warm and fuzzy. Fortunately, my friend and compassionate co-worker,Chris, heard me whimpering in the corner of my office. He has seen my in that corner in that position many times before for differing reasons. But yesterday when he came in my office and heard me muttering and clutching my laptop to my chest he sized up the situation pretty quickly. He knowing asked, “Your computer's frozen, right.”

In my stupor I couldn’t speak, I only moved my head up and down. He quickly moved in, got the lousy laptop to locate the operating system and he deftly backed up my latest un-backed-up files. Then the lousy laptop went on the fritz again. It couldn’t find the operating system again. At this point I talked to our IT person, Connie and she called in the big gun: The kid, we keep on retainer, who looks like he’s 13 (he’s probably 23) who we pay large sums of money to fix our (okay mainly my) computer. Our answer to Nick Burns comes in, zip bam, boom, and three minutes later he hands me back my laptop and says, "Piece of cake." Man that kid bugs me! (He’s just to young to know all that stuff!) But I like what he does.

It never ceases to amaze me how we have so many advances to help us be more portable and independent and how dependent we become on them! So whether you like this entry or you don’t you can thank or blame our computer kid. After all, he and computers pretty much rule our lives.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I Wonder...

Why is it that whenever I hang up a pair of pants they end up being more wrinkled than when they were put on the hanger?

Why do a new pair of socks feel so good and does the fact that I notice this mean that I am old?

Why does our dog, Nietzsche, like to eat almonds?

Why do I get irritated when it takes my computer a full 37 seconds to boot up?

Why is it that a week before I go to the dentist I feel this pressure to start flossing six times a day?

Why don't I stay in shape when I know that it is so hard to get back into it?

Why did God invent Internet spam or if He didn't invent it, why does he allow it to exist?

Why does Tony Danza have a talk show?

Why do I get a daily newspaper, a weekly newspaper, two weekly magazines, and six monthly magazines when I know I can't read them all?

Why did I need to be reminded that 10 years ago today was the Oklahoma City Bombing?

Why don't I stop writing these questions, then we both can go out and start to be God's answer?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Dandelions For Sale

Jeanette and I had a great “couple’s Saturday.” We cleaned house, went out to lunch, went to Lowe’s, planted flowers, trimmed weeds and I mowed the yard.

You should know that mowing the yard is not on my regular list of duties. Why? Because for the past two summers, my next door neighbors have mowed our yard. Now before you think I’m a total slug, I need to tell you the…”the rest of the story.”

As it turns out, besides owning their home, our neighbors also own farmland. As a result, they have a huge riding mower that they bring home to mow their yard and the widow’s yard on the other side of our property. So, since our own yard is in the middle, they asked if they could mow ours on the way to mowing the yard of our 87 year old widow neighbor to the south. They explained it would only take 12 minutes to mow our yard and since they were on the way, it would be the easy for them to do.

Well, since they seemed so obvious that they really wanted to mow our yard, and that it would bring them great pleasure in doing it, I felt I could only say, “Yes.”

So for the past two summers, I would be sitting in our den and look out my back window and see my neighbor or his wife mowing our yard. Now I want you to know that I would always say, “Thank you,” and if the hose was in their way I’d try my best to move it out of their way!

It’s been great. And everything was clipping along wonderfully, until this past week when I discovered a deep dark secret about myself. Evidently deep within me lurks an emotional need, or drive or guilt that compels me to have to mow our yard once every three years. I don’t understand it. I don’t know were this feeling originates. I tried to deny and suppress this feeling, but it wouldn’t go away.

So on Saturday morning I did want I needed to do to satisfy this over-seeded need. I gassed up the Honda. Then I pulled its cord to unleash the raw power of that 5.5 horse-power-self-propelled-21-inch-cut-mower. With two hands I grabbed its handle and threw it into gear determined to mow away my guilt. My guilt was gone in about eight minutes. I would have quit then, but I still had the side and back yards to go. So on I mowed, until I was sure that pesky guilt would take years to return.

But as I mowed I discovered more than the fact that my guilt could be mulched away in minutes. Unbeknownst to us, luring below our uncut grass was a sea of yellow. I discovered, running to the borders of our entire property, more dandelions than a retired landscaper had seen in his entire career. There were so many dandelions, Northern Virginia was almost put into an “Amber Alert.”

Stricken with this severe case of contagious, “garden variety” yellow fever, we were concerned our neighbors would rise up and try to quarantine us and our yard before the yellow fever spread and overtook their yards.

I kept asking myself, “What’s the dillio with all the dandelions? What caused this yellow-weeded epidemic?”

Then it hit me. I hadn’t looked after the yard for two years. It wasn't just that I had stopped mowing. For two years there had been no pre-emergent treatment, no aerating, no de-thatching, no fertilizing and certainly there had been no spraying for weeds. No wonder our yard now looked jaundiced.

I think there’s a sermon in there somewhere.

PS I got reacquanited with weed-killer late Saturday afternoon!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Late Night with the Tax Man

Not that I'm a procrastinator, but as soon as I finish this entry, I'm driving to the post office to mail our taxes.

I just read that 61.4 million Americans filed electronically this year. That's up 9 percent from 2003. That means that 56 percent of those filing evidently did so on-line.

I've never been one to follow the crowd.

April 15th brings out a weird mixture of emotions in me. It makes me nervous, a little frantic, and appreciative. Yeah, appreciative. Even though we're paying a lot of money, it still seems to be a good deal for the investment. I love life here in the northern Virginia, USA.

USA Today's TV critic rated the top Late Night TV hosts today. He rated Jon Stewart first, Ted Koppel second and David Letterman third. Leno was last.

I'm still, and have always been, a Dave guy. I love his acerbic sense of humor. (Are you impressed that I used the word, "acerbic"?) Though I do think Jon Stewart is astute and amusing. (acerbic, astute, amusing...that's a literary devise called "alliteration". Where else can you get this kind of writing for free? Don't answer that!)

I am not, nor have ever been, a Leno fan.

Did you know a synonym for tax is "duty"? That means that April 15th could have been called "Duty Day."

I guess that just made your forget the use of alliteration two paragraphs above, didn't it?

Don't feel taxed. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Baseball's Back

Tonight after a 34 year absence Major League Baseball returns to Washington, D.C. A sell-out crowd is expected to watch the hometown Nationals take on the Arizona Diamondbacks.

My family and I lived in Maryland suburb of Silver Spring back in 1971. It was the year that I turned 16. For my birthday my Dad took me to go and watch the Senators play. Though there was a game on my birthday we went four days later to watch the Milwaukee Brewers. It was a Tuesday night game and we got great third-baseline, box seats. Back in 71 one good seats were always available to watch the ever-losing Senators.

It was a great night. To the President Nixon showed up unannouced at the game. I remember telling my dad, that President Nixon must have heard it was my birthday and that's why he came to the game.

It was a horrible game. The Senators actually won, 5-1. They scored five runs on four hits. Frank Howard, the Senators big home run hitter, went 0 for 2.

But what did I care. I was sixteen and at the game with my Dad and the President.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Get Smart

Monday through Fridays I check in USAToday to see what "famous people" are having birthdays . Here's what I learned about April 13th:

Would you believe...today is Don Adams' birthday? The former star of the sixties situation comedy, Get Smart is 79 today. I imagine I'm like a lot of babyboomers who remember Adams playing bumbling, secret agent Maxwell Smart. He and fellow CONTROL agent "99" (played by actress Barbara Feldon) would due battle each week with the 'agency of evil" known as K.A.O.S. You may remember Max talking into his shoe phone and insisting that he and "the Chief" use the Cone of Silence to share top secret information. You may also remember Max's dreaded enemy Siegfried, who was played by The Love Boats' Doc, Bernie Kopell. And who can forget the opening and closing scenes. The show won a bunch of emmy awards during its five year run. (Get Smart was originally the concept of comedy legend, Mel Brooks who co-wrote its first season with Buck Henry.)

Why do I care? Well, when I was a kid, I thought this show was hysterical. I would try not to miss an episode. Now, I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't watch it through the opening credits. I saw reruns of Get Smart a few years ago and I thought it was horrible. (No offense intended Mr. Adams.) In fact, I couldn't believe that I used to watch it.

Its amazing that as time changes, so do our tastes. I use to love Perry Como Holiday specials, The Monkees, The Mod Squad, and Batman (I actually faked being sick so I could stay home and watch the premier of Batman. But don't tell my parents.) Hey I even watched a few episodes of Hee Haw ("Hey Grandpa what's for supper?" Feel free to call me at BR-549. Jeanette and I once saw Roy Clark in concert. I'm not making that up!) I don't even think about these shows now. Which I'm guessing is a healthy thing.

I don't know if this says something about the shows or about me or about all of us.

Are we more sophisicated today? Are we more jaded? Did we Get Smarter?

Oh, Happy Birthday, Don.

Sorry, I need to go. Knight Rider is coming on...




Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Will Someone Answer That?

This past Sunday, at our second worship assembly, I'm up preaching my little heart out from the book of James. I'm about six or seven minutes into the lesson and somone's cell phone goes off. Now I should tell you we make a big deal about people turning off their cell phones while we worship. Before each worship assembly we have PowerPoint slides asking people to turn off the ringer to their phones, Blackberries and pagers. We have the same request printed in the newsletter we hand out to everyone on Sunday morning. And every few weeks I remind everyone to turn off the ringer to their cell phones so that we can worship uninterrupted. Yet, we have phones go off pretty regularly.

Well, typically I don't say anything when it happens. People are embarassed enough when their cell phone goes off in worship. They are quick to answer it or shut their phones off. So I don't want to make the situation worse by pointing it out and causing further embarassment. But this past Sunday, the phone that went off was ringing really loud. So loud it fact that it was obvious that everyone in the audience could hear it. It was like it was being amplified, it was so loud. So I tried to lighten the atmosphere and said, "Could somebody answer that for all of us."

Everyone giggled. But the phone kept ringing. And we could all hear it. It rang and rang and no one ansered it. Then I realized that wasn't somebody's cell phone ringing, it was MY cell phone ringing! That's right! Standing up there preaching in front of the church my phone, in my suit pocket was ringing like crazy and it was being amplified by the mic I was wearing!

Now that you know I'm a complete idiot, I should tell you that I turn my phone to vibrate on Sundays and this past Sunday was no exception. But someone had called me and not reaching me had left me a voicemail message. Evidently, when that happens my phone rings and rings and rings to let me know I have a message waiting to be answered.

I'm looking on the bright side of things though. This is just another funny story my children can tell at my funeral. I know they'll miss me when I'm gone, but hey, they can leave me a message!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Under or Over Dog?

So I'm sitting on the couch, glued to the tube, watching the final round of the Masters Tournament yesterday. There is one reason I'm spending a beautiful spring afternoon inside. Actually the reason I'm spending my afternoon indoors isn't a word, its a name: Tiger.

Yep, even though Tiger Woods is the odds on favorite to win any tournament he enters, I still tune in to see him win. This penchant of mine to cheer for the "over dog" must be hereditary. As soon as Tiger won and the Masters was over, I called my parents to check on their health. My mom told me she had been watching. She said, "I'm sure that Chris DiMarco is a great guy, but I wanted Tiger to win."

There is something incredible when greatness triumphs. (And it doesn't hurt when Tiger then tears up as he dedicates this win to his ill father.)

Later last night, I caught the last twenty minutes of Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I found myself glued to the tube again when Ty, and the rest of the design crew, built Patricia Broadbent and her family a new home. Patricia has lung cancer and is undergoing cheomtherapy. Patricia is a former social worker; a mother of one biological child; and the adoptive mother of six other children, three of them still living at home. Each of these three children has AIDS that was contracted from their birth mothers. As the show ended, Patricia looked into the camera and told us the greatest blessing about her new home. It is the promise that if the cancer were to take her, she could still know that her daughters would be able to continue to live together in this home.

As she spoke tears filled my eyes.

There is something special about seeing the underdog, the person in great struggle, receive grace.

So I guess in some ways, I'm an over and under dog lover.

Which are you?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Happy Saturday

Sorry, I missed yesterday. The Blogspot.com website was crashed during the time I had free.

We did make it down to the cherry blossoms this morning. We left the house at 6:40 AM and made it downtown in 30 minutes. We actually found a parking space near the tidal basin. That was amazing. The crowd was light, the sun had just come up and the blossoms were spectacular. We had a great time. As we were holding hands walking the circle of the tidal basin, Jeanette pointed out that all the cherry blossom gazers had someone with them: children, friends or dogs. Jeanette was nice, she didn't make me wear a leash.

I was in Ballston yesterday (Friday) at a meeting for church stuff and started home at 4:30 PM. Right in the middle of rush hour traffic. I was by myself so there was no HOV opportunity. What took us 30 minutes to travel this morning (Saturday) took 75 minutes during Friday night rush hour. It was a good reminder to me of how most people live in the D.C. area. My hat goes off to all of you who commute every day. It is a huge commitment to your job, your family and yourself.

In an effort to stay more in touch with you commuters I plan on doing a similar commuting trip next year!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Weather Or Not?

I can't decide what to do. The cherry blossoms are at peak and we want to go downtown to see them. However, it's supposed to rain. It's Thursday so we have to go after work and that means that we'd have to go during rush hour. Then the issue is that is we could fight all that traffic going back into D.C. and end up being washed out anyway.And tomorrow it's supposed to rain all day. Trust me, viewing blossoms in a thunderstorm is no bowl of cherries.

We're thinking we may go downtown Saturday morning.But this Saturday is the day of Cherry Blossom Parade, which means there'll be tons of people downtown and zippo parking. So we're strongly considering getting up early (I'm talking really early) and go downtown with hopes of beating the crowd. But Saturday is typically a morning we like to sleep in. And we could we get up early and drive downtown, get there and discover that Friday's rain has washed all the blossoms off the trees.

The fact of the matter is, we won't know whether the blossoms are still treed or fallen unless we go down to see them in person. The blossoms could still be there or could be a pink floor mat on the Tidal basin walkway.

It all depends on the weather.

I’m actually watching the weather channel these days. It's channel 69 on our cable system. That says something doesn't it? I mean, that I know the channel number of the Weather Channel. And I'm pretty sure I don't like what it says.

I now find myself asking, "What if it rains?" Or I frequently listen to my voice saying out loud, "Do you think I'll need a coat or hat or gloves or a sweater?"

"Do I need a sweater?"

Who am I, my grandmother Crystal?

I never use to worry about weather. Rain, sleet, blizzard, tornado, hail, gale-force winds, drought, or sandstorm, YB (Young Bruce) would open the door to it all and shout those three words made famous by Kirsten Dunst, "Bring it on."

Whatever the weather YB had no worries. I would gladly throw caution to the wind. I would look forward to taking our dog for a walk in weather "not fit for man nor beast." Whether rain, or sleet or snow or sunshine, like the mailman, I was ready to go.
Tennis in 103-degree heat, serve it up!
Playing football in shorts and shirtsleeves in sub-freezing temperatures, I'm on your team.
Golf in the driving rain, point me to the tee and I'll drive the cart.

But more recently, I don't want to go somewhere where I might get wet and have to wear damp clothes. I find myself worrying about appropriate footwear. I'm concerned about over-heating and possible dehydration wondering if I need to wear layers and asking, "Should I take a water bottle?" And don't even get me started on "Will there be bathrooms?" (That's a whole other blog entry!)

I have become a weather wimp.And that's just a part of the package. I mean if I'm watching the Weather Channel now, can flipping between The Price Is Right and reruns of Matlock be far away? It's too scary to think about.

I'm not just a weather wimp. I may be an aging weather wimp...

But I promise you; we're going to see those cherry blossoms. (Or at least we’re having a piece of cherry pie in their honor.)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Random Thoughts

I'm still trying to figure out this blog thing. So how about I share a few things I'm thinking about as my day starts...

On my way to work everyday I drive by a car parked on the street. It's a white Nissan Sentra. I would guess it's a 1998. It has one of those vanity license plates. The license reads MENSA IQ. Every time I drive by the Sentra and read that license plate I feel more comfortable with my 3rd grade Iowa Test scores. But now I find myself wondering what Marilyn Vos Savant (you know that lady that answers questions in Parade who has the world's highest IQ) drives?

I picked up the Washington Post this morning and see that Homeland Security in an effort to combat the threat of terrorism is going to require citizens from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda to show passports to enter through U.S. borders. Homeland Security is concerned that terrorists may take advantage of the ease of travel between North American countries. The initiative to keep us safe will begin 2008. Does that mean that Homeland Security thinks it will take three years for people in these countries to come up with a plot?

Reports are out today that say that we will soon be able to surf the net 400 % to 1,600 % faster. Yeah, now I'll get those emails about how to get the best refinance rates, Viagra, Cialis and free wrinkle cream samples 4 to 16 times faster.

On a more serious note:
Jack Nicklaus is going to play in the Masters this week. This after his grandson died a month ago in a tragic accident. Jack playing this week, makes me think about how many people in my life go on with their lives after great tragedy quietly and without fanfare or media attention. They are heroes who need my attention.

Yesterday we had to fill up both of our cars with gas. It was about 75 bucks. Can you believe that we had to pay 75 bucks for gas? Can you believe we were able to pay $75 for gas?

We've started watching House on Tuesday nights. Last night's episode reminded me that God knows what He's talking about. Sin is a horrible thing and it is more destructive than any African sleeping sickness.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

It's Good To Remember

I woke up this morning and remembered it was Tim's birthday. Today Tim would have been 53. Tim and I became friends shortly after I moved to Fairfax. He came and introduced himself to me one day in my office and we began a weekly ritual of eating lunch together. We ate lunch together, once a week (almost every week) for over a decade. (Just about all of them Tim's treat.)

Tim and I were quite the odd-couple at our weekly luncheons. He was tall, I wasn't. He was a fix-it-yourself kind of guy, I'm not. Tim had been in the military, I hadn't. Tim was the father of two sons, I'm the dad of two daughters. Tim loved to drive long distances in a car. I definitely don't. Tim was into regular car maintenance and I can't find the manual. Tim loved sailing, I asked him frequently, "Why?"

Tim and I did share somethings in common: Tim was opinionated, so am I. Also, Tim loved movies, his family, Jesus and His church. Ditto for me.

And be both loved having lunch together.

Tim died a little over two and half years ago. He had been 50 for five months. He was much too young. I certainly wasn't ready for him to be gone.

Today on his birthday I celebrate his commitment to his family, his passion for the ocean and the beach, his patriotism, his love for God and his loyalty as a friend.

There was much more than a "free lunch" I received from our friendship. Tim taught me that if you get to a restaurant by 11:30 AM you don't have to wait for a table. He helped me find a great mechanic. In Tim, I realized I had a friend who knew me and accepted me anyway. Tim taught me how friends go the second mile (in his case with me, the second mile times 10,000) for their friends. He showed me how important it is, even at an early age, to be ready to be with God. Tim made me see friendships still matter and make a difference even when one friend isn't here. Tim also made me see that you need to tell your friends regularly that you love them, because they may not be here forever.

Happy birthday Tim. I love you still.






Monday, April 04, 2005

Comedy and Chicken

First things first... I’m going to figure out how to do all the other stuff on this site so you can learn about my favorite: Dr. Suess story, breath mint and airline snack food.

Second things second... my thoughts over the weekend: Last week two people died who made national news: Terry Schiavo and Pope John Paul II. These were deaths that continue to grip the nation and the world.
But they also obscured the passing of a couple of other people who died last week. One was a comedian named Mitch Hedberg. Mitch was 37. He appeared on Letterman’s show 10 times, had a couple of comedy CDs and had his own special on Comedy Central. He was a funny guy.
Here’s some of his stuff…
“P.S. This is what part of the alphabet would look like if 'Q' and 'R' were eliminated.”
"I got my hair highlighted, because I felt that some strands were more important than others."
“I’m against picketing, but I don’t know how to show it.”
"If you could understand Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy."

The autopsy hasn’t come back, but there is a good chance Mitch’s death had something to do with drugs,

Also this past Thursday, Frank Purdue died. You may remember him from his commericals in the early and mid 90s. I read his obituary. It was amazing. I didn't know that Purdue Farms, Inc. process 52 million pounds of chicken and turkey a week? That’s a lot of chicken nuggets!

I also didn't know that Frank (“It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken!”) Purdue really was tough. Good old Frank evidently was so anti-union that at one point he joined forces with the Mafia. No wonder there’s a “Gambino’s Chicken recipe on the Purdue website! (I kid…) But I’m not kidding about the Purdue-Mafia thing. Evidently, ol' Frank was willing to go to any length to keep chickens (and the people who cut them up) from unionizing. (Now we finally know the real answer to the age old question: “Why the chicken crossed the road?” "To avoid a mafia hit!")

A comedian who make people laugh, dies from doing drugs he takes to elevate his mood. The King of Chicken joining ranks with the Mafia.

Life can get weird.

And people say we don’t need Jesus.

Friday, April 01, 2005

This Is No April Fool's Joke

Welcome to my blog. It's Friday morning, April 1 and this is the first entry into a brand new experience for me: online journaling. Here's what I hope to accomplish by with this blog:
Share how God is blessing my life
Share what God is helping me learn;
Share what's really going on in my life;
Share what's most important to me: what's on my heart;
and have some fun.

I hope to "blog" three to five times a week. (For health reasons, I try to stay off the internet on weekends .)

The first fun thing I've done has been to include this picture of me. Wow, I sure look like a preacher in this one don't I? Or maybe I look like a funeral director having a bad hair day?

I'm in the process of trying to write a book. In the preface, I write that it's taken me so long to write a book because I haven't been able to determine what kind of "author's picture" I want to have. For years I've been stymied because of this "photo-choosing" dilemma.

I wondered...
Should it be a straight on head shot with me in business suit and power tie fashioned in a double-Windsor-knot that might cause would-be readers to whisper, “That man knows how to tie a tie.”? Or should it be a picture of me sitting behind my desk with my library of books behind me which would cause readers to ask, “I wonder if he’s read any of those books?” Or should I go for the "corduroy jacket with elbow patches , my hand on my chin as I stare away from the camera lens with a look" that says, “I’ve got something important on my mind but you’ll have to buy this book to find out what it is.” Or, I could be photographed outdoors, wearing a black tee shirt and jeans as if to say, “Mr. fifty-year-old still hopes he has it happening.”

It just so happens that this picture you're looking at is one that my blog-helper Bill Teague had on hand. But if you come back and read more of my blog entries you may discover new images of me. Viewing photos of me could prove to be a great aid for weight loss due to loss of appetite.

Photographs aside, picture this...me reflecting on God's work and other stuff and you every once and while stopping by to check out my musings. In fact, there is a place somewhere on this site that allows you to post a comment. If you find it, leave one.

Right now I'm finishing up my sermon for Sunday morning. I'm currently preaching through the book of James. I've done a bunch of reading this week on poverty since this week's sermon is on James 1:9-12 (which big surprise deals with poverty: a major theme for James). Let me recommend Ruby Payne's book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty it has been extremely helpful. She also has a website you can Goggle and find.

As I'm pulling this sermon together, I find myself thinking back to the most joyful times of my life. Interestingly for me, those times have nothing to do with money. In fact, when I laughed the most, was when I was a kid who rarely got an allowance.

Go figure.

See you Monday.