Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fair Warning

It's 6:55AM.
I'm at full-blown crabby.

Just giving you all a heads-up...

...and this is one of those days that I wish a pastor could have the full freedom to say what he wants to say in a public forum...

...but make sure that after I've passed from this planet, that you check the entry in my personal journal for Halloween, 2006. I've got some choice words for some folks.

Monday, October 30, 2006

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...that I'm a sucker for weddings, especially when former students are involved. That never really gets old to me: A teen I built a relationship with around 7 years ago asks me to perform their wedding ceremony. Are you kidding me? And I get to do that same thing two more weekends in a row!
...that I'm a sucker for both my daughters. I really love those kids.
...that I'm a sucker for my wife. I really love that girl.
...that I'm having a hard time getting geared up for the upcoming elections. I have about zero passion for it, and they seem pretty important.
...that Auburn fans have become spoiled. The words "winning ugly" while we compete for conference and national championships now sound silly to those of us who remember when Auburn used to "lose ugly" and never compete for conference and national championships.
...the vibe I'm getting from our congregation is that they're ready to move forward. Of course, I'm always concerned about the things I'm not hearing.
...that Texas is actually having a nice stretch of weather.
...that the first few days of it getting dark earlier makes me happy for some reason. I like "standard" time better than "savings" time.
...that I might get more tattoos.
...that the "stretchy pants" that came on my DVD of "Nacho Libre" was a pretty funny marketing tool.
...that I'm happy Tony Romo did well in his debut as starting quarterback for the Cowboys. I like it when the underdog rises up, whether it's a team or a guy.
...that I couldn't get into the World Series this year. I tried. Really. Just no real good story lines.
...that I'm pretty excited to visit with Joshua and Kristen on Tuesday, with their offspring in tow. We don't see them enough since they moved to San Francisco.
...that my stack of books dwindled a bit and now I'm scrounging around the office to find some good stuff.
...that I have an inherent disdain for committees, but I'm heading one at my church now that might actually do some good things and be pretty creative and innovative if we work it right.
...that it's time to clean out the garage again. I might do that the week of Thanksgiving and include all the Christmas stuff in the haul. We've got a lot of that stuff accumulated over the years we don't use any more.
...that it's hard finding a refrigerator you want to fit in a space (that can't be altered without MAJOR finances) designed for refrigerators of two decades ago.
...that if I clean out the garage and we find the refrigerator we want we can actually have a fridge out there for snacks and sodas and my wife's film needs. I've always seen the "bonus fridge" as a sign of abundance.
...that our little coffee shop at CBC is slowly but surely becoming the place we want it to be.
...that I need to get on with my day of doing nothing.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Art Is Open To Different Interpretations

If you can't read the sign at the top of the mountain, it reads: "Answers for an easier life, Open 9--5."

I know that Wiley didn't have this in mind when he penned this morning's Non Sequiter comic, but I couldn't help but think that this is the way so many Christians try to live the Christian life. Work, work, and work and hope for some mountaintop experience...when the reality is decidedly different.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I Gotta Say It...

I like "fall back" a lot better than "spring forward."

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Great Game?

What if they threw a World Series and nobody watched? The television ratings are hitting new lows.

It saddens me that the greatest game ever invented is losing (has lost?) the interest of the American public. But yet, NASCAR's popularity is increasing in droves.

So, lemme get this straight: Cars go fast and turn left some 1,200 times in a race and that holds our nation's interest, yet a sport with over 120 years of history which requires some of the greatest skill and provides season-long drama can't get folks to watch?

Once again, I'm so far afield from my fellow sports watchers.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cal & The Boomers

From Today's "In The Bleachers" comic:

In this morning's Dallas Morning News there was an article by
Cal Thomas (published on Oct. 20 in The Washington Times. It was about him finding out that he's in a minority now as a white, married male. It's really about how society is de-valuing marriage.

He lists the causes as he sees them, and the usual suspects are rounded up: The media apparently glorifies living together and celebrities who fornicate; families are having fewer children, if they even stay together; the social pressure to get married has now dissipated; how you can now get rich off infamy; how churches don't teach about marriage & divorce; and even Kanye West gets into the act because you can't print his lyrics in the paper.

Don't get me wrong, Cal. There's a bit of truth to each of those areas. But here's where you lost me, in pinpointing the crux of it all: "Life is all about me, the defining characteristic of this generation."

The defining characteristic of this generation?

Hello, kettle. This is the pot. You're black.

Seems to me that all generations have been selfish in American history, Cal. Yes, even the over-hyped and over-blown "Greatest Generation"--who, might be just that, depending on how you measure it. So, if you're measuring it by winning a war and building our economy--pretty good. If you're measuring it by the "fruit" in the children they raised--pretty bad.

Same for the Baby Boomers, Cal--of which you are a part. They did some fantastic things with free speech and freedom and silly societal mores--definitely good. Politically & corporately, well, they've thrown a pretty pricey financial party and had the benefits, but will ask future generations to pay the credit card bill--kinda bad.

My own Generation X is in this, too. We've done some pretty good things regarding working to live rather than living to work--pretty good. We've not done too well in taking leadership in government and business which will have untold consequences down the road--definitely bad.

My point is this, Cal. Society is always contrarian to Judeo-Christian mores. At times worse than others, at times more "family friendly." Our founding fathers having love children with their, ahem, "workers" doesn't exactly have the ring of holiday fun around the Christmas tree does it? Each generation has it's own good things to look at and they each have their skeletons in the closet.

And, yes, you did mention (albeit briefly) that "This decline into minority status for people like me is also partly the fault of people like me." But you followed that up with how your generation was bent on making money and acquiring things. Sounds a bit...



So, let me tell you a few things about this generation that you might need some help on:

First, they don't really buy into the media, Cal. Sure, they watch a lot of it and it may influence their slang or their dress or even get into what's "cool." But hey, who could watch "MTV Cribs" and not want that really cool big screen television with surround sound? But they understand something about media manipulation and get pretty clearly that all that glitters is not gold. So, even if they see couples breaking up, they don't view it as "cool" or even "normal." They see it as entertainment news. They don't make personal philosophies based on it.

Secondly, the families having fewer children and waiting later to get married is actually a good thing, Cal. One I would think Boomers would admire. I mean, that "social stigma" to get married in your early 20's and have a bunch of kids is likely one of the contributing factors to the divorce rate. If this generation is going to get married, it's because they love somebody and want to spend the rest of their life with them. Not because it's the most convenient person they liked a lot when they turned 21, dated for a year and then got to marrying age. And, the reason they wait later to have kids and have them in smaller numbers? A shaky corporate climate and an understanding of the gravity & responsibility of having a child might have more to do with it than selfishness. Oh, yeah. That equal pay for equal work thing your generation faught for regarding women in the workforce--that's a very good thing--and now women have the choice to be self supporting--another very good thing. But it affects when a woman may choose to get married. I'm okay with that.

Finally, about the clergy: Ever tried to enact church discipline in this day and age? Suffice to say that "dismissing from fellowship" has no effect on a believer in our culture. They simply go to a megachurch down the road and continue to do what they want. You can teach to any subject, and money is never a consideration--at least in my church--and we even have a "position paper" readily available addressing our congregation's stance on divorce and remarriage. Most churches I'm aware of have the same.

So, Cal, with all due respect (hey, I'm a consistent reader and actually own one of your books), you know what this is about?


And my "selfishness" as a parent.

Am I going to be the type of parent who teaches my kid the value of critical thinking, whether it's the media or me or the teacher? Am I a critical thinker?

Am I going to be the type of parent who lives within my means and teaches my child the value of a buck and the foolishness of "stuff?"

Am I going to be the type of parent who really loves my wife and enjoys my marriage and my family or are they going to be another thing to check-off on my to-do list so I can then be free to pursue my hobby? In other words, will my kids have a positive view of the institution of marriage--that it can be "real" and "til death do us part?"

Am I going to be the type of parent who lives our my religious belief in a philosophically consistent way? Does it mean as much to me when I watch football or drive or buy groceries or discipline them as it does on Sundays and Wednesdays?

Ultimately, Cal, am I going to be a person who truly realizes that life is not at all about me?

Because, like the cartoon above, I think it's the parenting skills of GenX that will define whether or not we're a great generation. Because parenting is really the issue as I see it. Are we going to live out before them what we say we truly believe? It's not about making sure Johnny gets the right call in sports or manipulates a system to get into a good college or protecting them or any of that stuff.

Parenting is about serving and doing the most loving thing for your child in any given moment. Nothing more is required. Nothing less will suffice.

And even though you didn't ask, Cal, that's where the problems and the solutions lie on this isse, IMHO.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More From Yesterday

So, yesterday I talked about The Big Risk: Writing.

I talked about the drawbacks. I talked about the difficulties. I talked about the ups and downs of it.

And I have a few more thoughts:

First, I mentioned I didn't know what to write about. I am speaking specifically about the Christian publishing end of that spectrum...am I missing something? There's pretty much a book for every topic you can imagine in any bookstore regarding the spiritual life. Is there some topic that hasn't been covered? Is there some topic that hasn't been covered well? What would The Diner readership want a book about?

Second, I am wondering if blogging such a book might not be a bad idea. I mean, you don't have to get paid for a writing ministry (although, a little extra cash never hurts in the world of youth ministry). And I'm not sure that I want to become a part of the Christian publishing world, either. Most of you know my disdain for "Christian retailing." I also have a disdain for "Christian celebrity." You know, write a book that helps people, go on book signing tours, hop on Dobson's show, speak at churches here and there...although I'm not exactly sure why my disdain is about on that one.

Maybe there's a way to write helpful stuff and not become a part of that scene and still get a little something on the side financially. Sort of like the band Lost and Found does it: Do it all yourself, maintain artistic control and still have a place. If somebody's doing writing that way, maybe they're on to something.

Lastly, the issue of risk is there if I were to finish a work. Would people like it? Would it "sell?" Would people tell me if it sucked and save me the embarrassment? Ahh...still the insecurities exist, don't they.

So, yeah...

...if you guys could tell me what it is that the Christian community should/should/needs to hear about from me (of all people)...

...yeah, that'd be helpful.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"It's because it's what you love, Ricky. It is who you were born to be. And here you sit. Thinking. Well, Ricky Bobby is not a thinker. Ricky Bobby is a driver. He is a doer, and that's what you need to do. You don't need to think. You need to drive. You need speed. You need to go out there, and you need to rev your engine. You need to fire it up. You need to grab ahold of that line between speed and chaos, and you need to wrestle it to the ground like a demon cobra. And then, when the fear rises up in your belly, you use it. And you know that fear is powerful, because it has been there for billions of years. And it is good. And you use it. And you ride it; you ride it like a skeleton horse through the gates of hell, and then you win, Ricky. You WIN! And you don't win for anybody else. You win for you."

Let me tell you a few things you need to know about me, okay?

I write for me. Yes, I know you're looking over my shoulder, but this ain't about you at all. See, I have all these thoughts that ramble around in my brain about everything from sports to nature to God to television comedies and they never really stop. I used to journal in composition books I'd buy for a buck at Wal-Mart. Even though typing is faster (and legible) and the fine folks at Blogger give me this platform for free, it ain't about the money, either. This is therapy for me.

Writing, if done well, involves honesty. And if I'm being honest, on any given day I can be bursting with confidence or dwelling on deep stuff or struggling with my place in the universe or anything and everything in between. Honesty and transparency in a public forum can be dicey even if you're Ned Flanders. The reality is that I lean more towards Stephen King.

And that's why I'm calling the task before me a The Big Risk.

I know.

We've talked about this before.

And I've been doing some thinking.

About why I'm not writing the book. Or "a" book. Or "books." Generally speaking, you've been very kind in your encouragements. At least, I'm taking them as encouragement when you walk up to me and say things like, "I visit The Diner every day and I never comment but me and my friends have coffee and talk about things you write sometimes and you remind me of (insert a writer you like here) and you should write a book." You could be chastising me or rebuking me (Katherine, Bailey, Ma Deb) or exhorting me or whatever...I'm taking it as encouragment.

But I don't think you know what you're asking me to do.

See, writing is a lonely business. That's why I do this before the fam gets moving. I tried at night but still too much movement.

See, writing is a thoughtful business. I have to think about what I'm going to write about and how to do that in any semblance of a way that will keep me off the therapist's couch (and bank account) and still somewhat enjoy the process.

See, writing is an emotional business. When you write and self-publish in an open forum like this, well, people read it. More people than I'd ever imagine care read it. And they have opinions. Sometimes strong ones that differ from mine. Sometimes ones they voice strongly about things I didn't say. And sometimes it hurts. Sometimes people like it and tell me so, and it makes me smile. But imagine this as a visit to a counselor that everyone is watching on television and you get an idea of what this is like for me.

I don't know what to write about (although the children's book idea is enticing, that's more of an act of worship for me so please don't bring it up for those of you that know about it).

I'm a bit scared of the vulnerability I'd have to put out there to do it well if I could even decide what to write about.

I'm a bit fearful that I'll become this dottering Nutty Professor with a pipe and patches on my sport coat elbows who walks around looking at the ground and muttering to myself and ignoring folks--and my job is the opposite of ignoring folks.

So, it's a Big Risk.

On a number of levels. Stephen King says it takes courage to approach the blank page.

I know precisely what he means, and I feel like I'm standing at the door of the plane after I've been trained for skydiving. I may need a push...

...right after I throw up.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Midnight...And We're Still Chatting

We've been married over 18 years.

Last night was nothing particularly special: I came in from work, the fam hung out in the den doing fam things, 2/5 of the fam went to their bedrooms to bed, 1/5 fell asleep--as is his custom--in the middle of it all on the cushion on the back of the sofa...

...and Tracy and I chatted.

About this, that and the other things.

We laughed. We attempted to solve problems. We were bewildered at humanity. We listed stuff to do. We figured it out. We muddied the waters. No agenda. No direction. Just took it as it came.

She was in her red chair with her Pine Cove "sweatshirt" blanket over her. I was on the couch with my feet on the coffee table (so as not to disturb the dog on the cushion to my left. I'm already on his list and didn't want to set him off.) in my flannel pants.

It was nothing special.

And it's those moments that I enjoy the most. Just me and the coolest girl I ever met...

...hanging out for a couple of hours.

I really dig her.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Handwriting Analysis

Once on summer vacation I had my handwriting analyzed at some amusement park midway sideshow. I think I paid a buck and wrote on a piece of paper. The carnie took it seriously, too...running his hand over the back of it to see how hard I pressed down and such. He gave each analysis point a numerical value and entered it into a machine and then I got a dot-matrix print out on tractor-feed paper with all sorts of personality traits listed on it.

I don't remember any of them but one: It read, "You are more likely to set a trend than follow one." The only reason I remember that is because my family kept jokingly deferring all the decisions made on where to eat and what to do by saying things like, "Well, we want to be hip and with-it, so let's let the 'trend-setter' pick the restaurant."

Well, since I lost the tractor-feed paper with the light green and dark green ruling, I might need my handwriting analyzed. Granted, you can't tell how hard I pressed down, but here's the cursive and print version of a Bible verse I read this morning and my signature. It's all the carnie needed, and it's all you're getting.

If you can't see it real well you can click on it and make it larger. And, manalive, do I realize what Pandora's Box I'm opening for my Diner readership...


...analyze away!

*puts on blindfold, requests last cigarette, and awaits the firing squad performing their assigned task*

Saturday, October 21, 2006

It Isn't Rocket Science

It's a political football where I live: The Wright Amendment.

For those unfamiliar with the law, it was put in place at the time DFW Airport was built and, in effect, makes sure that you can't have "long-haul" flights out of the Love Field Airport downtown.

So, "regional" carriers, like Southwest, can fly out of Love and land in a state the touches Texas...but if you wanted to fly out of the region from there you're outta luck.

For years, Southwest wanted that law changed. For years, American (who uses DFW as their host hub) wanted that law the same. It played out in the politics and the papers. It gave me tired-head as it didn't really affect me as someone who flies maybe twice a year. I still don't understand the nuances and I'm sure there are all sorts of pros and cons and legal issues that keep it from a simple solution.

But here's what I know: The day after some sort of compromise went into effect, American lowered their rates to better the rates Southwest published to their new cities. Not only to the airports serviced by Southwest but also to the other airports in those cities Southwest didn't service.

And while I wasn't the best student in economics, maybe that supply & demand thing works as advertised and competition is a good thing, eh? I can't blame Southwest for going for it and I can't blame American for fighting it, but I'm glad the competition is on...because it seems to me that average folks win on this deal.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Changing What's Under The Glass

Today, I was going to unwind a little bit and change the pictures that are between the glass desktop and the glass. Some stuff will stay, like my picture of me and Mike Yaconelli. Other stuff will go, like the Rangers 2006 schedule. New seniors in; old seniors out, etc.

I also have a few things under there that "center" me. People I admire, like Michael Bridges and George Baum (of the band Lost and Found) and brides & grooms I love and old mission trip photos and programs from plays of teens and comics. Stuff like that.

Anyway, I was looking for a photo of Bono. I admire him, for the same reasons you do.

And I have an old Rolling Stone magazine that interviewed him. Here are a few quotes I was provoked by. Feel free to lemme know what you think:

Q: "Soon after starting the band you joined a Bible study group...What brought that on?"

A: I realize now, looking back, that it was just insatiable intellectual curiosity...But it got a little too intense as it always does; it became a bit of a holy huddle. And these people--who are full of inspirational teaching and great ideas--they pretended that our dress, the way we looked, didn't bother them. But very soon it appeared this was not the case.

Q: "How big an influence is the Bible on your songwriting? How much do you draw on it's imagery?"

A: It sustains me.

Q: "As a belief or as a literary thing?"

A: As a belief...I'm the sort of character who's got to have an anchor. I want to be around immoveable objects. I want to build my house on a rock, because even if the waters are not high around the house, I'm going to bring back a storm. I have that in me. So, it's sort of an underpinning for me.

I don't read it as a historical book. I don't read it as "Well, that's good advice." I let it speak to me in other ways. They call it the rhema. It's a hard word to translate from Greek, but it sort of means it changes in the moment you're in. It seems to do that for me.

Q: "You're saying it's a living thing?"

A: It's a plumb line for me.

I wonder what it would take to hang out with Bono for a day or two. Just have some coffee. Chat about spiritual stuff. I think I'd like him.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


...sitting in a room with high school junior & senior guys...

...eating home made chocolate chip cookies & rice krispie treats (and the mom that made them also runs marathons--how cool is that?)...

...discussing what it might mean when Jesus says that he came to bring a sword, not peace...that you have to hate your father and mother...that you have to pick up your cross and follow...that you should count everything as rubbish compared to simply KNOWING Christ...

...is one of the best ways I know to end a day.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

We Know Better

Yesterday I decided to pay attention to stuff that people should do but don't do. Among my findings:

Everbody, Again: Don't drive and talk on your cell phone. Period. No excuses.
Everybody, Again: Don't even answer your cell phone when enjoying conversation with friends. Emergency phone calls excepted.
Everybody: Flush. Then wash your hands. This applies mainly to middle school boys.
Parents: Check your children's Internet "history" often.
Myself: Eat less. Eat better. Exercise more. Or better yet, start exercising, period.
Everybody: Say "please" and "thank you" when dealing with retail clerks. They're not servants. They're people.
Parents: Talk to and with your children. Do NOT condescend to them. They're growing up. They'll make mistakes.
Grown-ups: Strive for excellence in your chosen field. Don't settle for less than your best...because when you talk about how you cut some corners and others hear it, they lose respect for you.
Drivers: Park with consideration of others. Don't take up two places, look at it, and then shrug your shoulders and go into the store.
Everybody: Don't yell at anyone. Ever. For any reason. Especially in local fast-food places, where the teenage clerk showed more restraint than you deserved and frankly, he could've pounded you. He should've.
Drivers: If you know you have a turn or an exit coming up, get over sooner than you do.
Kids: Don't put your parents in a position to say things like, "I'll smack that look right off your face." They shouldn't have said it, but you shouldn't have done it.
Everybody: Don't say things to others hoping they'll communicate what you said to the person you're talking about. While I appreciate your input, I don't really have any influence in some areas. It'll mean more if you say it directly to that person. Trust me on that.
Myself: Talking to the television screen will not help your team score.

And that's just the stuff I wrote down. What else do we see know better that we do anyway?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rainy Day Reading Continues (Even Though It Cleared Up)

Finished one book.
Swam through some difficult parts of another.
Started a third.

The third one is called "Dear Church." You can read snippets if you click on the Burnside Writers Collective link on the left. The subtitle is "Letters from a Disillusioned Generation" so you can tell the work is going to be pointing out (lovingly done thus far, by the way) the reasons the organized church is losing the twenty-somethings.

Keep in mind the book starts out with plenty of statistical support from Barna, Gallup, Easum and all the right quotes and such.

The author is a preacher's kid...one who made all the right choices and never went through a rebellious phase of any kind. And now she's disillusioned...but she also proffers some solutions as well.

So, what I'm asking you today is from one of her quotes: "To tactfully state the obvious, many twentysomethings are disillusioned with you, Church."

Presupposing the research to be right and her conclusion based on those to be accurate, finish the letter stating why do you think she'd make such a statement. I'd really be curious to hear your reasons...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Rainy Day Reading

From Rick McKinley (pastor of Imago Dei in Portland--get the podcast at iTunes. You won't regret it) in his book Jesus in the Margins: Finding God in the Places We Ignore:

"When we have given up on the idea of being loved and accepted for who we are, we go after a generic brand of love--something to medicate the pain inside our hearts. We may try one-night stands, look for it in pornography, or pursue the fleeting freedom of alcohol or drugs. We may even use busyness to fill the void. Staying busy at church so we don't have to cope with lonliness is another way people in the margins polish up their pain so others will believe they have it all together...

...Jesus has been chasing after marginalized people like you and me for hundreds of years. His invitation is simple: 'Trust me when I tell you I love you and trust me to help you reimagine life in My love.'...

...The destructive power of the margins lies in their ability to convince us to be comfortable in our numbness. The margins weaken our desire for a better life. If we feed our love-hungry souls with those counterfeit vices, we're likely to stay put. C.S. Lewis observed that God finds our desires too weak, not too strong. We fool about with sex and drink while infinite love awaits us. We're like children in the ghetto making mud pies because we cannot fathom what a holiday at the sea would mean."

And I think about the ways I busy myself or escape for a while...
And I think about the ways I try to get others to believe I have it all together...
And I think about how I polish up my pain...

And then I try to re-imagine my life in His love...
And then, for today, I'll try to stop making mud pies and try to fathom what a holiday at the sea will mean.

I'm glad to be back in the reading saddle. I can tell you that.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...that I can't figure out how Auburn scored 27 points to win their game last night but didn't score an touchdown on offense.
...that when Shelby dances in a performance you can literally see how happy she is. Hours involved & dollars paid & travel time consumed all have a tangible payoff.
...that sanctions against North Korea ultimately won't have the desired effect.
...that it's pretty cool when you find a great Sicilian pizza worth the 40-minute drive in--of all places--an obscure strip mall in Fort Worth.
...that it might be the wisest course of action for parents to teach their children the importance of submission to authority rather than threatening lawsuits over any extracurricular activity.
...that when your daughter has her learner's permit and you're on the city streets, you actually benefit from the driver's education reviews and see where she's picked up your own subtle "driving nuances" (read: "bad habits").
...that the experience of a Texas high school football game is something any sports fan would enjoy. I've been going a couple of times per season for 12 years now and it really is exciting.
...that youth ministers learn a great deal about human nature when it comes to letting teenagers decide who wants to room with who on the middle school fall retreat.
...that youth ministers learn a great deal about human nature when it comes to watching parent volunteers deal with problem solving when teenagers are deciding who wants to room with who on the middle school fall retreat.
...that the families in our neighborhood who get amped up for Halloween create some fun memories for kids with their skulls and ghosts and ghouls and fake tombstones--but the guy with the yard that looks like the last 5 minutes of a horror movie takes the cake.
...that the encouragement our staff is getting from the Body of Christ--from both inside and outside our local gathering--is awfully nice, and helpful on some tough days.
...that the list of stuff that needs to be done for home repairs that I've let slide needs to get more stuff checked-off than added-to. The latter has been the rule rather than the exception.
...that the Dallas Stars are 4-0 to start the season and no one knows about it.
...that my attempt at evening blogging was a failed bit. I think I'm too tired at the end of the day. Plus, I'm definitely a morning person.
...that it's funny to me that I'll stop what I'm doing or run into a room to watch if a Sonic commercial comes on. They all seem to make me laugh.
...that it's supposed to rain pretty solidly for the next three or four days and I've got a stack of books I plan to get after--and/or a nap or two or three to take.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Opposites Attract?

I started out my day pretty early with Shelby having a big deal ballet recital this morning. It ended at noon...and as usual, Shelby stole the show.

And now, SEC football is on the docket...Alabama right now and Auburn at 6:45PM.

Maybe a nap in between. It's been a nice day of balance.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Holding Down The Fort

It's been happening for years, really.

I've been helping others get the most out of their youth ministry gifts, passions and talents. The uninitiated call it things like "training." Or "delegating." Even "working yourself out of a job." It isn't unusual and business folks write books on how to do that kind of thing.

Well, this week I'm seeing it up-close and personal.

Nathan is leading the major charge: About 190 folks getting on 4 luxury motor coaches and heading off to Pine Cove for our annual middle school Fall Retreat. All sorts of logistics are involved and there are all sorts of possible things that could go wrong (but most likely won't) but the PC staff is top drawer and the deal pretty much is seemless every year.

His assistant Heather is running alongside him on that deal, too. She's learning how to run the show for future reference. She's seen it run last year, this year she's a bit more active and next year she'll be more involved in the planning stages.

Steve-O is taking the high schoolers who will be serving this weekend in the kitchen (helps keep the camp's costs down) in the van. He'll be running that show. Driving the van. Making sure the high schoolers get to go to the grocery store for snacks and playing Commando. It's got its very own built-in set of responsibilities.

I think Kristy is pretty much running in both circles, getting exposure to how they both run. Primarily, she'll be running with the high schoolers if my memo is correct and getting ready to be ready to lead that side of the trip next year, too.


If you need me, I'll be representing our staff at the Mound Showdown at Texas Stadium tonight. There'll be some 20,000 folks at the game. Me and other area youth pastors will sit in the end zone to avoid the appearance of favoritism. I don't think the kids would care if we did show favoritism but all of them at least know we're there because we're the only ones in the end zone.

I'll also be making sure Sunday School and other details on that end run smoothly while they're enjoying their last day of the weekend.

See, a long time ago, when I was obsessing about what would happen when we moved into the new building and our ministry got bigger and I had to hire and train and delegate and all the change that would come into my life if things went according to Hoyle...

...and Tracy reminded me that I would now have a chance to be a part of the work of God that most youth ministers only get to dream about--I was anxious about the changes and was considering chucking it all--so why would I bail when it reality it was all I ever wanted in a student ministry?

So...I stuck it out.
And it is all I ever wanted in a student ministry.
It did go according to Hoyle. Better than Hoyle, actually.
As a staff, we'll be rocking more ministry in one weekend than most do in a month. Than some do in a year.
I've seen God bring the right people at the right time and a solid set of volunteers to boot.
And my staff is good at student ministry, man. Scary good.
And it's oh so cool to see it happening.

I'll be holding down the fort.
It's the way its supposed to be.

Yes, I know that feelings are responders.
Yes, I know that feelings can, will and do lie to you.

But I feel like the old dog that sits on the porch while the younger ones chase the tires on the passing cars: Pretty excited about the commotion. Understanding of how much fun they're having. Pleased they're running around and doing what they're supposed to be doing.

And knowing darn well that I could get out there and chase those cars. Truth be told I know I could still do it as good or even better. But, frankly, I'll be having fun in my own way: Knowing my place and my role.

So when its their time to delegate it out to some other puppies in about 15 years, they'll sit on the porch and know their place and their role. And let those young dogs have their fun...

...while they hold down the fort.

It's the way its supposed to be.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I Think I Need A Better Business Plan

I am feeling kinda old.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Group Effort

Folks have been after me.

Nice folks, too. But they've been hounding me. They think it's cute, I guess. Make no mistake. They mean well when they hound me.

"Write the book."
"When are you going to write that book?"
"Stop talking about it and write the book!"

So, now I'm going to get after you so you can know what it feels like.

Today, we're going to write a short story together. I'll start it and you guys add to it in the comments. The only rule is that you can't ignore any of the previous comments and you have to pick up where the previous commenter left off (unless of course, they comment in some way that isn't a part of the story to tell me how silly this idea is).

Ready? Here you go:

I really wasn't looking forward to the class reunion. I mean, I'd changed. They'd changed. What did we have in common other than classes and common experiences 20 years ago? But I'd go. I felt obligated in some strange way.

I parked the car.
I picked up my name tag with my goofy senior photo on it and put it on.
And then it happened...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Jane, Get Me Off This Crazy Thing

I'm tired of this waiting.
I'm tired of Texas' over-stating.

I'm tired of grinding my teeth and sleepless nights.
I'm tired of not taking up the most necessary of fights.

I'm tired of talking about It.
I'm tired of clothes that don't fit.

I'm tired of warp speed.
I'm tired of needing a Thnead.

I'm tired of fast food.
I'm tired of not coming unglued.

I'm tired of my teams losing.
I'm tired of my ego's black and bluesing.

I'm tired of the first few months of not having parents.
I'm tired of paying to fix the fence and other folks's snap judgments.

I'm tired of the grass growing.
I'm tired of the State Fair's Marilyn Monroe-ing.

I'm tired of explaining what I know I didn't say.
I'm tired of trying stay above the fray.

I'm tired of all the necessary meetings.
I'm tired of forced exchanges and greetings.

I'm tired of over-priced & over-hyped coffee.
I'm tired of Narcissus as my reality.

I'm tired of my closet neurosis.
I'm tired of trying to figure out how it all came to this.

I'm tired of my lack of creativity.
I'm tired of losing the pieces of the mantle Nativity.

I'm tired of dusting the knick-knacks on my idea shelf.
I'm tired of the book not writing itself.

I'm tired of 783 channels of garbage on my television.
I'm tired on my hand shaking before the first incision.

I'm tired of reading books that could've been so much better.
I'm tired of my nation being described as a debtor.

I'm tired of biting my tongue.
I'm tired of the continuing influence of Carl Jung.

I'm tired of the same old bands.
I'm tired of digging in for goal-line stands.

I'm tired of the wildebeast of blogging.
I'm tired of not getting my feets going jogging.

I'm tired of homogeneity and vanilla.
I'm tired of sponteneity and my envelopes being manilla.

I'm tired of government and personal bureaucracy.
I'm tired of grading papers but not having the key.

I'm tired of all the waiting on others.
I'm tired of not having my own real, live Band of Brothers.

I'm tired of 10 minutes it takes to shave my face.
I'm tired of adding folks that aren't really friends to MySpace.

I'm tired of ideas I don't buy but somehow like renting.
I'm tired of this line and I'm now tired of venting.

Please don't load me down with comments worrying about my state of mental health or lecturing me on my lack of faith or anything like that. I just hammered this out on the back of a napkin while waiting at the DMV yesterday. I was bored and just rhyme scheming, so everybody relax, okay?

Monday, October 09, 2006

"Duh" Moment For Today

The American Academy of Pediatrics has finished a scientific study that proves what we already know: That parents are loading down children with overscheduling and not giving them enough unstructured time to play and dream--to be "kids."

There are quotes from parents about worrying if their kids will be up to "par" and buzzwords about "societal pressure" to "create super children" against quotes from doctors telling us to let our kids dream and play--which doctors say helps them develop problem solving skills, build relationships and discover passions.

I'm not sure I know anybody that would argue with either position.

I mean, if the kid loves football, and the coaches schedule "voluntary" summer workouts four hours a day in the summer--and the message is that if you don't volunteer to be there you'll be voluntarily sitting on the bench--well, you pretty much need to give up the free time to play, right? Or if your kid really does need to play against better soccer competition to get better at what they have fun playing, well, who wouldn't want to do that? The same could be said for drama or art or dance or journalism or yearbook or filmmaking or whatever else a kid enjoys.

The downside is that you miss a family vacation here or there. Maybe you spend an awful lot of time getting your kid to and from that activity--or kids to and from those activies. Sometimes everybody's too tired to make the family dinner hour meaningful...even if you can get a family dinner hour. The spiritual aspect, should you have religious beliefs of any kind, can become another routine activity instead of a meaningful truism.

Like I said, I doubt anyone I know would argue either point. We're in this suburban fray (and I can't speak for rural or urban viewpoints on this matter, but I suspect the discussion would be radically different) making the best decisions we can with the information at-hand.

The question becomes how do we make changes? There's a "lose" aspect in each and every decision, right? There's a "win" aspect in each and every decision, right?

I think a lot of it comes down to an understanding of parenting, really.

First, we need to realize that God loves our children more than we do. Their very hairs on their head are numbered if I read my Bible correctly. It's an issue of trust that God's plan is better than our best and most loving motivations.

Second, if I'm reading my Bible correctly, each kid is created with a "way they should go." They're uniquely individual with gifts and talents and passions and abilities and likes and dislikes. Our objective in choosing activities should be to help them discover those...we need to be students of our children instead of just piling up activities.

They're also supposed to "go." Parenting is a temporary stewardship...one in which a quarter of a century or so goes into the hard work of it followed by as many years as God gives to enjoy the fruit of your labor once they leave...but it's supposed to be a season, not a identity for the parents to revel in and re-live whatever delights from their childhood or exorcise whatever demons they're running from.

And as a side note: The hope of getting a scholarship should never be the reason a kid does something. Most of the time the money you'll spend over the long haul in travel & training & coaching would be better spent in investing in an educational fund of some sort. Now, if you view that investment as "family time" that's another issue altogether...but purely as a scholarship opporunity seems like a foolish endeavor.

I think I could go on and on, but we've got to realize that outside of minor jumps and improvements, most of us just have God-given stuff to work with. In other words, no matter how hard I work or try, I'll never be a great guitar player...there are simply limits to my talent (mainly just barre chords). There were guys that made average grades that hit home runs on standardized tests and there were folks who made incredible grades that averaged out on those same standardized tests. Bo Jackson was gifted athletically. Nobel prize winners are gifted academically. I doubt that in any of those cases they had coaches or tutors or instructors that did anything more than enhance the gifts that were already there. You can't make me a great guitar player even though I really enjoy it.

So, I guess ultimately it's a matter of perspective.

On whether or not you really believe in and trust God and what His Word says...

...or whether or not you're going to trust in the world and try to play by those rules.

But either way, we're too busy and our kids are too busy, but I'm not sure it'll be stopped no matter what.

More or less, we have to trust God and do the next thing.

Apparently, North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon.

China decries the act as a "brazen" development.
America condemns the "provocative act."
South Korea will react "sternly" with "appropriate measures."

I'm wondering what the actions this will provoke.
I'm wondering what a "stern" reaction is.
I'm wondering what "appropriate measures" look like.

And I don't think I like any of the answers any more than I like the reality that North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

An Open Letter To The Citizens Of My Town

Dear Residents of Flower Mound (Flower Mounders?, Flower Moundites?),

Before I begin, allow me to tell you how nice all of you seem to be. From Sam the retiree across the street to the nice lady next door who splits the payments on our shared fence to the folks who cook and deliver food when a crisis hits...for the most part you're likeable, well-educated and all-around good folks.

But there are a few things we all need to get our collective acts together on and I'd like to propose a few of those if I could.

First, you know those 4-lane roads split by medians with curb cuts? Yeah, like Morriss Road? I need to remind you that when you're coming in from side streets that you're not supposed to play "Frogger" to get across. You're supposed to wait until all the traffic is clear and the proceed into the desired lane...but moving two lanes and sitting in the curb-cut, well, it prevents others from turning.

Another one on driving: When is it going to hit us that we shouldn't use our mobile phones while in our cars on the move? We all agree we shouldn't. We don't want our children doing it, but yet somehow I see folks chatting away in moving vehicles pretty consistently.

Secondly, parents, could we please support our teachers a bit more on the grades/discipline thing? I'm sure there've been a few incidents here and there where the system has failed your child (it has mine) but if I hear one more parent tell me how they are "going up to that school and raise Cain" because junior got an 85 instead of a 92 ("because they didn't show the math work the way the teacher wanted, and his dad is an engineer and showed him a better way to do the problem")...let's all keep in mind that very few students in our area go Ivy League and keep it all in perspective. Sometimes, it's better to teach your child how to deal with an unjust authority in a positive way than it is to get an "A."

And, finally, let's use common sense on the sprinkler systems, okay? Yeah, I know summer was brutal on our lawns and all that jazz...hey, I lost a willow tree, man. And a good one, too. And, yes, we know the weather is cooling off...it was a balmy 87 yesterday. But let's stop watering during in the middle of the day, shall we? That request goes out to businesses, schools and local residents.

Flower Mound, as far as suburbs go, you're a great little community and these are all terribly minor in the great scheme of the Big Blue Marble we're all on here, but I think those would make a nice little start in the betterment of our fair burg. I mean, I could chat about roads that need to be fixed or other generic government things, but these are for the normal citizens. You all just seem so nice and these seem so easy to do.

I'm sure the patrons of The Diner will have a few more for you, but I just wanted to bring up a few things, just to keep communication open and the accounts short, okay?

Your Friend,
Ding Dong, The Wicked Witch Is Dead!


...the New York Yankees are out of the playoffs. There are over $200 million reasons why that is sweet. One of those is that Alex Rodriquez was 1 for 14 with no RBI.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Shutting It Down

It's been a long stretch at work lately.

It'd been a long stretch at work since before "lately."

I was productive enough at work this week to shut my life down today, so here's my agenda:

Flannel pants: On.
Floppy T-shirt: On.
Chair: Recliner position.
Remote Control: at-hand.
Kids: Various stuff to do all day, none of which I can do anything to be a part of so they're actually ditching me for parties and their activities.
Wife: A few "Mom's Taxi" demands but nothing I can help with. I already did the "Dad's Taxi" for a 7AM cross country meet drop-off. They'll all be under one roof at around 4PM or so.

9AM: ESPN GameDay. Nap a possibility.

11AM: Auburn vs. Arkansas on CBS.

Pizza delivery number: memorized (occupational hazard). I may get up to get the phone at noon.

Hardest decision to make all day: 2:30PM. Texas-OU and LSU-Florida. I suspect Texas will make short work of OU, so I'll probably spend the 2nd half fully devoted to SEC football. But I may have to TiVO that because...

5PM: Dinner at TGIFridays. Some deal where they're training staff so we get a limited menu selection but free food for the entire family!
6:45PM: Georgia vs. Tennessee.

9PM: Bedtime. I can use the sleep...just haven't been sleeping well as of late.

If that's not a shut-it-down day, I don't know what is.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The 4% Panic Attack


That's the number that's been promoted by some of the "biggest names" in the "conservative movement" in "evangelical churches" about how many current teenagers will be "Bible-believing Christians" as adults.

The Baby Boomers numbers were at 35%.
The WWII Generation numberse were at 65%.

Those "big names" are going all Chicken Little about this number. Barna, the Christian researcher, says the number should actually be 5%. This helps the "big names" go all Chicken Little all the more.

Frankly, I think the numbers are too low. Poor research methods--or at least poor definition of terms, in one case--got them to those numbers.

Oh, and if you're into reading the N.Y. Times article today that sparked this entry with the headline "Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers" you can get that right here. My friend Kristen, the pierced and tattooed one whom I adore, sent it to me in my e-mail first-thing. Love it when The Diner readership wants to hear from the owner.

Anyway, let's say the numbers are too low, and just for grins, let me quadruple them. That's still around half of where the Baby Boomers were. That's still around one-quarter of the WWII generation, right?

Welcome to what every youth minister worth their salt has known since Francis Schaeffer started writing in the 1970's: Ummm...it's a postmodern America. Now we're bordering on post-postmodern, if not post-post-postmodern. What's happened in Europe in the last 35 years or so is coming home to roost. This is NOT news to me.

And sure, the higher-profile youth ministers will point out the usual suspects: MTV and hip-hop; sex on the Web; materialism; bad parenting; a culture that mocks Christians; blah blah blah ad infinitum. It's too easy and been done to death.

And sure, the higher-profile youth ministers will have kids walk aisles and put all that stuff in trash cans and weep and come forward to pray. They'll also get on television shows and radio shows that preach to the choir go all Chicken Little on them.

But let me say this: America is not a more gross culture than say, 1st century Corinth or Ephesus or Rome. I don't find a need to go all Chicken Little on this.

This is about Christ, plain and simple.

And Christ is not safe.
He is revolutionary and dangerous.

And our megachurches and great programs and all that are useless...


We preach Christ.
The unsafe One.
The revolutionary and dangerous One.
The One who takes us out of every comfort zone we have.

And outlive the "world" at every turn. Not "out argue" them or "out debate" them or "out moralize" them.

Outlive them. Abundant life.

With passion.

With a passion worth dying for.

Then we won't lose them.

That's precisely what they're looking for.

And anything short of that is just putting Abercrombie sweatshirts and Eminem CD's in a trash can. Which may not be all bad, mind you.

It's just that until youth ministries, nay, churches, get serious about preaching that Christ and letting Him passionately take over the lives of people--no matter what their age--and they have a faith that's so real they feel like they'd honestly die for it...

...that to live a life without Him would be so foreign to them they can hardly concieve of thinking that way...


...everything else is pretty much just playing a game.

It's about Christ.
and teaching people--no matter what their age--to follow Him...


Nothing more.


...anything less is trifling with God.

That pretty much makes going Chicken Little over 4% or 5% or 16% pale in comparison. Our problem is we're setting the bar WAY too low.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Stuff I'm Learning This Week

Last night our student ministry celebrated the Lord's Supper. Turns out that the 1st century church was chastised because the Supper was becoming too much of a party. Now our church passes grape juice and crackers in gold-plated trays so a bunch of people can get it all done in 10 minutes or so.

I thought it might be nice for our students to find some sort of balance. So, we had one last night.

We brought our own food.
We caught up on each other's lives during the meal. Our ministry is too large for all our groups to hang out with those not in their grade and this was a good time to mix.
We had some time in worship.
We had some non-alcoholic wine (we did want to be sensitive to those who are struggling with various addictions--and yes, we have some teenagers in that boat, and a few of their parents).
We had some baked bread.
We read from God's Word.
We spent time in prayer.
We spent time sharing what God has done in and through our lives publicly.

And here's what I came up with in what turned out to be an incredibly busy two-week stretch:

That stuff about Satan prowling is something I've taken too lightly. Satan is real. He prowls. He devours. He lies.

When those lies are taken to heart and acted upon, it really is like taking a step off a cliff: You lose control of the rest of your steps and the end result is a messy splatter.

That stuff about being able to resist Satan with a firm faith is equally as real.

I have a newfound understanding of what it means for Christ to be the Head of the Church...both here in Double Oak as well as around the world.

When the Body of Christ works in concert it's a beautiful thing. Absolutely beautiful and wonderful.

That Truth is Truth. It doesn't matter what anyone feels about it or whether or not they like it or whether or not they agree with it or whether or not they live by it.

You'll never regret taking great care to ensure that your speech is full of grace, with salt. Sometimes the truth needs to be communicated in such a way that the blow is softened.

That Christ does indeed hold all things together. And all things means all things. When Christ says He will build His Church and the gates of hell won't prevail against it, He means that.

Anger: We shouldn't let the sun go down on it. We should put it aside. And if we let if fester into bitterness it really is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Restoration with a spirit of gentleness is easier said than done--or thought. Also, I'd want that exact treatment if it were me. The reality is that restoration is always God's heartbeat.

There's a reason mercy, grace, edifying speech and the like are all higher ideals. The reason that they're referred to as higher ideals is in direct contrast to the baser and more elementary reactionaary emotions that seem to pop into my brain first. The emotions must be taken captive. The higher ideals must be focused on, but they are doable.

I'm acutely aware of how deceitful my own heart is and how dark my own desires can be. The prayers of my friends are coveted and appreciated--and felt. I know that I carry the seeds of my own destruction if I'm not careful.

Certain Psalms are comforting because the whiplash of emotion that I'm experiencing are just as parabolic in the lives of the Psalmists. Especially Psalms 40 & 42.

The requirements of an elder in 1 Timothy 3 are there for a reason...and they have to be lovingly enforced. Failure to hold leaders to this standard is terribly unloving.

James couldn't be more correct on his observations about the tongue...and gossip is sin even if it's couched in the term "prayer request."

I could do this for quite a while, but, finally,

...the abundant life Christ talks about really is THE abundant life.
...the Spirit-led, exchanged life of Christ is really the only accurate view of this life on earth.
...Christ will never leave you nor forsake you. That stuff about a Good Shepherd leading beside still waters, restoring your soul and dwelling in the house of the Lord forever is more than just good poetry.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Stuff I Like That Most People Don't

Bratwurst smothered in onions with spicy mustard.
Rain. Especially when it's misty and dreary.
Punk rock.
Arrested Development (the television show).
Baseball (and the playoffs started yesterday...GO ANYBODY-THAT-ISN'T-THE-YANKEES!).
The Bible.
Stupid (and I mean stupid) movie comedies.
Flipping through a newspaper front to back--preferably when no one else has read it yet. And is there anything more annoying that having to gather all the sections in, say, a dentist's offic?
Blogs rather than MySpace.
Staying home.
Listening to excellent sermons from all over the country on the iPod.
Mississippi Delta blues--acoustic or electric.
Chess--even though I'm not very good at it.
Listening to sporting events on the radio.
Disc golf--but I haven't been able to play much lately despite a good course a block from my house.
Affordable & practical cars.
My chair in the living room.
Shih Tzu's (as a breed--everybody that meets my dog Lloyd likes him, but most people don't like them).
Big cities rather than more remote areas for vacation.
Local "dives" with good food rather than trendy restaurants.
Chock Full O' Nuts brand coffee (I've all of a sudden been surrounded by coffee snobs).
Watching college football all day on Saturdays--a rarity over the last few years, that's for sure.
Having daughters instead of sons. I never wanted boys for some reason.

So, what do you like that most people don't?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hey, Everybody! It's My Wife Tracy's Birthday Today!

So, let's all celebrate by...

...becoming knowledgable about wines and impressing folks with that reality.
...managing a hectic family schedule and not missing a beat.
...rapidly becoming one of the best photographers on the planet.
...being the type of person that others want to be around, whether they want to cut up or talk seriously.
...and being exquisitely beautiful without trying to be.

She also shares a birthday with Gwen Stefani, Neve Campbell, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Chubby Checker, Gore Vidal and Thomas Wolfe. Apparently, the innovative and creative were born on this date...and you don't want me to get started on the Gwen Stefani comparison (which is pretty much obvious if you're asking me).

Happy birthday, Tracy!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Scarred For Life

Like pretty much everyone, I have visible scars.

The first one I remember getting stitches for is on my chin. I was 4, and we lived in Fairfield, Alabama (birthplace of the great Willie Mays). You know, I was standing on some chair and had my palms on the counter and I was pushing up with both arms. Whenever I reached for whatever I was after my other arm wasn't strong enough to hold me up and my chin went straight into the counter. One stitch, but lots of blood.

I have another one on my left knee. Fell on a bike and my knee hit the pedal, but that one's almost disappeared now.

The third one is on my right shin--and it's a good one, too. Really impressive. Long story and one I've told over and over but the long and short of it is that I ran into a set of bleachers chasing a foul ball down. I wound up breaking my shin to the degree that emergency surgery was involved and I had a plaster cast up to my hip for six weeks. It even had a squared plaster "door" in it held on with sterile tape as they had to treat the wound to keep it from getting infected. No stitches were used as they wanted to keep it clean, hence, the huge scar.

Then I have one on the back of each knee. See, I was building a swing set for one of my daughter's birthday presents. The set was more than just swings--it was one of those deals where you haul off and go to Home Depot, buy a set of plans & the nuts/bolts & the wood and then come home and assemble it. Anyway, everything was going surprisingly well for me (I'm horrible at home projects of this nature) with the exception of the beam that spans the length of the set. See it was 12" wide and 12' long...the main problem was the last one: I only had a 6" long drill bit. So, when I measured and drilled one of the bolt holes was a quarter inch off. My father-in-law was over and I sought his advice (he's no better at home projects of this nature so it was a pooling of ignorance) and we decided to try to bend the wood just enough to get the bolts through rather than press our luck with another attempt at re-drilling a 12" beam with a 6" bit. As I was pushing he was trying to put the bolt in and we we SO CLOSE until the "a-frame" support behind us--with the metal bracket on the top to support the beam--fell directly onto the backs of both my knees. The doctor, who had lots of time for conversation while he put in the 30 staples and 40 stitches, told me that if it hit me in the head it would've killed me. One of my friends came over with a Mikita power drill and finished the job in about 6 seconds.

And, like pretty much everyone, I've got some invisible scars as well.

My dad died when I was 13. That scar flares up from time to time...you know, those moments where you graduated from his alma mater or married a girl he would've loved or wondered what the look on his face would be when he held his granddaughters.

My high school girlfriend gave me one. Took two solid years to get over that one--and never lets me "ho-hum" it when some 17-year-old tells me they are in love. It was serious business to me then, even if time really did cause that scar to heal quite nicely and make me smile now when I get to brag about what a great high school girlfriend I had.

The first ministry I was involved in had a boss that was financially irresponsible and almost destroyed a lot of potentially great opportunity for ministry. That scar gave me a nice callous.

And I got a couple lately that I'm not exactly sure how big they are or how nicely they'll heal...

...my Mom passing away this summer...

...and the current situation as my church...

The wounds are too fresh on both of those and while one of them I've stopped the bleeding, the other feels like I'm trying to keep the blood off the carpet while I search for the bactine and band-aids--

--and hope it won't involve a trip to the emergency room.