Sunday, December 28, 2008


We are in Florida, and there is a Vineyard Community Church within walking distance of my parents' place. So, we awoke today at the early hour of 9:30 AM and readied ourselves for church. 

What I encountered was in some ways similar to what we know back home. But, to be really honest, we left feeling a little let down.

Don't take this as a reflection on the VCC in Cape Coral/Ft. Myers, Florida however. They do things in much the same way as both the VCC and VWS (Cincinnati versions), and they do a great job. (More photos and such later)

But, why did we leave feeling like we missed something? Why the difference in experience? Why did I leave feeling more like a spectator and less like a worshiper and follower?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mom's Christmas

We are leaving for Florida today.

While I'd like to say that we are on an outreach mission, ... the truth of the matter is that we are traveling for the purposes of “in-reach.”

Me and Jennifer (my wife), Ethan (our son), Brian (my brother), and one of my dogs (Maxy), are all piling into a rented six-seater and hitting the road to see my parents. They are snowbirds. They live in Northern KY for about half the year, and then they follow the sunshine and warm weather down south. Our other hounds, (Johnny) Cash and Buddy (Holly) are staying behind with our two cats, Jordan and Pandora, to keep the house and fish (Puffer One, the Neon Twins, and the Pleco Bad Boys) company. Our babysitter, Sam, will be staying home with the rest of our pack/herd/school.

The purpose of the journey is to celebrate Christmas.

My mother is very ill. Close to four years ago, she was officially diagnosed with a disease called Myelofibrosis, and she has been in the hospital three times since getting to Florida, this last time for several weeks due to the complications of the disease.

For those unaware of Myelofibrosis, the Mayo Clinic talks of it this way:

“Myelofibrosis is a serious bone marrow disorder that disrupts your body's normal production of blood cells. Why these changes occur is unknown, but the result is extensive scarring in your bone marrow. This in turn leads to severe anemia — causing weakness and fatigue — and enlargement of your spleen and liver, hallmark characteristics of the disease. You may also hear myelofibrosis referred to as agnogenic myeloid metaplasia or idiopathic myelofibrosis. An uncommon disease, myelofibrosis can occur at any age, although it most frequently develops after age 50. There's no known way to prevent myelofibrosis, and risk factors for it are unclear. In most cases, myelofibrosis gets progressively worse. Treatment generally focuses on relieving signs and symptoms and may include medications, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery.”

Mom has suffered through all of the above treatments. She has gotten transfusions, has taken oodles of medications, and has reached her limit (according to docs) for chemo and radiation. Were she a younger person, one of the more radical treatments would be a bone-marrow transplant. Due to her age and health, unfortunately, this treatment was never allowed a place at the table. Her doctors have been clear in communicating that this particular option, … is not an option for her.

So, we’ve been treating her illness symptomatically, and for the most part we’ve bee successful. With that said, the disease has wreaked havoc on her blood quality, which has impacted her bone density and organs. The disease has caused numerous problems, including a huge increase in the size of her spleen and liver and a tremendous downgrade in her blood cells. The latest bout has been a spinal fracture that necessitated a rod to be implanted in her back. She’s been in a lot of pain, even before the surgery, and some of the treatment protocol has called for heavy-duty pain drugs (morphine and oxycotin), which has made things worse in many ways. My mother has lost close to one half of her normal body weight, and her spirit seems to be equally cut in half. Perhaps the worse part is that this woman, who never smoked, rarely drank, ate healthy, etc., is addicted to pain drugs.

Just a few words about Mom: She is one of the wisest, most spiritual, artistically gifted, and giving people I know. For many years, she practiced as a Jehovah's Witness but was excommunicated from her church for reasons unclear to me, … this years before she brought me and brother Brian into the world. She taught me about God in ways that Jesus might want us to teach about God. She walked His Story around without ever having to say a word. The lady taught Sunday school for years, and is very knowledgeable about the bible, but never pushed religion on me. Like most sons with their mothers, I could dedicate several blogs just to her missions, her vision, and her life. This woman is what mothers are, and more so, she is what good people should strive to embody.

Besides my wife, my mother is my best friend. We talk daily, although this has changed recently due to the story we both find ourselves in. Nevertheless, she has taught me to always walk with the light, … to take higher roads, … to always rise above temptations of the enemy, … to make sense of our own journeys in a way that raises others in their own walks, … all of which she warned me (and correctly foretold) that I’d do imperfectly and selfishly wrong most times.

She recently told me to not be upset for her not wanting to talk to me the last few weeks. It’s that she’s in pain and not feeling good, she said. I think it’s because she doesn’t want me to hear her being sick. This, I understand intellectually, spiritually, and even academically, … but this situation is still very, very hard to swallow.

In man’s world this is a sad story, so thankfully Mom taught me about the Other World. That is, in God’s World this journey, … my journey, … her journey, … and our journey, …perhaps your journey, … is something entirely different altogether.

We are hitting the road to celebrate Christmas with Mom, so please don’t allow this post to bum you out. This is not the intention. I believe differently, and so might you. Thanks Mom.

“Life is not about surviving the storm but learning how to sing in the rain”

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Monday, December 22, 2008


This video is funny, but I'm not posting it because I take the topic of addiction lightly. Rather, I am showing it here because it illustrates how an addict's support system works.  Few people are brave and selfless enough to do the unpleasant work of speaking truth into the addicts life. It's hard work. And the pay-off sucks. But it is these people, ... while they don't actually purchase the substance that is wrecking the user, ... they do support the destruction in other ways. In fact, the addiction would cease, ... would change, ... would halt, ... should the support system decide to stop lying and start telling the truth.  But this is hard, hard work.  Not a good job.  

Sunday, December 21, 2008

what you say and what you do....

Who is really watching?

Friday, December 19, 2008

not necessarily dirty, just bad.

Have you ever watched "Dirty Jobs," the television show? The guy who is the star of this program also makes money by offering his voice to other television shows like "The Deadliest Catch," but that's not important.  What is important, or at least relevant to this post, ... is that the show is a good one.  It offers a glimpse of other people's realities in the form of "what they do for a living." As the title of the show indicates, you can understand what kinds of jobs are showcased.

Well, this post is about bad jobs, ... not necessarily dirty jobs.  Now that's not to say that bad jobs can't also be dirty, and vice-versa, ... but sometimes dirty jobs cab be good.  Like gardening.  If I could make a living from gardening (not to be confused with the much more labor intensive form called "farming"), I would be be OK with that.  On the other foot, bad jobs can be the cleanest of all. But, as with anything, it's all relative.

Now for bad jobs.  What is the worst job of your life?

I've had several different jobs, and they have been mostly legal in nature.  With that said, the worst job that I've ever had is:  (imagine a drum role or a jeopardy jingle or something here)

Soda Pop Stock Boy!

I worked for Pepsi for about, ... 4 hours.  At the time, I really, really needed a job, ... err, ... I mean an income, ... and somehow I ended up working for Pepsi Cola.  Now, it wasn't as if I drove around a big, cool truck, ... and had a uniform, ... or a hat.  No.  Rather, I was picked up by some guy in his own vehicle and we just showed up at the grocery store where the guy in the big truck, uniform, and hat would deliver the soda pop.  Our job was to bring the "skids" (that's in-speak for the wooden flats piled high with soda pop) from the back of the store, where it is delivered, to the "pop aisle" in the front of the store.  Our job was to stack it *neatly and orderly* after rotating oldest to newest, ... or maybe newest to oldest.  (There was an order to it that escapes me at the moment.)

This lasted about four hours, which included the time it took driving in the guy's truck to the store and he rigorously explaining to me in detail, while chain smoking, the rocket surgery behind the operation.

I excused myself for lunch, and I imagine this nice man sitting on a half full skid of Pepsi, smoking cigarettes through his yellow fingers that look like they've been dipped in hair-dye, wondering where I am.  He's waiting for me to get back.  And he's going to ask why I'm fatter and my lunch took so long.

If nothing else, those four hours of my life reminded me how important it is to find something you are passionate about, ... if you want to call it a living, that is.  

So, what's your worst job?

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I am so sorry to hear about the sudden and tragic loss at Crossroads Church last night. While I do not personally know Keri Shryock, I do know she has an army of people praying for her, her church, her family, and her friends.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


This is for those stronger than me.

I appreciate you BFOP @

and The Dan @

... among the others revolving about the blog-sphere, ... those willing to take a risk toward making difference.

So much of this life is spent spinning wheels, and a refreshing perspective on global reality is always welcomed and needed.

Your acts of courage are inspiring, ...and my sense is that you know, ... more than us, .. how un-done you are.

My hope is that your courage extends and grows as your feet are planted back home.

Challenge, remind, and help deliver.

The people, ... all of us, ... need you and the stories of journey.

Through the light of The Son, let your stories be told and thus lived by others.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

over easy?

Four philosophical questions to make your brain hurt

It [was] World Philosophy Day - an opportunity to contemplate one's very existence and whether computer monitors really exist, says David Bain.

"People expect different things of philosophers. Some expect us to be sages. When these people meet me, my heart sinks, since I know theirs is about to. Others expect us to have a steady supply of aphorisms up our sleeves, such as that love is never having to say you're sorry (something no partner of mine has ever been persuaded of).

They too are disappointed when they meet me, especially when I say that the glass so beloved by optimists and pessimists is both half full and half empty.

Others expect of us not sagacity, but madness, or at least outlandish beliefs. And here, it must be said, some philosophers really have delivered. Thales believed that everything is made of water, for example, while Pythagoras avoided eating beans because he believed they have souls.

As Princeton philosopher David Lewis once said: "When philosophers follow where argument leads, too often they are led to doctrines indistinguishable from sheer lunacy."

But beware. this is the same David Lewis who believed that, for each of the ways things might have been but are not, there is a world at which they are that way, eg a world at which your counterpart is spending today with the world's greatest sex god or goddess.

And, reassuring though it can be to think that at least that counterpart is having fun, even those impressed with Lewis's towering intellect have often found these other worlds of his hard to swallow.

Not all philosophers pin such striking colours to the mast, but there is a good reason why people associate the subject with surprising views. Philosophy involves standing back and thinking - intensely and rigorously - about aspects of our lives that are at once ordinary and fundamental.

And when the surface is scratched, what you find below is extraordinary - or, rather, extraordinarily difficult to make good, clear sense of. Lying in wait are arguments that lead to, if not sheer lunacy, then bullets we're loathe to bite.

So, with World Philosophy Day upon us, here are some pesky arguments to apply your minds to:


Suppose Bill is a healthy man without family or loved ones. Would it be ok painlessly to kill him if his organs would save five people, one of whom needs a heart, another a kidney, and so on? If not, why not?

Consider another case: you and six others are kidnapped, and the kidnapper somehow persuades you that if you shoot dead one of the other hostages, he will set the remaining five free, whereas if you do not, he will shoot all six. (Either way, he'll release you.)

If in this case you should kill one to save five, why not in the previous, organs case? If in this case too you have qualms, consider yet another: you're in the cab of a runaway tram and see five people tied to the track ahead. You have the option of sending the tram on to the track forking off to the left, on which only one person is tied. Surely you should send the tram left, killing one to save five.

But then why not kill Bill?


Consider a photo of someone you think is you eight years ago. What makes that person you? You might say he she was composed of the same cells as you now. But most of your cells are replaced every seven years. You might instead say you're an organism, a particular human being, and that organisms can survive cell replacement - this oak being the same tree as the sapling I planted last year.

But are you really an entire human being? If surgeons swapped George Bush's brain for yours, surely the Bush look-alike, recovering from the operation in the White House, would be you. Hence it is tempting to say that you are a human brain, not a human being.

But why the brain and not the spleen? Presumably because the brain supports your mental states, eg your hopes, fears, beliefs, values, and memories. But then it looks like it's actually those mental states that count, not the brain supporting them. So the view is that even if the surgeons didn't implant your brain in Bush's skull, but merely scanned it, wiped it, and then imprinted its states on to Bush's pre-wiped brain, the Bush look-alike recovering in the White House would again be you.

But the view faces a problem: what if surgeons imprinted your mental states on two pre-wiped brains: George Bush's and Gordon Brown's? Would you be in the White House or in Downing Street? There's nothing on which to base a sensible choice. Yet one person cannot be in two places at once.

In the end, then, no attempt to make sense of your continued existence over time works. You are not the person who started reading this article.


What reason do you have to believe there's a computer screen in front of you? Presumably that you see it, or seem to. But our senses occasionally mislead us. A straight stick half-submerged in water sometimes look bent; two equally long lines sometimes look different lengths.

But this, you might reply, doesn't show that the senses cannot provide good reasons for beliefs about the world. By analogy, even an imperfect barometer can give you good reason to believe it's about to rain.

Before relying on the barometer, after all, you might independently check it by going outside to see whether it tends to rain when the barometer indicates that it will. You establish that the barometer is right 99% of the time. After that, surely, its readings can be good reasons to believe it will rain.

Perhaps so, but the analogy fails. For you cannot independently check your senses. You cannot jump outside of the experiences they provide to check they're generally reliable. So your senses give you no reason at all to believe that there is a computer screen in front of you."


Suppose that Fred existed shortly after the Big Bang. He had unlimited intelligence and memory, and knew all the scientific laws governing the universe and all the properties of every particle that then existed. Thus equipped, billions of years ago, he could have worked out that, eventually, planet Earth would come to exist, that you would too, and that right now you would be reading this article.

After all, even back then he could have worked out all the facts about the location and state of every particle that now exists.

And once those facts are fixed, so is the fact that you are now reading this article. No one's denying you chose to read this. But your choice had causes (certain events in your brain, for example), which in turn had causes, and so on right back to the Big Bang. So your reading this was predictable by Fred long before you existed. Once you came along, it was already far too late for you to do anything about it.

Now, of course, Fred didn't really exist, so he didn't really predict your every move. But the point is: he could have. You might object that modern physics tells us that there is a certain amount of fundamental randomness in the universe, and that this would have upset Fred's predictions. But is this reassuring? Notice that, in ordinary life, it is precisely when people act unpredictably that we sometimes question whether they have acted freely and responsibly. So freewill begins to look incompatible both with causal determination and with randomness. None of us, then, ever do anything freely and responsibly."


Let me be clear: the point is absolutely not that you or I must bite these bullets. Some philosophers have a taste for bullets; but few would accept all the conclusions above and many would accept none. But the point, when you reject a conclusion, is to diagnose where the argument for it goes wrong.

Doing this in philosophy goes hand-in-hand with the constructive side of our subject, with providing sane, rigorous, and illuminating accounts of central aspects of our existence: freewill, morality, justice, beauty, consciousness, knowledge, truth, meaning, and so on.

Rarely does this allow us to put everything back where we found it. There are some surprises, some bullets that have to be bitten; sometimes it's a matter simply of deciding which. But even when our commonsense conceptions survive more or less intact, understanding is deepened. 

As TS Eliot once wrote:

"…the end of our exploring,

Will be to arrive where we started,

And know the place for the first time."

David Bain is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Glasgow

Friday, December 12, 2008

297, 298, 299, ...

Someone in Cincinnati is wondering ... about ... who might be 302, 303, 304, .....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

did you know........

In 200 BC, when the Greek city of Sparta was at the height of its power there were 20 slaves for every citizen.

The first-known contraceptive was crocodile dung and was used by the Egyptians in 2000 BC.

The Hundred Year War actually lasted for 116 years – from 1337 to 1453.

The shortest war there has ever been was between Britain and Zanzibar during 1896. It lasted for a pathetic 38 minutes.

Everyone in the Middle Ages believed -- as Aristotle had -- that the heart was the seat of intelligence.

Fourteenth century physicians didn't know what caused the plague, but they knew it was contagious. As a result they wore an early kind of bioprotective suit which included a large beaked head piece. The beak of the head piece, which made them look like large birds, was filled with vinegar, sweet oils and other strong smelling compounds to counteract the stench of the dead and dying plague victims.

In England and the American colonies they year 1752 only had 354 days. In that year, the type of calendar was changed, and 11 days were lost.

The condom was invented in the early 1500's, and was originally made of linen.

In the Great Fire of London in 1666 half of London was burnt down but only 6 people were injured.

It has been calculated that in the last 3,500 years, there have only been 230 years of peace throughout the civilized world.

At the height of inflation in Germany in the early 1920s, one U.S. dollar was equal to 4 quintillion German marks.

In 1778, fashionable women of Paris never went out in blustery weather without a lightning rod attached to their hats.

During the time of Peter the Great, any Russian man who wore a beard was required to pay a special tax.

In 1892, Italy raised the minimum age for marriage for girls to 12.

Ancient Egyptians shaved off their eyebrows to mourn the death of their cats.

In ancient Rome, a runaway slave was considered a criminal because he had stolen himself (i.e. the property of his master)!

Roman women especially enjoyed when their husbands went to war against Germany because the naturally-blond hair of Germans captured in battle would be used to make wigs!

According to Juvenal, the streets of Rome were so noisy that people living near them would die from lack of sleep! (Hyperbolically speaking, of course)

The punishment of a Vestal Virgin who broke her oath of chastity was to be buried alive!

In early Rome, a father could legally execute any member of his household!

In May 1948, Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe, both in New Zealand, erupted simultaneously.

Does anyone in Cincinnati like Strange Historic Facts?

Sunday, December 7, 2008


So, while *working* I happened to find myself surfing the internet, where I found the following video by Levni Yilmaz.  While it is a humorous, interesting way to make sense of power (or lack of such), it does bring to the table an interesting question about how we get it and what it might be.

What is your power? Where do you find it?  What do you revolve around? What do the results look like?  

I find that when I try to attain power from earth-bound things, I get let down, frustrated, and depressed.  When I set my gaze a little *higher* ... then power becomes something more substantial. It is in these moments where my life makes a little more sense and I become a little more free.

If you make it through the entire clip here, by the way, you might like the others by Levni Yilmaz. I particularly like the one about "girls."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

the Chris Day effect: pay it forward

Someone on my street woke up today and shoveled their sidewalk and driveway because it had snowed. Then they proceeded to shovel the sidewalks of their neighbors to the right and left.

Well, guess what happened?

Another neighbor, after seeing this, decided to shovel another neighbor's sidewalk, ... and as I sit here writing this post, I can look out of my window and see other people shoveling other people's sidewalks.  

It is amazing how a simple gesture of kindness can provoke other gestures of kindness.

My neighborhood just became a little closer today.

Friday, December 5, 2008

why the tears?

Does anyone happen to know the *biological* or practical purpose of human tears?  Another blogger, The Dan (, has done a little research on eye-balls and tearing, and he reports that he cannot find any reason for emotional tears.

Now, we know that when something is in your eye, ... then tears can flush it out. But why do tears come when one is emotional (sad or happy)?  Like when one is watching a movie and is "moved," what purpose do tears serve?  When we are happy to see someone, why do our eyes get moist?

Anyone know?

Any theories out there?

digital living

This is an interesting video that kind of demonstrates the life of a typical UC student. If you have ever taken a Psychology course at UC, you will recognize the lecture hall.

Someone in Cincinnati wants to know where all the time goes.

Monday, December 1, 2008

whatcha make of this?

This is a video a stumbled across called "jozin from the bog." I've added the subtitle, "featuring red-bearded crazy-hands".  It reminds me how we shouldn't take life so serious sometimes. While there are serious moments, we should laugh too. Hopefully this helps you at least chuckle.

There is a person I know that used to work for UC that looks like the guy at the end of the vidoe ("mustache on pane of glass").

Someone in Cincinnati does not climb in his office window, ... yet.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

looking for light bulbs (to come on)

Perhaps you've seen this video or have heard the idea:

How can normal, everyday people who follow Jesus carry out similar acts of kindness? I know there are tons of ideas out there that don't cost much money but can truly impact people in very positive and long-lasting ways.  

For example, I know one person from VWS (Vineyard Westside) who picks up Panera and takes it to strangers.  I know that people from VCC (The big Vineyard) have passed out water to complete strangers.  I know about others who knock on doors to clean strangers bathrooms. They just knock on doors an say, "Hey, can we clean your john." Chris Day (Driving Without Mirrors blog) began randomly connecting with people, just strangers, with blogs to offer them prayer and encouragement.  Some other people just invest time into other people's lives on a regular basis.  I read a blog post where someone picked up a complete stranger on the road who needed to go 15 miles (she later found out). 

What are some other ways the everyday acts kindness, small personal investments, can change someone's perspective, make their day better, improve their mood?  I want to come up with a brainstorming list, so any ideas ("light bulbs coming on") you have would be much appreciated.  The more interesting, outside the box, the better. 

Saturday, November 29, 2008

when worlds collide

Snoop Dog visits the Martha Stewart show to teach us new vocabulary, ... which, as if not strange enough on its very own, ... is made even more so by Snoop's demonstrating how to mash potatoes and make potatoe chip wrappers.

Someone in Cincinnati will be digging a bomb-shelter in the backyard tomorrow, ... and the stacking of canned goods from floor to ceiling will soon follow, ... all while knowing that these two meeting must certainly be signaling the end of times.  Yikes!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Olly, Olly, ALL Come Free

I love this song. When I am feeling down, I try to remember who has my back.  We each have people in our lives that we should be thankful for. Today is a good day to let them know.

To all the brothers and sisters already on the road, leave lights for us to follow.

To those who are looking for lights to walk with and to, please see the courage before you.

Someone in Cincinnati wants to know if you are thankful for anything, and if so, ... what?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Les Nessman wants you to have a ...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Someone misses WKRP in Cincinnati, especially the characters known as "Dr. Johnny Fever" and "Venus Flytrap."

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Tillers

This is good stuff. From Cincinnati. Cutting Bluegrass.

Someone in Cincinnati is wondering if anyone knows (still remembers) what a Tiller does?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

lead (not the poisonous metal)

What makes a good leader?  When you think of good leadership, what things come to mind?

In this picture above, how important is the lead dog? 

How important is the dog right next to her/him? 

How important is the guy controlling the reins?  

How important is the snow?

Monday, November 17, 2008

I am not crazy, .... this really happened!

Ok. Against my better judgment, I will share another coincidental happening in my life that may very well make me look like one of those crazy Christians that Hollywood makes so much fun of. Not only did this happen, my wife was in the room.

Several years ago, my wife and I periodically attended Vineyard Cincinnati (VCC) in Tri-County. By periodically, I mean once every 3 or 4 weeks. It was easy to not go because we live on the Westside of town, and Tri-County is a good distance away (45 minutes). Two of my mentors (Evan and Steve) both attended this church regularly, and they encouraged us to go, but they understood the difficulties of driving so far. With that said, I would frequently be given a “hard-time” for not going to church.

Then the phone rang one day. We had recently moved from an apartment in Cheviot to a house in Delhi. During the first few weeks of unpacking, we hadn’t turned the landline phone on because we had our cell-phones. There was (…actually still is) an old rotary phone hanging on the wall much like the one pictured above, but only white. As we are organizing our kitchen, this wall-phone rings, which startled me because the phone was not turned on. It rang a few more times, with that really loud metal-bell ringing sound, and so I answered it, … saying “Hello?” The person on the other end of the phone didn’t say anything for a few moments, so I again said “Hello.” Then the person on the other line said that he was looking for the Westside Vineyard, and this is the number he had. I said, well this is just a house that we moved into recently. The person apologized and hung up. I turned to my wife and said, “They must be opening up a Vineyard over here.”

I called Evan to ask about a Vineyard opening up on the Westside of town, and he said that he did hear something about it. I told him what happened, and he said: “Buddy, if you’re looking for a sign to get your carcass back into church, … this is it.”

Even with that, it took us almost three more years to check out VWS. Now that we’re here, I wish I had listened sooner.  So, is this just a coincidence or something more?  

I know that this is sounds crazy, ... like I am making it up, ... but it’s true! My wife was right there in the room when I answered. 

It gives me chills to even think about the odds of that happening. Crazy. Amazingly crazy!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

has this ever happened to you?

Have you ever experienced a really strange coincidence? 

There is this idea of serendipity or providence that comes up for me every once in a while. You know, where life-stuff happen in such a way that it forces you take pause, … and think twice about who might be pulling strings. Here are two of the most recent for me:

I am taking a new job with a new office. A friend and I checked it out, and it is a mess. The old occupant seems to have vacated the space in a hurry, and he left a bunch of junk I don’t need. BUT, one thing he left is a small, framed quote on the wall.  It is the only thing left on any of the walls. There are lots of nails where other stuff was hanging, but for some reason this one framed quote was left behind. The peculiar thing is that the quote is one of my favorites. In fact, I like the quote so much that posted it permanently on this blog months ago. (It is the quote to the right of this post, which was authored by Margaret Mead.) Isn’t that weird?

Another oddity: A loved one (Hi, Gina K) sent me a link to a video about an armless and legless young man who is a believer. This guy has been dealt such a difficult hand, yet he seems to rise above it, live in joy, and share that living and understanding with others.  But when I went back to the email, clicked on the link, I found that the video had become a dead-link. Instead of showing a video, it says "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Probnoblem Music (BMI)."  I was so bummed because I wanted to share it.  I wanted other people to be as moved as I was. And then I walk into church today, at our new, cool space, and what happens? They freaking play the video!!!!!!  The exact video!!!!!  For hundreds of people!!!!! Amazing.

I am sure others have had similar experiences. Maybe it’s all coincidence. Maybe it’s something bigger.

Do you have any similar stories? 

I have one more of these stories to share, … but I am almost afraid to because I don’t think people will believe me. It is so crazy, … so unlikely, … that it would seem that I must be making it up. But I’m not. 

Maybe I’ll post it next time.

Someone in Cincinnati is thinking,"now, what are the odds.....

Friday, November 14, 2008

roy has joy for koi

This is not the best quality available, and I am sure many have already seen this, but ... I find this video (by Steve Wilson) hauntingly refreshing. When life gets heavy, just remember "he's got a friend named Roy, ... full of joy, ... who loves fishing for Koi," and suddenly, ... it's all not so heavy anymore.

Someone in Cincinnati is cutting their carbs and working their "lats" (latissimus dorsi muscles).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

you feeling under the ... whether (or not to go to work today)?

Coworker Has That Excuse That's Going Around
November 11, 2008
Issue 44•46 (The Onion)

ANN ARBOR, MI—Digital Copy Shoppe employee Don Newson, 38, called in to work on Wednesday complaining that he was certain he had come down with the 24-hour excuse that has been going around. "My back is killing me, I feel stuffed up, and I have this pounding headache," said Newson, citing the initial symptoms of the excuse, which often afflicts those who are already late for work. "It sucks, because I want to come in, but I don't want anyone else to catch what I've got. I should be fine after sleeping for a couple days." Newson has placed himself on a strict regimen of watching the past six episodes of Entourage on HBO on Demand to cure the excuse.

What are the top 10 excuses that one could use to get out of going to work?  I'm going to make a handy-dandy go-to list.

Someone in Cincinnati is not feeling too good tomorrow and Monday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

who needs banana peels?

Is anyone else at all worried that major corporations are lining up, looking for a hand-out, .. oops,... I mean bail out? When does this stop?  And where does the money come from?

Someone in Cincinnati is wondering who just mopped the mountain.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

who has you, ... ear?

"It's not the voice that commands the story: it is the ear." ~ Italo Calvino, postmodern fiction writer.

What's this mean?  

I think Calvino is getting at very basic questions that I've been asking lately:  What am listening to?  Who am I listening to

I know that if I listen to the enemy, ... give him my ear, ... then I hear a very specific story:  I am too weak, too stupid, too old or too young, too alone, too afraid, too worn out, too broke, too shameful, too powerless, too beaten, too bought and sold, too fat, too addicted, too stubborn, too sinful, too diminished, too injured, too unconnected, too slighted, too third-rate, too ...

Giving my ear to Jesus tells a different story that has more to do with being free from all this stuff. 

Who/what are you listening to?  Are you hearing what God says you are?  Or, are you listening to what the enemy says you are?

Someone in Cincinnati is thinking: "Shhhhhhhh, ...  can you hear that?"

Monday, November 10, 2008

does this dress make my ass look fat?

The Vineyard Westside is moving to a new building.  We are moving from a movie movie theater to an actual building designed for churchin.'

Even though this move can be nothing but a good thing for a number of very obvious reasons, my initial reaction was a negative one. But why? After a little thinking about why I would be hesitant about the move, and after sitting in church this Sunday and hearing Tim talk about Moses, the dessert, and fearful people, ... it suddenly became crystal clear:

I am afraid of change.

I have lost sleep this week worrying about accepting a promotion at U.C. which would triple my salary and put me in a position to really exercise my passions.  There is really nothing about this change that is negative, but I am laying awake at night worrying about it.  

It's almost like part of me would rather stay right where I am, doing exactly what I'm doing, making just as much as I'm making now, etc., because it would take the fear away, ... I could stay comfortably isolated from risk.

I imagine that this is how people get trapped in their lives.  Whether it's anger, addiction, or apathy, people would rather stay miserable than accept the change God is trying to put on them.

Does anyone else out there have any of this ... fear of change?

Someone in Cincinnati wants to try some clothes on today but can't seem to find the changing room. 

Friday, November 7, 2008

here for us then, ... now a sign?

Randy Pausch, ... the student, teacher, listener, victor, uncle, mover, speaker, father, loser, thinker, husband, researcher, son, feeler, friend, doubter, etc., ... touched many, many people while he was alive in our world.

Is is possible that his words HERE are as true NOW as they were THEN, ... when he held up this SIGN?

What's that mean for US?

Someone in Cincinnati just "knows" that we are bigger than our sensemaking.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

right here is where we find ourselves "my friends"

McCain Gets Hammered At Local VFW
NOVEMBER 5, 2008 | ISSUE 44•45 (The Onion)

PHOENIX—After conceding defeat in the 2008 presidential election, former Republican candidate John McCain reportedly got completely hammered Tuesday night at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (V.F.W.) bar in Phoenix. "I saw this old guy just kind of slumped over his drink for a couple hours before I realized who it was," bartender Rob Dubbin said of the former Navy officer, who sources confirmed arrived at the VFW community tavern around 9 p.m. wearing his lieutenant commander's jacket and cap.
"He must have had about eight or nine boilermakers in all. I heard him muttering something about 'Pennsylvania,' I think, but other than that he was pretty quiet." Sources said McCain continued to drink alone until well after 3 a.m., at which point fellow patrons had to carry the sleeping senator to a couch in the back office.

Someone in Cincinnati believes that we must laugh at ourselves or cry.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes, Can We?

Barack Obama is the president elect. While I do not agree with many of his political philosophies, he has united people in a way that this nation hasn’t seen in a long time.  

My sincere hope is that his rhetoric will be made concrete by his actions. In other words, I would love to believe in the world that he talks about. 

Fortunately, when he begins his term, Obama will have all the backing he needs to enact EVERY ONE OF THE VISIONS he has been speaking about. The numbers are on his side:

Democratic controlled Whitehouse (he won both the Popular Vote and the Electoral College)

Democrat controlled Senate (D-56 vs. R-40)

Democrat controlled House (D-252 vs. R-173)

More Democratic Governors than Republican Governors (D-29 vs. R-20)

He has the people on his side, the leadership on his side, and the media on his side (except for Fox).  

The "We" is ready for the "Yes" and the "Can."

I just hope that the American people hold him accountable for what he has promised. Again, I would love to live in the world that he promised during his campaign. Everyone wants Hope and Change, right?  

Barack, the table is set. You have no excuses. Walk the Talk and you will convert a nation of doubters.

Many in Cincinnati today are saying: “Yes, We Can!”

Monday, November 3, 2008

turning over a Liberating leaf

This feels liberating!

I have been going through some changes lately, and so I have decided to update my blog a little. This is hard to do with a blog, but I want this space to be less about me specifically and more about the world around me. With that said, the way that I am making sense of the world around me is undoubtedly tied to my perspectives. But I never want to communicate that my sensemaking is somehow the right way, or the only way, or the best way to see the world. Rather, I think we each can offer perspectives that may benefit others, and we benefit most when we understand others’ perspectives, seeing how other people make sense of the world. This is why we need each other and why community is so important.

So, ironically on “election eve,” I have decided to, starting today, do my very best to avoid posts and responses that would cause division and tension. And when such issues come across the table, I am going to do my best to listen more than I speak (or in this case, read more than I write). In other words, I pledge to take on the role of “humble learner” as opposed to “arrogant debater.” For those that know me well, you know that this is sometimes hard for me to do. If you find that I am sliding back into debate mode, becoming argumentative, I ask that you gently remind what my intentions are as written here: I want to help change the world with love.

Now, I know this sounds cheesy, so it is important to clarify what I mean. In saying "with love," I mean to say that loving others includes becoming a better listener (to other people and to God) and becoming more courageous with my choices and actions. This is the kind of love I mean.

For those who have asked, the pictures to the right are people who have impacted me somehow. I have never met them, and yes they are all deceased, but their writings, teachings, preaching, activism, music, musings, fears, triumphs, and defeats have helped inform how I understand the world.

Someone in Cincinnati yesterday challenged quite a few people on the Westside of town to stop doing apathetic religion and start doing love. Thank you for that, Tim.  We all need to be reminded of what's important sometimes.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Swallow Hard

Someone I love is graduating from this life to another. 

My respect for this warrior is beyond words.

Tears are shed in the midst of this passing, ... but they are for us, not for him.

It is difficult to make sense of this through my earthbound viewfinder.

Like many others, I feel cheated because I want more time with him, ... more of him.

He impacted my family and I immediately, profoundly, and in a completely honest way.

Spencer Henderson is one of the greatest men I have ever known, and I fully understand why Heaven needs him now.

With that said, God’s Speed is sometimes hard to swallow.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

this hurts me more than you

My son came to me with a splinter in his foot today. Actually, Jen brought him to me as he was screaming bloody murder. Long story short, we got the splinter out. But not before my son cried, squirmed, screamed, pleaded, moved, dodged, snorted, screamed again, etc., …tears and snot, …as I am trying to pry the tiny peace of wood out of his foot.

All he wanted me to do in that moment was stop what I was doing, …to leave his little foot alone. But, I love him too much and I knew that if the splinter stays, it would have gotten infected, and eventually hurt him more.

This experience made me wonder what splinters God will be pulling from my family, my community, and me.

Today, someone in Cincinnati said to lots of listeners: "It's important that you hear my heart."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Who has cold hands?

Always remember that you need good, adjustable feet. 

Perhaps "balanced" is best.  

If this part is taken care of, the drive band tension rod will govern the flyer whorl and bobbin just fine as it sits and spins in the flyer orifice.

If not, regardless of what you do with the T-knob, the brake tension rod, and the brake adjusting rod, your rear and front maidens will be all mussed up, which will in-turn throw the whole system off-kilter, ... making the flyer and bobbin useless.

It goes without saying, then, that when this imbalance happens, the Mother-of-All will not hold the drive wheel correctly, which causes the Footman to go bonkers, ... and your treadles will not do what they are built to.  

You can keep stepping, but you'll just create a giant, unplanned, and misdirected mess.

This can make for a sad day.

And mittens aren’t made with sadness, are they?

Some people from Cincinnati asked themselves today: "Am I just spinning wheels?"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

get off the fence

For most of what I have called my “Christian Life,” I have basically just paid lip service to what Christianity is all about, and I have usually not done a very good job of even that.  I've followed when it's convenient, ... and then I've ignored the responsibilities of following when it's inconvenient.  When the spiritual nudges come, I nod the other way.

I've been riding the fence, ... one foot in my world, one foot in God's.

But for whatever reason, I really am feeling like that it is time to “go all in.” For the first time in my life, I think that I am getting it. Whether I am beaten, or just surrendered, or both, …I am feeling like God is really working me over right now.  The messages at the Vineyard Westside, the people I'm running into, the events occurring in my life, ... these are too much to ignore or dismiss.  I feel my heart cracking.

Please don't get me wrong: I haven’t arrived yet, plane hasn't landed, but I really feel like I am finally in line to buy a flight ticket with my own money.

CS Lewis writes:

“This is my endlessly recurrent temptation: to go down to that Sea (I think St. John of the Cross called God a sea) and there neither dive nor swim nor float, but only dabble and splash, careful not to get out of my depth and holding on to the lifeline which connects me with my things temporal…

…It is different from the temptations that met us at the beginning of the Christian life. Then we fought (at least I fought) against admitting the claims of the eternal at all. And when we had fought, and been beaten, and surrendered, we supposed that all would be fairly plain sailing. This temptation comes later. It is addressed to those who have already admitted the claim in principle and are even making some sort of effort to meet it. Our temptation is to look eagerly for the minimum that will be accepted. We are in fact like honest but reluctant taxpayers. We approve of an income tax in principle. We make our returns truthfully. But we dread a rise in the tax. We are very careful to pay no more than is necessary. And we hope – we very ardently hope – that after we have paid it there will still be enough left to live on” (from C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory).

Someone from Cincinnati today is misusing the word "CHOICE."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ready, Fire, Aim!!!

Great things are about to happen at the Vineyard Westside.  How do I know, you ask? One of the pastors, Ryan, touched people today. Many laughed, listened, and were obviously moved by his message. He reminded me of something, stirred something up, that I wrote a while back ... having to do with fear, having a plan, and taking action.  Here it is

Being available is new to me in the sense of “doing so lacking fear,” and without a plan or map.

To say this differently, …I often find myself “being available” for things, people, and situations because I am afraid of what might happen if I am not available, and this has been done haphazardly and usually from the perspective of cornered-fear.

So, this means that I have been making decisions in this space, meaning fearfully lacking faith. I have been simply and selfishly reacting to what is going on around me.

Not to over-simplify this, but the fallout has been less than great. Far too often, I have fearfully been available, and have hesitated to speak truth, or listen, or take action, or not take action. And to over-simplify this intentionally, …I have taken the easier way out in my pursuit of “being there” in the perceptions of others.

I have not been following God’s plan, …I have been following my own, or the plans of others, which is clearly without courage.

To intentionally be available must include having “uncomfortable fear.” Anything else is selfish. So, I will work on being just this, …uncomfortably pursuing Jesus, the pursuit of His plan, regardless of what may be easier or more comfortable. To step one pace outside of fear and toward him is the path that I choose.

All nudges, all stuff, …simply listen and listen, and courageously listen, …follow the map, and (dare I say) battle when needed.

In “Mere Christianity,” CS Lewis writes:

“Now, Theology is like a map. Merely learning and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doctrines are not God: They are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God – experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further, you must use the map. You see, what happened to that man in the desert may have been real, and was certainly exciting, but nothing comes of it. It leads nowhere. There is nothing to do about it. In fact, that is just why a vague religion – all about feeling God in nature, and so on – is so attractive. It is all thrills and no work: like watching the waves from a beach. But you will not get to Newfoundland by studying the Atlantic that way, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music. Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea. Nor will you be very safe if you go to sea without a map.”

Someone in Cincinnati said today: "Yep, that's Oh and Five."

Friday, October 3, 2008

check out these pictures!

Many of you who read this blog are aware that Jen and I have befriended a couple going through very difficult times. Spencer Henderson is a 40-year-old Cincinnati Police Officer who has been diagnosed with stage IV cancer in his lungs, brain, bones, and organs. He has a beautiful wife, Tracy, and family that we have truly grown to love. I am including a link to a website here (to the right, top of page) that is hosted on The American Cancer Society’s Mosaic of Hope webpage.

Here are pictures (to the right) of Spencer, Tracy, and their family taken during a camping trip we all took several months ago. In the above picture, you’ll see some of their children: Nina is the second from the left. She sang for us that night, which made chills run down my spine and the hair stand up on my arms, and I wasn't the only one. This young lady is bound for something great. Sage is sitting next to Spencer, and he is one of the most respectful and polite young men that I’ve ever met. He wants to be a chef when he grows up, but his mom is pulling or politics. He'll do both. Brody is sitting on Tracy’s lap, and man he is fearless (just like his dad and mom). When Brody falls down like little boys do, the saying "rough and tough" is the next thing said. My son and Brody are fast friends and it is great to see them running around playing. Not pictured here is Ricky, who is bound for the NFL, and Spencer III. Like Sage, the oldest boys are two of the most respectful and polite young men I've ever met. It is quite apparent that Spencer and Tracy are doing something right.

Thank you for keeping Spencer and his family in your prayers.

Someone from Cincinnati said today: "You are Welcome."