Tuesday, September 30, 2008


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, Tracey, and family that we have truly grown to love.

Throughout this painful party of his journey, Spencer has refused to give up. In fact, when the doctors told him that there was no hope, he found another doctor. His family is staying strong in faith, which has surely been a lesson for me and my family.

I am including a link to a website here (directly to the right at the top of the page) called Hope for Spencer that is hosted on The American Cancer Society’s Mosaic of Hope webpage. Please visit the site, and pray for Spencer and his family. We will be updating this site soon.

A student from Cincinnati said to me this morning: “Hey, we’re locked out of our classroom again.”

Sunday, September 28, 2008

How Do We Win?

I’ve mentioned before that my family (Jen, Ethan, and me) have been hanging out at the Vineyard Westside, which is a very cool place because of very cool people (check out the link to the right about Good Faith).

Well this past Sunday, Tim (lead pastor) finished the day’s message by challenging us to process through three questions:

1) What is your ultimate (anything, meaning what things, people, etc. do you put on a pedestal)?

2) Do you have relationships where you are controlling and manipulative?

3) When was the last time you took a risk for God?

For the next week, I plan to really process through these questions in an “e-public way.” Perhaps you can answer some of these questions too.

Someone from Cincinnati walked by my office space today and said: “So this is what you're working on."


I disagree with George Khoury on virtually 99% of all things religious, cultural, and political. We have been dancing the dance of diatribe since close to the beginning of the Iraq War, the sequel. We couldn’t be more at odds when it comes to philosophies about the cultural world, but I have never been more proud of him than I am today.

George has the courage to follow his heart. He will be teaching English in South Korea for the next several months. It should be noted that George left a very good paying job at Fifth Third Bank to attain a Masters degree in Communication at UC, and now he is travelling again. And it should also be noted that George had an offer to continue his education (PhD in Communication) at a pretty good school, but he turned it down (for now) in order to do work abroad.

He wants to serve others, and he believes in not allowing the fear of risk to get in his way.

I have asked him to keep me updated on his journey, and I will surely pass along anything interesting.

Someone in Cincinnati asked me three questions today: 1) What is your ultimate? 2) Do you have relationships where you are controlling and manipulative? 3) When was the last time you took a risk for God?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Living your Language: A Lost Art?

"Maurice McCrackin (1905-1997) was an American civil rights and peace activist, tax resister and Presbyterian minister. McCrackin started a community church in Cincinnati after gaining notoriety for refusing to pay federal taxes. Many of his former parishioners followed him to the small building on Dayton Street in Cincinnati where he preached, ran services, baptized babies, and performed weddings and funerals. He was a principled pacifist all of his life. He was active in the struggle for racial equality and an end to militarism in the United States. McCrackin was well known to the state's attorneys office as he was arrested over and over again in protests. Rev. McCrackin was also active in the fight for prisoner's rights and spent much time visiting convicts. Once, he was abducted by a man that he had visited in jail and rather than see him incarcerated again, refused to testify against him. The district attorney in Cincinnati jailed McCrackin for weeks because of this incident."

Is there anyone like this anymore???. Please share.

I heard somewhere in Cincinnati today: "So let it out and let it in, hey jude, begin, ...Youre waiting for someone to perform with. ...And don't you know that its just you, hey jude, you'll do, ...The movement you need is on your shoulder."


Earlier this week, a friend and I met for lunch in Clifton. As I waited on the corner by Starbucks and Chicago Gyro, a young woman with a clipboard approached me and asked two questions:

First she asked, “Are you voting for Barack Obama?,” to which I replied, “I’m not sure yet.”

Then she asked, "Are you registered to vote?"

I am glad to see young people trying to get other young people (yes, I am including myself here) involved in the political process, but I walked away with (sort of) a bad taste in my mouth.

What if I would have said, “No, I’m voting or McCain”? Would she have still wondered if I was registered to vote?

For the record, my response about "not being sure" was honest.

I am dedicated to going against the grain here, ...by waiting to hear the candidates talk about issues before jumping on the bandwagon. Old fashioned, I know.

Someone from Cincinnati recently asked me: “What if I am a student at UC, …and I come to you and say, ‘hey I want to do some service learning in Peru, …I want to build rope bridges,’ …what would you say?”

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pan-caking in Cincinnati

I usually never, ever pass along email threads. But an ex-student (now one of the girl's athletic coaches at Western Hills Highschool) passed along one to me, and it really made sense. So, if you have already seen this (and many of you probably have), sorry. If not, here ya go:

Six year old Brandon decided one Saturday morning to fix his parents pancakes. He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour canister, spilling it on the floor. He scooped some of the flour into the bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and added some sugar, leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now had a few tracks left by his kitten.

Brandon was covered with flour and getting frustrated. He wanted this to be something very good for Mom and Dad, but it was getting very bad. He didn't know what to do next, whether to put it all into the oven or on the stove and he didn't know how the stove worked! Suddenly he saw his kitten licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push her away, knocking the egg carton to the floor. Frantically he tried to clean up this monumental mess but slipped on the eggs, getting his pajamas white and sticky.

And just then he saw Dad standing at the door. Big crocodile tears welled up in Brandon's eyes. All he'd wanted to do was something good, but he'd made a terrible mess. He was sure a scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking. But his father just watched him. Then, walking through the mess, he picked up his crying son, hugged him and loved him, getting his own pajamas white and sticky in the process!

This is how God deals with us.

We try to do something good in life, but it turns into a mess. Our marriage gets all sticky or we insult a friend, or we can't stand our job, or our health goes sour. Sometimes we just stand there in tears because we can't think of anything else to do. That's when God picks us up and loves us and forgives us, even though some of our mess gets all over Him. But just because we might mess up, we can't stop trying to 'make pancakes' for God or for others. Sooner or later we'll get it right.

Someone from Cincinnati let me know this morning: "I don't blog."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

some positive thoughts, please?

I will be interviewed for the second time Thursday for a "real job."

Up to now, age 34, I have had other jobs (host and dishwasher at Frisches Big Boy, foodrunner at Ponderosa Steakhouse, server at the Hyatt Regency, bartender at Fridays and Gary’s Westsider, a clerk at a record store) where I worked really hard for little money, and really didn’t enjoy my job.

Then, I went back to school and have since then had more "meaningful" jobs, such as firefighter/EMT, graduate research/teaching assistant, adjunct instructor. These jobs still require a lot of work for little money, but I really enjoy it.

Now, I have the opportunity to really do what I am passionate about for decent money!!!! I have applied for the Director of Academic/Community Partnerships at the University of Cincinnati, and against all odds, I have made it down to the final two (out of 22 candidates). Getting this position would require a lot of work, but work I am passionate about, …and for decent money (approx. 3 times the amount I make now). 

For the first time in my life, I might get a business card with my name on it. (As if that's important, right?)

I went into the selection process assuming that I would not get the gig, but a part of me is starting to believe that have a shot, and I am throwing this out here because I believe in positive thoughts.

My hope is that you may read this and send me some Thursday.  I'd be happy to return the favor.

Someone from Cincinnati asked me in the office today: "Where has the recycling fairy been?"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Help!!!!! This is not a picture of Johnny Cash

I am a big dog lover.  We now have three dogs because we adopted one from the Animal Friends Humane Society, which is a wonderful place by the way.  

Johnny Cash (that's his name) is a great dog except for one major problem.  He consistently escapes our yard and runs around the neighborhood like a gangster.  Apparently, he is digging holes under the fence, and I have found all the holes and placed "obstacles" in front of them, such as stumps, logs, sheetrock, etc.

But he keeps getting out.

What can I do?  Does anyone out there have a solution?  We love the dog and do not want to give him away, but I spend way too much time in the day looking for Johnny Cash because he digs holes under my fence and runs the neighborhood crapping in other people's yards.  (Try taking that out of context)

Please help!!!

Someone from Cincinnati said to me this morning: "Hey, your dog is in my yard again."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Just a few questions...

I posted this on a friend’s blog (Razzle Dazzle Rose) a while back, ...before I created a blog of my very own. So I thought I’d throw it out here:

We should never forget the rhetorical stuff that it took to (momentarily) convince the nation that Bill Clinton “did not have sex with that woman.” A brilliant statesman, he was. We should also never forget the rhetoric that convinced this nation to support a war in the Middle East.

I want to vote for Obama because he makes me proud to be American. A black man running for office takes me (white-man) off the hook, somehow. Above that, he is a brilliant statesman and an awe-inspiring speaker.

I want to vote for McCain because I know that “politics” is a long, tired process, and I lean more right than left. Fear gets in my way of buying into more sacrifice of freely choosing people for the sake of governmental control. McCain’s story and candidacy, thus, seems fitting because his stance makes more sense within my limited perceptions of reality.

So, “what to do?” is the question. Do I vote due to gut or mind? Can I vote with the two combined? Since we are left with two choices, I would like to pose the following questions:

What will McCain do about the price of apples? Obama?
What will either candidate do about the energy crisis?
What will either do about Iran? North Korea? China?
What will they do about globalization?
How about the environmental plans?
What place will America play on the open market?
What are their military plans?
What are they thinking about Israel?
How do they react (some say, “pre-act”) to Zion?
What do they think about (Our) church?
What do they think about Jesus?
What do they think about education?
What do they think about immigration?
What do they think about the Constitution?
What do they think about Personal Responsibility and Collective Duty?
What do they think about Welfare, and the reform (amplified or minimized) of such?
What do they think about the pre-born?
What do they think about the war on drugs?
What do they think about the death penalty?
What do they think about the health insurance crisis?
What do they think about America’s relationship with the global rest?
What do they think about the fall of Communism?
How do they argue (for or against) Socialism?
What do they think about the horrors of Capitalism?
What do they think about (painfull, at times) free speech?
What do they think about talk radio?
What do they think about the media (info-tainment)?
What do they think about the philosophy of Progressivism?
What do they think about the philosophy Conservatism?
What do they think about Christmas?
How will they support family?
What do they think about Ramadan?
What do they think about crime?
What do they think about the exploration of space?
What do they think about?
What music do they listen to?
What art(s) do they participate in?
What are their plans?
How many push-ups can they do?
What are their goals?
What do they stand for?
What do they need?
What do they stand against?
How will they lead?
How have they served their people?
How have they harmed them?
What God do they walk with?
What God do they ignore?
What is it that attracts you, to the same old shizzy?
What options do we have?
What do you revolve (and evolve) about?
Where do we go from here?
How will we ever make it?
How brave is this new world?
Who are you?
What are you responsible for?
What do you ignore?
To whom and what do you give your attention?
How will you make differences?
When will you take chances?
What does it look like when you do?

Someone from Cincinnati said to me today: "YES is already in your heart if you listen to it.  So step fearlessly."

Get a piece of peace.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Retrospective Sensemaking

I am beginning to understand more and more that a relationship with God is not about short-term happiness, and is not about just “fixing problems.” In other words, this life is bigger, more complete, than making us temporarily comfortable. In fact, it may be that the closer you get to God, the more pain you are available for, meaning that you become more and more uncomfortable as you realize that “sacrifice” means experiencing the totality of this world. Perhaps pain is the point, and this is to say that through opening a conduit to God, you are subject to His plan, which is often uncomfortably painful. This lesson is difficult.

My son was 2 when I first wrote this, and now he is approaching 3.

I imagine that God loves me like I love Ethan. If Ethan does wrong, one option is to ignore it, making sure that he feels comfortable regardless of his actions and intent. Or I can correct him. The former is easier for he and I, but this is not the way to truly love him, right? Ignoring his wrongdoings will harm him, and so I (and his mother) do what loving parents do, which is correct him, which often means making him feel uncomfortable. This is not easy, but doing less would mean that we love him less than we love our own comfort.

I am experiencing my relationship with God similarly, meaning that I “get” that I walk-about needing correction. My life is nice, they might say, but… pain is so much a part of it all, …as is fear. If allowed, angst an anxiety would rule. But the calling is higher and put into my heart through Christ.

I imagine this: God made me, the individual that loves his son so much that he would allow him to see (and learn from) pain, and so I can’t ignore the obvious: Pain is a part of this story, and God’s love must then be directive.

In “The Problem of Pain” Lewis writes:

“When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some ‘disinterested,’ because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are objects of His Love. You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the ‘lord of terrible aspect,’ is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes. How this should be, I do not know: it passes reason to explain why any creatures, not to say creatures such as we, should have a value so prodigious in their Creator’s eyes. It is certainly a burden of glory not only beyond our deserts but also, expect in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring; we are inclined, like the maidens in the old play, to deprecate the love of Zeus. But the fact seems unquestionable” (Amazing Love, How can It Be, from Patricia S. Klein’s, “A Year with C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works, p.15) .

What do you think?

A young woman from Cincinnati once said to me: "It is easy to love God because He's faithful."

Thanks, Al.

Get a piece of peace.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Several of my friends blow in the political winds like a sun-bleached and rain-worn American flag that perpetually hangs on the stoop of an 88 year-old retired ironworker’s home. She, being too tired and too old to take it out of the weather, lets it just hang there until the wind blows patriotically. This is what many of my friends do when it comes to politics. In other words, if the expression of popular political support blows “right” or “left,” they tend to flutter or flap in the same general direction, …unquestioning, oblivious, and trying to sound oddly virtuous.

Most times, not taking a real stand on a presidential race makes little difference. The stakes have not been high enough for it to matter, …that facts and truths about issues and candidates are marginalized for the sake of popularity contests. But, we are living in very important times of choosing. I love Barry Obama for the same reasons you all do, and I am suspicious of John Wayne McCain too, …and if I happen to forget why I like/dislike these two, the media is quick to remind me. And if I turn the TV off, I can always count on getting 14 emails attacking one candidate or the other, most created with some of the most vicious-vitriol-sans-truth available at the tips of tongues and fingertips.

Now that our backs are really against the wall, though, what happens? Major banks are foretelling, “something wicked this way comes.” When will you really pay attention to issues and agendas that are important? When will you take time out of your day to truly check out the candidate you like, the party this candidate is owned by, and the impact that this candidate’s election will have on lives?

Someone from Cincinnati said to me one day: “It might be hot, but at least it’s humid.”

Get a piece of peace.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Passing the Torch

My family is hanging out at the Vineyard Westside every Sunday at 11:00, and the message today revolved around “passing the torch” to the next generation. Wow and Yikes, yeah?

Our pastor, Tim, asked that we think about the person in our life that has passed the torch onto us. Two names came to mind immediately: Evan Griffin and Steven Fuller. These two men have been very participative in my coming into Jesus, and in a connected way, my wife coming back to Jesus, and my son learning about Jesus. This idea was very clear at the time we left church.

But, I am a Bengal fan, and we went home to watch the game. As the game started, I quickly posted something on this blog about how Steve and Evan have been so instrumental in my spiritual journey. The game was starting, however, and I had quickly donned my Brooks #21 jersey, then rapidly posted my stuff, and sat down to watch the Bengals, …knowing that my stunt about Evan and Steve sucked. I thought, maybe I’ll go back later and fix it or something.

Then the power went out. I had time to think about posting such as crappy post that should have meant so much more. (For the writers out there, you know when you write something that’s crap.)

The lights went out, …trees on lines, …madness and mayhem for e-phonics, …and now I have time to go back and say what needs to be said, without distraction.

Evan is an inspiration. He and Kim epitomize what “following Jesus” looks like. Several years ago, Evan took the time out of his life to invite me for coffee. He wanted to hear my story. Since then, he has heard it many times, in all its evolutions, and he has been constant in his giving of solid advice and clear listening within a created void due to self-loathing and lack of discipline. This man, …who invested in me, has gone through stuff that might break other peoples’ necks, but he and his wife have stood strong in faith, knowing that Jesus would see them through. Thank you, Evan, for your time and mentorship.

Steve is also inspiring, but for somewhat different reasons. That he questions what he follows, looking for ways to become more authentic in his beliefs and thus actions, …this has helped me be more keenly aware of my own beliefs and actions. His courage, often in the face of ridicule and second-guessing, is inspiring. He has made decisions that some of his best friends consider wrong, …but he is carrying on God-stuff in a way that is fearless, …and his actions sing the tune most overlooked. So, thank you, Steve, for your courage. You are a trail-blazer for sticking to your guns and carrying what God puts on you. Thank you for working toward becoming the man you talk about.

These two have built into me a sense of looking past the cards we’re dealt and getting at what’s most important.

How life works is often crazy. The wind not only spared me one more miserable Bengal-Sunday but it also allowed me to think about stuff with nothing but a candle to distract me. The electric should go out more often.

Tim from Cincinnati asked: "Who loved on you enough to love another."

Get a piece of Peace.

Friday, September 12, 2008

An alternative to traditional debates

While watching "The View" this morning, ...and no, I don't watch it often, ...John McCain happened to be introduced. Regardless of who you like, I have to give him props for handling some very tough questions from a mostly hostile host/panel. They tried to really grill him, and he did a fantastic job of articulating his platform and the record of Palin. He even suggested that he and Obama come back on the show together in order to discuss issues in an un-scripted way.

The debates will be coming up shortly, but you might agree that they seem to be too scripted, too artificial, etc. I would love to see more authentic discussions like I saw this morning.

I want the candidates to be grilled like McCain was this morning, forcing them to field tough questions from the audience and answer them on the spot, ...before talking to their political advisors. This is what is missing in traditional debates.

While I am still not convinced that McCain is the best choice, I do give him kudos for having the stones to stand his ground this morning. The ladies of the View really tried to stumble him up, it was obvious. But doing so allowed McCain to show his humanity, and by the time he left, the audience seemed to be on his side.

Let's hope that Obama will do the same. I would love to see he and McCain come back on the show together. The voters deserve it.

Let's see these two guys be held accountable to the people they are hoping to serve.

Someone from Cincinnati said: "I aint going to work today, and if I aint going to work, ..."

Get a piece of peace.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I have finally jumped into the water.