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.