Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Labors of Love, pt. 2

Some before and after pics for everyone.


Trash Day

Today is Wednesday ... early Wednesday right now. Wyatt has awaken before the dawn of day, but I am not all that troubled. I am taking this opportunity to enjoy the quiet of the world. I'm also taking the opportunity to enjoy our new house.

Over the last week, much work has been done around the house - including finishing hard wood floors in both the living and dining room. Finishing the floors in particular proved to be an adventurous task. It wasn't going to be much of a problem, but around the time we were putting the second coat of polyurethane on a severe thunderstorm rolled through Owensboro - dropping something like 6'' of rain in just a couple of hours. There were also threats of tornados, and a neighbor across the street lossed a significant limb of a large tree. We didn't lose any major tree limbs, but we did lose our electricity, which, as you can imagine, made putting polyurethane on much more difficult since it was 8 pm and completely dark outside. Still, it got done.

It's amazing how much satisfaction I'm deriving from being able to do these little labors. Like last night, when I arrived home from work and I realized the trash needed to be taken out since Wednesday is trash day. Strangely, I was somewhat pleased at the notion that I get to put out my trash ... and that my weeks would have a more domestic schedule to them. (I can hear my mother asking if this would still be her same son.) We even have a postal carrier who comes directly to our door everyday well before noon. Again, these simple domestic pecularities are strangely pleasing to me.

Of course, there are other things that aren't quite in order ... like the grass that is well over five inches in places because I'm still waiting for a lawn mower (and a lawn mowing company to come mow my yard in the meantime!). And then there's Lewis ... our neighbor across the street. Great guy and he certainly keeps his yard looking wonderful. But, he - being retired - also has a curious habit of sitting outside of his garage for 60% of the day - enjoying the day, watching cars roll by, probably looking with contempt and disbelief at our lawn. I think our family is going to provide good theatre for Lewis.

Wyatt is off to a hot start this morning. He has already emptied all the milk he just acquired into his diaper: serious unloading. He's now wide awake in his baby seat ... bouncing and laughing at me from time to time. But, praise be to God, he has been relatively orderly the last two days. He had been waking up routinely in the night - 2 to 3 times, but these past two nights he has slept for 8 hours consecutively.

Simple pleasures amount to a whole lot.


Friday, September 22, 2006


Every Friday, I strive to send out a devotional for our church. And, seeing how this one provides an anecdotal story from life, it seemed appropriate for the blog as well ... enjoy.

Our various texts for this week strike a similar chord in my thinking: proximity. Psalm 8 reminds us God has created us in close proximity to Himself. Meanwhile, the Gospel text of Mark soberly reminds us of our constant tendency to wrestle over the best seats and finest positions – to remain in proximity of popular people and places while neglecting James’ call to draw near to God or Jesus’ call to draw near to the least of the world. We – as human beings – have a great deal of insecurity about how special we are. We forget – as Psalm 8 tells us – that we are made just “a little lower than God” and God’s glory. And in forgetting we end up expending a great deal of energy trying to prove we are special or separate.

I just got back from a trip to Pasadena this week, which meant a few flights for me. Airplane travel is a textbook example of the “First & Last” principle and the value we place on proximity. People do just about anything to get into “first class” seating, but for those who cannot accrue the miles, they now have another option: exit row seats for $15.

I didn’t pay the $15 to sit in an exit row, but as I boarded the plane, I did notice that the exit seats were remaining empty. “The flight is underbooked,” I thought to myself. “Could it be my lucky day?” But before I could work up the courage to move out of my seat and into the exit row, another couple took my idea and moved passed me … right into the exit row.

Now, I need to tell you a little more. There was already a gentleman sitting in the exit row up against the window. His chair was directly in front of mine. So, I had a front row view for the drama that was about to play out.

Alright, so back to where I was: the couple moved past me to sit in the exit row. As soon as the couple sat down – complete with smiles – the gentleman who paid for the seat turned to the couple and coldly asked, “did you pay $15 to sit here?” You could cut the tension with a knife.

Now, of course, the couple did not pay $15, and they awkwardly tried to bull their way through this conversation with a completely irrelevant point, “we just couldn’t stand it back there; there was no leg room.” At which point the gentleman disgustedly turned his head to the window and did not say another word the rest of the flight.

I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Embarrassed that it has become so inconvenient to be around other people. Ashamed that I could have easily been the one to plop down in the exit row – taking the best seat remaining. I started to realize how frequently I try to get away from little children on planes.


If plane cabins were a practice test for carrying out Jesus’ commands of loving others and seeking to be first, many of us – including me – would flat out fail. How many of us are truly willing to give up the best seat on the plane in order to serve someone else? How many of us are willing to do likewise in our everyday life – at home, at work, on Frederica Street while driving?

God continues to encourage us with the reminder that we truly are special – made in God’s image (Psalm 8). And, God continues to challenge us to use our greatness not for ourselves but for the greatness of others. Such is the way of Christ (Mark 9:30-37).

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Apple Rules

Why Apple Rules:

Reason #563 - Tonight I downloaded the Indianapolis Colts season onto iCal, so now I know exactly who and when the Colts play this entire season.


Monday, September 04, 2006


I made it. I'm ordained. Above is a picture of my first sermon. Wyatt didn't seem to get the finer points of my eschatology, but he sure loved my analogies.

Also, here is a brief piece I wrote following the ordination. It is intended for the congregation.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night – Psalm 92:1,2

Friends, it is good to give thanks to the Lord for all gifts, but it is particularly great to give thanks for the ordination and installation service this past Sunday. I certainly left the sanctuary with my heart in song – delighted by the rich community of friends and family, encouraged by the words from elders and pastors, nourished in prayer, inspired through song, surrounded by a chorus of brothers and sisters, and calmed by brilliant light cascading down into our lovely sanctuary, eager for fellowship and food. All this was great.

Occasionally, we have opportunity to create space so we can pause. An ordination and installation service is such a time, but there are others – including weekly worship on Sunday mornings. And anytime we pause to recognize God’s providential hand in our life, it is a sure guarantee thanks and song will rise to the surface. Pausing is an opportunity to reflect on how God has called you by name, prepared you, sent you and blessed you for God’s own glory. It is an opportunity to realize – as the Psalmist appropriately expresses – God often draws us near in the morning of our faith with lovingkindness. And when we arrive at the end of our journey in faith – at night – it is an opportunity to realize God’s faithfulness. We pause to give our life depth as well as to connect the fragments and seeming failures of our journey. We pause because life really can be a sacred venture if we are bold enough to stop and listen.

All this was true for me on Sunday evening, and I hope and trust that others benefited from this holy pause. Perhaps this pause allowed you to realize the Lord has called and equipped you for a special ministry. Perhaps you found Jonathan to be charging you as well as me. Although we are one body, there are many gifts.

Allow me one other thought from the ordination and installation service. In the weeks leading up to the service, I saw it as a conclusion, an end to a long journey physically, emotionally and spiritually. But upon entering the sanctuary, I could not escape this thought: life begins. Indeed! The richness of our time together is just beginning. And while the paths that led us together and the path that leads on into the future are not without their curves and bumps, it is wonderfully refreshing to have a launching pad of sorts.

Life begins. Thanks for pausing with me. I look forward to walking with you … and cutting the quick way to the Gospel for you.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Week to Remember

As far as big week's go, this week easily cracks the top 10 in my personal history. Heck, it may stand up for my whole life.

On Wednesday, we closed on the house, leaving us at the bottom rung of a rather intimidating financial ladder. There's nothing like signing the paper, which shows you exactly how much you will be paying the bank for the house over a thirty year period ... easily double the selling price of the house.

Tomorrow, I will be ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament. It symbolizes a call, but it is also the result of at least four years of preparation, several examinations, three internships and a couple of sermons along the way. Many family members will be on hand, which will be a delight to me.

And, tonight, Notre Dame begins its football season. That is also huge. In fact, if Notre Dame and the Colts win championships this year, this may be the biggest year of my life. No pressure to Charlie Weis and Tony Dungy though.