Friday, February 29, 2008

if i had a hammer...and i do

alright, so this other carpenter and i have been doing restoration work on this antebellum church in a rich and historic part of tennessee. every day there are loads of people going in and out of the church for work, groups, meetings and whatnot. of all of these people only 1 person going in and out of the doors has returned a genuine "hello" and even stopped to ask us what we were doing or talk to us. he was the ups guy dropping something off.

we are forced to set up in and around the main walkway due to the area we are rebuilding and some give us dirty looks and others say things. one guy, maybe 30, was walking by yesterday, knocked over our level that was leaning against the wall and then looked at us as if to shame us, looked at the level, looked back at us as if to say "you pick it up and keep it out of my way next time" and then walked inside. another guy had to step around our compressor and after not saying hello back to me, began to wipe his shoes off on our nail box because he got his shoes a little dirty as he stepped off the path.

it is funny at this point to say "hello", "howdja do?", "nice day" and get nothing back. especially when they are literally talking to eachother about gospel-related messages.

...i have considered that maybe we were tearing up the wrong church but, no. my contractor has assured me numerous times that it is the right one.

people talking outside the doors in the last few days: 1) have outrageously misquoted plato - by a 34 year old guy to a girl much too young for him he was clearly trying to impress 2) a few guys from the church band were talking about trying to remember a "blues" song they had heard about "what they're doing in heaven today" 3) a mid-20's guy and girl who must either teach some sort of sunday school or yourh group were talking about what art activities they could possibly do with the kids.
*well, i am just a construction worker that nobody will say hello to, let alone converse with, but 1) i got a degree in philosophy and know my share of plato 2) i often play the very song they were referring to - that old washington phillips gospel number, what are they doing in heaven today and 3) i used to be responsible for a multi-million dollar budget helping create and provide different thematic art programs to public schools in manhattan and the bronx for the new york city school board.

i am not saying that i am better than those folks but what the hell!!! i could have helped in these few ways if they treated me like a valid human being. i have worked dozens of job sites now and this is the first time i have been made to feel like i am just a laborer and it is at a freaking church. what happened to jesus the folk hero? woody guthrie's jesus? well, they probably wouldn't have liked woody guthrie either.

- i am sure it is hard to miss the irony that they are all there because of a carpenter and yet they won't lower themselves to talk to one standing in front of them.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Child's Play

No...not the Chucky movie.

There was a fascinating story on NPR about kid's playing and how it helps or hinders their development.

Maybe it's just interesting because we got a couple little 'uns.

CLICK HERE for the story. You can read it or if you're really good with the interweb you can LISTEN to it. Oooooh...

Song of the Week

So I've been listening to Denison Witmer's album Are You a Dreamer? pretty incessantly. Not only is his songwriting pretty terrific in it's own right, you add in intentionally sparse arrangements as well as special guests Don & Karen Peris of the Innocence Mission and indie superfriend Sufjan Stevens and the stuff becomes stratospheric. It's airy, splendid and dreamy. If you don't own this record...get it, sucker.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

your space! what the deuce!, the inner 7th grade girl in me got a myspace page.

yes, i am a nerd.

i had never seen myspace until i made a page a couple weeks ago.

this has to be brutal for kids in middle and high school - what with getting to rank your friends and all and the popularity contest of number of friends and whatnot. yikes.

i guess the redemption is you can find some really good music.

there is a kid i met here in nashville who is steve earle's son and he is fantastic. his name is justin townes earle. look him up on myspace.

you can find my nerdiness at:

1) drown 2) chafe 3) limp at the chicago triathlon

so, i am going to do the 2008 chicago triathlon on august 20th.

i am going to do the spint competition this first time and not the international competition. the international competition is double the length of each sprint distance. (i am not completely oout of my mind).

the sprint triathlon is a .75K swim, 22K bike, and 5K run. not too horrible on their own but i think combined i might be limping down the aisle.

i think that tony, phillip, and scrote are planning on doing it as well.

any other takers?

i think many people compete on behalf of some charity. i am thinking about starting a nonprofit to benefit hobos for the occasion - you know, provide them with jugs for moonshine, tar filler for the holes in their boots and all the hankerchiefs they could ever want to tie at the end of sticks.

here is the website:

Sports + Faith

So Jason Boyett is hilarious. Confirmed by THIS interview blog post thingy. ought to read the interview. This cat was in 3 fantasy baseball leagues at once.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


So around our house potty is one of the top 10 words these days. Usually the context is Meka saying "potty!" which basically means "I just pooped in my pants."

But for us adults we don't announce our pottying, unless of course you work with jr. high kids. But that's entirely beside the point.

I hate going to the bathroom. If there was one mundane thing I could give up forever, deficating would be it. Once again, beside the point.

We have completely domesticated and pleasantized this whole process of dealing with extrement. We have rooms, many of which are decked out with decorations, mints, even couches in ladies bathrooms (so I'm told). At the very least we spalsh/no-peak guards on our urinals, doors on our stalls and sinks with soap to wash up afterwards. We've made something that is humiliating (ever look at your dog while she's going? That sheepish, embarassed look?) and frankly something that is a reminder of our animalness, baseness and mortality into something that is too, what's the word I'm looking for...civilized, maybe? It is a controlled and manufactured experience that removes us from the ugliness of the process. Similar to the way we get and eat meat?

Now, this is not to say that I want to go in the woods all the time it's just that going to the bathroom ought to be a reminder of mortality and maybe even a humbling experience? We aren't as awesome as we humans think we are. We just flush our crap down the toilet.

Fake Band Shirts

One of my favorite writers (maybe comedian?) is a guy named Jason Boyett and he has done something that Todd and I talked about: t-shirts with the name of a fake band on them.

Fantastic. You can buy me one. I can't afford it. Preferably "Canine Doubletake."

Mike Huckabee on SNL

Oh this before it gets taken away by the crazy YouTube gnomes who steal these things.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Greg Stier @ the National Youth Ministry Conference

Jesus the Master of the Challenging/Controversial Conversation. His life was a continual challenging conversation interrupted by healings.

Matthew 17 : : Jesus was a youth pastor. Only adults 20 & older had to pay the Temple tax. Only Jesus & Peter paid. Ergo...Jesus was a youth pastor.

"Jesus is Lord" : : treason to the Romans; blasphemy to the Jews. And challenging to OUR culture because of our Starbucks, custom made mix & max spirituality. "I'll take a double muhammed mocha with two pumps of buddhism and a sprinkle of Jesus." But to say that a venti Jesus is the only thing on the truth menu is blasphemy to our culture.


Charles Spurgeon: "I take my text and make a beeline for the cross."

Ask a question then shut your mouth. Even if it's uncomfortable for 30 seconds or more. WAIT. The more you listen the more you're really interested in what others believe and the more others care what you believe. And the more you can pray specifically for wisdom and help.

We speak to teenagers but they are deaf to us. Why? Because we are deaf to THEM.

Theology + Practice/application

"Give me the mixture of the lion & the lamb." _Whitefield (Reitano...confirm?)

Do you love Jesus? . . . FEED HIS SHEEP.

Overnighter Video

So...I had the privilege to spend a little time with Jake & Josh, the Emcees of the conference as they filled some shots in our student ministry rooms for this rap video. The pool table shots & the ping-pong shots are our room. I'm the one hitting the ball back to Jake. My claim to pseudo-fame.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Doug Fields @ the National Youth Ministry Conference

Faithblockers / stuff that hinders Caring Conversations:
(1) fear
(2) I'm too occupied; too busy
(3) uncomfortable (i.e. budget mtg., mtgs w/ architects, etc.)

from Matthew 1...
JOSEPH : : good man, must have been afraid. Angel said: do not be afraid.
MARY : : pregnant virgin? Imagine her explaining this to her mother. Luke 2, Joseph had the audacity to take Mary on a road trip while she was "obviously pregnant." Mary MUST have been uncomfortable: mentally, physically, socially.
THE INN KEEPER : : Occupied, not evil, not bad, just full, busy, occupied.

"I'm obviously making assumptions to match my feelings. But go behind the scenes of your life. Behind the costumes and the pageantry. Identify the faithblockers in your life. What blocks your faith? What keeps you from being used in faith? Name 'em; call 'em out into the open. You can always count on God's power to be with you in your conversations."

: : Isaiah 40.28 & 29 // 2 Corinthians 12.9

Marry a pregnant virgin BY FAITH. Leave Bethlehem and move to Egypt BY FAITH b/c Herod's trying to kill Jesus. Go back to Nazareth, Herod the Great is dead BY FAITH. See (Hebrews 11 - 12.1)

"You're broken; I'm broken; God will overcome this by faith."

Jesus was not nice

In the seminar I'm taking @ the conference Rick Lawrence showed a clip from some interviews with kids and across the board they said he was "nice" & "good." So sad. Jesus was kind, yes, but nice...Worst. Word. Ever.

Funniest Moment of the Conference So Far

Tony Dungy was great but this made me laugh harder than I had in a long time...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tony Dungy @ the National Youth Ministry Conference

We had the privilege of having Tony Dungy as our speaker tonight. Here are some notes from Coach Dungy's talk:

"The job we do is not nearly as important as the job you do. You have the most important job in America. And I'm not just saying that."

The design of God for the faith to be passed down in the family from generation to generation is breaking down and that's going to take a toll on us. (see end of Joshua to first few chapters of Judges)

About 4/5 incoming players grew up in 1 parent homes. Who, then, influences these kids? Typically teachers and coaches.

(1) Who reaches the non-athletes?
(2) Who's helping these kids spiritually?

Favorite Scripture: 'What does it profit a man to gain the whole word but forfeit his own soul' -Jesus

First coaching assignment: Help these guys get better, on the field and off the field.

Something we have in common: there will be some losses. And it might be devastating. Some players develop quickly like Joseph Addai and Tony Gonzalez. Other players take painstaking effort like Trent Dilfer in Tampa. Some players develop slowly over time.

Advice (same for us as when he started coaching):
(1) Learn your craft.
(2) Connect. Make it personal, be yourself. Take a personal interest in your people.
(3) Recharge.
a. Rely on Christ. As hard as we work it's not us but God that does the work through us.
b. Stay in the Scriptures
c. Trust the Lord when you experience those setbacks. And many times those setbacks allow to encourage others.
d. "Forget what's behind and focus on what's ahead"

Super Bowl Parties Are Legal!

No worries about getting sued. Yeah.


For those of y'all who missed the whole shenanigans last year, apparently watching the Super Bowl on a screen larger than 55 inches in public, that is, a church, and I suppose anywhere else with a large screen, was illegal.

Bad PR for the NFL for sure. So much so that they have apparently reneged and it is now safe again to do what we all did anyway. Have Super Bowl Parties.

Quit now or become a micro-expert

I love Seth Godin's stuff, particularly his little book Purple Cow. This is particularly for real estate folks but I'm banking that anyone who would read this blog is intelligent enough to transfer the principles to music, church, non-profit, teaching, construction, paper delivery, website development or tchotchke hawking.


Cutest. Kids. Ever.

of course I am biased.

John Piper is Bad

Love John Piper. Appreciate Michael Jackson but in all honesty am completely freaked out by him.

(HT: Jerry)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I have 2 different socks on today. Unintentionally. Life is good.

Thinking of going veggie? Think no more...

We've all heard about the beef recall. We ate veggie chili last night. Good thing.

I'm not a freak animal rights guy or really anti-meat either but my goodness...If you want to be repulsed by meat watch these videos. Ugh. I might go back to being a vegetarian.

CLICK HERE for a disturbing video about the recall and HERE for the classic "Meet Your Meat"

(HT: Reitano)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Meka's Got a Brand New Car

Free stuff is cool. Thanks to Deb Ruehlman for hooking us up with a sweet new to us, used ride for the Mekster.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Song of the Week // Ash Wednesday

In honor of today, here's my song of the week. Thanks to Scotty for introducing me to Elvis Perkins.

07 Ash Wednesday.mp3

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Photograph Roundup

Some random photos from the last few months...

How to say the dog's name

Here was our conversation @ the dinner table tonight over chicken soup:

Me & Cheryl: "Meka, say Dylan."
Meka: "Nah." (That's how she says Dylan)
Me & Cheryl: "Say Dil"
Meka: "Dil"
Me & Cheryl: "Say Lin"
Meka: "Lin"
Me & Cheryl: "Say Dil-lan"
Meka: "Nah."

Laugh & repeat...

The Gospel According to Starbucks

Seems like this blog discusses coffee quite a bit which just reflects on the fact that we love our black juice. My coffee fervor is well known, so much so that one of the students in the student ministry purchased a book for me for Christmas called The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living with a Grande Passion by Leonard Sweet. I have to confess that I am more than sick of any book title including "The Gospel according to." It's really inaccurate and definitely trite.

That being said, Leonard Sweet has been one of my favorite writers and thinkers primarily because he frames conversations of church and faith in unchurchy terms and different metaphors. He loves the metaphor, he loves linking the ancient with the current and the future.

This book is a quick read and might not be as good as some of his previous books but the thing I really did enjoy about it was a lot of the coffee history and facts.

The main premise is that the spiritual experience needs to be EPIC: Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich & Connecting. Here's some quotes & highlights:

Of course, coffee consumption in USAmerica pales in comparison to soft drinks (70 percent of which are carbonated). Soda pop and other such beverages add up to 574 cans for every man, woman and child. But unlike soda's sugar high, java jolts are actually good for you. Historically, physicians have been of two minds about caffeine. When they were not warning of its harmful effects, they were prescribing coffee for healthful impact on an astounding variety of diseases - from kidney stones and gout to smallpox, measles, and coughs. Now that sophisticated studies are being conducted to find out the real impact of caffeine, it seems the harder researchers work to detect the bad things coffee does to you, the more they unearth coffee's health benefits.
It is known, for instance, that coffee delivers more health-giving antioxidants to our diet than fruit, vegetables and nuts. At six cups a day and under, coffee reduces your chances of getting Parkinson's disease, liver and colon cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, Type 2 diabetes and, if you are a fast metabolizer, heart disease. As a bonus, coffee improves male fertility. Caffeine can also protect you against skin cancer - but you'd have to smear it on your body for it to work.

The Bible is right. You can't live by bread alone. You need apple butter on your bread, you need coffee in your cup, and you need a friend.

Coffee talk makes the best God talk.

Jesus, while not a coffee drinker, modeled the life of faith as both a consuming philosophy and a daily practice - a full-life engagement. He showed us that it's a life in which God is as immediate, available, and real as a steaming cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

...the cup of coffee you enjoy in the morning is much closer to a chalice of communion wine than you realize.

The Bible is less a book about how people thought about God than it is a book about the religious experiences of individuals and communities. Experience is the engine room of the biblical and spiritual enterprise.

If faith is not both an engagement and an experience, then it's little more than a good idea. If faith is not beautiful in its practice, then it can easily devolve into an argument and a polemic.

Authenticity is not about being more relevant but about being more Jesus.

Design is no longer optional or just an add on. To qualify for a hearing, the church must convert to beauty and learn the narrative of aesthetics that constitutes the Grand Design. This is not a 'designer spirituality,' but a spirituality of Grand Design.

Beauty is a soul bender. As blemished as we are, we all can be beauty spots for God.

The gospel of Jesus never promises us comfort. When did Jesus get treated fairly? Fair is a fairy tale (and not a very exciting one).

Coffee is a communal drink, the Baptist beer. Coffee connects people, and it helps people connect. Far from the dulling effects of alcohol, the other traditional communal beverage, coffee sharpens our wits. Even decaf has a way of opening our eyes to the day, to what's going on around us. If coffee is a civilizing drink, it's also a clarifying drink. It's easier to think, to ponder, to consider and reconsider with a cup of coffee in hand. That's why coffee and rational discourse have always gone together: coffee sharpens wits, clears minds, and enhances the power of connections.

If the church had known what business it was really in (the connection business), it would have said to this culture: 'Let us be your front porch.' But the church has divested itself of the connection business in order to master the principle business, the proposition business, and the being right business. Its school of thought is now a school of ought. The church is by and large no longer in the relationship business.


So...we're pretty much all sick. I have had a fever for about the last 5 or 6 days which translates into bronchitis with a possibility of a touch of pneumonia. I'm on the antibiotics now so that should help.

Cheryl's got the gunk too. She's on the the antibiotics.

Meka's had a cough since Christmas.

Poor little Eden's got the cough too. It's heartbreaking and cute when she coughs.


Saturday, February 2, 2008

the wold accordian to sabrina

sabrina's got a brand new bag

and that bag is...


yep, if anyone needs an accordian or a banjo on their records, sabrina is hoping to be proficient on both sooner than later. i am hoping to see her take banjordian music to the heights of rock n' roll in the '60's. or at least, you know, to the heights of the keytar.