November 2007

A collection of random, unfiltered thoughts which, while not substantative enough to constitute separate posts, most certainly demand to be shared, darn it…

1) It’s been a long time since I last painted.  Painting is something I picked up when I discovered my thoughts, patterns, and general life direction getting a bit linear and stale.  The process of forcing oneself to find creative new paths around a problem, has been one that I’ve found to be both entirely challenging and completely liberating.  It has been an awfully long time since I last painted, but my studio (ie: the garage) is really, really cold.  Such is life…

2) As I write this, I’m passively enjoying an old Simpsons episode. Back in college, I used to watch that show a lot (keep in mind, I got my degree when I was 28).  Now, as a result of those years of rigorous training, I can name any older episode within the first 30 seconds.  It’s nice to have something I’m really good at…

3) In general, I try not to get too worked up about politics.  However, the 2008 presidential campaign has piqued my interest for several months now.  Specifically, I’m watching the campaign of Mike Huckabee with great interest.  As an early underdog, his poise and straightforward message caught my eye, and I decided to throw my support (such as it is) behind this long shot.  Now, several months later, the rest of the nation is starting to catch on, with his poll numbers steadily rising (virtual dead-heat for first in Iowa with Romney).  All due to a grassroots campaign relying on blogs, positive campaigning, a heavy Youtube presence, and a candidate and message that hasn’t wavered under the ever-increasing spotlights.  Keep an eye on this guy…

4) November has two of the most powerful, yet largely under-celebrated, holidays of the year, in my opinion: Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving.  Getting a day off from work is not the same as truly taking the time to appreciate the reason for the occasion.  Veteran’s Day should have bigger parades than July 4, bigger school assemblies than Christmas (we can still do those in Lynden!), and more humble silence and appreciation for what it really means to celebrate anyone who would give of themselves in service to our country.  And Thanksgiving…well, we’re just not very good at being thankful for what we’ve been given (see the after-Thanksgiving shopping crowds for proof of that).  A beautiful day to pause, reflect, and appreciate the people and situations God places before us, and to just soak in His goodness in general.

5) Yesterday, at church, while sitting alone in a pretty sparse section of the auditorium, I found myself sitting in front of a young woman, also by herself.  Attractive.  Nice smile.  Said “hi” when I shook her hand.  Not a teenager (as opposed to all of Lynden’s single women).  I thought, maybe I’ll make a comment about the message when we stand up to leave, and a conversation will ensue from there.  And, yet, when the time came, I chose to say nothing, and simply move on.  I think I may have sensed a linger, too, as if she was waiting for me to comment about the message or something.  But nothing.  And, so, I ask: how tacky is it to ask women out at church?

6) Psalm 65 has come across my devotions time lately, and I had to go back over it a few times.  I don’t believe I’ve ever read this one with the intention of truly understanding it.  It portrays a slow, methodical God, who goes about creating beauty through the same process He creates everything.  Slowly.  But done right. 

7) Umm…that’s it.  Junk drawer’s empty.


(A little holiday humor, brought to you by the 2nd graders at the elementary school I work at…Happy Thanksgiving!)

When asked how to prepare a turkey dinner, a class of 2nd graders provided the following strategies:

– Get a turkey from the store. Put it in the microwave. Cook it for four minutes. Feel it to see if it’s hot or cold. Have potatoes. Put them in the oven for a little bit, like 3 minutes. Have those crunchy sticks filled with chocolate for dessert. Have some drinks, like milk and water. That’s a lot of stuff.  

– First you go and buy the turkey from the store. Put it in the oven. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Cook it for an hour. Make mashed potatoes. To make gravy, put the mix and some water in a pan. Have sparkling cider. Set the table with plates, napkins and silverware.  

– Stuff the turkey with stuffing. Stuffing is made of green onions and small pieces of potatoes, and some green stuff. Green pepper, maybe? That’s pretty much how my mom makes the stuffing. Put it in the stove for at least four or five minutes. Make mashed potatoes with gravy, biscuits, and this dessert. I think it’s called crab cake. We usually have Sprite for soda, but my sisters like orange Kool-Aid. 

– Make mashed potatoes and rolls. Put the turkey in an oven. Set it at nine degrees. It takes like half an hour to cook. Make more food, like hot dogs and sausage. Get a tablecloth and set the table. Have cherry pie for dessert. That’s MY favorite dessert.  

– Put it in the oven. Leave it sit for awhile, like 20 minutes. The oven should be at 15 degrees. Make mashed potatoes, rice, and chicken. Have water to drink. Decorate your house with Thanksgiving lights. Maybe you could have pop to drink.  

– Hunt the turkey, or buy it. Put it in water. Put some lemons in it. Take it out. Dry it (of course). Grill it in the stove for half an hour on “Medium.” Put the stuffing in it. Make it out of rice and Russian meat. Put some Russian mayonnaise on it. Put it in the turkey. Put it on the plate and put it on the table. Have some pyrogies and potatoes. Have cake for dessert. And ice cream. Decorate your house with turkeys.  

– You need to go get the turkey at the store. Stuff it with stuffing. If you don’t have stuffing, use potatoes. Have some fruit and vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, celery and carrots. Lettuce, too. You should have some meat, like roast beef, steak and salt horse. Have something to drink, like water and wine. Beer, too. Put some candles up.  

– Put the turkey in a pan. Turn the stove on kind of in the middle, like 20 degrees. Start cooking the turkey. Cook it for five minutes. Make stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Make the stuffing out of tomatoes. Make Jell-O. You should put chocolate chips in the pumpkin pie. Put whipped cream on it.  

– Go to a store to find a turkey. Put it in a pan and cook it up for thirty or four minutes. Set the oven at “Hot-Hot.” Make stuffing. Get some rice and get some meat and mix it up. Make a roast. It’s easy. Get some potatoes, carrots and put the roast in the middle. Have a smoothie for dessert. Get a cornucopia for the center of the table. Decorate your chairs with ribbons.  

– Cook it on the stove. Heat the stove up so the turkey can cook. Heat it up to 20 degrees. It takes 20 minutes. Get the mashed potatoes ready. Cook the gravy for it. It’s made from salt, water and brown dye. Have cranberries, sweet mashed potatoes, and some biscuits. Have pumpkin pie for dessert. Be sure to have some butter for the biscuits.  

– You should go to Safeway to get a turkey. Cook it on the stove. Turn it on to really, really hot, like 50 degrees. It takes three and a half hours to cook. Make something to eat with it, like green bean casserole and mashed potatoes.  

– Okay. Put it in the oven for about half an hour. Set the oven on “Medium.” If that doesn’t work out, try “Low.” Make cranberry sauce. Take a piece of turkey and dunk it in cranberry sauce. It tastes really good. Make mashed potatoes and gravy. Gravy is made out of salt and powder. Mix them both together and put a lot of hot water in them. Put it on the stove for about 5-20 minutes. The setting is on “Low.” It’s been a long time since I made a turkey dinner. The pie that my family loves is cranberry pie. Take the cranberries. Take that thing that you mash potatoes. Be sure to wash it first, of course. Mash them until they’re a liquid. Let them sit for a little while in the fridge, until they’re semi-cold. Make the dough. Take it and put it in a pie-shaped pan. Take the cranberry sauce out and pour it in until it’s semi-full. Do some more dough on top and pop it in the oven for an hour. Set it on “Medium.” Drinks. My family loves pop and apple juice. We make that ourselves. Take some apples. Take the stem out. Smash the apples. Let it sit in the fridge to make it semi-cold, like the cranberries. Pour the juice into the bowl. Put a couple of doses of sugar in. Mix them all together. Sip it. When it tastes really sweet, make a couple of jugs of it. We like biscuits, too. If it doesn’t work out, it’s because I haven’t made dinner in a long time.  

– You need to get a turkey. Cook it in the oven for 13 minutes. Cook mashed potatoes and salad. Dust some things before the company comes over, and put some flowers on the table.  – Find a turkey in the forest. Shoot it. Bake it for half an hour. Make corn, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. It’s made out of bread and vegetables. Set the table. Have pumpkin pie and ice cream for dessert.  

– You can buy a turkey or you can hunt for a turkey. Put stuffing in it. Stuffing is cotton balls. It’s squishy. You can put it in the oven. Set the oven at 20 degrees. Cook it for half an hour. Make mashed potatoes, rice, and rolls. You can set up the table. Put all the dishes on the table so they’re all ready. Take the turkey out of the oven. It’s done when it’s white-brown and dark brown. Taste it and see if it’s delicious.  

– Buy a turkey. Go home and cook it for a minimum of 10 minutes. The oven should be… not that cold. Put the stove on “Hot,” about 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Make potatoes, gravy and corn. When you cook it, don’t put it on “Boiling Hot.”  

– You should find a turkey at a farm. Kill it, and skin it. Cut all the fat off of it. Slice it up, and then you can eat it. But first you have to warm it up. Warm it up in the microwave for about one minute. Make the table and take the turkey out. Make the sauce to go on it… gravy! Have buns frosted with icing. Maybe make some beans and corn, too.  

– Go buy a turkey at the store. Pay for it. Take it home and put it in the oven. But first make a hole in it and get out all the yucky blood. Put the stuff that you eat in the hole. It’s made with bread. The colors can be green or yellow or brown. Stuffing! Put it in the oven for an hour or four hours. Set it at 6 degrees. When it’s done and it beeps, take it out. Let it cool. You should make turnips, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Gravy is made out of cinnamon. Have pumpkin pie or apple pie. Have apple cider to drink.

For some time now, I’ve been engaged in a job search, with the hopes of returning to a youth & family ministry position in a Whatcom County church.  While my somewhat-limited search process has thus far been unsuccessful in terms of results, it has yielded a bounty of learning and personal growth.  In particular, one interesting aspect of this process has come to light quite often…

 Many of you have heard me compare the ministry search process to that of dating: the probing “do you know anyone who’s looking?” conversations, the initial email/phone exchanges, the casual meetings over coffee, which progress to more extended gatherings (spending the afternoon together), and finally culminate in a “Determine The Relationship” chat, at which time the two parties decide whether to make an exclusive commitment to each other, or to just stay friends.  Sort of a silly analogy, but one that I’ve found to ring with more truth than I originally thought.  That is, when one is dealing exclusively with church-based ministry searches, and Christ-centered dating relationships; these two seemingly-separate pursuits, I’ve discovered, hold a great deal of similarities. 

In a very interesting, well-written blog, a friend (who shall remain nameless, JUST IN case he’s reading this) levied the argument that to compare employment commitments with romantic commitments is not only misleading, but dangerous.  His argument was that, unlike a marital commitment, a job is just a job, and doesn’t have the “forever” tag that vows of matrimony require.  An excellent point: all too often, we see good marriages going down in flames, usually (but not always) from one partner feeling they aren’t happy enough, and searching for what would fill that void elsewhere.

For a regular job, yes, this is a terrible analogy: your career moves in steps, and each stop should serve to move you to the next.  However, if I’ve learned anything from years working in churches and missions, it’s that ministry isn’t a regular job.  It’s a relationship.  When I go in search of a church-based position, I don’t want a job: I want a ministry and a family.  A place to serve the Body of Christ full-time (without having my days consumed by other full-time employment), and a family of supporters to join me in the journey.  In my previous ministry leadership positions (paid and volunteer), I have been tremendously blessed to have seen what this looks like, and will carry those relationships with me forever. 

Relationships (pt.1).  I’ve never actually stepped into a ministry position just by applying cold: it’s always come out of some previous relationship, or through a process by which myself and the organization came to slowly learn about each other.  While other jobs I’ve held have lasted as long as the paychecks did, a ministry job is based on the relationships I forge with the students and families we’re trying to serve.  I come to love those kids, and the families come to love me, but it takes a very intentional, slow process.

Relationships (pt.2).  Oh boy.  Me trying to comment on successful dating relationships would most likely cause the Internet to cave in upon itself.  But I’ll just briefly make a note that, as my dating philosophy has become, I view the process as one that needs to honor the other person as if they were to someday wear my ring.  Not that I expect it to go that way (Yikes! That’d kill a first date…), but when deciding to ask someone out, I try to have in my mind what direction I see thing heading.  Do I see a potential match here, or are we just networking?  Am I hoping for a 2nd date?  Many, many more after that?  Most importantly, what’s in her best interests?  In my mind, should things progress as far as they can go, that’s the mindset I would want to carry into that marriage partnership: not how I can be the happiest, but how I can commit to her happiness, and she to mine, period.

Love is not a feeling: it is a decision.  A decision, based on compatibility and emotions and all that good eharmony stuff, to be a part of the other person’s life.  A commitment to the youth and families of a church, which obviously more capatalistic (is that the right word?) and much more temporary in nature, should also be one where they know I’m going to be there for them, thick and thin, and they for me.  Though I’m not “dating” much these days, I still hold out hope that God’s lining me up for my next ministry & family, and, again, they for me.  Maybe for the long haul, maybe for a season, but definitely, for something good.

…me!  After Thursday, I am no longer a mass-media rookie.  That is, if you don’t count the commercial I did for Haggen Foods, where I handed a package of meat to The Galluping Gourmet (great story! for another time…).  To promote a parenting conference I’m speaking at this weekend, I was asked to do a brief radio spot on a local station.  Excited at the chance to spread an important message (youth internet culture, specifically social networking sites), I lept at the opportunity to address the masses…

The interview can be downloaded here and here(ed. note 11/08: links are dead, & I’m not able to post audio files on this site; please contact me if you’d like the audio files).

You can decide how it went for yourself.  I was generally pleased with what I was able to cram into a shortened segment (the guy before me went long, talking about fun topics like statuatory rape).  A topic as broad as teenage use of social networking sites can’t be properly addressed in about 7 min. of really fast talking, but I think I was able to get some good information and advice out there.  Which, I gotta tell ya, is quite hard to do when you (a) have one chance to get it perfect, and (b) need to “pop” (or, sound like you’ve just slammed down a few quad-shots).  A newfound respect has been found for the broadcasting industry, and yet another career has been ruled out…