Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Line Dancing

Last Saturday my wife, her mom and I decided to head down to Nick’s night club in Alexandria for some line dancing.

When Erin and I started dating we went line dancing a lot. We (and her mom) would go out almost weekly to a bar near us and just have a great night stumbling over our feet and making fools of myself. Okay, I’ll be honest, I stumbled and made a fool of myself while Erin and her mom did great and even taught me stuff.

After we moved into our townhouse we didn’t go as often. The drive changed from 20 minutes to about 45, which was just a lot for the middle of the week. It’s gotten so bad that we hadn’t gone for about 3 years.

A few weeks ago I mentioned line dancing when my friends from Pennsylvania were coming down. When that trip got cancelled Erin was bummed and we decided it was time to go again.

This was an incredibly awesome night. If anything I wish I’d had my wedding band on, since it’s almost always lady’s night and can get a little confusing sometimes. What always strikes me though is just how nice everyone is to one-another.

We went to Nick’s in Alexandria (21 and over only, sorry kids) for a lesson from 8 – 9. Then the Southern Winds band came out and plays for a couple hours including songs for the dances we just learned. It also helped that the people giving the lesson were the same people from a few years ago. All around it just felt like we were coming back to a fun, comfortable place.

We learned three dances. Two of which I had down pretty well, and one I knew the beginning and end but had the middle all mixed up. Thankfully by the time we really danced it I did great with that middle part (and screwed up the beginning, dumb coaster steps).

One of the dances was a circle dance where we ended up switching off partners. So I’d start with Erin but work my way around the entire circle meeting a bunch of different women (girls on the outside, guys inside). It really was fun, we’d say hi, some would say thank you, some I’d strike up a two sentence conversation and laugh. Everyone was smiling, chatty, messing up and doing well.

When the band was playing, Mary (one of the instructors from class) saw me just kind of watching the dance. She came right up, grabbed my arm and asked me if I knew the dance. When I said no she was just wonderful. She dragged me onto the floor and taught me the dance. I tripped around a lot, but she just was so patient and kind in giving advice on how to step while also just letting me figure it out. There’s a reason we go to Nick’s, and this is definitely one of them.

We left reeking of smoke. Our clothes were washed the next morning and my morning shower was very welcome. Besides the smell though, it was a great night. Erin’s mom wants to go every week (she lives a bit closer than we do). Erin and I will be going out about one Saturday a month when Southern Winds is playing.

That night I really got to thinking about people. So often I see people out only for themselves. People who are more intent on blaming others than helping them figure something out. People who want to stay to themselves and not open up to strangers.

When I go to Nick’s people apologize for blocking your view of the floor, laugh with you if you misstep (usually, some people still get a bit critical), and are genuinely interested in helping you learn something they care about. Even when people would bump into me they apologized immediately, which happens so rarely when I go out to other places.

It’s great to have a place where you can feel comfortable. Everyone remember the TV show Cheers? Nick’s feels a bit like that. It’s much bigger, but just a comfortable place to go. Plus you get some exercise at Nick’s. People are just considerate of one-another.

Do you have a place like that to go? Some place away from home and “life” to just do something fun with others? A place where you and a bunch of strangers are doing something you enjoy?

My dad met my mother-in-law while at a swing dancing class. What is it about dancing that just makes us happy and willing to meet others?

Blogging is one of those things which help me deprogram and clear out some of the clutter in my mind. Going out dancing with my wife helps do the same thing, both for myself and for our marriage. We just need a couple of hours away from the kids to enjoy something new.

Is there a place you can go which gives you this release? I know I’m looking forward to dancing in February.


Monday, January 30, 2006

The End of the Spear and Missionaries

We just saw The End of the Spear for youth group last night. The End of the Spear is the “true” (true with dramatization) story about missionaries who go into the rainforests in Ecuador to convert the “most violent society ever documents by Anthropologists” to Christianity. There’s a ton which happens (and the movie only tells maybe 1/3 of the story) and I can’t tell you much of anything without giving too much away.

You have to see what these missionary families are willing to give up and what they’re willing to go through to educate these people on the ways of Christ (which is their passion). Once you’ve watched the movie (or before watching it) also pick up Beyond the Gates of Splendor, the documentary which tells a lot more of the story.

I am sometimes amazed at missionaries and the work they do. You have people who believe something so much they will go out into the world and try to get others to learn about and accept their own beliefs. People who would rather have nothing to do with you and care nothing about your beliefs. People who aren’t even searching for the message you are bringing.

I don’t know what I’d do without my computer and broadband (Cable Modem, DSL, etc…) Internet access… I even love that our phone service works over the Internet ($18/month for unlimited calls in the U.S. using my regular phone line, how awesome is that). I just can’t imagine living without a computer and I do think everyone should have broadband access. So, I’ve made a decision.

Erin, Rachel and I are heading off to Amish country for a few years with the sole purpose of convincing them that they would be able to work their land so much better with a computer and broadband access. I feel so passionately about this that we’re packing up tomorrow. We’re leaving behind our family, the church (they can find their own youth minister and technology people) and friends. Tonight we are packing our laptops and wireless broadband cards, a couple clothes (don’t need many, we’ll order what we need online when we get there) and a portable generator. Tomorrow night we head off for Pennsylvania to find a good Amish couple and let them know the Good News about broadband.

I’ll inform my wife about it tonight, unless she reads this entry first.

Seriously though, how awesome is that? To know what you want to communicate and leave your entire life behind to let others know? That is definitely something I couldn’t do. I’m having a hard enough time making changes to my life so I can just go back to school. And I’m sure no so great at telling people about God and the changes he has made in my life.

What do you believe in so much that you’d leave your life behind for it? Right now God is high on that list, but family might be a little higher. I would run to Iowa for a year if I found my mom had cancer. Right now I don’t think I’d run to Ecuador to tell people who will pass out of this world and be excluded from eternity about Christ. Though I probably should be, in the big scheme of things which is really more important?


Friday, January 27, 2006

Marketing Successes

Recently I've been reading the blog of a venture capitalist named Guy Kawasaki. This guy takes other peoples' money and figures out what companies to spend it on. Remember back in the last 1990's, when everyone was snapping up dotcoms like Monster for millions of dollars? Guy is one of those people with the millions of dollars who feed money into a company. Wouldn't it be nice sometimes? Though reading his blog I'm not sure it's quite as much fun as it always sounds.

I've been reading his blog because I'm getting a bit interested in marketing and how to take a product and get people to fall in love with it. In my case the product is our church, God, Christ or youth group instead of the next best apple peeler corer thingy (of which I do own one and it's invaluable when making apple pies... I just love my apple peeler corer thingy).

Anyway, he just invested his company’s money into a product called FilmLoop. It’s kind of a neat idea which I resisted when he first mentioned because I didn’t want to install something new on my computer. He talked about it casually in his blog about weekly, but I really didn’t see the need to install something new that shows photos.

Then Guy threw out an interesting blog entry. He said:
“One of my favorite restaurants is called Hobees. One of my favorite things about Hobees is its bulletin boards where there are pictures of customers in far off places wearing a Hobees t-shirt. So I've decided to create the digital version of this so that we can all “meet” each other.

“Hence, I've created a loop for you to add your picture. To get to it, click here.”
I admit that I was intrigued. I wanted to be in the first 200 people on the loop (after 200 pictures another loop has to be made) so that people could see me standing on top of Alex. It just seemed cool to throw out pictures of people from different places and see what you get.

All of a sudden I was buying into the product. It was a really neat idea to put up my picture and scroll through looking at others. Find a picture you like and some even had links directly to their Web sites. It just seemed fun all of a sudden.

Don’t take this to mean I’m promoting FilmLoop. In fact I have since uninstalled it because it continually put a pop-up on my screen every time someone else commented on a photo or uploaded a new on to the loop. Far too intrusive for my taste. I also personally would have preferred the loop to be in the Web browser instead of its own application. But I digress…

What struck me more than anything was the ingenious way Guy got people to try out FilmLoop. He talked about it a little without pressure, and then threw out a practical “hook” snag people in. Sure enough by the time I’d put my picture up there were already about 150 people up there (and I only waited a few hours). All of a sudden this thing that I didn’t want to use became interesting to me. It offered to bring me into a new community and I leapt at the chance.

Heck, even yesterday he posted an entry that Tony Hawk’s wedding pictures are in a FilmLoop that anyone can see. I haven’t seen them (since I don’t want to install FilmLoop again), but I know anyone even remotely interested in Tony Hawk would check it out.

I’ve been thinking about church and the way I handle myself around others. I think that everyone who has met me knows I’m a Christian and somewhat involved in church. So I am at least keeping my own message alive, that I like being a Christian.

Over the past few months I’ve been noticing my spiritual faith deepening. That’s gotten me to realize that I’m not doing such a great job of helping others to deepen their own faith. We put on some fun youth group activities in a very safe environment for teens to meet. But so often I have passed up chances to try and bring those teens the next step.

Tonight we are having a Battle of the Bands at church (our third in the past year). It’s an incredible (and incredibly loud, I’m bring ear-plugs tonight) time where we bring in a bunch of teenagers from schools which rarely feeds into our church. Many people whom this may be one of their first steps into the church, and certainly most are surprised anyone would hold a regular battle of the bands in a church without it being a bunch of Christian songs.

I would be well served to get up, or have someone else get up, and speak. Give a short testimony on how God has worked in their life. To be honest with you, I’m not going to do that. I don’t know what I would say and I don’t’ know how to say it without tuning people out. That’s the “hook” for new people that I’m working on.

I’m looking to catch something else as well. I’m looking to take the people in our church and hook them into a closer relationship with Christ. I want to bring people into a real relationship with Christ. Not only how to live in the world as a Christian, but what it really means to accept Jesus Christ as your savior.

Already some people have tuned me out with all this preachy/churchy/Jesusy talk. What I want to do is find a way to “hook” people into the relationship. Past getting baptized and coming to church regularly. To really try and understand what Jesus did and why it is that we should offer the other cheek when someone smacks the first one. What forgiveness really means, that everyone is entitled to the gift of his salvation, including that guy who ate, raped and killed 7 boys (as Alex mentioned a few times during bible study).

What can we do to really get people to “try” church? We go about our lives living a decent Christian life and assuming people will ask us what makes us the way we are, so we’ll have a chance to talk about Jesus. But how often have you been asked? I know of one friend of mine who has… but it’s never been me, and I’m a youth minister!

It’s time for me to really hook people in. Get people into the room but also really have them try this thing called Christianity out. They may decide it is not right for them, but I’d bet that if someone really “tries out” Jesus and finds a personal relationship with him, then they won’t decide to “uninstall” him later.

Of all the annoying things Jesus has brought into my life, at least he’s never brought pop-ups on my computer screen! So for that (an a million other reasons) I’ll keep him running in the foreground.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

On Being a Moron

This is the first in what I assume will be many posts regarding the stupid things I do. I really kind of like the word moron, probably because it's simply fun to say and goes the next step beyond being an idiot. If I've offended you, I'm sorry. But if you're really a moron you probably didn’t realize you were offended, so I'm probably in clear both ways, right?

This morning I made the incredibly stupid decision to take my daughter and dog for a walk. On the surface it doesn't sound so bad. It sounded great to me. We'd been having weather in the 40's, so I figured I'd bundle Rachel up and have one of our longer walks... It wasn't until I got back home that I discovered the temperature was actually about 31 degrees with a wind chill of 16.

So we're trooping down the street. Rachel in her stroller eschewing the blanket over her hands to hold Winnie's lead (like a leash). We were great until about 5 minutes into the walk. We hit the open field area and the wind was just blowing everywhere. It was freezing and I could see Rachel’s hands turning red. You know, that deep red in the fingers which says either put on some gloves or watch my fingers fall to the ground as we walk.

Well, the genius that I am didn’t bring the gloves. I had the blanket, but somehow didn’t consider that Rachel wouldn’t keep it over her hands. And while she had a hat on, her face was getting a bit cold.

You may wonder how I knew all of this. Simple really… It’s because I didn’t have a hood on and hadn’t brought gloves myself. If you’re beginning to wonder about my intelligence level, just look back at the title for this post. Sometimes I just get ideas in my head that seem great until they’re executed.

Winnie was happy to run around and smell the big field, while I was cold and Rachel was beginning to cry, with snot freezing all over her face (that’s right, brilliant dad didn’t bring tissue either).

At the time I was convinced we were halfway on our walk. So I decided to finish it up, since it’d be as fast as doubling back.

You would think that realizing the other stupid decisions I’ve already made this morning would have lit off a red beacon in my head. But no, I was sure we were halfway. So we continued our walk up to a bike trail, Rachel getting more fussy and me getting colder. I even began running along the bike path to get home faster (Winnie loved getting to run beside us, if that’s any consolation for my crying baby). Another mistake since I had to stop after a bit and finished the walk with a stitch in my side and gasping heavily at the bitter air around me.

10 minutes after deciding the walk was a mistake we were home again safe and warm. Realize again though, I’d realized I made a mistake 5 minutes into the walk and decided we were “half way”. Based on timing we were really only 1/3 of the way… Yep, one more bad decision.

So we get home and I can barely stand from all the running and heavy breathing. Rachel’s fussing to see Rika (our poodle, thankfully I didn’t bring her) and her fingers are just so cold. I did take some consolation in seeing that all of Rachel’s fingers were still attached. And since she stopped crying once we got inside, then she must be healthy still.

What’s the point of this story you ask? Simply that we are all morons at one time or another. I made more mistakes in a 15 minute period than I sometimes make all day. Rachel is doing just fine and I’ve finally warmed up nicely.

I think everyone can learn from this one very important fact. Wives don’t ever trust your husband to make intelligent decisions. If we go downstairs with your child without saying a word, become instantly suspicious. If we actively call the dog to join us you should be very, very concerned. No good can ever come from a man and an 18 month old trying to call a dog to join them.

Seriously though, realize we are all human. We make some really dumb decisions in life. Thankfully we can be forgiven for those mistakes and move on.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Blogging Friendships

There are some people in life you just really like. At church there are a couple individuals and families who I really look up to and respect. I just look at these people and kind of think to myself, “they’ve kind of got it together”. Never mind that I’m probably wrong. Whenever I get to know someone I find out they really don’t have it all together. That doesn’t seem to stop me from thinking that these people have wonderful lives, lives I sometimes wish I could have.

One of the families in the church who I definitely think this of is Matt and Jessica DiBeneditto. Now, if they’re reading this I’m sure they’d be kind of surprised. These two just seem to be living a great life together.

I’d consider Matt something of a friend. While we don’t talk a lot, I do have an idea about his life. I enjoy the times we do have together and am just in awe at how creative he is.

Then there’s Jessica, with whom I share a really odd relationship (at least in my opinion). I’ve probably said more to Jessica’s sister, Sarah, than I’ve ever said to Jessica. When we do talk there are pleasantries and then we talk about music or the sound board for church.

Despite this lack of actually communicating with each-other (talking, e-mailing or IMing), I definitely know the most about Jessica. That’s completely due to blogs. She has a really interesting way of talking about her day or life and keeping it interesting (most days anyway, some strike me as so-so… but is it ever possible to make me happy 100% of the time? I’m way too fickle :) ).

I could actually say the same thing about Sheri. While I’m closer to Jessica (mainly because I see her each week and I went to her wedding and all) I’ve been reading Sheri’s blog every time she writes, and have really enjoyed it. Getting to hear about what a moron her husband can be, and to just hear about how life may not be perfect but it’s the life we’re given and there is a lot to be thankful for. I definitely know more about hunting and really do feel for Sheri and her family.

I need to add in my usual disclaimer since my blog is linked from a church site. While Sheri is really interesting and makes me laugh out loud sometimes, she also does use some language – part of what makes me laugh actually – so just be prepared.

Last night I was thinking about Jessica and Sheri. I was just thinking about how different our lives are today. How we can know so much about someone without every really talking to them. Sure, in the past you could get this through letters. I remember one of my favorite relationships with Kelly. Throughout a summer we’d write each-other letters or dictate stuff into small tapes and send them to each-other. I was a part of her life even though I wasn’t with her.

Blogging takes this to a whole different level though. At least with Kelly I knew her ahead of time. With blogging the whole world can just become a part of your life without actually being a part of it.

Take Sheri for example. I’ve commented on her blog maybe twice. She’s commented on my blog about the same amount. But we live completely separate lives and barely think of each-other when not reading a posting.

Kelly’s probably an even better example. I read her blog (as sparse as it is) and know what is going on in her life from her Web site, but she definitely doesn’t know anything about me. She doesn’t read my blog (so far as I can tell) or even know I’ve looked her up on MySpace.

I’m still trying to figure out if this is all a good or a bad thing. The ability to see someone every week, to know about their lives, but to not talk about it together.

What about the false sense of connection that comes from reading a blog? I get to read about Kelly’s life, which kind of makes it feel like I’m a part of that life. At the same time we have no connection beyond our past (and I’m not sure I want that to change). It almost feels like I’m spying into their lives without actually making a connection or giving anything of myself. Is that really fair?

All this is to say that I love blogging. I love the idea that someone can find out about my life and live it with me, even if I don’t know who they are. The fact that I’ve had over 2,000 hits on my blog (many returning visitors) shows that there are a lot of people reading my blog whom I don’t know. I find that kind of cool. I just sometimes wonder if there’s a way to go another step, and grow a relationship that is less one-way.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Baby Races

Baby Races!

There was a grand plan for this weekend. A bunch of friends of mine from Pennsylvania would be coming down and hanging out with me and some others from church for a great weekend of reconnecting and fun. I had nosebleed tickets to a Wizard’s Basketball game and everything.

As with all grand plans, this one too failed miserably. With work, personal lives and irritation about people waffling (changing their minds) the trip just kind of fell apart. On the up side I now know that at least Abby and I could meet about half way without a problem, so I’m hoping we get to meet again soon.

The grand plan did leave me with one problem though, what to do with the basketball tickets.

So, while a bunch of youth went off to ski, I decided to let the first 5 who weren’t skiing come on to the basketball game. In the end only 4 were able to come, but man did we have a blast. 4 people who barely knew each-other spent the afternoon taking the Metro into DC, having lunch in a “huge” Burger King (as Jessica called it), Christy running in front of a TV camera and bouncing around to Jared and Christy making me go deaf. Oh yeah, and the Häagen-Dazs ice cream afterward… that could never be forgotten.

While the Wizards are an ok basketball team, the 5 of us were only somewhat interested. What really perked us up though was the Baby Races!

A basketball game is very different from the Redskins football games I’m used to. The basketball stadium (is it called a stadium?) was almost homey compared to the open field that seats 93,000 people.

At the second time-out they brought out these big plastic tarps with 1 - 6 lanes labeled on them. Then brave parents plopped their babies down (these babies couldn’t walk) on one end and encouraged them to crawl to the other side. At half time this was repeated 3 more times for the “playoffs”.

I have to tell you, this was awesome. This must be why people like cockroach racing or rat races. Some babies just sat with one parent and cried. Others took off… sideways (I swear the kid in lane 2 covered more than twice the distance of the lane, passing backward and forward across other lanes). Some got half way, sat, and just stopped to look at the sights (the kid I was betting on did that… dumb kid). I still believe the winner cheated, since the parent at the other end of the lane was holding a bottle to “encourage” the baby. But really, everyone there had a blast. We were cheering on our chosen baby and I think very few people actually got up at that half time.

It got me thinking about what we do in youth group and at other events. We always seem to stick with what’s expected.

At a Redskins game we tend to see the Redskins camp kids come out and do cheers or compete to throw a football. Every now and then it’ll be cool when they present medals to soldiers serving our country. But we never see anything really unexpected.

Maybe this happens all the time at basketball. But I have to saw that I was shocked and loved it. I also loved that they shot off fireworks announcing each player… inside! They even had boxes that shot out flames which changed color (I have GOT to get me some of those for youth group, imagine shooting off flames every time I walk in the room… awesome). It was all totally unexpected but it really raised the energy level of the room.

When is the last time you went into church and the priest held up snakes as an example, or shot electricity through a pickle to make it glow (ok, Rob has done both of those in the past year, but most churches don’t). When’s the last time you went to a meeting and the leader said that before you all start you’ll be having slinky races down the steps? Or, for your last party, did you sit around the table talking or playing board games… or did you all decide to see who could jump the highest, or make the strongest cocktail?

I think we look at this world too often and do what’s normal, what’s expected. Why don’t we jump out of the norm every now and then and really make the people around us laugh and smile? I’d challenge you to step out of normalcy and create a Baby Race the next time you’re hanging out with someone.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Poor Self-Image

I read a whole bunch of blogs. Thank goodness there's intraVnews to deliver all of my blogs into different Outlook folders within the hour they were written. I feel so "on top of it all" since I get to be the first one to comment on blog entries. Boy, I'm just so cool huh? Well, maybe not... But I still do love having blog entries delivered directly into Outlook and if you're willing to part with $20 I'd strongly recommend at least trying out intraVnews. Actually, just looking at their site it's now free for personal and non-profit use (I'm glad my $20 could help make that possible for you).

That entire paragraph is a lead-in to a new blog I've recently subscribed to called Monday Morning Insight. Do I make any lead-in simple?

Today they posted an entry titled Do you Struggle With A Poor Self-Image? While I'm new to this blog I was immediately taken in. I read a bit in the morning before heading into work, considered what I'd read the whole way in and read the rest before lunch. Some things really stick with me and this one has just kept rattling around in my head.

Leading youth at church I get to see a lot of people struggle with a poor self-image. That also holds true when I look at my co-workers and family as well. It just seems that a lot of us struggle feeling like we aren't good enough, or trying to prove ourselves.

Todd mentions the outward appearances of self-image as (This is a religious mailing focusing on pastors and priests, so be ready for some churchy stuff):
The question is-what are the characteristics of a positive self-image? A person with a positive view of himself is aware of his strengths and weaknesses, is open and honest, can say "I love you" without hesitation, can voice his opinion without fear of criticism or retaliation. Most importantly, though, he accepts himself-scars, blemishes, and all-because God first accepted him. (1 John 4:19)
On the other hand, someone with a negative self-image doesn't trust himself or others, questions his ability, suffers from a "persecution complex" (i.e., "Everyone is out to get me!"), is scared to open up, always wears a "mask"-so as not to let others in on his flaws-and usually feels as though God determines his worth by how much good he accomplishes, resulting in a "workaholic" mentality.
Reading this really got me thinking about my personal image and my "fear" which I discussed earlier in Living Your Dream. I do accept my own scars, blemishes, strengths and weaknesses. But I also push myself so hard to get past them. I strive to be the absolute best at whatever I am working on. I've met some great youth leaders in Loudoun County, and now that we have a national search I'm meeting even more. At the same time I'm still pushing myself to have a youth program that's even better than what anyone else has to offer.

I keep pushing myself to try and make something a success which I don't even necessarily care for. I love the youth and our youth group with all of my heart. I never thought I could feel so committed to a cause, but it's really paved the path God has working for me. At the same time I feel a bit helpless when it comes to our weekly "big" meetings. Times where we should be able to bring in hundreds of youth and make them feel at home. All I can feel is dread that something will go wrong, people will be unhappy or we'll drive someone away.

Reading this article helped a bit, though I do need to continue praying on it and letting it soak in. I hear very little criticism from parents or parishioners at St. Matthew's. That's incredibly great news. The criticism I do hear is always very helpful. In the end I probably push myself even harder because of this. I find flaws where no one else may have seen them. I tend to become my own critic. It really helped me to read this:
Our unwillingness to accept criticism also hinders our ability to move toward a positive self-image. A man with a godly view of himself decides whose approval he wants-God's or the world's. From there he chooses to live for the Lord and the issue is settled. As long as we live, there will always be someone who criticizes us. We simply cannot be everything to everybody. (1 Corinthians 9:22)

I really, really, really need to remember that I can't be everything to everybody. I can't be the person who spends two hours extra with some youth driving around so we can have a little more time away from the responsibilities of the world, and the same person who focuses on growing leaders. Plan Wednesday bible study while also planning the next great "graphic" for our upcoming sermon series (truly, if you have any artistic talent let me know, we need some graphical talent desperately).

I need to realize that I should be looking for God's approval and not that of the world. The world is falling apart everywhere. It's also growing healthier and getting a stronger spiritual connection everywhere. In short, this world is going on its course regardless of my own actions. So I need to stop living for the world and start living for god. I need to do what he wants me to do in this corner of the world (and Internet) and let some of the detrimental personal connections go.

I guess my only question for you is where you fall on this. I know there are a ton of people out there with a wonderful self-image. How do you work through the hard things that come our way?


Friday, January 20, 2006


Do you ever just miss something so much it starts to affect how you act? I can only assume this is something like withdrawal symptoms which people go through when giving up smoking or drinking or something. Every time I go a week or more without writing I begin giving the world a slightly dimmer view. Over time I really start getting a bit dull and have a harder time seeing some of the greatness of the world.

For those who don't know, I was deathly ill for the last week and a half. I mean deathly, I was knocking on death's door and asking (no, I was begging) for admission. I was looking for any sort of reprieve from the constant cold shivers that were so bad I couldn't hold a cup or the awful hot sweating. Though really the worst was the sore throat which wouldn't let me eat or drink anything (I lost 3 more pounds in a week). I couldn't sleep, eat, move, anything... I don't know if I'd ever been that sick for that long.

As with anything, if you didn't live it you don't really understand. My poor wife had to put up with so much from me.

At one point I seriously considered asking her to get the blanket for me and put it on the bed. Now, mind you, the blanket was on the floor, beside the bed I was laying in. It's also important to know my wife was downstairs in the family room, 1/2 a house away. But man did I come close to picking up the phone and using the intercom to get her. I think the only thing that stopped me was knowing she wouldn't actually come up and do it. Well, I'd have had to sound really, really pathetic anyway, and I would have felt guilty afterwards... I did eventually end up going through the life and death struggle of getting out of bed, picking up the blanket, and snuggling back in my cocoon.

Over the week I obviously hadn't written anything. There was that one post with Rachel's picture (she really is the cutest baby ever), but that was about it (besides writing for Rob which didn't come out as well as I'd hoped).

I had all these thoughts running through my head but no outlet for them. Trust me, thoughts in my head just run around in circles until they either get tired and give up, or I tell them to someone who looks at me like I'm an idiot. Without writing I'm just a bottle of mashed up thoughts that make no sense and probably are the reason I have had such strange dreams lately... Well, or it could have been the feverish stupor I was in that caused those extra strange ones.

All this is to say that I'm going nowhere fast. I'm finally back at work, and my throat is finally not hurting as much. I'm also wondering if my friends from Pennsylvania will be coming down or canceling out (depending on the time of day it's a different answer... gotta love people).

Right now you've already figured it out. You've wasted a good bit of time reading a pointless post. All I am saying is that I've missed writing, even if no one is reading. I'm glad to be back on the horse and feeding my addiction.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Child of the 80's

Tell me this is not a child of the 80's? At 19 months Rachel is wearing ties just like teenage girls of the 80's did. Apparently she's more an 80's child than I am. In fairness though, the girls wearing ties thing I only assume is from the 80's based on movies and the Cosby Show (Denise always dressed so stylishly).

Anyway, I really wanted to share that picture and the one of her in front of the Christmas tree. Obviously these were from a few weeks ago, our trees been down for at least 24 hours!

Well, with as crummy as I still feel after being sick a week, I think I'll quit here.

Don't I have the cutest baby ever? I can't believ she asked to wear a tie while I was getting dressed, and kept it on through the morning at daycare :)


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Potty Talk & Reviews

Two quick things which, for some reason, I feel the world must know about.

First is that I've written my first online review... Ok, that's not entirely true. I have written reviews of things for Rob in his Rob Recommends twice now, as well as anything I've reviewed in these blogs. But I came across the ReviewCentre (It's British, thus the 're') site and just felt the urge to post my own review on my Focus Daily contacts (it's still waiting to be approved). But I feel kind of excited.

Secondly was my walking into the bathroom at work to come across my boss and a co-worker discussing football. Not just a "good game last night" but the specifics about certain players. I suggested that there were two "seats" available if they'd like to relax and talk longer, but they declined for some reason.

After the football conversation ended my boss started talking to me about another project and some repercussions it may have. It just cracks me up that we're living life so "fast" that we'll talk whenever we have the chance, regardless of where we are. I have come across at least three people in our restroom at work who have carried on conversations at the urinal. Heck, I even remember one person actually making a phone call as he walked into the bathroom. Are we really, really that busy?

I'm kind of curious to know who else has carried on conversations in the bathroom. But at the same time I don't think I really want to know.

Anyway, two things which made me smile on this foggy morning. I love fog, so maybe that accounts for my high spirits as well. Of course, I love it partly because I got to enjoy seeing it while my wife enjoyed driving through the awful traffic it caused.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Marketing Life

Recently I've begun reading some blogs and books on marketing. Especially blogs by Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki. Interestingly I found Seth Godin's blog while reading Wil Wheaton's blog (Wesley Crusher from Star Trek TNG in case you were wondering). Wil reads Neil Gaiman, so he must be intelligent, right?

I know that any church I'm a part of should be growing. Not because numbers are important, but because I want every person in the church to be a life saved by God. I also want them to be someone who shares God's love and truth with everyone around them (yet another thing I'm not so hot at myself :) ). To do that we need to run an organization like a marketing firm, having a quality product people not only want to buy but also want to tell others about.

Let me ask you, what's the last thing you bought that you really loved? Ok, with that in your mind, how many people did you tell about that thing? If you know me, try to guess what would be on my list and compare it to the one below:

This list is just what pops off my head of things I love and the things I talk about as lot. How many did you already know? We really talk a lot about the things we love with other people, even strangers (at Don Pablos I recently asked our waiter if he was a Christian and whether he wanted to be our new youth minister, as Christine suggested, that's talking about what you love).

I feel completely and utterly out of my depth in this field. Working with people is ok, but marketing to someone who doesn't even know we're there is harder. It's especially hard when you think that for someone to really talk up something it can't just be good, but has to be incredible. People don't talk about the sweater they got for Christmas because, while it's ok, it's not incredible. They do talk about the XM Radio they received (well, I do anyway).

So, what is it in your life that you love? Something you're incredibly passionate about? When is the last time you worked it into conversations with friends or strangers?

What would it take for you to tell other people about church or God? Why don't you make that the reality within your church (if you have one)?


Monday, January 02, 2006

Feeling Crummy

Yesterday flew by in a whirlwind with today being the complete antithesis of that. I woke up feeling nauseous and really light-headed. I guess I must have been drinking last night, though I don't remember a moment of it. I guess I'll have to ask my wife if she took advantage of me :)

Today's been a day full of napping and feeling crummy. I am definitely one of those people who, when they get sick, feel quite fine relaxing and getting better. Though I guess that's not completely true, since here I am blogging away. I promise it'll be a short one though.

I was reading Cindy's blog, one of my best friends from college, and it really struck a chord with me. She talked about meeting up with an old middle and high school friend who's in the Army. Someone she hadn't seen in 8 years, and after being stations soon may go another 8 years without seeing her.

Since I started these new friendships with people in Pennsylvania I've been thinking a bit about how we are able to keep these long distance relationships going without being able to see one-another so often. IM really has made a profound difference in my life.

My friend Amber is in the Army ROTC. While this is awesome and perfect for her, I can't help but think about some of the possibilities in her future. That she'll be out of the country for years at a time, or worse, while stationed out some real tragedy may come her way. Now, it is all God's plan, but I can't help but think that his plan may not go the way I want it too.

This also got me thinking about my friend Kat (the one and only). She IM'd me right before Christmas after not talking to her for at least 2 years. She and I were great friends during my last two years in college. She even flew out for a long weekend when I was abroad in London. We were those friends who could tell one-another when they were being moronic.

When she IM'd me out of the blue it was one of those weird and great times which you don't expect and don't know exactly how to respond. I ended up doing what I always do, talking with the person I was so close to as though no time had passed.

We did talk about the time we've missed but really just keyed in on what’s going on in each-others lives right now. She's a published author (in a college mag anyway) and looking to publish some books she's written. On top of it all she's no starving artist, but instead a starving college kid who's going to be defending her dissertation soon. I know, it’s surprising that I actually know some interesting people in the world!

So, with the New Year, I'd like us all to look at our old friendships and see what we can do to bring a spark of joy into their lives. Also look to those people you are friends with right now and just be thankful for them. Realize God is leading the love you share and he'll lead you to the people you most need when you most need them.

Thank goodness for friendship.


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