One more for her fans....

And it descended...

This afternoon, the snow descended on the city, but not before the ice.

See the photo of me in the S.S. Family Truckster? What you cannot tell from looking at it is this: The truck is in PARK and sliding backwards down the driveway and into the street. The driveway was a solid sheet of ice. I could creep up it in four wheel drive but as soon as I stopped and jammed it into PARK, it would start going the opposite direction. I finally gave up and parked in the street.

The boys played in the snow most of the afternoon, sledding in the back yard and throwing the stuff down one another's shirts as I worked on a newsletter.

I had to run back to IHOP to pick up my mom, who works in the kitchen. It's eight minutes in dry weather. At 4pm today, it was about 40 minutes round trip. On the way there, I saw two wrecks. On the way back, I heard a sudden POP! and my wiper motor detached from the connector rod and my wipers became decorative rather than functional. I limped home looking through a 2x2 inch dry patch on the windshield.

I am so glad we still have the S.S. Family Truckster. On the highway in nice weather, there is nothing like the Suburban, but it's 2 wheel drive and weighs more than an Abrams Tank (with most of the weight in the front) so it's crazy squirrelly in the snow. Pull the short lever on the Truckster and it will go anywhere.

Winter has hit....

I'm sitting in the Gun Club house of meeting this morning, waiting for the crew. I'm here early because I knew if I did not get some coffee into my sysem quickly, I would surely fail and perhaps even cease to be entirely.

Today will test the mettle of the Gun Club, as we were hit with an ice storm last night. For quite a while it was 'raining' ice - sort of a mini hail. This morning, our driveway was one solid sheet. I stepped off the sidewalk onto the driveway and slid to the bottom. We shall see who braves the forces of nature this morning and who are merely Boy Coffee Drinker Wannabees. Report to follow...


a study in contrasts

shelley paulson | summerset studios | snowcone, mn

Thanks, Shelley! Although I had no idea my hair was so thin on top....

Beg, Borrow, or Steal $10. Well, don't steal...

But do whatever you can to wrangle the ten bucks a month for the IHOP prayer room webcast. Without pointing any fingers, there is a member of our family who is up several times a night for a bottle, a diaper, or whatever. The last few nights, we've just left the audio webcast rolling. (Video is also available for the same price but the audio is prone to fewer glitches).

At the time of this writing, we've had seven hours and thirty eight minutes of prayer going on in our home continiously. I've been up a couple of times tonight and it's been great to walk out into the living room to hear the Night Watch crew worshiping and crying out to God.

The webstream doesn't replace any personal prayer time, but it sure preps your heart for the moments that you can get. If you're like me, you need it.


if the question....

If the question is "Can a guy use a bottle of White Out to hammer a nail into the wall far enough to hang a picture?"...

then the answer is "Yes! Yes, he can!"

Help the Problem

From CNN:

The number of "spam" messages has tripled since June and now accounts for as many as nine out of 10 e-mails sent worldwide, according to U.S. email security company Postini.

Forward this story to your entire address book. Now. With lots of smiley faces. :) :) :)

morning ruminations....

I'm mulling over the early parts of Matthew 5 lately. Heaven knows there's enough in Matthew 5-7 to keep me thinking for the rest of my life, so I'm pacing myself. The tempation is too strong to read quickly while nodding "got that....got that....got that."

Puzzlement of the day surrounds Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

I'm too quick to think of righteousness as a series of 1's an 0's, binary choices based on hardwiring and quick processing...make the right choices, get righteousness, make the wrong choices, get unrighteousness. While that is certainly part of the story, it can't be everything. Surely I am not being admonished by the God of all creation toward the noble goal of good decision making. Surely righteousness is more than the result of a practice....the result of listening to some weird Hooked on Ethics audio tape.

What kind of practice can I hunger for? I don't hunger for typing skills or the ability to roll a bowling ball arrow-straight. I can't do either of those well, but neither produces an ache in my gut. No, things we hunger for transcend things that we can manage to learn. Things we hunger for are things that we can never quite achieve...things that we can almost do, but not quite on our own.

I'm hungry for the portion of righteousness that goes beyond my own ability to make the right calls in pressure situations. I can actually master that skill and still live apart from the gift of righteousness that comes from God.

I'm hungry for more than I can convince you of about myself. More than making the right calls or even wanting the right things. I'm hungry for He who is righteous, and I will be filled.


this is your day

The aforementioned meeting has been cancelled. Cinnamon rolls go up for grabs in my palatial office at 10:30am. Bring your own coffee.


Warning: Gusher Alert

Steven Levitt wrote the bestseller Freakonomics. It's an analytical look at all sorts of things and a great fun read if you like numbers and asking questions when you hear statistics thrown around. It questions everything.

All this is why I was surprised to read him fawning so lavishly over Barak Obama. Repeatedly, Levitt admits he cares nothing for politics, but says:
If he has the same effect on others as he does on me, you are looking at a future president.
Well, we've been warned. If not in 08, then surely in 12, we are going to be steamrolled by someone as likeable as Bubba, as smart as Algore, and as multiculturally disarming as Tiger Woods. This guy will be hard to beat.

cinnamon roll roulette

I have four meetings tomorrow. 11am, 1:15pm, 2pm and 4pm.

I will be bringing my mom's famous cinnamon rolls to one of those meetings,
and I'm not saying which one, so if you are scheduled to meet with me tomorrow, don't be late and pray you're lucky.

If you're not in the lucky meeting, pray your meeting is after that one and that there are leftovers. But don't hold your breath.


Shout out to my Nebraska peeps

Just found this while rumaging around the hard drive....shot in '02 somewhere in Nebraska, behind a truck stop while we were changing a tire on a trailer.

eBaynium arrivium

A package arrived in the mail yesterday...a 250gb external hard drive that I'd ordered on eBay.

In all my years of using computers, I've never owned a backup hard drive. This explains why I've lost some serious junk in a couple of major crashes...I finally had enough and took the plunge.

This HD is a hoss....I just finished backing up my entire Powerbook. I'll still have room for Kels' iBook and Jackson's MacBook. If I can find the right adapter, I'll also back up the refrigerator, my leaf blower, and anything else that I can USB into it.

Also arrived - a present for Jackson, along with the Fed Ex guy announcing both it's arrival and contents in a loud voice. Read all about it. Warning: post contains threats of violence by an otherwise rational woman.

It's me....Zoe....

Greetings, people...

It's me. Zoe. Granma is out with Grayson. Mom has Jackson and ZB, and I'm home with Dad. Fortunately, he's easily distracted so I now have control of the powerbook. My overthrow of the house has begun.

I love my family. I feel like I've known them my whole life, and aside from the first 48 hrs, I pretty much have.

My brothers are quite interesting. The eldest is a serious mop of curls. The middle one cannot go to bed without praying for me. The little one is a trip. They all melt like butter when I blink my eyes. I smile and they're gaga for an hour. I can't wait until I can talk and start giving direct commands.

Oh - here comes Dad. Time to sign off and act fascinated by my swing. Peace out, homies.



There are giants among us....

This afternoon we attended the memorial service for Charli & Ali Martin, twin girls who were born with severe difficulties. Charli lived five days, Ali lived another eleven. In order to tell their story, Charli & Ali's parents, Wes and Amanda Martin, produced a phenomenal fifteen minute video.

I cannot begin to describe how profound it was to hear them talk frankly of their loss, and yet insist that we look at the miracle they had - rare days with their gorgeous little girls - rather than the potential lost when the girls passed away. Even in the death of their children, the Martins were seeing life through lenses of grace. They are truly amazing people.


Happy Thanksgiving

Today is the day all brave turkeys fear. This brave turkey, however, is just glad to be here.

I've had a special affection for Thanksgiving for a long time. I trace it back to 1990. Kelsey and I had been married just over a year and were houseparenting at a boys home in Williston, North Dakota. At a special thanksgiving service, the pastor asked people what they were thankful for, and a fellow in his 40's who had been unemployed for months was the first to stand up and talk. It had a huge impact on me to think that this guy, who'd been down on his luck for a good while, had the presence of mind to be thankful in the midst of it. I've tried to emulate that ever since.
  • I'm thankful for an amazing year of adoption. God put us in connection with the right peopleat the right time. Friends and strangers rallied around us to help us do what God called us to do. The process - which many describe as horrific in detail and length - was relatively painless and fast (exception being a few nail-biting hours in Las Vegas...). Our adoption benefit dinner may have been the bash of the century.
  • I'm thankful for the french toast I'm going to hoark down with Loux family as well as the copious amounts of turkey I will consume later at the Roberts' today.
  • I'm thankful for God's amazing provision. We have completed our third year living as intercessory missionaries...as a family of six, that's simply amazing. During this time we have lacked for nothing that we needed, and in many cases, have been blessed beyond the need. With no extra money, we managed to vacation in Dayton and now drive a the perfect vehicle for a family of six (You can afford to buy more gas when the truck is free...) We live in a weird tension of having all we need, having little to know idea who next month's provision will come through and yet knowing Who provides it. I know this sounds terrifying to many (and occassionally, it is to us!) but I am thankful we live this way. I feel like we've seen His hand move in an immediate way over and over again.
  • I'm thankful for our community. My kids are growing up in a culture where 20 year olds are skipping the keggers and other 'rites of passage' to lead 6am prayer meetings and lead fasting teams. Who knows the long term affect this will have on the generation who grows up in it and knows no different.
  • I'm grateful for the 150+ that we baptized a few weeks ago. We tried to watch in on the webcam, but it looked so amazingly fun that we loaded our family in the car and raced over to party in person with the others. I eagerly look forward to the day when our kids can't remember baptisms with this few because we're seeing thousands at a time...
  • I'm thankful for my team(s). I work with some very fun peeps.
  • At the risk of sounding a little overly-Hallmark, I'm thankful for good friends. We have been a pretty mobile family...meaning we know people all over the country, but for many years didn't feel well known by anyone. God is shifting that. While I'm grateful for the 682 contacts in my phone (no joke...) I'm really grateful for the few that I can truly lean on as friends.
  • I'm thankful for my amazing family. I am convinced that no family on earth has as much fun as we do...not that fun is the measure of all things, but it sure helps lubricate the machine when the gears of circumstance are grinding. Obviously, I'm thankful I married 3 rungs up the genius ladder. I'm thankful that it's ok to be bushy haired at nearly 14. I'm thankful that my 9 year old loves justice. I'm thankful for a rock and roll 5 year old, and of course Savannah Zoe, whose life was saved from a barren field. I'm thankful that my mom is with us and healthy - it's a great connection the memories of my past and the cinnamon rolls of my future.
  • I'm thankful we don't have to wait for film to get developed anymore. I remember having rolls of 12 exposure film. You treated those shots like they were your last twelve bullets and you were about to land on Iwo Jima. Now, digital pics flow like water and you get beauties like these.


Crank Up the Way Back Machine

Yep, that's us. Dad and Jackson, circa 1995. I don't know what's worse...the huge assortment of Toy Story gear, my Radar O'Reilly Glasses or the hair. Uh, definitely the hair.

Troublemaking 101

In a moment of brilliance, I interupted someone today...someone who is, shall we say, rather easily distracted...while they were sitting in the prayer room. I said "hey, when you get a chance, check out this game....", knowing full well what would happen.

DISCLAIMER: Do NOT check out this game. Never in the history of the internet has there been a game this dangerous. It will swallow chunks of your time and leave you with nothing to show for it. You have been warned: Do not play this game.

You guessed it, within 10 minutes they were hooked, and thirty minutes later they were back in a side room, computer in their lap, completely sucked in. Time for stage two.

I began sending random people into the room to ask "Have you seen my copy of 'The Power of a Focused Life'?" It took the victim two visitors before he put two and two together.

Bwahahahahahahaha. Reminder - do NOT play this game.

The Johnny Cash Tour Bus

T.J. asked for it, so here goes...our recent blessing, the 2002 Suburban, long wheel base, leather, Sirius radio and heavy duty Secret Service Edition window tint...God is good and we are diggin' it...

And why is this kid smiling? He got his stiches removed today! Whoohoo Grayson!

being there...

I didn't feel well as I crawled into bed last night. I will confess; I was unsure if I would make it to the 6am prayer meeting. In real life experience, this translates into resigning onself to not making it to the 6am prayer meeting without actually admitting it.

Fast-forward too few hours....Zoe stirs a bit so I go to check on her. On the way back to bed, I check the time. 4:55am. About the time I need to start moving to make it to the meeting. Like happens from time to time, I had the sudden sense of being invited to the meeting. Not commanded. Not guilted. Not conjoled. Invited.

Invitations are tricky things, in that they can be accepted, rejected, or in the great passive-aggressive fashion, simply ignored. If you get in invitation, you're really under no obligation - there are only two reasons you'd accept: Profound respect for the sender or a very real desire to be there.

I'm not sure which of those two motivated me this morning, but I accepted the invitation. I walked in to the prayer room tired and more than a little out-of-it. I remember thinking 'there's no reason to pretend today....there are reasons why I don't feel like being here...' and started to list them. I found myself scribbling in my moleskine journal like a castaway writing a note to put in a bottle that he was dead sure would find it's way home. I found things in my soul about myself that frustrated me far more than I realized and emptied them out on the page. I don't like that they were in there, but I'd rather have them between the black covers of that journal than in the deep recesses of my heart.

Maybe this whole invitation thing was for that. Sometimes showing up is part of winning. If that's the case, today's a winner.


The art of demotivaton...

The folks over at Despair.com are working overtime and now producing training videos.

Got whiners on your staff? You must scroll down to the one labeled "Addressing Employee Complaints..." This is a great resource for dealing with gripes.

fed up with the curse

Friday afternoon, our community will host another memorial service. I say another because we have had three in what seems like eight weeks, although it may have been a little longer. Seems like eight days, to tell you the truth.

One of the services was for a 70 year old who had enjoyed a life full of God and love. Another was for a young man in his prime, struck down by disease. This third is a double whammy...twin girls who fought for life from the very womb. With each successive memorial service, I have grown more frustrated with the enemy and more firmly resolved that there is a Kingdom coming.

I know all the old adages. Death is a part of life. It is appointed unto man once to die. This death is only physical, it's not the true end. None of it resonates with my heart right now...proof that not all things true are comforting, even if they're meant to be.

I know this is all 'part of the curse....'...but it's not the part that I like. Let me tell you my favorite part of that passage.
So the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this...I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
Your day is coming, Satan. You'll pay for this. For sickness and disease and the lack that we live in. You'll pay for Charli & Ali. Your head will be crushed once and for all. We will see Justice rise up, on this side or on the other. We will not be denied for eternity.


He's a genius...

Yes, he's cute when he's asleep, but even then, the mind is racing...

This afternoon, as I'm pulling through the McDonalds' drive through to snag them a McFlurry, I hear a little voice from the back seat...."Hey Grayson, did you know that the one hole in your nose connects to the other hole in your nose inside?"

Grayson cannot help but ask. "How do you know that?"

"I just stuck my finger way up in there....."

And at that moment, I had to maintain my composure as we were approaching the take-out window. It was all I could do to hit speed dial and hand my phone back to the back seat. "Please....you have to tell your mother that!"

(photo by Jenny Powell. I think...)

Zoe of the Week....


Marines Accept Jesus Unreservedly

"The talking Jesus doll issue has been resolved," the Marine Reserves Toys for Tots program announced on its Web site Wednesday. "Toys for Tots has found appropriate places for these items. We have notified the donor of our willingness to handle this transaction." Details here.

ALSO, in unrelated but just as important news: I am breaking one of my own cardinal rules of blogging, which is to say I am adding an unproven blogger to the Illustrious Roll of Peeps in my sidebar. Normally I insist people blog a week or two before I add them - just ask Steeno or Adam, who sweated it out for days, wondering if they would make the cut.

Today, I am setting that rule aside in this case: The John Loux.

John has the distinction of leaving the best comment in the history of my blog earlier today, albiet under his wife's blogger account (which is a special kind of lame...):
Yes, indeed Steve "the steve green", sang on the first Whiteheart album. Along with the Huff Bros (Dan and David), Dan going on to be the biggest session player in LA in the 80's and 90's and who has since gone on to become the biggest producer in country music today. David went on to play with Michael W. Smith, back on the "Eye to Eye" and "Big Picture" world tours, and then went on to form the band Giant with his brother Dan, which had a number one single "I'll See You in My Dreams" on secular radio. Gary Lunn, the bass player, went on to do studio work and then to play bass with Don Potter at Morningstar. The Founding memebers of Whiteheart, Billy Smiley and Mark Girshmell, stayed consistently in Whiteheart, and brought on people like Tommy SImms, who went on to play with Springsteen for a tour; Rick Florian; and the now drummer for Ketih Urban.

Sheila E played percussion for Prince for a period of time, not to be confused with Sheena Easton, who every school boy was in love with back in junior high.

Steve Green didn't like singing rock, that's why he left.

Mr Bohlender, please do not attempt to shut out a genius of completely useless facts from your blog from now on. I may not know much, but what I do know is music from the 80's, oh an how to groom a freakishly cool mullet. Now I will gladly step down from the lofty position that I have put placed myself in as "mr know it all", if someone can tell me the name of the "other guy" in Wham, not George Michael.

I am giving him an exemption and immediately linking him based on two things - one, his wife, Tracie, started blogging recently and is doing well at it, and two, I hope to pressure him into blogging intently.

So go there, flood his blog, leave comments, and let the blogging begin.

Beating Kelsey to the Blog...

Tracie just sent me this great shot of Telma, Teyolla, Keyolla* & Zoe - four adopted beauties! The three older girls are part of the Derek & Renee Loux family. They were adopted from the Marshall Islands and are joy to have around the missions base. Zoe's in good company if she turns out like these three.

*As usual, I can't tell if it's Teyolla and Keyolla or Keyolla and Teyolla, but I'm dead sure on Telma and Zoe!


a fine afternoon...

We spent the latter part of the afternoon and early evening with Tracey & Shelley Paulson from greater metro rural Minnesota. Paulsons are digiphotowebcentric media types who love prayer and for reasons not entirely clear, must like the Bohlenders a whole lot too.

Shelley updated our family photos to include Miss Zoe - we'll give you a look-see soon.

It was our first time meeting Tracey. He is a gentle souled worship leader who once worked with old-school Whiteheart (as in Steve Green singing lead...) and later worked with Sheila E. (anyone reading this blog - not named Loux - who recognizes that throwback?) and (briefly, he insisted) Prince.

We ended our time together by gathering around the feasting table. Ain't nothin' like the Stack to say "You peeps are good fun." Some time between the bbq and the cheesy corn, Shelley made a comment about the number of people who pass through Kansas City. It struck me for the first time what an amazing parade of people that we have hosted...people like the Paulsons, who love God with all their heart and are just finding their path to serve Him best like the rest of us. I'm not sure where else in the world you would meet an Ed Hackett, a Billy Humphrey, a Dwayne Roberts, a Kirk Bennett and a Brent Steeno - all five huge blessings in my life in their own unique way....and there are a dozen more like those five.

Sitting here at the breakfast bar, tea seeping next to my Powerbook and an exhausted five year old piled on the couch across the room, I am very, very grateful the Lord has planted us in Kansas City.

preGun Club thoughts...

Two gun clubbers were over at the house last night to trim out a window in the kitchen and hang Kelsey's Mondo-Sized Microwave over the stove. I don't want to say that it's oversized, but I did see a page in the instructions that said "How to Microwave an Entire Pig", so I guess I know what we're doing for the holidays.

One of the clubbers just joined the Suburban Owners Club, a wholly owned subsiderary of the Gun Club. Membership is granted with proof of ownership of one of these behemoths or by grant of fiat, if the application is sufficently padded with a few crisp twenties.

In just a few short weeks of Suburban ownership, I have decided that this may be the finest automobile every manufactured. People think they're too big or ostentatious, but I have an entirely different perspective. You cannot compare owning a Suburban with owning a regular sized car. You have to compare it to owning two Hondas.

Suburban: Seats 8
Two Hondas: Seats 8

Suburban: 20 mpg (no kidding)
Two Hondas: 30 mpg, 2 cars, 15 mpg effectively

Suburban: 4 tires to replace
Two Hondas: You guessed it, 8 tires to replace.

I could go on and on. This could be the most economical vehicle I have ever owned. It's also big as Texas and will drive straight over those irritating little putt-putt cars....


A Video Update

Don't get too concerned. There is no plot here. More of an art film, really.

Honestly, I just pulled these off the video camera and slapped it together, so you can see some random activity from the Bohlenders, including cameos by the Loux family and one Farnam. How does Kelsey always manage to evade the camera? Hmmm.

Props to Caedmon's Call for the background music.

this post goes nowhere...

Please excuse the title above. I just didn't want to mislead any of you coming here for deep philisophical insight today.

The gray matter seems to be dwindling exponentially (I'm not sure if that is mathmatically possible...) because this morning, as I took the trash out, I stood in the driveway and thought for some time about whether or not I was going to Los Angeles today. There is something wrong when a grown man is unsure whether or not he is going to hop two time zones later that day. That man needs his head examined by a professional.

I bought paint for my office today. This is a milestone, as it indicates that I will, in fact, be staying in my office rather than vacating to organize a worldwide, arena sized Monsters of Intercession tour. The colors I chose are not Blush and Bashful, two shades of pink, on much darker than the other.... Extra points for anyone who can figure out that cultural reference without a hint. Kelsey is excluded from the contest.

More later, when the thoughts congeal....


The Googlization of the World Has Begun

I just discovered Google Docs . I am low and amazed...it's an online word processor that saves as .pdf, .doc, Open Office, .rtf, or .html. It also runs superfast, so if Word is bogging your machine, start going Google and just save to your hard drive - or their server.

You can also blog from it - nifty!


You know it was a short night when you spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out why your iPod cord won't plug in....to your phone.

the latest....

OE had quite the little kingdom encounter last night. Around 10pm, she was growing increasinly cranky as I was giving her a bottle...not the "hey, this bottle is late" or "there's a little pile o' something waiting in my pampers" cranky, but the "make a pot of coffee, this is going to be a doozy" sort of cranky. Kelsey had been napping and came out to see what all the commotion was about.

Even Kelsey couldn't console her. It should be noted that she adores her momma and when momma can't fix it, it is officially a problem. Kelsey tried changing positions, with binky, no binky, bounce, walk, talk and sing, all to no avail. In quiet tones we started using those words no parent wants to think about (particularly with the clock nearing 11pm): Urgent Care.

We decided that before we'd do that, we'd pray for her. Go figure. You'd think we'd have thought of that before we thought of Urgent Care, but behind this stainless steel intercessory missionary uniform, we are essentially as short sighted as the rest of the world.

Kelsey held Zoe on the couch while I stood and prayed over her...that the Spirit that had calmed her so well in the tumultous hours after her birth would invade her life and touch her body. Within minutes, we noticed a subtle change. The cry was different...and more sporadic. Sensing there was something very real going on, I continued to pray.

Within ten minutes she became silent...so silent that I asked Kelsey if Zoe had fallen asleep. Kelsey replied "Nope. I see nothing but eyeballs....". She hadn't dozed off - in fact, she was wide awake and completely calm. Go God!

For those of you who are wanting a photo update, it's going to have to wait. Our digital camera went kablooie.


Thoughts on Disbelief

There's a fascinating article in the latest WIRED magazine entitled "The New Atheism".

At the risk of oversimplifying, the article is about a fervant new 'crusade against religion' (WIRED's phrase). It outlines the works and thoughts of several scientists/authors who are taking the belief of atheism to the next level - evangelism.

The new atheists, taking an aggressive stance at rediculing religion and even agnosticism, are led by those like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett. You may remember me mentioning Dennett who utilized his lecture time at the TED conference to take a few whacks at Rick Warren, who spoke immediately prior.

The New Atheists are those who are longer content to sit back and 'not believe', but want to push the buttons of agnostics and liberal Christians, forcing them to intellectual honesty and the congruency of speaking what they really believe - that God is a fabrication. It speaks of leveraging outrage at fundamental Islam and it's terrorist activities into a similar outrage against Christianity and other organized religions. By the end of the article, you've got a whole new appreciation for the possibility of an apocolyptic un-religion.

I've only read the article through once, and rather quickly, but I look forward to digging into it further. My initial reaction is that the movement may actually help us. For all it's intellectual bravado, atheism is not unlike eating a bag of cheese puffs. Once you get down to the crumbs, you're not sure you really ate anything at all. It somehow leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth and still hungry.... I say let atheism be tested as a way to console the human heart. Allow the masses to test drive it for real - not flirt with it by proposing belief in a supreme being while refusing to bend a knee. While it may appeal to everyones' inner anarchist, it does nothing to answer the questions of life or provide a way forward to one's spirit. It turns the souls of men into echo chambers.

At the end of the day, or one's life, there are few true atheists. Even the incredulous want to believe. Atheism may live and lecture well, but it dies poorly.


sunrise @ the dunn....

I'm holed up at Dunn Bros. brewing my notes over the aroma of a well roasted cup of Brazillian. I'll swing by the house in a bit and pick up Jackson and his fellow filmmaker, Nick. They're riding with me out to Pleasant Hill to keep me honest in case I tell a family story.

I both love and am driven crazy by this coffee shop. I like that it's close to the house. I love the coffee. The decor works, kind of. The soundtrack, however, remains horrible. I'm cranking Luke Hendrickson on the iPod, as much to drowned out the coffee shop sound system as to enjoy Luke Hendrickson. Luke, if I make any sense whatsoever this morning, the people of Pleasant Hill owe you a big one.



We took the kids and their buddies to see Santa III this afternoon.

Martin Short was on the screen about 30 seconds when one of the kids shouted "Hey, Dave Workman!" You be the judge....


We hosted a wedding...

In addition to a couple of meetings and going over my notes for Sunday, we hosted a wedding at our house today! Well, not really a wedding - a renewing of vows.

John and Tracie Loux are celebrating their 17th anniversary and wanted to renew their vows at Loose Park but the weather failed to get the memo. When I returned home, Kelsey had the house decked out in more candles than an emerging church service. The table was heavy with cheese cakes and these little three cornered spinich deals (not their technical name).

The renewing was wonderful. There is something innocent and clueless about a couple getting married at 20....it's nice, but you know they don't know jack. A couple re-upping after 17 years - saying "knowing what I know, I still choose you...", man, that's the coolest.

Congrat's John & Tracie!

Trauma and Coldstone

I got a phone call yesterday urging me to get home quickly - Grayson had split his lip pretty badly. I didn't realize what 'pretty badly' meant until I got home - yikers, it was a doozy. It seems that he and Jackson were going a little John Eldridge on one another and Gray got the inadvertent smackdown.

Firsthand accounts can be found here, here and here. This family has more embedded journalists than any battalion in Iraq.

We ended up at Children's Mercy, where they didn't stitch him up until into the evening (9 neat stitches if I do say so myself.) Kelsey and I got him home, got all the kids down for the night and made a late night Wally World run with a stop at Coldstone (for medicinal purposes, of course).

Back to your lives, citizens.


seeing double

Stories like this freak me out....what if Dwayne Roberts holds up a bank or something?


Zion the Hamsterologist

Our black bear hamster, Kiwi, decided to make a run for it last night. We awoke to find his cage empty and a little note by his water dish that said "Don't wait up."

The household was pretty much asleep when Kelsey heard a scraping of hamster toe nails on metal. I do a little sluething and discover him in the vent below Zion's room. ZB and I go down to Jackson's room, pry off the vent, and Zion snags him.

Mystery solved.

The returns are in...

Most of the returns are in and the Left has captured the House and very well may have the Senate.

It's all very reminescent of the revolutionary Republican Class of 1994...new blood coming in. I heard on NPR today how different things were going to be in Washington.

My sincere wish is that the Democrats be just as successful at instituting their reforms as the Republicans were....which is to say, may they be blinded by the glitter of the spotlight, splinter into a thousand special interest fragments and allow their momentum to dissolve into oblivion.

Different party, same stale cheese ball.


Election Day

I spent the early part of the day in the prayer room, writing for this weekend (I'll be teaaching at First Baptist in Pleasant Hill). I spoke there months ago. It's always nice to be invited back somewhere.

I ducked out the prayer room for a quick meeting, followed by a longer one with the marketing team that dissolved into teaching an impromptu civics lesson to British team member Tom Not Tommy. You should have seen his face when I described the fine art of gerrymandering. I think he thought I was making it up. Granted, it does seem a little rediculous.

Election day made me miss Washington, DC. The excitement of JHOP, avoiding the traffic by hopping the Metro, the fall leaves, the Burrito Brothers and Cosi bread.

Late in the afternoon, I picked up Grayson and drove to the elementary school to exercise my right to vote (and therefore, to complain later). Grayson is our voting boy. He knows there are cookies served at the polling place, so he voted twice today, once with his mom and once with me.


thoughts on leadership

A few days ago, I determined to be the last blogger on earth to mention Ted Haggard. So much has been written, and so little of it needed to be, that I didn't want to join the fray. At the same time, this blog is entitled 'stuff i think', and I've been thinking about him a fair amount the last few days, so you'll need to wade through yet another post.

My thoughts about him have centered around how this mess could have been avoided....not to say how could he have continued in his wrong, for these things have a way of finding daylight one way or another, but rather what he or others could have done to have prevented it.

I don't think Ted pursued fame. I do not know him, but the few people that I do know who know him speak of his humility and earnestness. I think fame pursued him, and surely that played a part in leading him to believe that he could live a double life with impunity, speaking the right things with conviction even while doing the wrong ones with shame.

Celebrity in itself is an odd institution, and Christian celebrity probably the oddest institution of all. The Christian who becomes known on the larger stage is suddenly the bigger target. We've seen it a dozen times over - yet we fail to value the seasons of our life when we are kept from the spotlight (and hidden from the sniper's laser dot). Even in valuing humility, what we really want to do is write the best selling book about it and then do a twelve city book tour.

In the past few years, I've had bouts of frustration with not having achieved what I hoped to achieve by the age that I am...not life-crippling bouts of depression, but certainly times of wondering "God, is my time coming? I could make a difference if you'd just get me in front of the right people, God...".

This morning, I was up at 4am, giving Zoe a bottle, and noticed that Kelsey had bundled her tightly in a blanket. We call it the Baby Burrito treatment - place her in a blanket and wrap her tight. Zoe likes it. She can't flop her arms around and she feels totally secure and safe. As I stared at that little girl in the bundled blanket, I heard the Lord whisper "This is what I'm doing to you. I am hemming you in. I am restraining your best human efforts to be known, and in doing so, I am keeping you safe and sound."

Sometimes the biggest blessing the Lord can give you is protection from success.


Turning over an old leaf...

Yesterday, the battle began in earnest. The battle of course, is not against flesh and blood but rather every decaying leaf descending upon my front yard, now numbering in the gazillions.

I started the day by climbing up on my roof and blowing out the gutters with 280 mph of Black and Decker ramjet air. After climbing down, I blew leaves from the house towards the street. I say 'towards' the street because about halfway to the street I ran out of cord and my 280 mph of Black and Decker ramjet air went silent. I called Kelsey at Walmart - 'bring another cord'.

While waiting, I grabbed a rake and went after it the old fashioned way. By the time she got home, my two lines of leaves had met in a Great Leaf Convergence in the middle of the yard. They formed a sort of a botanical Maginot Line, defending our house from the occassional dog walker or jogger wandering down the street.

Next, I swapped the blower parts out to make it a mulcher and mulch I did. And mulch. And mulch. I condensed 42,000lbs of leaves into 10 biodegradable bags and stacked them at the curb for the city to come pick up on Monday. During the mulching, I had repeated problems with it jamming...I ended up modifying the intake to allow it to munch mulch and a monsterous rate. It's the American Male Way - we can make anything go faster or work better. Next weekend I think I'll tweak the engine and try and coax it to 300 MPH of ram jet air.

The repetitive motion of the blower, the mulcher, the rake and the bagging have torn the living snot out of my right arm, which is more accustom to a point-and-click workout than actual labor. Now I'll feel like an ihop drummer, sitting in the prayer room while my team plays without me because of rotator cuff problems.

Did I mention the yard is almost full of leaves again this morning?



I find that if I'm not taking in information from a variety of sources, my brain begins to shut down. (Note: I am not a doctor and that is not a medical diagnosis). I don't know how to explain it other than to say I like to read multiple books at once, and if I ever actually try and watch a movie on my laptop, chances are twenty minutes into it, I'm watching it in a 3 inch window and surfing ebay with the other 14 inches of the screen. That being said, let me clue you in about two new sources of input that I am digging in a large way.


This evening, Kelsey returned from the store with a gift for me - a copy of Dwell, an archetectural magazine geared towards the sort of people who would buy debris from Boston's Big Dig and reconstruct it into their own home (p. 268).

For the past few years, Kelsey and I have talked about the feasability of alternative housing - shipping containers, Quonset huts, Mongolian yurts with yak-hide siding (Ok, not so much on the last one).

Dwell is a gorgeous magazine - incredibly well produced. Not only does it look killer setting there on the coffee table - it gets you thinking thoughts like "heck, yeah, a family of six can live in a treehouse...". I dig Dwell.


I've been binge-listening to the National Constitution Center's Digital Debates podcast. It's not really named very well, as it's not a debate format, but it's fascinating listening. The NCC, located in Philadelphia, PA, hosts some of the greatest writers, thinkers, and historians to talk about their work. They are interviewed and then take audience questions. They've got the podcasts backlogged to 2004, so you can load up and probably never listen to all of them - they each run over an hour.

One of my favorites have been an interview with Pat Buchanan. Buchanan gets written off as a nut - and although I don't agree with him on everything, he's fascinating to listen to, brilliant, and has a famous command of the English language. Also, interestingly enough, he was ranting about building a fence on the Mexican border more than ten years ago and was discounted as a reactionary. Like the fence or not, he saw a problem long before most of America.

Another favorite episode featured historian Gordon Wood's discussion about the characters of the constitution. Wood can make Jefferson, Washington, Burr and others absolutely come alive. He is in love with these characters, and the constitution. It's a fantastic interview.

So, if any of you read this far...what are you reading or listening to that gets your brain working?
God, I don't want to go anywhere
that You won't go with me

i don't want to do anything
that You aren't doing through me
i don't want to be anything
i could be on my own

or be known in the world
if You are not known

i just want to keep my head down

i'd rather keep my face in the dirt
than take a chance
with a stolen glance
of the sky that is not mine
until You grant it


in defense of John Kerry...

Ok, set flamethrowers to 'torch'. Generally, when I write anything political, I find out much later that I offended people. It's the funniest thing - they reference a post from a year back and say "that really ticked me off....but I've been dealing with it." Hooray for adult communication. Anyway, this may assuage the anger of some that I've usually frustrated and stir it up in those who usually cheer, but in the interest of fairness, I've gotta say this.

John Kerry got jacked.

I'm referring, of course, to his horrible attempt at humor a few days ago. In trying to make fun of the President's intellect, he botched the line. Addressing a group of students, he meant to say:
"Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq."

Instead, what came out was:

"You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

To be honest, the joke was lame. Some people should not even try to be funny. John Kerry is at the top of that list. Actually, very few politicians should every try to be funny. The very fact that you need to try says a lot. Either you are or you're not, and it's painful to watch people try. We haven't had a lot of funny politicians in recent years. Bill Clinton was funny when he was behaving himself. Lee Atwater was wickedly funny. Ronald Reagan was endearingly funny. John Kerry, you're no Reagan, Atwater, or Bubba.

At the same time, being not-funny is not a crime. It's just a tragedy. Rather than recognize this as a mispeak, the Republicans took the quote and ran with it, insisting Kerry was bashing our troops. For all his inadequacies, John Kerry is not dumb enough to bash our troops. He's awkward, not stupid. To take this quote and misrepresent it is just plain wrong.

Anyone who speaks in front of people says things screwy once in a while. There are a series of books on George Bush's goof ups, with no end in sight for the series. Once, while describing our Burning Man efforts at a conference of a few hundred pastors, I said "We raised $6000 and spent it all on camping beer." I meant camping gear. It just happens.

All that to say that this was unfair. Again, it's not immoral to be goofy. Republicans, please let Mr. Kerry implode on his own.


An Open Letter

Dear sir or ma'am...

I don't know what your story is. I'm not sure what you were thinking. I do know that I, too, was frustrated when the guards came down on the railroad track as I was driving in to IHOP this morning...I had some place to be too, but I waited.

I'm not sure why you didn't. I freaked out a bit when you pulled around me to zig zag between the red and white arms and beat the train. I freaked out because I didn't know if you'd make it. I freaked out because I thought there might be someone coming the other direction who was as senseless as you were, and that the two of you were going to meet ten feet in front of me, on the track, just in time for the train to knock you both into the next age.

I was ticked when you did it - not because someone beat me across the tracks, but that someone had such little regard for their own life or for their family that they would do something like that. By my account, you saved less than two minutes on your drive time. Two lousy minutes...and it could have turned out very differently.

Next time, I'm going to try and get your license plate. Not because I'm vengeful, but because if you don't have enough sense to stop for a train, the rest of us will have to clean up the mess, attend to your family, and bury your carcass. Two minutes, buddy. That's all it would have taken to wait.

Have a nice day, and drive safe, everyone.